Tag Archives: Arts

New Historical Romance and The Lost Colony

BreakingTies_200x300I’m pleased to have Author Jo Grafford with me to share her news. When she mentioned her new release had a focus on the Lost Colony, I was on board. I’ve always been fascinated with those vanished people and learned one of the names on the original roster was a Churchman, my maiden name. My English ancestor who came over in the 1600’s was a Churchman.

Back to Jo–her biggest focus, apart from the release of her début novel, Breaking Ties, is donating 50% of the November proceeds to help fund an archaeological dig of what is hoped to be the Lost Colony fort site at Scotch Hall Preserve in Windsor, NC. She’s calling this fundraiser  ‘A Thanksgiving Wish.’ Jo is also hosting a Rafflecopter contest and will reward her guests and readers with the opportunity to win $50, $25, and $15 gift cards from Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.  All winners will be announced Thanksgiving Day at www.JoGrafford.com. You may re-visit her website any and all days between November 1-27 for more chances to win by answering daily Lost Colony trivia questions and more.


The Rafflecopter giveaway link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/a94fd40/

handsome young Native American manBlurb for Breaking Ties:

A cursed island, a chilling conspiracy, and an unforgettable love story. The 115 colonists on Roanoke Island couldn’t GPS, skype or twitter their ultimate destination back to their families and friends in 16th Century England. But modern laser technology has finally uncovered a clue – hidden beneath a patch on an ancient map at the British museum – that leads us to their whereabouts. Considered “lost” for centuries, these brave pioneers finally reveal the rest of their story in Book One of the Lost Colony Series.

Rose Payne’s world is left in tatters after a disastrous betrothal, making her an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Using every cent she has, Rose sails for the New World and a fresh start, vowing to never again fall for a wealthy man. Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, Chief Manteo is bewitched by the fiery-haired ship’s clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – one that forces her, honor bound, to serve as a slave to his tribe – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in Breaking Ties. 

About the author: Jo Grafford is from St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author at Astraea Press, Jo writes historical fiction to spotlight unsung heroes and unsolved mysteries. She published her first poem in junior high, edited her high school newspaper while typesetting for a local news journal, and has been writing ever since. She holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, a junior college finance instructor, and a high school business teacher. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter. The mother of three children and the wife of a soldier, she serves as a literacy volunteer for elementary school students.

12bContact Info & Links:


Email: Jo@JoGrafford.com

Twitter: @jografford


Buy links:

AmazonBarnes & Noble

Astraea Press:

“If you can keep your head about you when all about you are losing theirs” –Beth Trissel

An eclectic mix of shared wisdom from some great minds.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it”- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

“There’s a limit to how many times you can read how great you are and what an inspiration you are, but I’m not there yet.”- Randy Pausch (1960-2008)

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), Inaugural Address, January 20, 1953

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”- Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.”- George Eliot (1819-1880)

“If you can keep your head about you when all about you are losing theirs, its just possible you haven’t grasped the situation.” ~ Rose Kennedy

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

“In any contest between power and patience, bet on patience.”- W.B. Prescott

Most of these quotes are from this terrific site, so visit it for more.

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The Romance of Travel and Fiction–Beth Trissel

