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Our Grand Day Out in Hollywood

scooby doo gang
And I would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for these meddling kids! Photo by Jeff Cathcart My husband and I spent yesterday at Universal Studios Hollywood, a first time visit for both of us.  We had a great time, and I met a few famous folks. Original link
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Weekend Reads: “Once Upon a Romance”

Once Upon a Romance (A Dream Come True, #1)
As you’re reading this, I’m either in the air or on the ground at Universal Studios Hollywood , where my husband and I are enjoying our first-ever visit. I’m particularly looking forward to the backlot tour! Here’s this week’s book review: Once Upon a Romance by Alex Bailey My rating: 5 of 5 stars When this book came up for offer on one of the many freebie eBook newsletters to which I subscribe, I thought, “Why not?” After all, I love all things Disney … and thought that a romance set in and around Walt Disney World would be cute. What I *didn’t* expect is that this book would make me cry. And yes, it very much did. Sophie is no fan of Disney … and she’s the only one in her family who isn’t ...
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Death of Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, and the mystery of her curious tomb at Spilsby


Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk, 12th Baroness Willoughby d'Eresby and subject of my forthcoming book, Katherine - Tudor Duchess, is one of the most unusual ladies of the Tudor court. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Katherine knew all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and his son Edward, as well as being related by marriage to Lady Jane Grey. Her mother, Maria de Salinas, was the Spanish lady-in-waiting and companion to Queen Catherine of Aragon. and her father was William Willoughby, 11th Baron Willoughby de Eresby. King Henry VIII granted William and Maria Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire as a wedding present. Katherine married Charles Brandon (subject of my book ...
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How Scooby Doo Revived Gothic Storytelling for Generations of Kids | CrimeReads

According to Burke, the natural world was so stupendous that it evoked awe and astonishment. Essentially, upon witnessing the sublime, the human mind just stopped. Waterfalls or the edge of a precipice were common examples of the natural sublime. They awakened our reverence for nature but not without horror. Ironic, how something so beautiful can also be utterly frightening. With this in mind, when Scooby Doo’s creators usurped the settings reserved for gothic horror, they must have also been cognizant of their effects—which they used. A great deal. via How Scooby Doo Revived Gothic Storytelling for Generations of Kids | CrimeReads Original link
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Welcome to the: “GRANDMOTHERS: A FORCE FOR GOOD” Blog Tour! @HealthMN1 @4WillsPub #RRBC #RWISA


Today, ForeignCorrespondent welcomes author (and grandmother) Harriet Hodgson and her new book: Force, How Grandmothers are Changing Grandchildren, Families, and Themselves. To quote from the book’s Amazon synopsis: “Becoming the grandmother of twins changed Harriet Hodgson and altered her life course. According to Hodgson, we live in a fast-paced, complex time, a time when too many grandchildren are victims of bullying, Internet scams, and sexual abuse. Hodgson believes that grandmothers are needed today more than any other time in history.” Below, Harriet shares some of her favorite quotations about writing–a discipline at which she clearly excels. QuotesAbout Writing I love writing. I lov...
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Well, that was fascinating …

I was coming back here to write about something else, and found that I had a threatening e-mail (via my contact page) and comment (permanently deleted) from a white supremacist in reference to the link I shared about the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. Suffice it to say that this individual now has the rare distinction of having been blocked. This is what white supremacy looks like: threatening anyone who dares to show support for people of color, or to speak out about what happens to them. And that is actually what I came here to write about. When my dad died, I mentioned that he had given away the bride when one of his African-American students, Joe, married a white woman. Her own fami...
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How to Deal with a Negative Book Review


There is an old adage that says “any publicity is good publicity–even if it is bad.” Why? Because the objective is to get people talking about you and your book. There is an old adage that says “any publicity is good publicity–even if it is bad.” Why? Because the objective is to get people talking about you and your book. If you are like me, I don’t believe a lot of the negative reviews I see on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc. In fact, I will often comb through all of a book’s reviews to see if others are saying the same negative things about a book. If they are not, I will normally rely more on positive reviews than the bad ones. Sometimes I will buy a book with bad revie...
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Using Book Brush To Create Videos For Twitter #AuthorToolboxBlogHop


It's getting harder to make posts about books stand out on social media. At one time a cover shot was good enough, but now there are so many Gifs it's easy to be overlooked. If you take a look at the analysis from Twitter, it's clear that short video is the way to go. Twitter claim 2 billion video views a day, which is 66% year-over-year growth in the past 12 months. They also add that 93% of video views happen on mobile. (Twitter internal data, 2019)  (Source: Twitter 2019) So how do you make book videos without spending a fortune or being distracted from writing goals? Earlier this year author Marcia Meara ( @MarciaMeara ) pointed me in the direction of ' Book Brush ',  which claims to be ...
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Music Monday: “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”

I have loved this song for decades. Please enjoy this live performance by Elton John and Lady Gaga. Original link
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EAST MEETS WEST–AND FINDS ‘DECADENCE’


Occasionally I reprint stories I wrote while working as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Here is one I wrote from Bangkok, Thailand in 1985. It examines the attitudes some Asian countries have toward Western (read “American”) culture—specifically, its music, its films, and what some consider its promiscuous lifestyle. Not much has changed since I filed this story thirty-four years ago. BANGKOK, Thailand–Two months ago, at the peak of its popularity, the hit song “One Night in Bangkok” (see link at end of story) was banned by the government here. The reason: It was seen as a Western perversion of Thai culture. Last week in an impassioned speech, Singapore’s deputy prime minist...
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Finding the Holy Grail of writing

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Many, if not all authors know writing is never straight forward; I am not talking about the technical aspects or grammar, but about finding the time to write when your mind is focused, when it is in the ‘zone’ for ‘that part’ of your story. The Holy Grail of writing is when your thought processes are at a peak and you have the time, the undisturbed, uninterrupted time, to transcribe your contemplations cohesively into your manuscript. Finding this Holy Grail has been an elusive search for me over the last year or so, regarding the novel I am currently working on. Don’t get me wrong, I am not speaking of writer’s block, that is something I do not suffer. It is also nothing to do with finding ...
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Guest Post by Jennifer Wineberg, Author of Ruskin’s Copper Shadow


Available on Amazon US  and Amazon UK Did Pauline Trevelyan manipulate John Ruskin into leaving the love of his life in 1865? Bonded by their interest in Pre-Raphaelite art, Pauline Trevelyan, the Mistress of Wallington Hall in Northumberland and John Ruskin developed a close friendship. Pauline had taken his side against Euphemia Gray (Effie) when she had divorced him for non-consummation of their marriage. The daughter of a Minister would naturally want to protect Ruskin from further scandal when Isabella Milburn one of her servants, fell pregnant. A Northumbrian Canon is concerned about this illegitimate child, leading him to unravel  a story of deception and betrayal.  My fascination wit...
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Remembering the Birmingham church bombing | Southern Poverty Law Center

Today, at 10:22 a.m. – regardless of where you are and what you’re doing – please pause and remember: Addie Mae Collins, 14. Denise McNair, 11. Carole Robertson, 14. Cynthia Wesley, 14. And let’s recommit to carrying the torch for justice. via Remembering the Birmingham church bombing | Southern Poverty Law Center Original link
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Happy International Cozy Mystery Day!

Agatha I
Original link
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Book Launch: Entertaining Mr Pepys, by Deborah Swift


Available on  Amazon UK  and  Amazon US Based on events depicted in the famous Diary of Samuel Pepys, Entertaining Mr Pepys brings London in the 17th Century to life. It includes the vibrant characters of the day such as the diarist himself and actress Nell Gwynne, and features a dazzling and gripping finale during the Great Fire of London. Refugees from the Great Fire of London ‘The saddest sight of desolation that I ever saw. Everywhere great fires. Oyle-cellars and brimstone and other things burning’ Samuel Pepys’ Diary 1666 Herded beasts In The Great Fire of London 70,000 homes were destroyed, leaving the people of London shocked to the core and suddenly with nowhere to go. Their busines...
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Mystery of the 'Lady Jane Grey' Portrait at Grimsthorpe Castle


I recently visited Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire as part of the research for my new book about the amazing life of Lady Katherine Willoughby. As well as seeing the famous portraits of Katherine, her husband Charles Brandon and son Peregrine, I was intrigued by the portrait of an unknown Tudor lady (above). I was told the portrait has been thought to be of Lady Jane Grey, (related to Katherine as the daughter of her stepdaughter, Lady Frances Grey.)  It is interesting to compare this picture with the fifty-seven portraits associated with Lady Jane Grey in the National Portrait Gallery:  https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp01373/lady-jane-dudley-nee-grey Several of these ar...
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Book Launch Guest Post ~ Researching the House of Grey, by Melita Thomas


New on Amazon UK and Amazon US The Grey family was one of medieval England's most important dynasties. They were were on intimate terms with the monarchs and interwoven with royalty by marriage. They served the kings of England as sheriffs, barons, and military leaders. Weaving the lives of these men and women from a single family, often different allegiances, into a single narrative, provides a vivid picture of the English medieval and Tudor court, reflecting how the personal was always political as individual relationships and rivalries for land, power,  and money drove national events. Researching the House of Grey The House of Grey is my second book, and that made it both harder and easi...
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Adventures in Audio Recording – Part IV


Okay folks today we get down into some of the actual nitty-gritty with the Audacity program.  I’m going to be covering a fair amount of info here, while also supplying you with links to various videos that helped me. This way if my own instructions are not clear, or maybe you work better with  a visual, you’ll have the link to see exactly what’s going on. Now I’m going to introduce you to what I refer to as “My Best Friend” in Audacity. It’s called the CHAIN. What the chain does is applies several clean-up “Effects” that will improve the quality of your recording in one shot. Mind you, it is possible to do every Effect separately, but you’ll probably need to do it every one at a time, whenev...
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Sample Saturday: “Around the World in 80 Pages”

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Hi, everyone. Here’s a quick historical tale from my short fiction collection. I used to volunteer at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum , teaching the history of scribes, writing, and the Rosetta Stone; that was the inspiration for this story. I chose this tale because it’s the 11th anniversary of me giving my first tour of the museum’s rock tomb. Around the World in 80 Pages is always free on Smashwords . The Scribe of Rashid Sadji put down the tiny chisel and hammer to wipe his brow. It was hot and humid; he wore only a pleated linen breach clout. He needed a moment to rest; it was long and difficult work creating a dedication stele. Only the most talented scribes were given this honor. Carv...
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Weekend Reads: “Disasterama!”

Disasterama!: Adventures in the Queer Underground 1977 to 1997
Disasterama!: Adventures in the Queer Underground 1977 to 1997 by Alvin Orloff My rating: 5 of 5 stars I’m a huge fan of well-written memoirs, so maybe it’s no surprise that I finished this book in two nights. It was hard, though. While I didn’t personally know any of the people about whom Alvin Orloff wrote, I knew many of their analogs. I was a “club kid” in Portland, Ore.. Having done a lot of theatre, I also know a good many LGBTQ+ people … and I will never forget my nurse friend calling me one night and saying “There is this disease attacking gay men. They don’t know quite what it is yet, but they think it’s sexually transmitted. Please tell your friends to be careful.” So, as you have ...
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