100!

100

Welcome, Readers!

It is with heartfelt gratitude that I write this post.  Today, in my WordPress notifications, I got the best news:  I have reached the milestone of 100 follows to my blog!

This may seem like a minuscule accomplishment to many.  I personally follow blogs with many more followers than on hundred.But for this small town author, it means the world, and I couldn’t be more pleased!

I have used this as a forum to showcase authors and their work, to discuss both classic literature and new reads, to talk about issues that writers face, and delve into perspectives in the publishing world.  Through the years of my authoring this blog, I have learned a lot, shared a lot, and met a lot.  I am humbled by all of you who have read, commented on, and liked my posts.

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Thank you.

Thank you for the follows.  Thank you for the comments through the years .  And thank you for taking an interest in my writerly work.  I am beyond excited for what is on the horizon.  It continues to be an honor to share it all with you.

 

When All Else Fails…

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Good evening, readers!

This is not my usual Sunday night planned post, for a few reasons.  First, it’s not Sunday.  Second, this past week found me unable to produce much in the way of writerly thoughts.  And third, well, it’s pretty much tied to the second reason.  Stress, with some confusion and befuddlement over various goings-on sprinkled in for good measure.  No matter where I turned, it seemed, I felt/feel like things are off kilter and out of my control. And social media isn’t helping, at the moment.

So, to combat this, I did two things.  First, I read a book that had been on my TBR for a while.  I have been sharing my enchantment with THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP, by Nina George, on my various social media feeds, and a review of it will be coming soon, here on this blog.  *Swoon*…

And second, when I finished THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP,  I turned to my own work in progress; the one thing I currently have complete control over.

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My works in progress; conceived by me, researched by me, nurtured by me, encouraged by me,  and eventually released into the world by me.

To have these works in progress, gifts that they are, at my disposal is a blessing during times like these is a treat.  I can revisit my characters whom I adore.  I can rework my plots to my liking.  I can create something completely new if I want.  It’s a very liberating feeling.  Writers, or any artists, really, are blessed with this ability to create.  In times like these, I am grateful to have this ability at my disposal.

It’s true…When all else fails, I can grab a pencil, and be off in a world of my choice.

Mind you, I didn’t write a whole lot of new content this week, because, again, confusion, stress, and befuddlement.  But it was time well spent.  Stepping out of my world of confusion and into my writing world for a while did me some good.

Actually, it did me a lot of good.

Tonight, before putting this post together, I took a look at what I did manage to write this past weekend.  I have a secondary plot line developing, and am heading in for the home stretch of the book.  All awesome things, that came out of necessity for me when all else failed.

Thanks for stopping by today!

 

 

Greetings from Maine!

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Hello, readers!

Today I write to you from one of my favorite, most inspirational locations, coastal Maine.  I have always been fond of the ocean, although not being in the ocean, but being near it.  The sound of the surf, the lighthouses, the happy puffins, and today, the way the striated clouds parallel the horizon, makes me quite content.  I find inspiration here, in this setting, even though the wind makes my cheeks frozen and numb.  What is it about the ocean, specifically Maine?

 

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Back in 1990, I flew with my friend Jenny to Spain, and spent a few weeks living with a family which we had met when their daughter was an exchange student at our high school.  It was our first transatlantic flight, one where we would actually need a passport, and we were all of nineteen years old.  On the return flight, our plane made a surprise stop in Bangor, Maine, at which time I viewed for the first time the beautiful, lake-filled, ocean-coasted landscape of that state from the window of our plane. At that moment, I made a pact with myself that I would be sure to visit and spend quality time in Maine.

Nowadays, my husband and I make at least one yearly trip to Maine.  During that time, we visit familiar and unfamiliar places.  I draw much inspiration from the sea and the surf here. On one visit, we saw some beautiful harbor bells for sale.  These multi-toned bells are crafted to mimic the unique harbor bell tones of the various harbors on the coast.  We purchased three different bells that visit, each representing the bell tones from different places:  Cape Cod, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth.  Each sounds different, and each represents both a lonely and uplifting spirit.  Here are some sound samples.  What do you think?

Cape Cod Buoy Bell

Chesapeake Buoy Bell

Portsmouth Buoy Bell

I learned from the vendor that all buoy bells are different, each one a unique combination of tones, distinguishing it from the bells of other harbors.  I have also since learned that there is a long history of these bells in Europe as well.  We ended up keeping the Portsmouth buoy bell, and gifting the others to our parents.  We leave our bell up year round on our front porch.  Even the smallest breeze sends the mournful, yet hopeful tones through the air.  We love its sound.

