This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, Jenna Da Sie asks:
What are some of your favourite famous quotes and why?
When I first read this topic I thought there was no way I'd be able to come up with any quotes. It's not like I memorize them to use as a mantra or anything like that. But when I started thinking of quotes as lines from books or movies, a lightbulb went off.
The Princess Bride
This has to be one of the most quotable movies of all time. Just look at this poster! I have a copy that lives in my office and I love it. My favourite is "As You Wish." Could there be a more romantic way to say "I love you?" I'm reading Ilona Andrews "Kate Daniels" series, and at one point Curran says "As you wish" to Kate, while holding The Princess Bride book. It gave me chills. (BTW, if you like paranormal action adventure with just enough romance, you really should check this series out).
Pride and Prejudice
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Not only one of my favourite quotes, quite possibly the best first line of any book, ever. It completely captures the tone and theme of what comes next. Brilliant.
Here are some of the quotes that keep me writing even when it gets tough (which is most of the time).
"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit." Richard Bach
"I hate writing, I love having written." Dorothy Parker
"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word." Margaret Atwood
"I can fix a bad page. I can't fix a blank one." Nora Roberts
I'm also a big fan of this poster, the Writer's Manifesto, which has a lot of great quotes to consider.
Do you have a favourite quote? It doesn't have to be life changing – it could simply be something that makes you feel. Please share in the comments!
Now I'll pass you on to Jenna da Sie, the authoress of this topic. What favourites does she have?
This week's topic on Romance Writers Weekly is short but sweet. Leslie Hachtel asks:
Describe your perfect day.
Wow – there's so much to consider in these 4 simple words. What is perfect? And how could any day be perfect unless it never ended? After all, knowing something is coming to an end is bittersweet, and colours the whole time leading up to it.
Another point to consider – is this perfect day how I'd like to spend the rest of my life? Or is it just a gem to enjoy every once in a while? Appreciation for anything good often comes from "the bad times." As I write this, I am sitting outside on a clear, warm day, with the sound of the pond's waterfall trickling. If our winters weren't so cold and dark, would I be enjoying this moment as much? Maybe not. So I don't think I'd want my perfect day to be every day.
It would be full of simple things. It would start with a sunny morning, just warm enough to sit outside while I have my first coffee (made by my husband, of course) but with a freshness to the air that makes me feel rejuvenated. After a light, delicious breakfast (maybe fresh strawberries on cereal) I would sit down to write for three or four hours. I usually only have a chance to write an hour or so each day, squeezing it in between chores and errands and work, so this would be a true luxury. Also, I think every day is better if we feel we've accomplished something useful or creative.
The afternoon might involve a long walk with our dog, at one of the beautiful trails in the area. And then I'd make a gourmet meal for dinner, which would be attended by family and friends. I like to cook, so that's why it's part of my perfect day. But the way to make it truly perfect would be to have the kitchen magically clean itself. I don't like to clean, and it wouldn't feel right having others clean for me on my perfect day, so the mess would just have to disappear in a poof and swoosh.
The day would end with conversation, music and games. Our family loves to play games of all sorts (usually cards) and it is a wonderful way to spend time with people. We'd have snacks and drinks, and laugh a lot, and maybe dance a little to some classic hits from the eighties and nineties (because after all, that's the best music, right?)
What would your perfect day be like? Would it be to stay at home like mine? Or are you more adventurous and extroverted? I'd love to hear from you! Once you've dropped me a line, be sure to head over to the instigator of this blog, Leslie Hachtel and see what her day would be like.
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly blog, Jenna Da Sie asks:
What are you doing or did you do for the 4th of July or Canada Day to celebrate? Did you see any good fireworks?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
Summer is a great time for festivals in many cities. My own, Prince George, is just coming into its own in regards to that, in my opinion. There's always been the favourite few, but since we hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2015 and celebrated our 100th Birthday in 2016, there seems to be a bigger push on to celebrate with outdoor music, food and fun!
