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Sunday, November 10, 2019

VETERANS DAY: A Time for Reflection


Posted by R. Ann Siracusa

November 11 is coming. A day off! No Mail! We get to wear red poppies, wave flags, and go to a parade!

Many American tend to think of Veterans Day as just another day off. Or, if you don't have a holiday, it may be just another day when the mail isn't delivered.

That's sad, because it should be a day of reflection and thanks to the multitude of armed services veterans, and their families, who have kept our country "the land of the free, and the home of the brave."   Photo source:inthesetimes.com/veterans_day  Photo credit: U.S. Air Force / Flickr 
                                                                                                                                              
Don't confuse it with Memorial Day, which honors those service men and women who have died in the service of their country. This day honors everyone who has served.

HISTORY
Nothing is easy when it involves the federal government.

US President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919, one year after the armistice between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and brought to a halt the actual fighting in WW I.  The Treaty of Versailles was signed seven months later, on June 28, 1919.

I was surprised to read that Congress didn't officially recognize the end of WW I until June 4, 1926.

It's hard for me to envision signing the treaty without acknowledging the end of the war. However, in the same resolution, Congress requested President Coolidge to proclaim November 11 as a national holiday. This is the same day celebrated in other parts of the world as Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Victory in Europe Day, and other names.

An act approved in May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November a legal federal holiday, known as "Armistice Day", dedicated to the veterans of WW I and the cause of world peace. A decision as non-partisan and non-controversial as this took almost ten years. No wonder we're in trouble.

Then, on June 1, 1954, Congress approved legislation changing the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, a holiday which honors of the veterans of all wars, not just WW I, and celebrated on October 25. The first Veterans Day was celebrated on October 25, 1971. Confusion ensued. No one was happy.

On September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a law which returned Veterans Day to the original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.

Sigh of relief. This pleased just about everyone, although I used to wonder why my employer gave us a union-negotiated holiday on October 25, when the official holiday was November 11. Now I understand.

Hopefully, everything is settled for a while. And it pleases me that Veterans Day hasn't been moved from the specific date. That's not an accident. The proponents wanted to preserve the significance of November 11 and to focus attention on the purpose of Veterans Day.

A TIME FOR REFLECTION AND THANKS

As Senator Mike Johanns said,
"Nothing we can do in Congress will ever fully return the favor of those who have given so much for America.  But we must do all we can to honor them. All Americans share in the responsibility of caring for our veterans who have defended our freedom.

Fewer causes are so imperative or so noble. This Veterans Day, we remember the service to our brave men and women in uniform. We thank them for their sacrifice and for their service."

Rory Fanning inthesetimes.com/veterans_day sends this message.
“Many veterans enlisted in the military thinking that they were indeed serving a noble cause, and it's no lie to say that they fought with valor for their brothers and sisters to their left and right. Unfortunately, good intentions at this stage are no substitute for good politics. What they really want is not to be thanked for their service; they want politicians to stop sending young soldiers off to die.”

THANK YOU TO THOSE MEN AND WOMEN, AND THEIR FAMILIES, WHO HAVE SERVED IN THE PAST AND TO THOSE WHO CONTINUE TO SERVE AND PROTECT OUR FREEDOM!

                                                                
Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is an iconic photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945 which depicts six United States Marines raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Just Wow! ~ By Joanne Jaytanie



On October 31st, our collection Christmas at Mistletoe Lodge hit #88 on the USA Today Best Selling Author List! 

How does that make me feel? Incredible, marvelous, unbelievable. I never dreamed I’d one day be saying; I’m a USA Today Best Selling Author. I’m still floating. I didn’t do it by myself. There were nine other fabulous authors involved in this process. But it was very different from past collaborations. How? There was ten times the exposure because - we all promoted. We all wrote new stories. We asked questions and offered our advice. We told everyone what we were doing. We worked as a team! And what a difference that makes.




On August 24th, Christmas at Mistletoe Lodge became an Amazon Best Seller and has remained one ever since. I’m honored to be one of the authors of this collection. If you’re interested in picking up a copy, don’t wait. Right now the price is .99, but next week the price will go up to $2.99.




On another note, I attended the Emerald City Writers’ Conference and enjoyed every minute of the event. I entered the blurb writing contest and had the privilege of being one of the three published finalists. The agents and editors judged the finalist’s blurbs, and the winner was announced at the conference. I was ecstatic when Salvaging Truth was named the winner.


~Salvaging Truth~

The world could be transformed if Riley can only stay alive long enough.

Most parents leave you a house, a car, or money when they die. Riley’s mom left her a treasure hunt with a mysterious payoff. Now everyone seems to want a piece of Riley and her inheritance: the university, the military, mega corporations, and Russian spies.

Riley needs help to solve her mother’s murder, and Dagger Easton’s salvage and investigation company comes to her rescue. Retired SEAL, private eye, and leader of a diving and salvage team, Dagger promises to protect Riley with his life. But as the value of her mother’s research becomes clear, Riley begins to believe there’s no one she can trust—not with her life, her heart, or her mother’s legacy.
*****

It’s been a hectic couple of months, and I’m happy to be settling back in and plotting out my next story. When it comes down to it, isn’t that what it’s all about.

Until next month,
Joanne






Wednesday, November 6, 2019

99¢ SALE - Passionate Pursuit - Erotic Historical - Medieval Spain - Warrior Knights #TinaDonahueBooks #EroticHistorical #MedievalSpain #WarriorKnights

If you love erotic historicals set in distant lands, check out Passionate Pursuit
on sale for 99¢ beginning November 1!






Blurb:

Is their passion strong enough to break her chains?

Andalucía Spain, 1489: Innocent Beatriz is desperate to escape the threat of a miserable marriage to a cruel Marquis. Forced into the betrothal by her ruthless merchant papá, her only hope is to conceal her identity and become a servant in a nearby castle—a life drastically different from her comfortable upbringing.

Tomás doesn’t know what to make of his well-spoken new servant girl. Her beauty and charm captivates the military hero; her mysterious nature intrigues him. And the desire she ignites burns brighter with each glance, as does his longing to claim her for his own.

Beatriz can’t resist Tomás’ passion nor deny the heat of her own. But neither the lush countryside nor the walls of the opulent Moorish castle can entirely protect her—and if he were to discover her secret, she could be torn away from him forever. Yet how can she sustain his love if she’s living a lie?




Excerpt:

Tomás slumped in his chair. A lone candle barely illuminated his desk, leaving his study in shadows. The hour was late, moon high, silvery rays bleeding around the window screen. His guests were finally in their bedchambers, asleep or devising plans to trap him.

He hardly cared anymore. To have these few seconds without them was a relief, though he didn’t want to be alone, and wouldn’t be for long if history proved him correct.

He relaxed as much as he could, waiting, wanting.

Light tapping sounded in the hall. Beatriz’s footfalls, as he’d expected.

Each workday before retiring, she came to his study to dust and straighten up. At least he supposed that’s what she did in here. He’d always waited in another chamber to hear her leave. Once she had, he’d return, hoping to catch her clean scent.

Sometimes he did. Most often, he did not.

Knowing her schedule, he took to straightening up before she arrived, hoping to ease her burden so she could go to bed sooner. Even with his efforts, she often spent close to an hour in here. Perhaps curled up in his chair, napping, because she preferred his study to the servant quarters or she might have simply roamed the room, touching the fine leather, books, and other items she’d never have.

The silver door handle lowered. Tomás sat up. She slipped inside and closed them in, secluded from everyone else on earth.

He held his breath.

Candle and dust cloth in hand, she crossed the space, glanced his way, and stopped abruptly.

He smiled, aching to see her return his greeting the same as she had earlier at the window. What a moment. No riches or position could replace the desire, acceptance, and pure joy he’d seen on her lovely face then.

Gone now. She was back to being a servant, curious or cautious as to why he was in his own study at such an odd hour.

“Forgive me for startling you. I had things to do in here.” He wasn’t about to explain what they might be.

For him to admit he wanted to be her friend, as he’d considered earlier, would be reckless. She might laugh or think him mad. Best he approached the subject carefully. “Go on, tend to your duties.” He lit five more candles so she could see easily. “If you need me to move from my desk, say the word. I shall obey your command immediately.”

She lowered her face though not before he caught her smile. His mood soared.

“I can return later.” She pivoted.

He stood. “If you leave, so will I. Do you want to drive me from my work?”

She stopped, but didn’t face him. “Never.” After putting down her candle, she hurried to the bookcase and swiped at the shelves. “If you want me to stay, I will. Whatever you wish.”

Ah, more wishes. Tomás sank back to his chair. If only she knew what he had in mind for them, past friendship, of course. Evenings, afternoons, and every morning filled with the most wanton delights, them naked, laughing, loving.

