Sunday, June 16, 2019

Born to believe in magic

We are born to believe in magic...and fairies and dragons. For everything about ourselves and world is fantastical from a child’s eyes.

It’s nothing but magical that tiny seeds should become trees. And water, ice. That rainbows should appear out of grey skies. That blueberries, strawberries and mushrooms should sprout freely from the forest floor to feed us.

That the children we are will become doctors, parents...perhaps even authors as we pluck dream worlds from infinity and set the processes in motion to make them reality.

Woe to all adults who lose touch with their sense of magic.

I invite you to join with me and a group of fellow science fiction and fantasy authors as we celebrate the summer solstice and all things magical. Romp through our social media platforms to find secrets words hidden in the sun graphic that when all collected and deciphered will spell out a quotation from a famous speculative fiction novel.

Solve the quotation and it could win you books...and money—$75.00 in hard U.S. currency, fact.

But better than that, more magical than that, it will introduce you to some great books by some awesome authors.

We ask that you connect with us not only by entering the contest, but if you like our blogs, follow us (there’s a button to the right of this posting that says ‘follow’), so we can continue to talk our magic to you through the words we post. Or, sign up for our newsletters, link to us through our twitter or facebook accounts, find us on Instagram.

Our dream is to share our magic with others and your secret powers can help us do that.

FSF Readers Lounge Presents its first ever Solstice Scavenger Hunt

Running from June 16th to June 29th.

Nineteen authors have joined forces to offer readers a chance at $75.00 USD cash via PayPal and 19 eBooks as a Grand Prize! Thirty-eight secondary prizes (an eBook from one of our participating authors) will be given to randomly chosen participants with the correct answer to the scavenger hunt.

To play for a chance to win you must go to each of the authors sites listed below, collect the "hidden" word(s), unscramble them, and then enter to win! Enter Here

Entering does not obligate you to anything! You have the option to choose who to subscribe to and who to follow - the only requirements are:
1. You must follow the Facebook page for the Readers Lounge in order to get the winners announcement and
2. Use the link above to enter the giveaway, but I hope you choose to follow the wonderful authors participating in this hunt!

$75 Cash via PayPal

eBooks up for prizes:

A Bit of Magic
Curse Breaker: Enchanted
Dragon Blood
Elven Jewel
Forever People
Ian's Realm Saga
Schrodinger's Cat - by Eileen Schuh
Shadow's Hand
Sleepless Flame
The Fox and The Hunter
The Glass Gargoyle
The Hand of Atua
The Shikari
This Cursed Flame
Witch's Moonstone Locket
Wolves' Gambit

Image may contain: night

To the left, is my secret word, part of a quotation from a famous SciFi/fantasy Speculative Fiction novel.

Happy Hunting!

Make sure to visit all the sites listed below to gather your words! 

"Born to believe in magic" has been brought to you by SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT

"I loved it from the first word."

"And the ending I never expected" 

"thoroughly rocked my socks..."

"A book that engaged all senses and emotions" 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Buried Treasure

Buried Treasure. What a great name for a book.  Oh, yes. The mystery, the intrigue...the riches.Who among us wouldn't rather unearth a hidden treasure than win a lottery? Marry rich? Or write a New York Times Best Seller? Well, okay then--forget that last example. 

Today, author Gilli Allan shares her family's folklore regarding a genuine, historic treasure and introduces us to her most recent novel, BURIED TREASURE.

I've read Allan's previous novels and love her writing. Her style is unique, free from genre constraints. Her plots are always compelling. Her characters, to die for. 

Take it away, Gilli!

Author, Gilli Allen
Not many people dig up treasure, but my uncle did …. or did he?

My childish imagination was very inspired by the idea of archaeology – the closest science there is to treasure-hunting.  I was probably influenced by the fact that my great uncle, Sydney Ford, ‘discovered’ the hoard of Roman silver tableware, named the Mildenhall Treasure, on his Suffolk farm during WW2.

I put discovered in inverted commas because on more recent investigation, the story is a lot less straightforward than uncle Syd ever admitted to.

I admit to plundering Syd’s story when I began to write BURIED TREASURE, a book with an archaeological theme.  In his account (which I heard from his own lips), he was driving the tractor and plough which turned up the hoard from one of his fields. He took it home and cleaned it up. At the time, he thought it was pewter.  He tried to declare the find and took a piece to London - to the British Museum - to show them and ask their advice.
Reputed treasure-finder, Sydney Ford

However, because it was war-time the British Museum was closed, so he kept it. What else could he do?  At Christmas he kept his fruit and nuts in the great dish. But a nosy neighbour tipped off the police and the hoard was taken away from him after the war, so he never got any credit for finding it, nor any recompense.

