Friday, May 31, 2019

BOOK: I Need Christmas by Carol Ann Kauffman


After a depressing year of sadness, loneliness, and self-doubt, successful civil engineer and former All-American basketball star Elizabeth (Betsy) Curry returns home to Oakville, Ohio, for the Christmas holidays a depressed and broken women. Reeling from her bitter divorce from the handsome, charming, but morally decrepate Tommy DeMalio, her college sweetheart and first big love, who left her after two years of what she thought was a good marriage for a stripper he met at an office bachelor party for her co-worker, Betsy feels lost and empty. Not exactly anticipating the happy holiday with her family and their multitude of joyful Christmas customs and long-time storybook-like traditions, she knows she needs them in order to heal. 
Once comfortable at home and feeling somewhat better about herself, Tommy shows up and claims he wants a reconciliation, throwing her back into the self-destructive cycle of doubt, hostility, and suspision she is trying so hard to escape.
She discovers her father has set her up with his protégé at work, the tall, handsome, athletic red-haired Patrick, who, try as hard as she can, she can’t find a single thing she doesn’t like about him.
So, what’s the problem? Betsy feels it’s too soon for her to love again. How can she love anyone again when she doesn’t like herself or what she’s become since the break-up. Also, she fears she will hurt the sweet, gentle Patrick.
Will the love, joy, and goodwill of the holiday season coupled with the many long-time holiday customs and Curry family traditions help Betsy to find herself again? Will she be strong enough to lift herself out of her self-induced prison so that she can take another chance on love?

Amazon Buy Link: http://mybook.to/INeedChristmas

Dear Gentle Readers,
“I Need Christmas” was a challenge to write! Three authors from Books To Go Now Publishers decided to write a trilogy of Christmas stories called An Oakville Family Christmas. That is not unusual. If you read my “A Dilemma for Daisy”, also with Books To Go Now Publishers, it was a series of five stories revolving around a bookstore in the imaginary Ohio town of Oakville. The books were written in a sequence. The Christmas stories, though, were to take place simultaneously. Each would have the prospective of a different member of the Curry Family. My character was Betsy Curry, the younger daughter, a successful civil engineer with a mess of a personal life.  I think you will really like it.
Hugs,
Carol


Thursday, May 30, 2019

ART: Looking Through the Glass by Parker Kaufman



Looking Through the Glass by our own Parker Kaufman, prominent collage artist from Texas, is another one of his wonderful art pieces.  In the artist's own words:

"Lewis Carroll's novels, Alices's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, are the inspiration for my latest surreal work. In the latter, Carroll writes of an alternative world that Alice enters by stepping through a mirror and the strange things she finds there. Today we use the phrase "through the looking glass" as a metaphor for a time or place where things are not what they should be. I twisted the expression to title this work, "Looking Through the Glass", a 16" x 20" yardstick and poster board piece."

                                                    - Parker Kaufman
                                                      12-04-18




Wednesday, May 29, 2019

INTERVIEW: Cozy Mystery Author Sharon McGregor


Sharon McGregor
Vancouver Island 
British Columbia, Canada.




Good morning, Sharon, and welcome back to Vision and Verse. Can you tell us a little about what you've written?

Island Charms, Murder At The Island Spa and (coming soon) Murder on Quadra Island in the Island cozy mystery series.

Old Shadows, New Murder, and (contracted and coming soon) Murder Is Handy  in the Boarding Kennel cozies.
Five Can Keep A Secret—a mystery/suspense.

Escape To Mulligan Lake—a romantic suspense.

Prairie Dreams contains three romance novellas set in the historical western prairies.

I have also published three collections of short stories—A Baker's Dozen Romances, A Baker's Dozen Flash Mysteries, and Front Porch Shorts, a collection of short humor starring the escapades of a small town couple approaching retirement age.

I have just completed the first draft of a mystery set in the 1950s (working title is Ask Me No Questions, #1 in Those Killer Fifties) and am plotting the fourth in the Island mysteries.

Wow! You've been a busy girl! What is your favorite genre to write?
My first publications were historical romance centered in the western plains of the last century, but I think cozy mysteries have captured my heart. I'm happiest when I can combine the three elements in one story—mystery, romance and humor.


Favorite food.
Pickerel—freshly caught, breaded, and fried in butter in a cast iron pan over a campfire.


Tea or coffee?
Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon and herbal tea in the evening.


Pizza or ice cream?
Hmmm. That's tough, but let's give in to my sweet tooth and say ice cream, especially if it's maple walnut.


