Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Warlock Under The Mistletoe by S.S. Bazinet - book review

Are fantasies and fairy tales required for a happy ending? Or is true love the only necessary magic?

In S.S. Bazinet’s Christmas release, A WARLOCK UNDER THE MISTLETOE, heroine, Pippa sets out to prove to co-worker and friend, Adeline that real heroes are more than just a fantasy.

Readers, world-wide, will identify with Pippa, a heroine who believes in romance of the heart and has her very own true love: Chester.

Chester . . . Chester???? Can you really make a HERO out of a ‘Chester’?

If you’re author, S.S. Bazinet you can.
For doubting-Thomas readers, who believe there’s no conflict if the heroine and hero are already a matched pair, S.S. Bazinet proves that trite theory wrong.

By interjecting a sometimes cranky and always cynical co-worker into the mix, readers are treated to a full dose of the misguided friend and her attempts to prove to our heroine that: ‘People want believable stories, not some gibberish that’s all sweetness and fairy tale nonsense.’ (excerpt from A Warlock Under The Mistletoe, Chapter One.)

A bet, a dead-line, and a woman’s heart are all on the line as Pippa must confront her own questions about her fiancĂ©, their relationship, and romantic disillusionment.

Don’t be fooled by Chester’s steady-Eddy personality. Or Pippa’s ever-sunny take on life. There are bumps for these characters along this Christmas path. Change, even inside the most stable relationship, is bound to cause a bit of world tilting.

No spoiler here: I’ll not reveal how Pippa finds a warlock in her fiancĂ©, Chester, but I will remind all – and especially those who have truly loved another – that magical heroes come in all shapes and sizes and appear in the most amazing places: like under one’s own nose or mistletoe.

A WARLOCK UNDER THE MISTLETOE is a true sweet romance; closed bedroom doors only in this book.

Do today’s readers demand the edgy, steeped in reality, border-line harsh styled romance?
Or is there room on the shelf for a sweet read that’s just a really great story?

My holiday heart projects that readers will embrace A WARLOCK UNDER THE MISTLETOE.

Discover the magic of Christmas, as Pippa finds love in the strong arms of her Warlock under the mistletoe.


Monday, December 10, 2018

Kodak memories breathe LIFE into Writing . . .

I’m old enough that Kodak still means cameras to me. Instant camera was our phrase from the 60s & 70s. Of course, considering today’s technology, it’s ludicrous to think those were instant pictures.

1) First to film – The lucky owned a 35MM, which meant loading the camera was always a treat. Lining it up - perfectly - to catch the leading edge of the film reel (and hoping like crazy that you’d really accomplished that feat so you’d be taking pictures instead of just turning the hand crank). For the novice photo buff, it started with a Kodak Instamatic: a pop-and-click camera.

2) No do-overs -- As you shot the roll of film, it was framed or not. Blurry or not. Too dark, too light, the wrong angle OR not.

3) Film development – Then, budding photographers were off to the photo store to drop the precious roll of film.

4) Pictures – Finally, the film results were returned. Not just moments later, or hours later, but days later, the camera buff could enjoy their photo reward. Oh, and the sleeved negatives were the accompaniment, in case, a second print was required.

Stop & Consider:
How often did that picture actually match the remembered image in your mind?
The memory of the event, the landscape, the adventure?

Even today, with the serious advances in iPhones, Smartphones and photography equipment,
does the captured image provide a mirror testament to the moment?
Why not?

What’s wrong?

Why isn’t that image on our social media, in print, framed and hung on our wall, the perfect recreation?

Because – how ever good the photographer – memories are about more than the two dimensional image.

Memories capture:
1) Sound: sea rushing to shore, a child’s squeal, a seagull’s scream.
2) Smell: briny ocean, clean air, tempting scents of grilling hotdogs, smoke from a beach fire.
3) Feel: cold wind, warmth of the sun, slick of suntan lotion.
4) Taste: salt on the tongue, hotdogs slathered with chili & onions, chilly rocky road ice cream.
5) Sight: waves breaking against impenetrable rocks throwing mist high; sun illuminating a dad teaching his child to swim; clouds building, deepening, darkening, threatening until the brilliance of lightning splits the sky.

