Monday, 10 August 2020

Guest Post: Life is for the Birds by Cozy Mystery Author Janis Lane...


Photo courtesy of Ks Kyung Unsplash
Nature and the Birds. Nature fascinates me, but I confess I lived in Alaska for four years and never once thought to use my binocs on a perching bird. We were all into whales, moose, goats, eagles and such like. The big stuff. I weep thinking how I missed puffins. Right away I want to recommend a book whether you are new to the hobby or an old hand, “The Crossley Guide of Eastern Birds.” (or go to the library.) You’ll need to look for a similar copy for your area, i.e. Western. The pictures are exquisite. For ordinary daily bird identification, I use an Audubon Society Guide to Field…whatever nature interest you. These books are terrific Christmas or Birthday presents for any age. I keep one in my car and another in the house.

Photo by Geran de Klerk Unsplash
We only feed backyard birds in the winter. Coons and other type creatures (rodents) are abundant in the summer months, plus the birds find plenty of food available. Occasionally the weather warms and we are visited by every gray (a few red) squirrels within a mile. Otherwise they are tucked away until spring. Last Christmas our daughter gave us a fool proof squirrel bird feeder. I swear it works. Has a small motor. When the When the squirrel climbs aboard, it triggers the motor which starts the perch twirling. We applauded one squirrel who managed to hang on by one paw for three revolutions although perhaps the poor fellow would need a bit of physical therapy afterwards.

After surgery when I was confined for a time, my hubby mounted small plastic feeders right to my window. It was fascinating to a shut-in like me. Highly recommend.

Lots of different selections of bird seed. Expensive and the best is black sunflower seed. We even had a young deer climb up on the deck to reach the spilled seed. Types of field glasses are many and varied. You’ll find the ones that you like best. Cornell Lab in Ithaca, NY has great birding information and sites. Do indulge.

SANDPIPER AFFAIR, the first of the Abby and Adam Adventures, was my love affair with nature. I only sort of wrote a story to go with it. There I have confessed. Actually, I created a nature photographer and a park ranger who allowed me to follow them around as they lived out their lives in Middle Florida. Who knew we could all have so much fun? It is a romance and a mystery as well. If I have tickled your curiosity regarding the environment, I am pleased. If you enjoy the story as well, I am ecstatic.


Abby Naycomb, wildlife photographer, found more than scintillating images of the birds of Central Florida. A handsome park ranger turns her world upside down even as a criminal stalker seeks to threaten her life.

Who knew trespassing in the restrictive area of a Florida State Park to get the perfect shot of the sand hill crane family would wind up with Abby Naycomb, wildlife photographer extraordinaire, meeting the most handsome park ranger in the world? Mating/nesting birds were the subject of her quest but finding those intense blue eyes in the lens of her camera was distracting and hormone inciting.

Adam Rawlings, millionaire park ranger, was as shocked as Abby when she accidentally discovered a murdered man buried in a shallow grave in the sand.
Face to face with an exciting relationship with Adam, the perfect man, leaves her no excuse for backing away from a growing intimacy. Vagabond Abby must consider relocating if she wants to continue an invaluable relationship with Adam, the original home town hero.

Abby struggles as she continues to work deep in the breathtaking wilds of Central Florida while trying to ignore the menace of a serious and threatening stalker. Her task was to reexamine long held premises and prejudices while admiring the southern flora and fauna through the lens of her camera. Bird and nature lovers alert.

SHORT TEASER

Busted in Bird land. Still...what a calendar he would make with that uniform, that smile, those shoulders. She stifled a sigh of pure visual pleasure.

You had better stop it, Miss Smarty. He has the authority to fine and kick you out of the park permanently if he so chooses. Holy Moly-- love a uniformed hunk!

Stoppit!

She stifled a giggle which was riotously rolling around deep inside her, threatening to break out. He continued to loom, gazing thoughtfully while she fidgeted in her warm nest sheltered by the dune. Surrounding them, the sporadic wind blew the smell of something baking in the sun. With her face turned upward and her eyes half-closed against the glare, she awaited her fate. She offered a weak smile while trying to bring into focus his face which was back lit by the bright sunlight. It couldn't hurt, she thought, and tried for puppy dog eyes pleading for mercy.

"Leave this area, and I'll forget your lapse of good manners--this time. Don't let me catch you trespassing on restricted lands again. This is a nature preserve. Visitors may not wander about-- especially during nesting season," he added giving her a stern look. "And that goes for well-meaning, good-looking, lady photographers as well."

Janis Lane is the pen-name for gifted author Emma Lane who writes cozy mysteries as Janis, Regency as Emma, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma's new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Recipe and Reveal: Mouth-Watering Rouladen and Kidlit Cover Reveal for A Haunting Birthday Party by Tina Ruiz...

I was born in Germany where my mother frequently filled our home with the most amazing aromas. This is one of my favorite recipes and I want to share it with you.

Rouladen - Braised Stuffed Beef Rolls

6 slices top round steak, 4 x 6 inches, sliced
½ inch thick 6 tsp. German or coarsely ground mustard
½ cup onion, chopped fine - divided
5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
3 dill pickle spears cut in half lengthwise
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Toothpicks or kitchen twine
3 tbsp. lard or vegetable oil
2 cups water
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Place meat between 2 pieces of cling wrap or waxed paper. Gently pound meat to ¼ inch thick. Be careful not to tear the meat.

Spread mustard along meat slices. Sprinkle on ¼ cup onion and garlic. Lay a pickle piece at the bottom of each roll or the narrow end.

Roll meat into a cylinder starting at the pickle end. Pierce with toothpicks to hold together or tie with twine.

Brown meat on all sides in a medium size frying pan. Lay rolls in a roaster pan.

Add water to the frying pan and bring to a boil, scraping the sides and bottom to collect all the meat bits. Whisk in four and butter. Pour this mixture over the meat rolls.

Bake 1 hour or until meat is fork tender. Remove toothpicks before serving.

If you prefer a thicker gravy, combine 2 -3 tablespoons flour in ½ cup water. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, to your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper then stir into roasting pan gravy.

Boiled potatoes or dumplings along with red cabbage make this meal complete.

Cover Reveal for Halloween children's book from Tina Ruiz!


This delightful book is another wonderful collaboration from writer Tina Nykulak Ruiz and illustrator Ishika Sharma. This creative duo knows how to put life and fun into children's books to encourage young people to read. As with all of Tina's children's stories, there's a moral at the end.

A Haunting Birthday Party is now available on Amazon August 1, 2020. Be sure to watch for it!

Tina Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children's stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz wrote twenty-seven books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school.

Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor's office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor's Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It's usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary's New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children's Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children's books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

Monday, 27 July 2020

The Gift of Change by Author and Playwright Elliott Baker...


Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
When you hear a joke, whether by surprise or skating along a fearful or embarrassing subject, your body automatically prepares to freeze, run, or fight. It marshals energy sending it to the appropriate centers to prepare for immediate action. In a real fear situation, the physical after effect is often trembling as the muscles vibrate to release unused tension. Laughter, like vented anger is another exhaust valve for this unused energy. Good comedians can craft stories that take us right to the edge of fear without pushing us over. Great comedians can see the energy build in the moment and intuitively know when to allow its release in laughter.

As a playwright, I’ve had the privilege of working with great comedic actors. Two in particular come to mind. Energy is energy and can be directed where we will. Certain moments in a story will be sad or frightening and the playwright mostly crafts the energy line where he wants it, releasing the tension at a point and in a way that he feels supports and furthers the story. An intuitive actor will recognize the accumulated energy point and know that it can be released by the audience as laughter with only an ad lib word. So, these two brilliant comedic actors would recognize those moments and champ against not being able the receive the wash of laughter and attention that one ad lib word would release. They would usually make it till the end of the run, sometimes the last night, and then, they’d pull on that string and the audience would release that tension in gales of laughter. As the playwright, it didn’t light me up, but I accepted it as a cost of having these brilliant actors bring my words to life. And I am still incredibly grateful to them both. Energy can be used for whatever we choose.

Image by Firentis from Pixabay
So, what can this possibly have to do with the soul-destroying racism that we are face to face with? I’ll offer one disclaimer here. I’m not a psychologist nor do I have an advanced degree or initials after my name. I am a thoughtful human, just like you. Our existence here is a result of our grouping together to craft more creative and life supportive responses to life’s threats. Racism is a threat to all of us, to our future existence. Some is not a life supportive word.

Living organisms only change the status quo in response to threat. We now have an opportunity. Now. The proponents of the status quo know this and will use every method to encourage our exhausting the energy of the moment before it can congeal into change. They will goad us to action, usually destructive which accomplished their intention venting the threat to their status quo. No matter how self-serving and threatening to our continued existence the status quo might be. We can tremble or vent in rage or use this energy moment to craft concrete steps to initiate change. Will these steps be the magic answer? Probably not, but they will be a beginning which is more powerful than all the anger and platitudes. Anger is easier and frankly, in the moment feels so good to exhaust that tension and energy. Sitting still, holding on to the energy of anger is hard. Putting pencil to paper and coming up with concrete steps toward change is even harder especially when you know that at least some of what you say will be gainsaid and ridiculed. That’s where courage gets its opportunity to come on stage. It’s been waiting in the wings for its que. It’s always been standing in the wings for all of us.

Step one:

We/I’ve made a mistake. We/I can do better.

Step two:

Delineate the mistake as clearly as possible, both as existing habit/rule and traditional response. Tear the mistake into as many pieces as you can. Put each piece of the mistake under a microscope. Throw tradition into the trash. Evolution considers all possibilities, and even some that may not look possible.

Step three:

Craft the change. Revise.

But… Here come the buts. But we’re only one institution/person. How can this possibly have an effect on the whole?

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash
Energy is thought. Thought is energy. I call it the law of small things. I won’t waste time trying to support the science of a thought gaining power until it goes viral. Nothing is lost. Energy is not destroyed. Time spent thinking creatively and positively is never wasted. Even this rambling discourse which no one may ever see is not wasted. I care. And this is my best effort at supporting the social evolution I see as absolutely necessary for humanity’s survival. More than that, I adore my children and grandchildren, and most of my moments these days are spent worrying about the quality of life they will have, or if they’ll have life at all. We are so beautiful. All of us, the children and the adults no matter each one’s chronological age. Please don’t waste energy on punishment, rather direct it toward your best creative potential in compassion and we’ll come out of this as amazing as we’re meant to be.

In 1969 I failed. I protested, I railed against the status quo. We failed. We allowed our collective energy to dissipate. We pulled the string on the moment and released its energy. The opportunity passed by as opportunities will. Fortunately, they come around again. As long as we survive, we will get another chance. Until we don’t. This is your time. Do the homework. Be specific. Gather resources and consensus. Quietly, peacefully, gather the energy of the moment and direct it like a laser against our childish abuse of each other. PERSIST. Our grandchildren are counting on you. Yes, mine and yours to be.

Here is a little from my first novel in The Sun God's Heir series. I hope you enjoy it.

For three thousand years a hatred burns. In seventeenth century France two souls incarnate, one born the child of a prosperous merchant, the other, determined to continue an incarnation begun long ago.

In ancient Egypt, there were two brothers, disciples of the pharaoh, Akhenaten. When the pharaoh died, the physician took the knowledge given and went to Greece to begin the mystery school. The general made a deal with the priests and became pharaoh. One remembers, one does not.

The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco.

After ages in darkness, Horemheb screams, “I am.” Using every dark art, he manages to maintain the life of the body he has bartered for. Only one life force in the world is powerful enough to allow him to remain within embodiment, perhaps forever. Determined to continue a reign of terror that once made the Nile run red, he grows stronger with each life taken.

Bordeaux, France

Three men bled out into the dirt.

René stared at the hand that held the bloody rapier. His hand. Tremors shuddered through his body and down his arm. Droplets of blood sprayed the air and joined the carmine puddles that seeped into the sun-baked earth. He closed his eyes and commanded the muscles that grasped the rapier to release their tension and allow the sword to drop.

Years of daily practice and pain refused his mind’s order much as they had refused to spare the lives of three men. The heady exultation that filled him during the seconds of the fight drained away and left him empty, a vessel devoid of meaning. He staggered toward an old oak and leaned against its rough bark. Bent over, with one hand braced on the tree, he retched. And again. Still, the sword remained in his hand.

A cloud shuttered the sun. Distant thunder brushed his awareness and then faded. Rain. The mundane thought coasted through his mind. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve and glanced down hoping to see a different tableau. No, death remained death, the only movement, that of flies attracted to a new ocean of sustenance.

The summer heat lifted the acrid blood-rust smell and forced him to turn his head away. Before him stretched a different world from the one in which he had awakened. No compass points. No maps. No tomorrow.

Buy Links


Award winning, international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, Return, book one of The Sun God’s Heir trilogy.

A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his website. Stay connected on Twitter and Facebook. Like Elliott's Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Balance 101 for Authors...


It’s been over eight years since the first novel in my young adult time travel series hit the cyber bookshelves. To this day, I remember that there was so much to do, and it felt like there wasn’t enough time to do everything. Sometimes, I still don’t. I needed a time portal just to get all my marketing and promoting put in place or at least a diary. This included getting a website up and running, ordering promotional giveaways, setting up blog hops (are they still a thing?), writing a multitude of blog posts, and joining the appropriate social media networks. The lists seemed endless, and when the date finally arrived for my book release, I was wearing my shoulders as earrings.

Needless to say, by the end of my first book blog tour, I was exhausted, spent, and bent out of shape. Even my eyelids ached.

What I learned from the whole experience years ago is that authors need to learn to structure their writing life, or their writing will take a nose dive. We need to learn to create balance so that the task of being a writer plus a marketer plus a promoter doesn’t wear us down. So, how do we do this when so much is expected of a writer nowadays?

Start with finding your comfort zone. Find your personal comfort level with promotion or marketing, do that and do no more. That’s it. Do it. Or you’ll get burned. If you don’t heed my advice, then sure as shooting, negativity will leach into your writing. And that’s the last thing a writer wants!

Need help finding your comfort zone? Go to the dollar store and buy a timer or download a timer app on your phone. It will be one of the most important investments (and cheapest) as a writer you will make. For less than two dollars you can purchase a piece of sanity to help you organize your writing life and keep you in your zone. Set your timer to check emails. Fifteen minutes? Twenty minutes? Then do the same for Facebook and Twitter. But keep in mind which activity will help you as an author in the long run. Apply the 80/20 rule. Write (produce) for 80%, promote and market for only 20%. After all—social networking is a marketing strategy—as long as you treat it as such. Then, once you have laid the timer law down, set it for how long you want to sit and just write, with no interruptions (unless the dog or you really need to pee).

So, stop pushing the zone. Relax. Let go. Breathe.

That doesn’t mean writers shouldn’t learn or try new things. By all means learn and try. Get your hands dirty if you must. But don’t burst a vein in your brain doing it. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself that you collapse into a quivering mass of writer goo. As writers, we must protect our work—and ourselves. It takes time to build an on-line (and off-line) marketing presence in this publishing world. Learn this, cut yourself some slack, and prosper.

Thank you for reading my article! How do you find balance as a writer? Do you use a timer, or have you tried other ways to create balance in your writer’s life? If you're a reader, had you realized all the tasks an author must do to get their novel into your hands? Love to read your comments!

Ready for a holiday trip to Atlantis? Here's a brief intro to one of my time traveler books.

There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.


AMAZON BUY LINKS

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Audio Book Tour: The Collar & The Cavvarach by Fantasy Author Annie Douglass Lima...

A GRIPPING YOUNG ADULT ADVENTURE!


About the Story:

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire's most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie's escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences. One is that slavery is legal there. Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).  

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil. It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with "have a rack"), an unsharpened weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge. Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades. You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

More About the Story

Set in a world alarmingly like our own, The Collar and the Cavvarach is the story of fourteen-year-old Bensin, a slave, whose status is made obvious to everyone by the steel collar locked around his neck. A martial artist who competes to win money for his owner, Bensin fights in tournaments with a cavvarach. But his greatest battle is the struggle to protect his little sister from the horrors of legalized slavery in a world where slaves have few rights. Desperate to keep her safe, Bensin struggles to find a means - legal or otherwise - to arrange for her freedom.

(For a fun introduction to the story's setting and its culture, including an explanation of how cavvara shil works, click here.) 

Sound Like a Book you Might Enjoy? 

Click the play button below to listen to the first 15 minutes of the story as narrated by Joseph Baltz.

Click here to go to the audiobook on Audible.
Click here to go to the audiobook on Amazon.
(Either way, try listening to the free sample to see what you think!)

Like to Read Along While You Listen? 

The Collar and the Cavvarach ebook is available for FREE from July 14-18. Grab your copy now!



Enter the Giveaway to Win a Bundle of Action and Adventure eBooks!



About the Author

Annie Douglass Lima considers herself fortunate to have traveled in twenty different countries and lived in four of them. A fifth-grade teacher in her “other” life, she loves reading to her students and sparking their imaginations. Her books include science fiction, fantasy, YA action and adventure novels, a puppet script, anthologies of her students’ poetry, Bible verse coloring and activity books, and a fantasy-themed cookbook. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Annie can often be found sipping spiced chai or pomegranate green tea in exotic locations, some of which exist in this world.

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGoodreads
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/anniedouglasslima
LinkedIn: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnLinkedIn
Sign up for author updates and receive a free ebook: http://bit.ly/LimaUpdates

Monday, 13 July 2020

Celebrate Summer New Orleans-style with this Tasty Dessert and a Sneak Peek at a Southern Gothic Read by Leigh Goff...

Here is a dessert I confiscated and made my own. This New Orleans treat is perfect on a special night for two as well as holiday gatherings and everything in between.

Here are a few tips to make preparing this dessert easier:

Soak the raisins in bourbon before you start this recipe. You can even soak them a day or two ahead. 

The bread you use should be a little dry. If the bread you are using is fresh, after you cube it, spread it out on a sheet pan and put it in a 200° F oven for 10 minutes.

Go easy on the bourbon sauce. It is strong! But so delicious.

Bread Pudding

1 cup raisins
¼ cup bourbon whiskey
1 loaf French bread, at least a day old, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 qt. milk
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. allspice
¼ – ½ tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. butter, melted

Combine raisins and bourbon in a small bowl. Cover and soak for 1 to 2 hours or until the raisins have absorbed most of the bourbon.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Pour milk into a large bowl. Add bread and press into milk with your hands or a large spoon until all the milk is absorbed.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until frothy. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, allspice, and cinnamon.

Pour over bread mixture. Add bourbon-soaked raisins, with or without the remaining soaking liquid. Stir gently to combine. Pour melted butter onto bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Coat the bottom and the sides of the pan well with the butter. Pour in bread mixture then egg mixture.

Bake 35 – 45 minutes, until liquid has set. The pudding is done when the edges are just brown and pulling away from the pan edge.

Bourbon Sauce

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
½ cup Kentucky bourbon whiskey, amount according to taste

Make the bourbon sauce while the bread pudding is cooking.

Melt butter in a saucepan on low heat. Whisk in sugar and egg. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove pan from heat.

Do not allow mixture to simmer! Or the sauce will curdle. By the way, if your sauce curdles, just take it off the heat and blend it smooth in a blender.

Whisk in bourbon. Whisk again before serving. The sauce should be soft, creamy, and smooth.

Serve with whiskey sauce on the side. This dessert is best eaten the day it is made.

Please allow me to share a sneak peek of my Coming Soon Southern Gothic book while you enjoy your pudding.

Koush Hollow: Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

Preorder at The Parliament House

Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans, will release on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Monday, 6 July 2020

Guest Post: History - the Most Important Timeline of All by Carol Browne...

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels
Covid-19 is a game-changer in so many ways. It is making people rethink their lives, their jobs, their relationships, their aspirations, even their diets and the way they treat the planet they live on. The virus landed like a bolt out of the blue, illuminating the dark places in our lives and altering our perceptions. Many things that were thought of as important are now shown to be superficial and shallow. The way we structure our days has also come under intense scrutiny. Two areas of human activity in particular are undergoing a much-needed overhaul, and they are employment and education. People who can work from home during the lockdown can see the benefits of making this permanent. Meanwhile, many parents who have been home schooling their children are wondering if they should continue with it.

I was discussing this with a close friend of mine who has been working from home and is considering home schooling. She was concerned about peer pressure at the school one of her children attends and how it has had a detrimental effect on the child’s self-esteem. It is always hard to be different. It’s equally hard for an adult to do something different from what is considered normal. We often stick with the status quo for fear of being criticised. But, as the memes insist, the virus has shown us that normal wasn’t working. It’s time to create a new paradigm for living and my friend has seen the beneficial effects that home schooling has already had on both her children.

But this isn’t a blog about home schooling! When my friend and I were discussing different ways of educating her children, I reminded her of how we used to be taught history. We started as far back as the dinosaurs and moved forwards incrementally to the present day. As a result, I have had a mental image in my mind of every century down the ages with major events recorded on this timeline of history, so that I know where I am in the great scheme of things. I can see how mankind got to where it is today. It is like belonging to the timeline of humanity where everything makes sense, even the bad things, because wars have causes that can be traced back and great transitions, like the one we are experiencing now, can be anchored in time and better understood.

Do children still learn history this way? I meet so many young people who have no idea what happened before World War II (and don’t see the socio-economic and political factors that brought about that global conflict). Yes, they know about the Romans and perhaps the Ancient Egyptians but can’t pin them down to a particular era.

Photo by Fauxels from Pexels
And here in the UK how many of the people who are so proud to be British know anything about the history of the British Isles? Why do we use the words British and English; what’s the difference? We were a nation of immigrants long before the Roman occupation, during which time we really were British but not English. If everyone understood that we have all migrated here from other countries, would we rethink our current attitude to immigration? And if we knew more about our imperialist past with its horrors of slavery and oppression, would we see how racism developed and be better able to reject it?

Everything that happens is a lesson and the lessons of history will keep repeating on the timeline until we decide to take a stand and say no more. Only by understanding the timeline of the past can we see the need for change in the present. Allowing children to grow up without reference points or connections to ancestral knowledge, is not giving them freedom. It leaves them adrift in the modern world not knowing why things are the way they are. To teach children the lessons of history is to give them the tools they need to make their world a better place and create a brighter future.

History is important. In my book Being Krystyna – A Story of Survival in WWII I showed how intolerance for other people’s differences can lead to persecution and conflict. Krystyna herself always feared the Nazis would return, and looking at world events today I think she was right. One way to stop the resurgence of such evil is to make sure that the lessons of history are never forgotten. But first we have to learn them.

Here is a brief introduction to my book. Thank you for reading it.

It’s 2012, the year of the London Olympics, and for young Polish immigrant Agnieszka, visiting fellow countrywoman Krystyna in a Peterborough care home is a simple act of kindness. However, the meeting proves to be the beginning of a life-changing experience.

Krystyna’s stories about the past are not memories of the good old days but recollections of war-ravaged Europe: The Warsaw Ghetto, Pawiak Prison, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, and the death march to freedom.

The losses and ordeals Krystyna suffered and what she had to do to survive, these are horrors Agnieszka must confront when she volunteers to be Krystyna’s biographer.

Will Agnieszka find a way to accomplish her task, and, in this harrowing story of survival, what is the message for us today?

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Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.