The following post is contributed by Eve Baxter. Enjoy. I did!
Ever finished a book set in some foreign land and found yourself immediately trawling the internet for holidays, mildly obsessed with visiting the real life setting? A well written novel can be one of the best forms of escapism, transporting you to another time and place by making the sights, sounds and smells of a foreign land irresistibly inviting and real. Throw in a romantic plot line to add to the allure and you could find yourself on the next plane to the country depicted in the book in search of romance and adventure. Good fiction can be an excellent source of inspiration for your own life; whether it be the desire to travel, learn a new hobby or cook exotic food.
Heat, Passion and Tango
Much of the story line in Lloyd Jones’ novel Here At The End Of The World We Learn To Dance, is set in hot and humid Buenos Aires and centres around the beautifully passionate dance of the Argentinian tango. Spanning three generations, it is the seductive and enchanting influence of the country’s famous dance which pulls together and binds two compelling love stories. On finishing the novel, readers might find themselves drawn to the vibrant city of Buenos Aires with its bustling streets, colonial architecture and handsome inhabitants. With the opportunity to watch some professionals dance the tango in its original setting, while sipping a full-bodied bottle of Argentinian wine and dining on the famed local steak; this South American city has a lot of pull. For the less adventurous looking to ignite some of the passion of Lloyd Jones’ novel without travelling so far might sign up to a local Argentinian tango class where the pulse is sure to get racing.
Love in the Unlikeliest of Places
Argentina is arguably an obvious setting for romance; the bleak and war-torn city of Leningrad (now known as St Petersberg) might be less so. Nonetheless, Paulina Simons’ novel The Bronze Horseman is the epic tale of Tatiana and Alexander, two young people who fall in love while the country is at the precipice of war, and their desperate attempt to cling together in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Their budding romance is set against a backdrop of the eerily romantic white nights and palace gardens of the city. With the difficulty of snatching moments together in Tatiana’s family’s tiny shared flat occupied by three generations in Communist Russia where the concept of privacy is largely unknown, the sense of the couple’s angst and longing is very infectious. The reader may well find themselves reading up hotel reviews for St Petersberg after finishing the novel – or even before. Furthermore the amorous interlude set in a wooden cabin by the lake is likely to inspire the reader to whisk their paramour off for their own romantic stay in a lakeside lodge.
Exotic Escapism
Although perhaps not likely to be categorized as a romantic novel as such, The Pirate’s Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson is likely to romance you with its heady mix of exotic Jamaican setting and 1940s Hollywood glamour. An interesting story which Amazon describes as “a tale of passion and recklessness”, the plot encompasses two generations. The action centres around the charming Errol Flynn, his affair with a much younger girl named Ida and their daughter May, estranged from her father who is born as a result. In search of their own exotic adventure, the reader may well be drawn to Caribbean cruises, the ideal way to explore the best that the Caribbean has to offer. As Ian Fleming was provoked to start writing his famous James Bond novels while staying in Jamaica, inspiration might take hold whilst in the Caribbean. What better place to begin penning a work of your own than between destinations in the luxury of your cruise cabin. While cruising around the Caribbean the spicy food available in the Caribbean Outdoor Eateries recommended by the National Geographic may well add some heat to your romantic life and spur you on to recreate the exotic tastes when you return home.
Whatever your preference for adventure, when looking for travel inspiration, fiction can be an interesting source of ideas. Certainly, it can be exciting to experience for yourself the enticing foreign lands of a favorite novel. Or perhaps you are less intrepid in nature, content with travelling with your mind from the comfort of your sofa. In which case, Around the World in 80 Books featured on goodreads might be a fun place to start the journey.
Yes indeed. Thanks Eve!

The Vital Importance of the Storytellers–Beth Trissel

“I come from a family of great readers and storytellers.” Katherine Dunn

So do I, and I’ve given much thought to the inestimable value of the storytellers, both in the family and those with a far broader reach. In each generation, the storytellers remind us who we are, where we’re going, and most importantly to me, where we came from. The keepers of the story pass on that knowledge, those family accounts, the history. Someone must keep the stories alive, lest we forget. I am blessed to come from a family with a rich wealth of genealogy and lines traced back as far as Geoffrey Chaucer, and farther. I know who I am and where I came from and hold it as a sacred trust to pass that on. In this crazy world, it’s more important than ever to remember. So I tell my children, my grandchildren, my nieces…and reach out to the world through my writing. I am one of the storytellers.

“If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.”
Peter Handke

“Reach High, for Stars Lie Hidden in Your Soul.”–Inspiring Quotes and Images–Beth Trissel


I have spread my dreams beneath your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
Harriet Tubman

Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.
Pamela Vaull Starr

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.
Henry David Thoreau

I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
Patrick Henry

Hope is the dream of the waking man. ~French Proverb

To unpathed waters, undreamed shores. ~William Shakepeare

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly. ~Lanston Hughes

Dreams are the touchstones of our character.
Henry David Thoreau

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E. E. Cummings

“Great minds have great purposes, others have wishes. Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.”

Washington Irving

“The start is what stops most people.” – Don Shula

“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” – Bill Cosby

“To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard

“It is during our failures that we discover our true desire for success.” ~ Kevin Ngo

“Don’t wait for something big to occur. Start where you are, with what you have, and that will always lead you into something greater.” – Mary Manin Morrissey

*Royalty free images

True Love Quotes and Images–Beth Trissel

“They do not love that do not show their love.” ~Shakespeare

” Love from one side hurts, but love from two sides heals.” ~Shakespeare

“So long as I can breathe or I can see, so long lives your love which gives life to me.” ~Shakespeare

“If music be the food of love, play on.”~Shakespeare

“So dear I love him that with him, all deaths I could endure. Without him, live no life.” ~Shakespeare

“Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”~Shakespeare

“Men always want to be a woman’s first love – women like to be a  man’s last romance.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“Young love is from the earth, and late love is from heaven.” ~ Turkish Proverb

“We always believe our first love is our last, and our last love our first.” ~ Anonymous

“We fit together so well…it’s like pieces of a puzzle, the way your hand fits the curve of my hip and the way my head rests on your shoulder, the way our hands just melt into one, and the way I feel complete when I’m with you…like the picture’s finally completed and I’ll never have to wonder what I’m missing.” ~ guitarequalslife

“True Love burns the brightest, But the brightest flames leave the deepest scars.”~Unknown

“True love is friendship — caught on fire.” ~Gatech Kato

“True love doesn’t have a happy ending, because true love never ends. Letting go is one way of saying I love you.” ~ arie

“There are two sorts of romantics: those who love,and those who love the adventure of loving.”Lesley Blanch

“The quarrels of lovers are like summer showersthat leave the country more verdant and beautiful.”~ Susanne Curchod Necke
“He is not a lover who does not love forever.” ~ Unknown

“No one worth possessing can be quite possessed.” ~ Sara Teasdale

“This is true love – you think this happens every day?”–Westley, The Princess Bride

“A lover may be a shadowy creature, but husbands are made of flesh and blood.”~Amy Levy
“Love is the master key which opens the gates of happiness.”~Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.” ~Unknown

“One seeks to make the loved one entirely happy, or, if that cannot be, entirely wretched.” ~ Jean De La Bruyère

“All great lovers are articulate, and verbal seduction is the surest road to actual seduction” ~ Marya Mannes

“Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, so the mystic longs for the moment when in prayer he can, as it were, creep into God.” ~ SorenKierkegaard

“For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“True love always makes a man better, no matter what woman inspires it. ” ~Alexandre Dumas Père

“In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged.” ~ Hans Nouwens

*WWII postcard from sailor to sweetheart

“Like an old photograph
Time can make a feeling fade
But the memory of a first love
Never fades away.” ~ Tim McGraw

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New Children’s Book from Emerging Talent Elise Trissel–Beth Trissel

My daughter has finally completed her highly imaginative and wonderfully illustrated children’s book, Skaritch Skaratch Munch: A Cautionary Tale. A perfectionist, Elise labored over every detail, as I do words, and the result is well worth all the toil she invested.

Of herself, and her book, Elise says:

“This is a project that has been very dear to me and that I have been working on for well over a year and a half now.  I wrote in the style of a reverse cautionary tale, where instead of the adults being right, (as they usually are in cautionary tales,) in this tale it’s the children who are right all along and who ultimately come up with a solution to the problem.  I always like to try out new ways of illustrating so for this book I decided to go with some major mixed media creating and I had a lot of fun experimenting with it.  I greatly admire author/illustrator Mo Willems ,and his book Knuffle Bunny is one of my inspirations for illustrating this book the way I did.”

*Before and After images below

Having lived and breathed the ongoing efforts of an artist at work for many moons, I much more appreciate all that goes into illustrating a children’s book, not to mention writing it, and the thought behind even the font size and positioning of the words on the page. And a big plus, the two darling little people featured in the book are my grandbabies Emma Rose and her big brother Ian.

I’ve always loved children’s books and took Elise to the library faithfully when she was young. She haunts used bookstores and secondhand shops and has amassed quite a collection of her favorite authors and illustrators. Sometimes she or I even buy the copies new, but considering the library she’s building we must keep an eye on the budget. Any funds she gets from her own book will probably go back into buying others.  Or art supplies…computer software….

For eager readers young and old, Skaritch Skaratch Munch: A Cautionary Tale is available in print from Createspace.com and Amazon.com

To visit Elise’s newly formed blog and learn more about this book and her other projects visit: Coloring On The Couch

My Writing Journey and A Nugget of Wisdom–Beth Trissel

Why be a writer? Because you’re burning up with stories and ideas you just have to get down on paper (virtual paper these days) or you’ll go mad–probably are a bit crazy anyway. I have this theory about writers, those who are on medication and those who should be. I am, but wasn’t for years. Not until my breakdown right in the middle of Chapter Two of my upcoming release, Kira Daughter of the Moon. Took me years to finish that novel. *Note, it’s also essential to love chocolate and coffee, or in my case, Earl Grey tea. Writers function on caffeine. Avoid the whiskey.

