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An Angry Rant from a (Very) Dissatisfied Customer

14 Jan

Hey Bell Media! And The Source! And Apple! Well actually, here’s a call out to Mr. George Cope , CEO of Bell Media Canada, and Mr. Tim Cook , present CEO of Apple. (You gentlemen DO have a Google alert set up on your names and companies, right?) You look like very nice men and obviously you are both very savvy computer/tech/ business guys to have gotten where you are, so I’m hoping you will see past my “mad” in this rant, and take notice of my complaint therein. This may be of some interest to you ….

Here’s the scoop: I am a confirmed PC user who over the past 2 years has been slowly converting to Apple, via my iphone (gift from the kids), and MacPro laptop (gift from Hot Stuff Hubby). All through this past Christmas, I was receiving emails from The Source (and I’m not gonna link that, ‘cause I’m mad at The Source, too, so won’t be sending any readers to that site via ‘the Source’s’ link!). Anyhoo, the emails were advertising the Apple 16 GB ipad mini 3 (in the new color of gold, no less) for $99! My books to this point had been available exclusively on Amazon, but I was toying with the idea of also putting them in Apple’s online store, intending to write my next book directly on my ipad mini.

I tried to order one online. Nope. Stores only.

I phoned my local ‘The Source’ store (2 of them, actually) only to be told that the special was only for a handful of select stores in all of Canada (and we’re a damn big country). However, I was told that I could have my local store order one in, as long as I agreed to sign a 2 year contract with Bell for the device. Hell, yessiree, I’ll do that!

Three weeks later, (yesterday actually) I got the call from a very nice employee at ‘The Source’ store, telling me my ipad mini 3 had arrived and that I should come on down to sign up for the Bell contract. Now, apart from my job as a writer, my day job is that of a self-employed sole charge physiotherapist in a busy clinic. This means that I had to clear my schedule of patients for a one and a half hour slot (mucho lost income) to go do this. No matter. I wanted the mini. No more lugging the comparatively HEAVY Macbook Pro around on holidays with me so I could continue to write whilst away.

Well, jumping to the conclusion of this sad story, after several attempts, the nice man at The Source was unable to get me signed up. He put in a call to some kind of Help line and was told that he would be unable to sign me up for a contract with Bell because I had not had a cellular contract with Bell within the last 90 days.

HUH???

Well, says I, I have NEVER had a cellular contract with Bell, let alone within the last 90 days, but hey, that’s why I’m here – I WANT to become a Bell customer and I’m fricking frothing at the mouth to sign a 2 year contract with them so I can have my wonderful, light-as-a-feather, portable-as-hell ipad mini 3.

C’mon, C’MON, GIVE ME THE CONTRACT – WHERE DO I SIGN??

Help line guy says, yeah you can sign her up but only for the full purchase price of the mini 3 – an outrageous sum of just pennies under $600 CAD). Not available no way, no how, for the advertised price of $99. And apparently ‘The Source’ is only allowed to sell Apple products in conjunction with Bell contracts.

Besides seeming to me, to be just short of a fraudulent marketing ploy (as there was no disclaimer or restrictions policy outlined anywhere other than to say “see local store for details”), this is an EPIC MARKETING FAILURE. Not only did Apple and The Source and Bell fail to make a sale (albeit a small one, but still…) but they now have an unhappy customer who writes. And blogs. And who has followers who will share. (You will, right?)

Now I want to compare this to Apple’s biggest competitor, AMAZON and the amazing marketing move of Jeff Bezos . Amazon has sold its tablets AT COST to customers, who then become Amazon converts and buy a bazillion dollars worth of stuff from Amazon, more than making up for the mark-up loss incurred with the sale of the tablet.

PURE. MARKETING. GENIUS.

(Hey Jeff, if you’re reading this, feel free to leave a comment!)

Just thought I’d share this tip with you Bell Media, The Source, and Apple. Give it some thought.

Oh, and if any of you afore-mentioned three want to make amends and make the $99 purchase with 2 year contract happen for me, well, I’m willing to bury the hatchet. And I’d blog about that, too.

In the meantime, I’m feeling as snarly and revengeful about this whole thing as Mrs. Hanley was when she made her infamous stew, which revolted some readers (“Eeww! I can’t believe she did that!”), and enthralled others (“OMG! I just LOVE Mrs. Hanley and this story! I can’t believe she did that!”).

The stew scene is in Chapter 73 in QUINTSPINNER – A PIRATE’S QUEST.

Quintspinner - A Pirate's Quest

Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest

 

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, why not buy the book? (C’mon, you KNOW the suspense and the curiosity is now gonna drive you crazy, don’cha?)

It’s $.99. On Amazon everywhere.

