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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

COMFORT AND JOY by Gerald Costlow @rebeccajvickery @KMNbooks #shortstories #holidays #christmas

Karen: Let's welcome Gerald Costlow. He's one of the authors from the Let it Snow, 2016 Holiday Collection. Gerald, please tell the readers a little bit about yourself: 

Gerald: I'm what they used to call a "widower" who lives in Michigan with my three dogs. I'm an engineer in the daytime and at night escape from the world of logic and machines by writing stories of fantasy and the supernatural.
Karen: Tell us your latest news. Do you have any current projects you're working on? 

Gerald: I'm always working on several stories at the same time, either novels or novellas.

Karen: What is the name of your story and what inspired you to write this tale for the Let it Snow, 2016 Holiday Romance Collection? 

Gerald: The name of my story is "Comfort and Joy." While searching for inspiration on a Christmas story for VTP this year, I decided to write a sequel to another favorite Christmas story I'd written for them a few years ago, a Western called "A Wicked Past." 

Karen: When you were a child, what holiday story intrigued you the most? 

Gerald: Oh, I loved the old animated classics. A Charlie Brown Christmas (I always identified with Charlie Brown) for instance.

Karen: What do you think makes a good holiday story? 

Gerald: Playing around with the holiday themes, both religious and secular. In the case of "Comfort and Joy" we have a mother and baby on a journey at Christmastime. It's not just an inn that rejects the weary travelers, but the entire town. And of course, you need a Christmas miracle somewhere in the mix. For the rest, you'll have to read the story.   

Karen: What is your favorite holiday movie or book? 

Gerald: How the Grinch stole Christmas. Both book and movie. I never get tired of the poetry.

Karen: What is your favorite holiday drink or food dish? 

Gerald: Christmas cookies and milk. Hand's down.

Karen: What makes you interested in the genre you write?

Gerald: I love a bit of magic and mystery in a story and love stories are the most enduring tales ever told.

Comfort Smith hasn't had an easy life. Raised in an orphanage, shunned by the upright citizens of the town, her only way to survive is being a prostitute in a saloon. Now she has a baby in her life. A baby she's expected to turn over to the same orphanage she came from. A saloon is no place to raise a baby.

Pete Lamont is a bouncer in the saloon, tormented by something terrible that he did in his past. Now it's his job to escort Comfort and her baby on a train ride to the orphanage back east. It's a sad choice, but one many prostitutes have made in the 1890s frontier. It should be an uneventful trip.

But Comfort is determined to hang onto the baby and has made other plans. The trip together will be anything but uneventful for Comfort and Pete.  



Pete looked at the determined mother sitting across from him. He tried to decide if she'd completely lost her mind, and if so what he should do about it. Lord knows he couldn't blame her for clinging to desperate hope.

"Honey…Comfort…there's no way you can be sure it was him, not with…you know…"

"I know it's him. She has the same red hair and green eyes. I remember thinking at the time how unusual it was and how pretty they went together. It's more than that, though. Something happened that night. It scared me so bad I ran away to find other work. I got hired as a scrub maid but when there was no doubt I was pregnant, I made the mistake of telling my employers. They kicked me out. I had to go back to Charlie. I did the counting when she was born. It has to be his. Wilcox is only an eight-hour train ride from here. I have to try. I grew up in an orphanage. You don't know what it's like."

But you'll never make him admit the baby is his, he thought and gave a deep sigh.

You can purchase your copy of LET IT SNOW, 2016 
Holiday Collection at:

Ebook: Amazon /Amazon UK / Smashwords / iTunes /Nook 

In Print: Amazon /Amazon UK /Createspace / Barnes and Noble

For more information about Gerald Costlow and his works, please visit his website at:  http://theweaving.blogspot.com/
and http://victorytalespress.com/

Monday, November 28, 2016


What do you remember about a book you've read? Is it a character, a plot, or a  specific scene?  I suppose that you, like me, remember different things from different books and from some books, nothing at all.  I want to talk about images that, once implanted in your mind, never leave it.
For example, Louisa May Alcott's Little Women , was the first book that left me with lasting images. Of them all, one scene of the March girls and Laurie frolicking in the snow has remained with me since I was ten. I can still see it plainly--the picket fence, the deep snow. I can feel the chilling temperature and hear their shouts and laughter. I was there.
Another unforgettable image is a scene by Daphne du Maurier from one of her Gothic novels, perhaps Rebecca, but I no longer remember the book's title. In the scene, the heroine was attempting to eat a piece of meat and it moved on her plate. She lifted it up and the underside was covered with maggots. I can feel the horror of that discovery as if it happened to me.
A later scene from A Few Hours of Sunlight by Francoise Sagan remains in my mind years after reading it. In fact, it inspired my poem titled "So Quickly Comes the Dark" whose first line is the title of Sagan's book.  It is a sweltering summer day and the hero and heroine are making love in an attic room. They are  bathed in perspiration which leaves wet imprints of their bodies on the rough sheets they lie on. There are no explicit descriptions or dialogue, only the stifling heat and silence accompany this illicit encounter but the image was so powerful that I recall it vividly even now.
What makes a lasting image? I don't know the answer. I only know what has lasted for many years from numerous books I've read.  I hope you will think of a special scene that has meaning for you and share it here.  And if you have an answer to the question, please share that with us, too.
This will be my last post here before Christmas so I'd like to blatantly suggest that you consider the holiday books below for those readers on your Santa list. All are available in ebook or print at prices that won't damage your shopping budget. Find LINDA SWIFT in Books on Amazon.

