This week on Romance Writers Weekly, I’m offering a double-play. I’ll be out of service next week (first camping trip of the summer—yahoo!!) so am offering a two-for-one this week. Both topics were suggested by Leslie Hachtel. First:
Memorial Day is May 28. Tell us a story of someone in your family who served.
As a Canadian, we celebrate our veterans on Remembrance Day, November 11th. In my family, my aunt’s husband served in the Canadian Forces in the Sixties. Going further back, my grandfather on my mom’s side joined the Belgian Army when Germany invaded in 1940. That conflict only lasted 18 days, as the Belgians were quickly overrun. Several of my father’s uncles also fought during World War Two, and in fact one was stationed close to where my mother’s parents lived. We actually went through the town when we traveled to France and Belgium last year.
Our second topic (which everyone else will be blogging out next week) is this:
How about your favorite dessert recipe when you have a picnic or a barbeque.
I have to admit, I’m not much of a “dessert-maker.” But one recipe I wish I made more often is Strawberry Margarita Pie. Enjoy!
20 oreo cookies, crushed
2 tbsp. butter (melted)
Mix together and press into a pie plate (Or simply buy a premade crust).
20 oz. frozen strawberries
3/4 c. sugar
1/8 c. tequila
1/8 c. triple sec
1 tbsp. lime juice
Blend together in mixer.
1/2 c. cream (whipped) (or use Dream Whip topping)
Add to strawberry mixture.
Spread 2 cups of mixture onto crust. Wrap in plastic and freeze 2 hours. Add remaining mixture and freeze 3 hours more before serving. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.
I love recipe swaps, so I’m going to be sure to check the blogs on May 29 to see all the other suggestions. But for today, be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel and hear her family’s story of service.
I'll be back in two weeks with another Romance Writers Weekly blog!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly - Leslie Hachtel asks:
People always ask me where I get my inspiration for my stories. Where do you get your inspiration?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
One of my main inspirations are the people around me. I truly believe there is someone for everyone, and love to hear how people met. Two couples I know met while on online gaming sites (like Dungeons and Dragons, not poker). I’d love to write a romance with that premise. Also, I like to look at a couple that seem oddly matched (to me, at least) and think about why their relationship works. And then there are those romances that are slow to bloom—high school friends who meet years later (or maybe have even remained friends the whole time) and suddenly have the blinkers removed and see their soulmate. I know a few of these couples, as well.
I also find inspiration in locations. Some places truly are more romantic than others, and I think Northern British Columbia is one of those places. I do some of my most creative thinking while out on the water in our boat. And even winter has its charm (especially the coming back inside and warming up part!).
What about you? Even if you’re not a writer, where do you find the spark for your creativity?
Be sure to hop on over and see what inspires Dani Jace!
Family oral histories are important. This week on Romance Writers Weekly, I challenged everyone to:
Share a memorable story you've ever heard (or told) by word of mouth that you would like your ancestors to remember always.
There are so many stories I want my (currently imaginary) grandchildren and their ancestors to remember. Over the years, memories get blurred and facts can blend into fiction. After all – if it makes for a better story, why not bend the truth just a little bit?
I probably already have some of the details wrong, but I love the story about how my parents met. My mother was in nurse’s training at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. So was my father’s cousin, who had grown up with my dad in Prince George. They became friends, and that may have been enough of a connection, as my dad was living in Vancouver at the time, as well. Fate made sure of it, however when my father’s brother-in-law was in a car accident (I believe he was hit by a police cruiser through no fault of his own) and was sent to St. Paul’s (at least a ten-hour drive away at the time) for treatment.
My mother’s parents were married in February 1941 in Belgium. This was during World War Two, of course, and Belgium has been occupied by the Germans for quite some time already. They didn’t talk about it a lot, but I do remember one story. My grandmother had purchased a pig through the black market. In order to get it home undetected, she put it in a buggy and wrapped it in blankets as if it were a sleeping baby. Here’s where I’d like to add that she was stopped by German soldiers and questioned, all the while hoping they wouldn’t look too closely, but I don’t think that is part of the truth.
My dad’s dad was born in Nova Scotia, and his family has connections in Boston. When he was 12 or 13, old enough to start to work, he was sent to the family in the States and got a job at a book printing company. I still have the full set of Charles Dickens he was given when he left, even though he didn’t work there very long.
Some of the stories can be told in a sentence:
- The Christmas Santa and his reindeer left footprints (actual footprints!) on the roof of our garage!
