Friday, December 30, 2011

Give Aways Galore - The New Years Hop!

2012 is almost upon us.  I hope you're all as excited for the new year as I am.  I think this year is going to be fantastic.  Call it intuition, call it stepping away from reality - call it whatever you want.  I'm throwing the good vibe out there.  2011 was the year of working hard and putting foundations in place both in my personal life and in my writing.  I'm hoping 2012 will be the year for all of us to enjoy success in whatever our endeavors because - hey, it's  The Year of the Dragon

...And while you're here - let's get to the give away....
Enter to win a first edition, hard copy of Stephen King's "The Tommyknockers".  

There are two ways to enter:
1)  A comment on any post on this blog gets you one entryLimit one entry via comments.
2)  For an additional three entries - Include, at the end of your comment the word newsletter to sign up for my newsletter "The Walkabout" - which only occasionally, 3 or 4 times a year, arrives in your inbox with my author news and some entertaining stories, facts or other contests. 
And if you're already a subscriber - no worries and thanks - enter newsletter along with your comment and you'll get your three entries.
Make sure that if your profile link doesn't have an e-mail address, that you include it!

And when you're done - start hopping to all the blogs listed below that all have a prize of their own.  Hop like crazy from now through January 3 and good luck!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Memories of Christmas Passed

The remains of Christmas lay everywhere.  From the half eaten cheese ball that someone forgot to put in the refrigerator that has now hit the garbage bin, to the bag of wrapping paper that needs to head back down to the basement for a twelve-month rest.  The evidence that Christmas has passed on by is everywhere.

But it's on my walk where I see some more interesting remnants of Christmas.

First, there's the nativity scene that decorates a garbage bin.  Now, that alone wouldn't be so interesting except for the fact that the occupants of that house are nuns and their only outside decorations seem to be that garbage bin.

Then there's the sign - freshly put out, I know for there isn't a day I don't walk this route.  I'm more regular than the mail carrier for they at least take Saturday and Sunday off. But the sign - "Found One Large Brown Dog,"that's new and it makes me stop.  Apparently there were some unexpected gifts under someone's tree.  It leaves me to hope that the poor chap - the large brown dog, found his home because he's obviously not in the home of dog people.  For dog people would have had a more accurate description - part lab, all poodle, curly, chestnut colour, appears to love chips - friendly or he's snarling in our back yard or...

And the ending to this year's Christmas, click here if you missed it all.  Well, my niece, in her youthful exuberance, thought that it ended in grand fashion.  Of course, she was not the one sliding through the mess in her Christmas socks.  Instead she was in charge of keeping the too young and the too old out of the mess.  A rather fun job - when all it involved was a cue stick and a game or two or three of pool.  So I think I may pass on her request for another unexpected ending for next year - not unless she's talking about something a little easier to clean up - like fireworks.

So Christmas 2011 - is done.  All that's left are the leftovers - boxes of chocolates at every corner.  And I don't know about you but I'm done too - at least for the next day or two.

It's in the little things - that the kernels for another story slowly arise.  


The Give Away Hop for New Years 2012 is only days away.  Check back because not only will I have other links to blogs with great prizes - at Once Upon a Time... there will be a chance to win a first edition hard copy of Stephen King's The Tommyknockers.  It all starts December 30!

Monday, December 26, 2011

It Was All Too Much - For the Christmas Socks!

My Christmas socks have survived many Christmases and are my second favourite pair of socks next to my Halloween socks.  And then it happened...

Christmas day started fine with a visit to my fave aunt.  And it continued right through an afternoon visit with another group of family - then, move on to the evening, and another family group.  Yes, three houses - one day, no one said Christmas was for the faint of heart!  But it's all fun.  At least it was right through Christmas supper and into that first game of pool and then, well, then the Christmas socks met a fate they didn't expect.

A plumbing nightmare - on Christmas night, is, while not worst case scenario - it's sure up there.  Sewer backups are not what anyone wants to think about.  In fact, it definitely puts a bit of a damper on the ho ho ho.  More like yuk yuk yuk.  And as far as a family bonding experience, I wouldn't recommend it.  But we survived the night - but first we put the plumber in the phoning queue.

Sadly, I have to report - the socks did not, survive - it was just all, too much. 

Hope your holidays are holding up a tad better than my socks!

And the New Year's Blog Hop - is only days away...
Tons of blog give aways and I'll be announcing with tomorrow's what this blog's prize will be!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Revenge of the Christmas Tree

It seems with the days running out until Christmas, New Years, a mitt full of birthdays, a story deadline and...did I forget when I really get my second wind.  The end on my latest story has powered up and finally decided to make it over the finish.  Something about, there's only so much time left (my own deadline of course), that really gets me going.  And it's not just that one book that finally kicked into gear and began trundling over the finish line.

I've done it!  The Christmas Tree (tree is capitalized because I sense for all it's lack of size, it demands it) is finally up.  And in our house - that's a big feat.  So big in fact, that everyone else took a nap until the task was done.

But I finally wrestled it out of the basement (not that it's of any size that I could brag about that match).  Of course it had the last laugh.  Doesn't it always?  And as always, it was in regards to the Christmas lights.  They never go on properly.  I should upgrade, I know.  But if I do change out the lights that means the tree goes and I suspect that this particular tree - well, it just might come back.

Okay, seriously, maybe not but I've gotten rather fond of the little "Charlie Brown" creature.  See, it almost feels like it's alive even though it's the most fake of fake.  No name yet - I haven't gone over the edge on trees, yet.  

 I suppose I can console myself with the thought that David Suzuki would be proud.  It definitely doesn't reek of commercialism.  In fact, I'm not quite sure if it reeks of anything. 

So with four days left until Christmas I'm finally in the mood and decorating.  And it's really rather nostalgic as I pull out decorations and am reminded of a friend who passed away way too early and gave me a Christmas decoration each Christmas.  Maybe she was trying to tell me something.  And I can only guess what it might be and wish she were here.  I suppose that's some of the lure of this time of year - the joy meshed with the memories.  For my memories of her are good, and while a little sad, it feels right to remember.

