Saturday, June 25, 2016

Round Robin Blog Fest June 25 2016

Welcome back, dear readers! 
I've been away from the Round Robin Fest as well as from blogging for a little while now due to life's misadventures, but I'm back and writing again!

This month's Round Robin question is:  How emotionally involved are you in reading or writing some scenes?

Yesterday I had a friend, who is also a fan!, tell me how much she loved my books except for one thing - they're too short! An avid reader, she went on to say how she got so caught up in my characters and the story that she couldn't put the book down and was disappointed when it ended.
Way back in a high school psychology class, I had to write a paper on the central nervous system versus the peripheral nervous system and used writing as an example of how to describe each. I use my brain, a part of the central nervous system, to create the work. When I re-read and edit, I use my peripheral nervous system since my hands sweat, my heart beats faster, and my body twitches in response to what I have read. This allows me to build a scene as though I am the character I've written and make the story more real to my readers.
As a writer, I also get caught up in the emotions of my scenes and characters. My palms would sweat when I wrote about Lucy and her ex-husband's relationship in The Mystery Lady as well about Katie's life with Maddox in The Bookstore Lady:

She’d never awakened in a motel room alone and naked before. Someone had always taken her home. Usually Maddox. She pushed that thought out of her head and splashed water on her face. In the mirror, her skin seemed almost green in the bad lighting. Someone had beaten her, probably Maddox, judging from the bruise on her cheek and the cut on her lower lip. Probably from the diamond he wore on his pinky.
Beside the toilet, bright blue fabric speckled with purple spots along the hem hung over the shower rod. Her favorite dress. The one she wore yesterday. At least she thought it was yesterday. She fingered the spots and fought off a wave of dizziness.
Blood stains. Whose blood?
 (click on photo to order!)

In The Mystery Lady, Lucy becomes paranoid when she spots a car parked on her street for several days then strange men in her neighbourhood. Her concern for the well-being of she and her children actually left me a bit on edge and I found myself peering out the window a few times as well!

Roger always said she’d make a good writer because she was such a drama queen, but maybe she was a drama queen because she was a writer. In truth, her mood was more about Roger and her deep down reluctance to let her kids go with him for the week. Normally, she’d probably have a hard time staying mad at someone like Clancy.
“Look, sweetheart.” He chuckled. “You go back to whatever it is you do all day and have fun with your kids. I’ll pad my tools with bubble wrap so you can relax.”
 “You are such a jerk.” She snapped.
“That’s quite an observation considering you just met me. Maybe you should give me a chance to actually be a jerk before you accuse me of such a heinous crime.” He toyed with a wrench.
Fondled? Stroked? Darn her writer’s brain. What was wrong with her? Lucy blew out a frustrated breath then rolled her eyes and stomped away. “Men.”

 (click on photo to order!)

One of my favourite characters in the Wild Blue Mysteries series is Leo Blue. I find it easy to put myself in his place to see what he sees and think what he thinks. Leo looks at life a little differently than most, which makes him a lot of fun to write and  great foil for Danny since he will say and do pretty much whatever he wants.
The scenes with Leo and Christina in The Bakery Lady were some of my favourite (and steamiest!) to write. I allowed my emotions to run wild and tried to take inventory as I wrote to capture the moment as realistically as I could. In fact, one of the best ways for me to develop a scene, is to write a rough draft then go back and "feel" the emotions and "live" the scene in my head. Here's one example:

Leo clenched his hands at his sides to keep from reaching out to push back the damp hairs off her neck for a better view of the butterfly. “You’re right, she is cute. And funny.”
She spun around and knocked a steel bowl full of cookie cutters off the counter. The bowl clanged on the painted concrete floor and rolled toward the oven while the cookie cutters clattered to the white tile floor. Her freckled elfin face was dusted with flour, some of which rose off her lips as she huffed. When she glared at Clancy, her eyes reminded Leo of the slate gray-green Himalayan Mountains at sunset. Her red lips shone like the juicy flesh of a watermelon. He’d forgotten how much he liked watermelon.
 (click on photo to order!)

 I find that the more I write, the more emotional my writing becomes as I become more connected to my characters and learn more about them. Currently, I am working on a new book in the series, The Painted Lady, which should be ready for release in 2017.

 All three of my Wild Blue Mysteries are available through Amazon & BWL as well as at Coles/Chapters/Indigo in Canada by special order!

On that note, let's move along to Beverley Bateman  and see how emotionally involved she gets in her writing!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Just a quick update...

After all that's happened in my life lately, I've decided it's high time I get back into my real work: Writing. I can't say I've actually had writer's block. I've had more like life block. Between work and illness, I tucked myself away into a cave and only came out to eat and go to work. Lately, however, the medications have made a huge difference and I've decided there has to be more and better.
So here I am again.

