Ten Interesting Facts About the Mesdames of Mayhem

I’m happy to welcome the Mesdames of Mayhem. Today, Madeleine Callway shares ten interesting facts about this intriguing group and their new anthology,
In the Spirit of 13.

Here’s Madeleine!

1. We are 10 years old!

In 2013, Donna Carrick and I were enjoying our regular lunch together. We starting talking about social media and how to tackle this new beast. How could we best use – and understand – websites, FaceBook and Twitter?

From our business backgrounds, we knew that teaming up is the best way to handle a thorny problem. We decided to pool our resources and asked our two writing critique groups if they’d like to help. The answer was a resounding yes! And that’s how the Mesdames of Mayhem were born.

2. Thirteen is our lucky number!

The Mesdames write crime fiction in many different sub-genres and styles, ranging from comedy to cozies to thrillers to noir. How could we best showcase our work? We decided to create an anthology that did just that with a story from each of us.

Reading through the final version, we were once again struck by the variety of the stories. What would be the connecting theme? Was there indeed a connecting theme? Well, there were thirteen of us in the group and the number, thirteen, has a dark aura. Why not call our book simply, Thirteen?

Thirteen received warm reviews and award nominations. Ever since, we’ve used thirteen in the titles of our subsequent anthologies: 13 O’clock, 13 Claws, In the Key of 13 and most recently, In the Spirit of 13.

3. We are a national organization

Since 2013, we’ve almost doubled in size from 13 to 25 crime fiction authors who live and write across Canada, from Vancouver Island to eastern Ontario.

4. We have no age bias

It’s true that most of us are of a “certain age”, in other words over 50. Indeed crime fiction readers and writers tend to be an older demographic, but it’s wonderful that many younger people are interested in our genre.

The Mesdames firmly believe that age is just a number. In fact, our members range in age from their 30s to their late 80s!

5. We now include Messieurs of Mayhem

The first 13 Mesdames were all women and one of our goals was to promote and support the work for women crime writers. Most of us also belong to Sisters in Crime.

But did you know that Sisters in Crime also welcomes Brothers in Crime, men who support women writers? We now include three wonderful Messieurs of Mayhem for the same reason.

6. There’s a CBC documentary about us

Dig into our lives and you’ll unearth some strange and interesting facts about us. One author had dinner with dictator, Idi Amin; another grew up in a family linked to the Mafia. Yet another author grew up in South Africa during apartheid. And still another worked on the mysterious deaths at Sick Children’s Hospital and met Queen Elizabeth II – though not at the same time.

Readers can learn all this and more by watching the CBC documentary, The Mesdames of Mayhem, on GEM.

7. We love to help emerging writers

Several Mesdames have taught creative writing for many years at both the University of Toronto and/or at community colleges, like Sheridan, Loyalist and George Brown. We’ve also taught seniors in the community and given numerous talks and seminars through the public library.

We also sponsored contests for emerging writers for two of our anthologies: 13 O’clock and 13 Claws. It’s been wonderful to see the winners and runners-up go on to publish several more works.

8. We adore our cover artist

Sara Carrick, a gifted graphic designer, created the cover for our first anthology, Thirteen. She used a mysterious purple background and we loved it. Ever since then purple has become our signature colour.

Sara has continued to design the cover for every one of our anthologies. We especially love the spectacular image for our latest book, In the Spirit of 13.

9. We write more than crime fiction

Though all of the Mesdames and Messieurs are crime fiction writers, several of us also write literary, historical, fantasy and speculative fiction. Many of us are secret Trekkies. We also enjoy writing more cross genre works, crime fiction set in historical times or stories that bring in elements of fantasy or futuristic settings.

We let our imaginations go wild in our latest anthology, In the Spirit of 13, where each of us interpreted “spirit” differently. It could be ghost or demon or even just evil itself. Others of us took it to mean alcohol – or the prohibition thereof. Readers will discover that most of the stories are cross-genre with supernatural elements – or not.

10. We welcome the future and its challenges

Ten years ago when we first got together, most of us barely knew how to use FaceBook. In short order, we had the Mesdames of Mayhem up and running with our own website, FaceBook page and Twitter account.

Many of us now run our own author websites and social media accounts. We’ve ventured into podcasting, thanks to Dead to Writes, hosted by Donna Carrick. And because of COVID, we’ve become experts at launching books on Zoom.

We have no idea what the future will throw at us – and at our crime fiction genre, but together as the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem, we’ll handle it!

Readers are very welcome to join us for our Zoom launch of In the Spirit of 13, Sunday, November 13th, 2 pm EST. Entry is free but please pre-register at carrickpublishing@rogers.com.


Ghosts and demons and booze, oh my!

To celebrate their 10th anniversary, the Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem have let their imaginations run wild to bring you their fifth anthology, In the Spirit of 13. Does “spirit’ mean ghost or demon – or debunking of same? Or simply the evil in twisted human hearts? Or could it be alcohol? You must read these 23 tales to find out!

The Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem are established award-winning authors as well as talented new writers. They aimed to keep their stories light-hearted to counter the world’s troubled times, but some of them have strayed into the dark. They are crime writers after all!

Laugh, shed a tear and prepare to be deliciously frightened.

Buy Links

Amazon CA | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Mesdames of Mayhem Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Henry VanderSpek is the photographer of this signature photo. He was also the official photographer of the documentary, The Mesdames of Mayhem, by director Cat Mills and producer, Felicity Justrabo.


Ten Reasons Why I Participate in Anthologies

I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author Nancy Lee Badger. Today Nancy shares her reasons for participating in anthologies and her new release, Yuletide Kisses: A Medieval Christmas Romance Anthology.

Here’s Nancy!

I stopped by today to share 10 reasons why I participate in anthologies. Participating is something I learned a few years ago that has helped me to sell more books than if I publish a story on my own. So, I decided to contribute.

1. An anthology is a compilation of several stories, generally of a similar theme. Themes run the gambit: neighbors in love, time travel, science fiction romance, or holiday themed.

2. Unlike a boxed set of stories written by one author, an anthology is made up of three, four, or ten authors. This way, you offer a reader a bunch of stories that one person did not have to spend years writing.

3. Writing for publication in an anthology can mean submitting a story that you published years ago. Sometimes this brings renewed life to an older series. I did this in 10 Timeless Heroes and Medieval Redemption. Cleaning up the stories was easier than writing a new one.

4. An anthology can also include brand new stories as readers will happily discover in my newest anthology compilation YULETIDE KISSES?

5. An anthology has many parts that need to come together to make a successful book launch. Each author submits their book along with their title, dedication, list of other books, and social media links. They sign a contract in order for Amazon to accept the book. One person formats them for a cohesive look. Another gets a cover made. Another works on advertising and distribution. Everyone helps.

6. Because more than one person is involved in one published book, all the authors will share the news of this book’s release. In YULETIDE KISSES, that means four different people from different parts of the world will share with their readers.

7. Social media such as twitter, Facebook, and blogs like this one will get the word out in many ways, but many authors will share different aspects of the book with readers I would never be able to reach.

8. I love all things Scottish. Ancestry.com/DNA says I have a decent percentage, which must be why I enjoy attending Scottish Highland Games. I love everything about the culture and find it easy to use my trips to these festivals to give me ideas for a plot.

9. Accepting the offer to participate in a multi-author anthology gives me the incentive to write. Knowing there is a deadline and that others depend on me to finish producing a fantastic story is the motivation I need.

10. I am a romantic. I write to share what is in my heart and head. I also love the holidays around Christmas or, as we say in the book…Yuletide!


The book: Yuletide Kisses: A Medieval Christmas Romance Anthology

Grab some hot cocoa and snuggle under the covers this season with four all-new medieval romances by best-selling and award-winning authors. From friends to lovers to a marriage of convenience, hidden identities and his best friend’s sister, you’ll be swept away to the magic of Christmas in Scotland where braw heroes will do anything for the women they’ve come to love.

Authors: Aurrora St. James, Allison Butler, Ria Cantrell, Nancy Lee Badger

Find buy links HERE.

Author Bio and Links

Nancy Lee Badger grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island. After attending Plymouth State, in New Hampshire, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree and met and married her college sweetheart. They raised two handsome sons in Rumney, New Hampshire while dreaming of being a writer. When the children had left the nest, and shoveling snow became a chore, she retired from her satisfying job as a 911 Emergency Medical Dispatcher and moved to North Carolina, where she writes full-time.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. She finds story ideas in the most unusual places. Connect with her here:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | BookBub | Goodreads

Virtual Book Tour: The Story That Made Us Stronger

I’m happy to welcome author Iris March. Today, Iris shares ten of her favorite foods and her new release, The Story That Made Us Stronger.

My 10 favorite foods – and how most of them are incorporated into this book!

Thanks for having me, Joanne. I’m really excited to be talking about my new novel, The Story That Made Us Stronger. It was inspired by my sister’s struggle of having Hodgkin’s lymphoma while pregnant with twins. Her story is told indirectly through the veil of the main character’s obsession with discovering the past uses of an abandoned building on his running route. The character based on my sister, Katie, helps Connor, the main character, from her hospital room, where he cares for her as a nurse during her stem cell replacement procedure. He’s training for a half-marathon and is trying to eat very healthily during the period of the novel. I am not always a healthy eater, but I still incorporated a lot of my favorite foods into the story.

1 – Indian Food. Connor orders Indian food take out, makes aloo gobi at home, goes on a date at an Indian restaurant, and is overjoyed when his sister-in-law makes chicken masala food for dinner. He loves Indian food and so do I!

2 – Not so much meat. I’m not a vegetarian, but I could be one. Connor too. When given the choice over a vegetarian dish or chicken or beef, I usually pick meatless or fish. Connor asks his mom to make meatless meatballs over spaghetti for his pre-race dinner. He never mentions making a meat-based meal at home but eats it when other people make it for him, mostly at his brother and sister-in-law’s house. I never outright say any of this in the novel and wonder if readers notice or not. Let me know!

3- Popcorn. I have a lifelong love of popcorn. I eat it nearly daily. Connor makes popcorn for his nieces when they sleep over. It needed to be included somewhere!

4 – Oatmeal. I eat oatmeal with chocolate and almonds almost every day for breakfast. Connor eats oatmeal frequently too but makes healthier choices for toppings.

5 – Chocolate. I have such a weakness for chocolate. Connor doesn’t struggle with this, but Leah tells him that there’s no reason to eat a sundae without chocolate. Agreed, Leah.

6 – My hometown pizza. General pizza is not my favorite. I could almost do without pizza, to be honest. But I will never turn down pizza made by my hometown pizzeria. That specific pizza is my very favorite. Their sauce is unique and their crust is not too crispy, not too soft. When Katie is leaving the hospital, she mentions that she’s craving her hometown pizza. Since Katie is based on my sister, she has the same hometown pizzeria and that’s the one I had in mind.

7 – Aloo Gobi. Going back to Indian food, aloo gobi is my favorite. It’s just potatoes and cauliflower in a light tomato sauce, but it’s just so so tasty. I’ve tried at least six recipes at home and just can not get it right. I pretend like Connor has a recipe figured out, but I sure don’t.

8 – Salmon. One night, Connor’s sister-in-law makes grilled salmon and asparagus. Salmon is my very favorite protein. Slow smoked over the grill is my favorite, but his sister-in-law didn’t have time for that.

10 – Falafel. Connor goes to a middle eastern restaurant and orders what I would: falafel with baba ghanoush. He says he could eat baba ghanoush all day. Me too, buddy!

Do we have any favorite foods in common? Anyone else eat popcorn every night after their kid goes to bed?


An abandoned building. A motivated runner. A Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer survivor.

Connor Jackson has been training for a half marathon for the past six weeks. Katie Brandt has been training to beat cancer for the past 50. When Connor discovers an intriguing secret in a tiny, abandoned building on his running route, Katie finds that the mystery is what she needs to help her get through her three-week stem cell replacement procedure. Together, Conner and Katie must find the strength to achieve their personal goals and, in the meantime, expose the many past lives that the tiny building led.


The Stem Cell Replacement Ward

Connor Jackson

The next morning, at the start of my shift on the stem cell replacement ward, I was daydreaming about what might be inside the building. Why was it so small? What was the huge pole for? Did it connect to something inside the tiny room? Was there a dirt floor? Had animals invaded, and were they living in there now? Was there a basement?

After saying hello to coworkers, I looked over the patient charts. Then I set off to check in on my first patient of the day, Katie.

“Good morning, Katie.” I said as I entered her room, knocked on her door, announced my arrival and entered. This was her third day on the floor, and she was still feeling about as healthy as she had when she arrived. We jumped right into her daily weigh in.

“How was your night, Connor, my man?” Katie asked as I made notes on my laptop. Katie had shoulder-length, curly blonde hair and the most decked-out room I’ve ever seen in my six years working on this ward. The rooms are large, as comfortable as they can be for a hospital. She had brought her own bright-pink quilt and pillows, had strings of lights up and pictures plastered everywhere. One entire wall was covered with photos of amazingly cute kids. Katie and her husband, Travis, had a boy who would be three in a few months and twin girls who were just born five months ago, when Katie had full-on Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This lady had a lot to live and fight for. She was there to get a stem cell transplant to make sure she never had lymphoma again. It would take three weeks, and her health would really fade in the next few days as we killed all her white blood cells.

“I went on a run and played some video games. I was in the mood for Indian. Well, I’m always in the mood for Indian, so I made some aloo gobi,” I said. “Kind of boring.” I took her temporal temperature and made another note.

“Not as boring as my night. I’m already totally done with watching TV and movies.” She was twirling her hair. “I miss my little people so much.”

Author Bio and Links

Iris March grew up the oldest of three sisters whose names all began with the same letter. Her sisters are still her best friends. March works in the sustainability field and also writes cozy mysteries in the Succulent Sleuth Series. She lives in Ohio with her husband, young son, and three cats.

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon


Iris March will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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

Honoring Queen Elizabeth II

Earlier today, Queen Elizabeth died peacefully at Balmoral.

The longest-reigning monarch in Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth leaves an extraordinary legacy. A steadying force through many crises during the seventy years of her reign, she oversaw the transition from a British Empire and Dominion to a Commonwealth of equal nations. She became the most well-traveled monarch in history, visiting over 100 countries. Her message of continuity and stability has resonated with millions worldwide.

My Favorite Quotations from Queen Elizabeth II

“It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.”

”It has always been easy to hate and destroy. To build and to cherish is much more difficult.”

“When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.”

“I have to be seen to be believed.”

“It is through this lens of history that we should view the conflicts of today, and so give us hope for tomorrow.”

“Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves–from our recklessness or our greed.”

“We may hold different points of view but it is in times of stress and difficulty that we most need to remember that we have much more in common than there is dividing us.”

“By being willing to put past differences behind us and move forward together, we honour the freedom and democracy once won for us at so great a cost.”

“With age does come experience and that can be a virtue if it is sensibly used.”

“Even when your life seems most monotonous, what you do is always of real value and importance to your fellow men.”

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


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.


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.


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!


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


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

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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.

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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.


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!


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.

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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.