Honoring Olivia Newton-John

A pop culture icon and activist for environmental and animal rights, Olivia Newton-John bravely shared her three-decade battle with cancer.

Olivia was born in England and emigrated to Australia as a child. She achieved early success in music competitions and sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. She shot to global fame when she was cast as Sandy in the musical Grease.

After receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer, Olivia became a leading advocate for cancer research. In addition to promoting plant-based treatments and spearheading fundraising walks, she created the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

Her philanthropic efforts were recognized by Queen Elizabeth in 2020.

Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away yesterday at the age of 73.

My favorite quotations from Olivia Newton-John:

I believe love is what makes the world go round. No matter how old or young, love is why we are here. It is the very essence of one’s being.

I love that quiet time when nobody’s up and the animals are all happy to see me.

I do have high standards, but I don’t expect anything from anyone that I don’t expect from myself.

We wake up and are grateful for the day. Not taking away from the pain, because the pain will be there. But you live on.

I look at my cancer journey as a gift: It made me slow down and realize the important things in life and taught me to not sweat the small stuff.

My biggest mistake was my best lesson…you don’t learn anything when everything is going perfectly.

My memories are inside me – they’re not things or a place – I can take them anywhere.

To ‘be loved’ is the most basic of human needs. Like a flower, it waters the human soul. But ‘to love’ is a true blessing.

Cancer got me over unimportant fears, like getting old.

Once you face fear, nothing is ever as hard as you think.

My favorite song

Happy August!

In the original Roman calendar, the month of August was called Sextilis, meaning “the sixth month” in Latin. In 700 BC, January and February were added to the calendar, moving Sextilis to eighth place. The month was later renamed Augustus in honor of the first emperor of Rome, Caesar Augustus.

Here are ten more interesting facts about August:

1. The Anglo-Saxons called August “Weod Monath,” (Weed Month). During this month, weeds and plants grow the fastest in the northern hemisphere.

2. Most vegetables are ready to be harvested during this month. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and peas are at their freshest and most bountiful in August.

3. In a standard year, no other month begins on the same day of the week as August. In a leap year, August begins on the same day of the week as February.

4. August has two birth flowers: gladiolus and deep crimson poppy. The vibrant gladiolus flower represents generosity, strength of character, and deep sincerity, while the poppy flower is a sign of imagination, eternal sleep, and oblivion.

5. August has three birthstones: peridot, spinel, and sardonyx. Sardonyx, a stone that ranges from amber to bright green in color, was the original August birthstone. Due to its similar coloring, peridot was often mistaken for sardonyx, and was eventually adopted as the second August birthstone. Spinel was added as an alternate gemstone in 2016.

6. People born between August 1 and August 22 fall under the sign of Leo, while those born later in the month fall under Virgo. Leos are proud and display leadership qualities while Virgos are analytical and hardworking.

7. Famous people born in August include Barack Obama (August 4, 1961), Neil Armstrong (August 5, 1930), Lucille Ball (August 6, 1911), Viola Davis (August 11, 1965), Coco Chanel (August 19, 1883), and Warren Buffett (August 30, 1930).

8. August has been designated as National Panini Month, Peach Month, Sandwich Month, Harvest Month, National Water Quality Month, National Immunization Month, and Get Ready for Kindergarten Month.

9. The first sandwich was created on August 6, 1762. In the middle of a gambling game (he did not wish to interrupt), the Earl of Sandwich requested a dish involving meat between two pieces of bread.

10. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to 250,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Dr. King called for the end of racial discrimination and equal rights for all.

10 Powerful Affirmations from Abby Wynne

I’m happy to welcome psychotherapist and author Abby Wynne. Today, Abby shares her new release, Awakening, Book 1 (The Inner Compass Trilogy), and ten powerful affirmations. These affirmations would have helped Melissa, the protagonist of the trilogy.

I’m a healer first and foremost, a writer second. My genre up to now has been self-care. I’m a Shamanic Psychotherapist, something that the main character in my book, Awakening, is not. Not yet, anyway. She is me but she isn’t me, some of her struggles mirror my own when it came to the journey of learning how to be a therapist. And some of them are very much hers.

1. I am safe

This seems like a simple thing to say, but to believe it 100% is incredibly difficult. Marissa was safe, as are most of us, but she believed that she was vulnerable, and fragile in the world. Repeating this affirmation helps anyone re-orient themselves, and get stronger.

2. I can and I will

This one is great for increasing self-confidence. Marissa has many essays to write, many live assessments to perform, and sometimes just getting the bus to work is a challenge. If she says ‘I can and I will’ instead of worrying so much, she would be much less stressed out!

3. I no longer need to cause myself emotional pain

Marissa questions everything, and brings it all back to self-doubt, which causes stress and elicits fear. By making a deal with yourself to not cause yourself deliberate stress, it really takes the pressure off.