This spring I've sold my house and plan to move at then end of July with only one kid in tow. my youngest who is still in high school. My oldest is on his own. My middle son is going away to college. I'm downsizing and setting up the little office space I'd dreamed of for so long! 
I won't have to feel like I'm hiding in a closet or unable to hang my book covers on my walls. 
I won't feel like I have to give up my dream.
I will push forward no matter how much money I make or how many books I sell.
I won't stop writing or doing what I love to do.

After writing 6 books, none of which have become bestsellers, I'm still determined to write because I LOVE TO WRITE and because I have stories to tell and a gift to share. Recently the people I now work with discovered I'm a writer so now I have a whole new group of fans and they have reignited my enthusiasm. No more hiding. No more shame.

6 Books??? Wow. 
Wild Blue Mysteries:  The Bookstore Lady, The Mystery Lady & The Bakery Lady
Gilda Wright Mysteries:  Can't Keep a Brunette Down, Hardheaded Brunette, & Life is Better Brunette -- as well as a short Gilda story in Killer Beach Reads!

Stay tuned, fellow readers - and writers - big things are in store!
As I get back into doing what I love, I will be starting a newsletter. I will be doing more blogging. I will be writing more novels. 
All of this while I raise my kids, work crazy hours, move, and keep trying to regain my health after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Writing has been a huge part of that recovery. I journal, I'm studying to become an empowerment coach, and I am working on a new novel, or two, or three....

Either way, I'm NOT GIVING UP!

Watch for new blog posts:
June 25:  Round Robin Blog Fest, right here!!
July 3:     BWL Blog post @ Books We Love 
And for photos of my new office space coming in August!!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Becoming Real

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”

   For such a long time, I didn't feel real. 
   I felt like I was here simply to make everyone else happy and then I'd fade back into the wallpaper.
Even when each new book came out, it was a hollow celebration simply because I had someone in my life constantly telling me to give up. Why couldn't they be happy for me? 
  Why couldn't I be happy for me?
  Being a writer is in my blood. I have relatives who are writers, musician/songwriters, and storytellers. Why should I be any different?
  I have been a writer since as long as I can remember. Even as a child, I'd both write and tell stories.    As I grew up, I'd write short stories and poems (many of which my dad has turned into songs over the years!) I even started to write a novel about a rock band that I still have in my closet but have never tried to publish. I also still have some of my childhood stories, written in pencil, in a filing cabinet.
  It wasn't until I had three kids and joined a writing group that I became serious about writing and felt like I was on the right path in my life. A writing career was something I could work on while the kids grew up and I could be there for them, writing while they were in karate or at school.
  I won a writing contest and published my very first novella:  Murder on Manitou. Then, through a critique partner, I found and agent then a publisher (Books We Love Inc, a Canadian publisher) who turned my book The Bookstore Lady into reality. Once that was out of my system, the pressure to get a full-time job was on once more. Then I published book numbers three and four, The Mystery Lady and The Bakery Lady, with two more being planned.
  I was happy, but the more books I wrote and released, the more hollow the celebrations.
Then I started a whole new series and published two Gilda Wright Mysteries with Gemma Halliday Publishing, a US publisher. Can't Keep a Brunette Down and Hardheaded Brunette will soon be joined by the third in the series, Life is Better Brunette. On top of that, I am currently at work on a new book for Gemma Halliday called Steeped in Trouble.
  A friend recently told me I needed to find my self worth. 
  My self worth is in my creativity. My passion for the written word. Hoarding words on my book shelves and computer. Telling my stories to the world.
  Sharing the very thing that helps me to feel real. The one thing I refuse to give up, even when life is at its busiest and at its lowest low. My own little piece of happy.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Round Robin Blog Fest January 2016

Welcome to another installment of the Round Robin Blog Fest!

This month's topic: What are one (or two) writing projects you  want to accomplish this year? What will be any obstacles you might encounter?

This year I have two books on my schedule. The first is for a new book in the Danger Cove series by Gemma Halliday Publishing. My book is called Steeped in Trouble about a quaint tea house in Danger Cove and a woman who has recently divorced her philandering husband and battled cancer. She's looking for a fresh start and ends up with so much more.

The second book is the fourth in my Wild Blue Mystery series from Books We Love Ltd., The Painted Lady. I've had to set this series aside for a while to focus on another series, but Katie, Lucy and the gang will be back for another mystery set in Packham.

Obstacles? Yup, there are a few right now!

2015 was a long, crazy year for me. Between health issues, losing the job I enjoyed, and my marriage breaking down until hubby and I separated and he moved to the southern US right after Christmas for a new job. My writing suffered. My sanity suffered. My health suffered. I took a temporary job to make some money while I figure out what I want to do with my life now that things have flipped over completely. Since I still have 2 teenagers at home and an older son who lives away from home, life is extra busy with activities and their jobs. Just keeping track of our schedules is a full-time job!