This was his story and of course we all believed it.

In more recent years I’ve learned more about the ‘official account’.  It was not Sydney but his farm worker, Gordon Butcher, who turned up the treasure. It wasn’t even found on my uncle’s farm at all, but on neighbouring land that he was looking after. He was unable or unwilling to be clear about the specific location where it was unearthed, the account changing every time he was interviewed on the subject.  
Ford's Great Great-nephew, Tom Williams, poses with the Mildenhall Treasure

Partly because of this vagueness, there has even been doubt cast over the fact the hoard originated in the Mildenhall area at all.  Roman villas have been found around that location, but nothing of sufficient grandeur to have owned such a service has ever been excavated in the environs.

Other suggestions I’ve read, linked to the previous point, is that it was stolen (from whom or from where?) and had been hidden by twentieth century villains or by airman flying from Italy into the airfield at Mildenhall during the war.

The treasure wasn’t snatched from him unexpectedly, as Syd would have it later. He did know in advance he was going to be relieved of his fruit bowl and the rest, apparently, and (because he knew they were coming) rumour has it he was able to keep back a cache of coins or some other choice artifact from the hoard.

Declared 'treasure trove', the Mildenhall Treasure can now be seen in the British Museum.  Contrary to Uncle Syd’s claim, he was recompensed - £2,000 divided between Sydney and his ploughman, Mr Butcher – but he never did get any credit.You won’t see his name attached to the treasure at the British Museum.    

Great Uncle Syd, was a favourite. We always loved seeing him.  He was mischievous and rascally and had a definite twinkle in his eye which, looking back, I suspect was something to do with the fact he knew he was fibbing. But when I was young, I took on board the story as he recounted it. Of course it was true.  Now, though?  I can quite believe him capable of a degree of roguery, but I don’t suppose we will ever know the real story; Syd is long gone and unable to provide any answers.   



Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again.

But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve.

Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems. 
Gilli Allan began to write in childhood - a hobby pursued throughout her teenage years. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the fiction.

After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother.

Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.

She is published by Accent Press and each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.

Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams (pictured above with the Mildenhall Treasure), is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.

Connect with Gilli Allen and her books through the following links:   (@gilliallan)


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

When the bough breaks...

Today I welcome Author, Luke Murphy to Magic of the Muses, in celebration of  his upcoming release, Rock-A-Bye Baby. This is Luke's third guest appearance on my blog. He first visited here in June 2012 to introduce us to his debut novel, Dead Man's Hand. And in July 2015 he presented, Kiss and Tell.

Yep, I think he has a crime series going here....take it away, Luke!

Click here to purchase Rock-A-Bye Baby

Writing a Sequel
This is my second go at writing a sequel, but it always feels like a new experience for me. ROCK-A-BYE BABY is the second book in my Charlene Taylor series. I have no plans, no idea how many books I’ll write with these characters. I’ll just write, and see where the characters take me. Who knows?
There are definitely some benefits to writing a sequel.
For one, the main cast of characters is already formed. Readers are familiar with the main characters in the series, and there is no need for a lot of backstory to get readers caught up, or a lot of explicit detail to show character traits and physical appearances.
Since I already researched the setting of my first novel, I can save that time in novel #2, because I am already familiar with the city (Los Angeles) that I’ve chosen for the setting of my adventures.
Since I have book #1 under my belt, I’ve already formed a small fan base and readership who are earnestly awaiting my next novel. I won’t have to worry about reaching those readers, as they are returning customers, and will already be searching out my books.
Because KISS & TELL garnered so much attention and success, now there is a level of expectation that comes with my next book. With so much praise and five-star reviews, readers have a high expectation of what they are looking for with a new Charlene Taylor book.
I don’t have to tell you that it’s a lot faster to read a book than it is to write it. Readers are expecting another book as soon as they finish reading the previous one. It took me four years to write the sequel to KISS & TELL (sandwiching another book in between), and once readers have finished ROCK-A-BYE BABY, they will be expecting another Charlene Taylor adventure. I might not have time to breathe LOL
There are only so many ideas/conflicts to write about, so coming up with new, fresh ideas for my characters with each new novel, can possess a bit of a challenge for a writer.

With all that said, I really enjoyed writing ROCK-A-BYE BABY, the sequel to KISS & TELL, and I look forward to possibly writing more Charlene Taylor adventures in the future.

