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.
Social media seems to be full of ways to make life easier. Call them tips, call them hacks, call them hints—it all boils down to doing things quicker, easier and faster. It was my turn to set the topic this week on Romance Writers Weekly, and if there’s one thing I like it is anything to make me more efficient. I suggested the following:
Let’s share our best life tips. The internet is full of hacks to make cleaning, cooking, packing and everything else in life easier, but which work and which don’t? Share your shortcuts here!
I can't wait to hop around and get some new tips from my fellow writers. If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome! I have two simple tips to share.
Not only is mixing baking soda and vinegar fun (it fuzzes and fizzes!) it cleans almost anything! I use it on my stainless-steel sink, even pouring it down the drain to help clear small clogs. That and a little elbow grease and it looks like new. My husband even used the combination to clean the glue from a cement floor after pulling up sticky floor tiles.
Vinegar alone is very useful, too. If you’ve got an electric kettle that is brown and stained on the inside from water deposits, just add about half a cup of vinegar, fill the rest with water and boil as usual. It takes it all off! I usually run another pot of water after just to make sure there is no residue of vinegar, but it works like a charm!
I grew up knowing the bread in the brown sugar hack. My grandmother and mother both did it, and I simply assumed everyone else did, too. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I saw my mother-in-law chipping away at her brown sugar did I realize it wasn’t as well known as I thought. Trust me on this. Put a heel of bread in your sugar container. I bake rarely, and even when I go back to it months later and the bread is all dried up, the sugar is still soft and easier to use! Just replace the bread when you think of it and you’re good to go!
What life hacks do you have that you’d like to share? I’d love to learn from you—just leave a note in the comments!
Once you do, be sure to hop over to A.S. Fenichel!
Jenna Da Sie has set us fun challenge this week:
Would You Rather Cooking Edition!
I like to cook, but I’m not much of a baker. In fact, my mother gave me Costco frozen cookie dough for Christmas. They come in individual cookies and all you have to do is transfer them to a sheet and bake. That’s my kind of baking!
Here’s what Jenna asked:
Would You Rather:
1) Cut out butter or sugar forever?
I suppose it would be cheating to say butter, because I buy margarine all the time? Yeah, probably. But the same could be said for sugar and its substitutes I suppose. Okay, final decision, based on what I love the most – sugar. I could sweeten with honey, I suppose.
2) Have a normal-sized oven that heats inconsistently or have a toaster oven that bakes everything perfectly?
At this stage in my family, I’d have to go with the normal-sized oven. It’s hard to do a turkey in a toaster oven, and with aging parents and children getting married, I think the big family dinners are coming my way for a number of years yet.
3) Make something beautiful that tastes terrible or make something ugly that tastes great?
Definitely the latter! Although there have been studies done that show the better food looks to the eye, the more we interpret it as tasting good. That being said, I’d rather eat with a blindfold than have to gag down something gross.
4) Forget to preheat oven or forget to bring ingredients to room temperature.
Ingredients to room temperature! Although my twist on it is heated ingredients that have to cool down. I hate those recipes where you are half way through something, with pots bubbling on the stove and everything going really well, that suddenly says “Add melted butter, cooled.” I have actually re-written recipes in the order I have to do things, so that I don’t have that happen!!
5) Have to measure ingredients by eye or have to guess how long things have been in the oven?
I am to particular to measure by eye - I have to use measuring cups and spoons! And I already have to guess how long things are in the oven, as I’m constantly forgetting to set a timer. So that being said, it’s not that big a deal. I check for doneness no matter what the recipe says, anyway.
6) Win a national baking award or create a recipe that gets handed down for generations?
Definitely the family recipe. I think those are so important to carry on. My husband’s family is Portuguese and I’ve learned to make a number of the dishes his mother does, ones you simply can’t buy in a store. And nothing compares to my grandmother’s butter tarts (although I cheat on the shells). My mother loves to make new recipes (she has a huge chest full of cookbooks) so I have a lot of recipes from her, as well. They have all been modified, of course. We tease her because she often says, “Well, the recipe called for that, but I didn’t have it, so I added that.” But they all turn out delicious!
7) Mix everything by hand or wash all dishes by hand.
I’m going with wash dishes by hand. It’s not my favourite job, but mixing everything without a beater or a blender is just too much work!
That was fun! I really enjoyed it! Now it’s time to hop on over to A.S. Fenichel and see what she would rather do!
It’s the most romantic day of the year soon. Leslie Hachtel asks:
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Why is it special for you? And what do you wish for?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
I have a confession to make. Mr. C and I don’t “do” Valentine’s Day. We decided many years ago that we’d give this holiday a miss, and try to remember to show our gratitude and appreciation for each other in our own way. Getting flowers on a random Thursday, or deciding at the last minute to have a date night, is our preferred celebration.
