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Monday, May 4, 2015

Battle of the Atlantic and Me

Trained Telegrapher Nelson "Spud" Bruce
By Alison Bruce

It's Sunday night and I am feeling crispy. I got a little too much sun this afternoon at the Battle of the Atlantic Parade. This is one of several things that happens every year that I attend.

I get sunburned. I am embarrassingly proud of my son who has marched in the parade for five years, as a Navy League Cadet and Sea Cadet. And I remember by Dad and am sorry he's not around to see his grandson in uniform.

My father served in the Royal Canadian Navy. Aboard the HMCS Stratford, a Bangor Class minesweeper. All he has ever said about his wartime experience was that he loved Newfoundland, but was seasick every day he was at sea. He stood (well, sat) his watch in the radio room with a bucket between his knees.

North Atlantic from Fashion-Clouds.com
The North Atlantic isn't known for its calm waters, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence isn't exactly a mill pond either. Not that I knew anything of that when I first listened my Dad's amusing and self-denigrating stories. I hadn't even heard of the Battle of the Atlantic until the first parade I went to when my son was in Navy League.
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest campaign of the Second World War and the most important. Canada was a major participant: this country’s enormous effort in the struggle was crucial to Allied victory. While the ships and personnel of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) operated across the globe during the war, they are best remembered for their deeds during the Battle of the Atlantic.
That brings me to the another thing that happens every year. I wonder WHY THE HECK didn't I learn about the Battle of the Atlantic at school? How was it that I learned about the Battle of Britain and the War in the Pacific but not this?

I blame the movies (and the school curriculum of course). Hollywood, I suppose, could be forgiven for focusing on the Pacific. I watched my share of those movies growing up. Operation Petticoat was one of my favourites, and not just because of Cary Grant, but I ran the gamut from the flag waving John Wayne war movies to the more thought provoking Mister Roberts.

Likewise, I don't blame the British movie makers for highlighting the Royal Navy. In fact, if you're interested in men and women in uniform, you can't beat the series of British films about the different branches of the military that came out during the war. Although the ultimate purpose was to encourage enlistment and support of the armed forces, none of the movies downplayed the danger or discomfort involved.

The most memorable of these movies... at least for me... is In Which We Serve. I don't remember how young I was when I watched the movie. My mother was a big fan of Noel Coward and John Mills, so we saw any movie they were in whenever they showed on PBS or TVO.  I do know that the lifeboat scenes haunted me. I also know that ship did not sink in the North Atlantic. They would never have lived long enough in the freezing waters to have told their tale.

My problem is that Canadian film makers haven't stepped up and told the story of the Royal Canadian Navy's shining moment. Churchill called on us and Canada delivered, with the result that, at the end of World War II, Canada had the third largest navy in the world.

Granted, the National Film Board has covered the events in documentaries. (In fairness, I might have dozed off through a viewing and not realized what I missed.) But there is no popular movie that I know of that captures the attention of viewers, and makes them want to know more, like In Which We Serve or even Operation Petticoat.

That's a pity.

Friday, May 1, 2015

He wants nothing to do with her - so why can't he resist her? GYPSY: SONS OF SANGUE by Patricia A. Rasey (paranormal romance)