The photo can highlight one instant in time, but to truly capture the ‘Kodak’ moment, all senses must be enveloped.

As a writer do you store these memories to access when creating a scene? Building a character’s backstory? Designing real-life dialogue?

Life is more than a snap-shot.
It’s more than 3-D.

Life is meant to be fully dimensional. Writers, then, must create the moments, the experiences and breathe those images onto page.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions – and I commit to these sparingly – to develop pics from my camera phone (QUICKLY) then list one or more sensory memories on the back of the photo. I have several underutilized photo boxes (normally filled with junk I simply haven’t cleaned away – ooh, sounds like another worthy NYR). I don’t want to overcomplicate the process, so I’m planning to file under settings. Then as I write a beach scene, I can thumb through these Kodak memories and relive the experience, that slice of living in the moment.

The goal: no matter how good my sense of ‘senses’ can be during a writing session,

I always want to dig deeper,
bring more to the page,
breathe more LIFE into the writing.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday Morning Construction

Why do those pesky 'small' fix-it or reconstruction jobs turn out to be so:

And HOW, oh HOW do we make them easier?

1) Read the directions
2) Don't be afraid to ask for help
3) Proper tools
4) YouTube Videos are your friend
5) Take pictures

As a serious do-it-all fixer, I've learned -- through my share of mistakes -- a few keys lessons that make installing . . . repairing . . . replacing . . . new construction a bit easier.

1) Read the directions. And I do mean ALL the directions. Don't skip to what you think concerns you. Read them all. Especially, the WARNING section. If the directions say, wear PROTECTIVE anything -- do it.
I use plastic Barbecue gloves for a lot of my painting/refinishing jobs. They're CHEAP and the come in boxes of 500. Who cares if you strip off the pair every time you change sections of the project? Super useful if you're using that expandable insulator mixture. Comes in a can. Spray in the opening and then it expands. OH - word of warning - USE a very small amount of this mixture. It really, truly expands. READ the directions.

2) Don't be afraid to ask for help. Find a hardware store (NOT a supercenter) and ask for insight. Want to refinish a piece of furniture? Then go to the experts and ask for them to talk you through the basics. These experts will save you MASS amounts of time, frustration and expense. I have three different hardware stores, depending on my project, that I'll visit before starting, and I've been handling repairs for a number of years. But products change - there's always something new on the market. Maybe better. Maybe not. But the experts will know if those new products for my PROJECT are worth the investment. Finding the right hardware store has been key for me, and those are the smaller stores.

3) Proper tools. If you're just starting out your remodeling/refinishing/repairing project this can get expensive. (Again, asking the experts WHICH tools are a must can be a tremendous cost savings.) Purchase tools and supplies will be a must. A multi-head screw driver is an excellent investment and hugely helpful when you're stuck under the kitchen cabinet and suddenly realize that it's not a flat-head screw, but a Phillips head. One quick flip on the multi-head screw driver and you're back in business. Don't skimp on your paint brushes. Trust me, picking out the wayward bristles from your finished painting project is NO fun. But you can save money on the Cheap-O drop clothes. .99C at loads of stores. Spread out, use, and discard. Unless you're a professional, the Cheap-O versions are fine. If sanding, buy multiple grits. You must step down the sanding project from roughest grit to lightest grit in order to assure a smooth finish and no 'divots' in your sanding job. (Ask the experts.)