- Camping in such high winds what we all had to hold down the poles used for our tarps and awnings so they didn’t blow away.
- Playing Scattergories with the letter D and the category Song Titles, and Only Son played “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”
- At the local SPCA to adopt a kitten and having one reach out of its cage to catch the sleeve of Middle Child as if choosing her, and fifteen years later having that cat still prefer her out of all of us.
- The time a friend asked Eldest Daughter, who was not yet in kindergarten, what she wanted to be when she grew up and she said “paleontologist.” (You should have seen the look on his face.)
What about you? Any family stories you can tell in just one sentence? I’d love to hear from you, and then be sure to hop over to visit Jenna Da Sie .
Flash Fiction is so much fun to write that we’re doing it back to back! This week it is Leslie Hachtel's turn to set the challenge:
Write 500 words or less using the words knuckle, cocktail and eyelashes.
I might be cheating a bit. One, my story is more than 500 words (oh, well) and, two, I thought it also might be interesting to continue last week’s story. So if you didn’t read that blog, be sure to check it out. Here goes!
In that instant of recognition, the loud, crazy nightclub scene surrounding Laurel vanished. The noise, the crowd—gone, replaced by Hollis.
Her ex-boyfriend shifted on the stool, leaning toward her. “I’ve missed you so much,” he said.
Flames of fury licked at the edges of the shock still dulling her mind. He’d missed her? He’d broken her heart, and he had the gall to say he missed her?
She tossed her cocktail in his face. The frilly umbrella the bartender had placed jauntily in the wide bowl bounced off his forehead, and slushy green crushed ice cascaded into his eyes, down his cheeks.
“Damn it!” he shouted, jumping up flailing his arms. “That stings!”
“Good,” she muttered in satisfaction.
Hollis snatched a pile of napkins from bar and wiped his face. “I said I wanted to explain.”
“You’ve already explained. I asked you to explain a month ago when you dumped me, and you told me it 'just wasn’t good timing.' I don’t need to hear any other lame excuses.”
“I didn’t handle it well.” Hollis cleared sticky residue from the bar stool and sat back down. He wore a blue polo shirt that matched his eyes and light tan trousers. Both were splattered with margarita mix.
He still looked good enough to eat. Laurel chewed nervously on one knuckle to distract herself, her whole body tinglingly aware of him.
“Can we go talk somewhere else?” he asked. “It’s too loud in here.”
Their entire conversation had been conducted at the top of their lungs, to combat the driving music. Laurel looked for Michaela. Her friend was on the dance floor, glued to the sexy Brazilian who had invited her to learn the Samba. Suddenly it was all too much, and Laurel had to escape. Without saying a word, she slid off the bar stool and hurried through the drunken crowd, dodging her way to the front door. Without looking she knew Hollis was right behind her. He’d obviously taken her actions as consent to talk more. It was the last thing she wanted to do. Tears gathered in her eyes, pooled on her eyelashes. She brushed them away as she stepped onto the sidewalk.
The change from the crowded nightclub was like diving into a pool—cool and clean and quiet.
She had intended to keep on walking, ignoring Hollis, but he gripped her elbow lightly, stopping her flight mid-motion. “Please, Laurel,” he repeated. “I need to tell you what I couldn’t before.”
“I don’t want to hear,” she said, feeling mutinous, refusing to look at him.
“I’m an undercover cop.”
That had her head jerking up, had her staring at him, searching his expression. All she saw was the truth.
“We met while I was part of a major operation. It was supposed to wrap up weeks ago, but things went sideways. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take the time off for this trip, but I couldn’t tell you why.”
Laurel felt her mouth open and close, open and close. No words came out.
“Maybe I should have handled it differently,” he said. “But I didn’t know how. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life.”
She finally found her voice. “You’re a cop?” she squeaked. “I thought you were an accountant!”
“I am. I specialize in financial crimes.” He reached out and touched her shoulder. His caress lit tiny fires in her skin, and not because of the sunburn she had. “We made the arrests two days ago. I hopped on a plane as soon as I could.”
Reeling from too much information too fast, she rested a hand on his chest, searching for balance. “You came looking for me? How did you know I hadn’t cancelled the trip?”
He smiled. “Cop, remember? I made some calls.” He drew her close, wrapping his arms around her, tucking her head under his chin. “I couldn’t wait another day to see you, to explain. Can you forgive me? Can we start again?”