From Thanksgiving through New Years, enjoy the holiday season.
Linda Swift


Friday, November 25, 2016


Oops, I forgot my blog date yesterday. But I beg to be excused because it was Thanksgiving Day, and the only item on most agendas was FOOD. Yes, something to eat to celebrate one of our most cherished holidays in the United States.
The menu is similar for most of us, but I am curious as to what other ethnic groups might prepare and share with family and friends. Don’t we live in a kind of bubble? I live in Central Texas, and I can assure you, most prepared the traditional meal.
But many are Hispanic, a group that blends in easily with the general population—in many cases, they were and are the general population and were here first. I know…from a lifetime in Texas…that they do love tamales. 
And to make this traditional Thanksgiving meal, it requires all hands on deck. In fact, they make a party of it. The process is complicated and tedious, and I wonder how many follow the tried and true way, or they take the shortcuts offered by supermarkets..easily prepared masa, corn husks ready to buy in a plastic bag, etc. At the supermarket Wednesday, we tried a sample…a whole tamale in the corn husk. Pretty good!

I will never forget President Gerald Ford touring Texas--for the first time in his life--and being offered a tamale...since he'd never eaten one. Sure, he said, took one and tried to bite into it--without removing the corn husk. This was caught on camera and the photographer titled it "One Tough Tamale." The man never lived that down.

I’d love to hear about your traditional dinner.
Now…on to Black Friday!
Celia Yeary
Romance, and a little bit of Texas

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Let’s Build Some Monsters by Sarah J. McNeal

I love fantasy writing, creating worlds, beings, and, oh yeah, monsters. Even as a kid I was fascinated by monsters. Lord knows, I experienced enough nightmares about them. Most kids have had the belief that a monster is lurking under the bed ready to bite if a foot or hand might dangle down past the mattress into their lair. It is my understanding that every self-respecting closet has its monster.

Myths and Legends are crammed full of monsters, wild things, and creatures of another realm—usually one invisible to humans. From these myths and legends writers can pull up a monster and add or subtract from its original creation and form a completely new being with the magic of imagination.
I looked up a few of these creatures from “The Writer’s Complete Fantasy Reference” from Writer’s Digest Books. Here are just a few of these monsters and fantasy creatures:

Kraken: a sea creature big enough to be mistaken for an island
Leprechauns: the little people of Irish lore who love to trick people
The Minotaur: a creature half man-half bull who lived in a labyrinth and devoured 7 sacrificial maidens ever so often
Nemean Lion: a gigantic lion that devoured people but could not be killed because its impenetrable hide.
Sasquatch (Bigfoot): Well here’s one of my favorites. This creature is known throughout Native American lore as a big, hairy, humanoid creature who lives in the deep woods. Some honor the creature, but never speak of it while others believe it steals and eats children.
Vampires: Humans who have died but have revived due to a bite from another vampire. They continue to “live” only by consuming human blood.
Zombies: the undead who must consume human brains in order to continue “living”
Medusa the Gorgon: A monstrous woman with snakes for hair who can turn humans to stone by a mere glance at this hideous specter.
Fairies: magical human-like beings with wings. Some are kind and good, while others are evil
Dragons: huge lizard-like creatures with wings that breathe fire. They are usually assigned to guard some kind of treasure.
Clowns: thought to be human and humorous except, every once in a while, an evil clown comes around with diabolical intentions.

Well that’s just a few of the many creatures from myth and legend. There are so many to choose from to build an original monster to delight readers.
I created several monsters in my trilogy, LEGENDS OF WINATUKE, and in PENNYTOOK, a short story in the anthology titled MYTHS, LEGENDS, AND MIDNIGHT KISSES.

I named the creatures the Niamso. These creatures were part human and part Dark Blood Clan who were evil beings from the Dark Isle ruled by a particularly wicked queen named Mahara. The Niamso look somewhat like Big Foot with thick, hairy bodies, huge teeth and a rapacious appetite for human flesh. They have an uncanny sense of hearing, which is also their weakness. All in all, they are formidable creatures.
Do you write about monsters? How do you build them? Do you give them both a strength and a weakness? What is your favorite monster?

My vision of a Niamso and Esmeralda

 Myths are supposed to be false…but some are terrifying and true.

Excerpt from PENNYTOOK:
As Esmeralda neared the ruins of the Dark Isle, her heart began to race and something like sparks darted all through her body. She realized she had made a terrible mistake leaving the safety of the Plains of Marja to travel to Castyava on her own. Hasty decisions made in anger or fear seldom worked out well.

Sensing the danger around her, she tried to keep to the edge of the forest away from the bubbling cauldron that had once been the vast Lake of Sorrows. The smell of sulfur and evil grew rank in the air. No birds sang from the forest. No crickets made music. No creatures crept along the forest floor or rustled in the limbs of the trees. Something evil menaced from the shadows of the woods. Esmeralda sought a place for cover. Minita could not outrun anyone or anything that might pursue her, but the black steed was strong and had the stamina to endure over a long distance. It was only a small advantage and no advantage at all if whatever stalked her possessed the ability for speed.

Something drew near. She had heard the rumors of monsters and knew the terrible legends told of the Lake of Sorrows and the Niamso who still kept vigil over the lake. Her heart pounded in her chest. She had been foolish to come this way alone. Nothing but pride had made her do such a thing. Pennytook had hurt her and now she might never be able to survive to make things right.

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Sarah J. McNeal is a multi-published author of several genres including time travel, paranormal, western and historical fiction. She is a retired ER and Critical Care nurse who lives in North Carolina with her four-legged children, Lily, the Golden Retriever and Liberty, the cat. Besides her devotion to writing, she also has a great love of music and plays several instruments including violin, bagpipes, guitar and harmonica. Her books and short stories may be found at Prairie Rose Publications and its imprints Painted Pony Books, and Fire Star Press. Some of her fantasy and paranormal books may also be found at Publishing by Rebecca Vickery and Victory Tales Press. She welcomes you to her website and social media: