Friday, July 11, 2014

Blog Hop - What I Write and Don't Write

Paul Carr invited me to join in a blog hop with authors talking about what they write and what they don't write. Today, this is about all I'll get to write as I'm preparing for a company picnic tomorrow! So how did I get involved in this? It all started with Paul who writes:

Dr. Joan Curtis recently tagged me for this blog hop to post my version of "What 3 Things Do You Write? What 3 Things Don't You Write?" Dr. Curtis is an award winning writer who has published 5 books and numerous stories. Her newest mystery/suspense novel, The Clock Strikes Midnight will be released this fall. 

So what do I write? The 3 things I prefer to write are:

Cozy Mystery: I am currently editing my newest novel, a cozy set in a small Great Lakes town. It's the first book I've written that is only on one point-of-view and has a little more romance than any of the others I've written.
Young Adult: I have written many stories and novellas over the years, most of which reside in my closet. Bit by bit, as my work is published, I am unearthing and revamping the older books, many of which are Young Adult. Being the mom of 3 teenage boys, this seems like a good area to dabble in!
Short Stories: One of the things I love to do in my writing group is work from prompts. In fact, that is where a great many of my short stories--and novels--are born. I do have a collection of short stories I'm pulling together. All I need is a serious edit, and a few more stories!

The 3 Things I don't write are:

Erotica: I have many friends who write erotica and hard-core romance novels. Somehow, I just can't bring myself to write "those" kinds of scenes. Maybe it's hearing my mom's voice in my ear saying, "I can't believe you'd write something like that!"
Science Fiction: While I love to create new places, new people, new situations, the thought of creating whole new worlds is a bit overwhelming.
Horror: Things that go bump in the night are the last things I want to think about. I've never been a horror movie buff, yet love to read Stephen King and John Saul. I've just never tried to write like them.

Glad you popped by. Feel free to visit Paul Carr and say hello. A fellow mystery writer, his Sam MacKenzie books are a lot of fun and adventure all set in the tropics of the Florida Keys.
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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Summer in the Life of...

Run or Dye Toronto 2014

I'm a bit laid up this summer. I've pushed so hard to do a 5km run and my Blue belt grading in karate, that I've injured my knee. A minor thing that a bit of rest will help, if I can sit still. In the meantime, I'm embarking on a new venture! Not only am I actually updating my own blog for the first time in...I've offered to do blogs for my publisher Books We Love on their blog page starting this week on July 3.

What else is in store this summer? A few trips to the beach, a lot of walking, and an awesome retreat weekend with girlfriends!
With The Bookstore Lady and The Mystery Lady published and for sale, it's been nice to take a few days to sit back and enjoy Canada Day and my family. It's easier to take a break when Book #3, The Bakery Lady, is DONE and off to my beta readers! After a few days of forced rest, my brain is churning with ideas for Books #4 and 5.

As for Death of a Jaded Samurai, my agent Dawn is still seeking a publisher. Keeping my fingers crossed for some wonderful news this summer! Watch for more updates!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Wow, it's been an entire month since I posted to my blog! Work, family, and a huge karate seminar have all taken me away for the month, but I'm back on the merry-go-round that is The Round Robin Blog Fest! This month, a long string of authors are chatting about a whole new topic:

What is the most inspiring, romantic, or dangerous setting 

you have ever read or written?

I was born under the sign Cancer, a water sign. I'm a crab with a natural affinity for water so for my entire life, I've been fascinated with the ocean, lakes, rivers, and so on. As a result, I tend to write stories set near bodies of water. The Wild Blue Mysteries series doesn't directly mention the lakes until Book 2, The Mystery Lady, but Lake Erie is within an hour drive of Packham. The novel my agent is currently querying, Death of a Jaded Samurai, is set in a fictional small town called Sandstone Cove, which I picture on the shores of Lake Erie.

If I could spend my time writing in my favorite place, it would be on the deck of a small cottage on the seashore or near one of the amazing Great Lakes, which have the same inspiring feel. The rush of waves to shore are very calming and bring the romance of the ocean a little more inland. The nearest beach, along the shores of Lake Huron, is an hour and a half away, but is a wonderful place to visit! 

Lucky for me, I get to attend a writing retreat next month in a building that resembles a lighthouse and sits along the edge of a babbling river. I'll take that for now. Let's take a wander over to Geeta Kakade's blog to see what kind of settings inspire her!!

To order my books online, simply click on the title! 

Be sure to check out the other amazing writers who are a part of this monthly event!

* Heidi Thomas at
* Lynn Crain at
* Anne Stenhouse at
* Diane Bator at
* Geeta Kakade at
* Connie Vines at
* Marci Baun at
* Beverley Bateman at
   * Ginger Simpson at
   * Margaret Fieland at
         * Fiona McGier at
         * Rhobin Courtright at


Saturday, April 26, 2014

April's Round Robin Blog Fest

Welcome to April's Round Robin Blog Fest!!
Hope you like our new photo. I wasn't going to participate in this month's blog circle due to an abundance of activities going on in the "real world," but here I am!
This month's topic is:
 You loved the blurb. First page sounded interesting. You bought the book. What makes you throw the book you're reading across the room, stomp on it, and go find another?

I have read two novels that I've grown frustrated with. One at the beginning of the book, the other at the ending. Both were "critically acclaimed," but not books I'd ever recommend.

The first was The River King by Alice Hoffman. While I loved the idea of the story, the actual plot itself was difficult to follow. Just as the reader is absorbed into the thoughts and story of one character, another character passed by and we'd hop into his head, then he'd pass a neighbour sitting on her front porch and we'd hop into her head, suddenly a dog ran past and we ran along the river barking at a duck. No focus. No explanation, just continuous head-hopping as the story flowed along like the river outside the Haddan School. Apparently, this meandering form of storytelling is a tendency of Hoffman's and one reason I don't read any more of her work.

The second book was one I read recently, Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer. I have to admit, I read this one for a local "One Book, One County" program. I even paid for it, met the editor who helped publish it, and will get to meet the author next month at a wind up party. While I normally don't read much in the sci-fi genre, Sawyer's writing is crisp and clean and, up until the bitter end, I actually enjoyed the book.

Then came Chapter 50. Without giving away the ending, the book lost all the credibility for me. Up until then, I'd suspended all doubts and enjoyed the plot, characters, and plausibility. 

I didn't throw the book against the wall, as much as I wanted to. I did vent to my other friends who'd already read the book and came away with the same impressions I had. The ending of Triggers was a cop-out. 

I have read books-traditionally published as well as self-published-that have broken several "rules" but still tell a great story. I've also read books that should have had a few more solid edits before being released to the general public. So what turns me off a book?
* If I have to work too hard to weed the story from miscellaneous, unnecessary information.
* I have to suspend all belief at the end of a really good novel to accept a "feel-good" ending.
* Dialogue tags for a character that are a paragraph away from the dialogue.
* If, as in one book I read, an entire chapter is devoted to character and a situation that has nothing to do with the story whatsoever.
* I can't stand the main character and want him/her dead by the end of page 3.
* The plot is totally unbelievable. I'm not slamming fantasy or sci-fi novels here. Sometimes novels that aren't realistic can still become believable. Stephen King novels, Dracula, even The Hunger Games, are all "unrealistic" novels I can read and manage to temporarily suspend all disbelief to become part of their worlds. Twilight, not so much. 
* The ones I hate the most: Books written and/or edited by people who cannot write or edit. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a book snob! I love to read new authors, up and coming authors, and anything my friends have written. I'll gladly read anything once and will happily promote and review those books I love. I know how hard it is to follow your dreams to write and edit books and I have learned a great deal working with my friends, my agent, and my publisher!

To all my fellow writers:  Don't Give Up! Fiona McGier hasn't! Click on her name to visit her blog and find out what books she's thrown against the wall!

Our participants in the Round Robin Blog this time around:

* Heidi M. Thomas
* Ginger Simpson
* Rhobin Courtright

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Q & A with Juliet Waldron

 Thank you to the lovely Juliet Waldron, a fellow author with Books We Love, for linking up and asking the tough questions today. You can find her information at the bottom of my post. Be sure to check out her website and novels!

1) What am I working on?  Lately, I'm working on moving my oldest back from University and helping him find a job. Writing wise, I'm at work on the third book in the Wild Blue Mysteries series called The Bakery Lady. I am also gnawing on my fingernails while my agent queries another one of my mysteries Death of a Jaded Samurai.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?  One of the book series that prompted me to become more serious about writing was Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels. I loved the sense of humor and romance, but wanted something a little more. My Wild Blue Mysteries also has a sense of humor and romance and is a borderline cozy mystery, meaning I use two points of view in each book - a man and a woman.
Death of a Jaded Samurai is a true cozy based in a small down, one protagonist, but set in a martial arts school. Since my whole family has trained in karate for many years, this setting seemed natural, especially after I started working at the school.

3) Why do I write what I do?  Several years ago, I stumbled on a writing contest for a murder mystery sponsored by Wynterblue Publishing. Up until then, I'd only written general women's fiction. After I won the contest with Murder on Manitou, I realized how much I enjoyed working on a whodunnit and went back to one of my novels--The Bookstore Lady--to make it more of a mystery.
I love cozy mysteries for their humor, their small town settings, and their friendly tone. I try to make my main characters people my readers would like to sit and have tea with or even befriend. Having appealing characters is a great way to attract and keep readers!

