Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Lovely Thief of the Neighborhood

The thief that everyone loved

In my last post HERE, I told you the story about how Miau saved Lucky from a bully Rottweiler. This time I'll tell you about my sweet dog, Lucky. 

Lucky and Miau crossed the rainbow bridge long ago and I'd like to believe that they have found each other there, too.

As I pulled into my backyard one day, I saw a pitiful-looking German Sheppard sitting close to my back door. She was very skinny and sick-looking, ribs visible under her thin coat. I got out of my car and took a few steps toward her while talking to her. She watched me intently with chocolate color eyes, sizing me up. I stopped a few feet from her and sat down on the patio chair. My hubby came outside and sat down next to me.

“Where did you get this sickly-looking dog?” I asked.

“She just showed up about an hour ago. I have no idea where she came from.”

After a short time, the dog came closer and put her head on my knees. I patted her for a while and I could feel bumps on her back and sides. I parted her fur and saw old and fresh bruises. “Where did you come from? Who did this to you?” I asked sniffing back tears.

She just looked at me with sadness and trust in her eyes.

Hubby went inside and grabbed bowls of food and water. He placed them close to the dog. She started eating while keeping a wary eye on us. When she was finished, I invited her in. She wouldn’t come inside, so I brought a blanket out and made a temporary bed for her on the patio.

The next morning, I made posters and we posted them in the stores and post office.
When nobody called to claim her after three days, we decided to keep her and took her to our veterinarian.

The vet examined her, took some blood and the next day called us with the results. “She is in bad shape, I’m afraid. She has heartworms and Lyme disease.”

The next day we took the dog to the animal hospital where she stayed for five days getting antibiotics and chemotherapy infusions.

We named her Lucky. She was very weak when we brought her home, but after a few days she started eating better and better and started playing and gaining weight. We noticed that she was afraid of leather boots and if we had a stick or broom in our hands, she cowered. My hubby stopped wearing his boots and we put the brooms in the basement.

Lucky seemed healthier and happier with every passing day, although she had some limitations. She couldn’t run more than a few feet without gasping for air. She loved to be close to us when we were outside, but she refused to step into the house, but she felt safe in the basement when it was raining or thundering. Hubby built a house for her close to the back door and padded the inside with thick carpet. Lucky claimed her new home happily. We tried putting a collar on her, but she became very nervous. We were afraid that she would wander out to the road and get hit by a car, but soon we noticed that she was afraid of the passing cars and never went close to the end of the driveway. But, from the backyard, she started visiting the neighbors on our side of the highway. They didn’t mind. Moreover, they began looking forward to seeing the sweet dog every day.

One morning I went outside to have my coffee on the patio and found a sweater by the chair. Lucky was lying next to the sweater, wagging her tail happily.

I patted her head and asked her, “Where did you get this?” She just looked at me with her big brown eyes.

The next day I found a pair of jeans on the patio, and the following day some bed sheets and a motorcycle helmet. Her collection pile grew every day, and we didn’t know what to do.
“How can you make a dog understand that stealing is not okay?” Hubby scratched his head.
We couldn’t find a solution, so we just kept hoping she would stop.

We got into the habit of going from door to door in the neighborhood with a basketful of stolen goods. We apologized and returned the boots, gloves, screwdrivers, flowerpots, toys, and all other small things she stole. The neighbors understood, and they kind of made a game out of coming to our patio looking for their missing items.

This went on for about a month. On Thanksgiving morning, I saw Lucky dragging something big and heavy tied in a shopping bag. What now? I thought. I went closer to discover a half-thawed turkey inside the bag. I had an idea where the turkey came from when I saw my neighbor coming up the driveway.

“Okay, Lucky, I will draw the line here,” she shouted. “You stole my turkey off the patio table!”

Lucky walked up to her and sat down in front of her. She touched the neighbor’s knee with her nose and looked up at her. The neighbor patted the dog on the head and cooed, “Don’t you try to melt my heart with those puppy eyes."

She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and dropped down on her knees. She hugged Lucky and whispered, "Sorry, Lucky, I know you’re a good dog. I didn’t mean to shout at you.”

Lucky watched the neighbor walking down the driveway with the turkey and from that day on, we never had to return stolen goods to our neighbors as if Lucky understood that stealing is not okay.

I write magical realism, alternate history, epic fantasy novels as well as fun, educational and bilingual books for children ages 2-14 about acceptance, friendship, family, and moral values such as accepting people with disabilities, dealing with bullies, and not judging others before getting to know them.