4) YouTube Videos are your friend. Recently, I purchased a new refrigerator. I paid for delivery, but as I wasn't eliminating the old, it needed to be moved. Into the garage - easy, right? Not so much. It was too wide and hauling it out the backdoor and a sizable threshold seemed like a bad plan. Then it was how to make big fridge fit through small door. Answer: take the fridge doors off. Wait, still not so easy. Water & ice maker in door and they were connected . . . WHERE? In came the YouTube videos. Which I watched no less than 10 times. Yep, because that lovely water hose didn't quite disassemble in the 1-2-3 fashion that the instructions promised. Nonetheless, brawn eventually won out and the old fridge is now in the garage, and the new is in place. YouTube videos . . . yep, watch them. And if the first one doesn't make sense or is leaving out steps, check out another then another if necessary until you find an explanation video that makes sense. Or you realize that this project is outside your wheelhouse and need to call in the professional.

5) Finally, take pictures as you go.
a) you'll want to document your success. Yes, you will. When completed, you'll want to post the 'Ta-Da' moment. It's worth celebrating.
b) if you're repairing - that normally entails taking the original apart - then you'll want to remember exactly how it CAME apart.
c) if you get so far into the project and need to visit the hardware store again, those pictures of the progress can be hugely helpful to the experts to advise you.

Not every project in your home should be a DIY. Experts exist for a reason. There's no shame in turning over a project to an outside source. But there's no shame in wading into the DIY world and handling 'fix-it' projects on your own.

Happy repairing/refurbishing/refinishing!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Grey's Lady by Natasha Blackthorne - Book Review

Grey’s Lady (Wild, Wicked and Wanton – Book 1) by Natasha Blackthorne

1st Spoiler Alert – this novel is Book 1 in a series. While there is a Resolution, there is NOT a conclusion to the story or with these characters. But no grousing! Author Natasha Blackthorne has this as a current KindleUnlimited download, and has the book marked as a ‘Prequel’.

While historical, author Natasha Blackthorne offers readers a more unique setting as this story line takes place in Philadelphia, PA, spring 1812, where the Port of Philadelphia is blooming.

Attic-borne, Elizabeth (Beth) McConnell and wealthy merchant and shipping owner, Grey Sexton set the sheets on fire with their torrid meetings. If readers are searching for hot and heavy on page, then Grey’s Lady feeds that desire.

Beth, deserted by her first Gentlemen lover – and in her belief, her true love – finds herself trapped in a traditional woman’s role, and stifled under society’s expectations. Wanting, needing release, Beth embarks on a series of dangerous one-time encounters with other Gentlemen. To Beth it is about selectively choosing risks that will curb her sexual needs, then leaving those men after only ONE encounter. The men are left craving more, and Beth can never be ‘truly’ deserted, if she is the one who starts, ends, and controls the assignations.

Author, Natasha Blackthorne, deals with what is seldom considered during historical stories: were ‘ye olden women’ simply free of rampant sexual desire? Natasha Blackthorne takes on the task of answering that question as she weaves Beth’s character.

Grey, in his youth married a society belle, only to discover that name and rank were all that interested his wife. While a son is the result of their union, Grey finds himself in a cold, solitary bed. When his wife dies, Grey swears to keep his relationships to straight sex – a mistress – and not become entangled again.

Beth’s choice of Grey as her newest sexual conquest opens the story, and readers don’t wait long for the first carriage-bump-and-grind between these characters. Instead of Beth’s normal ONE AND DONE excursions, the two are drawn together again and again. Rather like the moth to the flame, but which is the moth and which is the flame is what keeps these sexual rendezvouses hot.

If wanton is a reader’s taste, then Grey’s Lady will satisfy the palate.

However – 2nd Spoiler Alert - readers need to be aware that these characters spend a great deal of their time ‘angry’ on page. Beth and Grey seemed trapped in this one predominate emotion and the characters miss an opportunity to develop more 3-dimensional attributes that could deepen the storyline.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Giving a Heart of Lace: Sweet and Clean Regency Romance - book review

Giving a Heart of Lace: Sweet and Clean Regency Romance is a lovely, sweet read.

How many times has a novel left you wanting to ‘thunk’ the historical heroine in the head, and say, “Take control of your life, girl. Stop waiting for the inevitable.”? Too many times for me. Giving a Heart of Lace: Sweet and Clean Regency Romance is a great change of pace from that normal historical and often, hysterical female character. While staying true to the period, Ms. Richmond has linked two characters—one confined to rank by constraints of birth and one a true victim of circumstances beyond financial control—who find themselves on the outside of the TON plate-glass window looking in. If the protagonists are guilty of a bit of bemoaning their fates, they don’t dwell on it, but rather find ways to survive and then thrive.

These are my favorite types of characters: the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootlaces characters.

Ms. Richmond also does a wonderful job of setting the scene for subsequent stories. Not to the degree where the reader is lamenting the fact that characters are introduced and then left hanging. No, it’s much more handily accomplished. Just a tease to know there’s more to come from this time period and this delightful author.

While some novels are meant to be deep and dark, full of plot twists, and crammed with villains, others are meant to provide a gentle respite from the world where heroes are obvious and the happy ending is guaranteed. Arietta Richmond has provided just such a delicate escape in Giving a Heart of Lace: Sweet and Clean Regency Romance.

Chasing Destiny - The Donovan Legacy, Book 2

As I'm currently working through edits -- CHASING DESTINY -- and always on the look-out for snippets to share during release, here are a few that caught my Tuesday morning muse.

My favorites for the day . . .

Garrick glanced toward the unopened bottle and glasses. She seemed far too at home, too at ease in his house. How long had this lovely stranger been living here—alone—with his father? “Enough of the cat and mouse game. Who are you?”

Some strange woman, with endless mahogany eyes, was making herself quite comfortable. He would have his answer, and now. Sultry voice and cooking skills included, she could be a dangerous distraction for any guy, and certainly for an older man who happened to be worth a large chunk of money.

“Your daddy warned me that you were the difficult type.” There was strain in her face now, the smile not quite as bright, the eyes more reserved. “Pit bull persistent with a touch of cynicism thrown in for good measure. Looks like he was right on both counts.”

“If you have nothing to hide, then there’s no reason not to tell me.”

A tiny worry frown creased her brow. Laying the plates on the table’s edge, she resettled the ball cap and studied Garrick for several minutes. “I’m the graphic designer who’s going to save your GQ fanny on the capitol’s restoration campaign.” She looked pointedly at the bottle. “Now, are you going to open the wine?”

Hot Texas summer storms marched across open prairie with less impact than an angry Garrick Shapiro.

The man quit the kitchen with a pivot turn that would do the military proud, only to return a short time later in his casual attire.

Without a word, he left the house and headed across the wide lawn.

Jaycee had known better than to follow.

If she learned anything with four brothers, it was that men needed their thinking space.

And God help the woman who infringed when their poor little brains needed room to expand.

“Does this mean,” Garrick patted the sagging office couch, apparently intending to ignore her sarcasm, “that you’ve decided I’m too difficult to live with?”

Jaycee rested against her desk and clarified, “I wasn’t living with you.”

“So, is that a yes or no to the difficult part?”

“Who are you?” Abandoning her casual lean, she rolled up to her knees on the office carpet and squared off with him. His eyes twinkled, and she’d bet her last Oreo he was funning her. “You’re certainly not the same guy who came home from London.”

“Jet lag. I get a little…”

“Cranky?” she finished.



He quirked an eyebrow at her, but answered, “Perhaps.”

“How about down-right scorpion-stinging, cactus-poking ornery?”

“You made your point.” He offered an olive branch. “Truce.”

Jaycee considered the tapered, but not pampered, extended hand. She was lousy at staying mad. It simply took too much energy, and at the moment she was desperately short of energy. Shrugging, she placed her palm against his then sucked in a fast breath when his fingers tightened, enclosing her in warmth.

Unfortunately, it's time to return to my other job . . . the one that pays most of the bills . . . so I must leave Jaycee & Garrick for later in the day.
But rest assured, they'll be jelling in my mind.

A Warlock Under The Mistletoe by S.S. Bazinet - book review

Are fantasies and fairy tales required for a happy ending? Or is true love the only necessary magic? In S.S. Bazinet’s Christmas release,...