His heart thumped rapidly under her cheek and she sensed tension in his body. He didn’t know how she would answer. And it mattered to him. She mattered to him.
“Yes,” she sighed, here own heart brimming over. “Let’s start again."
I hope you enjoyed Part Two of my flash fiction! Be sure to hop over to Jenna Da Sie and check out her story!
Flash Fiction is back! Jenna Da Sie has set the challenge. I think she’s taking it easy on us as it’s been a while since we’ve done this. At least the words have a theme!
Write a flash fiction in 500 words or less that includes the words: sunscreen, camera, tourist.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome! Here is my contribution:
“I told you to put on sunscreen,” Michaela scolded as she slathered an after-burn cream on Laurel’s shoulders.
“I did,” Laurel said, wincing at her friend’s touch, even though she was being gentle. Her skin was radiating heat an infrared camera would be able to pick up. “But I guess I missed a few places.”
“So much for not looking like tourists,” Michaela grumbled. “We're in Rio de Janeiro. I wanted to meet some sexy South Americans, not Joe from Boise. We’ll never pass ourselves off as locals if you’re wandering around lobster-red.”
“Sorry.” Laurel could care less about meeting new men. Her heart was still mending from the blow Hollis had struck a month a go. But that didn’t mean she wanted to screw things up for Michaela. “I’ll wear a wrap when we go out tonight. No one will see.”
Later that evening, she sat in a crowded bar, watching Michaela’s bright, laughing face. She was dancing with a handsome, dark-skinned man whose Brazilian accent had been charmingly heavy when he’d invited her out onto the floor. Now he was teaching her the complicated steps to a Samba and taking every opportunity to keep his hands on her.
Laurel tried not to think of what she’d hoped for this trip when she’d booked it a couple months ago. It was supposed to be her and Hollis on that dancefloor, getting all hot and sweaty and hungry for each other. Instead, he’d broken it off. When she’d asked for a reason, for an explanation, he’d only shaken his head. “It’s not going to work out,” he’d said, looking miserable but determined. “The timing isn’t right for us.”
In a fit of mortified pique, she’d invited Michaela to take his place. She wished now she’d just stayed home to lick her wounds. The comparison between what she'd hoped for and what she was getting was a fiery pain that out-burned the one on her shoulders.
The bar where she was sitting overlooked the dancefloor. Someone slid onto the stool next to her but she didn't look over. The place was packed, and she wasn’t going to save Laurel’s seat when it didn’t look like she’d be returning anytime soon.
“Hello, Laurel,” a deep voice said.
She froze. Even over the frantic beat of the music, the conversations surrounding her conducted at screaming level, she recognized that voice.
It couldn’t be. She must have imagined it. She took a sip of her drink without turning her head.
“I need to talk to you,” the voice continued. “I need to explain.”
She closed her eyes briefly. Maybe she was going crazy. That would explain it. Carefully she peeked in the voice’s direction, more than half-hoping that no one was there. She’d rather be crazy than have her suspicions confirmed.
She wasn’t crazy. Hollis was on the stool next to her, watching her with his sea-blue eyes.
I'd love to hear what you think! Want more of Laurel and Hollis' story? Let me know in the comments. And then hop over to Dani Jace to see what she came up with!
This week’s topic on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop seems very timely. A.S. Fenichel says:
Let’s talk about book covers. Pick three of your covers and tell us: what was your thought process for the design or, if you’re traditionally published, tell us what you thought the first time you saw your shiny new cover. If you have a great story about your cover(s) please share.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
The reason I say this topic is timely is because, just last week, a Canadian artist who designed more than 500 Harlequin romance covers, was awarded his very own stamp, based on one of his covers. Check out the full story here:
As for my own covers, I’ve been very involved in their creation. My first two books were published by a small press, but I was able to give them a very clear idea of what I was hoping for, and I think they did a great job.
I have to say, though, the cover of my first self-published book is my all-time favourite. When Time Falls Still was actually a finalist as Best Cover in the 2017 RONE Awards. Thanks so much to my cover designer, Steven Cote, for making it look so wonderful!
The second cover above is the first publication of Mountain Fire. It will always hold a special place in my heart, since it was my first published book. Just last year I revised it and self-published it with a new, extremely dramatic cover (second from right). Not everyone can see it at first, but there is a silhouette of a couple kissing above the fiery treeline. Can you see it? What do you think?
And the last is No Life But This. It may seem odd that a romance novel doesn’t have a couple on the cover, but this image spoke so clearly to me about Abigail’s journey in the story that I had to use it.