That’s 99 cents, not even $99 (dollars) like the mystical, non-accessable-to-me-ipad mini 3 offer. And I bet you’re gonna LOVE Mrs. Hanley’s stew scene!

There. I feel (slightly) better now. I’m going to charge up my little ASUS PC netbook (which is pretty portable and which has a wonderfully responsive keyboard) and then I’m off to compare Amazon tablets because I have a reading/writing holiday coming up …. Thanks for listening.

 

The 12 Blogs of Christmas – Our Finale! Guest Post by Martin Crosbie

25 Dec
The 12 Blogs of Christmas

The 12 Blogs of Christmas

Hello and Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for this day, in what ever form you like to see it as. I have been privileged to be part of a two week Christmas Blog tour with the following authors: Sarah Lane, Laurie Boris, Heather Haley, Helga Zeiner, M.L. Gardner, Roberta Kagan, Wendy McClelland, Jamie Lee ScottJennifer Ellis, and RJ Crayton. Each of us has provided an article with a Christmas theme and I hope that you have enjoyed the variety so far. Today I’m posting the last one in a fine line up of topics and I could hardly wait to share it with you!

Well, here it is! The day we’ve all been waiting for. My guest blog by the amazing , best-selling Canadian author, Martin Crosbie!

web pic with christmas tree 2

(We’ve saved the best for last, haven’t we?) Here, on Christmas Day itself, Martin brings us the intriguing background information for Charles Dickens’  much-beloved “A Christmas Carol”. I KNOW you’re going to love this! And I’d love to hear from you on what what thoughts that Christmas brings to you.

 

The 12th Blog of Christmas is written by bestselling author, Martin Crosbie.

Martin lives on the west coast of Canada and has written five books including Amazon bestseller My Temporary Life. His popular Christmas novel Believing Again: A Tale Of Two Christmases is available in e-book format in the US and UK as a Kindle Countdown Deal from Dec. 24-27 for only 99 cents.

 

Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

Those delicious words open the Dickens classic. Previous to the publication of A Christmas Carol, Christmas was barely recognized. Although it was a holiday it didn’t have the romantic vibe that it has today. Mr. Dickens and his novel changed all that. And, if he’d waited for his publisher to release the book it may never have happened.

Charles Dickens wrote his masterpiece in six weeks. Somehow he was able to channel the story and get the words on paper (or parchment probably) in less than two months. At that time he was suffering financially. His wife was pregnant with their fifth child and the wolves were closing in on their door. His previous novel had not sold well and when he submitted his new manuscript (after having it beta-read surely), to his publishers they were slow to warm to it. I’m not sure how rejection letters were sent out in 1853 but his publishers indicated that they were not interested in publishing the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s epiphany. Anxious to have the book released by Christmas Dickens went the print-on-demand route and self-published. He hired his own illustrator and contracted his publisher to print the books. And, he did the legwork himself. Then, in those very, pre-Konrath days he decided to lower the price to five shillings – a price that most folks would be able to afford. He wanted his book to be read and perhaps he even thought that readers might enjoy his other works if they liked his Christmas tale.

 

Read more …

The 12 Blogs of Christmas – Guest Post by Sarah Lane

22 Dec
The 12 Blogs of Christmas

The 12 Blogs of Christmas

We are coming into the home stretch of our Christmas Post line-up and I’m pleased to host Canadian author Sarah Lane today with a beautiful Christmas poem for you!

Sarah Lane photo

From Sarah:

A big round of applause for Martin Crosbie for coming up with this great idea and recruiting everyone. I feel honoured to be a part of such a talented pool of writers.

 

BIO:

Sarah Lane is the Canadian author of The God of My Art, a quarter finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and available on Amazon and Chapters. The God of My Art is the coming-of-age story of a young artist set in Vancouver and an imaginary town in northern BC. Lane’s other fiction and poetry have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Roar Magazine, and Quills: Canadian Poetry Magazine.

Lane is currently writing a psychological thriller about a salsa dancer and her doppelgänger. To be the first to know when it comes out, sign up to her new release mailing list.

To learn more about Lane’s writing, visit www.sarahlanebooks.com.

 

Morning Light

 

I.

 

The leaves are falling, clumping on pavement, wet and mute

like the beat of lips, fluttering with a whisper in the rainstorm

black like mascara streaming down a throat, waft of a secret

curling under earlobes to the small of a neck, drizzling into the

chaos of hair and drift of fingers down the meridian of spine

 

 

When we close our eyes we forget our continents, yellow

silk of the setting sun, sheen of snow under moonlight, the sweet

spice of a foreign accent, damp warmth of a strange tongue pooling its

syllables behind our lips, this contrast of skin where we sit, side by side,

legs swinging off the bed in the hush of the morning light

Read More: http://www.sarahlanebooks.com/blog-ninth-of-christmas

 

The 12 Blogs of Christmas – Guest Post by Roberta Kagen

21 Dec
The 12 Blogs of Christmas

The 12 Blogs of Christmas

We are in to our final few days of this special Christmas Blog package and today’s highlight is author Roberta Kagen who has a wonderful story about Christmas with her Romany grandmother.