She looked over.

He grabbed a book from his desk and flipped a page. The moment she resumed her work, he turned the book right side up. He read the first line several times not understanding a word and gave up.

She dusted the bookshelf, removed a volume, scanned the other spines then inserted the book she held in another location.

Where the text should have been from the start.

She’d done so effortlessly, without pause or forethought. The same as him, not an illiterate servant.

He considered the titles he had on the shelves. “You come in here every night you work, no?”

She nodded, her back still to him.

“I seem to have lost one of my volumes.” He stated the title. “Have you seen the book in here? I looked earlier, but have yet to find the thing anywhere.”

“Here it is.” She pulled the edition off the shelf and had nearly reached him when she stopped, her face horrified at what she’d revealed.

Tomás wagged a finger playfully. “You can read. I thought so.”

She put the book on his desk and backed away. “Only a few words. Titles mainly.”

“Of Spanish history?” He gestured to the volume she’d brought to him. “And agriculture?” He pointed to the book she’d relocated on the shelf. “How odd you learned those things, not merely a few passages from the Bible as most would.”

“I must return to my work.”

“Wait. I insist.”

She faced him but squared her shoulders, her stance surprisingly defiant.

He had no idea why. He wanted to talk to her, hopefully kiss her, not fight. “Who taught you to read? Your secret is safe. I promise never to tell anyone.”

She certainly hadn’t. At least not in this castle since he would have heard about her skill from Nuncio in the most negative way possible. Odd that she’d keep such an ability hidden. Not that Tomás intended to question her. With her previous fight gone, she reminded him of a frightened doe, ready to dart away.

“Come.” He pulled a box chair over and patted the leather seat. “Sit. Tell me about your teacher.”

“I have nothing to tell. My father taught me before he passed.”

“Your father from the same village where your mother resides?” All of them supposedly peasants, yet they knew how to read.

She twisted her cloth. “He was a baker with a small amount of money to his name. He loved to read and taught me the skill even though I have no use for such things.”

“Do you read in here after you dust?” Surely, books were what had kept her inside the room so long. “Tell me which volume you like best.”

She made a sound somewhere between a whimper and a moan.

“I promise never to tell anyone. Come, sit. Talk to me.”

“Will I still have my position here if I do?”

“Of course. Dust never goes away for long as you well know.”

She laughed softly and sank into the chair, but remained perched on the edge.

“Go on and lean back.” He gestured encouragement.

She remained where she was. “Señor Nuncio would rail at me if he saw this.”

“Saw what?”

“Me sitting in one of your chairs.”

“Better than the floor, no?”

She worked her mouth trying hard not to smile.

He wished she would. “I have no plans to tell Nuncio anything that might give him another gray hair, wrinkle, or push him closer to the grave. Do you?”

She laughed. “I think not. The volume I enjoy most is Cantar del Mio Cid.”

Tomás couldn’t have been more delighted. The epic poem detailed Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar’s exploits during the early days of Spain’s Reconquista. “The book is my favorite too. We can share his adventures together. Where did you stop in his tale? Wait. Have you finished the story?”

“Not at all. I was about to begin the part where El Cid plans to conquer Valencia.”

“We shall do so together.” He fetched the poem and offered the volume to her. “Read to me, please.”

She took the book reluctantly. “I can only manage titles.”

He laughed at her teasing, liking her ready wit, the way she already treated him as a friend. He brought over two candles to give her enough light. “Pretend every line is a title. Your duty now is to read to me.”

“For how long? I still have to dust.”

“After we finish with El Cid, I can help.”

She laughed throatily.

“You doubt my ability?” He feigned insult. “How can you? I have the combined skill of three dozen servants, the stamina of twenty men, and the dedication of every zealot on earth.”

“Someone should write an epic poem about you.”

He laughed so hard his belly hurt, tears stinging his eyes. “Go on.” He gestured. “Read.”

She did, flawlessly, her skill as great as his, a nobleman. Or her father’s, the baker.

Tomás had never met one educated in anything other than making bread, cakes, and such, along with having the most elementary knowledge of reading and mathematics to operate a business.

However, since he’d spent most of his days battling Moors, his understanding of those who lived in the villages was limited, even the ones he now owned. In years past, the only time he’d stepped foot in those places was after the Moors had raided them. With the destruction he and his soldiers had faced, there hadn’t been time to get to know the people.

He wouldn’t make the same mistake with Beatriz.

