Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CWA: Time To Travel To Tea Tree Falls

Your clothes stick to your skin as sweat pours off your face. The large roots of the trees finger out into swamp arching in all different directions as if the tree was clawing the moist dirt under the water trying to stay afloat. Strange sounds echo all around you. The ship slowly glides up the river deeper into the swamp infested lands. "Look ma," a child yells, pointing at something in the water. A crocodile stares back at you. You gulp thinking of all those shows you watched on the discovery channel. It may be small but you know it could kill you in a heart beat.
"Attention passengers!" You heart jumps at the sound of Tasha's voice over the speaker. The crocodile seems to grin back at you then disappears under the water. "We will be arriving to our destination shortly. Please be certain to wear loose clothing and bring the water bottles we gave you this morning. You will need to stay hydrated. It's a hot day today and we don't want any of you becoming dehydrated. Thank you."
You peer into the Cruisin' With Allison backpack, pull out your sunscreen and generously place it all over your exposed skin. Your two full water bottles sit nestled in the pouches on both sides of your backpack. You put the sunscreen away, pull out the baseball cap with your favorite team logo on it, pace it on then throw the sunscreen in the bag. You sip your bag up and place it on. Wherever you are. You're ready for another adventure.

By Jeff Gunn @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffgunn/5802346067/

My friends call me Jess or Jessie, and I’m back in the Northern Territory after many years away. My feelings about this place are mixed, and if you read my story you’ll find out why. But let me show you around so you can make your own mind up.
Tea Tree Falls is a jumble of buildings scattered around the railway line. The locals joke that you can see the train coming a day before it arrives and that isn’t so much of an exaggeration. A wavering apparition, splintered by dust and heat, hangs in the distance for an age, calling a warning long before anyone needs to be warned, eventually chugging up to the battered shack that passes for the station.
Within sight of the Stuart Highway but beyond the noise of the thundering roadtrains, Tea Tree  Falls skirts the edge of the savannah that stretches south and east. There’s a general store, a tiny police station, no bigger than a workman’s hut, and an old barn that serves as a cinema on Sunday nights. The hotel, where I used to work, is still the only pub in town, though the wooden fa├žade is weathered and peeling now, the name-board faded.
Inside the bar, it’s quiet and still. Ceiling fans stir the torpid air. Half a dozen men, in creased shorts and sweaty singlets, prop up the long bar. Silent and lugubrious, they pull at their beers, their floppy bush hats pushed to the backs of their heads, their boots large at the end of their bare legs.
The barmaid shuffles in my direction. I remember feeling that same lethargy myself, when I pulled pints here, eighteen years ago. The heat, the humidity, the sleepy atmosphere, all contribute to a drowsy hypnotic state.
Let’s order a beer and watch as the ice-cold liquid rises up the glass. Thirst is a constant, out here; beer slips down like water.
Oh these silent afternoons. Days when the heat is so intense no one can be bothered to speak. And yet it isn’t just the heat. There’s something else too. Some inertia hanging over the whole place, making anything other than daydreaming impossible. I worked through many afternoons like this. Afternoons when it seemed like a spell had been cast over the town, the inhabitants bewitched, as if they waited, like characters in a fairy tale, to be woken from their trance by the kiss of a prince.
I remember one day when we were all awoken abruptly—the day Billy Doyle rode into the bar on a chestnut mare. Billy was a big red-haired man. He waved his hat and stood up in his stirrups, almost touching the tobacco-stained ceiling, in danger of being decapitated by the juddering fan. At once, the bar was in uproar, the air filled with laughter and ribald comments.
Billy Doyle worked for Jamie Mulvahy out at the MacIntyre. Jamie himself slipped into the bar a few paces behind his rowdy roustabout. ‘Sorry ’bout all this,’ he said. ‘Couldn’t stop the ol’ so and so.’
‘Not to worry.’ I said. ‘It’s livened us all up, anyway.’
Billy was having trouble getting the horse moving through the bar. ‘Come on ya useless lump o’ horsemeat!’ he yelled. ‘Move yer arse, will yer!’ The horse reared and whinnied.
‘Pour us a couple o’ beers,’ Jamie said. ‘Back in a tick.’ And he went to assist, leading the spooked horse firmly around the bar, across the verandah and out into the dusty central courtyard.
The noise level increased then as the men started to remind each other of previous outrages Billy Doyle had perpetrated. Like the time he brought the baby crocodile in. The croc had hidden behind the jukebox. ‘Took a half hour o’ Slim Dusty records to get the poor little b*****d out!’ one of the regulars said. Oh Billy was a right drongo—they were all agreed on that—but he provided bonza entertainment.
The rest of that afternoon sped past in a flood of stories and jokes. By the time I went off duty, my jaw ached from laughing, and my arm from pulling pints. I poured myself a beer and took it outside to catch the last rose-pink glow of the evening. Leaning back in my chair, I drank most of it down in one swallow.
That was when Jamie came over.
‘Looks like that one didn’t touch the sides.’ he said. ‘Can I get you another?’
And of course I said yes.