Grayson “Gypsy” Gabor loves the ladies. As a matter of fact, the more the merrier. Life is good. That is until a mishap with a sexy-as-hell redhead leaves them mated. The eldest of vampires, Vlad Tepes, gives him a choice: Keep her or give her up for all eternity to his one-time best friend, Anton.
Tamera Cantrell sets her sights on the Vice President of the Sons of Sangue, Gypsy. But after a night gone wrong, she finds herself caught between one vampire who hates her and one who adores her. Now Tamera’s only got three short months to prove to the one who despises her that he can’t live without her.
Add in one Mexican Cartel, a vindictive primordial vampire, and a rival MC out for blood, and Gypsy has his hands full with club business. When Tamera’s life becomes endangered, Gypsy must act quick or chance losing her forever.
“Highly recommended for paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and fans of alpha bad boy bikers far and wide.” ~Chelle, Literal Addiction
“Gypsy is a turbulent ride with an astonishing finish that cannot be missed.” ~Kimberly, Book Obsessed Chicks
“Action from beginning to end, twists that hit you like a brass knuckled fist and lust building like a bomb waiting to go off...Giving this reader the best book hangover ever. A 2015 top read for me.” ~Deana, Coffee Books Life Blog
A daydreamer at heart, Patricia A. Rasey, resides in her native town in Northwest Ohio with her husband, Mark, and her lovable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Todd.
Ms. Rasey is a three-time recipient of the Word Weaving Award for Literary Excellence and a three-time winner of the prestigious RIO Award Of Excellence. She is also a three-time EPPIE finalist and was a 2001 nominee for Romantic Times Magazine's Best Electronic Book. Additionally, Twilight Obsessions and Twilight Visions, two anthologies she was a part of, was nominated for the PEARL, the Paranormal Excellence Award in Romantic Literature, in the Best Anthology category. Her short story, In The Mind of Darkness won the P&E 2002 Horror short story category.
When not behind her computer, you can find Patricia working, reading, watching movies or MMA. She also enjoys spending her free time at the river camping with her husband and two sons. Ms. Rasey is currently a third degree Black Belt in American Freestyle Karate.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/PatriciaARasey
Twitter: www.twitter.com/patriciarasey
BOOK TRAILER LINK: https://youtu.be/j7g1IkZ1P4A
WEB SITE /BLOG URL LINK: www.PatriciaRasey.com

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hitting the Challenge Wall

As my regular readers know, my husband and I are involved in a year-long outdoor physical activity challenge called A for Adventure.

We're the perfect targets for this sort of challenge.

Before taking it up, we lived highly sedentary interior lives. My husband suffers from agoraphobia and finds being outdoors to be a trigger for anxiety, rather than restoring a sense of balance and calm.

I suffer from fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivities and chronic fatigue.

Not surprising, then, that having both turned 50, we developed Type 2 diabetes. We had already begun to go for several walks per week in order to increase our activity level, just around our neighborhood.

Then I happened upon a newspaper article about the A for Adventure challenge. The original challenge is to go on 100 outdoor adventures for 100 days in a row. This can be anything from going for a walk, going for a swim, riding a bike, rock climbing, canoeing, you name it.

I knew right away that Brad could never keep up such a pace because of his agoraphobia. As for me, 100 days of physical activity in a row is not great pacing for my pain and fatigue levels.

So we modified the challenge and made it a year-long event. We're now one month and 13 walks away from the finish line.

As with every marathon, however, there is a point where one hits the wall. For runners, there is even science behind why this occurs:

A few years ago, Benjamin Rapoport of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology asked himself these questions and answered them by creating a mathematical model. He found that the primary factors that determine how fast and how far a runner can run before glycogen depletion occurs are aerobic capacity (or VO2 max), the mass of the runner’s leg musculature relative to the mass of the rest of the body, and the concentration of glycogen stores in the leg muscles and liver. -- Matt Fitzgerald, Competitor 

All very well.

However, having participated in the NaNoWriMo November writing marathon several times, as well as other blog-related challenges, I can say with assurance that non-runners hit the wall without any sort of glycogen depletion being a factor.

For Brad and me, it's taken several pressing issues to find us pushing our own personal envelopes in order to head out for four adventures, four days in a row this week.

Having calculated that we needed to head out for 8 walks per month, averaging out to two walks per week, we began the challenge with a workable pace.

However, as is certain to happen in the course of a year, unforseen snags presented themselves: Brad spent three weeks visiting his family to celebrate his mom's 75th birthday, I had pain and fatigue issues in December, Brad had an emergency appendectomy and spent part of January in the hospital, and our part of the world -- eastern Canada -- had a record amount of snowfall and various blizzards that threw our walking schedule out the window.

