Temperature Plunge Brings Hairballs

Kitty, an indoor Overlord

I can hear you thinking, ‘I can understand chilly weather bringing flannel, but hairballs?’ Well, it involves a cat, a tree and kibble. And rhubarb too.

Read the latest from Words & Worlds to clear up the mystery. If you enjoy the newletter, please feel free to subscribe, and tell your friends about it!

An Honour And Big Shoes

Once in a lifetime, some folks are lucky enough to be the recipient of a life-altering gift. As far as I know, I’ve never been able to count myself among them.

Until this week.

Back in late autumn of last year (2020), I joined the Golden Crown Literary Society, a leading literary organization for editors, publishers, readers, writers, and friends/supporters who celebrate books about women loving women. A couple of months later, I applied to their writing academy. I was tickled pink when I got an acceptance letter! Their writing academy has educated, bouyed, supported and kick-started the careers of many authors. But as with quality education in anything we’re passionate about, it wasn’t free. They offer payment plans, so I wasn’t worried. Too much.

Just a couple of days ago, I was thrilled beyond words (which is saying a lot!) to find out that I’d been chosen to receive the very first Erica Abbott Mystery Scholarship! Erica Abbott was beloved and cherished by the lesfic community and when she passed away, she left a void that can never be filled. She was a friend to many and an accomplished and gifted writer as well. It is an unfathomable honour to be the first recipient of a scholarship in her name.

I have very large shoes to fill.

The Golden Crown Literary Society has apparently seen merit and potential in my writing, and it’s a mind-blowing opportunity to be accepted into the writing academy. I have a responsibility not to waste this moment…this gift. At the same time, I am reminded of the power the written word can have. Empires have been crumbled, or fortified with words. Swaths of wilderness and the animals that live in them have been saved or brought to ruin with a written word. The environment, and we ourselves can be saved with a series of words.

The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

Tell me about a gift you recieved that changed your life, or the way you viewed something.

HIstory Meets Modern Day

There’s a lot to be said for experimentation in writing. Especially if it’s a genre a writer hasn’t tried before. The writer can try new points of view, new tropes or maybe new settings. Sometimes, writing in a genre they’ve not written in before can reveal new aspects of the person behind the keyboard.

Once upon a time (I promise this isn’t a fairy tale) I would have said I avoided romance books like the plague. Except, over time, I haven’t been. I read and review quite a few #wlw (women-loving-women) romance novels, mysteries and literary fiction books. I’ve also been reading a number of “straight” Western romances, particularly those set in the late 1800s. I seem to have developed a fondness for them, actually. There’s something intriguing about a woman setting off to make a life for herself, and marry a man she’s only ever written to and yet never seen. Talk about an adventure with a big helping of risk! What if the gent had misrepresented himself, or the woman had and her new man no longer wanted her? Or if they hit it off, what if she was woefully unprepared for the amount of work involved in homesteading? Anything could happen…wildfire, flood, a failed crop could lead to famine, their stock could die…

Life on the frontier was tough!

But all the while I’ve been reading these tales of risk, bravery and eventual love, an idea had been growing in the back of my mind. I could write one of these but put it in a place I know.

Northern Ontario.

There aren’t as many historical records that tell us about matrimonial situations in the bush as there are for life on the prairie, but that’s where imagination comes in.

I know how winters are up here. I know how fierce hungry, wild animals can be. I know how a wolf howl can send shivers down a spine.

So, to that end, one of the pieces of fiction I’ll be working on over the next few months is a historical romance novel. The story of how Clara Livingston and Josiah Hunter make a life for themselves in the Canadian woods in 1860.

I’ll share behind-the-scenes glimpses and excerpts if you like, as well as tidbits of research. Let me know if this sounds like something you’d be interested in.

I do hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Still Life In Ice

Good morning!

You might remember that I have a German Shepherd whose greatest pleasure is his morning walks. Now that the air isn’t frigid, I keep my eyes open for interesting photo opportunities, especially while the sun is still coming up.

This morning, this little tree, still coated in frost from last night, presented itself, back-lit by the rising sun.

Beauty is all around us. All we have to do is pay attention.

What do you find eye-catching where you live?

I Am Chris~A Review

I’ve been a big fan of R. Kent since their debut book The Mail Order Bride

This book is a little different though.

This tale is set in current times and focuses on the battle Chris wages to both be true to themselves, and win money in bull riding at local rodeos. But the town is run and controlled by a corrupt, cruel bastard with a badge who has warped reasons for being who he is. In his mind, anyway. He is enabled and assisted by both the local social services worker and the person in charge of the boy’s home. So Chris has to survive everything those adults throw at him, as well as make a name for himself in the competitive and bone-breaking sport of bull riding, and navigate new friendships and a growing attraction to one of those friends. Whew, that’s a lot!

Chris is an honourable young man born into a body he doesn’t feel reflects who he truly is, and yet manages to rise above his circumstances. He has a big heart that he, unfortunately, wears on his sleeve. He’s a true survivor that lets love lead him, no matter the crappy world he’s been dragged into. The secondary characters all breathe true as well. Every one of them have secrets and motivations that have affected their little town in ways we don’t see until close to the end of the book.

The pacing of the story is great, and the world R. Kent has created, the characters that populate the small town and the hurdles that threaten to keep Chris from the life he wants…all of it kept me reading far past bedtime.
The book is well-peppered with true human strength, bravery from even the most unlikely characters, fear, uncertainty and the capacity to reach for dreams that shouldn’t exist. The closing chapters will have you cheering for more than just Chris.

I Am Chris is one of my favourite books. It is the story of courage, redemption and hope, and there’s a lot to love here.
Read it for the people you’ll meet in the book’s pages. Read it to be uplifted and shown what courage can achieve.
Just read it. Get a copy from the publisher Bold Strokes Books. You won’t regret it!

#transvisibilityday

What’s She Hiding?

She lives alone beside a lake – a middle aged homesteader with an old dog for company. But she’s got a secret…a BIG one! What’s she trying to hide?

Here’s a bit of an excerpt;

Ruger stretched out at my feet with a sigh. I pored over the paper slowly, skipping only the articles on the financial condition of the country. The country’s economic state doesn’t matter to me out here. But toward the back of the paper, tucked between a piece on the next Governor-General and a book review, was something that did catch my eye.

A short article on a hunter, missing somewhere in Northern Ontario for a little over a year.

A man I had been far too close to, a little over a year ago.

My gaze travelled without intention to the willow tree a few feet away. I’d planted it a year ago, but it was already as tall as a two-year-old tree. Obviously, it liked the soil there.

I read the article again and hoped no one would look for the missing hunter again.

After I read the paper, I went about my chores. I took wood in the house and piled it near the door, but far enough away from the woodstove to be safe. It had come from a tree blown down by the biggest storm of the previous year. Thankfully, it had been a good solid oak, without any hives or nests. I tossed a piece or two in the woodstove, pushed them down into the embers and shut the stove door tight. That would keep it going while I split more wood. 

It was a never-ending need, wood. It provided my heat and fuel for cooking. In the summertime, I cooked more in the outdoor oven I’d built from stone and clay, but it was wood-fired too. This past spring, Anne and I had agreed to split the cost of a load of wood. She had a friend who sold entire tree-length logs by the tractor-trailer. He delivered and she cut them up to the right length from there. She had offered to split the load, proposing a generous price and payment plan. I didn’t refuse. It was better than cutting down all the trees around my cabin. Over lunch, she had told me to expect my half of the wood any day this week.

I took a break from splitting to catch my breath and once again eyed the willow tree. Perhaps it was time to start building a woodpile there. I set my maul down and walked over to the tree, studying the ground at its base. The ground was starting to cup. I nodded to myself and went back toward the cabin. I cut a thick five-foot pole, shaped the end into a point and paced four feet away from the willow. With my mallet, I pounded the pole as deep as I could. That would hold one end of the wood-pile while the willow provided support at the other end. Then I retrieved my wheelbarrow from the shed. It didn’t take long to lay out the first layer of wood splits between the willow tree and the pole.

Far less time to hide my secret than I had been living with the existence of it.

Want to know what happens? Want to be the first to see new fiction, book trailers, character boards and more? Come visit me on Patreon and learn all about Patron rewards! See you there!

Peace of Beaches

Many find the sound of surf calming, instantly washing away a bad mood or rampaging thoughts. Some medical professionals say the sound is good for blood pressure and steers the body toward healing. With those things in mind, today, I offer you a visit to a variety of beaches, with accompanying ambient music.

If you enjoy the video, please let the creator know by tapping the thumbs up, and check out his other videos as well. He’d love to hear what you thought, so be sure and leave a comment for him.

Grab your drink and head to the beach!

It’s All Too Much!

Life is crazy, I get it. Sometimes you just want to say “To heck with it all!” and go back to bed! And it’s only 10 AM.

I have something for you. A moment, and then some, of zen.

Take a deep breath and watch this video. And remember…everything will work out.

Living History ~ The Continuation

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

I’ve recently written a new short story that I shared part 1 with you yesterday, and it’s all thanks to Reedsy. You see, every Friday morning, they put out a shortlist of prompts in a contest. The whole idea is that a writer has to take one of five prompts, write a story between 1000-3000 words and submit it before the next Friday. There’s a cash prize involved to sweeten the pot. 

(Sound interesting? Check it out here)

So a couple of weeks ago, that’s what I did. Here’s the prompt,

Write about someone who never planned to make history but is now about to deliver a speech in front of millions.  

Here’s part 2, and the conclusion of that story.

****

When I regained my senses, I was lying in a hospital bed. Alexis was on one side of my bed, and Harper the other.

“You saved my life,” she said. “You really did take a bullet for me. Thank you isn’t sufficient,” Her whiskey-brown eyes were damp.

“Just doing my job, Madame President.” 

I turned my attention to Harper. “You know, for a second, I thought you really had punched me the way you used to threaten me when we were younger.”

Harper shook her head. “I wouldn’t have…”

“I know,” I smiled a little. We’d grown up three houses apart, and no matter how often she’d threaten to kick the stuffing out of me, we were best friends.

“I owe you a great deal.” Our newest President said. “Not just introducing Harper to me all those years ago, but today…” Emotion overwhelmed her and she couldn’t finish.

“No Ma’am, you don’t owe me a thing. Just promise me you won’t give away my job while I recover.” I replied.

“Your job is yours as long as you want it, no matter what condition you’re in!”

Thank you, Ma’am, I’ll be out of here faster than a speeding bullet.”

They both groaned.

“Too soon?” I asked.

The End

Living History

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

I’ve recently written a new short story that I’d like to share with you, and it’s all thanks to Reedsy. You see, every Friday morning, they put out a shortlist of prompts in a contest. The whole idea is that a writer has to take one of five prompts, write a story between 1000-3000 words and submit it before the next Friday. There’s a cash prize involved to sweeten the pot. 

(Sound interesting? Check it out here)

So a couple of weeks ago, that’s what I did. Here’s the prompt,

Write about someone who never planned to make history but is now about to deliver a speech in front of millions.  

Here now, is part one of the short story that I submitted. Part two will be posted tomorrow.

****

She stood there, just inside the doors, going over her speech one more time, and I couldn’t help but think that I was gazing at history in the making.

Herstory, perhaps.

I was assigned as her bodyguard the day she decided to run for the White House. The first woman to make it this far, and an Independent at that, there was no way I was turning down this assignment. Rarely was I more than five steps away from her in public. Only her girlfriend got closer to her. Her life was in my hands – my responsibility. And now Alexis Kennedy was about to step out and accept the position she’d pursued since she left professional soccer.

The voice of the previous First Lady broke through my thoughts, “It is my great honor and pleasure to introduce President-Elect…Alexis Kennedy!”

“Soccer Ball is on the move,” I spoke quietly into my mic and followed Alexis and her girlfriend Harper through the double doors.

The applause was deafening, like a massive waterfall that never stopped. When she stepped up to the podium, I took my position twelve feet away and to her left. Too far away as far as I was concerned, but that was her rule at events like this. Never mind the shooting six months ago that had rattled all of us, the country included. Never mind that she was a target for all kinds of homophobes and haters alike.

No, Alexis had to prove to the world that she would not be beaten, not be intimidated and would never back down. 

The crowd was invitation-only, but I never let my guard down with this many people in attendance. Everyone seemed to be in high spirits and had eyes only for her. I wasn’t surprised to see more women than men in the crowd, but still, I remained watchful. 

She wore a snow-white pantsuit that set off her dark hair, and a bright, engaging smile as she waited for the applause to die down. Nature had blessed her with excellent bone structure and I knew she worked hard to maintain her classic good looks. But what drew people in was her charm and intelligence. She could debate foreign policy as if she’d been born to it. She had a domestic plan too I knew, formed by long hours of listening to policy-makers, and people that had served before her.

I watched as she shifted her weight off her left leg. I knew the sign – her knee was bothering her. The doctors had predicted a full recovery, but a shattered knee joint will heal, or not, as it wants. Clearly today was not a good day.

I lifted my sleeve and spoke into my cufflink mic. “Bring Soccer Ball’s cane just inside the door, please. She’ll want it as soon as she’s inside.”

Alexis refused to use the cane one minute more than she had to in public, no matter how often anyone told her it did not make her look weak. That was just the way she was. Determined, stubborn and confident.

Finally, she held up both hands.

“My friends,” she began. “It is the greatest privilege of my life to be standing before you this afternoon. I am deeply touched by your trust in me, and in this wonderful country we call home. I would not be standing up here without the support of so many people. I’ve always called Harper my rock, and this journey would have been a thousand times more difficult without her love.”

The crowd went wild while Harper turned red.

“I have one of the greatest teams of supporters, volunteers that braved all kinds of weather to do their part to make history. And together, we’ve done just that. Together, we can each step up and pitch in and look after not only ourselves but our neighbors, too. The color of our skin or who we love doesn’t matter. We all bleed the same, grieve the same and want the same things. We live, breathe, rise or fall as one. Together we can put our friends and neighbors back to work, provide children with more opportunities than ever before, go further in space and be free to hope once more. A little over a hundred years ago, this moment would have been called a fantasy. Women had no say in political matters, women were told who they could love and spend their lives with, and they certainly would not have been allowed to run this great country!”

Many in the crowd verbally agreed with her and nodded.

“I will not betray your trust in me. Those of you who voted for me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Those of you who voted for someone else…thank you for taking part in such a historical moment. You helped strengthen the cornerstone of our democracy by simply exercising your right to vote. I will be your president too. The coming days will not always be easy, and we will not always agree. Our government will not be able to solve every roadblock we face but I will work with all of my colleagues to find solutions where we can. I serve at the pleasure of the people, and I believe that together we can restore this great nation. We can bring back hope, make prosperity an attainable dream for people of all economic backgrounds, and make our streets, schools and stadiums safe again. We can rise up, drawing our neighbors, friends and family with us. We can put aside our differences and focus on what makes us equals, and carve a better way forward for all. Join me in the days to come, work beside me to make our beloved country a land of peace and prosperity for everyone. And one day in the future, when historians look back to this, the first time a lesbian woman was voted into the highest office in the land, you will all be able to say that you stood shoulder to shoulder and took part in history!”

To say the crowd went wild would be an understatement. Women were crying, weeping openly, trembling at the emotional intensity. Men shouted, someone started chanting “Alexis, Alexis” and soon, every voice in that crowd carried the chant. Alexis gave up on the rest of her speech, which I knew was nearly done. She gestured to Harper, and they stood side by side, beaming. 

The crowd chanted for a long time, pouring their love over their newest President. The rest of the security detail and I inched closer, unable to hear each other even with the tech in our ears.

Finally, I saw Alexis turn her head and look for me. With a slow blink and an almost imperceptible nod, she and Harper began to make their way off the stage.

I raised my cufflink-mic to my mouth. “Soccer Ball is leaving the stage, tighten the net.”

My security team moved in and I stepped closer.

Only an arm-length away from the first female president, a flash in the crowd caught my attention.

“Gun!” I screamed. “Down, down!” I dove for Alexis, felt she and Harper go down beneath me and wondered why Harper had punched me in the chest.

To be continued tomorrow