Canada Day has always been one of the biggest parties of the year. It is arranged by the Immigrant and Multiculturalism Society, which I think is an amazing testament to the welcoming attitude most Canadians have to those who have moved to the country in recent years. Thousands go to the city's biggest park to sample ethnic food from a wide variety of cultures, and enjoy entertainment that celebrates our diversity. There is always a strong First Nations presence as well, as we recognize our European culture was not the first in this land. This year was particular special, though, as Canada celebrated 150 years of confederation!
In the past few years, we've usually celebrated Canada Day at one of the many beautiful campgrounds in our area. But this year we were in town, so decided to take in an open air concert at Canada Games Plaza. We caught the two of the three bands, and again it truly shows what a melting pot Canada is. The first, Andino Suns, is a band out of Regina that combines the flavours of South America, particularly Chile, with the wide open spaces of the Canadian Prairies. The second, Delhi2Dublin, is a Vancouver based band that fuses East Indian percussion, Celtic fiddle and digital sounds into fast-paced alternative rock. You really have to check them out. The night ended with some fantastic fireworks – always a great way to celebrate!
I'm always interested to hear about other countries customs and traditions. It's one of the reasons I love to travel. What do you do to celebrate important days in your country? Let me know!
Then be sure to hope on over to the instigator of this topic, Jenna da Sie. She has connections to both Canada and the US – she must have some stories to tell about July 1st and 4th celebrations!
I find this week's topic very relevant. A.S. Fenichel asks:
The year is half over! OMG! Tell us how you organize your world? Do you keep a day planner? Do you use your phone? Is organization important to you or is your life in total chaos and you love it?
If you joined me from Jenna Da Sie, you'll know how that busy mom keeps her days straight. As for me…
Holidays have a way of disrupting the time-space continuum in my life, and with a couple weeks away I'm finding it hard to get back in the flow of things. People who know me well (waves a hand at Mr. C) know that I do best with a set schedule. I prefer knowing what's happening well in advance. I like to think I'm more flexible than I used to be—having three children, two of whom are a lot more laid back than I am, will do that to you—but I am most happy and contented when I have a clear plan.
That being said, I don't feel like I'm an obviously over organized person. I don't use coloured tabs in notebooks or have post it notes all over the place. At my day job I use Google Calendar, as I have to share schedules with other people, and I love the ease of that. But personally I only mark it on the calendar if I'm truly worried about missing something important.
In my writing, I'm a plotter. I like to outline quite substantially before I get started on a new story. But when it comes to setting time to write, I don't have it on a planner, because it always happens at the same time. And I have a daily word count, so that takes care of itself. When I'm not working on a new book, I use that time for editing or publishing duties. So far, it's all seemed to work out just fine!
If I'm looking at the year as half over, I'm feeling pretty good about how I've organized things. I released a new book in January, pretty much on time. I finished the manuscript I was working on at the end of May, before heading off on holiday. That had always been the goal, but I had to really up my word count in the final month to achieve it, so I was really pleased I made it. I'm getting the rights back on m first novel this fall, so my job over the summer is to get that ready for release, and I'm pretty confident with that. So all in all I think my organization plan is working out!
How do you get organized? Do you keep a beautiful day planner with your notes all written in a stunning copperplate? (That's what I wish I did, but my handwriting qualifies me for med school.) Or are you a technogeek with your iPhone or Android leading the way? I’d love to hear from you!
Then, be sure to hop over to S. C. Mitchell and see how he keeps on track!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, it was my turn to set the topic. As my mind is very busy with plans for a trip I am taking soon, to visit Belgium where my mother was born, I came up with this one:
Are you interested in genealogy? Have you traced your family generations back? If so, how far have you gone? And what fascinating stories have you discovered?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
As you might have guessed by the topic, I am interested in geneology. I find it fascinating to think of all the ancestors who have come before me, and love to ponder what their lives were like.
I haven't done a lot of research myself, but I have gathered what other members of my family have discovered together into a keepsake book. On my father's side, I have names going to the fifth generation back from myself, and on my mother's side, the sixth (If I'm counting right). My three-times Great Grandparents on my father's side were both born in 1793 (she was actually almost a year older than him, as she was born in January and he in December). The same grandfather on my mother's side was born in 1799, and I have his parent's names, but no dates for them.