In the beginning (about age twenty) I drew a picture of a clock with a dissatisfied face and angrily named it a ‘watch-gog’ because I felt that’s all I was doing, watching others live their dreams, and yearned to throw myself into a creative venture. But what?  All my family members were artistic and Lord knows I’d tried. Painting and drawing eluded me. I was no hawk-eyed photographer. I’d made some swell collages, but that didn’t seem enough. My arts and crafts weren’t as expertly done as others. Though, I must say, those tuna fish cans I decorated with Christmas scenes were charming.

Yes, I loved to write, since I could hold a crayon, and poured myself into poetry and short stories. Was there something more?  For the next twenty years I crafted pieces about rural life and gradually gained the seed of confidence to give myself permission to attempt those historical romance novels I so loved to read.  At long last, I’d begun. Could it be, was I actually a writer, and how would I know when I’d ‘arrived?’

Mountains loomed before me, and still do, with every new book. Publication, of course, was the ultimate pinnacle of success, but I discovered contests–some quite prestigious. If I excelled in those, not only might it pave the way toward my giddy goal but would lend me the credibility I hungered for. Certain I was ready for the initial launch, I entered my first RWA® Chapter Contest. While awaiting the results, I planned my acceptance speech for the awards banquet.  Whether they even had one or not, I don’t recall, but clearly remember sitting in utter bemusement holding those first score sheets. “You broke every rule,” wrote an equally bemused judge.

Rules???  Was Charles Dickens guided by rules, and what of Jane Austen? *Note to self, you are not Dickens or Austen, nor do you live in their time period. But that same judge tossed me a lifeline, “You have talent,” she said, “apparent in your beautiful descriptions.”

This at least was a place to begin. And so I did. With each step forward, there was always someone along the way to lend yet more constructive criticism which I balked at, but eventually accepted and grew from. Along with those beneficial guides were individuals who continually smacked me down. Most of them were called agents and editors. But I got back up, brushed myself off, and onward ho I went.  I cherished the good rejection letters, a personal note containing a high-five along with the inevitable ‘but.’ But, your work doesn’t—fill in the blank.

Yes, indeed, I’ve had hundreds of rejections over the years. To cheer myself up, I’d throw mini rejection parties (weekly) attended mostly by myself and the dogs. We jigged around the kitchen to lively Celtic music. Well, at least I did. They tolerated being leapt over in my spritely steps. Being on Riverdance was another dream, but I digress. (Often)

Back in the snail mail days, my dear hubby handed me my mail referring to these inevitable replies as my ‘Dear John’ letters. To gain the fortitude needed to open these dreaded missives, I inked the initials C. D. H. on the outside of my SASE which stood for Courage Dear Heart, a reference to my beloved Aslan from the Narnia Chronicles by CS Lewis. Later, I found it easier to be rejected by email, though not a lot. 

Eventually, after about ten years, I landed an excellent agent and thought this is it–I’ve arrived in the Promised Land! But no, not even she could sell my work to traditional NY publishing houses, no matter how much she extolled it or how many awards I’d garnered. They didn’t want stories set in early America.  Not sexy, not kewl.  Since when?

So my agent and I amicably parted ways and I spotted a new ship on the horizon, an untraditional publisher,  fast–gaining recognition, The Wild Rose Press. Right off, I was smitten by the name and their rose garden theme. Next to writing, my passion is gardening.  At the top of their homepage is a rose that looks very much like my favorite variety by English breeder David Austen called Abraham Darby. It was a sign unto me. I was forever seeking signs…must be my superstitious Scots-Irish forebears.  It’s also Biblical…

Many years and awards later, I have multiple books out with The Wild Rose, more releases coming this fall, and several self-pubbed titles. My best-selling novel, American historical romance, Red Bird’s Song, is the first book I ever wrote, oft rewrote, and the one mentioned above in that contest where I broke all the rules. 