Rock-A-Bye Baby

An aunt’s worst nightmare…

In the city of Denver, a series of baby kidnappings has the town devastated.  With no ransom demands and no contact from the perpetrators, local law enforcement is at a dead end. No motive equals no answers.

A cop’s personal obsession…

Charlene Taylor’s niece becomes a victim, and the LAPD detective is thrown headfirst into a whirlwind case with similarities to one from seven years earlier. Out of her jurisdiction, and with no friends or leads, Charlene must walk-the-line between cop and sister.

Who can she trust?
Charlene has to decide who’s an ally, and when an unlikely partner steps forward, they must race against the clock: because that critical 48 hour window has come and gone.

What the reviewers are saying:

Rock a Bye Baby has everything—a haunted protagonist, heartfelt emotion, and a twisty, thrilling plot.  A scorcher of a follow-up in a promising series.”—David Ellis, NYT bestselling author of The Last Alibi

"Murphy has cleverly crafted a riveting crime thriller, with a hefty dose of white-knuckle suspense. Entertaining and enticing to the very last page."—Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Submerged

Rock a Bye Baby is an exquisitely told thriller, full of surprises and terrifying moments. Murphy is a gifted storyteller who keeps the tension crackling throughout. Charlene Taylor drives the story to a very satisfying and unexpected ending.”—Kristina Stanley, bestselling author of the Stone Mountain series.
Author, Luke Murphy

Author Bio 
Luke Murphy is the International bestselling author of Dead Man’s Hand , Kiss and Tell, and Wild Card.

Rock-A-Bye Baby is Murphy’s fourth novel.

Prior to becoming a novelist, Murphy played six years of professional hockey, retiring in 2006. His sports column, Overtime (Pontiac Equity), won the  2009 Best Sports Page in Quebec Award and was nominated for this award in 2007. Murphy also worked as a radio journalist at CHIP FM 101.

Murphy lives in Shawville, QC with his wife and three daughters. He is a teacher who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, and a Bachelor of Education magna cum laude.

For more information on Luke and his books, visit his website,  ‘like’ his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Who partied in the woods?

As per yesterday's blog, I could tell from prints I found in the snow that the bears had awoken from hibernation...and that something/s had ripped up the snow in front of one of my trail cameras, as if there had been a party in the woods. 

I’d not been able to determine what had caused the chaos. Aside from my dogs’ prints and one small bear print, I’d not been able to identify any animal suspects.

What follows are the most amazing photos I’ve ever captured on my trail cameras—well, at least a close second to the picture of the doe birthing...or the twin speckled fawns...or the woodpecker. The lynx. Anyways, they are amazing—and were snapped over the course of half an hour, just minutes before I showed up. (I was close to crashing the party!)

They are day shots, which means they are coloured and well-focused. My camera is set to take three quick pictures in a row once the motion sensor is tripped, so it’s almost like watching a video. For the sake of space and reducing redundancy, I've edited out many of the stills, but these that I've chosen--well, I’ll let these two brothers tell you the rest of the story. 
My story continues below the photos.

I do not know where these bears came from, where their den was, where they were last year. Nor can I say if they’ll hang around my place throughout the summer. I surmise they are siblings, from their size and their play. They look like cubs facing their third spring (which is when mama kicks them out to be on their own.

I believe they were playing, not fighting over the potato peels as neither did much eating plus they approached and left together. It did not end with one chasing the other off, as would likely happen in a fight. Although, if I hadn’t shown up when I did, who knows? I visited that spot halfway through my walk, so they probably heard me out there about the time they took off.

I’ve never before caught a blond cub on my cameras. The black cub that showed up last year on my trails was one of a set of twins, both black, who appeared with their mom for two years. Last year, year #3, mom disappeared after mating in the spring and only one cub was captured on camera after that. Perhaps his sibling didn’t survive the winter, or perhaps he took off elsewhere to establish his territory while mama went mating

My husband has frequently seen a huge blond bear near here, and it showed up on the cameras during last year’s mating season. (In this area, black bears mate in the spring but the embryos don’t start developing until the fall. Sometime over winter, while the sow is hibernating, the cubs are born.)

Black, brown, white, cinnamon, blond, matter the color, they are all called black bears. There’s not a lot of research on whether colour is hereditary, but it’s quite plausible (to me) that big blondie, one hill over, is the papa.

Thus, my story remains incomplete. I don’t know who the mother and father are, and I don’t know what happened to the resident four-year old that I have watched since he was barely bigger than my Pomeranian.

