Feb 3, 2020 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Bruno, Chief of Police

Bruno, Chief of Police

by Martin Walker

What a delight this book was… is! The well-loved police chief of St. Denis, France is such a real character I felt I was reading fact instead of fiction. His policing techniques are bendable when it comes to the best outcome for his town and district, his friends and lovers. His talent for cooking is well known, and I have even tried some of his dishes, though don’t expect any recipes. (I had to read between the lines:) Through his eyes one can see the vistas and valleys from his house, or the trouble brewing in the market. Martin Walker has done a fabulous job, and as a writer, I envy him. Well done.

As a post script: I have to admit, I was leery, at first. The title didn’t do it, nor the cover. It was several reviews from readers that did it. So, Goodreads, take a bow.

Originally posted 2012-09-20 01:21:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Feb 2, 2020 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Bruja Brouhaha

Curses, Murders, and Lies – Oh My!

by Rochelle Stabb

Rochelle Staab’s “Bruja Brouhaha” is a fast paced romp around LA with Liz Cooper, who is trying to solve a mystery while squeezing in some real day-to-day living. Sandwiched between house hunting and buying pastries she has her hands full sorting out the dastardly deeds being heaped on the residents of Westlake. You see, her friend Lucia Rojas is a witch… a practitioner of Santeria, and has just hexed the neighbourhood in her grief.

As hellacious as our lives can be, there’s always opportunity for humour and creativity and these characters are no different – easy to see, easy to believe, and it’s easy to get sucked into their world. Bruja Brouhaha is thoroughly delightful!

Originally posted 2013-03-22 22:06:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Feb 1, 2020 - Blog, Just for Writer's    No Comments

NaNoWriMo 2013

If you would like to join me in the NaNoWriMo race this year, I invite you to meet here, and let’s cheer each other on! Plus, you can show off your awards [see 2012 here]. 

To participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), go to nanowrimo.org and fill out an account form. To choose Buddies, you need to start with one participant – you can use mine : nikichanel. Then go to My NaNoWriMo / Author Info / Writing Buddies or Buddy of (I don’t think it much matters which… heck, try both!), and click on a few more authors that have participated in the past. They won’t mind – they joined just for this reason – to share.

If you like human company to talk to while you listen to characters in your head, bookmark nikichanel.com/just for writers and leave a cheer or groan in the comment section. Feel free to visit often for inspiration to carry on. I’ll have cookies and milk : )

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Hi there; this is a new section for me, but I’m trying something different this year for NaNoWriMo; I will be attempting two projects. 

Yeah, I have gotten bitten by inspiration pretty badly. One is fiction, the other, not. Funny, though… the non-fiction inspired the new story in the Niki Chanel series. This first in the series was “The Ghost Club”, sub-titled ‘A Spirited Wine’. The second was “The Coma Club”, sub-titled ‘Death’s Door’. This, the third one is called “The Key Club”, sub-titled ‘One Man’s Treasure’. I’m still waiting for “The Wine Club” to gel. Maybe after NaNo…

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by Dennis Yang httpflickr.comphotosdennis3256153555

Getting on with the task approaching… if you join me, I’ll join you!

 

 

 

Originally posted 2013-10-28 16:00:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Feb 1, 2020 - Blog    No Comments

Curious Peeping Toms

“I was in Toronto, Canada last night.”

“I’m flying over the Arabian desert.”

“I was just in a seedy motel on 7th.”

“Coool.”

 

This recent conversation between writer’s and readers got me to thinking: until today I thought the two were opposites. I’ve changed my opinion. 

They are the same – we both want to see beyond the veil. We are curious. We want some adventure in our lives that doesn’t wreck our credit or cut our skin, it doesn’t hold us hostage (for more than about 350 pages), and we can save ourselves simply by stepping away from the text.

The dirty truth is we kinda want to look through the key hole.

You probably think writers know what they are going to write. That may be so, sometimes, but on the whole we are sitting at our keyboards, listening to voices in our heads. We are being entertained just as much as the reader who is watching it unfold. We aren’t so different – we want what everybody else wants: a couch potato adventure.

 

Originally posted 2013-11-06 21:59:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 31, 2020 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

For the Love of Romance… and Wine

Too many people seem to think that Romance novels are all about sex. If that were the case, only Erotica would be considered romantic.

Writing sex, however is not my forte; in fact, I don’t think of myself as a Romance writer. Rather I’m apt to weave romance throughout the story. Romance, the way I see it is about being aware of sensuality, both in one’s self and in the world around them.

