A Solar Eclipse and a Nasty Cold

Summer is coming to an end, and I haven’t touched this blog since May.  It wasn’t intentional. I was pulled away by baseball games, concerts, fests, shelter dogs, and family.

Oh, and there was that little bit of “real” writing I needed to make time for.  Those pesky books won’t write themselves.  I completed a short story in July that will be part of a Christmas Anthology published this December, and my coming-of-age novel, A Penny on the Tracks, is slated for an October release.

So, the coming months give me something to look forward to, besides the fact that we are heading into my favorite season. I absolutely love the fall. Even though it would be so tempting to move to a mild climate that sees no below-zero weather, and sports clear blue skies most of the time, I can’t live without experiencing the shift to the season of falling leaves.

Fall is crisp autumn leaves, apple cider, early sunsets that bring out the ‘cozy’ in me, Halloween, scary movies, sour apple and caramel suckers, pumpkins, Thanksgiving (minus the turkey, please), and hoodies with long shorts (because that’s the way I roll).

I had meant to close out the summer with a total solar eclipse, but a nasty and stubborn cold kept me from making the hundred-plus miles to Carbondale, Il. I had a motel booked in Troy, the closest city I could get to that suddenly popular college town in southern Illinois.

My solar eclipse glasses and a guide to all I needed to know about a total solar eclipse sat waiting to be packed. My tank was full. Supplies were bought, including pepper spray because a woman traveling alone should never be too careful. I had cash in my pocket and water bottles chilling in the refrigerator.

What I didn’t have was a capable body. The trip was not meant to be, and I was stuck at home with a stuffy nose and a throbbing throat, watching a solar eclipse on a cloudy day.

Awesome.

I watched the Carbondale coverage on my TV without being too bitter. Good for those people who witnessed such a spectacular sight. I have 2024 to look forward to, right?

There was one silver lining in getting sick though. I now appreciate so much the ability to taste and smell. Being without those two senses for even two days took so much away from me. I’ve had colds before that limited my senses, but I never before considered what if this were permanent? No matter what I ate or drank, I couldn’t taste a thing. Every food was the same, just different texture. I can’t imagine living in such blandness.

I thought of the the former INXS singer, Michael Hutchence, who had lost his sense of smell and taste during an altercation with a cab driver that left Hutchence with a brain injury, triggering his senses loss. Hutchence would die five years later of what was reported to be a suicide. The people who knew him best said he changed after the accident. Not being able to taste or smell anything had changed him.

Hutchence was described as a sensual man who loved wine and fine dining and women. I can only imagine the depression that settles in when you can no longer taste or smell that which you love, and that which brings you the most satisfaction in your life.

There is definitely a level of intimacy that you lose with the world around you when you can no longer taste or smell anything it offers.

I don’t know how I would cope walking outside on a fall night and not being able to smell the leaves scattered all around, or the musky air filled with that raw earthy scent I love so much.  I’m grateful I can smell Fall, my favorite season.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Please Adopt Your Next Pet. A Life is Waiting to be Saved.

Tonight I saw a disgusting video of a sick fuck piling innocent and beautiful dogs into a large steel bin, close the lid, and gas them all to death. I don’t know where this took place or if any effort was made to find these precious babies homes, or if he networked with a rescue, but all the dogs are dead.

Some dogs went into the crate with no fuss, trusting the arms that carried them, unaware of their own tragic fate, while others put up a struggle they lost.

Death is the sad reality for millions of homeless dogs and cats because there aren’t enough people adopting. We have a dog and cat overpopulation problem in America. People aren’t neutering their pets, while others are irresponsibly over-breeding dogs, and pet stores are selling dogs from over-crowded puppy mills where they are inhumanely treated — all for profit.

I have a very hard time understanding why people go anywhere but a shelter for their pets. I’ve heard all the reasons: “I want a puppy.” Believe it or not, there TONS of puppies at shelters. Or, “I want a certain breed.” There are shelters dedicated to rescuing specific breeds. Or, “I want to be cool and have an expensive, unique-looking designer dog.” Okay, this last one I made up, but I imagine that’s what people want when they drop thousands of dollars for their custom-made pet that will be given some fancy, foo-foo made-up breed name when really all the dog is, is a mutt — just like the millions of adorable mixed breeds dying in shelters every day.