Roberta Kagan photo

Roberta Kagan Dec 21st

Hey Everyone! Today, I am the featured blogger. It is a true honor to be included in a program with such talented authors. Although my little story is embellished, some of it is actually true. I hope it brings you a little joy this holiday season, God Bless all of you, Roberta Kagan

 

Roberta’s Bio:

Roberta Kagan is an American writer of Jewish and Romany decent. She writes Historical Fiction and Historical Romance, most of which is set during the holocaust. Although she never discounts the horrors of the time period, the main focus of her work is on ordinary people who prove to be strong heroic characters in unfathomable circumstances.

 

Bubby’s Christmas Angels

“Come, I’m going to tell you a story. A Christmas story.” My grandmother said as she sat in the thick upholstered chair on the side of the picture window in the living room. I tried to rush by. I was far too excited to sit and listen to anything. It was Christmas day and my aunt had just given me a gift. A gift I’d been hoping and praying for, a very special doll, and I wanted to play with it.

“You don’t want to hear a story? You’d rather go and play with your present?”

“Yes, Bubby.” Although Bubby is a Jewish term for grandmother, I called both of my grandmothers Bubby. My Romany Grandmother didn’t mind. In fact, I think she liked it. “I finally got the Shirley Temple doll that I wanted. I’ve been hoping for this for so long and I want to play with her. She came with three outfit changes too!”

My Bubby nodded. “I see. Well, it is your choice, but I think you’ll like my little tale, it’s a good story. It’s a story about a present that I got long ago. A present from God himself. “

I looked at her a little confused, a present from God? It was true that Bubby did always tell great stories. And usually I loved to sit and listen. I looked into her eyes, considering her offer.

More

 

Books and Links:

Series:
All My Love, Detrick: A Historical Novel Of Love And Survival During The Holocaust (All My Love Detrick Book 1)
You Are My Sunshine: A Novel Of The Holocaust (All My Love Detrick Book 2)
Promised Land (All My Love Detrick Book 3) due out January 2015

Other Books:
The Voyage: A Historical Novel set during the Holocaust, inspired by real events
A Flicker of Light
The Heart Of A Gypsy (A Historical Romance set in Nazi Germany)
The Gypsy Witch
A Nazi On Trial In God’s Court
Lilith Rising, 1969: A Coming of Age Novel

Amazon Central Page

Website: RobertaKagan.com

Facebook Author Page

Fan Book Club Group- Facebook

Blog

 

The 12 Blogs of Christmas – Guest Post by M.L. Gardner

20 Dec
The 12 Blogs of Christmas

The 12 Blogs of Christmas

As we head into the very last weekend before Christmas I’m delighted to be hosting M.L. Gardner with her post about past Christmases with her beloved Grandma.

M.L. Gardner photo

Grandmas Simple Christmas

 

When I was young I remember spending more than one holiday season at my grandmother’s house. I remember long evenings with homemade cookies, lots of chocolate pudding and watching claymation Christmas specials under blankets that she crocheted. What I don’t remember is the hustle and bustle holiday madness that I experienced later in life. After I grew up and began the planning, cooking and shopping for my family, it quickly became a headache laced chore to get everything done, not to mention the stress and worry of financially pulling off a ‘perfect’ Christmas. I’m not sure whether I am just more susceptible to the stress or if it’s truly gotten out of hand for all of us. What I do know is that it steals the joy and peace of the season from my family and I. As each year passed, my family noticed that I decorated a little less, baked a little less, basically did a little less of everything so I could fit it all in. And worst of all, I was glad when it was all over, and I could take a rest. I don’t ever remember my grandmother being glad Christmas was over. In fact, she was a little sad as she put away the decorations and the blue and white china nativity set that I now own. More…

M.L. Gardner Bio

 M.L. Gardner is the bestselling author of the 1929 series. Gardner is frugal to a fault, preserving the old ways of living by canning, cooking from scratch, and woodworking. Nostalgic stories from her grandmother’s life during the Great Depression inspired Gardner to write the 1929 series—as well as her own research into the Roarin’ Twenties. She has authored eight books, two novellas, and one book of short stories. Gardner is married with three kids and three cats. She resides in northern Utah. www.mlgardnerbooks.com

 

 

Links

 

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/M.L.-Gardner/e/B004W070UC/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMLGardner

Instagram: http://instagram.com/mlgardnerbooks/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mlgardner1929/

Subscribe to my newsletter: http://eepurl.com/HIlGj

 

Current Promotion

 

1929: Book One is FREE for a limited time and on sale at Amazon:

Smashwords (FREE): http://ow.ly/FDsHB

Google Play (FREE): http://ow.ly/FDsS

Amazon ($.99): http://ow.ly/FDswp

The 12 Blogs of Christmas – Guest Post from Jennifer Ellis

16 Dec
The 12 Blogs of Christmas

The 12 Blogs of Christmas

I’m so pleased to present the next entry in the 12 Blogs of Christmas, from Canadian author Jennifer Ellis, who shares her thoughts on what Christmas did mean (under different circumstances), and what it means to her now. I certainly can relate to this.