But now it's back to the moment.  The Christmas tree is happily alight and there's one last present to wrap.  I got a little crazy with the glue this year.  Yep, no just tape and ribbon for me.  Not when there's craft glue, streamers and fake rhinestones available. I suppose my tree doesn't say much - or maybe it says a lot, but the gift wrap.... now that says everything.

As I peel my sock from my foot and wipe off the glue that stuck it there in the first place I ask - what gets you motivated?


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Touch That Keyboard And I'll Hack Your Fingers Off

I unwrapped the garland from around my neck and pulled a piece of tape off the bottom of my foot and hobbled to my computer with a half-wrapped present in hand only to find this - "It's My Story Touch it and Die!"

Okay - possibly it wasn't that drastic but the other day I was foraging - yes, I love that term.  It sounds rather like you were wandering through a meadow instead of doing what I was really doing which was cruising the web.  And there I ran into the topic of editing. 

I was surprised to read how many aspiring writers were sure that to remain true to their own voice they should not liberally edit.  Now, I suppose liberally editing isn't a good thing but sometimes one has to rip and tear at a story to find the heart of it - what was good in the beginning that got lost in the fog of the actual writing.   But I was seeing no such inclinations instead there were comments like:
"I know the characters intimately and this is their story."
"Editing will destroy the voice."
"You're the author.  It's your story."
"If you listen to everyone you'll never stop editing."

Yikes, as a reader I sure hope you're editing and a lot. I've read more books than I want to count that could have used a liberal editor. Too bad they didn't get one and as a result I more than likely won't pick up that author's books again.

Edits. As a reader I'll thank you.

Open to other views.

If you want to succeed, you have to be open to edits, ideas and sometimes - that means a whole lot of rewriting.  It's still your story - it's still the characters' story.  But I'm betting if you hold the old up against the new you'll see a much stronger copy than you had the first time around.

Ripping a story apart isn't a bad thing. In fact, sometimes - I'd actually call it fun.

New Year's Blog hop is only days away!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

You Sold How Many Books?

The other day I ran into "the one".  You know the one?  The one author who wrote the book - and it soared through the ceiling that marks best seller from the others.  The author who not only broke that ceiling but went on to launch a few rockets into the stratosphere of sales.  It gets better though, let's up the ante.  Not only did the book do all that and, of course, win an award but it was self-published.  But back to self-published - think of it - after operation costs - all that lovely cash yours, no royalty splits for anything or anyone.  While I still want the conventional publisher - it's the sales that had me slack-jawed.  Twenty-thousand books sold - well above the five thousand required in Canada to be a best seller.  Good thing this author was a talker because I was speechless

So while I gathered my wits, the author says to me - they'd like to do better - better, as in crack the US market.  Yes, you read right - numbers like that and they'd only focused on the Canadian market.   That brought forth the question - what was my experience in the US market.  It was rather a reverse case scenario - although my numbers in sales can't even compare.  I remember in the early days, when my first book was published, trying to determine the best way to crack another market, the Canadian.  Yes, I am a Canadian writer published by an American small press which is an anomaly that Canadian bookstores are mostly not prepared to work with - but that's, another story.  Anyway, as I remembered my trials, I realized that I did indeed have information that might help.

Back to the author in front of me who was commanding a book signing - one of many in the past year, and while I felt pleasure at their success, it also shadowed the not-best seller status of my own endeavors and those of the majority of other authors.  Most of us never get the extra zero required to make anyone's bestseller list or to take sales into the thousands - not the small press and indie authors and that's not for lack of trying.

I won't deny this author's sales success - in another life they should have been a salesperson.  Of course, in this life, I guess they are.  I know they sold a book to me.  A book that I normally wouldn't have bought.  But I'm a sucker for that, author signings - I can't leave the author alone as most of them are, of course, this author does not fall into the most category.  And as the American Idol saying goes - Good on Them.

This author reminded me of two things - the importance of having a reader platform and the importance of believing in your self and selling yourself.  You're not just an author - you're a salesperson and until you learn that last role - barring luck, the latest replacement to the Oprah show, a dazzling story that receives instant recognition and an awesome marketing department, those extra zeros are just never going to happen.  I tell myself that this author had an advantage - and they do.  In this case there was an existing platform, a person who was known by many in the province and thus the word of mouth game snowballs.  But all that would not hold for long if this wasn't a good story combined with a fine job of working hard and selling yourself.  It was a motivational encounter - really - and reminded me that to succeed you've got to reach high because while there's no guarantee of getting to the top, reaching is definitely going to take you a step higher than where you are.

So good luck I say to said author as I leave with a signed copy of the first of a series under my arm.   But I really don't know if they need luck for they've found the truth sooner than most of us. 

No matter what your goal - sweat isn't just the domain of athletes.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dog Sleds, Igloos and Books

I have a secret.  I hate to admit it, as a book junkie it's rather shameful, but here it is.  There are books that I have owned for years that I have never read.  Books as in plural - yes, I'm trying to catch up.  But there was a time when my collecting capabilities exceeded my reading speed.  Not that I was ever a slow reader - let's just say my fingertips had glue when it came to books.  I collected - admired - shelved and forgot to read.  Because, like a kid with too many toys, there was always that latest book.  Now, as a writer I'm hanging my head at that admission.

So this week I was going through shelves, pulling out books and dividing up keepers from those that aren't keepers and need to find new homes and new readers.  And I am discovering books that I have always meant to read but never have. 
Not exactly the Artic - A prairie winter.

Nunaga was one of those books.  I'm embarrassed to say I've had it for longer than I've had the current house.  Which, let me tell you is many years.  I never cracked the cover of the book.  So I picked it up and opened its well-worn cover and was pleasantly surprised.  It's the true life account of a young man's career move to the Canadian Artic in the 1950's.  There are great places in this book where you get a look at life as it was - at the Artic when the Inuit still built igloos and dogsleds were still the primary mode of transport, at a point when everything was on the brink of change - and it's fascinating.

But it gets even more so when I mention to my mother that I'm finally reading the book she passed on to me to read with the assurance I could keep it.  She then tells me that the book has an unusual connection.  The book arrived in my mother's hands because a friend of my grandmother's was related to the author.  Now only an author could be excited by the unique route a book may take to get into the hands of a reader.  Even years after publication - it's still fascinating stuff, really.