Wine or beer?
White wine, but I wouldn't turn down a dark rum now and again.


Where would you like to visit?
Almost everywhere. I had my trip of a lifetime to the UK last year but I'd love to go back and I also want to see more of Europe—France, Germany, Italy.  I want to go to Tanzania on a camera safari and take the balloon ride over the Serengeti Plain and see Olduvai Gorge where Mary Leakey found homo habilis.  I want to visit Australia and New Zealand. Oh and I want to see the Inca ruins in Peru. The only place I don't want to go is Antarctica. I've spent too much time and energy fleeing west to escape the prairie cold.


Favorite musical artist.
Loreena McKennett. I love her Celtic ballads; she has such a hauntingly beautiful voice. I also like folk music from the 60s— now that dates me. And I could listen to Gershwin, especially Rhapsody in Blue, forever.


Do you listen to music when you write?  What?
Sometimes, but I can't listen to anything with lyrics as it distracts me, so I keep background music as instrumental only. I like soft jazz.


What makes you laugh?
I loved the old television variety shows. Carol Burnett and her troupe kept me in stitches—how can you not laugh at Tim Conway? I'm a fan of British sit-coms, especially As Time Goes By with Judi Dench. In books, I enjoy the humor of Stuart McLean.


Because this is an Art and Author blog, I'm obliged to ask: Favorite work of art or sculpture.
North Shore Lake Superior by Lawren Harris.


How old were you when you started writing?
I was an only child growing up on a farm, so I did a lot of make believe in my head, but didn't begin writing it down until I was in high school. Then life stepped in and writing got sidetracked until years later.


Describe your perfect evening.
A walk along the ocean, possibly a bonfire, then home to a social evening with close friends (I love playing canasta), then a quiet read before bed. I'm not much of a party animal.


Where do you get your inspiration?
From family and friends, people-watching, stray tidbits of conversation, then a follow up of "what if?" For Autumn Dreams, I called on the experience of my two aunts, both one-room school teachers in the 1940s. For Acres of Dreams, I started with the story of my grandmother who was sent to Canada from Ireland in the 1890s to find a suitable husband. After the original premise, it's all fiction, of course. For my mysteries, I start with a victim and surround him or her with suspects who combine traits of real and imagined people. In all cases, it's the "what if?" that starts the plot.


What do you do when you get a writer's block?
I usually have more than one project going at a time, so if I run into a wall on one, sometimes it helps to switch to another, especially in a different genre. If I'm really blocked, I don't fight it—I give in and take some time off. It never lasts. It's amazing how a walk with your dog or watching a hockey game with your grandson will clear the cobwebs away.


Who is your favorite author?
Agatha Christie, hands down! I've read all her mysteries several times each and her short stories and the novels she wrote under the name of Mary Westmacott. I think my favourite is Come Tell Me How You Live, which details her life experience, mostly on the archaeological digs with her husband Max Mallowan.




Best book you ever read.
That opinion changes on a regular basis but right now Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale springs to mind. It was years ago that I read it but now it's coming back again with the release of the series based on her book. For some reason dystopian stories seem to stay in my mind the longest. Ayn Rand is unforgettable as are Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.


Last book you read.
Next, an autobiography by Gordon Pinsent.




What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
I would be an archaeologist. I love history, especially pre-history and I can easily picture myself on a dig with bucket and spade, toothbrush and ice-pick, digging away in the hot sun.


Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
Probably my mother. She's no longer with me, but I often hear her voice in my head when I'm looking for advice on what to do. She had a very strict sense of ethics and values and I know I often fall short, but her influence is still there.


If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
That would be Richard III. He has to be the most interesting historical figure, reviled by Shakespeare (who was well aware in Tudor times on which side his bread was buttered) and supported centuries later by his own fan club of Ricardians. Was he saint or sinner? Heartless murderer or maligned scapegoat? I would like to look him straight in the eye and ask him if he knew what became of Richard and Edward, the princes in the Tower.



Do you have a pet?
This is my muse—Clio, my ShihTzu, named after the Muse of History.


What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
My first reaction would be 'Don't'. It can be painful and heartbreaking. But the rewards do outnumber the downsides. You'll never feel alone with all the conversations going on in your head, you'll never be bored, and you have control over how your stories unfold. I would add— write only if you love it and don’t feel you're a whole person without it. You have a one in a million shot to make a living at it. But while most people only get one life to live, you get as many as you can invent.