Jennifer Ellis photo

Jennifer Ellis Bio

Jennifer lives in mountains of British Columbia where she can be found writing, spending too much time on skis, and working as an environmental researcher. She has two boys, an eighteen-year-old cat and a husband who doesn’t want a dog. She has been known to read tarot cards and spring surprise walks on unsuspecting neighbourhood dogs. She has wanted to be a writer since she first read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and did not want to come out of the wardrobe.

Her Derivatives of Displacement series is science fiction fantasy for middle-graders (and adults). Books one and two are available, and book three is coming in 2015. She also writes adult fiction with a dystopic edge including In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation and her upcoming release Reversal, set in the Apocalypse Weird world. She has also contributed to several anthologies, most notably Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel, which hit #16 in the Kindle Store.

A Pair of Docks, Book One in her Derivatives of Displacement series is available for 99 cents through Christmas.

You can subscribe to her blog for the latest book news and industry insights at http://www.jenniferellis.ca. She tweets at @jenniferlellis.

12 Days of Christmas Blog – What Christmas Means

When Martin Crosbie first invited me to be part of the 12 Blogs of Christmas with eleven other writers of course I said yes. I love blogging, I love Christmas, and I love other writers.

As the date approached for me to prepare my blog, a few problems emerged: 1) How much can be said about Christmas that hasn’t been said already; 2) How am I going to write an amazing post that compares to the efforts of the other participating bloggers who are also writers; 3) A huge number of work and writing deadlines all packed together like coupled rail cars wending their way through my December; 4) The deaths of a friend’s mother, and a friend’s son; 5) The usual stresses of life and winter—ailing mother, geriatric cat, viruses abounding in my children’s school and in our house; and the more creeping and interesting realization 6) Do I really love Christmas?

I have always had somewhat of a yo-yo relationship with Christmas…

Read More (link: http://jenniferellis.ca/blog/2014/12/13/the-12-blogs-of-christmas)

Links

 

www.jenniferellis.ca

 

Amazon Author Page (with all my books)

A Pair of Docks

In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation

Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel

Manifest (on Barnes and Noble)

Manifest (on Kobo)

Current Promotions

 

A Pair of Docks is 99 cents through the holidays.

 

 

The 12 Blogs of Christmas – Today’s Guest Heather Haley

15 Dec

The 12 Blogs of Christmas

Today’s guest post is from Canadian West Coast author, Heather Haley!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Here’s Heather’s  Bio:

The Siren of Howe Sound, trailblazing poet, author, novelist, musician and media artist Heather Haley pushes boundaries by creatively integrating disciplines, genres and media. Her writing has been published in many journals and anthologies including the Antigonish Review, Geist, sub-TERRAIN, the Vancouver Review, FORCE Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia and The Verse Map of Vancouver. Haley was an editor and reviewer for the LA Weekly and publisher of the Edgewise Cafe, one of Canada’s first electronic literary magazines. She is the author of poetry collections Sideways, Three Blocks West of Wonderland, and debut novel, The Town Slut’s Daughter.

 

http://amzn.to/113yB4S

heatherhaley.com

 

A YIN-YANG CHRISTMAS

From Joy to Dread and Back Again

 

‘Tis the season. For melancholy. Haunted by Christmas Past, I get nostalgic for the little girl who believed in Santa. A child’s lament; “Why can’t it be Christmas every day?”, I’d wail at my mother. Because, my parents would rally, no matter how broke we’d been all year, to put up a tree, to fill the house with presents, candy, nuts and booze, to be filled with joy, or at least in a in a good mood, when they weren’t fighting or knocking over the tree.

I have an image burned into my psyche of sitting on the couch next to it, staring at my reflection in an exquisite silver bulb, in a trance of hope and excruciating happiness. That damned tree. Its heady perfume permeated the house, blasting away banality, infusing bliss. Magic. Or madness, I’ve come to realize. The Christmas tree has become for me an emblem of the innocence of childhood, innocence lost, innocence I have finally quit trying to regain.