Her lashes cast shadows on her cheeks from the candlelight, the glow adding a touch of gold to her complexion. Her lips caressed the words she read, the movement bewitching, beckoning him to taste her mouth.

He resisted.

She turned the page. Her hands were lovely and quite pale, despite the work she did here. She bore no healed burns from hot pans in her father’s bakeshop, nor had washing pots there left her skin red and raw. Tending a feeble mother hadn’t harmed her beauty either.

With Beatriz here, her mamá had no one to care for her, unless another relative handled the task or Beatriz paid someone. Given her reading skills, she should have gone to one of the large cities, rather than staying in the countryside. In a more populated area, she might have found work as a tutor for a prosperous family, earning far more.

He might never have met her.

She was here now, tending to him, reading a story they both loved, sitting close. He touched her arm.

She stopped reading.

He smiled softly, unable to help himself, his soul and heart bared to her. Although she was one of the loveliest women he’d ever known, he liked her as a person, enjoying her voice and laugh, how she looked at him with wonder and desire, no different than his passion for her.

He cupped her face. The book slipped from her grasp and hit the floor. He brushed his mouth over hers. She inhaled sharply, her hand on his chest.

He slanted his mouth over hers and parted her lips with his tongue, entering her, tasting sweet moisture, reveling in the clean, fresh flavor. The finest food had never been better. He had to have more and angled his mouth for greater penetration, his tongue probing deeper.






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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Does Size Matter?


Years ago I watched a movie, “The Naked Jungle” with Charlton Heston and Eleanor Parker. It had everything a romance should; a man who has carved an empire out of the South American jungle but hasn’t had time for anything else including women or relationships (read, virgin) and the caring but feisty widow he ends up with who is surprised to find he’d requested a virgin. Something their go-between very wisely decided not to tell either of them.

Heston’s character was hungry for what he wasn’t getting, a wife and a glimpse of a world so outside his own realm that he literally wanted to devour them both. In the process of achieving his goal, he builds a house and furnishes it expensive furniture and an entire library of books that he’s bought by the pound.

I realize that as readers, we are all hungry for a good story and thanks to progress and the internet I don’t have to buy books by the pound to appease my appetite because trust me, it would take more than one boatload. I can be selective and choose what story I want to read, whether it’s a five or ten-thousand word short story or a full-length novel. When I buy a story, no matter what length, I have a good idea of what to expect.

To paraphrase a quote I once heard and can’t remember who to attribute it to, “Every story should have a beginning, middle and an end.” I have always assumed that this would be true for any length of story and have been surprised to find many short stories given low marks on reader sites because they found them “too short” and wanted more.

I have to admit my confusion. Do some readers feel cheated monetarily because the story was so short or were they so in love with the engaging characters that they didn’t want the story to end? This is rarely explained and I’m surprised when I see them admit they would have given the story a better rating if it had been longer.

Hmmmm…did the story fall short when it came to setting up the premise? Were the characters introduced somehow lacking in dimension? Did they not have a clear goal and/or was that goal not met or revised to suit the story being told? Was the ending abrupt or did it actually answer all of the questions presented and/or resolve any conflict in a satisfactory manner? Did it deliver the story that was promised according to the blurb or excerpt, which I’m assuming was the reason they’d purchased the story?

If the reader’s problem was with loving the story and not wanting the story to end then I believe that the author did their job and have to wonder why a reader would penalize it with a lowered rating because of its length. I admit that I am perhaps slightly prejudiced in favor of giving full marks to the author who has managed to capture and express a small slice of life in the difficult medium of the short story.

I am truly interested in how readers determine their rating for a story/book. What is your first consideration when deciding how to rate a book/story? Do you have an automatic expectation in relation to the price you pay? How do you determine whether or not the story has met your expectations?

Thanks, and until next month

Happy Reading,


Paris Brandon







USA Today bestselling author Paris Brandon writes contemporary, paranormal, erotic and historical romance, throwing in a little mystery and suspense for good measure. She can be found most days bent over her keyboard creating worlds where sleeping beauty turns out to be a cursed bootlegger or an outlaw shifter is forced to go on the run with the assassin tasked with killing her.

When not dreaming up stories featuring heroes who aren’t intimidated by strong heroines, she can be found searching through antique and thrift stores for vintage treasures, or communing with nature, which is code for sitting on the patio with a cup of tea and a good book. And as with any activity, chocolate is usually involved.


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