January is my time for a deep breath and getting back on track.

Health:  I am looking for answers as to why I am in constant pain and what will give me relief - besides a big glass of wine now and then!  While I can no longer go on long walks in the woods, I can do easy yoga and aquafit. I can find ways to relax and declutter my environment as well as cleaning up my diet and losing a few pounds.

Job: I took a temporary job at a fast food place just because they're the only people who called me back when I applied all over the place. If I'd been smart, I would have taken a month or so off to just screw my head back on straight, but I was pushed by outside forces to "get a real job" and "take care of things." Unfortunately, those things didn't include ME. Mentally and physically, I need a job that has far less stress and I don't have to be on my feet moving and lifting for 8 hours a day. I'm off to the employment center to narrow down my search criteria and do what I want to do.

Romance:  I have a new love. ME. I need to take care of me the way I want to be taken care of. Making time to write, hang out with friends, and exercise are all a part of that. There's a great song right now called "Cheerleader" by Omi. My favorite lyrics from the song are the chorus:
Oh I think that I found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her

I used to think I needed someone else to be my cheerleader. Now I realize, I have to be my own cheerleader. I am the only one right there when I need someone.  Including with my writing. I need to clean up my work environment, bring my books and manuscripts out of the closet (literally) and into the open, and be my own cheerleader and manager.

No matter what direction my life takes in this New Year, I need to be my own best friend and take care of me.
And I need to get to work on those books!


Please drop by to find out what obstacles my fellow Round Robin writers are dealing with!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

2015 has been a long, hard road...

I've been really bad about posting to my blog for so many reasons this year. One of which has been my health, dealing with doctor appointments, MRIs, and test after test. My body has become inflamed and stiff with arthritis to the point I've had to give up karate classes and even walking long distances, both things I've loved to do for years. I've been unable to life things and even little things like doing laundry and housecleaning have become major ordeals. I've been left to do these things alone. Even before my husband decided to move on to take a job in another country. Once more, his career comes before his family's concerns or needs. The kids and I will have to find somewhere else to live and I will have to take a full time job. Working part time and writing has never been acceptable.

Yet, through it all I am trying hard to stay positive.

I have discovered aquafit classes and do them a couple times a week. Through doing these classes, I have also learned something wonderful. Little old ladies are amazing! A lot of the women I do class with are in their seventies and beyond. They are funny, they are thoughtful, and they have no shame about their bodies. It's very liberating to be in a room of women whose bodies have served them well and they are proud just to be there.

In all the issues I've faced over the past year, I've discovered something else I never knew.
I enjoy the company of other women and have learned a great deal from some amazing women thanks to one woman who has brought many of us together:  Crystal Andrus Morrisette. I won't go into a lot of detail about Crystal, but I will tell you she has a soothing voice and a wonderful way of looking at the world. In turn, she helps her students to look inward and learn more about how they appear and react in the world. I have been fortunate to take a couple telecourses with her and look forward to her January course as, hopefully, my life calms and the dust settles. I look forward to rebuilding my spirit and clearing the brush aside to find my life path once more.

Health-wise, I have a series of MRIs starting November 25th to see what is causing the debilitating pain in my right knee as well as my hips and spine. I see my rheumatologist in January to get answers. To find out what I am dealing with and what to do next, aside from changing medications. I want to be able to keep walking, with or without the meds at this point!

Writing-wise, my I am currently editing my 6th book for my agent and look forward to it's release in April 2016. I will also be working on 2 more books next year. Actually, I think a lot of great things will happen in 2016!

Whatever happens, I would love to continue to dance in the water with the lovely ladies at the pool.
I would love to will finally get that tattoo I designed years ago and have been too afraid to get because I never spent a lot of money on me.
I would love to will go back to school and learn the skills to help me help other women.
I would love to will move my kids and I to an apartment and seek to have a less stressful life.
I will keep writing and creating.
I will be more open to life and all it has to offer.
I will love me.
And I will learn the things I want to know and to show my kids that life goes on even when it feels like you're in a toilet bowl and swirling down fast...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Round Robin Blog Fest November 2015

Welcome to another session of the Round Robin Blog Fest!  
Fall has settled in and the Santa Claus parades have begun here in Canada. I have my Christmas lights up and this is the time of year I seek, not only gift ideas for family and friends, but ways to make life better for others. This year for Christmas, a friend of mine is helping someone gather enough winter hats, mittens, and socks for a homeless shelter. That was my most recent act of kindness that made me feel good, despite a lot of challenges in my own life right now.