Light-Dark. Fire-Water. Male-Female. Yin-Yang. Without dread, how can there be joy? Seeking the answer traces my evolution from doe-eyed youngster to jaded diva, but at last I am comfortable with such dualities. I’m not a Daoist but understand that life is an endless cycle, and that opposites are bound together to create a mutual whole.

“Thank God I’m an atheist.” I struggled with that when my son was little, thought that if we were going to observe-after deciding we would honour tradition, albeit our way-that Junior should know about the Christ in Christmas. He learned that Jesus of Nazareth was most likely a rabbi, his teachings were sound and the man must have been a charismatic philosopher, healer or social reformer who many saw as a prophet and the son of God. I’ve also taught my son to be discerning, to consider the source, to put things in relief. In perspective. With healthy skeptiscim comes a certain ambivalence, but he’s a good kid, smart and compassionate.

I refrain from spouting “Bah Humbug,” but don’t put up a tree anymore. Junior, now 20, no longer cares, which is rather sad, considering how much he did care, how excited he’d get, waiting for and believing in Santa. But we share fond memories; one year he, his step-father and I spent Christmas in Hawaii with his godmother and extended family. We met Don Ho, watched a lighted parade in the little town of Waiamea on Christmas Eve, and Junior even went boogie boarding, despite having been afraid of the water.

Peace and goodwill toward men. Why should it be seasonal? I do enjoy the time the holidays afford us, the opportunity to get together with loved ones. When we gather with those who are dear to us. If the fates allow. I like nothing better than to cook for my family, as I do each time I’m lucky enough to have them visit throughout the year. That is joy. Time is the most precious gift of all and peace comes from within.

 

The 12 Blogs of Christmas

13 Dec
The 12 Blogs of Christmas

The 12 Blogs of Christmas

Hello everyone! This holiday season I’m honored and excited to be one of a group of 12 authors who have come together to offer you up some great reading. This special project, titled “The12 Blogs of Christmas”, has been organized by my friend and best selling author, Martin Crosbie.

Here’s how it works: between now and Christmas, each day we will be hosting and posting a different bio, author picture, and a blog post from one of this group of very talented and hand-picked authors: R.J. Crayton, Jamie Lee Scott, Heather Haley, Jennifer Ellis, Helga Zeiner, Laurie Boris, M,L. Gardner, Roberta Kagan, Sarah Lane, and Wendy McClelland, and Martin Crosbie.

I know! What a fab group, right? So here is my contribution. Thanks for dropping by!

Getting Into The Christmas Spirit …

Bah, Humbug!

To steal that popular line, it is Hot Stuff Hubby’s summation of what he also refers to as “a Hallmark Holiday”. The rest of us call it Christmas.

For anyone who has anything for sale, the Christmas retail season is like bottled oxygen to an astronaut in a Space Station – absolutely necessary in order to survive the rest of the year.

Not a particularly religious man, Hot Stuff nevertheless laments the overshadowing of the original intent of fellowship and gratitude of the season, with that of a glut of retail activity.

Personally, I love the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. I think I must have been a magpie in a former life because I love all things sparkly – twinkling lights, reflective ornaments, the ropes of flashy tinsel, diamonds (ahem, are you reading this, Hot Stuff?), and such.

I love Christmas music, especially the more traditional carols and hymns perfectly harmonized and performed by choirs – I feel no shame in humming along out loud as they are pumped out of the speakers in the mall stores; I thrive on the smells of Christmas baking – sugar and cinnamon, butter and raisins, warm gingerbread – and can often be seen hanging out around the local bakery counter until the clerks get a little nervous at my continuous presence; and I take personal pride in decorating my home and yard as though it were a marker for NASA to be easily seen from outer space.

But this year is a  little different.

  • My family is grown and gone and have moved away to the farthest points possible. They won’t be home to appreciate my normal decorative efforts.
  • An early Arctic vortex unexpectedly moved across the Canadian prairies where I live and parked itself over top of my house, and as much as I want to have my yard lit up in a display that rivals a summer fireworks display, I am loathe to be out there in -25, tying strands of lights to my trees.
  • And finally, sinking into a twinkle-deprived depression, I didn’t feel the need to haul my pre-lit tree up from the basement, rearrange the furniture to accommodate it, and transform my living spaces into a picture of perfect Yuletide-ness.

I curled up in front of my fireplace with my own Grumpy Cat, Sergio, for the practical warmth of it, rather than to immerse myself in the contentment of the holiday season.

Sergio: Anyone ready for a cuddle with me by the fire?

Sergio: Anyone ready for a cuddle with me by the fire?

 

Christmas was creeping up on me and I had not done any preparation, including getting my own writing ready for a Christmas push. I avoided visiting the mall and the bakery, and my playlist was a jumble of Country rock and techno.

Until the phone call.

Hot Stuff’s side of the family phoned to say they would be coming to stay the entire Christmas WEEK with us for the first time ever. The parents, their two grown children, and … their two Border collies.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love these relatives. They are FUN people with deadly senses of humor and the week with them will be non-stop entertainment with plenty of culinary pleasures, liquid refreshments, and laughter. I was delighted to hear they were coming, although the news that there would be two hyperactive dogs in my house for the entire week left me a little less joyful (but believe me, I am not as distressed about that news as is Grumpy Cat Sergio…).

TWO dogs?? For a WHOLE week?? You gotta be kiddin’ me! I think I’m gonna be sick…

And so the phone call galvanized me into a furious whirlwind of action. I rearranged my furniture like I was a set of triplet interior designers, I relieved my local hardware store of their entire supply of exterior extension cords with which to light up my house and yard, and I brought in a two week supply of food, drink, and baking goods. I even have my Christmas playlist wired so that the music fills my house AND yard. (Gotta love those wireless speakers.)

I may have permanently injured my Achilles tendon hauling that damned tree up from the basement in such a hurry, but no worries. It’s a small price to pay for having rediscovered my Christmas spirit. The busy preparation is done and I have only to sit at my laptop, rear glued to a chair, nostrils filled with the sweet scent of fresh cinnamon sticky buns baking in my oven, and get to work on my next manuscript in my Quintspinner series. Too late for Christmas sales, but maybe for the post-Christmas slump in late January when there is not so much competition? I’m sure I read a post somewhere claiming that there is such a thing.

And I think my Christmas spirit may be infectious. Hot Stuff Hubby has mentioned that the tree does look kinda empty, that maybe we should go shopping, and oh-by-the-way did I know that there are a couple of neighbors who will be spending Christmas alone – do we have room at the table for a few more?

You bet.

I love Christmas. Best wishes to all of you. May you be filled with the feelings of joy and friendship that is Christmas, however you see it. And in case you need a cheap-like-borsch last minute gift for a loved one, well there you go. Hit that link.

Merry Christmas! Ho, Ho, Ho!

Blog – Adventure #2 – Operation Sting! (Jelly Fish Sting, that is…) or Up Close and Personal With Creatures of the Deep

6 Oct

Taking a shortcut and drifting through a Mexican Mangrove-like swamp, the eight of us (yup – same family of mine, that by now you’ve probably come to know reasonably well), were boating over to a neighboring beach, the sun splashing down on our shoulders like warmed suntan oil. It was early December – shoulder season meant no crowds – and it was blissfully perfect.

 

Arriving at our destination, we were delighted to see that, except for a half dozen fishermen who were working their fishnets in the shallow waters, we were the only ones on the beach. There weren’t even any customers lounging on the patio of the tiny traditional Mexican restaurant that sat just back of the soft strip of sand that rimmed this little bay.

My family in Mexico - all 6 kids. (Not a typo - count 'em!)

My family in Mexico – all 6 kids. (Not a typo – count ’em!)

As we strode into the warm waters, the fisherman yelled and greeted us in Spanish, waving their arms in an enthusiastic fashion. Speaking no Spanish, we grinned, waved back and plunged into the waves.

 

 
Within seconds, the entire underside of my body exploded in pain, feeling akin to what I imagine it would be like to have five thousand elastic bands all snapping against my skin at one time. Staggering from the water, I was nearly stampeded and pummeled into the sand by the rush of all other family members in their efforts to clear the water as well. Our combined screeching, however, was topped by the shrieks of my 14 year old daughter. A raised crimson welt slashed down the length of her thigh. Something had stung us all, but only she had any mark to prove it.

 

 
Somewhere in my panicked brain, my EMT training took over. A thought rose to the forefront. A very logical, extremely scientific thought. Something about either vinegar or concentrated urine salts changing the ph or cellular barrier of the ocean dweller’s venom-filled cells to stop or reverse the expulsion of the venom out of the deposited cellular cysts. So I did what any scientist would do.

 

 
“Boys!” I bellowed in my most motherly commando-sounding voice. “Get over here right now and pee on your sister’s leg!”

 

 
Well, I can tell you that I got no co-operation from either side.

 

 

By now the fishermen had hustled over to us and had already enlisted the assistance of the senora, owner of the beachside restaurant. This angel flew to our rescue with a huge bowl of sliced up limes and began to squish vast amounts of lime juice all over the welt. Plenty of it. And it seemed to work. Within minutes, my daughter’s wails had downgraded to a few shuddering sniffles.

 

 
“Why you no listen, Senora?” the puzzled fisherman asked.

 

 
“Listen to what?” I asked, slightly annoyed to being grilled like this while the lime juice application was continuing. This woman was using copious amounts.

 

 
“Medusas peligro!” he replied.