4) How does my writing process work? My books always seem to start off with a scene that pops into my head or appears in a dream. I have favorite places I sit and write, working on bits and pieces that I will eventually string together into one whole manuscript. Sometimes I manage to follow an actual outline, sometimes my characters or story take over and things go awry from my original plan.
Once my first draft is complete, I'll put the novel away for a couple weeks to detach from the story so it's easier to edit. Even better, I'll send either the whole novel or a few chapters to a Beta reader for feedback. After a few rounds of edits, if I'm happy with the book, I'll submit it to my agent for her approval.

Thanks again to Juliet Waldron. You can find her at:
Musing and Rambling @ 
See All my historical novels @

Sunday, April 6, 2014

On Air Book Review and a Fear of Success

After the March 22 book signing at BookLore, I was approached by Ann Moyer from Mix 88.1 in Erin, Ontario. Ann had found my book in BookLore, enjoyed it and wanted to do an on-air book review on her radio spot on April 2, 2014. In order to prepare her piece, she and I sat down together in my kitchen for a one hour interview about me, my books, my writing, and a bit about what she would say in her review.
I do have the review recorded, but am someone technically challenged. I will have it online as soon as I can figure out how!

One of her questions that struck me was "Did you write this with turning it into a movie in mind?"
I'm sure there are some writers out there who wouldn't want to see their work on the big screen. Hollywood has a habit of changing things to fit their time frames, but turning books into movies have done great things to get many authors' names out to the general public. While there are many cases of the movies not meeting the high standards of readers, in many cases the viewers of movies can turn to the book later for more details and richness in the world they've had the pleasure to visit.

Another question she asked regarded why I ebbed and flowed in my writing, not doing as much to get my books into print years ago. With three kids, lack of time is always an excuse. One thing I do remember from years ago is having a fear of success. I had babies in the house and was afraid I might be good enough to become successful and I would have to leave them to do book tours and travel without them.

Looking back, my fears stifled my writing creativity. I could have taken classes back then, worked on my editing skills, prepared myself and my work. But, and I truly believe this: It wasn't my time.

Over the past ten years, I've been able to do more writing, have stories and novels coming out of my ears, closet, drawers, whatever...and have developed the confidence to dive right in and not care if I fail or succeed. We all want success, we all want a job well done, but it doesn't rip my heart out any more if I get a rejection or someone gives me a bad review. I've developed a thicker skin thanks to critiques by Beta readers and others.

The one piece of advice I would give other writers, photographers, martial artists, anyone pursuing anything they are passionate about is DON'T GIVE UP!! Even when things look miserable and the world seems against you, keep going and give it all you've got.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Round Robin Blog Tour March 22, 2014

This month's Round Robin Topic is Villains!
Do you need them? When do you use them, and what is the most diabolical type of villain to you?

Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines a villain as "a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot." Also known in film and literature as the "antagonist" or "bad guy."

I love a good villain! Who can forget Hannibal Lechter, the brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer with a love for a fine Chianti? Professor James Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes' greatest nemesis in The Final Problem. The Joker from Batman, particularly when played by Jack Nicholson. Cruella de Vil from A Hundred and One Dalmations. And--my all time favorite!--The Wicked Witch of the West from Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

So what makes a good villain? Personally, I love a bad guy with a sense of humor. Someone who is basically as human as the rest of us, but has many flaws and performs actions that cause misery to others--sometimes without intention. To be convincing, a good villain needs a strong motive for his actions. He has to believe he's right in what he does and have some redeeming quality that allows some ability for him to become good. Whether he actually could be bothered to change, however, is another matter.

Every story needs a villain. It's a fact. While the antagonist may not be a psychopathic killer or a blood-sucking vampire, every protagonist (hero) needs a foil, someone who makes his life miserable or we wouldn't have a good story. Who wants to read about the hero's day to day life if there's nothing lurking in the shadows to challenge him? A villain gives novels color and excitement.

The best villains, are the ones who can walk the fine line between right and wrong like Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. A hero for saving Harry and watching over him, Snape was not a good person overall. In fact, the most hated person at Hogwarts! While you don't have to be a good person to be a hero, Snape was a nasty teacher and a downright spiteful man.

The most diabolical type of villain, for me, is one who pushes the boundaries of right and wrong with no regard for others in the least. At the end of the day, the most frightening villains are the ones who are so real they seduce the reader with their overwhelming evil and remain in our psyches to leave us wondering if we could ever resort to such extreme measures. Anyone for liver, fava beans, and a fine Chianti?

Please join the lovely Fiona McGier to find out what kind of villains she adores!

This month's contributors:

Anne Graham (as Anne Stenhouse):
Aimee (as A.J. Maguire):
Ginger Simpson:
Rhobin Courtright: