Thursday, June 8, 2017

Giveaways and Sales!

It's summer, time for great deals! This upcoming week brings two giveaways and an ongoing sale.

Giveaway #1--BLOODSTONE--Sunday, June 11 only, I'm offering a Kindle copy to one lucky trivia winner at The Romance Reviews Sizzling Summer Reads Party. To enter you have to log in to The Romance Reviews and then play BLOODSTONE trivia (using my provided hint, of course): http://www.theromancereviews.com/event.php

Giveaway #2--THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE--June 12-20 at Goodreads. I'm giving away one autographed print book. Use the link at the Goodreads box on the right to enter.

Sale!--BLOODSTONE on Kindle is a bargain at $1.50 for as long as the sale lasts: https://www.amazon.com/Bloodstone-Helen-C-Johannes-ebook/dp/B0145P8JC6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8[/url

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hello, Summer!

June 1st ... the official start of summer in our neck of the woods. Hooray!

There are three months we can count on to provide temperatures of 70 and above, and they are June, July, and August. After a cold spring in which I have shifted from down-alternative comforter and regular bedspread all the month of May, and a year so wet we have doubled our usual moisture (snow and rain), we are especially excited to see SUMMER!

We can open windows! And go outside without coats. And wear shorts and t-shirts. When you wear sweatshirts for 8-9 months of the year, this is a big deal.

To all those who live in large parts of the country where summer seems to last forever, don't feel sorry for us. We love our 4 seasons. We just really, really get excited about summer.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I have been to see the dragon’s skin ...

I have been to see the dragon’s skin … and this is what it looks like.

Where I live, the Earth is a mellow creature. It doesn’t move beneath my feet or spew into the sky or break open very often. Folk here are focused more on the sky and the changeable—sometimes wicked—weather it brings us. We never doubt the solidity of the ground we’ve built our lives upon because it so rarely fails us.

We shouldn’t be so trusting.

The Earth is a living, breathing entity … a dragon, if you will. And that is never more evident than where this dragon is daily making itself new. On the island of Hawaii, the Big Island, the ground swells, it puffs poisonous, sulfurous smoke from open red sores and hundreds of bottomless cracks. It disgorges slow-moving lava fields that surround and torch homes, highways, and fields. It creeps downhill to fill a once-beautiful cove with 20-30 feet of solid black rock, rippled like skin.

The Earth lives here, and the people live with it, and nature takes hold of the rock—very quickly, it seems, finding footholds for pollen and seedlings in seams filled with windblown dust. Dragon skin is fertile, apparently, or the islands built by these forces wouldn’t be so lush.

We think of dragons as mythical creatures, armor-plated and breathing fire. I think of them as having skin like this, and sleeping—ever so restlessly—beneath our feet.


(For my version of dragon lore, check out BLOODSTONE. Goodreads Giveaway Feb. 22-Mar. 2.)

Friday, December 16, 2016

LASR Winter Blogfest Appearance and Giveaway

Good news! I'll be making a guest appearance on Long and Short Reviews' Winter Blogfest on Monday, Dec. 26. Stop over and leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy of BLOODSTONE: http://wp.me/p2ZcT9-g9t. I'm excited to share thoughts on the magic of the season.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Christmas Card Country?

I have the good fortune (or misfortune, depending on how you view winter weather) to live where Christmas most often looks the way it’s depicted on Christmas cards. There is snow, of course, sometimes heaps of it, sometimes just enough to turn the world a lovely white. The trees are frosted. Colored lights glow under snow-draped bushes, giving nighttime an ethereal quality. Around almost every corner are decorations, from the traditional Santa to the latest holiday cartoon character (Olaf is still popular, I noticed today). The local Rotary runs a wonderful light and music show in the park. Our town is host to horse-drawn sleigh rides on selected evenings, and there’s a holiday parade to welcome Santa.

In short, it’s definitely Christmas country. And I sort of take it for granted that Christmas looks this way for everyone. Except I know very well it doesn’t. Great swaths of our country don’t have or even expect a white Christmas.

I lived in West Texas for a couple of years and Christmas looked very different there. Instead of evergreen boughs, yards were decorated with silver, green, and gold spray-painted tumbleweeds tied up in bunches. At night, instead of electric lights, luminaries lined driveways and sidewalks, giving the darkness a flickering, fantasy glow. The Christmas parade rode down perfectly clear streets, and Santa didn’t need an overcoat. I certainly didn’t need mittens, muffler and boots to watch it.

I don’t remember being too disconcerted by my couple of Christmases without snow, without all the traditional—at least according to the card company—trappings of the season. I still got presents. We still had a tree.

Back up here in Christmas country it’s easy to forget the season looks very different for a good share of the world. When we’re deep in a blizzard, it’s hard to imagine some of those people in the other part of the world are actually longing for a Christmas like ours. We’d happily ship some of our snow and cold anywhere that would take it. Hey, we’ll share! If only we could.


But we can’t, and we really don’t need to. Christmas is what we make it, wherever we are and with whatever we have. Christmas is the people we share it with, not the weather or the card-company trappings. It’s your Christmas to enjoy, and I hope you all do so. Best wishes for the season!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Book Brew Appearance and Giveaway

Monday, Nov. 7, from noon to 8 p.m. join me at Coffee Time Romance's Book Brew Blog: http://coffeetimeromance.com/CoffeeThoughts/ We'll be celebrating fantasy romance and conducting giveaways. I'm giving away a Kindle copy of BLOODSTONE and a Kindle copy of THE PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE. I'm posting about the concepts that inspired my books.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

This was always a back-to-school assignment. It ought to be easy--after all, we should have lots of experience memories stored up over three months--but most of us hated the assignment. Mostly because we had so many memories to choose from, the task seemed overwhelming. Those who did best followed this advice: List the most memorable experiences. Choose one. Focus on the critical details. That works no matter what kind of writing one might do.

What did I do on my late summer vacation? I visited a favorite getaway, Door County, a narrow triangle of land separating Lake Michigan from the bay of Green Bay. We went first to Cave Point where this year’s high Lake Michigan water obscured most of the plate rock ‘beach’ we’re used to walking 20-40 feet out on. This rocky area is part of the Niagara Escarpment, an ancient rock formation that extends west from the great Niagara Falls and into Wisconsin.




After that, we tried Norwegian pancakes for the first time (delicious!), enjoyed the signature Door County cherries in chocolate-covered version and in dessert, sampled gelato and various ice cream shops, and settled in for the world-famous sunsets.

One such evening we even met our first mooching wild duck. A very forward mallard hen waddled up to us while we were sharing a hearty scoop of double chocolate ice cream. We’ve been harassed by seagulls more than once, but I’ve never seen a wild duck beg like a dog. Even if I’d been inclined to feed this Minnie-the-Moocher, chocolate ice cream was not a healthy choice. Our treat was topped by a jelly bean, so I flung it mostly to try to get the duck farther away. My ‘fling’ fell short and the duck horked up the jelly bean and looked at us for more. Not going to happen, Minnie. Thankfully, another couple laden with treats sat down nearby. The duck waddled over and sure enough, she scored bits of waffle cone, which she took from the woman’s hand. We usually bring the camera everywhere, but not this time. Oh well.