But back to the path of how this particular book made it's journey through the hands of one of the most unique individuals I have ever met to finally find its way to my bookshelf.  It originally belonged to a market gardener in the Qu'Appelle Valley.  He was a Scottish immigrant, a widower who had befriended my grandmother and visited her often.  I remembered that I loved his laid back easy style but I also remember my grandmother bemoaning the fact that he was really not the man of her dreams.  In fact sometimes I think she preferred not to have him sitting on her couch for fear he might get it dirty.

But what can you expect from a literally "down to earth" long-ago widowed market gardener who has been living alone on a prime piece of land in cottage country without a single modern amenity including water.  Water - well, he pumped the water from the lake.  What he used for washing, you know as a child I never thought about it and I never asked.  I know he had electricity but no television.  And I remember his furniture was that old-fashioned, over-stuffed, stiff cushioned variety with intricately carved but well worn wooden arms - from generations ago. But all that is a sidebar to the stories he would tell.  And he topped it all off with his stories of "coming over" as he called immigration.   I remember he ran that market garden until well into his nineties.

With that one book, I expected a journey into the past, and another culture - never did I expect to touch the edges of my childhood.   Any unexpected moments in your day?


Friday, November 25, 2011

Last Day of a Big GiveAways

Head on over to Small Blogs, Big GiveAways and check out the awesome contest going on there.  It's the last day to take part in a hop that has all sorts of bookish prizes including an e-copy of one of my books; From the Dust.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Drive Like You Stole It?

Today I was out on my usual walk - which, I have to say was a heck of a lot more tolerable than it's been the last few days.  The temperature has finally risen and the wind has kicked down a notch or two.  Looks like winter-like weather may ease off for the next few days.

So five minutes into the walk - I see this on someone's truck:

Drive Like You Stole It.

Moon cast in orange - a rare sight.
Okay, that's a phrase to make anyone stop and take notice.  Stole it?   My mind flashes forward to how I envision stolen vehicles are handled, never mind, that I've never driven one - stolen that is.  I imagine that if I did - and hey I could, in fiction that is - it would be wild, fast and crazy because, well - I'm assuming laws aren't really in the forefront of a car thief's mind.  So I assess said truck and think, odds are not stolen so driving your truck like a crazy person is just - crazy.  Yes, all those thoughts whipped through my head but then I settled down and yes, I got with the program.  Okay, I got it.  Be a little wild, break the rules, go for it - have some fun. 

Was I a little wild - not the last few days.  I've had some fun though and I did spring out of the box, for a while.  Does that count for something?

Wait, it seems in my writing I'm always doing that - springing out of the box that is.  I broke the rules and genre hopped a bit.  First I wrote a historical romance - which I loved writing and was my entry into the published world.  The research, well I almost never surfaced from that, I loved it so much, and I was sure I found my genre.  Than I headed to the second historical romance which somehow veered into the land of paranormal.  So I did it again.  Of course, I justify all this in that the paranormal has major historical elements in it.   But onward I trundled, or is that wrote - and followed it all up with romantic suspense or two.  I discovered I love writing suspense, love modern day and far away settings but one other thing - I love issues.  So in one "small' veer,  I recently headed into the land of Women's Fiction.  But that's a story for another post, somewhere down the road.

Then I thought, maybe all of that isn't so strange.  Because as a reader, my tastes are every bit as eclectic.  I'm reading "Hangman's Daughter" and "Nuanga" along with a Stephen King short story - all on the go.

Beck Valley Books Weekly Book Blog HopReally, I think in life as in writing - we have many interests.  Me, I have one constant, the stories are always primarily a woman's journey, throw in a bit of suspense, a bit of drama, mayhap a romance along the way and sometimes (insert a blank page here) - hey, I'm not giving it all away.  Not just in books but in life - drive like you stole it.

Into joining in the fun of a contest or two?  Check out Beck Valley Books, where they're holding the Weekly Book Blog Hop. 

And you - do your tastes in literature remain true to genre or...?


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Turn Your Day On Its Head? Why?

The snow and cold has settled in over the last week.  Heading out for my walk, the first thing I noticed was that there are still flowers blooming in the front flower bed.  How is it possible for petunias to still have blooms with snow pushing into their space and the temperature not cracking zero in many days?   I know, next year, get petunias - they might be zoned hardy but this is ridiculous.  They'll survive anything.

This morning I was up earlier than usual - headed for cereal rather than anything that added an extra five minutes preparation time and five minutes less away from my keyboard.  But the day began in a strange way.  I lost chapter nine.  Not even lost, more that it had never existed.  How is that possible to have a story with over thirty-nine chapter and no chapter nine?

And this is all before nine a.m.  

Kind of feels like the day my ad got punted from e-bay.  Did Chapter 9 suffer the same problem? 

Maybe, maybe not but - Yes, I had my only ever seller's ad punted from e-bay and here's how it happened.   Apparently, you can't sell three concert tickets and group them in a bundle that looks like they under the legal selling price - it wasn't but that's another story.  Suffice it to say - I am not in their black books.   But they were having no part in posting those particular tickets.

So since then I've skirted e-bay.  That, and I don't think I want to be shipping anything of any weight further than the outskirts of the city - clear across the continent, maybe not.  Anyway, since the basement has been renovated, all those forgotten items that were stored away in dark corners and cupboards have come to life.  And they have been the catalyst to scrounge elsewhere, like the corners of the garage.  Yesterday, I said goodbye to a set of tires that fit a car I no longer own and a collection of "antique" pictures.  It was kind of sad really, about the antiques (should I bracket antiques in quotes - were they really antiques?)  I'd saved them for years thinking they were special, maybe a find for the Antiques Road Show.  But alas, the other day I came to my senses and discovered that all they were really worth was a supper out, and not a fancy one either.  I wasn't going to buy the island of my dreams with my "yet to be discovered" antiques.