I’ve learned so much in my journey, it’s difficult to know where to begin when offering advice to aspiring authors. One nugget I’ll share is to be specific in your word choices. Don’t ‘move’ across the room when you can stomp or tip-toe. Rather than a vague choice like ‘object,’ how about a dusty heap of bones? Anything that gives a clear visual will grab the reader far better than iffy imagery. Appeal to all five senses–make that six, and don’t neglect the deep sense a character possesses of what has been, is now, and may be.  Take care not to overuse words, expressions, descriptions, or words ending in ‘ly.’ No doubt you’ve heard this countless times, but ‘show don’t tell’ is vital. Keep any telling to relevant snippets interspersed with action and dialogue.

Most of all, write what you love and persevere. Learn from those helpful guides along the way. Keep on going like a sled dog in a blinding snow storm.  For years, that’s what I compared myself to. Remember,“You are not finished when you lose, you are finished when you quit.”

Did I ever threaten to quit?  Many times. And then I’d ask myself, what are you gonna do now.  Write, of course.  It’s what I do.

*Image above of me writing with some of the grandbabies beside me. Pic of my favorite rose taken by daughter Elise. The rest of the images are royalty free.

How I Got to Neverland

Some people would probably say I’m still there.  Well, it all began with a tree and a monkey.

The timeless story of Peter Pan was first shared with me when I was five and visiting my missionary grandparents in the Philippines. An elderly gentleman with a twinkle in his blue eyes gathered us children beneath the shady boughs of a big tree and read from this wondrous book while his pet monkey ran up and down the trunk chittering at us. I sat enthralled listening to Mr. Mahy’s every word.

It was a simple act of kindness on his part and the beginning of a lifelong love of stories and imagination on mine. I will always be indebted to him. Not that my parents weren’t also gifted in storytelling, but this singular event is still stamped in my mind with images of pixies and sparkly dust that made you fly, Wendy and the lost boys, the bad old croc that swallowed a clock, and the battle of good and evil between fun loving Peter Pan and the heartless Captain Hook.

And I wonder, what exactly is Neverland? A place of magic and adventure where anything is possible, a land of pure enchantment, or does its potential lie within each of us who have hearts to believe? Is it only children who possess this ability or can any of us, beleaguered and cynical though we might be, still reach for the stars?

Clearly, writers believe that.  Each of us can bring a bit of wonder into the lives of those within our circle by the tales we weave. Tell your stories, whatever they may be.  Share the wonderful gift of imagination, and believe.  Someone will be very glad you did.  Thank you Mr. Mahy.

Direction to Neverland:

Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning!”

You might just stay.

*Image of beautiful green-eyed boy reminds me of Peter Pan

*Royalty free images

Who, being loved, is poor? ~Oscar Wilde and Other Quotes and Images

Ah me!  Love can not be cured by herbs. ~ Ovid

Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame.  ~Henry David Thoreau

We loved with a love that was more than love.  ~Edgar Allan Poe

Do I love you because you’re beautiful,
Or are you beautiful because I love you?
~Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Cinderella

Love is much like a wild rose, beautiful and calm, but willing to draw blood in its defense.  ~Mark Overby

Let your love be like the misty rains, coming softly, but flooding the river.  ~Malagasy Proverb

Love – a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker.  ~Author Unknown

Love one another and you will be happy.  It’s as simple and as difficult as that.  ~Michael Leunig

The hours I spend with you I look upon as sort of a perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain singing to it.  You and you alone make me feel that I am alive.  Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.  ~George Moore

Absence diminishes small loves and increases great ones, as the wind blows out the candle and fans the bonfire.  ~François Duc de La Rochefoucauld

We choose those we like; with those we love, we have no say in the matter.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960

Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.  ~Jean Anouilh

Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly.  ~Rose Franken

Love is like dew that falls on both nettles and lilies.  ~Swedish Proverb

It is astonishing how little one feels alone when one loves.  ~John Bulwer

‘Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark our coming, and look brighter when we come.  ~Lord Byron

Sometimes the shortest distance between two points is a winding path walked arm in arm.  ~Robert Brault, www.robertbrault.com

Love is the poetry of the senses.  ~Honoré de Balzac

Love is a game that two can play and both win.  ~Eva Gabor

Without love, the rich and poor live in the same house.  ~Author Unknown

We don’t believe in rheumatism and true love until after the first attack.  ~Marie Ebner Von Eschenbach, Aphorism

True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.  ~François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.  ~Elinor Glyn