We headed into the final 3 months of our challenge needing to go for 13 walks per month instead of 8, if we were going to finish our challenge on time. This week, due to other appointment schedules, and in order to begin May in a strong position, we had to push through and go for a walk every day for four straight days.

I can assure you -- we certainly hit the wall, glycogen depletion or no glycogen depletion. It definitely confirmed for me that the 100 adventures, 100 days in a row is not for everybody. I would say that for the target group of sedentary people like my husband and myself, taking a modified approach may be the best choice, as it builds in success.

The fabulous news:

We made it through the 4 days in a row!

Because we knew we couldn't keep up the 100-days-in-a-row pace, we added an extra challenge of going for 100 walks in 100 different places. Here, Brad checks out a try-to-separate-the-pieces toy at the blacksmith's shop, Ross Farm Museum on Sunday

Strolling past the Victorian and Edwardian homes at the Five Corners section of Dartmouth on Monday

Another in Brad's 'I Surrender' photo series from this challenge, at Silver Sands Beach in Cow Bay on Tuesday

A woodland beach on Lake Charles on Wednesday 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Do You Ever Wonder How You Can Support Your Favorite Authors?

From the Writing Desk of Christine Mazurk

Do you ever wonder how you can support your favorite authors? There are countless ways to show your support and love of their work. Here are a few ideas to think about:

1. Attend a book signing or Author Meet & Greet.

The St. Louis Authors
Just last Saturday, the St. Louis Public Library hosted the 8th Annual Author Shout Out. I was there with sixteen other local authors to share stories about our writing journey and why we are so passionate about our work. People wandered the room, chatting with the authors, asking about their books.Many bought a signed copy or two...

When asked about my journey, I responded that I believe the risks we take and the courage we display enriches our lives. I decided to walk away from a successful executive career to pursue the dream of becoming a published author. I knew it would not be easy. It took passion, determination, and discipline, but here I am today with three books currently available and number four near completion. I believe anyone can accomplish their dreams if they set their mind to it, work hard, and never give up.  

Through this gathering, my network of people who share a similar passion has grown, and I met a few new readers, who may become fans in the near future.

2. Write a review on Amazon.com or any other favorite retailer.

Share what you thought of the book you just read. What did you like about it? Did the writing draw you in and keep you hooked to the very last page? Did you fall in love with any of the characters? What did you enjoy about those characters? How about their story? Were there exciting twists that you didn't expect? What else struck you about the book?

Recently, this showed up on Facebook. A neighbor I had met over the Holidays posted:

Passion's Race: "It's been a long time since I finished a book in two days. I would have finished it in one had I started reading earlier... a pure pleasure and inspiration put into a story one will remember long after the last page is read! Good thing Passion's Spirit will be released soon!"

On Amazon.com, for Mystical Connections: One reader wrote; "A mysterious and gripping tale." Another; "Mystical Connections made a connection with my heart!" Still others: "Compelling and engaging!" "An engaging, emotional paranormal romance that you won't want to put down."

Reading these reviews makes my heart sing. It validates that I'm doing something I love to do and others are enjoying my work. Knowing that makes me work harder on the next story to continue surprising and entertaining my fans!

Talking to a few fans!! 
3. Share the title on Goodreads.com.

I've found several new authors that I now enjoy reading through Goodreads. Help others find new books to read, and help your favorite authors build their audience.

4. Post on Facebook or Tweet about a favorite.

It's simple, fast, and it shows your LOVE!!!

Who doesn't love to share? Take a minute to comment and tell me about the last wonderful book your read. I'm always looking for new voices to follow.

Until next time. Hugs - Christine.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A dark force threatens everything he's ever known. He'll fight to hell and back to stop it.