Click on my PAGE, you might like some of my books and if you'd like to read my older blog posts, you can find the links at the end of my page.

Monday, July 30, 2018

What Would Make YOU Happy? by Grace Augustine #OurAuthorGang

photo: chirotrust.org

   So, today's thousand dollar question is...what makes you happy? Take a moment to think about that...your happiness. How do you become happy? When are you happy? Why are you happy? 

photo: thehill
Will money  make you happy?

photo: Pinterest
What about the other half of your heart?

   A professor at Duke University discovered in 2001 that among adults with coronary artery diseases the risk of cardiac death was 2.4 times higher for those who were socially isolated than for their socially connected peers.
   40 million adults in the US (18.1 percent of the population) suffer from anxiety disorders. This is according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.  FORTY MILLION, people. That is way too many.
photo:  thebridgemaker
   What if I told you that you could start being more joyful right now?  What if I told you that you could calm part of your anxiety? Would you believe me?  Well, you can...we can.
   According to an article in the July edition of O Magazine, a 2012 New Zealand study found that the following behaviors enhanced enjoyment:


photo: yourtango
   I'm sure at some point in time all of us have read this above quote. There is truth to it. Our lives cannot get better or move forward until change happens, and WE MUST BE the change.
  Happiness isn't something that is bred into us. It's a choice. 
   "It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It's gratefulness that makes us happy." --David Steindl-Rast
photo: twitter
   Here is a little exercise to bring joy into your life...I hope you will considering doing these steps. (again, ideas taken from an article by Molly Simms entitled What Would Make You Happy? in the July edition of O Magazine...oprah.com/gethappy)

WEEK 1:  Take stock in yourself and write things down that come to mind. They may be sentences like "I feel like a failure" or "As I look back on my life all I see are victories" or somewhere in between.  Then make a list each day for 7 days of what you are grateful for.
WEEK 2:  Concentrate on social connections and acts of kindness. Are you a face to face social person? Or, do you sit behind a computer or cell phone for your conversations?  This week, you will need to move out of the shadows and into the real world and communicate face to face.  How can you be kind to someone? A smile, a note, a phone call, a lunch meeting?  DO SOMETHING WITH SOMEONE.
WEEK 3:  Self care. How well do you take care of you? Concentrate on exercising more and getting more sleep.
WEEK 4: Take 10 minutes...TEN MINUTES...out of your day to meditate.  Clear your mind, go outside, or find a space to just be quiet. Train your mind to be quiet...whether that is through yoga, true meditation or prayer. Learn to breathe. Learn to be aware of the sights and sounds around you.
   And, if you are feeling particularly in the mood of gratitude...take time to write a note to someone in your life who needs to hear how much you appreciate them. Write down why, memories, and thank yous. Next, call that person or skype with them or do the phone message thingy where you can talk with each other and see each other--or (novel idea) make plans to be together. Share aloud what you've written. It is a soul cleansing that I guarantee will affect you for the better.
   See....that's not so hard. Our world needs more people who are connected...face to face connected. We need to be those people, the people who are kinder and more giving than those always taking
   By instilling an attitude of gratitude within ourselves, it assures that we can and will be on the right track to happiness.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Our guest today is Liberty Blake #OurAuthorGang

Welcome, Liberty! So glad to have you with us today!

   Liberty Blake gave up her position as the head of a multi-million dollar non-profit corporation to stay home, raise her children, and be the caretaker of her grandmother.
   She is proud of her children and happy with the choices she made. However, there is a small part of her that wishes she had accepted the job offer that would have required her to travel internationally several times a year. The first assignment would have taken her to Paris in the springtime.
   Over the years she has been a radio disk jockey, a news director, a cocktail waitress, and many other things. 
   But writing has always been in her heart while she worked at jobs to gain life experience and put food on the table. 
   Liberty began writing stories on a toy typewriter that was replaced with a real typewriter when she was nine. She has slowed down at times, but she has never stopped writing.
   Liberty loves objectifying beautiful men, walking on the beach, in the woods, climbing mountains (ok, hiking up a small hill), and writing about rich men and the women who love them in spite of their money.
   She loves hearing from her readers and may be reached at:

One of the 20 Most Romantic Books Ever, According to BookBub Members. This book is currently free on Amazon.com

Texas rancher and bar owner Cassidy Flynn is shocked to learn the bride’s name in an upcoming high society wedding – Cassiopeia Dolmides. Cassidy is a woman of secrets; the deepest is the identity she was born with and thought she had escaped long ago. If this bride is impersonating Cassidy, what trouble will that cause Cassidy and her infant son?