4. I am here

This one sounds strange, of course you are here, but we are not always here. Particularly Marissa who drifts off to shamanic lands and other worlds while her body is in this reality. Sometimes we need to pull ourselves back into the room, othertimes its fun to travel. This one is a good anchor into the present moment.

5. Everything I need is right here

We all have a tendency to compare ourselves to other people. Marissa would be looking at her friend Joanne who is married with children, and thinking that she is lacking something, especially since James left her. Perhaps she’s not good enough for anyone? Well, if she had said this affirmation, she would be more solid, and perhaps more attractive for a new mate to show up in her life. Does someone new show up? Well, I don’t want to give you any spoilers!

6. I am learning how to look after myself

Marissa feels very grown up when she’s able to organise things well, and she feels scattered and small when she isn’t. I think that goes for most of us. By saying this affirmation out loud and meaning it 100%, we let go of our mistakes, and focus on what we can do, and do it better, and better, and better, until we can look after ourselves as best as we can. This one is important – try it!

7. Every Day I heal a little bit more

Healing is a process, and it isn’t a straight line either. Marissa feels at times that she goes backwards, and then berates herself for it. When you feel like you’ve regressed, remember that maybe it feels like going back, but what you’re actually doing is going deeper in, and healing something that you couldn’t heal the first time. Saying this affirmation is very empowering.

8. I call my power back to me right now

We lose power everywhere all the time. By calling our power back well, we become empowered. Marissa loses her power to other people, and to things that happen to her, and, she loses it in her dreams, too. If she had used this one, maybe The Inner Compass Trilogy wouldn’t have ended up a trilogy after all. Just as well she didn’t know this one for me!

9. I am worthy of love

Many people don’t feel this at all. It’s sad really, because if you exist, then you’re worthy of love. You just are looking at all the things that you don’t love about yourself. James left Marissa and she felt unlovable. But if she knew she was worthy, maybe some of her decisions would have been different. And maybe yours would be, too.

10. I am good enough for me

This is my favourite affirmation. We don’t always have to fix or change ourselves, we can be good enough, just as we are. And if we are waiting to be good enough for someone else, well, we will never get there. So let’s focus on improving the relationship that we have with ourselves – I’m all for doing that first. If we like ourselves, then we will have better boundaries, and choose people that are healthy for us. Being good enough for me, is good enough, for me, and I hope for you, too.

I hope you try these affirmations and that they change your life, help you anchor into the present moment, and let go of your expectation that the love you need is outside of you from another person. You can give yourself all the love you need, which makes you all the more loveable for someone else.

And do go out and get Awakening, and find out what happens to Marissa, maybe you’ll be shouting out one of these affirmations to her when she needs it the most. And maybe she’ll hear it too! Lots of love, Abby Wynne

Blurb

When Marissa’s fiancé leaves her unexpectedly, she is left trying to put the broken pieces of her life back together again. The magical years of her childhood are now lost or long forgotten and, trapped in a downward spiral of worry and anxiety, nothing seems to be bringing the magic back any time soon.

Training to become a therapist, Marissa discovers an unforeseen talent for helping others and, for a while at least, she puts her own needs and concerns to one side. An unexpected windfall prompts a spontaneous trip to Peru, and an encounter while she is there triggers an astonishing series of events. Shaken but excited, Marissa embarks on a wonderful journey of revelation and adventure – after which, her life will never be the same again.

Marissa’s story is your story, is my story, is everybody’s story: we each must find our own true path through life, our one true way.

Abby Wynne, author and Shamanic Psychotherapist, brings all her wisdom to bear on Marissa’s amazing tale of discovery and healing. A catalyst for people’s healing processes, Abby is a problem solver, a creative artist, an alchemist, a healer, a mother, a daughter, a lover of life – and it shows in this, her first novel.

Excerpt

Marissa looked out the window at the moonlight. It was half a moon and seemed to glisten through the tree branches. The leaves were falling, the days were getting darker earlier and earlier. A single star blinked in the pale sky, but the sky was too bright with light pollution to see anything more. She looked at the cloud as it crawled towards the moon, shifting and changing its shape. She could see a dragon in it for a moment, then it turned into puffs of smoke, and then the moon was hidden.

She put the notebook down beside her laptop and climbed into bed, leaving the curtains open. She liked moonlight. Her room in the half-light felt like an in-between place, her breathing slowing down, her body relaxing. Tobermory jumped up beside her, looking straight into her eyes. She stroked his back.

‘My familiar, my friend, my cat,’ she said, ‘what do you think? Do you have an answer for me?’

As usual, Tobermory was silent, but he held eye contact for a moment longer than Marissa expected him to. Perhaps he understood her? He mewed, then curled himself into a black circle on the bed beside her and began to purr.

Training, she thought to herself as she settled under the covers. But who is going to teach me?’

Author Bio and Links

Abby Wynne is the bestselling author of the “One Day at a Time Diary”, “How to Be Well” and “Energy Healing made Easy.” The Inner Compass Trilogy is her first novel, weaving her knowledge of shamanism, psychotherapy and energy healing into an exciting, fast-paced story which spans across many dimensions. Abby’s based in Ireland and lives with her husband, 4 children, a dog and a cat! Abby offers many ways to feel supported while you are on your path of healing; her mission is to empower people by teaching them how to heal themselves.

Website | Podcast | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

You can buy The Inner Compass Trilogy on all good online bookstores.

Giveaway

Abby Wynne will be awarding a International – €50 off any of the digital products on the author’s website to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Abby on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

10 Yoga Tips from a Seasoned Yogini

I’m happy to welcome Wild Rose Press Anastasia Abboud. Today, Anastasia shares yoga tips and her new release, Tremors Through Time.

Here’s Anastasia!

I know – I absolutely know – that everyone would expect me to talk about gardening. But I’ve had a yoga practice for at least as long as I’ve gardened and done it more regularly – since I was around eight years old, in fact. Over the years, my practiced has ebbed and flowed, but I have continued it. I feel more than comfortable sharing a few tips and will begin with the most obvious.

1. Practice daily. Yoga is meant to be an intrinsic part of one’s daily life. It’s good for mind, body, and soul.

2. By the same token, even if you have a yoga class later in the day or evening, try to begin each day with a morning flow and end with at least a few calming poses at bedtime.

3. Yoga will make you stronger inside and out.

4. You do not have to be “in shape” to practice yoga.

5. Most yoga is Hatha yoga. It is a balanced approach consisting of postures (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama).

6. Pranayama techniques can and will come to your rescue in various life situations.

7. I have to say, I can’t think of Power Yoga as yoga. But I do think it’s a great workout based on yoga poses and practices. Just be careful. Like other forms of exercise, it is easy to hurt yourself if you don’t do it correctly.

8. Hot yoga can actually be very relaxing.

9. You can keep your religion and practice yoga. Yoga is all about intention. It does not require you to worship a God other than your own.

10. Last but not least, fold your yoga mat in half before you roll it. Seriously, people!

Tagline

In the infinite vastness of time—past, present, future, past—love prevails.

Blurb

She’s made mistakes and paid the price, but Deidre Chisolm is no quitter. She’ll never again be a fool for a man, not even her gorgeous new neighbor with his haunted eyes and strange accent. She’ll be friendly, but nothing more.

Lachlann has to go back to fourteenth-century Scotland. He can’t forsake his family, his son. But when a beautiful, kind, funny lady buys the house next door, he’s never been so drawn to anyone in his life. Would she believe his story? After years of struggling through nightmares and flashbacks, headaches and illiteracy, dare he ask her to help him return?

Book Links

Amazon | Goodreads | Website | BookBub

Author Bio and Links

For me, playing is the best — playing outdoors in nature or in my garden, experimenting in the kitchen, spending time with those I love. I also enjoy disappearing into a good book, attempting crafts, learning, writing, exploring, discovering. I especially like to mix it up and have yet to perfect any of it; and I’ve come to realize that perfection’s not the point. It’s all wonderfully fun. That’s the point!

I prefer authentic and natural, be it food, lifestyle, people. I passionately enjoy both history and science, and certainly sociology to a degree, and I am most truly a romantic.

My husband and I have been married for over forty years. We reside near Houston, Texas, surrounded by loved ones. We have a blast with our little grandchildren.

I thank God for this wonderful life.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | BookBub | LinkedIn | Amazon

Announcing Guelph’s Official Bird…

The Black-Capped Chickadee has been chosen as Guelph’s official bird. Honorable mentions go to Chimney Swift and Green Heron.

A bold, inquisitive bird, the Black-Capped Chickadee can adapt to almost any environment and may even feed from friendly “human” hands. Small and short-billed with a black cap and throat, the chickadee communicates with its flock-mates using fifteen different calls. The best known is the chickadee-dee-dee that gives the bird its name.

The Black-Capped Chickadee is also the provincial bird of New Brunswick and state bird of Massachusetts and Maine.

Here are ten more interesting facts:

1. Chickadees usually mate for life.

2. These birds build nests in holes, mainly dead trees or rotten branches.

3. The females lay six to eight white eggs, marked with reddish-brown spots. Eggs are incubated for 12 to 13 days, until they hatch. Chicks grow quickly and fledge in 14 to 18 days.

4. Their wing beats are about 27 times per second. In comparison, a hummingbird’s wing beats are 80 beats per second.

5. The chickadee possesses excellent spatial memory. During the warmer months, it hides seeds and other foods in different spots. The bird can remember the hiding places a month after catching the food.

6. These birds observe and adapt the food-finding behavior of successful flock-mates. Unproductive activity is ignored.

7. On cold winter nights, the chickadees can reduce their body temperatures by as much as 12 degrees Celsius (from their normal temperature of 42 degrees Celsius) to conserve energy.

8. A frequent visitor to bird feeders, the chickadee is a ravenous eater, especially just before dusk. It can gain as much as ten percent of its body weight each day.

9. Research has shown that the survival rate of chickadees doubles when they have access to feeders during cold weather. In the winter, these birds require twenty times more food than they do in the summer.

10. Their favorite foods: sunflower seeds, suet, and coconut.

Virtual Book Tour: My Dearest Miss Fairfax

I’m happy to welcome author Jeanette Watts. Today, Jeanette shares ten important rules about dancing and her new release, My Dearest Miss Fairfax.

Here’s Jeanette!

I am a dance teacher. I teach belly dance, and swing, and tango, and foxtrot, and waltz, and polka, and any number of other historical dances. I started a French Cancan troupe and ran it for 20 years (it is now under the direction of one of the dancers from the troupe, and still going strong!). I adore moving to music, and I adore the process of teaching people to dance. It’s a beautiful, powerful process of self-discovery that everyone goes through when they learn to dance.

Every single one of my books has some dance references snuck in them. Which was really fun for my current book, “My Dearest Miss Fairfax,” because Jane Austen’s “Emma” spends a lot of time and attention to scenes that talk about all the decision-making that goes into throwing a ball. I laughed with recognition as I was re-reading the discussion about where to put the food, and will the hall be big enough, and where do we put the music, and who will be able to come/did we give the people on the invite list sufficient notice? I have those same conversations, all the time.

So, here is my contribution:

10 Important Rules About Dancing

1. Unless you really like performing, you can ignore all that “Dancing with the Stars” nonsense. Dancing is for everyone. It is something you do WITH people, not AT them.

2. The whole point of dancing is to create moments of meaningful contact with other people. It has been said over and over again: “no one cares if you dance well. Just get up and dance.” It’s true. Better to get up and try than to sit there like a lump and refuse to participate. It is actually spelled out in dance manuals in the early 1800s, “If you are not inclined to dance, don’t come to the party.” (Notice how that contrasts with Mr. Darcy’s behavior at the ball where we first see him! He is in violation of the social code of the time, and Lizzie’s indignation is more than just her injured vanity.)

3. Stop agonizing over mistakes. Dancing is done in the moment. The music goes on, so the mistakes are almost immediately part of the past, not the present. When something goes wrong, shake it off with a smile or a laugh and let it go. (Unlike Mr. Collins, who makes his dancing worse by constantly apologizing for the last mistake – which contributes to him making another one!)

4. A smile for your partner is worth more than you can imagine. If you are a beginner, there is nothing wrong with admitting to your partner that you are new at this, and a smile makes partners much more charitable to you than a frown. If you have been dancing a long time, remember what it was like to be a beginner who needed some reassurance. Go out of your way to make new dancers feel welcome: they will become your favorite dance partners soon, if they keep coming back. They won’t come back if you scare them away with a frown.

5. If you are going to a dance (English Country Dance for Jane Austen-era dances), try to get to the class ahead of time. If you are a beginner, you will feel much more comfortable having a preview of the material. If you are not a beginner, it is a kindness to go to the class anyway. Beginners learn faster with more experience points on the dance floor. And even for experienced dancers, it can be good to learn what the local dialect is. (Yes, dances have local dialects!)

6. Wear appropriate shoes. This is for safety as well as comfort. The wrong shoes get in your way while trying to dance, and it is easy to injure yourself while trying to dance in a pair of gym shoes. If your foot stops but your knee or ankle doesn’t, it’s not going to go well. Dance shoes slide along the floor as you push your foot along it. But you also don’t want something too slippery. Sliding so much that you are out of control is a great way to slip and fall and injure yourself in a different way.

7. There are lots of kinds of dancing in the world. Again, “Dancing with the Stars” and Arthur Murray studios don’t even begin to touch on the great, wide dance universe. Irish dancing means you get to dance to that fabulous bouncy Irish music, with minimal physical contact with other dancers, just shaking hands. Salsa dancing, and bachata, and Brazilian Zouk, and blues has a lot more physical contact. The last two are kind of like very, very fancy prom dancing. Give your partner a hug (who doesn’t want to go hug people after two years of quarantine!), now stay there and do some dancing. Scottish and English Country dancing, and their American cousin, contradance (the dances from Jane Austen’s books) are figured dances. Some footwork required, but less complicated than Irish dancing. The focus is on the figures. A line of couples go through the figures of the dance, and you dance with several people in the course of one dance. Each dance is a new configuration of usually 4-6 figures. Then you find a new partner, form new lines, and start a new dance.

8. Leading and following are two mechanical parts of a whole, not a judgement. Our modern world is a weird place. I have heard and read many a biased commentary upon leading and following. Generally, the idea is that following is a subservient role. This prejudice is often embraced as truth, and I’m sorry, that’s a completely ignorant attitude. No one says a musician is subservient because they are following the conductor.

There are simply two skill sets in partner dancing. The lead makes suggestions, the follow interprets them. Historically, the expectation was that men lead and women follow. But watch an episode of American Bandstand in the 1950s: there are plenty of girls dancing together. One of them is leading, one is following. They can even decide to trade roles in the middle of the dance. (One of my lovely dance friends from Massachusetts and I will trade roles back and forth many times over the course of one dance! It’s heaps of fun. Of course, it helps that he and I are both perfectly comfortable with both leading and following – we’ve both been dance teachers for a long time.)

Following is not in the least a passive skill set. You don’t just hang on and let your partner drive. You have to have a good frame, good footwork, and think quickly. Every small gesture might be a signal to lead a move. It is like playing defense in basketball. You are anticipating signals and body language and comparing what information you have available against all the dance vocabulary in your head, and making a decision upon how you intend to respond. You are doing this every 6 or 8 beats of music.

Leading means listening to the music, listening to your partner’s responses, and also checking the list in your head of all known dance vocabulary and selecting which ones fit the occasion. But just because you’re driving the car right now doesn’t mean that you are master and commander and your partner’s only job is to obey. You are making suggestions, not orders, and you are constantly adapting to this partner’s responsiveness. Dance is a PARTNERship.

9. Be courteous. This can take all kinds of forms. Don’t talk while the teacher is trying to teach. The person you are talking to probably wants to hear what the teacher is saying. If you are swing dancing, don’t do aerials in a crowded room. Save that kind of showing off for performances. No one will be impressed with you when someone gets hurt. Watch for “wallflowers.” I don’t care what gender role you are following; even if you are at a Vintage dance dressed in a hoopskirt and trying to be historically accurate with ball cards (which were not used yet in the Regency era), if someone has sat out two dances, go over and ask for a dance. Or send your spouse/significant other over to go ask that person for a dance. As a Vintage dancer myself, I like to use the phrase, “Are you sitting out on purpose, or would you care for a dance partner?” because I am living in a world full of gentlemen who will dance with me, even if their feet hurt and what they REALLY want to do is sit this dance out. I like to give them an “out” if they want it. It’s part of being courteous.

10.All dance communities are not the same. There are great dance communities full of wonderful, people, who are great playmates, and your life will be richer for having them in your world. But I have seen many, many toxic dance groups. I have watched dance teachers insult their students, tear down their egos, and then slowly give a little bit of praise now and then, making their students eager for those little nuggets of approval. Those students can pay a fortune in dance lessons, just to earn those little bits of praise that eventually rebuild their ego. It’s horrifying. I always warn my dance students to watch out for those kinds of groups and teachers. You don’t need to take that kind of abuse. It’s NOT you, it’s them. Walk away. Find someplace else to go dancing.

The most important thing that matters is finding a dance community that meets YOUR needs. If you want to perform, find dance groups that perform. If you don’t want people watching you dance, you don’t need to be on a stage. If you go to a swing dance, or an English Country dance, no one is watching you dance. Everyone is busy dancing. The people sitting on the side? They are wishing they were on the dance floor but they don’t have a partner. If you are competitive, studio ballroom and Irish dancing has a lot of competitions. If you are NOT competitive (that’s me. I do not acknowledge that anyone out there has the right to judge dancing. Get off your butt and dance, jerk!), there is a ton of dancing that’s done for fun, not levels and medals.

Blurb

How much would you gamble for true love? Jane Fairfax dreaded her future as a governess. But genteel solitude seemed her fate. Then handsome, charming, rich Frank Churchill asked to marry her – IF his rich aunt agreed. If their secret engagement was discovered, Jane would be ruined. Frank seemed worth the risk; but the stakes got higher when the aunt refused her consent!

Excerpt

Mr. Churchill caught the end of one of the long ribbons from her bonnet, which were flying madly in the strong breeze. He toyed with it for a long while, then looked up into her eyes. “Do you believe in love at first sight?” he asked.

“No, I don’t suppose I do,” Jane answered. Her heart started beating harder. That was a lie. Maybe her breath was catching in her throat because she was lying: she fell in love with him the moment she saw him, rescuing the poor store clerk. Or maybe it was because he was standing so close to her, just on the other end of her bonnet ribbon. She felt her cheeks growing warm, and tried to talk herself out of blushing. He was not standing any closer to her than when they danced together, or sat on the same bench at the pianoforte. Why should it fluster her that he was wrapping the end of her bonnet ribbon around his fingers like that?

“Neither did I.” He tied a knot into the very end of the ribbon, then caught the other flying ribbon, and did the same to its end. “I thought love requires mutual respect and understanding, and complementary temperaments that can only be discovered with a judicious application of time and conversation.”

Jane hid her trembling hands inside her muff. She wished there was a way to hide the fact that she was trembling all over. “I understood you from the first moment I saw you,” she admitted, her voice little more than a whisper.

Author Bio and Links

Jeanette Watts has written three Jane Austen-inspired novels, two other works of historical fiction, stage melodramas, television commercials, and humorous essays for Kindle Vella.

When she is not writing, she is either dancing, sewing, or walking around in costume at a Renaissance festival talking in a funny accent and offering to find new ladies’ maids for everyone she finds in fashionably-ripped jeans.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Amazon

Giveaway

Jeanette Watts will be awarding a crazy quilt tea cosy to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Jeanette on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

10 Interesting Facts About My Protagonist – Chloe McIntyre

I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author Linda Bradley. Today, Linda shares ten interesting facts about the protagonist of her new release, Unbranded.

1. At the age of seven, Chloe McIntyre first appeared in my debut novel, Maggie’s Way. Chloe was a supporting character with a mission to make friends. She was also a supporting character in Maggie’s Fork in the Road, Maggie’s Montana, and A Montana Bound Christmas. In my new release—Unbranded, Chloe has grown into a determined young woman and is the star.

2. Chloe can ride and wrangler better than any hired hand.

3. Chloe would rather spend her life wrangling and ranching than being married and having a family.

4. Chloe was raised by her father and her grandfather on the family’s 617 ranch. Her relationship with her mother is rocky, and they rarely see each other. Chloe is everything Montana. Her mother is pure Hollywood. The two women spend more time trying to change each other than appreciating unique differences.

5. Chloe is like the Doctor Dolittle of her grandfather’s Montana ranch. There isn’t an animal that doesn’t love her.

6. Chloe is as close to the ranch foreman, Trout as she is to her father and grandfather. Their relationship consists of lively banter, honesty, and life lessons.

7. Chloe was not a strong reader growing up, but thanks to neighbor, Maggie Abernathy, now stepmom, Chloe loves reading and has developed an interest in poetry.

8. Chloe’s desire to be independent drives her ambition.

9. Chloe does not accept coming in second very well. Her box of childhood rodeo trophies is proof.

10. Chloe’s habit of taking in strays included taking in broken people. Despite her father’s request to limit the animals, Chloe’s heart does the talking when she meets an animal with purpose.

Blurb

Threatened by the unexpected, a devoted rancher refuses to compromise her ambition or her legacy.

CHLOE MCINTYRE is determined to become the co-CEO of her grandfather’s Montana ranch, but her father isn’t ready to become partners—yet.

Jaded memories of her parents’ shotgun wedding gone wrong cloud her attraction for best friend Matt Cooper when she discovers she’s pregnant—with his baby. Chloe believes raising a child isn’t in her genes, and she doesn’t expect a marriage proposal. She keeps her condition a secret to hold her position on the ranch and continue what she does best: wrangling strays and working alongside hired hands.

After her father announces his first choice for co-CEO, a wild ride jeopardizes the pregnancy, and Chloe questions life choices. Will the cowgirl grit she has inherited from her grandmother be enough to rein in her disappointment, or will she walk away from everything that could flourish into love?

Endorsement

“Linda Bradley’s magical manipulation of words creates a symphony in the reader’s mind, building lasting impressions to savor. If you love young women with grit and determination, then this is the story for you.” – Roni Hall, author of Montana Wild and Third Man on the Left

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Author Bio and Links

Linda’s inspiration comes from her favorite authors and life itself. Her character-driven stories integrate humor found in everyday situations, family drama, and forever love. Her distinct voice creates memorable journeys and emotion.

Linda’s been a finalist in the Booksellers Best Contest and Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards. Linda lives in Michigan with her artist husband, sons, and rescue dog. Linda loves art, animals, and stories with hope and heart.

Website | Facebook Author Page | Book Bub | Amazon

More Artwork by Linda Bradley

A Unique Perspective on Camping

I’m happy to welcome back bestselling author Liz Flaherty. Today, Liz shares her perspective on camping and her new release, Life’s Too Short for White Walls.

Here’s Liz!

1. I don’t do it. But don’t think too much of that—I wish I did it. However, I’m at a time of my life that I want the hardest work I do on “off-duty” times to be deciding where we’re going to have dinner.

2. Camping creates the most beautiful memories. Decades after many camping weekends with my friend Shirley and her parents, I remember hayrides, firesides, cute boys, instant friends we walked campgrounds with, square dancers, and the most wonderful food.

3. Camping creates community. Shirley’s parents made and kept friends from among other campers. My daughter and son-in-law have done the same thing.

4. If you are camping in a tent a long way from restrooms, the first thing you will need to do when you lie down in your sleeping bag is go to the bathroom.

5. Campgrounds are fun to create for fiction titles. Believe me, everyone will want to go to Banjo Creek Cabins and Campground after they read Life’s Too Short for White Walls.

6. Glamping is a wonderful alternative to camping. Other than the fact that I think it would be a pain to haul or drive your house around with you, motor homes and travel trailers have lovely amenities to recommend them. I am frankly horrified at how much they cost, but then, I’m horrified by motel prices “in season,” too.

7. There is intimacy to camping. I’m a “heart on my sleeve” girl anyway, but sharing a campfire with girlfriends (and wine) must surely be one of the most therapeutic things in the world. My only experience with this is gathering around a fireplace at a writers’ retreat, but it was wonderful. Crickets in the background and a circle of lawn chairs would only make it better.

8. This may be a stretch, but I think a campfire creates a level playing field. Everyone smells like smoke. Designer jeans, sweatshirt, and windbreaker don’t look any better than the ones off the clearance rack at Walmart. If it’s rained—which it usually does while camping, doesn’t it? —everyone’s hair is frizzy and hastily applied lipstick looks the same whether it cost $25 or $3.99 a tube.

9. You don’t have to like hot dogs or marshmallows to like roasting them, nor do you have to like s’mores to enjoy squishing them together for a kid waiting anxiously for you to hand it to them.

10. The lyrics to Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In.” Yes, those. I was so surprised when the setting of Life’s Too Short for White Walls was a campground. It was intended to be Joss’s grandparents’ farm, but somewhere between her adolescence and her search for a safe place half a lifetime later, it became a campground owned by a retired helicopter pilot and college professor Ezra McIntire. I was also happy. I love their story. I hope you do, too.

Blurb

Still reeling from her divorce, Joss Murphy flees to Banjo Bend, Kentucky, where she’d been safe and happy as a child. The family farm is now a campground. Weary and discouraged, she talks owner Ezra McIntire into renting her a not-quite-ready cabin.

With PTSD keeping him company, Ez thrives on the seclusion of the campground. The redhead in Cabin Three adds suggestions to his improvement plans, urging color and vibrancy where there was none.

Neither is looking for love, yet the attraction they share is undeniable. Can the comfort of campfires, hayrides, and sweet kisses bring these two lost souls together?

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books

Author Bio and Links

Liz Flaherty is rather bewildered by where she’s at in life. She doesn’t feel…er…elderly, but the truth is that she is. The Magnificent Seven grands have grown up on her, her own kids are all now older than she is, and her husband Duane has the same firm hold on her heart he’s always had.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter Signup

Giveaway

Liz Flaherty will be awarding a $5 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Virtual Book Tour: horse/man

I’m happy to welcome equestrian and author Julia Merritt. Today, Julia shares equine tips and her debut novel, horse/man.

1. Horses are wonderful creatures with far more intelligence and ability than they have been given credit for. There’s new research coming out every day that illuminates difference facets of their capabilities, and a growing number of equestrians who want to honour and work with horses as partners using their language and perspective.

2. Horses are a mirror of ourselves, and they will teach the humans that interact with them – whether the humans want to learn or not! If you become involved in horses, make sure you invest in some serious self-reflection. The journey is very rewarding.

3. There’s a discipline for everyone! Whether you prefer the adrenaline rush of galloping over fences cross-country, or having a quiet walk together, there are a multitude of option. You don’t even have to ride to be involved and find great joy in them.

4. There are many ways to participate as an athlete, and you don’t have to own a horse to do it. You can take lessons and book extra practice rides, lease a horse owned by someone else, or even find an arrangement to trade stable work for riding time.

5. Horses may seem like a thing of the past, but there are millions in North America, and there’s undoubtedly a community of horse people near you. If it’s not the discipline you like, they can probably refer you to the right people in the area.

6. The financial costs of being involved in horses are scalable to many levels of income. The glittery photos from the top levels of the sport may look intimidating, but there are many ways to contain the costs – and having to count our pennies is more common than you may think.

7. Horse people can be a little eccentric, often preferring animals to humans. If you find someone who’s unfriendly or bad at business, don’t let it spoil your whole experience of the sport. There are many people who are trying to make the sport more welcoming, so pay the crusty ones no mind and find someone who cares about new riders.

8. Equestrian sport is something that a person of any age or ability can do. Riders can be eighty years old, have a physical disability, be two years old, or anywhere in-between. Not every horse or stable can help every rider, but once you find the right match, it is a wonder. The horse equalizes and unites us.

9. Horses are livestock, not house pets. They have physical and mental needs that are very different from dogs and cats, and these must be respected. When people ignore those needs, the animals struggle.

10. Horses will captivate you. You can spend a lifetime learning about them. They will delight you and break your heart, but the effort is worth it.

Blurb

What happens when your entire identity revolves around a way of life that is becoming obsolete?

In the 1920s, as Canada progresses through the Industrial Revolution, horses are still the rural engines of survival. As a child Adam lives this reality on his family’s farm in the Ottawa Valley, planning to take over one day and have a family of his own. When his parents die during the Great Depression, nineteen-year-old Adam is disinherited in favour of his brother and is forced to move to the city to find work. Without a formal education his choices are few, yet he finds a place to use his horsemanship skills in the dwindling forces of the Canadian cavalry based near Montreal. There he finds pride in being a mounted soldier, and friendship with his fellow dragoons. But the cavalry units are mechanized by the beginning of World War Two, and when Adam is sent to Europe, he must abandon his equine partners for trucks and tanks. In the catastrophic experience of war, he will lose everything once again.

Broken in body and spirit, he returns to Canada where he must confront the question of survival in a world that doesn’t seem to have a place for an injured soldier. Full of poetic reflections on what it means to work with horses, horse/man is a powerful story about a man searching for dignity and connection in the face of a rapidly shifting world.

Excerpt

Adam got onto his knees for a better view, holding on to the side of the wagon.

The car revealed itself to be a shiny Model T. Perhaps the driver, like the horses, could not resist the lure of moving in the sunshine. Adam watched the car bump slowly over the ruts, advancing towards them. Grey smoke wisped behind it.

Ciaran slowed the team to a walk, and they could hear the engine, a hum that grew to a rumble. Pete and Jack jerked their heads as it got close, banging into each other.

“Go on, get up,” Ciaran growled. The horses’ ears twisted sideways and forwards, trying to decide between the driver or the instinct to flee. The wagon’s tongue rattled as their legs jostled.

The car driver slowed and lifted his hand as he passed the wagon. Ciaran raised his hand in response, the other clenched on the lines attached to Jack and Pete’s gaping mouths. When the car had gone safely by, he reached over, picked the buggy whip out of its holder, and smacked each rump with the corded lash.

“Go on, trot!” he commanded, loosening the lines. The team straightened out and carried on with their jobs. Adam stared at the receding vehicle, wrinkling his nose at the stench of the fumes.

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Smashwords

Author Bio and Links

Julia Merritt has been captivated by horses ever since she could see out of the car window. Then she grew up and became a public library CEO and certified animal bodyworker. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her thoroughbred horses and smooth collie dogs. This is her first novel.

Connect with Julia Merritt:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads

We’re giving away 100 e-copies of horse/man, the new historical fiction novel by Julia Merritt. Don’t miss your chance to win! Click to enter here.

Giveaway

Julia Merritt will be awarding a $15 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Happy April!

This month’s name comes from the Latin “aperire” which means “to open.” An appropriate choice for a time of revival after a cold winter season.

Here are 10 interesting facts about April:

1. Originally the month had only 29 days. A 30th day was added when Julius Caesar established the Julian calendar.

2. During April, birds migrate north and smaller animals come out of their burrows.

3. The month’s birthstone is the diamond, a stone well-known for its longevity, strength, and beauty.

4. There are two birth flowers for April: the daisy and the sweet pea. The sweet pea signifies bliss and pleasure while daisies represent childhood innocence, loyalty, and purity.

5. People born between April 1 and April 19 fall under the sign of Aries, and those born later in the months are under Taurus. Aries are seen as passionate and independent trailblazers while Taureans are often ambitious and trustworthy.

6. Famous people born in April include Sir Alec Guinness (April 2), Marlon Brando (April 3), Bette Davis (April 5), William Wordsmith (April 7), Loretta Lynn (April 14), Leonardo DaVinci (April 15), Queen Elizabeth (April 21), and William Shakespeare (April 23).

7. After a 1500-year break, the first Olympics of the modern era took place on April 16, 1896 in Athens, Greece.

8. One of the most well-known dates of the month is April Fools’ Day. Some believe the date was inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s story, “Nun’s Priest Tale,” in Canterbury Tales. The whole month celebrates comedy: April is National Humor Month.

9. April has also been designated as Alcohol Awareness Month, Financial Literacy Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, National Volunteer Month, and Stress Awareness Month.

10. Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. Other April observances include National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day (April 2), National No Housework Day (April 7), National Hug Your Dog Day (April 10), National Garlic Day (April 19), and International Jazz Day (April 30).