Ironically, today's blog them is:  Tell when you either performed or received a random act of kindness that made your day better.

Right away, I thought of the best one that we've ever performed that ended up making a world of difference to a neighbour.  My kids don't exactly love to shovel snow, but they do love to do good deeds for others - a lot of the time without taking any credit - and not once have they ever asked for money. When we had a particularly heavy snowfall a few years ago, they went around and shoveled sidewalks for a few neighbours they knew could not do the chore for themselves. One of the men had recent health issues and we took it upon ourselves to clear his driveway through the day while he and his wife were at work. 

Flash forward three months later. I ran into this man at the local grocery store. I hadn't seen him over the winter, but my kids were very much on his mind. He had a story to tell that made my eyes fill with tears.

That particular day the kids had shoveled his driveway, he was in the hospital an hour away. His wife had spent part of the morning with him, most of her day at work, then a good part of the evening back at the hospital. By the time she was on her way home, it was very late at night and she was dreading having to shovel the driveway to get into her garage. She came home to a clear driveway and immediately burst into tears. She went into the house and called her husband to ask "who would do such a thing?" He had two neighbours in mind, but was very sure he knew who had done the deed. Three months later, he was able to let us know what a wonderful impact that random act of kindness had on he and his wife.

We have shoveled their driveway many times over the years, but none of those times have meant as much to the kids and I as that one winter storm.

Let's grab a cup of tea and shake off the winter chill as we stop by to see what Skye Taylor's favorite random act of kindness was all about!

Our Writers:
Diane Bator
Skye Taylor
Fiona McGier
Bob Rich
Marci Baun
Connie Vines
Rachael Kosinski
Hollie Glover
Judy Copek
Anne Stenhouse
Rhobin Courtright

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Halloween Round Robin Blog Fest October 24th

Happy Halloween!

This month's Round Robin Topic is:  Do you believe in angels, spirits, ghosts, demons or other ethereal beings or locations? What do you think when they appear in stories? Have you used them in your own stories?

Wow! Hard to believe it's already that time of year again. Halloween is one of my favorites. Every year I am involved with a Haunted Dojo (basically a fun Haunted House, but built in a karate school) and get to meet and greet dozens of trick-or-treaters. I love the magic of the holiday as well as the way we are able to suspend all belief in the way things "should be" for "what is possible." Including how we are more willing to think about spirits, ghosts and demons, even for just a couple of days.

I used to love to read stories of the paranormal and have actually edited a couple. A well written book of any sort can get me to suspend all belief in reality. Something spooky and logically done, could totally convince me it is all real. I have read one or two that made me want to keep the lights on at night. One of which was written by my friend Richard Goodship called "The Camera Guy."

While I have never used ghosts or demons in any of my own stories, I am currently writing a cozy mystery with a psychic as one of the minor characters. Watch for "Life is Better Brunette" coming out in Spring 2016!

And now for my own ghost story....


My mother-in-law passed away in October 2013 a day before my kids and I were meeting up with family in Collingwood, Ontario. Since it was difficult for us to get away to attend Grandma's funeral 2,000 miles away, we held our own memorial on the shores of Lake Huron with Grandma's favorite Tim Horton's coffee and timbits (donut holes!) We also bought a bright green star balloon to release over the lake as we said our goodbyes. 

The kids and I made a circle, said our goodbyes and released the full-to-bursting helium balloon to the elements. To our surprise, it didn't sail off into the sky as we expected. Instead, the balloon sank to the ground and bobbed toward the highway. We all started to laugh and cry at the same time. Grandma had a notorious bad sense of direction as well as being a bit of a joker and it seemed she wanted to get in one last laugh. We all shouted to the balloon - and Grandma - that she was going the wrong way and needed to go up over the lake into the sky. No word of a lie, the balloon did a 180 degree turn and rose up over the lake then disappeared into the clouds.

We tried again the next year on Mother's Day to launch one more balloon in her honor. My youngest son clutched the balloon in his hands, the long ribbon tied so tight around his hand he nearly cut off circulation. As we walked from our home to our launch site, a gust of wind came up out of the blue and ripped the balloon off the ribbon and right out of his hands. He was nearly in tears as we watched the balloon sail off over the trees and into the sky. Then we burst out laughing. Grandma was never one for sitting around feeling sad. She would have preferred to go for an ice cream cone and make the best of things. 
Which is exactly what we did...

Have a wonderful, wonderous Halloween and make your way over to visit Beverley Bateman to see what she has stirred up on her creative cauldron!! Be sure to check out the rest of our amazing authors as well!

Marci Baun
Margaret Fieland
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
A.J. Maguire
Fiona McGier
Heather Haven
Bob Rich
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Hollie Glover
Rachael Kosinski
Connie Vines
Skye Taylor
Rhobin Courtright