And on the upside to all that so-so news, one of my fave authors, Stephen King, is giving an interview on CBC radio's program Q this morning.   Stephen King is by far my favourite living author.  I read him back when I was a teenager.  Back then, after Nancy Drew horror was the natural progression.  He's the author in whose footsteps I so badly wanted to follow when I was seventeen - that was until I grew up and discovered the size of his feet - figuratively speaking, of course.  So there you go, that's why everything today begins early - I've got to be back from my walk with the dog and parked by my radio at ten this morning.   An interview with Stephen King in real time, that makes up for bad weather, missing chapters and maybe even that e-bay infraction.  If you miss the interview, I know there's the podcast, but there's just something about real time.

Anyone you'll never meet, that you'd rearrange your schedule for?

And before I close - happy graduation day to a good friend that just flew across the country to 
accept her well-earned diploma!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Scream Autumn All You Want - It's Winter!

The first day of a snow dump is not what I'd call my favourite day of November.  But from the looks of things, the snow is here to stay.  I woke up to snow and it's still snowing.  There's something about being face to face with snow after months of absence that just makes you cold, even though the temperature inside hasn't fluctuated. 

No matter what the calendar says - for me, this is it.  Winter is here.  And between that and the weather, I'm thinking about escape and we've laid some tentative plans.  A road trip, south to begin with, far enough that the white stuff hasn't reached.  Not a long trip - just one that gets some new scenery and some better weather for a week or two.   After that, we'll see where the road takes us. 

Meantime - click here for a raft of giveaways to chase away any blues in your day. 

Any escape plans in your future?


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spooktakular Blog Hop Update

The Spooktakular Blog Hop has ended.  I'm rather sorry to say that because then I also have to admit that Halloween is over and November has begun.

On the upside - there's still no snow.  At least not here on the prairies.  I know other parts of the continent have been subjected to some fairly wicked weather.  It's unusual here not to have had at least a smattering of the white stuff.  In fact when I was looking back I remembered one blog post that recorded a fall storm that actually was marked as a snow day.  That's not usual here where snow is the norm at least five months of the year.  I kind of wish I hadn't said that, snow.  Do you suppose I may have vexed the universe, hastened it's arrival, shaken the order of things?

Here's hoping not.

Meantime, there's some celebrating to do as the Spooktakular Blog Hop ends and a winner needs to be announced.  Congratulations to the winner of the prize (a copy of the books; Ring of Desire, Gerald's Game and Beatrice and Virgil) here at Once Upon a Time... is:


Thanks to everyone who commented, followed and/or signed up for my newsletter.  


Monday, October 31, 2011

Blood And Bone - A Virtual Book Tour

Today is the first day of a virtual book tour for the book - Blood and Bone.  Author, Dawn Brown is not only presenting her latest novel but providing a give away of a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader who leaves a comment over the course of the tour.

Blood and Bone - comes with a product warning.  I'm not sure if that means one is supposed to bring out a scotch warmed with the flavours of peat and all things Scottish before reading or...  But I digress, only because Dawn has been kind enough to tell us about Scotland.

So without further ado - here is Dawn Brown on the first day of her virtual tour with her recently released book, Blood and Bone

Dawn's first sojourn into storytelling began when she was nine.  She would rather invite neighborhood kids into her garage and regale them with ghost stories, believing even then that atmosphere played an important role in a good story.

Dawn has a diploma in journalism, but found herself pursuing a career in computer leasing.  After the birth of her son, she gave up the corporate world to be a mom and write full time, trading in her dreary cubicle for a dreary room in the attic.  Now Dawn spends her days creating dark, romantic mysteries with edgy heroes, clever heroines and villains she hopes will keep her readers sleeping with the light on.

I asked Dawn to tell us about a trip that changed her.  Any trip, across the globe or just a short jaunt to her local grocery story.  Here's Dawn's spin on -

Life hasn't been quite the same since...

When I was twenty-four, I went to Scotland with  my mother and grandmother.  Most people thought I was nuts making a trip like that with my grandmother.  I thought it was a great idea.  I was not well travelled, after all.  The only other time I'd been out of the country was a school trip to Washington DC when I was in eighth grade.  My grandmother made this trip Scotland, where she'd grown up, to visit her sisters every other year.  She would be able to show me everything I wanted to see.  Besides, I loved my grandmother.  She told funny stories and baked me a chocolate cake every year for my birthday.  

I was right.  My grandmother was great at making sure I got to see all the touristy sites.  Our first day in Edinburg, we climbed Arthur's Seat.  It's a small grass covered mountain in the middle of the city.  At the top, we took a rest looking out over the Firth of Forth, and she told me about playing on Arthur's Seat when she was a little girl, and how one of her friends turned up with her baby sister in a stroller.  All the kids playing there thought it would be a great idea to let the stroller go rolling down from the top--without baby sister in it, of course.  By the time the stroller hit the bottom it was just a crumpled ball.

We went to Edinburg Castle where my grandmother and her friends--who I was beginning to picture like the Little Rascals--would play hide and seek until security tossed them out.  Then Holyrood Palace where she and her friends stood on the fence trying to catch a glimpse of the future queen playing in the garden.

We passed the shop where my grandmother worked when she met my grandfather.  She was fifteen and he was fourteen.  We ate ice-cream at the parlor across from the church where grandparents were married just before the war ended.  

And then it hit me.  All these places we were visiting weren't merely tourist attractions, but places and moments from my grandmother's history.  I saw her differently then.  As a person.  She wasn't just a sweet old lady who baked and told stories.  For the first time, I saw her as a woman who had lived and loved and lost just like I had.  Just like I would.

She passed away seven years ago and I still miss her.  I imagine I always will.  But I will forever be grateful for that trip together.  I'm not sure I would have ever gained that same insight without it.


The deeper they dig into the past, the closer they come to a killer.  

Crime writer Shayne Reynolds is looking for the next book that'll get her out of her parents' basement and on track to rebuilding her life.  She's found it in Robert Anderson, a confessed murderer who's out on parole.  Something's never added up about that case. 

From the moment she sets foot in Dark Water, nothing goes as planned.  Anderson's family wants her to drop the story--especially surviving son Des.  A man who ignites sizzling heat even as he stands firmly in her way.

Laboring under his father's crushing legacy and his grandmother's iron resolve to get rid of the nosy writer at any cost, Des struggles to save the self-destructive sister who once saved him.  There's something honest and forthright about Shayne, though, that tempts him to help her get to the truth.  Even if it means double-crossing his powerful grandmother.

Despite their resolve to keep it strictly business, sexual sparks quickly set fire to tangled emotions.  And threads of a fragile bond that someone with a vendetta could use to weave their death shroud...

Product Warning:  This story contains a feisty writer, a sexy younger man and a 
mystery with enough twists and turns to cause vertigo.

Excerpt from Blood and Bone:
 The sucking slop of footsteps in wet mud rose from the surrounding black.  The hair on the back of her neck bristled, and a chill tickled along her spine.

Was it Hudson coming back to finish her off?  Tic?

What was she doing standing around here anyway?  A woman, alone, late at night, on a deserted country road, during a thunderstorm?  The scene had slasher flick written all over it.

She started for the driver's side door, but a low moan rose up from the darkness.  The wind?  Had to be.  Still, she picked up her pace.

The moan came again, louder this time.  Shayne stopped and turned.  A dark, hunched figure staggered toward her.

"Christ."  She gripped the door handle and yanked open the door.

The stooped outline lurched in front of her single headlight, and the glare illuminated the ugliest Hawaiian shirt she'd ever seen.  Relief swamped her like a tidal wave, turning her muscles soft for the second time in one night.  The feeling, however, was short-lived.  He might not have been the homicidal maniac she'd imagined, but the jerk had scared the life out of her.  And all because he was staggering drunk.  Even from this distance, the smell of beer was nearly overpowering.

As he pitched forward, the light cast a ghostly pallor over his face.  Dark smudges beneath his left eye, along his lip and circling the edges of each nostril stood out from the stark whiteness of his skin.


He wasn't just drunk, he was hurt.

Are you as intrigued by Blood and Bone as I am?  Get to know the author, ask questions, or just leave your thoughts on the book or the author.  Each commenter will be entered for a chance to win a prize of a $20 Amazon gift card  that Dawn will provide on a random draw at the end of her tour.

And, if you still have questions about Dawn - head over to her website at
or follow her tour; next stop, Reading Romances on November 1.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween - Stop By - Meet an Author - Enter to Win!

October 31 I'll be hosting author Dawn Brown and her new book, a romantic suspense "Blood and Bone"!  What an awesome title to feature on Halloween.  It's not just the title that got me but the fact that the book comes with its own "product warning". Stop by tomorrow to find out more, meet Dawn and enter for a chance to win a prize.  Over the course of her book tour one commenter will win a $20 Amazon gift certificate.  If you stop by and comment - that winner might just be you!

It's all happening here, tomorrow - at Once Upon a Time...  Hope to see you then!

So the big question - are you dressing up for Halloween or just answering the door dressed as self?
Me - I'm still contemplating that question.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spooktakular Giveaway Blog Hop

I love the fact that Halloween has become an event!  It used to be a one day affair. That was it. But over the years more and more people are getting into it and that's pretty fantastic. I know I've blogged about Halloween before - yep, probably every year. So I won't go on about it this year.

Instead, drum roll... Here's the first of this week's events - a blog hop give away. 

Spooktakular Giveaway Blog Hop
Yes, below is a mega list of blogs, including mine, who are hosting a give away. From now through October 31 you can hop from blog to blog and enter at any and all of them for a chance to win any number of great prizes.

Start here by entering for a chance to win a collection of books that includes:

Ring of Desire (my latest book, complete with bookmark.  It's a paranormal romance great for the season)
And two hard cover books:
Gerald's Game (Classic Stephen King - what better for Halloween?) 
Beatrice and Virgil (A Canadian literary novel that made a splash just last year).

How to enter (choose option one and/or two for a possible total of three entries):
1.  Leave a comment at any of my posts on this blog.  Make sure you include your e-mail address.  You're then entered for one chance to win.
2.  For two additional entries - Sign up for my newsletter by sending me an e-mail at  Make sure to enter newsletter in the subject line.  If you're already a newsletter subscriber, no problem - just let me know to collect your extra chances to win.  

Now head on over to the next blog on the list below and 
the next great give away!  
Good luck - and happy hopping!

My favourite Halloween costume?  I know, you didn't ask and I'm going to tell you anyway.  Aside from costumes I've worn over the years, I'd have to say my fave costume was the four foot zombie that arrived at my door - no mask, full makeup, very realistic.   

What was your favourite costume?


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tender Is The Night - A Nanowrimo Project

With "Tender is the Night" F. Scott Fitzgerald gave us both a fantastic title and the classic story that followed.  That being said, I am also a little annoyed with what I recently read, that he may have wrote it in six weeks.  That's not rough draft.  Apparently it was six weeks to good draft and submission to his publisher.  I'm hoping what I read was wrong. 

Six weeks.  

There is no justice in the world.  Not only did he write beautifully, he wrote ridiculously fast and he wasn't the only one.  Apparently Hemingway finished "For Whom The Bell Tolls" in six weeks too.

How is this possible I ask self?

How is this even fair?

I really hope those researchers had their facts wrong.  And if they do - I suppose it might make me feel better.  Might.  Of course, whether those books were written in six weeks or twelve or even twenty-four it would still be an amazing feat. 

So where does that leave me?

Yes, I can write that fast.  I proved it when I finished Nanowrimo with a complete novel and did it more than once.  That was a novel in four weeks.  Wait - that description of novel is fairly loose.  It was a rough first draft and in none of it's incarnations would it ever rate a classic.  I dream, of that some day - just not the books written on that day.  Those books were gaping canopies of stories that required more revision than the initial thought it required to write them.  Good - as a learning tool, definitely.  As a way to write all novels?  Possibly not.

But it was fun and I don't discount any of the effort put into a Nanowrimo novel.  And, yes, I encourage all you stalled or struggling writers out there - go do Nanowrimo.  It will get the fire lit under your butt and you may just have a novel at the end of it. 

But that's not me - not Nanowrimo - not this year.  The way things have been going I'd really like to take November off.  It's been a busy summer and fall.

With the shortening days, I'm usually up more than an hour before there's a hint of light outside.  That's when I carve out quality writing time - in the early morning, before the world awakens and discovers they can access me by phone or internet or good-old fashioned shouts. 

It's six o'clock in the morning.  I've already been working for half an hour. The house is in darkness - daylight hasn't even given a small burp or even a gurgle.  The furnace has kicked in a number of times already as the Prairies have settled into that pre-winter chill.

I began ridiculously early today - early even for me.  Why?  For one I'm making up time.  A family commitment has me on the road today and whether I pick commitment A or B - on the road again tomorrow.  That's two lost days.  I'm close to the finish line and determined to get this novel done.  Maybe I should quit pushing because soon I can just sit back and savour victory.  I made it to the first finish line.  And crazily already I'm stretching, thinking of the next novel. 

I really need to put less caffeine in that coffee. 

Any craziness in your life?


Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

Today is give a shout out for the blogs you follow.  There's many that I follow but the mandate is to list only three.  I love every blog I follow.  So for today here is three - randomly chosen, random, just to be fair but everyone one of them good.

Marcia Colette
Marcia's blog will take you into the heart of taking the reins of writing into your own hands.  Watch as this intrepid writer takes you into her world, embraces the creepier side of writing, and tells it, pretty much exactly like as it is.

Home for Dinner
Like to cook or just eat?  Amy Jo Ehman's blog takes you into the world of cooking with just food available locally on the prairies.  But even if that's not your thing - every post has a story that's just a joy to read.

Lisa Magnus Lange: The Sassy Scribbler
Lisa's blog takes you into her everyday world with a twist that makes it all feel like a grand adventure.

That's my shout out for the day.  So carry on and check these blogs out and then go on and discover other great blogs:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Take a Sledgehammer to the Problem?

Yesterday I was over at my mother's helping her get a compost heap torn down.  Her first suggestion was that I use a sledge hammer.  My thought - I don't know how helpful a tool that I can barely lift is going to be.  Instead I used a hammer and crowbar - much more manageable.

Sometimes the most difficult problem is addressed with a simple tool.  I wish the horror movie I just watched had followed this strategy.  Instead they went for the most outlandish solution to the problem.  Why is it that we allow film to take this shortcut?  Why do we keep buying in and buying that ticket.  While horror is often about happenings that just wouldn't occur in the real world, they're supposed to be believable.  There's a whole audience courting period that gets us to that place where we'll accept where the story is going - at least there should be.  But that doesn't seem to be happening, at least too often for my liking - we're expect to believe the most unbelievable without anything to help us choke it down.


I mean, we the viewers must allow it because they do it over and over again.  The most unbelievable option is the one they choose every time.  I mean this time I was even saying - no don't do it.  You wouldn't.  No character can be that stupid.  Yep, they were and they did. This movie even went a step further than that - let's take the obvious and make that the solution.  Maybe that was the simplicity of their solution it was both outlandish and obvious.  How hard is it to combine those two options.  But I've completely veered.  The topic was the outlandish and not, well the other.

There were so many other ways to go that would have made this movie so much better - believable and as a result, much more frightening.  Why didn't they go there?  My thought is time.  It's easier and faster to be outlandish because once you're over the top you've surpassed boundaries.  With the rule book thrown out you just forge ahead with no thought to logic.  Okay, maybe not that easy but you know what I mean.

Simpler is better - I don't care what Hollywood thinks.  Just look at the compost heap.  It's down - and I didn't take the fence with it.  As I might have had I used the sledge hammer.

Simple isn't an option just for movies maybe I'll just bear that in mind as I bring another story to the end.

Meantime - Don't forget to check in on October 24 for the blog hop.  There are going to be hundreds of prizes up for grabs on as many blogs.  Begin here at Once Upon a Time... and join the fun!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Spider of Doom

Dear Mimi A:

I'm so sorry for your recent plight.  A health crisis I believe you mentioned.  Fairly serious you said as well.  A health crisis that has forced you to ask me for money to help you out.  Your name seems familiar to me - not in a friend or family kind of way but in that you may have hit my inbox once before. 

I kind of have a soft spot for Mimi.  Maybe it's the name or maybe it's just because I actually liked Mimi's attempt at fereting money better than more recent attempts which were notifications of computer accessories that used a different name with each notification.

Yes, Mimi A has been what I called the spider of doom or the message in my inbox that immediately gets trashed and deleted.  She's there only because I had spam turned off for a time - a necessity sometimes depending on what author related activity I'm involved in.  But that's beside the point - the point, well, Mimi A.

E-mail spam, phone spam - seems the world is swimming in it.

Mimi, well I had some sympathy with her plight, dealing with a horrid disease in a country brutalized by war - I mean I had sympathy if I had believed her plight to be real.  Of course, there was no reality to the situation and even if there were - sorry.

Unfortunately I suspect this type of solicitation has worked in the past or it wouldn't continue.  I don't know who and I can't fathom how but it disturbs me that that is more than likely the case.  For me, the only thing it's managed to do is make me cynical to any and all.  A legitimate request from anyone, including my mother, via e-mail - well it would have to be verified by a face to face confirmation.   Okay, maybe it's not that bad.  After all there are people I know and trust that I have never met in person.  That's the nature of the writing business.  But...  That circle of people is small and it's tight.  And I don't send them money either. 

And I know, people you are saying again, as in the last time I griped about the unwanted solicitors, that I should get a spam filter.  I have one, like I said it was eased for a time but it will be back on duty soon.  In the meantime, I have to admit that I admire the creativity, misguided and amateurish as it is.  Maybe there's a story here - just one more e-mail and I'll pull the plug.

So Mimi, if you're listening - make the last e-mail good.  I want a story!  And no - sorry, I don't even have some empty bottles to send you to collect the refund.  I'm saving those for the boy scouts.

Halloween is in the air - any spiders of doom in your world?  Or am I the only one with a gripe today?


Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving up here in the great white north.  A time for celebration that has beginnings that are tied to historical exploration and harvest.  Today - it's more about family, friends, and of course, giving thanks.

So today as I consider how the year has gone, I realized that in the scope of life nothing ever runs completely smooth.  But right now the house is warm, the power is back on after the other day's  repeated outage and I've got a cup of coffee beside me and the dog snoring at my feet.  The day is slowly beginning and soon the rest of the house will awake.  This is my writing time.  The quiet time every day that is all mine.  I love it and as I consider I realize there's a lot of things in my life that I love.  I've been lucky so far.