Greek tycoon Theron Christofides needs to gain possession of Dolmides Cruise Lines and the little Greek island where it left a shipwrecked eyesore. A lot of people are at risk without his intervention. Old man Dolmides will sell on one condition: Theron must marry Dolmides’ illegitimate daughter. Seeing no other way to rescue the island’s people, Theron agrees to sacrifice himself and his future. 

As Theron stands at the altar with his bride-to-be, a fiery-haired woman in snakeskin boots and a cowboy hat interrupts their vows by calling his bride a fraud. In order for the wedding to continue, Theron must convince Cassidy Flynn to drop her lawsuit. Can he withstand Cassidy’s allure while he gains her cooperation? Or will they both be consumed by the fire of desire?

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Dragons: What to Know Part V

Dragons: What to Know Part V

Christina Weigand

Today I am going to discuss a couple of the Metallic Dragons. To see previous posts about the Chromatic Dragons go here.

Brass Dragon: Brass dragons are the most gregarious of all the dragons. They love conversation. They are also the most humble, but love to talk so much that they believe that any sentient  beings cannot bear to miss their company. The Brass Dragons would rather talk than fight. For the most part they are a friendly dragon unless they feel threatened then they will put the aggressor to sleep with a dose of sleep gas. When his enemy awakes he may find himself pinned or buried up to the neck in sand and listening to small talk until the dragon tires of it.

The Brass Dragons crave sunlight and dry heat so their lairs are often found in hot, arid regions, particularly sandy deserts. They are located in high rocky caves, preferably facing east so the rising sun warms the rocks. Several bolt holes are dug into the base of the cliff where the desert winds have piled up sands. Tunnels are burrowed parallel to the cliff face in the hard packed sand. The lairs are generally located near heavily traveled areas so they can satisfy their desire for conversation.

The Brass Dragons prefer organic treasures. The hoard will often include items made from wood, textiles and other examples of fine handicrafts made with exquisite materials.

Bronze Dragons: Bronze Dragons value justice and do not tolerate cruelty or anarchy in any form. If he captures someone, the culprit will face fast retribution using a disguise. They find other creatures fascinating, especially humans. The Bronze Dragon  will polymorph into a small, friendly animal to study other creatures.

 Courtship and mating is a deliberate and respectful affair. They mate for life and even refuse to take a new mate if the original dies. They tend their eggs and offspring and defend them to the death if necessary.

Tropical coastal areas near deep fresh water or salt water is where you will find the Bronze Dragons Lair. They frequently visit the lower depths for a swim in the cool water or a chance to hunt for treasure. The lairs are in caves that are accessible only from water, but the lairs are always dry-- they do not lay eggs, sleep or store treasure underwater. The cave will have a lower are that floods at high tide and an upper that remains dry all the time.

The Bronze Dragons love to collect pearls, coral, intricate shells and pearls. Their favorite though is gold which does not tarnish in their humid lairs. 

Copper Dragons: Copper Dragons are the pranksters of the dragons. They love a good joke or riddle and appreciate all forms of humor. However, they also have a covetous, miserly streak. They are social creatures.

Courtship is an odd mixture of tenderness and outrageous humor. They exchange small gifts of food and treasure, but their real currency is wit. They are attracted to dragons that will make them laugh. Copper Dragons do not mate for life, but stay together long enough to raise their offspring to adulthood.

Lairs can be found in dry, rocky uplands and mountains. Their lairs can be found in narrow caves. They use their ability to move and shape stone to enhance the lair and conceal the entrances. The dragon constructs twisting mazes with open tops to allow them to fly and jump over intruders.

The favored treasure is metals and precious stones as well as finally sculpted statues and well crafted ceramics.

The next post will cover the Gold Dragons and the Silver Dragons. So until next time Bensvelk Kear. (Good Day in Dragon)

 To read more about my books and me go to my
 Amazon Author Page: Amazon

To read some more about dragons check out Rebecca Tran's posts:

Dragon Myths 1

Dragon Myths 2

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Hercules: Hero and Victim. Part 2

Hercules: Hero and Victim. Part 2

Joe Bonadonna
Jason and the Argonauts, 1963

Nigel Green as Hercules in the 1963 film, Jason and the Argonauts. 
("The greatest motion picture ever made," actor Tom Hanks said  at the Academy Awards some years ago when special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen was honored with a special Oscar.) 