 

 
Peligro. Danger. That much Spanish I knew. But what kind of danger? My confused look brought only a snort from him, and he grabbed a glass from his satchel, strode into the ocean and scooped it full of water.

 

 
“Medusas!” he exclaimed upon returning, and he held the glass up for me to see.

 

 
I squinted and then I gasped.

 

 
Suspended in the water-filled glass were several tiny almost transparent Jellyfish! The “friendly” hand waving and shouts from the fishermen had been words of warning to the crazy Canadians who were blindly romping into the infested waters. We later heard from another bilingual tourist that there had been some kind of overnight underwater storm that had stirred up and brought into the shallow waters, a bloom of – given the size in the glass sample – baby jellyfish. Oh yeah, and one humongous one, as my daughter would have you believe.

 

 
Later that evening, as the sun set over that expanse of mysterious ocean, I made a journal entry of  our day’s adventure, filing it under “Quintspinner Research”.  It was shortly after that,  that I got around to  treating my still-slightly-burning skin with a lime juice/tequila concoction of my own. Taken internally. And plenty of it.

End of a Day in Paradise

A Peaceful End to a Day in Paradise

Now go and see where in Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest, part of this little true story was adapted to fit into the plot. I’ll give you a hint. It involves the character, Mr. Lancaster. He was fond of liquid medications taken internally. Believed they did more good that way….

 
For those of you needing to acquire your own copy of the Quintspinner adventure to find the answer, you can net one right here: http://amzn.to/1kLuqi9 .

 
And stay tuned for the next adventure installment: Um …  is that a snake you’re wearing?

Work, Work, Work … (or “Getting Research Material For Your Novel – Part One”)

25 Sep

Hiya! Those of you who follow me on Facebook, Twitter, here on this blog, or who have read my novels in my Quintspinner series (you’re my – ahem –  favorites by the way) will know that the series is set in the historical setting of the West Indies of the early 1700’s.

Tropical sunset - Romance at its best.

Tropical sunset – Romance at its best.

Tropical islands. Shipwrecks. Pirates.

All of those things that bring to mind to romance and excitement of Pirates of the Caribbean or of the old Errol Flynn movies.

 
When I considered writing the series, that’s about all that I had in mind. I didn’t realize that the historical genre is considered by many in the writing sphere to be one of the hardest genres to write in, as it requires not only a great story and captivating characters, but also an accurate portrayal of life in the time era in which the writer has chosen to set his/her story. And what did a prairie girl like me know about sailing the seven seas? Well mostly that I liked being on the water and that I wasn’t particularly prone to sea sickness. However, it did soon occur to me that I had had more than just a few real-life adventures of my own to draw from, and since I am frequently asked about such events, I’m going to share these stories in a mini-series right here!

 
ADVENTURE #1 – THE ORCA ENCOUNTER (Or “A Whale of An Adventure!”)

 
“Whale Watching off the Sunny Coast of Vancouver Island” the glossy brochure proclaimed. I thought that sounded like the perfect blend of holiday and excitement, and of course, it promised to provide the mandatory (in my mind) educational component. Our family of eight and a friend of my stepson’s were all going to be on Vancouver Island for a week in July, and I was looking for quality ways to spend our time there.

 
“Quality,” in my mind, meant something new and different, usually something that the kids would never have done on their own. Whale watching from a dinghy seemed to fit the bill.

 
Pods of Orcas, commonly known as “Killer whales,” swam around the tip of Vancouver Island, a few miles off shore, every summer, and enterprising sailors turned the opportunity into a summer tourist bonanza. Pictures in the brochure showed a boat tethered at the pier, full of smiling people looking up at the camera — it certainly was no action shot, but it was something that all of us could do together, given that there was a wide range in the children’s age from eight to sixteen.

 

 
My sons groaned and rolled their eyes when I handed out the tickets. “Do we have to do this?” they whined, “Couldn’t we just meet you back here in a couple of hours? What fun is sitting in a smelly boat all afternoon going to be? I betcha’ it’ll stink like rotting fish. You won’t like that, Mom. And look, it doesn’t even look like there’s enough room in it to get up and move around.”

 
“Attendance is not optional,” I replied, “These are not ordinary whales, you know. These are Orcas.”

 
“Yeah, but there’s no guarantee we’ll even see any,” my son pointed out, “It says so in this stupid pamphlet right here.” And he stabbed his finger at it.

 
“I don’t see why we had to get up so early just to come here,” my stepson complained, “when we’re just going to fall back asleep during the boat ride anyway.”

 
“If nothing else, time together in this small, smelly boat will allow all of us to bond, my darlings,” I replied with a tight smile, hoping that the look in my eyes would tell them that the discussion had ended.