Do you want a free book? Comment below today and you will automatically win a free copy of The Land Beyond Goodbye. This offer is only available until the end of September 2012. 

by Barbara Scott Emmett

How my time in the Northern Territory turned into THE LAND BEYOND GOODBYE:

About The Author:
Barbara Scott Emmett has been writing for a number of years and has had prizewinning short stories published in various anthologies and magazines. She’s also had articles, poems and a novel (THE MAN WITH THE HORN) published conventionally but is now embracing the ebook market.
DON'T LOOK DOWN, a thriller set in Germany, THE LAND BEYOND GOODBYE, a novel set in Australia, and DROWNING - Four Short Stories, are available as ebooks at Amazon and Smashwords for Kindle and many other ereaders.

Twitter: @BSE_Writer

One Lovely Blog Award

I've been blessed to receive the One Lovely Blog award by Linda Bowers Bolton.  I want to thank Linda for nominating me for this award. Linda's blog can be viewed at lindabolton.blogspot.com

The One Lovely Blog Award was created in 2008 by Sara Faghani. There are several different types of badges for this award. I have some of them in this blog. Since I love to write about history I chose the one the left hand side of my blog. My blog is in the middle of a blog cruise where I feature authors from around the world. The cruise will end on December 2nd then my blog will go back to its normal routine. I love to blog about history, cultures from around the world and the untold stories. I haven't been blogging for a long time and I am truly blessed to have received my second blog award.

Here are the rules:

1) Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.

2) Place the One Lovely Blog Award badge on your blog.

3)  Tell seven things about yourself.

4) Nominate fifteen other blogs for the award. List them with links to their blogs.

Seven Things About Allison Bruning
1) My favorite flower is the Rose. 

2) I am a Trekkie. Yes. I admit it. I use to be a die hard Trekkie in my youth. I can tell you Starfleet history. I've met Nichelle Nichols and Marina Sirtis before. I would eat, sleep and dream Star Trek. 

3) I would rather sleep in a tent than a hotel room any day while on vacation. 

4) I have been conducting genealogical research on my family since I was nine years old. (27 yrs. and counting). If I wanted to I could teach on genealogy or do it for others as a business. 

5) I was on the dance team at Sul Ross State University and served as co-captain on their flag corp.

6) I sang competitively in my high school choir.

7) Most of my stories are inspired from actual events that happened in my family's history.  

I hereby nominate........

1) Aurora Martinez delarosasreviews.blogspot.com
2) Anjie  Harrte http://authoranjieharrte.blogspot.com
3) Ellie Mack http://quotidiandose.wordpress.com/
4) Krystol Diggs http://krystoldiggspublishing.blogspot.com
5) Stacey Beach https://beacheswriter.wordpress.com
6) Ashley Woodruff http://slingindaink.blogspot.com
7) Starla Brunson http://www.livingwithimaginaryfriends.com
8)Madison Johns http://mysterywritermadisonjohns.blogspot.com 
9) Vickie Johnston http://vickiejohnstone.blogspot.co.uk
10) Jane Carroll http://www.janecarrollblog.blogspot.com
11) Lynne Cantwell http://hearth-myth.blogspot.com
12) Tara Chevrestt http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com
13)Rasana Atreya http://rasanaatreya.wordpress.com
14) Coral Russell http://alchemyscrawl.com
15) Jennifer Don http://awakeningpassion.blogspot.com

Monday, September 10, 2012

CWA: Swan Song

The smell of saltwater fills the air as the ship docks in a wharf close to a small village. The boat suddenly jerks as the crew lay down the anchor. You have no idea where on earth you are but wherever it is it certainly is beautiful. "Ladies and Gentlemen, if you would all make your way to the left side of the boat we can begin our tour. Thank you,"Dalton says in the loudspeaker. You place your jacket on and head to the other side of the boat awaiting anxiously for your next adventure.

Ngawi, Wairarapa, New Zealand, 25th. Jan. 2011

By Phillip C @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/flissphil/5387357063/

The door opened to reveal a larger-than-life-size swan perched on a wharf before a bustling village. The swan had tiny human hands sticking out from its wingtips, and wore an intricately-knitted vest around its shoulders. It opened its beak and a tenor voice said, “Hi, everyone. Welcome to Swansdown. I’m Kyl Swan.” It – he – swept one wing in an arc behind him. “My brothers and sister and I founded the business.”
Others on the tour gasped, and someone said, “Surely you don’t mean that. You would be more than two centuries old!”
The swan nodded. “Quite a bit more, actually. We’re in our eight hundred ninetieth year as swans. Our stepmother cursed us when we were children. Let’s move on. Watch your step up the ramp.” He took flight and landed before a stock pen as we followed him up the rise on foot.
“Ah, you’re in luck,” he said. “It’s shearing season, and the work has just begun.” We watched for a few minutes as several young men caught, sheared, and released a bleating sheep.
“From here,” Kyl Swan told us over the racket, “the wool is washed, then carded and dyed. When we first began, my sister Neeve did all of that by hand. But more than two hundred years ago, we began offering positions to poor women from the mainland. It has worked out well for both parties. The women receive jobs and a healthy environment for raising their children. In exchange, we have been able to grow our business to the point where Swansdown knits are known everywhere for their warmth and high quality.”
He turned as a curious-looking woman approached. She was fully human except for her head and neck, which were that of a swan. She, too, wore a beautifully knitted garment – a dress – featuring colorful Swansdown designs. “Here’s Neevie now,” Kyl told us. “She will take you on the next portion of the tour.” He gestured grandly with a wing, his hand upturned toward the swan woman.
“Hello, everyone, and welcome,” Neeve Swan said in a sweet soprano voice as she gave Kyl a hug. “We’ll take a quick look at the carding operation before moving on to the spinning room. I won’t subject you to the dyeing – it’s quite a bit smellier than the sheep pen.” She spoke gravely, but some in the group laughed.
We followed Neeve past a building with a large window, where a huge drum covered with wire teeth rotated, combing the wool fibers into what Neeve called roving. The wool then passed along a conveyor belt to a neighboring building from which, even at a distance, a strong chemical smell emanated. Another conveyor belt took the dyed roving to a third building, where Neeve halted the group in front of another large window. We could see several women inside, hard at work at spinning wheels. At the far end, a woman sat before a huge loom, weaving cloth from some of the spun yarn. “Do you export the cloth?” someone asked.
Neeve shook her swan head. “Not really. We weave very little cloth, and most of it is used here on the island. Now over there” – she waved toward a fourth building – “is where the real magic
happens. That’s where our knitters turn the wool into sweaters, vests, hats, scarves, and socks – everything Swansdown is famous for.” She began walking toward the building as she said over her shoulder, “Watching someone else knit is about as interesting as watching grass grow, so we won’t stay long. Ah, Ken, join us. Ladies and gentlemen, my brother Kennet.” She waved to a short man who waddled toward the group. He, too, had the head and neck of a swan, and his lower torso, legs, and feet had been transformed as well.
“Pleased to meet you,” Kennet said in a rich baritone. He patted Neeve’s shoulder and turned to our group. “Right, then, this way to the knitting shed. Then onto the carriages and to your lodgings. Our brother Corwin will meet you there after lunch for a tour of the amphitheater. Tomorrow, you’ll be at your leisure. I might suggest an expedition to the caves on the other side of the island. Yes?” he said, as a hand rose.
“Is it true what your brother said?” the owner of that hand asked. “You’re all really eight hundred ninety years old?”
The Swans exchanged looks. “It is,” Neeve confirmed. “And the curse has another ten years to run.”
“What happens then?” the questioner persisted.
“We don’t know,” Kennet said. “Enjoy your stay on Swansdown, and don’t forget to pick up your free pair of mittens on your way home.”

Where to buy SwanSong: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/SwanSong-ebook/dp/B005JKRN60
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/82966
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/swansong-lynne-cantwell/1105160552?ean=2940011471193&format=nook-book
Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. Lynne’s vast overeducation includes a journalism degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a paralegal certificate. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Visit her blog: http://hearth-myth.blogspot.com.

Comment today and be entered for a chance to win a copy of Lynn's book on September 16!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

CWA: Something Strange in Small Town USA

The mid morning sun shine brightly upon the small town of Wilding Springs, Pennsylvania. It's so quiet here you feel as if you had stepped into Mayberry. Small town USA. So quiet and quaint you can't imagine anything unusual happening around here but Tasha and Dalton had said you would be surprise what can happen in a small town.
You sit on the bench with your shopping bags and peer into your wonderful homemade goodies. If its one thing you love about this tour is all the wonderful souvenirs you've picked up along the way. You hear the sound of children laughing before you, place your bag down and watch as a group of children play. Your fellow passengers weave in and out of the small town's stores. You bet the population has doubled since you and your friends arrived to town a few hours ago. This must be the most commotion the town has seen in a long time.
You smile, lean back and think about the trip you had last night. After dinner on the farm, you and and your friends headed back to Charleston, South Carolina where you all boarded the ship. Somewhere between the trip from Charleston to the entrance of Chesapeake Bay you had fallen asleep. When you arose the ship was making its way inland towards the Maryland - Pennsylvania line. You had wondered just how far up river this ship could take you and just where exactly were you going? Just as you had finished your thought the ship docked. Tasha had informed everyone they would be traveling via bus to Wilding Springs, Pennsylvania. Like most small towns on the East Coast, you had never heard of it.
You rise from your bench as you watch Dalton and Tasha gather everyone into a large group. You decide to join them. A few moments later your group is silent. There is a young woman standing beside Dalton. Tasha turns to their guest and introduces her. "Everyone this is Sydlynn Hayle and she is going to show you around."

Photo of Northampton, Mass.
Taken by 6SN7 @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/47800690@N03/4643739858/

Um… Hi. Mom was supposed to be here to give you the official coven tour, but she had a cookie baking… incident. So I guess you’re stuck with me.
I’m Syd, her daughter, nice to meet you all. Welcome to our coven’s newest home, Wilding Springs. We haven’t been here long, there’s a shocker right?
Because, you know, covens move a lot. Weird stuff happens, stuff involving the neighbors and quick moves in the middle of the night to a whole new state so no one gets arrested.
Yours doesn’t? Twenty years in one town, really? We have to leave, like, all the time.
Oh. Kay. Moving right along then…
So, we’re starting in the center of town. Picturesque here, isn’t it? Kind of like what you’d expect from a historic novel or something. Look at the perfect prettiness of the trees, the leaves still green. How there are lovely flower boxes on every doorstep. The weather here is still perfect, warm during the day, cooler at night.
Wilding Springs seems like a typical small town, doesn’t it? I have to admit, I find it so perfect it’s a little creepy. Oh, you noticed, too? This place is so clean it sparkles. Look at the old brick buildings filling the historic downtown, trimmed in pristine white. The cobbled stones all the way down main street, perfectly maintained even though they’ve been here for a hundred years or something.
See these cute shops stuffed with trinkets from local artists, homemade baked goods and touristy bits lining the picture quality little town square. You’d like to stop and shop? Maybe later. We on a schedule.
Meanwhile, as you can tell, there’s not a mall to be seen, the closest one a twenty-minute ride on the interstate. Any outward appearance of modern life hides gently behind history and tasteful cheer.
It reminds me so much of a movie set I keep looking around for the camera crew.
Okay, right here, near town hall. You feel that? Makes me shiver every time. This is the first town we’ve lived in that has an air of the supernatural all its own. I know my mom checked it before our last move, but I can’t help get the feeling we live in the land of make-believe.
Wave to the nice residents. Even they are too much, their lives too charming, their homes gingerbread cutouts of cuteness, scrolling detail at eave and doorway. See how each neat, tidy lawn is freshly mowed, the people friendly to a fault?
Yeah. Keep waving.
That’s the local teen hangout, Johnny’s, great place for burgers and shakes if you’re hungry later, as long as you don’t mind a 50’s diner.
Wilding Springs High is next, not much to look at. You’ve seen one big, square, brick school you’ve seen them all. What? Blushing? Why would I be blushing? I’m not staring at the gorgeous blonde football king Brad Peters—
Moving along now. Before he sees me with you.
Okay, sorry this took so long. Here we are in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, there’s a lot of weeds. Watch your step over the ward lines, don’t want to accidentally trigger the family protections, do you? I’d like to stay here for a while if you don’t mind. Perfect. This is our coven site, not much to look at I know, just a big empty clearing surrounded by trees. We try to keep our ritual sites outside every town to avoid suspicion. At least it’s a nice day. It really sucks here when it’s raining.
Happy now? Great. Let’s head back to my house to see Mom. Cookies? She promised you cookies? Um… yeah. You do know Mom’s a bit cookie challenged, right? No? I’m doing the tour and she’s not because she’s probably still in battle with the batch of chocolate chips demanding world domination.
Cookies. We’ll see about that.
 This tour is based characters from the Hayle Coven Novels, book one, Family Magic. Find out more at http://bit.ly/FamilyMagic

Enter a comment below to Patti and be entered automatically for a chance to win books 1 and 2 of her Hayle Coven novels! The winner will be September 16th! 

About the Author: Patti Larsen is an award-winning middle grade and young adult author with a passion for the paranormal. Her YA thriller series, The Hunted, is available now. Book one of that series, RUN, is a recent recipient of the 2012 PEI Book Awards for Fiction. Eight books of her very popular Hayle Coven Novels, beginning with Family Magic, are also out now. Her YA steampunk series, Blood and Gold, can be found on Amazon, along with her YA paranormal novel, Best Friends Forever, and The Diamond City Trilogy. Her middle grade novel, The Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House (Acorn Press), is available now. She is a full time writer and a part time teacher of her Get Your Book Done program. Patti lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband and four massive cats.

You can find her:

On her website www.pattilarsen.com
On Amazon.com and Goodreads