Coastal Maine and buoy bells were an inspiration in my Harbor Bells Trilogy.  Here is a small snippet from chapter 1 of book 1, tentatively titled, THE FIRST HARBOR BELL:

An old man, with skin transparent enough to see the veins and sinews beneath, sat on a stump.  Mangled and contorted, his bony fingers grasped a walking stick, gnarled with knots of the tree from whence it came.  His knuckles, enlarged and swollen with age, protruded profoundly, threatening to burst through the very skin that was holding his aged body together.   Around his shoulders, a cape, threadbare from time and wear, fluttered as a breeze floated past. 

In the distance, a harbor bell sounded.  Its three-toned broken chord, resonated within James.  It was a familiar sound.  One that he had been around his entire life in coastal England. 

Today, though, the bell’s music felt somewhat different.  As if a trance threatened to overtake him, James stood, looking intently at the caped man. He was captivated.

While this book is still in the early draft stages, I am happy to share this bit with you all.  If you listen to the samples of the buoy bells above, what do they make you think of?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments 🙂

Writerly Reflections and Resolutions, 2016/2017

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Welcome, Readers!

Happy New Year!

I hung up my Music Teacher Hat last week so I could celebrate the holidays with my family and friends.  Along with that, my family is blessed with both of my children’s birthdays during this week as well (December 27 and 29), making this week, for them, the gift that keeps on giving.  I love it!  In the quiet times of this vacation, though, I get to reflect on the year which has passed, and lay down some plans for the the coming year.

2016 brought with it the loss of many familiar people in our lives.I write about the loss of David Bowie here, but we said goodbye to so many other public figures in 2016 as well.  One loss of a very personal nature was Great Grandfather Dede, who was a World War II veteran.  A couple of years ago, he took part in the Honor Flight, which was such an emotional experience for both him and us.  His burial was incredibly moving.

2016 brought with it some fantastic writerly news, as I landed a publishing contract with REUTS Publications, began an internship with Golden Wheat Literary, and signed with agent Jessica Schmeidler, who is representing my writerly works.  I also worked along side a screenwriter to adapt one of my novels, which was as fabulous as it sounds! Here is my adrenaline-charged post about that. 

Finally, after struggling with a work in progress that seemed to be too much to handle, I had an epiphany, and mapped out the story as a trilogy, of which the first draft of Book One (The First Harbor Bell) is two-thirds complete.  I am super proud of that, as it is a story that has been brewing within me for at least five years, and whose initial seeds were planted when I was only fifteen.  I can’t wait to share The Harbor Bell Series with you!

As I roll into 2017, I have three resolutions.

  1.  I hope to continue the trajectory I am on with my writing.  I am on a serious roll with The Harbor Bell Series, as well as a couple of other things, and I resolve to continue my forward-moving progress on those fronts.
  2. I resolve to stay “above the line” as much as possible, in all aspects of my life, writing or otherwise.  For those who may not understand what that phrase means to me, here it is:  “Above The Line” means to focus on the positives in life, and to be the change I want to see.  Dwelling on the negatives is destructive, and I don’t have time for that.
  3. I resolve to get back on my weekly blog-posting schedule.  It’s very doable, and I miss it.  Along with that, I further resolve to let go of any guilt quickly when life happens and I might not be able to post on that schedule for a time.  Things happen, and it’s not the end of the world.

So, there you have it.  Wish me luck, but I know I can do it!  What are your thoughts as we leave 2016 and head into 2017?  Post your comments here!

Everything is FANTASTIC!

Hello Readers,

I don’t often get watch television programming that is current, meaning, I watch shows after the fact, via Netflix or Amazon Prime.  I am sure many of you all are the same.  But this past week, I heard, from across the house in the living room, the following hauntingly familiar melody:

Hedwig’s Theme, composed by John Williams, and harmonically analyzed here by Mark Richards on his Film Music Notes site.  It’s FANTASTIC!

Take a listen:

It’s FANTASTIC how a single line of music notes can bring back a flood of memories and feelings.  The tones of this melody sent a familiar chill up my arms.  I thought for a brief moment that my daughter had put in a DVD, and the preview for one of the Harry Potter films was on it.  After all, she would not be watching a Harry Potter movie, simply because they had never been her thing.  But I think that magical day is finally coming…more on that in a bit!

But it wasn’t a preview.  When I walked in to the living room to see what was going on (because, you know, Harry Potter always makes me look…), things got even more FANTASTIC!

She was watching television…actual current programming. And the music I heard was from the end of the trailer for the latest film about the Wizarding World:  Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them!  (Cue the trumpets).  It’s really happening!

I wrote about what J.K. Rowling’s magnificent series has meant to me through the years in a blog post last Spring.  But now, this new film is set to be launched mid November, and I simply cannot wait.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is one of the trailers:

It’s all FANTASTIC!

The memories, the feels, the awesomeness that Rowling created has returned, and I can’t wait to see how this American Wizarding World plays out.  The original series occurred during a part of my life when my son was the perfect age and mindset.  It was something we shared together, as a family.  My daughter is eight years younger than my son, and never got into it, though.

Until now!  This is the most FANTASTIC part of all!  That preview sparked a real interest in her.  At a rating of PG-13 (Fantasy Violence being cited), I don’t know if Fantastic Beasts will be appropriate for her or not.  But in any case, I am thrilled that I will get to relive Rowling’s world with my daughter.  It is a very special thing.

Who else is excited about this?  Let me know in the comments!

Novel Noshing: Foods Inspired By Our Novels and Characters, Part 4

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Welcome Back!  Today’s headlining picture makes me think of my favorite thing about autumn baking…apples and cinnamon.  Here in the North Country, Autumn is in full swing.  Cool, crips nights, and sun-shiny days illuminate the colorful trees here in the Adirondacks.  It’s the season for steamy drinks, comforting casseroles, warm breakfasts to get us started in the morning.

Which brings me to our featured author of the week.

For this fourth installment of my series, I present to you author Melody Winter, and her soon-to-be-released novel, INIQUITY.  Here is Melody, with a bit about her upcoming release.

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Village life for my characters in Iniquity is hard. Food is limited, and meat scarce. But the one meal that’s made every morning is a hearty bowl of porridge. The men need a filling breakfast to see them through a day working at the fields, and the women usually eat their fair share as well. The weather is cold, miserable and it often rains, hence a stomach full of warm porridge is a good start to everyone’s day.

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Athena mentions having to soak the oats overnight. This was a traditional way of making porridge. For each serving, the equivalent of 50 grams of oats was added to a mix of 300ml water and goats milk if it was available. The following morning it was cooked in a large metal pot over hot coals, stirring constantly until it boiled, and then stirred again for a further ten minutes.

Unfortunately, in Iniquity there isn’t much else you can add to the porridge as fruit and other plant growth is severely hindered by the lack of sunlight. The villagers only grow the necessities.

INIQUITY is due for release on the 25th October, available through amazon, or a signed paperback direct from Melody. The ebook is currently available for pre-order at a special discounted price on amazon:

Amazon.com: Link to Iniquity on amazon US  

Amazon.co.uk: Link to Iniquity on amazon UK

Email Melody: melodywinterbooks@gmail.com

About the author:

Growing up, Melody showed a natural ability in art, a head for maths, and a tendency to write too long English essays. Difficult to place in the world when she graduated, she pursued a career in teaching, but ended up working in finance. Melody is convinced the methodical times she spends working with numbers fuel her desire to drift into dream worlds and write about the illusory characters in her head.

Melody Winter lives in York, North Yorkshire, England with her husband and two sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or preparing for another trip to the nearby beaches at Scarborough and Whitby. With an obsession for anything mythical, Melody revels in reading and writing about such creatures, and creating her own.

 

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Novel Noshing: Foods Inspired By Our Novels and Characters, Part 3

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Welcome back, Readers!  The picture above, which fits our literary/food theme so well (and apples for Fall…what could be better!), comes to us from literarytravels.net.  The caption under their photo states, “From Proust’s Madeleines to William Faulkner’s Mint Juleps, great literature has always influenced readers’ experiences of food.”  Even though I focus this blog series on new novels, and the authors who wrote them, the sentiment rings true.

For today’s installment of my food-tastic blog series, I introduce you to author CC Dowling…and Liv, the main character of her novel, CONDUIT.  To get us started, here is a scene from the novel which mentions the recipe included here.

Set up: Liv is on her way out the door for the first day of school when she spots breakfast.

        As I head to the back door to get my bike, something in the kitchen catches my eye. Pancakes! I drop my backpack with a thud and belly-up to the breakfast counter.

      Elia knows I can’t resist her almond meal and flax seed pancakes with pure Grade B maple syrup. I dump way too much syrup on the plate before unfolding the note that’s in serious danger of becoming sticky.

Liv,

Today is a big day for you, the first of many to come. I read in an online article that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I know, I know…the debate rages on. Just in case it’s true, I hope you will consider this pancake offering as brain food—not that you need any help.

I’m so proud of you.

Knock em dead.

Love,

Mom

      Tears fill my eyes, threatening to spill over and streak my mascara. Using the note as a fan, I dry my tears, resisting the urge to rub and smear my mascara. When I’m sure the moment is passed, I toss the note into my backpack and lick every last crumb from my plate before putting it in the sink.

Now, in her own words, here is Liv Hartley, from CONDUIT, by CC Dowling.

Hello everybody! My name’s Vivienne Hartley, but you can call me Liv for short. I’m a freshman studying naturopathic medicine at the California College of Natural Health in sunny Fallbrook, just north of San Diego. A few fun facts about me: I ride my bike everywhere, when I’m not jumping through dimensional portals; I’ve died once already and it isn’t fun, I don’t recommend it; and I have a love of food. Seriously, I can’t get enough, especially when my mom cooks. Her all organic, health conscious food with ‘tude makes even my grumpy afterlife caseworker mumble a polite request for seconds.

So, in the spirit of sharing (Ha! Yes, even the dead like puns), here is the recipe for Elia’s famous-to-me gluten free, paleo friendly, banana and cinnamon pancakes she made for me the first day of school. Because she loves me. And because she rocks.

 

Banana Cinnamon Pancakes

  • 1 ½ cups pancake mix (obviously, Elia makes hers from scratch. But I’m a student. I don’t have time for that.)
  • 1 1/3 cup Almond Milk (I used sugar free because I don’t need the extra sugar.)
  • 1 ½ very ripe banana (Either fresh or frozen is fine.)
  • 1 to 2 tsp cinnamon depending on taste
  • 1 Tbsp Raw, organic Cacao powder (Or more to preference.)
  • For added flavor you can add a pinch of sea salt and/or vanilla or almond extract
  • Actually, you can add anything you want. I mean, be creative people

 

Preparation:

  • Mix ingredients with a blender. Why? Because it’s easier. If the mixture isn’t runny enough, you can add either more almond milk or water until desired consistency is reached.
  • Heat cast iron skillet on medium heat and add a dollop of coconut oil.
  • Cook pancakes in batches depending on size of pan. Also, if the pan gets too hot, you can remove it from the flame for about sixty seconds and then resume cooking.
  • When you’re done, garnish with blueberries and grade B maple syrup. Also, if you have a study hangover from the night before, and you want to treat yourself right, you can add chocolate chips into the batter. Your mouth will thank you. Trust me.

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Ta da! Congratulations! You now have amazing, delicious brain food to last you the day. Well, at least until lunch. I hope you enjoy, and I hope you add to your reading list CONDUIT, Book 1 of the Infinity Series, written by CC Dowling. It’s a story about me trying to figure out the afterlife, and how to have a life. You might have to wait until 2017 to get that novel into your hot little hands, but you don’t have to wait to enjoy my favorite pancakes.

OH! Also, if you have a brilliant, amazing, utterly yummy idea on how to improve said pancakes, please leave a comment, and I will try them all. Uh, probably.  Maybe. Depending on what you suggest.

About CONDUIT:

Two things happen to Liv Hartley the day she turns eighteen: Freshman orientation and a tattoo. College she’s got covered. After all, she was a senior when she died the first time. The tattoo, that’s something new.

Liv quickly discovers there are consequences to bearing the coveted infinity symbol marking her as a Conduit—a reincarnated messenger of the Otherworld. When reaping souls, dodging a possessive demon, and straightening out her love life are the least of her worries, she’ll soon realize that getting a second chance doesn’t mean getting a better one.

With more questions piling up than either answers or bodies, there’s only one thing Liv knows for sure. Life doesn’t get any easier after death.

About the author:

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When she was a child, CC Dowling knew two things. That she would never have kids, and she would be a writer, which makes her right half the time. CC currently lives in America’s finest city with her grade schooler (who plays in the back yard with the faeries), her toddling daughter (who loves everyone and can’t stop smiling), her husband (the financial shaman), her aussie (with mesmerizing blue eyes), and her very real pet dragon (who guards the perimeter of her house at night). When she’s not working or writing (which is still technically working), CC can be found lost in a good book and a dark piece of chocolate, or desperately trying to figure out which pair of sandals are the most appropriate for the harsh Southern California winters.

Her debut novel, CONDUIT, is the first in a New Adult Paranormal series.