As I mentioned, my mother was born in Belgium, and her family emigrated to Canada after World War II. Oddly enough, the legend is that the first relative on my father's side to come to Canada also came from Belgium, but he arrived here in the early 1800's. It's those sorts of stories that I find interesting. Maybe my parents are actually related many generations ago!
On June 1, we are making a trip I have hoped to do for a long time. My parents, my husband and I are going to visit the family still living in Belgium, in the Antwerp area. We've met a few of them over the years, as they have come to visit us. And my parents have been a number of times. But I've never gone, and while I wish I could have made the trip with my grandparents, better late than never, and I am really looking forward to it!
What family stories do you have to tell? Do you like looking back, or are you more a "forward to the future" kind of person? Let me know in the comments!
Now hop on over to the lovely Jenna da Sie and see what she knows about her ancestors.
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, we're searching for inspiration from the kitchen! Leslie Hachtel asks:
Is there any particular food that sparks your creativity? Why do you think it does? Is it associated with something like a memory?
As I write this is it Sunday morning, and Mr. C. is frying up bacon for a big brunch we will be having later. Now, I can't say that bacon necessarily makes me more creative, but that delicious scent certainly gets some juices going!
Coffee, wine and chocolate are often the go-to foods for writers, especially romance writers, it seems. But I can't say that I use any food at all as a prompt for my writing. Usually I sit down to my keyboard in the evening after dinner, and as I'm not much of 'snacker' my eating is done for the day.
But that's not to say that food doesn't influence my writing. Setting scenes around a meal can be a great way to set mood and tone. Robert B. Parker often wrote about food in his Spenser novels, whether it was a gourmet meal whipped up by his gritty hero or one shared with Susan and Hawk at a favourite restaurant. Meals can be tense and surly or warm and welcoming, and even the choice of food served can reveal layers of a character's psyche.
Smells (whether from food or other sources) are also an often forgotten part of description that can evoke deep emotions. Friendly smells like apple pie and fresh cut grass…seductive scents like a woman's perfume or a man's healthy sweat…grim odors like rotting flesh or discarded refuse. All of these help bring a scene to life in evocative ways. When I am revising my work, I often find myself adding scents to add that extra pop of description.
Does A.S. Fenichel use food to kickstart her writing time? Find out here!
As I mentioned last week, WHEN TIME FALLS STILL has been nominated for a RONE Award - one of the most prestigious competitions for independent authors. In order to make it to the next stage, Justice and Charlotte need your votes! If you enjoyed their story, please go to www.indtale.com and log in to vote. Thank you!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, enjoy some Flash Fiction! For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it's a writing exercise where you are given a prompt of some kind and need to write as quickly as you can, without really thinking about it, and just see what happens. This prompt was set by A. S. Fenichel:
Okay, I have to admit. I set this week's blog topic for Romance Writers Weekly, and it might be a bit self-serving. My family loves to barbecue (even in the winter, although summer is much more fun, of course!) So I came up with this slightly sneaky way of discovering my new favourite recipe.
Summer is almost here, and with it barbecuing season. Let’s share grilling recipes!
I'm going to share two recipes from my favourite barbecue recipe book, 365 Great Barbecue and Grilling Recipes by Lonnie Gandara. I highly encourage you to pick up your own copy – there are so many great tastes in this book. (I am in not connected with this publication in anyway – I'm just a huge fan!)
Rosemary's Chicken Breasts
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
5 garlic cloves, minced (this is what the recipe calls for, but I usually put in 8 to 10, because we LOVE garlic)
2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary, or 1 teaspoon dried (I love rosemary, but rarely have it fresh, so usually double the dried amount)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
Put the chicken in a glass baking dish.
Mix together the rest of the ingredients. Marinade will be thick, almost like a rub.
Spread over chicken breasts, turning to coat well.
Cover and marinate at room temperature, turning once or twice, for 30 minutes (I like to marinate it for a couple of hours in the fridge).
Remove from marinade and grill. You can use the reserved marinade to baste while cooking. To avoid flareups, I usually start with the breasts on a piece of aluminum foil, and put directly on the grill when they are partly cooked.
I have shared the following recipe before, but it's so good I can't leave it out.
4 pounds pork spareribs
½ cup soy sauce
2 tbsp dry sherry
3 tbsp crushed pineapple
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 garlic gloves (again, like above, I usually up the amperage on the garlic by triple or more)
1 tsp salt
Put the ribs in a shallow pan.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together.
Pour over ribs.
Marinate, turning occasionally, 1 to 2 hours at room temperature or up to 24 hours refrigerated. (sometimes, when ribs are on sale, I mix up multiple batches of the marinade, put the ribs in a heavy duty resealable freezer bag, pour in the marinade, let sit for an hour or so, and the freeze. When I want to cook them, I take them out the day before and let them thaw in the fridge. Presto – ready to cook!)
Grill ribs SLOWLY over a medium-hot fire (about 1 hour).
Feel free to share your favourite recipes in the comments. I would love to have new ideas for the summer ahead. And be sure to check out Jenna Da Sie, next on the blog hop. Let's see what she's grilling up!
I'm doing a double-take again this week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog. I am the Production Manager at a small market television station, and one of the programs we produce is called QuizMe. Think of it as Jeopardy for elementary school children. We shoot fifteen half hour episodes over three days, and those three days are this weekend, April 22 to 24. So I'll be a wee bit busy, and won't have time to join the usual hop. But the topic was so interesting I didn't want to miss it, so I'm giving you another two-fer this week!
This week's topic is posed by Leslie Hatchel:
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned about writing? Who did you learn it from?
I have learned so much about writing in the last few years (and am still learning, of course) so this was a bit difficult for me to narrow down. One of the simplest tricks I learned was to watch out for sentences that start with "There was…" For example:
"There was a house on the corner of the block, standing forlorn and neglected, hiding behind a ragged hedge."
I learned to get right to the meat of the sentence:
"On the corner of the block stood a forlorn and neglected house, hiding behind a ragged hedge."
So now when I'm editing I keep a wary eye out for "There was…" sentences and zap them where they stand!
Next week's topic was suggested by A.S. Fenichel:
Where is your favorite place in the world and why? Share some pictures if you can. Does this place wind up in your books? Feel free to share more than one.
See what I mean about it being fun and interesting? Mr. C and I love to travel, and we've been lucky enough to visit some amazing places. It would be hard to narrow down a single one, so I thought I'd share a few of my favourites in photos. Check them out below.
I do put locations I've been in my books. For one thing, all but one of my books have a tie to Prince George, my hometown. And the one that doesn't is set in Vancouver, a beautiful British Columbia city I lived in for a couple years and visit often. NO LIFE BUT THIS, my most recent release, is set mostly on the Portuguese Island of Sao Miguel, Azores. Mr. C's parents emigrated from there in the 1950's, and we visited in 2013. While it wasn't the best vacation (my mother-in-law fell and broke her hip our second day there and spent the two weeks in hospital) we did at least get a chance to explore the culture and island.
I'd love to hear about your favourite places to go. I may even find some to add to my bucket list! And once you've done that, be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel and see what writing advice she thought was the best.
It's time to take a break from writing on the Romance Writers Weekly blog hop. A.S. Fenichel asks:
When you're not writing, what do you do? Hobbies, passions, goals…
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
Downtown is pretty precious in my world, as it is with most people. With a full-time day job, grown children that come to visit (yay!!), my own writing, the occasional editing project, and the necessity to cook and clean at least once in a while, I don't have a lot of time left to fill.
When I do, I can usually be found reading, and most likely a romance novel, though I do try and branch out occasionally. Each week in my newsletter I write a little about the books I'm currently reading (FYI: If you subscribe to my newsletter here, you get a FREE copy of my short story, The Life She Had Before.)
If I'm not reading, I'm usually hanging out with Mr. C. I'm not much of a winter person, so during the cold months I generally huddle inside. Now that spring is on it's way, we are taking the dog for long walks, and I can't wait for things to thaw just a bit more so I can get out in my gardens. I love to plant things and see them flourish, although I'm not much for weeding. And the warmer weather also means we'll be able to get out camping soon. SO looking forward to that!
What do you do when you have downtime? I'd love to hear from you! Leave a note in the comments, then be sure to hop on over to the instigator of this topic, A.S. Fenichel. You'll find her blog here!