Today I’m going to finish up my 2-part “thesis” on Hercules, which I wrote in 1984, when I was taking a night class in English Rhetoric at Triton College in Forest Park, IL. Once again, I quote from the sources I used back in 1984 — Bullfinch’s Mythology, by Thomas Bullfinch; God, Heroes and Men of Ancient Greece, by W.H.D. Rouse; and Mythology, by Edith Hamilton.

The Temper of Hercules

An example of Hercules’ volatile emotions occurs during the quest for the Golden Fleece. In despairing grief over the loss of Hylas, his armor-bearer, Hercules leaves the Argo and deserts Jason and the other Argonauts to go look for his friend. “This power of deep feeling in a man of his tremendous strength was oddly endearing, but it worked immense harm, too.” Hercules had sudden outbursts of furious anger which were always fatal to the often innocent victims of his rage. Once the anger had passed and his temper had cooled, Hercules would show a disarming penitence and agree to suffer any punishment; of course, no punishment could be inflicted upon him without his consent. More than once he was a victim of his own hot temper and uncontrollable rage.

One time, in a fit of madness, Hercules killed his friend Iphitus and was condemned to become the slave of Queen Omphale of Lydia. While in her serve he “. . . lived effeminately, wearing at times the dress of a woman, and spinning wool with the handmaidens of Omphale, while the Queen wore his lion’s skin.” His own temper brought about this humiliation. He was mocked, treated as a fool and ordered about like a slave. Yet Hercules faced his ordeal in a manner most befitting a hero of his stature — with courage and dignity. Not once did he attempt escape or seek revenge.

Another time he visited his friend, Admetus, whose wife had just died. Hercules did not know this, and save for the manner of his dress Admetus showed no trace of mourning. When Hercules asked who had died, he was told that only a servant of the house had passed away. Hercules wanted to leave, but Admetus begged him to stay. Then, while Admetus attended the funeral, Hercules got drunk and began to sing. The servants chided him for his lack of respect, and Hercules protested, saying that there was no disrespect, for the dead woman was a stranger to him. He was then told that it was Admetus’ wife who had died, and his shame was absolute. “Then he did as he always did, he heaped blame upon himself. . . .  As always, too, his thoughts turned quickly to find some way of atoning.” Thus he went down again to Hades, fought with and defeated Death, and returned with Admetus’ wife. (Just why Admetus failed to tell Hercules that his wife had died is something I don’t understand.)

This shows Hercules’ character as the ancient Greeks saw it: “his simplicity and blundering stupidity; his inability not to get roaring drunk in a house where some was dead; his quick penitence and desire to make amends.”

The Tragedy of Hercules

As mentioned in Part 1, Hercules could only be defeated by supernatural means, and the greatest of his enemies proved to be Fate itself, and perhaps a touch of irony, as well.

Hercules’ wife was Dejanira, whom he met while in the service of Queen Omphale. She was the beautiful daughter of the king of Calydon “and was wooed by the god of the great river Acheloos, which runs through the country.” Hercules defeated the god Acheloos in battle, winning the hand of Dejanira, and they were married according to ancient custom.

Directly after their marriage, when Hercules was taking his wife home, they reached a river where the centaur Nessus acted as ferryman. He took Dejanira upon his back and tried to run off with her, but she cried out. Hearing her cry, Hercules shot the centaur with an arrow. Before he died, Nessus told Dejanira to take some of his blood to use as a charm if Hercules ever fell in love with another woman. Dejanira did as the centaur bid her and it was not long afterwards when she had occasion to use the blood-charm.

During one of his victorious battles Hercules had taken prisoners, and among them was a fair maiden named Iole, of whom he was overly fond. As he prepared to make sacrifice to the gods in honor of his victory he asked his wife to send him his ceremonial robe. “Dejanira, thinking it a good idea to try her love-spell, steeped the garment in the blood of Nessus.” As soon as Hercules donned the robe it stuck to his flesh and caused him great pain. Wrenching off the rob he tore away pieces of his flesh, and in his frenzy he seized Lichas, the servant who had brought him the robe, and hurled him out to sea. Fatally wounded, Hercules took ship and returned home to his wife.

Upon seeing what she had unwittingly done, Dejanira went out and hung herself. Preparing himself for death, Hercules ascended Mount Oeta, where he built a funeral pyre of trees and commanded a servant to supply the torch. He then laid himself down up on the pyre “with a countenance as serene as if her were taking his place at a festal board,” and the flamnes consumed his body.