Ghosts-of-Glory-453x680-300x450TUESDAY'S REVOLVING BOOK is the dark urban fantasy/ paranormal GHOSTS OF GLORY by MORGAN CHALFANT. GET IT ON: Amazon

Jersey “The Brawler” Romero is dying. Slowly. Tediously. Not the way he thought he would go out on the savage streets of Glory, the Twilight City. But all of that is about to change when Jersey is granted his youth again by a messenger of the Twilight Goddess, the Spirit of Glory. He’s also given a mission: save Glory from the dark forces that are bent on destroying her.
Jersey’s been a fighter his whole life, whether it was on the streets where he struggled to survive, or in prison where he fought to stay alive. Glory never gave him anything without a battle, and that’s what he’s always loved about his beloved city. But nothing has prepared him for the war that’s coming. Monster-like creatures masked as humans are bent on exterminating him. Their leader is a mysterious man named Templar. He’s been amassing an underground army called The Black Crux. Templar wants to make Glory his, by laying waste to everyone who stands in his way. Possessing an almost otherworldly vision, Templar knows everything about Jersey, including an explosive secret that will blast away everything Jersey has ever believed.
But Jersey isn’t called “The Brawler” for nothing. He’s determined to fight Templar with everything he’s got. Because he’s not just fighting for his life, he’s fighting for Glory’s very soul.

We’re standing on the roof of Skript and Abigail hasn’t said a word in five minutes. She dragged me up here with such urgency, I figured the show would have started by now.
Sitting down in a damp lawn chair, I wait. Patience and I have nothing to say to each other, but Abigail has me intrigued so I let her have all the time she needs. It’s not easy opening up doors that have been locked for so long, especially to strangers. If that’s what we still were. Maybe strange acquaintance is a better term.
The view from the rooftop is actually quite beautiful. Rarely can the word beauty describe Glory. What little good happens to someone here, happens at the expense of someone else’s pain. Surprisingly, the night is peaceful. It’s never peaceful in Glory, so there’s obviously something off, but I don’t have the time nor the inclination to worry about it at the moment. It’s just the cone of silence. The calm before the storm. Strangely, I’m the calm. Abigail is the surging storm.
My eyes fall from the billions of firefly buildings to a sight more pleasing. Abigail stands looking up at the moon. It’s a waxing half-moon, but there’s still enough light for decent visibility. I watch her take off her leather jacket and pull off the gloves and drop them at her feet. Before my eyes, strange symbols begin to appear on her forearms and hands. The spaghetti strap top she’s wearing leaves much of her neck visible where more symbols begin to shimmer. Spiral patterns. They resemble some sort of tribal ink, but they begin to glow like lanterns in the dark. It’s an eerie, beautiful blue light. Cerulean, turquoise, and sapphire.
I stand up and move closer as Abigail turns around. I can see her face now. The incandescent markings have spiraled up her cheeks, climbing like staircases up to her eyes. Both her eyes shimmer inhumanly, one golden amber, the other a pool of twinkling emerald. Her breathing is erratic, she shakes, like she’s frightened I’m going to run away or grimace at the sight of her.
“Th-this . . . is me.” She stutters. “What . . . what I was talking about.”
Before I know it, she’s reaching for her jacket to cover herself. I spring forward and stop her, grasping her firmly by the shoulders. She looks up at me like she’s a monster that should be cowering in darkness. She won’t look at me. I can’t help but wonder who ever looked at her and cringed. Who made her feel so malformed? It’s perfectly clear to me she’s not the abomination she considers herself to be. She’s the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen. It’s not every day a street devil like me gets to behold a shimmering angel.
I move my hands to her cheeks, rubbing my thumbs over the glittering markings. There’s no textural difference. Her skin is as soft as cashmere. Her radiance is overwhelming. Her glow envelops me.
“My God,” I whisper. “You’re beautiful.”

Like what you've read? You can purchase Ghosts of Glory by Morgan Chalfant at  Lachesis Publishing, AmazonKobo, and Barnes and Noble.
Connect with Morgan Chalfant on facebooktumblramazon, and twitter and goodreads.