That being said, I can certainly understand why others make it a special day, especially those at the beginning of a relationship. Who doesn’t enjoy roses and chocolates or a wonderful meal—and best of all, time spent one on one with the person you love?
So, do you think I’m a humbug for not doing Valentine’s Day? What do you do to make it special? Let me know in the comments, then hop on over to S. C. Mitchell https://scmitchell.wordpress.com/ to see how he celebrates.
Romance Writers Weekly Share the Love Valentine’s Giveaway!!!
We want to share the love with you. You could win a $50 Amazon gift card!
From February 12 to 15, visit each participating authors' Facebook page (go to the Romance Writers Weekly Facebook page to see a full list) and like, post, or comment on their page. When you’ve visited us all, fill out the entry form at HERE for your chance to win the grand prize (deadline to enter is midnight, February 15)!
Each author is also give away additional prizes. You could win an e-copy of my vacation romance, No Life But This. Be sure to comment on the contest post on my Facebook page. I'll be drawing from those people who comment before midnight on February 15.
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, A.S. Fenichel asks:
The Winter Olympics are coming in just a few days. What’s your favorite event and why? Do you have a favourite Olympic memory?
Whenever I think of the Winter Olympics, I think of 1998. The Games were hosted in Nagano, Japan – but most importantly, Only Son was born on February 18, while the Games were on. He is our third child (if you can call a soon-to-be-20-year-old a ‘child’ still) and I thought I had this labour and delivery thing figured out. We went to the hospital in the morning—only to be sent home that afternoon to wait. I don’t remember what sports were playing that day, but I do remember walking in circles around our kitchen/living room/dining room hoping to get things moving! And they did. He was born fifteen minutes before midnight.
The Olympics in 2002 are also memorable. After fifty years without a gold medal in what we consider “our” sport, Canada was desperate for a win in hockey. The Canadian hired to do the ice during the Olympics placed a Loonie – a Canadian one-dollar coin – in the centre faceoff circle, and then flooded over it. The secret was only revealed to the public after both the Canadian Men’s and Women’s teams won Gold. That Loonie is now in the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame.
And, of course, the 2010 Olympics stand out for me, as they were hosted in my home province of British Columbia. It was also our country's best ever showing, winning 14 gold medals, the most in a single Games in Winter Olympic history.
I’ve always enjoyed the Winter Olympics more than the Summer. There aren’t so many sports, so it feels cozier and more of a community. I’m looking forward to watching them again!
Do you have a favourite sport to watch during the Olympics? Leave a comment below! And then be sure to hop on over to Leslie Hachtel's blog, too!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, it was my turn to set the topic. I chose:
What are you most looking forward to this year? Are you planning special travels or celebrations?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
Last year was a big year of travelling for Mr. C and I. We went to Europe with my parents and spent time in Belgium, the South of France, and Paris. Then, for my 50th birthday, we flew to New York to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Gardens. So it might be expecting a bit much for us to do any major travelling this year, wouldn’t it!
That being said, we are planning on doing a lot of camping around our area. We have a travel trailer and love to spend time in it. One of our favourite campgrounds is Purden Lake. The sites a large and private, and the lake just the right size for our little boat.
On the writing side, this will probably be a quiet year for me, at least on the publishing front. Since April 2017, I’ve released two new novels and a revised edition of my first. I have been working on a trilogy throughout that time, as well. In that series, the first has been critiqued and betaread. The second is done from my point of view but still needs to be critiqued (I’m just getting my courage up) and I’m about 20,000 words into the third. My big goal this year is to finish the third and get the second up to snuff. I think that’s enough for me for now!
But no matter what else, the biggest event of our year will be the marriage of our oldest daughter. She and her fiancé are planning their wedding for late August, and we are very much looking forward to celebrating with them.
What about you? What are your plans for this upcoming year? Let me know, and then hop on over to Jenna Da Sie to see what she has planned!
We’re continuing the winter theme here at Romance Writers Weekly. Because, after all, it still is winter! Leslie Hachtel says:
It’s the middle of the winter and the lack of sunlight and the cold (for many of us) is difficult. What do you do to get out of the doldrums?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
The days are noticeably longer already, a month after the solstice, and that’s one of the best cures for getting out of the doldrums for me. But here are my top five suggestions (in no particular order):
What do you do to beat the winter blahs? Or what other challenges do you have at this time of year? Be sure to check out Jenna Da Sie's blog and see what suggestions she has!
Is it winter where you are? And if so, what’s your winter like? As someone who grew up (and still lives) in Northern British Columbia, winter has always been snowy and cold. You know, a “real” winter. 😊
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, A.S. Fenichel asks:
It’s cold in most of the world-the best time of year to snuggle up with a good book, a cozy blanket and a warm fire. What book (type or author) are you reading and why? Tell us your favorites.