Now it’s time to hop over the instigator of this blog, A. S. Fenichel. What cover is her favourite? Check it out here!
Happy Easter to everyone! The last time Easter was only April 1st was 1958, but the next time it happens will be in 2029—only an 11 year wait, not 50! Of course, April 1st is also April Fool’s Day. This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Jenna Da Sie asks:
Do you play or have you played an April Fool’s joke?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
I’m going to admit – I don’t really like practical jokes, especially when they are played on me. I don’t like not knowing things, and practical jokes are the ultimate sneak attack. But I have to admit—a cleverly played one can be very funny.
When I was a child, a local store went out of business and sold all their fixtures and fittings. My mother bought one of the mannequins to use as a scarecrow. This mannequin showed up in quite a few practical jokes over the years. I can’t remember how long we had had her when my mom asked me to call her “friend” in for coffee. “She’s just looking at the chickens,” Mom said. “Tell her the coffee is ready.” So I stood at the doorway and called. And called. It took me a long time to realize why my mom was killing herself laughing.
I work for a broadcast company with two radio stations and a TV station. Radio announcers often come up with hilarious practical jokes. One of the ones I remember best was when Mr. PG was stolen. Mr. PG is our town mascot, and there is a very large statue of him at the intersection of our four main highways. Our announcers spent all morning talking about how he’d been stolen and no one knew where he’d been taken. I drive by every morning on my way to work, and I hate to admit it, but it wasn’t until AFTER I had passed him (and, of course, he was still there) that I realized what day it was.
Is S. C. Mitchell a practical joker? Find out here as you continue on our hop!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Leslie Hachtel asks:
If you were stranded on a desert island (with plenty of water and enough food), what is the one thing you would have to have with you to survive?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel's blog, welcome!
I don’t mean to be sappy, but the one thing I couldn’t live without would be Mr. C. Am I cheating when I say that? Does it have to be an actual item? No matter – I’m picking him and that’s it.
There are so many reasons why I’d want him with me, and not just for the companionship (although I can’t imagine being stuck with anyone else). He’s a really resourceful guy. With him along, I’d have a much better chance of surviving. Actually, let’s be honest. He’d probably be my only chance of surviving. My grass hut would fall down with the first ocean breeze. His would have sturdy walls and drip-proof roof. I would be able to forage for berries and roots, but with Mr. C I’d be certain of fish and wildlife. He’s also someone who isn’t scared to explore new paths and test the limits of an area. Left to my own devices I’d probably sit where I crawled on shore, too afraid to go anywhere else.
I may have broken the rules of this challenge – I wonder what Leslie Hachtel did? Find out at her blog here!
A.S. Fenichel has set us a challenge on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop. It is:
Tell us about your hobbies. What do you do when you’re not writing and don’t say reading.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
It’s the “don’t say reading” part that gets me on this topic, as that is definitely my default position. I don’t suppose you could call it a hobby, though. It’s more like life-giving sustenance. 😊
If you consider a hobby as an activity, not just an interest, I’d have to say that my true hobby is photography. I’ve always loved snapping photos, and a few years ago we invested into a moderately expensive camera where we can change the lenses, which has made it a lot more fun. When Mr. C and I go on holidays, I like to carry the camera, because I don’t think he takes enough photos. I’d rather have too many and only print the best than regret missing a shot. Here are some of my favourites over the years. What do you think?
Now it’s time to hop over to the next blog, Jenna Da Sie. I wonder what her hobby is?
March is not Spring in Northern BC. We are still blanketed in snow and while the days may be getting warmer, we are weeks and weeks away from crocuses and daffodils. Jenna Da Sie’s topic this week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop is a great way to forget that depressing thought!
St. Patrick’s Day is coming up. Do you believe in any Irish folklore?
I believe in myths and folklore the way I believe in aliens – I don’t think they exist (it's an uncomfortable thought, after all), but it’s a pretty big universe and we are still discovering things, so I am not entirely ready to rule them out.
But I do believe that many tales we now consider unreal were originally based on true life. Irish folklore is full of god-like beings who may very well have been real people whose exploits and talents were exaggerated (for want of a better word). I’ve always loved that part of history/mythology – the chance that a real person may have been the instigator for glorious stories.
So, do I believe in Irish folklore? No – and yes. I’m willing to keep an open mind!
Hop on over to the next stop on the blog tour - Leslie Hachtel.