The Passing of Hercules

According to Zeus, however, only Hercules’ mortal-half could be destroyed: his mother’s share. What Hercules had derived from his father was immortal. Said Zeus: “I shall take him, dead to earth, to the heavenly shores, and I require of you all to receive him kindly. If any of you feel grieved at his attaining this honor, yet no one can deny that he has deserved it.” The gods gave their assent and even jealous Hera could not disagree. Hercules was taken to Mount Olympus to dwell; he was even reconciled with Hera, who gave her daughter Hebe to him in marriage.

“And so you see Heracles led the life he had chosen when he was a young man.” He spent a good part of his life expiating one unfortunate deed after another, never rebelling against the almost impossible demands placed upon him. “Sometimes he punished himself when others were inclined to exonerate him.”  Hercules was a victim of his own flawed humanity, and his life was filled with tragedy. Yet in the end he won the honor and glory Virtue had promised him, gaining his rightful place among the gods. “But it is not easy to imagine him contently enjoying rest and peace, or allowing the gods to do so, either.”
*  *  *
There have been many novels about Hercules, and I’ve read a few. But of those I read, not a one told his entire tale, the complete myth from his birth to manhood, covering his Twelve Labors and all his trials, tribulations and tragedies. I would love to write that novel one day. Who knows? And of all the films made about Hercules over the years, many deviated greatly from his story, as first set down by Ovid, and then later Euripides, Sophocles, Pindar, and Theocritus. I had heard once that after the success of the film Jason and the Argonauts, there were plans to make a movie about Hercules, with Nigel Green reprising a role I thought he mastered quite well, and with special effects by the maestro, Ray Harryhausen. Perhaps it was nothing more than Hollywood “urban” legend, and alas, no such film was ever made. At least two films have been made in the 21st century, and both succeeded in leaving me a bit disappointed. The TV series, with Kevin Sorbo in the title role, was its own separate thing; it was enjoyable, at times a little silly, and it often took great liberties with the mythos of “the strongest man in the world.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed my article, and I thank you for stopping by.

#heroicfantasy    #spaceopera  #childrensbooks

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Baba Yaga Folk Lore Part 4

Rebecca Tran 

In previous posts Baba Yaga was described as an old crone who flies around in a mortar. The overly large pestle is used as a rudder to steer the mortar and her broom sweeps away any trace of her passing. With a house that has chicken feet, and disembodied hands as servants there is no denying she has magical powers. If you missed the previous three posts you can read them here post 1, 2, & 3.

I remembered reading about Baba Yaga when I was younger but the exact story eludes me. When I started writing my new novella Magic Always Has a Price, I needed to do more research on the old witch. Most of her folk lore was familiar as I read and I thought little of my new project. When people asked me what I was working on though it became apparent that Baba was much more obscure than I realized.

Baba Yaga is making a comeback in pop culture though. My children know more about Baba than many of my contemporaries. It seems like every time a children's show needs a scary or powerful witch Baba Yaga is their fall back character.

Baba Yaga is a regular character in the popular children's show Everafter High. While her character in the show is that of  powerful witch, she is allowed to interact freely with the students. Baba threatens to place curses on other characters but never seems to do any real harm.

In the children's movie Monster Family Baba was actually an unwilling pawn in Dracula's master plan. If she did as the crafty old vampire asked he would release her from his prison and leave her alone. If Baba didn't Dracula would lock her up again. Now whether a vampire was capable of locking up a witch who had two knights named for times of the day was debateable. But hey, it was a kids movie.

There is an older movie called Bartok the Magnificent from 1999 that features Baba as well. Here she is shown as the anti-hero who helps the main character Bartok save the Czar of Russia.

I know Baba Yaga from my personal reading. She appears in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. In Briggs' world, Baba Yaga is part of the Faye community and isn't anyone you'd want to mess with. True to folk lore, Baba will help if she feels like it, but Briggs mentions key traits like her mortar and eating children.

Baba Yaga also made a television appearance on the SyFy channel's show Lostgirl. In season 2 episode 4 Kenzi thought to ask Baba for help and was willing to sacrifice herself in order to get it.
She had no idea what Baba intended to do with her. Kenzi might have thought twice if she did. This episode followed the older folk lore of Baba sleeping on her oven and added a Hansel and Gretel twist to the ending. It made for great fiction and gave viewers a taste of Baba Yaga's darker nature.

I find Baba Yaga's reappearance in modern times quite interesting. Her ability as a character to embody both good and bad qualities make her the perfect choice for the villain, or antihero. So far, I haven't seen anyone brave enough to make her the hero. On that note, I thought I would attempt it in my novella Magic Always Has a Price

Vasalisa Fenenko Danilovna is a normal 21 year-old college student. So far, life is better than she planned. Vasalisa has parent's who love her, Staight A's and she's dating the school's star soccer player. There's just one little problem. Vasalisa's a witch who foretold the death of someone she loves.

This does not have a HEA

Rebecca Tran is a full-time mom, and pharmacist. She writes paranormal romance, fantasy, and science fiction in her spare time. Rebecca started writing many years ago after the death of her father but didn't gain the courage to publish her first novel until 2017. Since then she has released many more titles and won several awards. If you would like to find out more about Rebecca or her work you can find it on her page.

The last post in this series on August 9 will feature Marzanna the goddess of witches.

If you liked this post you may also like Erika Szabo's series on mythology found on her page. 

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

What’s It All Mean? A study of words part 2 by Toi Thomas

Have you ever heard the saying, “There’s power in a name?” I could write a whole series about the many ways that saying could be taken literally and figuratively, but that’s not our focus for today. Today is part 2 of my current series on words and their meanings, to which I’ll be focusing on Day 2 of a previous series. Go back and read part 1 to learn more about #write31days.

The word of the day is onomastics and the subject of today is me, Toinette Thomas.

Read my story here
Onomastics is the study of names, their origins, and how they are formed within a given language. It is my belief that U.S. English (which is different from British English, the original) is a melting pot, much like the country itself. The U.S. was once part of England, and England itself has had many different rulers and occupied many different lands. Both nations and their dialect of English have been affected by outside influences.

The English language, whether British or U.S., is a hodgepodge of influences from other languages. My name is a perfect example of this. Toinette seems to be derived from Antoinette, but it’s a misnomer. My mother wanted to name me Toynet, but was told it didn’t look proper. My mom and everyone in my family calls me Toynet even though that’s not how my name is spelled. Antoinette is the feminine form of the French name, Antonie, which means flourishing while the English derivative Anthony means praiseworthy.

To quote directly from my original post, “Thomas means twin and has both Hebrew and Dutch origins intermingled with Biblical inspiration. Thomas is considered a good, strong name among the Christian community and a powerful name in many other cultures.” To read the full original post and learn a little something about my middle name, go here.
My next post in this series will be August 8 and I’ll be talking about nomenclature.

Interested in another educational/inquisitive post? Try The Man Behind the Mug Shot by Nicola McDonagh.

Find out more about me, my work, and my inspiration at the following links:

Amazon | Goodreads The ToiBox of Words | YouTube | See a list of my other posts here.

#wordsmatter, #ILoveWords, #namesmatter
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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Inventor of Crime Scene Photography by Nicola McDonagh

The Inventor of Crime Scene Photography
by Nicola McDonagh

In my last post I talked about a pioneer in crime photography, Alphonse Bertillon. You can view it here: 

Today I continue the story on how this man influenced the advance in Forensic Science. 

Not only did Alphonse Bertillon invent the Mug Shot, but a variety of ways to interpret how a crime happened. From simple burglaries, to murder, he came up with methods of measuring the amount of force used in break-ins, known as the Dynamometer. He was also responsible for using ballistics and materials to preserve footprints as clues to how a crime was committed.

Bertillon was quite a celebrity and even appeared in a few Sherlock Holmes stories, most notably, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, when the following dialogue between Dr James Mortimer and Holmes.

“I came to you, Mr. Holmes, because I recognized that I am myself an unpractical man and because I am suddenly confronted with a most serious and extraordinary problem. Recognizing, as I do, that you are the second highest expert in Europe–”

“Indeed, sir! May I inquire who has the honour to be the first?” asked Holmes with some asperity.

“To the man of precisely scientific mind the work of Monsieur Bertillon must always appeal strongly.”

Yet it is his ground breaking use of photography at crime scenes that is his lasting legacy to present day methodology employed by detectives in solving crimes.

His use of taking a picture from above, was unique to crime procedures. Previously, an artist would draw the scene from their eye line, sketching the things that came in their limited range, but Bertillon gave the world a ‘god’s eye view’ showing the scene accurately and in more detail. Greatly improving the police’s chance of solving the case. 

He even used a special laboratory to take the Mug Shots, practice his precise methods and to process the ensuing prints.

To view the actual photographs, Bertillon took of crime scenes, please go to my Pinterest page.

However, when Bertillon’s CSI photographs became known, they were thought of as unsavoury, even ghoulish since they showed the victim’s dead body. Yet these images gave detectives the necessary information to help them discover important clues such as body position, cause of death, wound entry, footprints, murder weapons, blood spattering and so on, that could easily be missed from an initial survey of the scene.

It is thanks to Alphonse Bertillon, that CSI has progressed from somewhat dubious facial measurements, to accurate fingerprinting, and his meticulous way of photographing a crime scene is still used today.

For more information about my books, please visit my website:

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Women in Science Fiction – The Duchess of Newcastle - Margaret Cavendish

Ruth de Jauregui

While science fiction evolved in the 1800s and early 1900s into its modern form, the pioneers of speculative fiction included the Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Margaret Lucas Cavendish (1623 – December 15, 1673).

The youngest of eight children, Cavendish received an education appropriate for young ladies of the era. She had tutors, though she indicated that she and her siblings didn't pay a lot of attention to the tutors' efforts toward teaching the children formality. They did learn the basics of reading and writing and the girls received instruction in needlework, singing, dancing and musical instruments. Despite the prevailing belief that women should not show their intelligence in public, Cavendish began writing at a young age.

Before Cavendish was born, her father, Sir Thomas Lucas, killed a man in a duel and was exiled. The family returned to England after King James issued a pardon in 1603. After her father's death, the family remained together, but in 1640 civil war broke out. The Lucas family, devout Royalists, fled to Oxford where King Charles I and his court were in exile. She convinced her mother to allow her to become a lady-in-waiting to Queen Henrietta Maria. The subsequent exile to France probably influenced her later work, The Blazing-World. It was the first time she'd been completely separated from her family.

It was during this exile that she met her future husband, William Cavendish, the Marquis of Newcastle. While a member of the Queen's court, she was quiet and bashful, which the Marquis (who later became a Duke) liked. They married in 1645. While in exile they were relatively poor. The Marquis and his brother, Sir Charles, taught her science and philosophy.

Cavendish published her first book Poems and Fancies in 1653, two years after she and her husband returned to England. It was a sensation – a woman publishing a book – and was both applauded for its originality and criticized for spelling, grammar and writing style. She went on to publish 22 works, including the precursor to modern science fiction, the utopian novel The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World, also known as The Blazing World.

The story takes the reader from a ship driven by storms to the North Pole and thus transferred to another world. The only survivor of the disastrous voyage, a young lady (named Margaret Cavendish) is rescued by intelligent talking bears and becomes empress over the various species that inhabit her kingdom.

The Blazing World was published in 1666 conjunction with Observations upon Experimental Philosophy. Although seventeenth century women rarely wrote about natural philosophy, Cavendish published six books on the topic. She also wrote two volumes of plays, published in 1662 and 1668. She was the first woman invited to join the Royal Society, though many members disparaged her works, in part due to her sex as well as her eccentricity.

While Cavendish was not taken seriously by her contemporaries and literary historians, modern writers have rediscovered her works. Virginia Woolf said, "though her philosophies are futile, and her plays intolerable, and her verses mainly dull, the vast bulk of the Duchess is leavened by a vein of authentic fire. One cannot help following the lure of her erratic and lovable personality as it meanders and twinkles through page after page. There is something noble and Quixotic and high-spirited, as well as crack-brained and bird-witted, about her. Her simplicity is so open; her intelligence so active; her sympathy with fairies and animals so true and tender. She has the freakishness of an elf, the irresponsibility of some non-human creature, its heartlessness, and its charm."

With the resurgence of interest in Cavendish and her works, The Blazing World has played a part in Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels, China MiƩville's Un Lun Dun and Siri Hustvedt's own novel, The Blazing World.

Mary Cavendish died suddenly in 1673, at only 50 years old. She never had children, so we're left only with her books and writings to showcase her visionary peeks at gender, feminism, travel between worlds and Utopian society.

The Gutenberg Project – Read The Blazing-World online
Amazon.com: Margaret Cavendish

#WomenInScienceFiction  #Margaret Cavendish  #RuthDJ  #OurAuthorGang

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Our Guest Today is the writing team of L.J. Garland and Debbie Gould #OurAuthorGang

Welcome, L.G. and Debbie!

Though born and raised in the south, L.J. Garland has lived on both the east and west coasts. She adores traveling, the latest adventures added to her Bucket List: Machu Pichu and Australia’s Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef.

Married to her best friend for over twenty years, she spends her time home schooling three rambunctious boys, editing in the epub industry, and writing stories that she hopes catches her readers’ imaginations as much as the characters and plotlines captivate her. In her spare time (what there is of it LOL), she has a multitude of hobbies, including building archery equipment from scratch and creating stained glass. She and her husband are both rated helicopter pilots and spent their 10th anniversary flying cross-country from east to west coast…an adventure she highly recommends.

Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, at the age of two Debbie and her mother moved to New Jersey, spending many happy years on her grandparent's horse farm. You'll sometimes find this setting a backdrop in her work.

As a teenager, she and her mother found a new home in Vermont, where she currently resides. With a daughter in the Air Force, and two sons working for the family business, Debbie now shuffles her time between a full time job and actively writing her next book.

About eight years ago, while looking at over three hundred treasured books lining her shelves, she realized there was a multitude of stories of her own clamoring for release. Since then, she's seriously persevered in keeping the keyboard in constant motion. 

Want to hear about our latest stories? Interested in giveaways and free stuff? Join our Newsletter.

Twitter: @LJ_Garland1 & @DebbieGould

Recommended reading for 18 years and older 

Small-town sheriff, Alex Pillsner has always called Shadow Bluff Island his home. He grew up here. Got his first job here. He even fell in love here. Hard. With a ring in his pocket, he went to her house to propose. But she’d already packed up and left the island…and him. Problem is, even after fourteen years, she’s the only woman his heart wants.

The day she graduated high school, Darla Markos left Shadow Bluff Island and never looked back. But fourteen years later, circumstances change and the island beckons her. As a single mother, she only wants to focus on her new business venture and her daughter. However, with her first step on the island, her past catches up to her…a sexy sheriff who proves to be a delicious distraction.

But long before Alex and Darla, before the quaint town of Shadow Bluff ever appeared, other forces were at work on the island. Oh, they’ve heard the folklore, even witnessed the occasional odd happening. But neither believes it’s more than late-night tales told to spook children. However, when Alex’s quiet life suddenly turns upside down and an evil entity threatens Darla and her daughter, he’ll be forced to make decisions he’s never imagined.

Once you visit Shadow Bluff, you just might never leave....

Saturday, July 21, 2018

In the Garden – 5 Water-Saving Tips

Ruth de Jauregui
Golden Barrel Cactus
Credit: AcrylicArtist / Morguefile.com

Water-saving measures in the garden help both the budget and environment, especially during the hottest days of summer. While some gardeners prefer a rock garden that supports a variety of cacti and other succulents, others yearn for a tropical paradise. No matter what your preference, you can design a garden that nourishes your soul while saving water and money.

Credit: suezoo / Morguefile.com
1) Amend the soil with compost and well-decomposed manure. Adding organic matter helps sandy soil hold moisture and lightens clay soil so it drains better. Slowing the water as it moves through sandy soil gives the plants' roots an opportunity to soak up the moisture. Amending clay soil with organic matter helps water move through the soil. This reduces the all-too-familiar cycle of clay soil -- sticky and heavy when wet and transforms into a concrete-hard surface when dry. In addition, compost and manure add nutrients to the soil.

Credit: tony7 / Morguefile.com
2) Select plants that tolerate some drought. Nearly all plants require some water, but a willow tree requires much more water than a maple or oak (and its roots may invade your water and sewer lines). Salvias, for example, not only provide color but also attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Several varieties are native to the Southwest and tolerate dry conditions. Native plants are already adapted to local conditions, though plants from other parts of the world that feature similar climatic conditions may also thrive in your garden.

3) Add a rain barrel under the downspouts to save rainwater for a dry day. Rain barrels vary in size and design, but essentially allow you to save water and use it in the garden later. Build a solid base under the rain barrel; water weighs 8 pounds per gallon and a barrel may hold up to 50 gallons. Raising the barrel allows the water to travel through a hose from the spigot to the garden.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Credit: AcrylicArtist / Morguefile.com
4) Install soaker hoses or a drip-watering system. A simple battery operated timer allows you to set up a watering schedule that automatically turns the water on before the sun rises and turns it off before the water runs off into the gutter. If possible, water in the very early morning. The plants have a chance to soak up the water before the sun rises. A drip-watering system also allows you to apply the correct amount of water to each plant according to its needs by simply adding more emitters over the rootball.

Wood Chip Mulch
Credit: louiedemo / Morguefile.com
5) Mulch. Add 3 to 6 inches of organic mulch, such as bark chunks, over all the bare soil in the garden. Pull the mulch 4 inches away from plants' stems. Mulch shields the soil from the hot sun and slows water evaporation, thus helping maintain a consistent moisture level around the plants' roots.

#InTheGarden  #SaveWater  #RuthDJ  #OurAuthorGang