Other than the usual griping about the change of weather heading us straight to winter - did I mention this was the great white north?  Seriously, it's been a beautiful fall so far and other than a day or two when my resolution to wear sandals through to the end of the month, caused frost nipped toes - I've made good on the promise quite easily.  So to be thankful for the year here in my part of the prairies is pretty easy.  We've had no natural disasters, no wars, no insurrections of any type and it's completely safe to walk around my neighborhood after dark.   There's been calamities - how can there not be with a rich network of family and friends.  But they've all ironed out to manageable levels.  And health wise - everyone, for now, is on a steady keel.  In the end you can't ask for much more than that.

Every once in a while you just have to give thanks.  And today is it - please pass the turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving!


BTW - I think in the scope of things it might just be the turkey who has no thanks to give.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Do You Mean No? I'm The Author!

So I loaded a draft of one of my stories onto the Kindle.  Way back when I'd been given the great advise of reading your finished book out loud to find those last glitches.  And the Kindle has a "read to me" feature.  By default, a man's voice - I call him little man.
Why is everything way easier until you begin implementation?

First off the book wouldn't open once I loaded it onto the Kindle.  Apparently, I forgot to delete headers, that it called imbedded objects.  Of course it never stated what said objects might be.  So first hurdle - identify imbedded objects aka headers.  Finally a readable version of the book is loaded.

I pressed start for little man to begin reading to me.


I hit start.... start...  start...

I read the instructions again.  I hit start again.

Frustrated?  Determined?  About to trash the Kindle?

Nah - not me.

Then I discovered the problem.  Apparently the rights holder has not allowed this action.  Excuse me?  I am the rights holder!  I am the author.  That book is mine, darn it.  And I authorize you to speak - speak now!


We're at a stand off.  It might be my story but I suspect without a legal copyright and whatever other rights authorization it needs by virtue of publication, little man is just going to remain mute. I suspect too that little man might once have been part of a government entity, being as everything must be so cut and dried.  I mean really, shouldn't there be an option where I just check the box that says author?  Okay, so maybe not but this does seem rather close-minded on his part. 

I suspect that little man doesn't really care that I am the author.  I suspect that I might be the only one who cares.  I also suspect that I'm stepping a little close to the edge with my new relationship with the Kindle's little man.  But I am the author and logical or not it's darned annoying that I can't authorize this thing to work.  Ironic even as at this stage of the game I am the sole proprietor of said story.  It's that brief little lull before I send it out and throw everything wide open to the opinion of any and all.   For now it's a bunker - me and the story.

He did try to make it all better by reading a book by another author - published material of course - copyrighted and all, but somehow after his first rejection - his little electronic voice became oddly annoying.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One of Those Days

It's one of those days when I got up early intending to get a serious word count in and my attention span was nil.  So instead of getting a good word count, or edits, or anything out of the way early, nothing.  Despite a ridiculous pre-dawn start, it means working later today. 
For now I quit.  Yep, you heard right - done, finished for the next few hours.  I'm heading out into the sunshine of mid-week.   The good weather is still hanging in and my toes in sandals are not freezing... yet.

I've had other things on my mind today.  I admit there's always other things on my mind but when I get in that writing zone I shut the door on all the chatter.  To the point that I know it's not safe to talk to me immediately after a writing jag because it takes a while to get my focus back on what's real in the world and what's fiction.

So I signed up for my first blog hop.  I'm pretty excited about that and I'll have more details, like what my give away is, later - as it's nearer the end of the month.  What I can tell you now is there are a few hundred blogs participating.  So I hope you'll check it out and hop to a blog or two or even a hundred or so.  Lots of reading related prizes to be had.

This seems to be the post that began in the morning and ran through the afternoon.  So here I am back, and yes, it's afternoon.  A shopping trip and a trip to the library later - the library got me ready to write again and the shopping, well it just had to be done.  Don't go asking me the price of the latest trendy shirt, I'm still in recovery! 

In the meantime, it's back to writing - what I started out so very early to do.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Life Raft or a Laptop

I just surfaced to discover it's October.  I know raking leaves a few weeks back should have triggered that the seasons were changing.  But no I was firmly mired in my over-committed summer. 

The mention of Halloween makes me want to bestow that cliched look of horror and not one usually associated with that holiday.  It just feels like summer can't be over - that this is it.  That's all she wrote - put the Margarita Blender (and yes both words should be capitalized!) into the cupboard for another year.  I don't care that the sun hut has been unbolted from the deck or that the lawn ornaments are now tucked in the shed.  The weather is still great - this can't be it.

Besides I still have writing to do - writing that I thought would be done, well way sooner than now but than the summer was much shorter than I thought too.  Two projects in various stages of completion and both of them heading for a finish line.  I'm exhausted thinking about it but amazed that another month from now (optimistically speaking) they'll both be complete sans possibly a critique or two. 

Maybe that's why autumn snuck up on me.  I had the blinds down and the only light was the glare of that darn laptop. 

Seriously, I did enjoy summer - I even lugged that laptop out to the new sun hut.  In Saskatchewan, it would be renamed a bug hut.  Not a hut that a bug loves but one the pesky things can't get in.  I'm still mourning the take-down of that hut - did I mention that?  That was the announcement that summer was over.  The most I can ask for now is an extension on the beautiful fall weather. 

And just to make sure that's what happens - I refuse to put on socks until Halloween!  Chilly toes or not, it's sandals until the end of the month.  And maybe there's hope for me to embrace fall yet, even as I write this post I'm starting to look away from summer and toward Halloween.  Hey, I've seen a few Halloween contests floating around the web.  Who knows what may come of that...

How's October looking in your part of the world?


Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Fang In the Neck or...

Somethings got ahold of me and it won't let go.

 Etta James was singing about love.  Me I'm thinking about a story. 

Sometimes the strangest things drive a story and in this case it's a healthy dose of Etta James.  One of my characters just loves her.  So I was listening to her music as I wrote a scene. 

That's how my day began.  I wrote the first lines of this post and the story was going well too.  Everything was well and then I decided to take my dog for a walk.   

I was attacked by a large dog on that walk.  Although maybe attacked is not quite the right word as he only bit me once and let go.  Although from the look of my leg, once was more than enough.  But now, when I look at those lyrics they were almost prophetic except that the dog that bit me - did let go. 

How could I end up bitten by a dog?  I asked myself the same.  In all the years I've walked a dog, adding up to two dogs over twenty years, I've never been bitten.  So the thought that it could happen, wasn't on my radar. 

I headed out on one of our lovely walks along the back easement that borders the city.  The path that looks like you've headed out to the country when you haven't.  Fortunately, the weather had cooled off and I was wearing jeans and not shorts - that was what saved me from stitches.  It was about a mile away from home when it happened.  Bad fencing and an enraged dog, more than likely pissed that there was another dog in his vicinity, broke through the fence and charged us. 

It was one of those I can't believe this happened moments.  One minute I had my dog by the harness and was hurrying past the raging dog and the next the dog was over the fence and had his teeth sunk into my leg.  I think I may have screamed at him or maybe I just screamed.  Either way he let go, still barking and growling.  I didn't know if he was going to attack twice or let me back out of the vicinity.  With a dog snarling at you that is close to as big as you are, this is a concern.

I ended up limping home that day with furtive glances over my shoulder for the reappearance of the newly named, Cujo.  It was a bad ending to a walk that reminded me that nothing in life is for sure.  I never expected to spend the rest of the day nursing a dog bite.  Balancing my laptop on my lap with my bandaged leg propped up wasn't quite how I anticipated finishing a few more scenes.
Kind of like the world I build for my characters, nothing is for sure.   I'm beginning to have empathy for them, the characters.  Made me think of a whole lot of things - like vampire lovers and all those other lovely fictional characters.  Let me tell you, a fang in your calf doesn't feel too good.  A fang in your neck - nope, not even in fiction.  Maybe I'll give them a little more consideration the next time I get them into a jam.  And maybe not.  After all, it is fiction.

Me, I'd just like to know that dog is safely fenced the next time I walk by.  Which, may not be for quite a long time.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Bring Your Deck Chair - It's A Party!

 It's hard to believe that it's almost the end of summer.  Up here on the Canadian prairie that means fall-frosted nights are not too far away.  I'm  a summer girl and it almost killed me to read a blog about Christmas the other day.  Someone was actually longing for snow!  Although I have to say that someone also lives in Arizona.

The end of August is rather a special time, new beginnings, endings and savoring those last hot summer nights.  As much as I don't look forward to crisp fall evenings, I do love the languid hot days that always seem to foreshadow fall.

What will you miss most about summer?

Not sure - rather just not think about it?  How about an end of summer bash?  Yep, that's what's going on over at The Romance Studio from now until the end of the weekend.  It's a party with a ton of authors and readers all combined with some great prizes.

The prizes?  A nook and books, books, books among other things.

Click here to head on over to my post at The Romance Studio and enter a comment for a chance to win a nook or a book by any number of authors or...

Check out additional prizes by clicking here.

Go straight to The Romance Studio End of Summer Party by clicking here.  The party goes all weekend. 

Enjoy and good luck!

By the way - if my luck holds, the last contest give away I participated in, a commenter from my blog won!  Is there a bit of the luck of the Irish still hanging around?  Maybe - and it's not just my little Irish boy(read dog) that I'm talking about.   

Once Upon a Time...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dinosaurs - Not Quite A Stroll On A Beach

Too much work, and no vacation,
Deserves at least a small libation.
So hail! my friends, and raise your glasses,
Work's the curse of the drinking classes.

~Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde did have an interesting spin on things.

Just outside the village of Patricia
So here I am on the road.  I'm on vacation or am I?  I'm still thinking about this story or that and guilt at having fled from my computer for days at a stretch is like sand in my shoes or maybe that's flip flops, easily brushed aside.  

I'm in the land of the dinosaurs, Alberta's badlands - Dinosaur Provincial Park.  

It's a quaint drive through ranch land with scrub brush giving subtle indicators of what's to come.  The villages along this particular route seem to all reference women in one way or another; Princess, Patricia, Duchess, Rosemary, Countess and Millicent.  It's an interesting and so far, unanswered phenomena.  I have any number of theories but then I imagine you might too.  Maybe some of you even know the truth of the naming system - if so, please comment.  I'd sure love to know but meantime my imagination will just chug away eventually shifting into overdrive.  But I digress.  Back to the road - on the way to Dinosaur Park, dinosaur with no hint of Jurassic - I hope.

On the road to Dinosaur Provincial Park.
The last turn heading for the park might make the reptile squeamish turn right around and head out.  Yes, I know the dinosaurs are dead but... 

Slow Down for Snakes?

You know my rule on wildlife, I'll slow down for anything but I've never expected snakes.  Of course, it is a hot day and any self-respecting snake will have long ago hunted down shade - I hope.

Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park is definitely well worth the drive.  The rough prairie scrub breaks open to a vast, time-etched valley.  It's beautiful and yet eerie  especially if you think of it in the context of what it actually is - a giant reptilian cemetery.  Okay, maybe slightly macabre but the valley is still littered with dinosaur bones and  paleontologists come from around the world in the summer months to participate in various digs.  Warnings are posted here and there that some areas are preserved and/or off limits, along with warnings to leave all bones and fossils where they lay.  But those aren't the only warnings, there's also warnings to watch out for living creatures; black widows, scorpions and rattle snakes.   

No worries there - I'm not venturing off the path. 

 Creepy crawlies aside, it's not often in my day to day life that I'm reminded of the ice age or the extinction of the dinosaurs.  But when you stand on the precipice of the valley it's like you've rushed back in time to a place you can barely imagine.  The valley is a testament to it all, a reminder of the power of nature and that once the earth looked nothing like it does now.  Way back when, when dinosaurs walked the earth.

It was the perfect detour that only created a small zig instead of a zag across a secondary highway and into another world.  The place to kick anyone's imagination into overdrive.

Did I find a fossil or even a bone - nope.  But I did locate a piece of wood that looked amazingly like a leg bone.  That is, if you used your imagination.

Any zigs in your day?