Friday, December 13, 2019

It's Snowing at the Classic and Cozy Corner!


Welcome to the world of Classic and Cozy writers...

Come on. Walk with me down Main Street! (We'll cut through the park.)
It's not far now. (Crunch, crunch, crunch.) This is it... Can you hear the music coming from inside?
As we step inside, we are greeted by the smell of cookies...
...the sound of a crackling fire...
...the sight and smell of a tree...
...and coming from the corner of the room, someone is reading from a Classic and Cozy Book.
My gift to one of you...
So sign up to follow my blog at https://sofiecouch.com/blog/ and I'll choose a couple of names and post the winner on my blog,

In celebration of the holiday, to launch an overhaul of SofieCouch.com, I’m giving away the Christmas Trifecta – one of each, IN THE ST. NICK OF TIME, IN THE ST. NICK OF TIME…AGAIN, and DRAGON RUN, a not so Christmassy collection of short stories. I’ll draw a name from our current followers here at ClassicAndCozyBooks.blogspot.com, and a name from new and old followers at SofieCouch.com and those folks will receive a copy of each of those short-shorts! Well, I think it’s exclamation worthy!!! Woot, woot!
And if you haven’t already, you can still order books in time for Christmas from the many amazing writers here at Classic and Cozy. They are books with heart that anyone would appreciate finding under their tree.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Of Travel, Ideas and a Heavenly Heliodore


by Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson

I have long said that everything is research, and that ideas fly around us with the intensity and persistence of a gnat horde. It’s true. It’s also frustrating. And overwhelming.
Right now I’m sitting at an ungodly early hour of the morning, my inner clock still refusing to synchronize with my home time, trying to sort out the masses of information boiling in my brain. The Husband and I returned (LATE!) a few days ago from a trip to the Munich Gem and Mineral Show, a wonderful trip concluded with long hours of flights on uncomfortable planes interspersed with long hours spent sitting in uncomfortable airports. Our return day began at 5 am in Munich and ended right around midnight here in Texas. My poor jangled electrons are still trying to catch up.
So what does that have to do with ideas? Everything. As I said, I believe ideas are everywhere, and they are there in spades at the biggest gem and mineral show in Europe, if not the world. (5 acres under roof – it may be weeks before my poor abused feet recover!) All we have to do is open our minds and imaginations to them. Ideas, that is, not my feet.
Everywhere you look there is the germ of an idea. Fossils, for example. Who found them? What kind of creature were they? Where were they found? What kind of adventures did the discoverers have bringing them to market? Or take the case of the 38 carat emerald cut heliodore (a gloriously clear pale yellow-green stone) that looks as if it might have been snatched from the crown of some pagan idol.  It made my little jewelry-junkie heart beat like a hyperactive triphammer.  While my rational mind is completely assured that it was legally acquired and is purely legitimate, my warped writer’s mind is off on a wild ride of ‘what ifs.’
Adding to this rich mix of stimulation are the languages. Walk down any aisle and in fifty feet or so you will have heard at least a dozen languages, some of which I could identify, some of which I couldn’t. While doubtless all these people were either exchanging gossip or talking about business, that self-same warped writer’s mind can spin a tale of international skullduggery or heroic derring-do.
Of course, no writer has to make an exhausting and punitively expensive trip just to find ideas. You can do the same thing with a trip to the grocery store (which, to be honest, can be punitively expensive, too!) as long as your eyes and your mind and your imagination are open. And maybe that’s the trick – not where you go or what you see or anything else – just be sure that your mind is open. Explore. Dream. Think. And imagine. It’s easy.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thankful Again


I have titled this post to remind myself of how often I take all I have been given for granted.
Although I was taught from an early age to give thanks and express gratitude, too frequently I forget to do so. Although I’m probably not entirely alone in this neglect, I know myself well enough to confess my fault and in some way to atone.

I am thankful for so many opportunities, I’ll begin by expressing my gratitude for the many years I have been able to work with the writers of Classic & Cozy Books — a gracious and generous community whose writing and supportive comments on others’ efforts I hope will be sustained for as long as they wish.
My first post for C&C was on February 25, 2014 and titled “Classic, Cozy and Cunning,” an introduction to my novel by installments,Nights Before: The Novel, a six-novella series that began with Twas the Night Before New YearThe opening paragraph reads:
We've all read books set in different countries, regions, time periods with characters from various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. The attempt to capture the sound of speech and cultural nuances is all part of the craft of setting a sense of time and place.
Because this will be my parting post for the foreseeable future, I also want to express my gratitude to Avalon Books, Lia Brown and especially Avalon Authors who together helped my writing dreams flourish, sustaining me though many years of traditional and independent publishing. 
Many of the writers at Avalon continue as good friends, supporters and listeners.
I have made efforts to repay them, in my way, on my personal author’s blogs by featuring books and promoting their posts through social media — a development in communication channels that has opened a wide vista for writers that American entrepreneurs have embraced and taken to the moon in a way that could only be achieved in an atmosphere of freedom, an atmosphere that not only allows but encourages the freedom to try, to fail and to try again.
As one of my friends in Wales once told me, “If you can’t make it in American, you can’t make it anywhere.” He was right and I am most thankful that I came home.
With warmest, fondest best wishes to my fellow writers here at Classic & Cozy Books, it is time for me to embrace the hard work of doing my job.
Leigh Verrill-Rhys, Novelist


Friday, November 22, 2019

BEING A STRONG WOMAN THESE DAYS

I told my husband I was thinking about writing a blog about Jane Fonda.  The instant I said it, he had a negative reaction--as I expected he would.  For those of us who were young adults during the Viet Nam war, Jane Fonda is still a controversial figure.  
But I’m not writing about that time and whether or not Fonda was a traitor for going to  North Viet Nam. I’m writing about who Fonda is today and how in many ways she’s a model for older women in our society.  
Jane Fonda was born into Hollywood royalty.  Her father was Henry Fonda, a respected and beloved actor. From what I’ve read, her childhood was not happy or stable even if privileged.  She married three times and has throughout her life put herself into the limelight.  Sometimes it seemed she’d gone off the deep end, case in point, Viet Nam; or cashed in on her notoriety or celebrity, cue to her exercise tapes. But she never slowed down and she kept reinventing herself.  
There were her marriages.  First Roger Vadim, the French director and ex-husband of Bridgette Bardot. Then husband number two, Tom Hayden, the political activist, who first came to our attention during the 1967 Democratic Convention in Chicago.  These two men could not have been more different except, like Ted Turner, her last, they were famous, successful, and most likely, egotistical and probably narcissists.
But Jane Fonda persisted.  You have to admit, if you’re still reading and not turned off by the very mention of her name, Jane Fonda is resilient and now, even at nearly 82, remarkable.
I was struck by that resiliency the other night watching her on the news after being arrested in D.C.  She appeared as herself, sans the make up she wears when filming Grace & Frankie. She looked, while fabulous, closer to her age.  Nonetheless, besides being attractive and articulate, she displayed an enormous amount energy and intelligence for anyone, much less an older woman. 
The person I saw on the screen was not some old lady wacko, but a vital person who believes in climate change and her obligation to do what she could to bring our attention to its dangers.  She used her celebrity to get the world to pay attention. 
I was impressed and struck by what she said, that being almost 82 she didn’t have to worry about coming across too strong or too aggressive and could say, do, and be whatever she wanted. She didn't have to try and entice a man. 
That struck a chord with me and I imagine with many of my peers.  We are of the generation that thinks before we speak lest we came across as too aggressive or even too smart or, heaven forbid, unlikeable.  It’s been suggested that’s why certain female candidates are unelectable. 
There are some men and even women reading this who will deny that there is a prejudice against smart, outspoken women, and maybe in some circles there isn’t.  But from where I sit, I see a prejudice against that kind of women that needs to be acknowledged and addressed or else we’re in danger of missing out on the wisdom and assistance of far too many. 
I'm not suggesting that Jane Fonda should be a role model.  But I do think her responses to the life that she was born are understandable and I'm impressed that she  never stopped trying to figure out who she really was and what she could offer to the world. I think she finally has. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

A private Memorial Day

As I write this post, on Friday, Nov. 8, I'm doing a great deal of remembering. First, I'm thinking of my dad.

Anthen Hugh Hubbard was born on November 8, 1922. If he were still with us today, he'd be 97 years old. I feel blessed that I had him until seven years ago. My children, all adults now, remember him as one of the kindest, best people they ever knew. To me, he was Dad. His unconditional love carried me through all kinds of childhood and teenage crises, and strengthened me when the more serious adult challenges came. I always knew I could turn to Dad and he'd be there. I miss him.

The other memory associated with today is harder, perhaps because it's much more raw. Missing my dad can bring me to tears, but thinking about a year ago today is a whole other ball game. A year ago today, the most destructive and deadly wildfire in the history of California galloped through the county where I live. It wiped out the towns of Concow and Paradise, left 50,000 people displaced, and changed our county forever.
Many of our friends lost their homes and all their possessions. Some lost loved pets, a few lost relatives, friends or neighbors. 85 people lost their lives. The impact wasn't so great in my town. Although the fire burned within five miles of our home and threatened us with evacuation warnings, we were spared the flames. We were not spared all of the shock and horror. There's a hymn frequently sung in my church. The third verse begins:



     When dark clouds of trouble hang o'er us, and threaten our peace to destroy,
     There is hope smiling brightly before us, and we know that deliverance is nigh.

I can't sing it without tears. Any time I think of dark clouds of trouble, I remember stepping outside my home last November 8 and watching the black smoke, thousands of feet high, rolling toward us at 50 miles per hour, blown by the same winds that fanned the voracious flames. We lived in hazard masks for three weeks, doing our best to render aid to others while we all worked through shock.

My book, Sunny's Summer, the second book in the "Seasons of Destiny" series, works with characters who experienced that day as so many did. It takes place in the aftermath of the Camp Fire. In it, I've tried to give others the visceral sense of what that first day was like, and what the past year has been like for everyone who experienced it, each of us in different ways. Maybe, for me, it was a form of therapy, of working through the enormity of it all.

People here are recovering. Folks wear t-shirts that proclaim they are #ButteStrong or #ParadiseStrong. The first game of the Paradise High School football team this fall saw the stands overflowing with people who were moving back, or had sworn that one day, they will. Still, every community in Butte County has felt the impact, and nothing will be the same again.


Paradise may indeed rebuild, but it will take ten years before it begins to look like Paradise, and probably 30 years before the population numbers return. The population once here will not return, as displaced people scattered across the map, taking root elsewhere. Speaking of roots, most of the beautiful trees that did not burn died because of toxins in the air and soil. The forest that went with the town may not fully regrow for a century or longer.

While November 8 means little to the people of the world, for me it's a private memorial day as I think of my dad. To the people of Butte County, it's a day that will live forever in memory, a memory we hope to make happier as life goes on.

Susan loves to hear from readers. Write her at susan.aylworth.author@gmail.com, or visit www.susanaylworth.com or her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Susan.Aylworth.Author. Watch for Amber in Autumn, Book 3 in the "Seasons of Destiny" series, coming early next year. Books 1 and 2, Paris in the Springtime and  Sunny's Summer are available in e-book and paperback formats. Winter Skye will follow soon. Subscribe to the newsletter or stay in touch for updates.