I cried when I watched this video tonight. I’m not sure how anyone with a soul couldn’t. However, if anyone who watches videos of innocent dogs being killed feels outraged, but gets their pets from a pet store or breeder then dry your tears because you are part of the problem. You are the reason why dogs are being killed every year by the millions.

If you shop for you pets, or breed your pets, or don’t neuter your pets, then pat yourselves on the backs because you have contributed to the deaths of millions of innocent dogs.

I know, I know. We all have the right to get our dogs where ever we want. Free country and all, but please save your tears or your horror when you see dogs being killed for lack of homes because you are part of the problem, not the solution.

Below is the video of this heart-wrenching murder of innocent dogs. I hope anyone who goes to pet stores or breeders for their dogs will change their minds and visit their local shelter instead.

 

 

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Beyond Magic — A Magical Love Series

Beyond Magic is the first book in the Magical Love series from award-winning Lizzie T. Leaf. This imaginative series mixes a variety of realms and worlds. Throw in chocolate, the food all the heroines crave, add a few hunky heroes, and of course villains we love to hate, then mix with a dash of humor and spice. Now let the fun begin!

Following the Powers directive to unite soul mates, a Scottish Cailleach’s magic will have repercussions in several realms.

Mixed-blood author Ian McCabe, grandson of Fae and gods, tries to deny his powers while hiding his true origins from the human world. When he discovers mortal, Emma Grant unconscious at his front door, his world starts to change.

Tour director Emma Grant leads a group of senior ladies through Scotland. The breakdown of their bus on a rural Scottish backroad has her sloshing through the rain and mud on foot. Her efforts to seek help results in a fall that knocks her unconscious. She awakens to find the man of her dreams staring into her eyes.

Both feel an instant attraction, but will his secrets and her distrust of men keep them apart.

A few lines that tweak a grin.
Yep, at this rate, a long three weeks lay ahead. No one had told Emma that the dozen school teachers ranged in ages from sixty-nine to eighty-eight. Good grief, what happened to women at this age sitting on the front porch and enjoying their rocking chairs?

Mildred waved away the correction “Of course, dear. Whatever you say. I just want to know, will we see any men in kilts soon? I want to see what they wear under them.”

Dirty old woman. She asked that question at least half a dozen times before we got on the bus and stated the reason just as often.

Read the first chapter on Amazon.

To read excerpts from other books by Lizzie T. Leaf please click onto Amazon.

Lizzie T. Leaf loved books since she opened her first one. Her dream was to write them herself. Lost in the hectic day to day world of family, job, laundry and housework, writing became a distant memory. When the twinkling ember did spark, it was usually doused by someone demanding their share of her time.

Lizzie’s life went full circle. The desire to put the stories that continued to play in her head on paper emerged stronger than ever, and at a time when there was someone who encouraged. Now she lives her dream.

Learn more about Lizzie T. Leaf on her website and blog. Connect with Lizzie on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Adopt a Shelter Pet Day

I can always tell when I’ve dove head first into writing a current book — I forget all about my blog. Even though one of my New Year’s resolutions was to write two blogs a week. Not an unreachable goal. When I set that target, I wasn’t trying to set myself up for failure. It was meant to be easily attainable, yet, here I am. Three weeks since my last blog. I’d ask for a raise of hands from all those who have missed me, but one should never set themselves up for disappointment. Haha.

The writing schedule I have set for myself for the year, is moving along nicely. I have finished the first book of a series I was working on at the start of the year. A novella about friendship and betrayal.

I’ve switched to a story I started writing in college. It was a short story set in the 1950’s about a girl who lives with her aunt and her abusive uncle. I’ve revised the book, Annabel, from a short story into a now 62,000 word novel. Lots of revision is needed, but I’m excited about writing this piece. It’s a break from the lesbian-themed stories I’ve been writing, as this story has no gay characters.

At least, not yet. A writer sometimes doesn’t know where her story will take her. I love that about writing.

I’ve tossed in the writing towel for tonight.  My pit bull snores softly beside me on the bed. He’s always right beside me. My loyal sidekick.

Today was Adopt a Shelter Pet Day. I rescued Phil from animal control, a kill shelter. He’s an amazingly sweet dog who definitely deserved to live, like so many dogs, especially pit bulls, who have been killed because homes weren’t found in time. I have become an annoying preacher to my friends against buying dogs from breeders and pet stores, as thousands of loving animals die every day in shelters. I don’t care. I’ll deal with their rolling eyes, and if I’m unfollowed on Facebook because of posts also preaching about adopting over shopping, I’ll survive just fine.

The statistic is that only 1 of every 600 pit bulls will make it out of a shelter alive. Over a million will be euthanized by the end of this year. Pit bulls are the most bred breed of dog. They are also the highest to be euthanized. If you breed a pit bull, you are nothing but an asshole. Period.

My plea to anyone who will listen is to not only adopt their next pet, but adopt a pittie. Pit bulls are great dogs. They don’t deserve to die in crowded shelters.

 

Scents and Scentsabilities

Scents and Scentsabilities

Top Romantic Shop Products
by Leigh Goff

In Disenchanted, sixteen-year-old Sophie’s quirky Aunt Janie runs a shop called Scents and Scentsabilities. The shop is situated in downtown historic Wethersfield, Connecticut and resembles a picturesque Pottery Barn for enchanted bath and body products. The products are all made from plants and flowers growing in Janie’s enchanted garden. The list below includes favorite items I would definitely purchase.

1. Forbidden Passion Potion A potion made with a combination of lemon verbena, valerian, and rose petals. That flower combinations symbolizes ‘lovers uniting’ and Sophie comes across these flowers when she meets Alexavier for the second time. The meeting reveals his dangerous streak and leaves her intrigued.

2. Tulips To Kiss Stick A lip gloss Janie crafted that contains enchanted tulip pollen, which lushifies ones lips. Sophie tries to offer this product to the strange Puritan-looking girl who enters Scents and Scentsabilities in the first scene, but she soon realizes the girl is more interested in giving something enchanted to Sophie.

3. Phyto-Glo Powder An organic powder crafted by Aunt Janie to illuminate one’s complexion when sleepless nights wreak havoc on the face, which happens a lot to Sophie as a ghost from the past haunts her dreams. The powder is guaranteed to erase under eye circles and it also creates a sparkly glow when you want that someone special to notice you.

4. Forever First Love Lip Balm This lip balm enhances feelings of affection in the other person when applied before a kiss. Sophie opts to not use this shortcut when it comes to love, preferring to take the long and difficult road which makes falling in love with a forbidden ordinary all the more sweet.

5. Waning White Willow A hemorrhoid relieving ointment made from the bark of the white willow, which reduces pain and swelling. This comes in handy when Alexavier’s brother, Zeke, tries to come between Sophie and her true love, Alexavier. She also enjoys watching her frenemy, Laney, apply a dab to her hand and neck, thinking it’s perfume.

Here’s a brief intro to Disenchanted where you can learn a little more about Sophie Goodchild.

Sophie Goodchild is a sixteen-year-old witch living with her eccentric aunt in the small town of Wethersfield, Connecticut—the sight of the first American Witch Trials. She is descended from a powerful black witch, but struggles with her erratic white magic while dealing with a mean girl witch clique known as the Glitterati, who love to make Sophie feel like she is less than they are.

Sophie is beautiful with wild waves of sable-colored hair, eyes the color of dark blue sapphires, and heart-shaped pillowy lips. More importantly, she is beautiful on the inside, although she hides it well behind her impatience and impetuousness, which makes her very relatable.

It is those heart-strong characteristics that lead her into trouble, and since she is ruled by her heart, she’s all in once she finds trouble. She is fiercely loyal, determined, and fearless and there is nothing she wouldn’t do or sacrifice for the ones she loves, especially when she learns of the true love curse her ancestor cast on the Mather family.

When Judge Mather, a descendant of the reverend who condemned Sophie’s witch ancestor to hang, finds out his handsome son (who has recently returned to Wethersfield with a sexy British accent and a face that could melt a black witch’s heart) has fallen hard for Sophie, things get even more dangerous for her. Dark secrets come to light and impossible choices are made as Sophie sacrifices everything, including her soul to save her forbidden true love.

Buy Links:
Mirror World PublishingAmazon

Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch’s Ring which is set in Annapolis.

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

Fast Food Nation

I recently reread the book, Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser, for the third time. Like my favorite novel, The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair, Fast Food Nation is a story that warrants a refresher every few years.

The book’s raw depiction of the social injustices in the exploitation of low-wage workers, especially immigrant workers, and the conditions they are forced to work in, the horrendously inhumane way our farm animals are slaughtered, and the portrayal of how the fast food industry has permanently changed the American landscape, make Schlosser’s book an incredibly educational read.

Fast Food Nation begins with fast food’s inception in Southern California in the 1950’s and takes the reader on its journey to becoming the most powerful industry in the country.

“The basic thinking behind fast food has become the operating system of today’s retail economy, wiping out small businesses, obliterating regional differences, and spreading identical stores throughout the country like a self-replicating code.” (Schlosser)

The takeover of the American culture by the over-franchised fast food industry, including restaurant chains like Applebees, Olive Garden, and Chili’s, has led to the homogenizing of the country’s scenery. No matter what state you travel, you will find a McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Wendy’s, cluttered along the state’s roads and highways, not to mention malls filled with the same retail stores.

“America’s streets and malls now boast the same Pizza Huts and Taco Bells, Gaps and Banana Republics, Starbucks and Jiffy Lubes…Almost every facet of American life has been franchised or chained.” (Schlosser)

When I first read this book ten years ago, I made a conscious effort to patronize independently owned restaurants that are unique to its own cities, establishments that give individual towns character. I no longer wanted to support the conformity the fast food industry has created and thrives on.

There are other reasons I learned from reading this book that encouraged me to turn my back on the fast food industry. Another being its unfair stranglehold of keeping minimum wage low, by employing strong lobbyists, despite the industry’s multi-billion dollar profits.

The industry has successfully kept their workers from unionizing. McDonalds went as far as shutting down one of its restaurants where workers were close to forming a union.

The high turnover rate of employment makes it hard for workers to unionize, but in recent years there has been a strong  national push among fast food workers to raise the minimum wage. I completely support this, and after reading this book and seeing how unscrupulous, greedy owners take advantage of their workers while reaping huge profits, I don’t see how most people wouldn’t agree with giving the county’s minimum wage workers a raise.

I’m sure I’ll be citing this book in any future blog I write regarding animal and worker’s rights. The horror of slaughterhouses and the dangers to its workers as companies sacrifice worker safety for profit.

These days it’s important to be a conscientiousness consumer.

 

 

Celebrating Women with a Glass of Champagne.

CELEBRATING WOMEN
by Carol Browne

March is Women’s History Month, an event that can be traced back to 1911 when the first International Women’s Day (March 8th) was initiated in the USA. In 1981 Congress authorised the President of the USA to proclaim that the week beginning 7th March should be Women’s History Week. The National Women’s History Project subsequently petitioned Congress which led to the month of March 1987 being designated as Women’s History Month. Congress continued to pass annual resolutions requesting the president to make a proclamation to this effect and this has continued down the years.

This month is celebrated in a variety of ways, from demonstrations of respect, love and admiration for women, to acknowledgement of their political, historical and social achievements and contributions. It is also a time to speak out for women’s rights, to bring to light the struggles many women face now and to honour those they have overcome in the past. As we are becoming more and more aware of the roles women have played throughout history, it is fitting that we remember the stories of Holocaust survivors like Krystyna Porsz, who are such powerful examples of the resilience of the human spirit and the endurance of women in particular.

If, like Krystyna, you were just 18 years old, your country was invaded and your family threatened, what would you do to survive? Being Krystyna is one woman’s story of surviving horror and loss in Poland during World War II. It’s a story with lessons still relevant to us today.

To celebrate Women’s History Month with a beverage appropriate to the era, why not try a recipe for a Champagne Cocktail that dates back to World War II?

Photo by m_bartosch

Champagne Cocktail

½ oz (15ml) ginger liqueur
½ oz (15ml) blackcurrant liqueur
Champagne

Wartime Britain was cut off from supplies of fruits like oranges but people were able to grow an abundance of blackcurrants in their own gardens and allotments. Would you believe that these tiny fruits contain vitamins B5, B6, B1, iron, copper, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and potassium, as well as humungous amounts of vitamin C? Ginger is also very beneficial for the health. And champagne is…well, delicious. Bottoms up!

Here’s a glimpse into the tough life of a strong woman I admire.

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?

Buy Links
DilliebooksAmazon UKAmazon US

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.