 
At the dock, the oversized Zodiac raft looked safe enough. It was no more than a glorified dinghy with a couple of small motors attached to the back and four wooden seats spanning its width. We were fitted with bright orange full-body life preserver suits by the “captain” and his helper.

The family gathered to embark on "Whale Watching. " The body language just screams "excitement " doesn't it?

The family gathered to embark on Whale Watching.
The body language just screams “excitement”, doesn’t it?

“Phew!” my daughter gasped, “These smell worse than the boat, and they are way too hot!” She pulled hers off her shoulders and peeled it down to her waist.

 
“No one goes,” the captain bellowed, “until everyone has their suits on, right up to the last snap and zipper!” My daughter reluctantly pulled hers up again.

 
“Thank God, no one will see us in these things,” my stepdaughter, pouted.

 
This “Whale Watching” expedition was quickly turning into a teenager’s nightmare – being forced to wear really uncool clothes, having a crabby guy in charge who yelled at them, and having absolutely nothing to do but sit still, crammed together shoulder to shoulder while listening to him for the next two hours.

 
The nine of us, as well as three strangers, climbed into the boat, all decked out in the snazzy, tangerine full-body life preserver suits. We joked about being “astronauts” and “Pillsbury Dough boys in Hallowe’en costumes,” and the boys jostled for the outside seats on the benches.

 
Outside the harbour, the captain opened up the motors and we tore into the ocean waves, all of us bouncing wildly about in the boat. This part of the ride was exhilarating enough that even my teenagers, who were usually too “cool” to get excited about much, hung on for dear life.

 
We were about a half an hour into our boat ride, with the shoreline having disappeared from sight, when our captain yelled, “There they are!” He pointed to the ocean horizon where we could just make out several spouting geysers amid tiny points of black dorsal fins.

 
He carefully maneuvered our boat through the four-foot waves, to a spot just ahead of the traveling pod and then killed the motor. He explained that it was provincial law that boats had to maintain a certain distance from all known marine life when their motors were running. Sitting with “dead” motors allowed us to be legally closer to the whales.

 
Even the boys were paying attention now. One Orca surfaced about 20 feet from our boat, spouted and dove. Everyone in the boat cheered with excitement. Even from 20 feet away the Orcas looked enormous.

Whale #2
It dawned on me that Orcas were fierce carnivorous predators, known to hunt in packs, and here we were, sitting a mere two and a half feet above the ocean’s surface in an inflatable boat!

Without warning, our boat shuddered and the starboard side shot out of the water. Grabbing the seats to keep ourselves from sliding sideways, we screamed as a mountainous wall of glistening black dorsal fin rose out of the water, tilting our boat and pushing the starboard side even higher.

One second later, a waterfall of freezing ocean water crashed down upon us, nearly swamping our boat, as the huge Orca spouted and then dove under the boat, bumping it again as it passed beneath.

“BAIL! For God’s sake, BAIL!” the captain roared at us, and we desperately grabbed for the plastic containers tied to the seats. Ocean water sloshed up to our knees. The captain started the motors and we bailed as fast as we could.

He steered the boat back in the direction that we had come from and we roared away from the spot. We were all still shaking from the adrenaline rush when, a few moments later, the motors whined, sputtered, and died.

“Oh no! We’ve sucked in kelp! The motors are plugged!” the captain yelled. He radioed our position to the coast guard while we continued to madly bail out the boat.

Drenched as we were, and in the ocean wind, our hands soon cooled to the point that it was difficult to hold onto the bailing containers. The orange suits that we had earlier joked about were now conserving our body temperatures, as we sat huddled together, awaiting rescue.

As the captain continued to work feverishly on the motors, we were blown towards a rocky crag that rose out of the water. Land! Even though it was covered in sea bird droppings and smelled horrible, it looked good to me, but not so to our captain. “If we hit that, it’ll puncture the boat and likely capsize us,” he warned. “Be ready to jump into the water!”

As we veered towards its edge, a seeming miracle happened: one motor sputtered back to life. Ever so slowly, we made our way around the rocky crag and back towards the shore.

An hour later, we spilled from the Zodiac and onto firm dry land, our eyes stinging and our faces coated white from the ocean salt. Back at their office, as we wearily hung up our orange suits, I noticed their motto printed in large black letters on a wall poster. It said, “Our Adventure Tours – More Than You Could Ever Hope For!” No kidding.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment:

Up Close and Personal With Creatures of the Deep

 
(Ahem, attention please: the above is a true story. You’ll find several similar adventures in my Quintspinner series, most of it fictional, except of course, for the parts that are real. You’ll have to figure out which is which for yourself. And you can get started on that adventure right here! http://amzn.to/1kLuqi9

G’wan. You know you wanna’. It helps me fund my next fishing trip. Thanks for reading.

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