Unless bears are sows with cubs or are breeding, they are usually solitary creatures, and very territorial so it's not likely these two will stay together. If by chance the resident sow or her older cub wake up from hibernation near here and reclaim their land, these two will probably have to move on and find a different place to party.

Who partied in the woods is brought to you by SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT.

 "I loved it from the first word."  

"And the ending I never expected"

"Thoroughly rocked my socks..."

Monday, April 8, 2019

One footprint in the snow

A footprint in the snow on my walk this morning, set my head abuzz. There was a story in that single print, a reminder to be concise in my own writing, to show not tell. To weave the past into the future. To build suspense.  Yes, all of that from just one print. 
The lone bear print I found in the snow

It was a fresh a print. I could tell because this was Monday and on Saturday we had received a lot of rain, which would have wiped out the print, or at the very least smudged the edges. But it was a sharp, clear print—showing no signs of having faced rain, yesterday’s melt or this morning’s bright April sun.

It was a bear print—and there my story begins.

I immediately knew three things: The resident bears had finally woken from hibernations, the bear had been heading the same direction I was—very recently, and thirdly, it was a small bear.

All bears are heavy animals but have such padded feet they seldom leave footprints. This bear had just happened to set his foot down on some soft, melting snow or his story would not have been mine to tell. 

The resident sow had bred last spring, and would have woken from the den with cubs, likely two but in the past she’d been known to have three. However, this print was too big for a spring cub, I imagined. Had a new sow and her two-year old, moved in? There is still a lot of snow on parts of my trails, so I scanned the snowy areas, looking for more prints.  Should I be concerned about a hungry, protective mother bear, fresh out of hibernation?

I could find no bigger prints, only a couple more of the same size. I began wondering about the sow. Had she not made it through the winter? I hadn’t caught her on my trail cameras since last spring when she was being wooed by several hefty males. After that, I’d only seen evidence of her black cub, which in that, its third spring, she would have chased off in order to mate again. Had she found new territory and left my neck of the woods to her cub?
The 3-year old cub caught on camera last summer

It seemed like a likely scenario. I wondered if it was a female or male cub. If it were male, I’d likely find less evidence of bears on my trails over the next few years. Males don’t have cubs around to set the cameras clicking. They are loners except during breeding season. There would be no more cubs on the cams. I wouldn’t have to be so scared of being attacked by a mother bear for inadvertently getting between her and her cubs. On the other hand, male bears can get a heck of a lot bigger than females. On the other hand, even a small bear can exert deadly force should it decide to attack, so size was perhaps irrelevant to my safety--although seeing a huge bear is scarier than seeing a bear cub.

I was thinking this as I made my way along the trails. There were no more tracks on the snowy parts of the trail, and no exposed mud yet to tell more of the story, or confirm the parts I had surmised. As I got close to the camera that oversees a favorite feeding spot for the deer and rabbits, and a travel route for coyotes, I noticed the snowy trail was all churned up.

I couldn’t make out any defined prints, though. I know my dogs like visiting this place because the coyotes usually leave ‘calling cards’, scat and urine, and the dogs like leaving their own pee-mail in return. Sometimes the neighbour’s big Mountain dog also visits and sniffs. The tracks were hard to decipher, though. Perhaps coyotes and dogs, but so many!

The camera showed there had been a coyote around, but only one.

I didn’t think the chaos was caused by deer, because deer would’ve left sharp little indents in the soft snow. Moose often churn up my trails, but they are so heavy, there’s no confusing their hoof-prints, and there weren’t any noticeable.

Then I spotted it, just one. One more bear print. That didn’t tell me what happened here, though. I mean, bears don’t churn up trails. In fact, they often put their back foot on the same place as their front foot, leaving a very narrow trail. They don’t bound about.

Rabbits might have been attracted here, as some old potato and carrot peelings I’d tossed out for the deer over the winter had melted through the snow. But rabbits tend to pack the snow down, leaving small bum-like prints.

My story had started out pretty good, I’d tied up all the loose regarding the bear. All there was to do now, was take down that trail cam and see if I’d correctly identified that one bear print to confirm my story about the resident sow giving her territory to her cub. I expected to see a small four-year old black bear on the cam.

And satisfy my curiosity about who had been partying in the snow.

Come back tomorrow to see the absolutely astounding photos regarding that soiree. 

One footprint in the snow has been brought to you by Dispassionate Lies

"It will surprise, titillate and fascinate you" 

"Kidnaps the reader and compels them to

A story of intrigue, love, and lust" 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Keto Krumbs -- My Advice

When I posted my keto diet comment on Facebook (bemoaning the fact I was not losing weight), I was looking more for sympathy than advice. But I got lots of advice (and sympathy, too).

I didn't need advice as I'm under the care of both a registered dietitian and my family doctor. but I did appreciate the fact that my friends cared.  Obviously, I'm not the only one battling a weight problem.

There is  lot of information, misinformation and sponsored 'information' out there on the keto diet and all the derivatives thereof (high fat & low/no carb, high protein & low carb, fasting & low carb, intermittent fasting, low cal & high fat).  In fact, there is a lot of misinformation on all things dietary.

There is actually surprisingly little non-biased, evidence-based dietary advice available to anyone, my doctor and dietitian included. This in a world where weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry and has been for decades. It's my suspicion that those industry dollars sponsor a lot of the questionable 'information' and 'research' out there.

My dietitian provided me some trusted links to the little available truly scientific evidence on the keto diet as well as links to some of the research behind Canada's most recent food guide.

I thank my friends for caring but that advice? Let's put it this way, I know firsthand how easy it is to get people to believe whatever one posts online, whether it be a blog, a Facebook page, a forum, Twitter--YouTube. Even though I clearly identify myself as a science fiction author, I get an amazing amount of positive online feedback when I answer questions about, or pontificate on quantum physics. People, I'm not a scientist. I do not have a degree in science--or in anything. I suck at math--I use my fingers to count.

People are overly ready to grant "Expert" status to anyone who is able to string together the proper buzz words. Throw tachyon, wave function, spin and entanglement in, and anything I say must be legitimate, right?

This propensity to want to believe what one reads hopefully causes no harm in the realm of  multi-universes and Schrodinger's Cat, but when it comes to one's health--ask a professional what sites can be relied on for accurate info.

Keto Krumbs has been brought to you by  SCHRÖDINGER'S CAT 

"I loved it from the first word."

"And the ending I never expected"

"thoroughly rocked my socks..."

“like a good episode of The Twilight Zone"

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

TOP 5 Reasons I like my Snoring Machine

I recently acquired what I fondly refer to as my "snoring machine". Officially, it is a CPAP (Constant Positive Air Pressure) device to treat sleep apnea--which is a condition where one doesn't get enough oxygen while sleeping--for various reasons such as parts of one's tongue and throat relax and block one's airway--which is also the cause of one's snoring and/or frequent awakenings at night.

It took me a couple of weeks to get used to the trial machine, despite the fact modern CPAPs are nothing like the noisy, full-face masked monsters that once ruled the nighttime. It's so quiet that if you're over 60 you likely won't even hear it working. And it's computerized so one doesn't have a full hurricane-force wind blowing in one's face all night--one only has enough pressure to keep that airway open and it even automatically reduces the pressure when one's trying to breathe out. And it humidifies the air, which makes it an ideal machine for absolutely everyone who lives on or in the vicinity of Alberta's prairies during the winter. However, let it be known that for now anyway, one does need a doctor's prescription to buy a CPAP.

My entire relationship with the CPAP started when blood pressure monitoring uncovered that my pressure was ultra-high upon first awakening and pretty well normal by the time 2:00 pm rolled around. This led to suspicions of sleep apnea, a condition which further testing confirmed.

Experimental trials proved that using a CPAP, combined with altering the time of my mild blood pressure pill could completely eradicate that high blood pressure.  Several studies have noted that early morning high blood pressure is the most dangerous kind of high blood pressure to have so, from there it was off to buying a snoring machine of my very own.

Better sleep is not the only advantage of these devices. Here are my TOP FIVE Reasons to Use a CPAP:

5. It lowers my blood pressure without medication or side effects
4. It humidifies the air I breathe, resulting in fewer nose bleeds and less troublesome post-nasal drip
3. I can sleep facing my hubby without breathing in his face or having his breath in mine.
2. If the room is too light...or too cold...or too noisy I can bury my entire self under the covers and still breathe...
and the TOP reason I like my CPAP
1. If the dog (or anyone else in the room) passes wind, I do not smell it.

TOP 5 Reasons is brought to you by DISPASSIONATE LIES

Set in Colorado and Montreal, DISPASSIONATE LIES follows Ladesque's adventuresome futuristic trials as she battles the collapse of the internet, the emergence of quantum computing and the medical mystery haunting her past.

 “After the first few chapters...became hooked"

"It will surprise, titillate and fascinate you"  

"Kidnaps the reader and compels them to read more.”

5.0 out of 5 stars - "A story of intrigue, love, and lust" 

Eileen Schuh, Author 
Schrödinger's Cat
Web site: