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Fact to Fiction: Khamsin, the Devil Wind of the Nile

Khamsin, the Devil Wind of the Nile - A Novel of Ancient Egypt   Every movie lately seems to have “The Making of ...” clips. Well, here is a little insight into “The Making of Book 1 of the Legends of the Winged Scarab” series. With my historical saga, reaching back to 3080 BC, the question was how much research a writer should do on his or her chosen era. My answer: A lot. Next, how much “real history” should be incorporated into a novel. I’d say, 10%. Remember, it’s fiction. Readers want to be entertained rather than get a lengthy history lesson. When I started my research into Ancient Egypt (and I mean, really ancient), the biggest confusion was over city names. It would have been easy to use Memphis, for instance. But that name – like most of the commonly used ancient names – came from the Greek historian Herodotus who described many of the wonders he found in Egypt during his visit around 490 BC. My story takes place in 3080 BC, during the 2nd Dynasty (Old Kingdom). Therefore, I resorted to use the ancient Egyptian names (wherever I could find them). Memphis became Ineb-Hedj, the City…

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The Importance of Reading to Kids

 Importance of Reading to Kids Reading is an activity loved by people of all ages, but the benefits of reading to children, particularly before the age of 5, are endless. Reading helps children to develop their confidence, strengthen family relationships, as well as improving their social and academic skills. Through different stories and characters, children are able to learn about the world, cultures and people. This improves their understanding of real-life situations, as well as their ability to communicate with different types of people. Children are generally little balls of energy, and reading every day also helps to channel their concentration skills. The social and educational benefits are never-ending, however, reading to your child can, surprisingly, benefit their future financially. A study done by Lynn Fielding in her book, The 90% Reading Goal, suggests that reading to your child before they reach the age of 5 can have a significant impact on their lifetime earnings expectancy. The research is based off the notion that 77% of children who are able to read at a 2nd-8th grade level when they begin third grade will graduate high school. Contrastingly, only 27% of children who read at a level below this will graduate.…

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Australia, Apple Pie & The Only Blue Door

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes The Only Blue Door by Joan Fallon Joan Fallon’s historical novel, The Only Blue Door, was so intense and riveting that I found it hard to put down, except when anger course through me. The British Children’s Resettlement Program during WWII sent thousands of children away from the bombings in London for their own safety. Many were well cared for and happy. Yet a surprisingly large number of children, without parents’ permission or even knowledge, were told their parents were dead, and sent away to orphanages in Australia that were little more than deplorable workhouses that kept children in unhealthy, unsafe conditions and forced sexual, physical and emotional abuse on many in their legal custody. I wanted to cry out, “But you're supposed to be the good guys!” But they weren’t, they weren’t. The novel concerns itself with the fictional East End London Smith family with 3 children, Maggie, Billy and Grace, who were sent away to Australian Catholic orphanages after a devastating German bombing.  They were mislabeled orphans and instead of the care promised them, they were placed in cruel and abusive institutions. Much of the novel, without giving…

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A Swashbuckling Journey!

When two prolific award winning authors get together for some fun, watch out!  Anna Belfrage (author of the Graham Saga Books) talks to Helen Hollick (author of the Sea Witch pirate stories)- Anna shares Helen's great adventure- Pirates? Why write about pirates? I guess the simple answer is: because when I wrote the first of my pirate-based Voyages, Sea Witch, no one else, as far as I could discover, had done so. Read on. I adored the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, (not the others in the Disney franchise: they ranged from OK-ish to terrible). I was enchanted by it, and not entirely because of Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, (although that helped!) The movie was fun. None of it was meant to be taken seriously and nearly every scene had a laugh attached to it. Laughter is good for us, therefore darn good adventures, be they pirates, Star Wars sci-fi, Game of Thrones fantasy or whatever-floats-your-boat are good as well, be they movies or novels. They are also escapism from the daily grind, something we all need and enjoy. The problem with really enjoying something is that you are then left wanting more. For me I wanted to read…

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Enjoying Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup “In the Comfort of Shadows”

  In the Comfort of Shadows Laurel Bragstad’s novel, In the Comfort of Shadows, opens with a dream—or is it a memory? Main character Ann Olsen wasn’t sure, but she was sure that “adoption” was a bad word and not to be mentioned at home, unless she wanted to get everyone mad at her. Her daddy told her, “It’s a bad word, Annie. Aunt Inga shouldn’t say it, and I never want to hear you say it again.” In her search for her biological parents, Ann does more than pronounce the word.  She risks throwing away a childhood based on lies to find the truth.  “I wanted to know the rest of the story, that’s all. I just never dreamed it would end like this.” The author digs into her own recollections. At a similar age to her character’s separation from her biological mother, Laurel’s mother dies and as an adult, Laurel searches her own and older relatives’ memories to find more about her. Laurel told me, “As a child I used to make up stories in my head about who my mother was as a person, and I even daydreamed about what my life would have been like had…

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Launching your new book!

Florence Osmund  When it comes to marketing your book, one thing is fairly certain—people won’t buy it if they don't know it exists. A successful book launch will make people aware of your book so they will buy it and even help you promote it. You can do many things to launch your new book so that it gets into the hands of as many readers as possible. I’ve created the checklist that follows to guide you through the process, but I don’t recommend that you attempt to do everything. Pick out the ones that make sense for your book and ones you’re comfortable doing. Without promotion, something terrible happens...nothing!                                             P. T. Barnum What You Can Do Long Before Your Book Is Released □  Create your elevator speech. □  Develop an author website. □  Start a blog. □  Establish yourself in discussion groups on social media sites. □  Start building an e-mail subscriber list comprised of people who are interested in your work. □  Create your profile on Amazon’s Author Central page and Goodreads. □  Create a list of book promotion and book listing sites. □  Have business cards made. □  Draft promotional handout materials (post cards, book marks, posters, etc). □  Determine your target market…

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A great recipe from Susan & author Catana Tully!

Split at the Root Tully, Catana. Split at the Root Catana Tully, in her memoir, Split At the Root, takes her readers on an intense journey into identity, motherhood and what labels mean. At times despondent, at time joyful, the author pulls herself apart until she finds her core. Who we are is intrinsically connected to our family, our community, our race, gender and religion—among many the many categories we create to define identity.  Catana Tully wonders aloud why we need to check off the boxes about who and what we are. She checks other.  She told me, “The thing is, when you have a nationality that identifies you culturally, it is a shock to have to define what you are according to other people’s perception. It feels demeaning and disrespectful. One day we’ll all be ‘Other’ but that’s a long, long time away from now.” Yet Catana is driven to find the essential questions about her mother, family and culture. Where does she feel comfortable and at home?  It has taken many years and now, in her 70’s, she feels comfortable asking these questions. Catana’s story is unusual, in some ways magical and in other ways heartbreaking. Not sure if…

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Advice from Steena Holmes “Branding with Intent”

Writers: Don’t Give In To The Pressure By Steena Holmes on Apr 05, 2018 02:23 pm If you are a writer, raise your hand if you feel the pressure to rush your process and just get those books out. (my hand is raised and I know yours are too!) There are so many factors to this rush: bills are piling up so many of your writing friends are releasing books in quick succession you keep hearing this is the only way to get noticed (ie. 90 day window) any other number of reasons to feel like you’re missing out Can I say something that might be against the norm? Stop. Slow down. Don’t panic. I know, I know, easy enough to say, but hard to accomplish, right? I’ve been there, in your shoes when I saw my income going down and my bills piling up. When I would hear of others talk about their numbers and stepped back so no one would notice me and ask how I was doing. When I would visit different FB writing groups and the advice was to write/publish/repeat as fast as you can in order to increase your visibility. Every time I would hear…

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Civil War Mystery nourished with a Civil War favorite – Fried Apples!

Time Expo Time Exposure by Lynne Kennedy In Time Exposure, Lynne Kennedy makes Civil War photography the lens of her novel. “Photography hugely impacted the way society viewed the war….I combine my love of history and science with my penchant for mysteries!” Lynne does a superb job—an intriguing mystery, wonderful characters and exciting history.  All make this a fabulous read. Lynne Kennedy's Time Exposure.     Buttery Fried Nutmeg Apples During the Civil War, favorite sweet side or dessert was Fried Apples. In the field, it was typically made in a cast iron pan over a fire and worked well with tart apples. A variety of sweeteners could be used from honey or brown sugar, more available than white at the time. The Gibbs Museum in Charleston, South Carolina mounted an exhibit of Civil War photographs, which I went to see a few years ago. The black and white photographs were clear and surprisingly modern. There was the heroic; there were also the photographs that were brutal, unnerving and full of war’s agony. There was the view of Robert E. Lee’s home, with Union soldiers on the porch, his property made into the now national cemetery at Arlington. Lynne Kennedy’s Civil War historical novel, Time…

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Murder and Plum Cake? Sounds good to me!

Just for fun, I took a stab at writing in the style of author Elin Barnes to introduce the Plum Coffee Cake! Susan Saffron and Darcy walked into a small Palo Alto restaurant on University Avenue and took a booth in the back, away from the window. “So what do you want?” Darcy asked, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. The hair immediately came out. “I need some serious caffeine!” Saffron said. Darcy motioned the waitress over and read her name-tag. “Two coffees. What’s good in a coffee cake, Lisa?” Lisa smiled at the two. “The bakery just sent over a plum coffee cake to die for! Want me to bring over 2 pieces?” Darcy nodded. “But maybe not to die for.” Elin Barnes’ Justification for Murder Saffron Meadows is being stalked. Someone is trying to kill her. Repeatedly. Speaking to a police detective, she confides, “I feel as if I’m in a bad movie. These things don’t happen to regular people.” ‘You’d be surprised,” he said. At the ame time, Saffron is in a long relationship with Ranjan Balasubramanian whose family is arranging his marriage with a string of beautiful candidates from India. Her doctor’s patients are committing suicide.…

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