Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Change It Up - Shake It Out - Call It the Same!

I discovered only last year that I love writing two stories at the same time.  Before I would always stick to one story and then move on to the next.  But this time it was two completely different stories moving along parallel to each other.  I finished off a suspense with romantic elements and a women's fiction that explored the effects of a parent's illness on a woman's life.  When one would cause me trouble - a twist wasn't moving anything the right way - there was the other story to turn to that always seemed to be in a place of flow.  I love both stories and I've been recently told that I have two voices.  There was a time, when I was thrilled to have one. 

One voice, two voices - I was thinking how my recent stories have changed from my past.  History was the place I first went when writing fiction.  I still love that era just prior to World War II, where better to set a romance?  After all, that was the era of my first published book - the book where research could have easily eclipsed the writing.  Maybe it is a special time in my mind for I've heard so many first hand stories from many of my elder relatives who experienced the Great Depression and even the time leading up to it. Or maybe it's just history in general for I dove even further back when I wrote a second book, Ring of Desire.  But since then I've moved on and into the present. 

It's amazing how much has changed and how much remains the same. 

What motivates someone to do something - what motivates a fictional character?

I was on the road last week and as we traveled through the seemingly unchanged prairie landscape I was thinking about that and a group of characters that seem to be slowly coming to life.  It seems what motivates most people remains as old as time - lust, greed, envy, money, hate and even love.  And fortunately, the majority, well they're good people that take a wrong turn here or there and it's those wrong turns that give the unexpected twists to fiction. 
While the times, they may be a-changing, people and their motivation - well there's much that remains as steady as the unchanging countryside I'm crossing. 

The scenery across Saskatchewan into Alberta is very much that rough cactus pocked hills - you can almost see the T-Rex lumbering over the rolling dips and lilts in the land.  Some day I want to explore parts of those hills.  But this time it's a trip to Calgary where unlike out here, where communities are spread far apart, change is never-ending because it's people that implement the change.  But once you peel back all the concrete and the pavement - is it, like peoples' motivations, all the same old earth it's always been?

Stories - no matter what the genre, even when the characters aren't quite human, they still tell us something about the human condition.
Any interesting trips in your summer?



Monday, July 16, 2012

Enough With The Eh - Or Just Gag Me Already!

It's that lull when multiple projects are done and I'm not feeling motivated to start something new.  Maybe there's a gag order, maybe not.  But that's the way it is immediately post-story.   It's a familiar place that used to make me uncomfortable.  I love having a story to go to but I've learned to go with the flow.  Sometimes a creative break really is necessary. 

So as part of my break I wanted to watch something mindless - enter reality TV.  And one of the most annoying words ever to be created emerged as a result of a token Canadian entering the program. 


Suddenly there were eh jokes everywhere.  Who says that?  Supposedly, this is a common Canadian phrase.  Interesting, as I rarely hear anyone use it.  I don't know if I could hang with anyone who did, I might choke them.  

All things Canadian.  To me eh is not one of them.  Other things are - like hockey.  It's our national sport and I'm wearing the t-shirt to prove it.  But.  There it is, there's always the but.   I'm not a big hockey fan.  I'll be as glued to the set as anyone else if Canada is looking like they're about to come out on top in the world of hockey.  But you know, I can count on one hand how many hockey games I've watched in the last few years.  Guess I best stop now or I may be deported, that is if there's anyone looking for a non-eh speaking Canadian with only a slight interest in armchair hockey.

Okay, I don't know about you but that little rant had me feeling better, more creative even, although I'm kind of enjoying my break.  With life colliding like some gigantic opportunistic slug into that space I call the lull between the end of one story and the beginning of another, there's no time to even contemplate new ideas.  This time used to frighten me.  Now I know it's just a space where I take a few days and writing a story is the last thing on my mind.  Then one day I crawl out of bed and there's a story demanding that I figure out what it's all about and start writing it down.  It might be something someone said days earlier, or a local event that gets things going or maybe one of those ideas that I wrote down ages ago.  Whatever it is, the urge to write is back.  It's a strange process but it happens the same way almost every time.

So enough rambling for me.  What gets you fired up to do what you love best? 

And after all that - here's a contest with, rumour tells me, absolutely no strings.  Check it out here.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Virtual Tour - Author Jana Richards and Home Fires

It's summer time, that time of easy days, the long wait for warm weather ended(for us northerners) and hopefully a bit of vacation.  So with easy days in mind, today there's something a little different, a new release made for summer, Jana Richards latest release, a novella, Home Fires.  Stop by, chat with the author and be entered for a prize.  As part of her tour, Jana will be offering a $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky commenter.  So up your odds of success and follow the remainder of Jana's tour, adding a comment as you go.

Prizes, it doesn't stop there - Jana is also offering up to July 18, a bonus gift for anyone who purchases a copy of Home Fires.  Check out the details on her website:

Jana has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy.  She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side.  She believes there's nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.

When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby.

Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou. 

Welcome Jana!!

