This week on Romance Writers Weekly, J.J. Devine asks:
Spring is right around the corner. What is your favorite thing about springtime?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
As I write this, the forecast is for 9 degrees Celsius and sunny. For mid-March in Northern BC, that’s pretty good. It might even be warm enough for a spring tradition Mr. C and I enjoy – a beer in the backyard! There’s something enormously liberating about bundling up and sitting in a patch of sunshine surrounded by piles of snow. It will be months yet before we need to mow the lawn, but the light is at the end of the tunnel.
I think my favourite thing about spring is the sense of renewal. I love watching crocuses and grape hyacinths poke out of the snow patches, and discovering fuzzy pussywillows blooming along the path. After the dark days of winter, having light until 7:30pm is such a blessing – and knowing the days are still getting longer gives me a chance to breathe deeply and enjoy the changing seasons.
What do you think J.J. Devine’s favourite thing about spring is? Hop on over to her blog to find out!
Last Friday, March 8th, women and men around the world celebrated gender equality, and the continued fight for inclusion, with International Women’s Day. This week on Romance Writers Weekly, I challenged our authors with this topic:
Tell us about a woman in your life that has inspired you.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
My list of women who inspire me is a long one. It includes my mom and my daughters, authors who have broken the “stigma” of writing romance, business leaders, and more. There’s Mahala, who survived an assassination attack and who speaks often of the power of books—and women—to change the world.
Both of my grandmothers were strong and fearless women. While neither of them worked outside the home, they raised families under conditions that would break the backs of many of us nowadays.
My maternal grandmother was born in 1910 in Belgium. Her family was quite well off (thought quirky—my great-grandfather once bought a zoo) and she attended finishing school, learning to make lace, paint and other lady-like pursuits. She didn’t marry until she was thirty years old, early in World War 2, when Germany was occupying Belgium. Three of her four children were born during the war (family legend has it that my mom was born in the basement of their home during a bombing raid, with Canadians on one side and the Germans on the other). After the war, my grandparents decided to emigrate to Canada, and ended up in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. The deal was they had to farm the land given them, so this well-brought up woman found herself living in a tiny house, tending cows and chickens and four children. Her family had not approved whole-heartedly of their move, so one time she sent them a photo to show that they were doing well. The only thing was, she sent a photo of the nice, big house across the road, not their own!
Born in 1911, my paternal grandmother was a twin, the oldest of thirteen surviving children, and was raised in Saskatchewan. As was natural in those days, the oldest girls were expected to care for their younger siblings, especially with so many coming after. One story I heard was she married to get away from caring for children—only to find herself having babies alongside her mother. In 1951, she traveled from Saskatchewan to Prince George, British Columbia, reuniting the family after my grandfather and the oldest sons had moved their looking for work. My grandfather worked in sawmills and lumberyards around the area, and they made frequent moves. I don't have a copy of it on hand (I need to get one!) but my favourite photo of Gramma shows her riding bareback on a rearing white horse. Her grin shines out!
What women have influenced you? I’d love to hear your stories!
Then be sure to hop over to Jenna Da Sie!
ALLEGRO COURT, Book One in the Bendixon Sisters Series, releases on March 27 - that's only two weeks away! You can pre-order it for only 99 cents (the price will go up after it comes out). All buy links are here!
I’m back! I only intended to miss one week of the hop, but ended up sick for a couple days after my return from holidays to am just getting back on board today! Our topic this week was posted by Jenna Da Sie:
Besides writing, what are some of your hobbies?
A hobby is technically described as a regular activity that is done for enjoyment. On a normal day, most of my time is taken up with work or writing tasks, so to be honest I don’t have any other regular activities. I’m not counting reading in this category. That’s not a hobby. That’s a life requirement. 😊
That being said, there are lots of things I enjoy doing. I love to take photos, and a few years ago we invested in a “real” camera with interchangeable lenses. I love looking through the viewfinder and composing shots. Even if I don’t print them out just that creative act is satisfying. Here are a few of my favourites from our holiday (Full Disclosure - Mr. C might have taken some of these shots, but they were too good not to share):
As I sit here and look out the window at snow that is piled as high as my shoulder at the edge of our driveway, I’m eagerly looking forward to doing some gardening. We don’t have a vegetable garden, but I always have lots of flower containers scattered about. Once they’re planted there’s not much to do other than water them, so not sure if you’d consider this a hobby, but it is something I love to do.
I always admire people who quilt or sew, like my mother and oldest daughter, or who can make furniture out of pallets, like my second daughter. But those skills seem to have passed me by (it’s probably my lack of patience rather than skill set, but whatever…)
What hobbies do you have? If you have photos of your projects, feel free to share them! Then hop on over to A.S. Fenichel to see what she does in her spare time. She’s just recently moved into her dream home – I’m betting her hobbies are centred around that right now!
Well, it is that time of the year. This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Leslie Hachtel asks:
Two days until Valentines’ Day. Why is it a special day for you (or not) and what are your plans?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
Many, many years ago, Mr. C and I decided we wouldn’t do Valentine’s Day. Not from any bah-humbug mentality, but just because it seemed unnecessary. We’d much prefer to make our anniversary a special day.
Well, we’re making up for it this year! We’d hoped to get away from the cold for a little while this winter, and it just so happened that the vacation we planned departs on Valentine’s Day! How romantic is that – leaving for Puerto Vallarta for 9 nights of couple time on February 14th? LOL!
That being said, I won’t be joining the blog hop next week, but should be back for February 26. I have a lot going on with the release of ALLEGRO COURT that I want to share with you! Remember, for exclusive excerpts and bonuses, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. You can find the form on the homepage of my website, here.
Now, be sure to hop over to the poser of this question, Leslie Hachtel! I bet she has something interesting to say!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, A.S. Fenichel asks:
What was your most romantic memory? Did you set up something, did someone else do something romantic for you? Come on, dish...
Well, this is a tricky one. There’s romantic, and then there’s romantic (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). But if we’re going for we’re going for something safe for work, then I have a few to share.
One of the most romantic moments in my life was the night Mr. C proposed. It was our second anniversary of dating, and we'd decided to go to our favourite restaurant. It was a tiny place - about ten tables or so. We were the only people there (afterwards, he would claim that he had booked the whole restaurant just for us, but there's always a teasing gleam in his eye when he says that so I'm not sure whether to believe it). There was candlelight and flowers and after we ordered our meal he placed a small box in front of me. I couldn't say yes fast enough. It is truly my most romantic memory.
Our first major holiday after our honeymoon (and the birth of two children) was to Costa Rica. One evening, we booked a sunset cruise on a sailboat. It wasn’t a private cruise (now, that would have been even more romantic) but it was a small group with elegant hors d’oeuvres and classy cocktails—and it was on a “real” sailboat. One the way out of the bay we say a manta ray leap out of the water, and the sunset was spectacular. Just sitting on the wooden deck and listening to the water and the wind as we watched the light fade was an amazing experience.
Sometimes romance has to be snatched in small doses amid the maelstrom of life. We have a small motorboat, and there is a lake not far from our house. On a few beautiful summer evenings over the years we’ve picked up sushi from our favourite restaurant, packed some cold drinks, and headed out. Within half an hour we can be on the water, just drifting as we enjoy each other’s company along with the meal.
What about you? Do you have a romantic story to tell? I’d love to hear it! Then be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel for her most romantic memory.
Do you get the winter blues? This week on the Romance Writers blog hop, Leslie Hachtel asks:
The doldrums of winter seem to set in for me about now. What are your secrets for feeling better?
Living in Northern BC, the winter doldrums are very real. At the winter solstice, the sun rises around 8:30am and sets around 3:50pm, giving us less than 7.5 hours of sunlight. And that’s if it's not overcast. Then the day seems much darker and shorter. But now, more than a month after that shortest day of the year, we are already noticing a difference. We no longer drive to and from work in the pitch black. This, more than almost anything, helps to ease the winter blues.
We actually get quite a bit of sunshine throughout the winter. Clear skies make for colder days, but I’ll take crisp blue over gloomy grey anytime. When it is sunny, we do our best to get outside and soak into some Vitamin D. That really does help beat the blues.
Having something to look forward to is another way to survive winter, and I am definitely looking forward to a week in Mexico this February! It’s been a number of years since we’ve had a tropical vacation, and I can’t wait to dig my toes into the sand and sip a Pina Colada!
Keeping busy is another way to make the days of winter pass. We like to do puzzles, so starting in December the dining room table is taken over. I think we’re on puzzle number 8 right now. It will probably be the last though, as we’ve made it through the worst months now.
Do you get the winter blues? If so, how do you beat them? I’d love to hear from you, then be sure to hop over to Jenna Da Sie. She lives in California now, so I am interested to know whether winter doldums are even a thing in the Golden State!
ALLEGRO COURT NEWS:
I hit Publish on the ebook of Allegro Court on Sunday and it is now available for Pre-Order! It can take a few days to get onto all sites, so if you don't see it yet, give it a little more time.
So excited to introduce Mattie and Marcus to the world!
We’re going back in time on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop. (farther back for some of us than others…)
A.S. Fenichel set the challenge:
We all have stories from our childhood; good, bad and ridiculous. Tell us your favorite story from when you were a kid.
(PAUSE HERE WHILE I TYPE, ERASE, TYPE, ERASE, TRYING TO DECIDE WHICH TO PICK. THERE ARE SO MANY...)
I grew up on a small acreage just a few minutes from town. We had a couple of horses, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and for awhile a couple of cows that we bred for our own beef.
The most unusual member of our small menagerie was Peter. Peter was a yellow-headed Amazon parrot. He’d lived in a large cage in the corner of my grandparent’s dining room for as long as I could remember, and then we took him in. All told, he was in my family for about forty years.
Peter was a great attraction whenever I brought friends over. Much bigger than a budgie, he was very talkative, and the way he peeled the tiniest seeds was fun to watch. When his cage needed cleaning, my Mom would take him out and let him wander on the table. His wings were clipped so he couldn’t fly, but he could glide. Sometimes he’d launch himself off the table to the floor. Then you had to beware your toes! Not the friendliest of birds, being on the floor made him even crankier, and he would waddle as fast he could after anyone in reach.
He was a one-woman bird, and that woman was my mom. He would let my mom, and sometimes me if he was in a good mood, scratch him on the head, but did not like men, including my dad. Once, my mom spent some time in hospital, and my dad was so proud because Peter had let him pet him. He tried to show Mom when she got home—and Peter bit his finger!
We don’t know how old he was when he died, but one morning we found him laying on the bottom of the cage. That wasn’t the end of Peter, though. My mom is an amateur taxidermist, so she stuffed him and put him on a perch. My sister now has him in her house.
It’s so hard to pick a story to tell. There are others that have more to do with me, but Peter was a unique part of my childhood that I thought you’d enjoy hearing about.
Now it’s time to head over to Jenna Da Sie for her story!
Have you signed up for my newsletter? You get a free short story just by subscribing, and with three new releases coming this year I'll be sharing excerpts, deleted scenes and all sorts of fun things. The sign up form is on the home page of this website!
I am really excited about this week’s blog. Leslie Hachtel says:
Give us the first three sentences from your Work In Progress.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a new book released – but this year, I am planning to publish three! The Bendixon Sisters series features Mattie, Jo and Camryn as they do their part to keep their grandfather’s construction business profitable, while dealing with life and love.
Here’s are the first three sentences from each of their stories.
Allegro Court (Mattie and Marcus)
“I’m eighty-seven. In case you’re wondering.”
Mattie smiled at Mr. McDonald, and discreetly steered them off a collision course with another couple shuffling across the dance floor. “I never would have guessed.”
Gateway Crescent (Jo and Luke)
“I'm sure you understand,” Phyllis Redmond said, her blue eyes kind yet implacable.
No, I don't, Jo Bendixon thought. I don't understand at all.
Crossroad Corner (Camryn and Will)
This isn’t the way things are supposed to be, Camryn Bendixon thought, despair making her brain muzzy and thick.
The burly man standing next to her said, “I’ll give you two hundred for the table and chairs. And five hundred for the sofa and end tables.”
I just released the cover for Allegro Court – I absolutely love it. Plans are to have Mattie and Marcus’ story released this spring, followed by the others every three months or so. It is my very first series, and I’m so excited to introduce you to the Bendixon Sisters!
Now, be sure to hop over to Jenna Da Sie and get a taste of her work in progress!
We’re back! The Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop starts up a gain for 2019, and I’m leading things of.
This is the time of year to set goals. But I think it is important make sure those goals are realistic and achievable, or all we do is set ourselves up for failure. What achievable goals are you setting for yourself this year?
If you joined me from Dani Jace, welcome!
Many of us have heard the term SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. I think this is where a lot of people fail in their New Year's resolutions—they make them too broad (I’m going to exercise more this year) or so difficult they immediately fail (I’m never going to forget the kids at school) (Okay, maybe that last one isn’t THAT hard) that they give up almost before they’ve started.
When I am writing a new manuscript, my goal is 500 words a day, seven days a week. If things are going really well, I let myself have one day off. I came up with the number by analyzing how long I wrote each evening (I only have so much energy after the day job and family chores) and also by my long-term goals for my writing. Since I don’t do it full time, I only expect myself to complete one manuscript a year. At 500 words a day, I can complete an 80,000 word novel in about five and a half months, which allows plenty for revisions, beta reading and more revisions within my one year timeline.
I haven't released a new book since April 2016, as I’ve been working on a trilogy of romances about the Bendixon Sisters. While Book Three is still in revisions, Books One and Two are done from a writing standing point. This year, I’m setting myself the following goal:
Release Bendixon Sisters Series in 2019: Allegro Court in March, Gateway Crescent in June, Crossroads Corner in September.
Bonus Goal: Release an e-book Box Set in December.
I’ve now independently published three books, so I know how much work goes into each. I have to line up reviewers to read advanced copies, hoping to have reviews pop up on my release day. I’ll have to buy some advertising to let people know what’s going on. I need to reactivate my newsletter. And there’s so much more. But all those things are subsidiaries to the main goal of releasing all three books this year. If I can do that, I’ll have achieved my goal, and have something solid to celebrate.
What about you? What achievable goal are you hoping to reach this year? Leave a comment below, and I'll send you a sneak peak of the cover of Allegro Court before I reveal it on social media.
And don't forget to keep the hop going with Leslie Hachtel - she's up next!
We're coming to the end of the 2018 Blog Hop with Romance Writers Weekly. We’ll be taking a few weeks off over the holiday season, so our next post won’t be until January 8. I hope we’ll see you back then!
On this, our last blog of the year, Leslie Hachtel asks:
If you could have any Christmas wish come true, what would it be?
If you joined me from Jenna Da Sie, welcome!
I know it is corny, but this question really does bring into focus what makes us truly happy in life. After all, it’s not the gifts under the tree (although they are much appreciated!), it’s the people we share this time with. It’s the memories we’ll make that will help us through the tough times, and the laughter and stories we’ll tell that will brighten each day. And whether you celebrate a religious holiday or not, I think those are the wishes we all share during this season.
I’d like to wish each of you the blessings of the season, and hope this time of year, no matter how you celebrate, brings you peace and joy.
See you in 2019!
Be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel and find out what her Christmas wish is!