Do you have some links for us to follow you?
Facebook page-Facebook.com/SharonMcGregorauthor
Web page-www.sharonmcgregor.com
Blog-www.sharonmcgregor.com/blog
Amazon author page-https://goo.gl/CR3Btv

Twitter-@sharonmcgr

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

BOOK: Book Review, Antiques & Avarice by Jane Firebaugh



In Antiques & Avarice, White Mountain Romantic Mysteries, Volume 1, Jane Firebaugh weaves a tale of romantic suspense in this White Mountain Mystery that leaves the reader wanting more, more, more. 

This was my first time reading Ms. Firebaugh, but I will be on the lookout for her next one. Strong, likable characters like the kind, sensitive Olivia who loves animals, and the handsome, protective Josh, who's also very good at his job. 

Add a well-developed plot mixed with the lure of discovery in the antique business and lovable animal companions, all set in the beautiful, woodsy Vermont White Mountain country setting make this mystery a great read!

Amazon. Buy Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Antiques-Avarice-Mountains-Romantic-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B018ND2KK8/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2F6JOT434AXJQ&keywords=antiques+and+avarice&qid=1556053587&s=digital-text&sprefix=Antiques+and+Avarice%2Cdigital-text%2C145&sr=1-1-catcorr   

Monday, May 27, 2019

BOOK: Denizens Among Us by James Quinlan Meservy



Vamp got back on his feet, raised the Unbreakable Blade, and charged at Arctyrus. Arctyrus held Boi-Bresch with both hands on the hilt and watched his brother approach, standing his ground, waiting patiently for the right moment to attack.
When Vamp had covered half the distance between them, Arctyrus felt Boi-Bresch urge him forward. Arctyrus charged. The Unbreakable Blade felt what was coming and pulled all the power it could muster out of Vamp. Boi-Bresch started to glow as she reacted to the peace, joy, and love emanating from Arctyrus.
The Unbreakable Blade was raised, and Boi-Bresch was raised. The two blades struck one another with such force that the resulting shock wave hurled the two denizens into the air.

KINGDOMS RISE, ONE PROPHESY AFTER ANOTHER

For the people of the Realm of Light, this has always been the mantra; a foreboding concept of both men and beasts. As prophesies speak of new leadership that will bring the realm into a time of perpetual peace, four Denizen Clans exist in a tension-filled truce beneath the shadow of war. The Kingdom of Buz-Perr-Addock, ruled by Lord Yrimwaque, Jacob Hunter and his Queen, Svet-Lan-Addock, rules in fear of rebellion from the other three. While Lord Yrimwaque’s heirs - Arctyrus Hunter and his twin Amyrith, along with their cunning, younger brother Vulktyramous Hunter – are being groomed to inherit the Kingdom of Buz-Perr-Addock, Arctyrus becomes concerned with rumblings of an uprising from his brother Vulktyramous, whose main goal is to destroy the other Denizen Clans of the realm by recruiting other armies to his cause.

Arctyrus forsakes the throne of Buz-Perr-Addock by attempting to warn the other clans of his brother’s impending attack in hopes of unifying them against Vulktyramous. By doing so, Arctyrus hopes to restore peace and end the tyranny between the Denizen Clans of the Realm of Light once and for all. But the prideful clan leaders refuse to heed Arctyrus’ pleas and attack Vulktyramous and his followers individually, minimizing Arctyrus’ cause and making Vulktyramous all the more powerful. Amyrith remains indecisive between choosing which brother to follow while struggling to follow the will of her father. But in love and war, everyone aligns with one or the other and the fate of the Realms will hinge on that decision, forever.

Denizens Among Us is a Prequel to James Meservy’s debut hit, The United: The Realm of Light Book Series.


Buy Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Denizens-Among-Us-Realm-Prequel-ebook/dp/B07QYJYDD6/

Sunday, May 26, 2019

SCHEDULE: May 27 - 31, 2019

Schedule
Mon., May 27 - BOOK: Denizens Among Us
by James Quinlan Meservy
Tues., May 28 - BOOK: Antiques and Avarice
by Jane Firebaugh
Wed., May 29 - INTERVIEW: Cozy Mystery Author
Sharon McGregor
Thurs., May 30 - ART: Looking Through the Glass
by Parker Kaufman
Fri., May 31 - BOOK: I Need  Christmas
by Carol Ann Kauffman

Friday, May 24, 2019

BOOK: Christmas at Star Lake by Carol Ann Kauffman


Madison Rand runs Rand Solutions, an unusual and very helpful agency in the beautiful town of Silver Maple, New York. The police inform her that her highly qualified, specialized employees are targeted by a professional killer and are being picked off, one by one. To save their lives, she closes down her business, sends them all away, and retreats to a friend’s cabin at Star Lake to figure out who is after them and why. 

But danger follows her to the cabin in the woods at Star Lake, where an old ghost from her past reappears on Christmas Eve, hellbent on revenge, and the madman tracks her through the underground caves at the lake. 


Shots are fired. A body drops to the ground. Is it Kyle Miller, the love of her life, who followed her to the cabin to propose on Christmas Eve? 

The air is thick with treachery and deceit. The body count is rising and old friendships are put to the test. But Madison Rand believes in miracles, especially at Christmas time.


Amazon Buy Link: Christmas at Star Lake http://mybook.to/ChristmasStarLake


It’s the perfect time for a Christmas Murder Mystery! Somebody is killing off Madison’s employees, so she closed down shop, sends everyone home, and heads to a cabin at the lake to think. What could possibly go wrong? 1.99 #mystery #amreadingromance #Christmas

This action-packed sequel to Madison 's Christmas is brimming with suspense and humor. It is the second book in the Madison Rand trilogy. The third one is a work in progress. A humorous note:
The publisher requests no dead bodies in this one! 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

ART: The Sculpture DIGNITY by Dale Claude Lamphere




Did you know there is a fifty-foot stainless steel statue of a Native American Sioux woman near Chamberlain, South Dakota? Her name is Dignity and she's the creation of sculptor Dale Claude Lamphere. 














Wednesday, May 22, 2019

INTERVIEW: British Author Kerry Postle

















Good morning, Kerry, and welcome to Vision and Verse, the Place for
 Art and Authors. Tell us a little about what you've written. 
Here are some websites:
https://theartistsmuseblog.wordpress.com/ (for paintings in the novel)
The Artist’s Muse, a novel about the life of Wally Neuzil, model to Gustav
Klimt then Egon Schiele, 2 of the most influential artists of the 20th 
century. It shows the great impact she had on their work while showing
the toxic impact they had on her life and reputation. An unequal 
partnership but one from which she learns and grows. 

What is your favorite genre to write?
My first novel is historical/literary fiction. It was the subject matter that 
appealed to me as opposed to the genre per se. I went to an art 
exhibition in Vienna, saw rooms full of paintings of the same model, 
Wally Neuzil, but could discover very little about her other than she 
had been humiliated then discarded by the painters she served. I looked 
into the history of the time – gender, art, politics – and was shocked to 
see the deep-seated misogyny at its core. To see Wally’s life in this 
context brought her story alive and compelled me to tell it through her 
eyes.


 Favorite food.
Oh! I love all food. My favourite? Spaghetti 
alle vongole. Or mussels…or langoustines…
pretty much love anything Italian and seafood.

Tea or coffee? 
Coffee. I love the smell of it. Though when 
I’ve drunk too much I switch to tea.

Pizza or ice cream?
Pizza.

Wine or beer?
Wine. Red, white, sparkling.  Sometimes 
forget sparkling is NOT lemonade…


Where would you like to visit?
At the moment I’m writing a novel about the Spanish Civil War and so I 
would like to visit Madrid, Malaga and Barcelona. However, my starting 
point would have to be the small village of Fuentes de Andalucia as I 
have chosen the atrocity that occurred there as the trigger for what 
happens in the rest of the novel.

Favorite musical artist. 
I have eclectic tastes and my favourite changes according to my mood. 
Though if pushed, I would say that my enduring loyalty goes to David 
Bowie. Favourite song ‘Heroes’. 

Do you listen to music when you write?  
Sometimes. Though sometimes I like to read my work back to myself 
to see if the sentences flow. I look to give them their own musicality in 
which case I then need complete silence. 




What do you listen to? 
Billie Holiday, 
Amy Winehouse, U2, 
Patti Smith, folk music, 
some jazz. I’ve even been 
known to listen to music 
from the country and time 
I’m writing about, just to 
get me in the mood.




What makes you laugh?
Great satire makes me laugh and can be so cathartic. People often 
take themselves far too seriously and it does them and everyone else 
good when their bubble is burst. 

Favorite work of art or sculpture.
I have to say ‘Portrait of Wally’ by Egon Schiele although Botticelli’s 
‘Primavera’ takes my breath away.

How old were you when you started writing?
I started writing in my teens, wrote articles in my 20’s and 30’s, though 
didn’t finish a novel until my early 50’s. A late starter.

Do you plan out your book with outlines and notecards? Or just write?
Oh, to be a good planner! I try outlines, but when I start to write I end up 
going completely off-piste. After The Artist’s Muse I was determined to 
be stricter about planning but now I’m on my second novel I’m making 
the same ‘mistakes’. I imagine that this way of writing (where I go off at 
tangents) is the most natural for me. It takes me into directions I hadn’t 
considered and when I look back at what I’ve written, it surprises me that 
it’s usually better than what I’d planned.

Describe your perfect evening.
My perfect evening would be dinner out with my family. To share food, 
wine and conversation with the people I love is, for me, one of life’s 
greatest pleasures. 



Where do you get your inspiration?

Inpsiration for The Artist’s Muse 
came from a visit to an Egon 
Schiele exhibition at the Leopold 
Museum in Vienna. 




For images of the paintings go to

I wasn’t looking for a story to write but it presented itself to me 
nevertheless. Images of the artist’s model were everywhere – 
some beautiful, all challenging, others disturbing. I wanted to find 
out more about this woman, so integral to the artist’s work. Then, 
when I did, I wanted to tell her story. 

Similarly, with my second novel about the 
Spanish Civil War, it was the treatment of 
girls and women by Franco’s rebels that 
propelled me into action. The brutal, sexist 
punishments meted out to their female 
‘enemies’ – such as dosing up with castor oil, 
shaving their heads, raping…- inspired me to 
write their story. I don’t see myself solely as 
a feminist writer  but female issues are central 
to my work. Women have inspired me and I 
owe it to them to tell their story.

What do you do when you get a writer's block?
I either go back to my source material 
(eg. books I’m using for research) or I read 
a few pages of a good book and study the 
writing.

Who is your favorite author?
I studied A la Recherche du Temps Perdu 
by Marcel Proust at university and I run a 
Proust book group because Proust is my 
favourite author. His writing it so layered, 
full of cultural references, social and psychological observations and it is full of 
humour. His scathing wit is merciless – no one is exempt, not even himself. For 
me he is the most human of writers, and it takes so long to read him that when 
you finish it’s like saying goodbye to a dear, dear friend. That’s why I set up the 
book group – so that I could read my friend again and get to know him even 
better. 

When I first started writing I used to work through exercises from Ursula 
LeGuin’s marvellous book on how to write, ‘Steering the Craft’, where she 
recommends you write in the style of a favourite author. I sometimes try to 
do that but no one has noticed my attempts to channel my inner Proust yet. 
Also, when I found out that he wrote his own early reviews (glowing, of course),
I loved him even more. So flawed. So human.

Best book you ever read.
A la Recherche du Temps Perdu.




























Last book you read.
‘The Life and Death of the Spanish Republic: a witness to the Spanish Civil 
War’ by Henry Buckley (part of my research library for my second novel). 
I’m currently reading ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood.

What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
I would be a teacher. I used to be a Modern Languages teacher in a secondary 
school until I was attacked in the classroom. It was because of that incident that 
I became a writer. Here is a link to a radio programme about my transition http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05hcvxn from teacher to writer 
(interview from 2hrs 10 minutes in). I would probably still be doing that if 
the attack hadn’t happened. 

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
My friend Simon. He has shown me how important it is to love and be loved. 
He doesn’t judge, always supports me and I try to do the same for him. He has 
been my best friend for nearly 36 years and he has shown me that when awful 
things happen they don’t have to define you.


If you could sit down and have 
a conversation with ONE 
person, living or dead, real or 
fictional, who would it be and 
why?
I would have like to have a 
conversation with Marcel, the 
narrator of A la Recherche 
because, although he has so 
many things in common with 
Proust the man, Marcel, as 
Proust’s fictional self, expresses 
the essence of the man without being dragged down by the extraneous details of 
his life. In the novel everything has been carefully chosen, his every word 
intended to have significance. Therefore to enter this perfectly constructed world
and have a conversation with this perfectly constructed character who I know so 
well and love so much would be a delight. Ideal venue would be at a party where 
we’d sit in the corner. He would be talking about the other guests and I would be 
laughing guiltily as he shows me how a misspent youth does not exclude you 
from becoming a writer.  

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Less talk, more writing. Although in fairness it’s all part of the process. 
Write every day, write about anything. Join a group if you can find one, create 
your own if you can’t. Don’t be too hard on yourself and remember to always 
enjoy it!