I have to admit, I’m in a bit of a blah state right now when it comes to reading. I’ve always been really picky about what I read, and often prefer to pick up a book I’ve read a dozen times before than experiment with a new author. Being a writer has a lot to do with it, I think. I am often overly aware of the mechanics and techniques, and this can really take me out of a story. I could not get into 50 Shades of Grey, for instance, but the DaVinci Code (which many professional authors panned because of its style) I love.
Right now, I’m re-reading Kristen Ashley’s Ride Steady. She’s the first “motorcycle gang romance” author I ever read, and I find her style interesting and unique. Before that, while we were in a real deep freeze, I re-read Early Autumn by Robert B. Parker, who is one of my true go-to authors. I can pick up anything he wrote and know I’m going to enjoy it. Too bad I’ve read all of them already!
When it comes to authors I trust, Dick Francis, Nora Roberts and Courtney Milan (I like her historicals better than her contemporary, but all very good) are all on my list. As you can see, my tastes lean toward mysteries and romance. 😊
I’d love some suggestions for new authors to try. Who is your favourite? Who do you trust to always provide a rich, satisfying story? Leave a note in the comments!
Jenna Da Sie is next on the blog hop. She’s living in California right now, so her winter is much different than mine! Check out what she’s reading right now.
Welcome to 2018, and the first Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop of the year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. Here in Northern BC we had very cold weather (even for us) which brought beautiful bright blue skies, so it was a worthwhile trade off. Three turkey dinners and numerous family visits later, it’s time to get back in the swing. Leslie Hachtel starts off this year with an oldie but a goodie:
Let’s talk about your New Years’ Resolutions.
If you joined me from S. C. Mitchell, welcome!
I’ve been seeing a lot of TV interviews about resolutions recently (shocking, I know!), and there seems to be a recurring theme this year – make them achievable! While this may seem like common sense, I totally get why we all need a reminder once in a while about making goals that are within our control.
Bear with me, here. I will be taking a long and roundabout route to my resolution, and will be sharing some honest details about my writing career, but I'll get there.
For years and years, I had a goal – finish a book. I didn’t even have a particular book in mind (I started many during those years that have been lost in the mists of time). I just wanted to say I’d written a book and it was done.
And I did. In 2011, I finished Mountain Fire, and, of course, my goals changed. Now I wanted it published—and I wanted to write more books.
I’ve achieved both of those goals since—and my goals changed again. Now I want to make money selling my books.
Like many authors, I also have a full-time job. This means I have a limited amount of energy to put into writing, editing, publishing, and promoting my books. Unlike many authors (it seems) I need a full 8 hours of sleep and a decent amount of downtime, too, so this limits my writing and its related work even further.
Even so, I still achieved a respectable amount last year. I finished my sixth full-length manuscript and gave that first draft a full edit, as well as revised Mountain Fire and handled its re-release since I received the rights back in October. What I didn’t achieve was making a profit at my writing.
I have to admit, that started to weigh on me. This isn’t a hobby for me. I want to make a career out of this. I don’t have to be rich and famous, but I’d like to make enough money to have it be my “retirement job.” You know, the one that supplements our savings, keeps me active and involved, and makes me feel good.
Did I put as much effort into my writing career last year as I could have? Maybe not. Will I try and do better this year. Again, I answer—maybe not.
And this is where we get to my New Year’s Resolution. I need to have a career/life/writing balance that works for me. And if that means writing comes third some days, then so be it. And if writing comes third, then marketing and promotion comes even further down the list. And if you don’t market and promote, you don’t make sales.
That’s something I’ll just have to live with, and learn to accept. Which, to be honest, nine days out of ten I am perfectly fine with. But those tenth days can be soul-searchingly tough, sometimes.
My New Years Resolution, then? To remind myself I write because not writing is not an option. I feel better about myself every day I put words on the page, even if they’re bad words, even if there are few of them. Will I still worry about making money at this? Of course I will. Like I said, it’s not a hobby. But I resolve to remember the reason I write. Because I love it.
How about you? Do you have a plan or a project that isn’t quite coming together the way you’d hoped, and yet you can’t put it down? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Then be sure to hop on over to J.J. Devine and see what challenges she's set for herself this year!
This will be our last Romance Writers Weekly post for 2017. We'll be taking time off over the next couple weeks to celebrate the holidays, and be back to blogging on January 9, 2018. So to wrap things up, CL Marcolini asked us to share a holiday meme or gif that illustrates our frame of mind this time of year.
If you joined me from Dani Jace, welcome!
As everyone know, the holidays can be stressful. Find the perfect gifts, making time to bake, hosting people for dinners. But it's also a time to celebrate. I think this meme is frantic enough for the first, and fun enough for the second. Plus, it's the Minions. I love the Minions!
I wish you and yours the very best this holidays season! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Now be sure to hop on to A.S. Fenichel's blog to see what she chose!