And here is Jana's response to:

Life hasn't been the same since...

There have been several trips that changed my life.  The short trip down the aisle to marry my husband was the first major change.  For the first time in my life, I had to focus on 'us' instead of 'just me'.  I'm not an only child, but my brother is seven years older.  He had moved away from home by the time I was twelve, so it was almost like being an only child.  When I married my husband at twenty-one, I had to learn to share, learn to compromise, and learn to live as a couple.  We must have done something right, because we just celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary!

The next trips that changed my life were the two trips I made to the hospital to give birth to my daughters.  I was thrilled the first time I became pregnant, and so ready to be a mother.  Unfortunately, twelve weeks into my pregnancy, I miscarried.  I was devastated, but undeterred.  As soon as I got the green light from the doctor, we tried again and I became pregnant right away.  This time everything went according to plan.  I had a smooth, uneventful pregnancy and nine months later we made the short ten minute trip to the hospital.  The delivery didn't go quite as smoothly as the pregnancy.  After hours in labor, I had a c-section.  But it was okay.  I had a beautiful, healthy baby girl and that was all that mattered.

In the five years between the births of my two daughters, I had more miscarriages.  At times I thought we'd never have more children and we even thought of adopting.  But finally, after so many more tries, I was able to carry my pregnancy to term.  The trip to the hospital for our second daughter's birth took a lot longer than the first time.  Because of the difficulties I'd had, I was seeing a specialist in a city 200 kilometers away, a two hour drive.  Any pregnant woman will tell you that a two hour drive when you're about to give birth is not fun.  In the end, all the uncomfortable car rides, all the heartaches faded away when I held my beautiful, healthy baby girl in my arms.

Anyone who has children knows that life is never the same after you give birth.  There are sleepless nights, and endless responsibilities.  There are times when you wonder if you're doing the right thing, if you're teaching them what they need to know to become happy successful adults.  But there is also much joy.  I can't imagine not being a mother.

I know that being a parent has made me stronger.  It's given me tenacity and determination I didn't know I possessed.  And I know now that being a mother never ends, no matter how old my children get.

Blurb from Home Fires:
Anne Wakefield travels halfway around the world for love.  But when she arrives in Canada from England at the end of World War Two, she discovers the handsome Canadian pilot she'd fallen in love with has married someone else.  Heartbroken, she prepares to return to London, though she has nothing left there to return to.    Her former fiance's mother makes a suggestion:  marriage to her other son.

Badly wounded and scarred during the war, Erik Gustafson thinks he's a poor substitute for his brother.  Although he loves Anne almost from the first time he sees her, he cannot believe she would ever be able to love him as he is--especially as he might be after another operation on his bad leg.    Anne sees the beauty of his heart.  The cold prairie winter may test her courage, but can she prove to Erik that her love for him is real?

An excerpt from Home Fires:

She offered him her hand.  Erik looked at it for a moment, then at her face.  Not a trace of pity marred her beautiful features.  He took her small, soft hand in his, and was surprised at the strength with which she pulled him to his feet.

"You're a lot stronger than you look."

She laughed, the first genuine sound of amusement he'd heard from her.  "Probably comes from spending the war lifting men twice my size."

"Anders said you were a nurse.  Are you planning to continue nursing now that the war is over?"  Her smile disappeared.  "I hope not.  I've seen enough misery to last me the rest of my life."

He nodded.  After witnessing the blood bath at Dieppe, he knew exactly what she meant.

"How far is it to the house?" she asked.

Erik leaned on his cane.  "Not far.  Wait.  You've got dried leaves stuck in your hair."

He pulled the offending leaves from her hair, letting his hand linger on the silky tresses.  She looked up at him, her dark brown eyes huge and round.  But she didn't move or stop him from touching her.  With her porcelain skin and fine bone structure, she looked like a delicate English rose, yet he detected a strength in her that would put any man to shame.

"We should go," she whispered.

Erik dropped his hand.  What was he doing?  This beautiful English rose was still in love with his brother.  His handsome, fit, unscarred brother.  She didn't want him.

He'd do well to remember that.  He'd already been rejected by one beautiful English girl because of his scars.  Another rejection would be more than he could bear.

You can reach Jana at her website

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Book, A Prize and an Author

Stop by July 11 when I'll be hosting author Jana Richards and her latest release, Home Fires.  Jana is giving away a $25 gift certificate to one lucky commenter through the course of her tour.

It's been a crazy time these last few weeks.  Seems while I was hunkered down in my writing bunker trying to get one story ready to go out the door while another one demanded my attention.  And to add to that, family calamities of one type or another had me hopping.  Now, with everyone and everything settled, I keep reminding myself that bad luck runs in threes.  Problem is, I think this time that bout of luck ran just a little over the three.  Not sure what that means.  What I do know is that I'm not alone in being deluged from time to time.  If I was, than that old saying "It Never Rains But It Pours" would never have been born.  

And you - does luck fall to the numbers or is it really much more random than that?