For example, a romantic interlude between a couple from my favourite story might have you leaning across the picnic table for the salt and the person you have heartache for but won’t give you the time of day also reaches; your hands touch… your eyes meet. Then BANG! Birds rush from trees in fright, guests stand in shock, a drink falls over. The moment is lost – but not forgotten.

That table however, will undoubtedly be laden with a Mediterranean feast of vegetables – olives and the all important wine. This to me, is the essence of romance… relaxing with the ones I love. Colour me old-fashioned if you must, but my definition of romance is more about sensuality, than about sex.

In a story, as in life, If and or when togetherness becomes sexual, the beginning of the end must be near. The relationship is doomed to some kind of change. Either the passion peter’s out or the marriage becomes comfortable; either way the electricity of anticipation and mutual magnetic desire to seduce each other becomes diminished. The couple will have to work harder to keep the love alive: house, kids, love of work…

To my mind, this tenuous affection is a God-given magic; the magic of someone’s attention can make you feel beautiful and wanted. When you feel that kind of good, you are in the state of grace they talk about in Regencies, but notice it’s all too often in a ‘don’t touch’ sort of way. The attention you crave is wrapped up in hope – hope that you will see the heartthrob again, hope for that deep, timeless eye contact again; hope you will feel beautiful and wanted again. You anticipate. You hope. You romance.

That’s why the wine is so important. Remember the wine? It was on the table with the pesto noodles.

It’s not there to quench your thirst. It’s more like a lesson in lovemaking. It makes you pay attention to it. It fills your senses with romance, delivering a bouquet of gifts from the garden, a bright red ruby to put in your hand and dives in for a teenager’s kiss when you take it into your mouth. If a secret love is nearby, it’s an ice breaker. If the lover is known to you, eye contact becomes a promise. Anticipation. Those intense moments of passion leading up to the act is where the romance lives.

little bit left

And for those who find no partner, there’s always that glass of the sublime elixir to be your tour guide of the world, pointing out the beauty and meaning of life, and you fall in love with the knowledge and your experience. Somehow Mother Nature has created a love potion – a liquid lesson in appreciation.

After a sip or two of a rich Burgundy, any moon is gorgeous, the flowering tree is a marvel and the birds are speaking a language you can almost understand; your senses have been unveiled. You are in the throws of Romance.

not romanticIf you doubt me, just try stargazing with a Coke Cola or an energy drink and see how magical that is. Those drinks force you to pay attention, but to a different tune… because the romance is missing.

There’s that word again.

Hey, I have an idea; let’s go pour a glass of pinot and I’ll show you what I mean.

Originally posted 2012-04-27 11:20:27. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 31, 2020 - Blog    No Comments

Happy Holiday Editing

December.

To a kid, it means winter break, hot chocolate and presents. To a college student it’s winter break and a trip back home to see if your high school love is still yours. For parents, there’s no winter break – it’s double duty shopping, cleaning, and preparing for guests, food and gifts.

Writer’s, however, are editing their “NaNo”. All over the world National Novel Writing Month takes over and sucks up November by challenging writer’s to spew out 50,000 words or more.

No editing allowed.

That’s for December to consume.

So yes, I’m struggling with character inconsistencies, fleshing out settings, untwisting plot lines so I can re-twist them elsewhere, and sentence structure. But it’s the word-smithing that is the most fun – synonym smorgasbord!

Coming up with alternate words for death or hope really wakes me up. The story comes alive once I know exactly what feeling I’m sculpting.

What’s my least favourite thing about editing? Synonyms for also, so, and yet, for example. I hate it that we can’t use and reuse these overused words so we can all get on with the telling of the tale.

So *my favourite overused word* I went to Thesaurus.com, feeling a bit guilty for not clearing this hurdle all by my lonesome. Eureka! Eighty-four possible substitutes.

“I have to share” fever came over me. Inspiration to blog caused a frenzy of writer-ly activity: pushing the cat off my lap to gain better vantage of the keyboard, opening Excel to alphabetize, creating a columned document that I can copy with the Microsoft snipping tool…and heeere it is:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happier editing!

 

Originally posted 2013-12-11 13:24:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 30, 2020 - Blog, Inspiration    No Comments

Does Inspiration Come from the Soul?

A writer friend asked me “What was your personal inciting incident?” Like knowing where I got my first kiss, I knew exactly what made me do it – what made me want to write.

During my senior year in high school, I had an accident that caused me to be bed-ridden for months in traction; And, yes… from time to time I did look (and feel) like a mummy.

To ensure that I would graduate, my teachers prepared work for me to do at home. All of the assignments were pretty easy and straight forward… except English.

I was to write in a journal every day, read novels and write papers. Journal? Check. Read? Check. Write? “What Should I write about?” I asked my instructor. He sent me a series of articles he had picked up from various sources. He told me to choose one, and comment on the subject matter or write about how it made me feel.

I did all of them.

One in particular really awakened my imagination and opened my eyes to the world of the weird. It was a piece titled “Fire Walking in Ceylon”.

Wow! Everything about the story was new to me. Where is Ceylon? What’s fire walking? Why do people do it? Who had the idea to do it in the first place? What kind of magic or witchcraft is this – why don’t the ‘walker’ get hurt? This was totally new to me and exploded my complacent reality to smithereens!

My questions mounted, and I began to do research on these new subjects. For example Ceylon turned out to be Sri Lanka, a large island nation about 20 miles south of India. I was intrigued that a country would find it important to change its name while keeping its heritage intact. The strange nature of their monkey-told stories of evil magicians kidnapping princesses and free floating spirits in the air expanded my knowledge of far away exotic lands and culture lands;weirder still – they exist now. Thai dancers and royalty wore pointed hats of jewels and pointed shoulder pads, pointed fingernails and pointed this that and the other thing – kind of spooky, yet alluring. I had to know more. But first, the fire walking.

I was fascinated that people from all walks of life would endanger their feet with these red hot coals. For me, a paper cut is bad enough, but burning your feet?! It was all the more vivid for me at the time because I couldn’t walk, even with unburned feet. There was much more here than a dare. Finding out why, took me into the world of paranormal and spirituality, and I’m still intrigued by the genre of ‘Strange, but True’.

 Lady with shopping bag walking on coals, behind Monk

I found out that some people believe if you can achieve a thing that you, at first, think is impossible, it can break the chains of fear that bind you. Meditation of various forms is suggested to get your mind into a state that it will believe anything you tell it, rather than believing what it sees and nothing more. This is what separates the human mind from the animal kingdom; a cat or dog would no more walk through a fire pit willingly than a human would deliberately cut off their own hand. I also found out that Westerner’s learn how to fire walk while on vacation – they say it’s easy! *shock*

The conscious mind must also take part; one must decide to do this, then the subconscious mind is contacted through meditation or suggestive thought, if you will. Then the body melds with the higher brain functions and allows the individual to avoid harm during the experience. I still wonder, after all these years, if I could do it. Investigating the supernatural can be a life’s work and still one would only scratch the surface. Being in too much pain to meditate,  I decided to read up on Asian cultures.

I learned that history is always influenced by geography. I saw how a mountain range or large desert affects not only a tribe, or a nations travel but their attitudes, superstitions and religions. Take the Chinese and their dragon lore. It explained the mist rising from a crevasse that you wouldn’t want your children to play near, so you tell them this story that grabs their imagination and voila you have a traditional myth lasting hundreds of generations. Then someone includes gemstones growing between the dragon scales and now you have my attention! So I studied geology of the region, which in turn took me to gemmology. The gems of southeast Asia are plentiful and extensive. Apparently, one can take a shovel and, with eyes closed, drop it blade first into the ground and you have a gem mine! Topaz and moonstone; ruby and sapphires. I eventually became a gemmologist through the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) when it was located in Santa Monica, and did further studies with the Fellowship of Gemmological Association (FGA) Great Britain. That’s inspiration!

The real purpose of this story was to answer my friend. It has become an illustration of how one can be bitten by the writing bug anywhere, anyhow and at any time. So beware!

From this English assignment on, I wrote about what I saw and thought, what I heard and read about and of course, I wrote about things I did, places I went and people I met. Now I write what the characters tell me to write; characters that I (almost) believe have found me and realize I can be a conduit for them by way of the written word, to tell their stories next to my own… like taking dictation from the spirit world.

So, if you are interested in being a writer and you find yourself asking “What shall I write about?”, then I’d say look for that thing that infuses you with a million questions, and read a lot looking for your answers. Don’t worry – your characters will find you. The rest is easy.

Originally posted 2013-05-16 14:37:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 30, 2020 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

5000 Year Old Wine May Cure What Ails You

I was reading about the tunnels under the Giza Plateau, a relatively new archaeological find in Egypt, when I was intrigued by another link. It took me to information about an early Egyptian ruler, the Scorpion king. Yep, he really existed, though not as the movie portrays him.

multiple jugs of wine_ScorpionKingTombIn April of 2009, Archaeologist Patrick McGovern and colleagues have found a cache of wine jars in Scorpion’s tomb that contains herbs and tree resins. They believe the additives were for medicinal purposes.

McGovern is sharing his new information with Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. Using residue of ancient winebiomolecular analysis, they are attempting to recreate the recipes of the wine find. The purpose? Maybe the ancient Egyptians were on to something – like a cure for cancer. While the concept of utilizing archaeology to help cure disease is thrilling, I can’t help but wonder why the Egyptians felt a dead person needed medicine.

Evidence is looking like these remedies are as much as 3350 B.C. Interestingly these appear to be imported wine concoctions as the Egyptians did not, at that time, produce their own wine. If you were an Egyptian ruler and imported medicated alcohol, wouldn’t you try to preserve peace with that exporting nation? Sometimes I think we could use a little bit of that wine, and the political friendship it fostered.

Original article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/090413-scorpion-king-wine.html

Originally posted 2012-11-18 04:42:32. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jan 29, 2020 - Blog, Spooky Stuff    No Comments

Hot Mid-Summer Nights

It’s hot. I can’t sleep.

The open window is my only source of cool air and there is no breeze. Staring into the darkness unable to rest, I resign. Better to read than stare at the ceiling for hours.

I flick on the lamp and resume my current supernatural suspense.cross-eyed Almost immediately I am visited by a butterfly. Cool! It (He? She?) lands on my nose and seems to be staring at me with its orb-y, stickin’-out eyes. Not a moth; a butterfly – the small monarchy looking one. I stare cross-eyed back at it, wondering why it’s awake this late at night. G-d alone knows what the butterfly is thinking. It must have something to do with rotating antennae. This is so weird I fight the compulsion to brush it away and we stare at each other. It’s still better than looking at the ceiling.

I have always felt that personal experiences with animals proved that a direct connection to the realm of magic and alien life was possible, like a kind of message from the universe, or a mystic calling. It’s happening to me again with this butterfly. When I was nine I thought about such things all the time. Always hoping for another sign of the magic, I took silver linings seriously, wanting to know if there were any golden linings.

Lately, it has been raccoon’s. A mama coon with four babies visits us every night, early enough to be entertainment with dinner. I have learned that giving them some leftovers from the fridge keeps them from turning over the garbage cans. I know the dangers and keep my distance but I get to watch. What intrigues me is the eye contact; they look right into a particular part of your soul, transmitting an extra-sensory warning: “If you do anything to scare me, I will never trust you again.” It’s a contract, and I obey. Besides, what if they can hear my thoughts? “Aw, she thinks I’m cute.”

But Babs the butterfly is sending me sweet nothings and we’re becoming friends. I felt a deep relaxing sigh well up from the depths, and right on cue Babs gently takes her leave and saunters, as only butterflies can, out the open window. Is it my imagination or is it cooler?

Yep, it’s cool enough to put down the unfinished fiction and turn out the light.

Was that magic? Coincidence? Alien contact? D, none of the above? I drift into the unknown buoyed on a breeze from hundreds of black and orange fans.

Originally posted 2013-07-29 03:06:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Mar 22, 2006 - About Niki    No Comments

About Niki

Niki Chanel is a character created by Alexandra Kent, author of Supernatural Suspense.

This website is written in Alex’s point of view; her view of an insecure “Creative”, driven to write, draw, compute, sculpt, paint – anything to break out of her personal prison of shyness.

In the first book of the Niki Chanel series, two teenage girls, Alexandra and Monique meet and become the best of friends. Together they create a stage character named Niki Chanel. They quickly find that either of them can use the Niki persona to collect information, gain entrance to high levels of society, and that fame is not always fleeting. They also realize Niki is in danger.

This notebook website is written in Alex’s point of view; she says it keeps her sane.

 

Author bio ~

Alexandra grew up in Europe living in a three hundred year old farmhouse, complete with a ghost. Is it any wonder that her characters get involved with altered states of reality, be it through a deck of Tarot cards or a glass of wine? She folds her own weird experiences into tales filled with neurotic neighbours, frustrated friends, eccentric relatives and little known history.

Originally posted 2006-09-06 16:22:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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