This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Jenna Da Sie says:
My birthday was a couple of days ago. What do you do to celebrate your birthday and do you have one particular birthday that stands out above the rest?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
We don’t celebrate birthdays in any huge way – not every year at least. There’s always a family dinner, although it often isn’t on the right day. It’s easier to get together on weekends, so we tend to celebrate the Sunday before or after. We don’t even always have cake. I remember one birthday where my son, who isn’t a big sweets eater, asked for a donuts, so that was his birthday treat. And if we do have a cake, it is often an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.
We do celebrate milestone birthdays with a bit more pizzazz. For our children’s sixteenth birthdays, my husband made each of them a collage of photos, and the presents were a little more substantial. But we weren’t even in the country when our oldest daughter turned 25 or son turned 21, so that isn’t a rule. It is my mom’s 75th this year, so we should probably do something extra special this year – although when my dad turned 75 they were snowbirding it in the United States, so we didn’t see him on that day.
For myself, I do have one amazing birthday story. Again – it wasn’t even on my actual birthday. Mr. C and I had often talked about going to see Billy Joel play at Madison Square Gardens, especially after he started doing his residency there. About a month before my 50th birthday, we went out on a date night, and Mr. C handed me an envelope. Inside was a photo of Billy Joel and a copy of two tickets to his November 2017 concert. I have to admit, I might have cried a little. It was so unexpected and so special – partly because it was something we both wanted to do. It’s quite an expense to travel from Northern BC to New York City, so this was no ordinary gift. The trip was awesome – the concert defied all expectations, and then we also saw “Come From Away” on Broadway, which was a true delight. All in all, it was the best birthday gift – yet. 😊
What about you? Do you go whole hog for birthdays? Or do you celebrate quietly? I’d love to hear a story about your best birthday in the comments. Then be sure to head over to Jenna Da Sie and find out what she does for birthdays!
On the Romance Writers Weekly blog, we like to talk about a lot of different things. This week, A.S. Fenichel asks:
What’s the best part of being a writer? What’s the worst?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
The quote “I hate to write, love having written” is usually attributed to Dorothy Parker, but I think most writers share the sentiment. Sometimes, writing is an absolute chore—especially in the dreaded middle of a book, when nothing seems to be working and you begin to doubt your sanity. That to me is the worst part—that inner editor who can sometimes paralyze me from putting anything on the page.
The best part is the joy of completing a new story against all odds (or at least that's what it can seem like), and that feeling beats out all the negative emotions, at least for me.
I love that I can write anywhere. Right now, I am sitting in my backyard, listening to our pond’s waterfall, feeling the warm breeze, and smelling the flowers we just planted this morning. I get a special thrill out of working outdoors. I’ve also written at at airport gate, on a boat, in our holiday trailer, and on a rocky river bank. It’s so portable!
I love knowing people are reading my words and enjoying them. Writing is communicating, and while I would still write even if no one was reading, it is certainly a lot nicer to know others are completing the conversation by reading what I’ve put down.
I love the thrill I get when I find exactly the right way to express a character’s thoughts or actions. Sometimes a sentence simply isn’t ‘right’ and when I finally figure out how to fix what’s bothering me, it is a huge satisfaction.
Writing for me is something I have to do. Even on the bad days, I feel better when I do something, even if it is just a few words, than if I do nothing. What about you? Is there something you do that is vital to your being, but that you share with others when given the chance? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Then be sure to hop over to the instigator of this topic, A.S. Fenichel!
I’ve been MIA on the blogging front the last couple of weeks. I usually prep my blog on Sundays, and the last couple of weekends have been busy with Easter, and then something called QuizMe. My “pay-the-bills” job is TV production manager, and one of the programs we do is a Jeopardy-style quiz show for Grade 7 students in our area. We record 15 half-hour episodes in three days, and those three days were last week. That being said, I was a tad bit busy. If you’re interested in seeing what it looks like, the previous season is available to view online here.
Anyway – enough of that! Time to move on to this week’s Blog Hop! J.J. Devine set the topic.
One of my favorite sayings is, “Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite.” Tell me your favorite love story.
Wow – that’s a doozy of a topic! It’s like asking who is my favourite character, or choosing one book to bring to a desert island.
One of the reasons I write romantic fiction is that I love to hear how people came to together. I know of so many just from my own friends and family:
There are so many wonderful love stories. Tell me yours in the comments below, and then move on to Leslie Hachtel to read more.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you, but most writers are also avid readers. This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog, Leslie Hachtel asks:
What was the first romance novel you ever read and how did it inspire you?
To be honest, I can’t remember the title or plot of the first specifically romance novel I ever read. When I was about sixteen, the wife of our next-door neighbour passed away, and I was given a large cardboard box of her Harlequin Presents. As I have always been a voracious reader - I’d read the labels on cereal boxes if there was nothing else available - I whipped through that box pretty quickly.
I do remember the plot of the first Harlequin I read that made me sit up and and take notice. It was set in Australia, and the heroine was a seamstress. She was the first I can recall that didn't sit around waiting to be saved. She worked hard, often late into the night, to support herself and her child (chances are, the child was her niece or nephew - this was the mid-Eighties and virgin heroines were much more prevalent). I have no memory of the hero - that’s how impressed I was with the heroine. The story must have ended with the expected happily-ever-after, but I’ve always had the feeling that she would have been okay even without him.
After that, I searched out books where the heroine took an active role in her success. While I am fairly certain the passive heroine is a thing of the past, she has on occasion been replaced by the Too Stupid To Live heroine. You know the one - she's a civilian with no knowledge of military operations, but refuses to take the soldier's advice? Or the one being stalked by a lunatic that goes in the basement without a weapon when she hears a noise?
Reading passive and TSTL heroines made me determined to never write such a woman. While there's been some slips along the way, I think I've been successful at this for the most part. And for that I can trace my inspiration back to the first memorable plot.
The seamstress story was also the first book that got me thinking about why I enjoyed certain others. Before that box of Harlequins, I read mostly mysteries and classics. Anne of Green Gables and Lord of the Rings are treasured favourites – but it is Anne’s relationship with Gilbert and Arwen and Aragorn’s romance that stand out for me in both of these. Dick Francis was my main go-to mystery writer, and my favourite of his is High Stakes, which has a well-developed romantic subplot. In fact, many of his books do, and those that don’t still have a strong relationship arc of some sort (Proof involves a widower coming to terms with his wife’s death that is wonderfully done). Robert B. Parker is another favourite, but the stories where Susan is either not present or has a minor role are the ones I re-read the least.
Of course, there’s always the romance to end all romances, Pride and Prejudice. This is my desert island book, and it is a rare year that goes by when I don’t re-read it. I can’t remember when I first read it – I think I bought it with money from a prize I’d won in high school – but if the question had been what is your favourite romance, this would be it.
How about you? What was the first romance you read? Do you still have a copy? I’d love to hear from you. Then hop on over to Leslie Hachtel to see what the first romance novel she read was. Maybe she can remember the title, unlike me!
Reserved for You goes live tomorrow! You can still get it for 99 cents here.
We’re being silly on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop this week. Jenna Da Sie asks:
What do you carry in your bag/purse? What is in it right now?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
I very much dislike having a cluttered purse. I need to be able to reach into it and grab exactly what I want right away. I don’t even like a purse with multiple pockets – I invariably look in the wrong one first! So, right now in my purse is:
Hey – that was kind of fun! What’s the most unusual thing you carry in your purse or bag? Let me know in the comments, and then hop over to Leslie Hachtel!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Leslie Hachtel asks:
If you could have lunch with any (living) author, who would it be and why?
This is a tough one for me. There are lots of amazing authors out there, but I’m not sure if I’d want to risk losing the mystery by actually meeting them. You know how you feel when something you've looked forward to doesn’t live up to its potential? That’s what I worry about. I’d hate to ruin my enjoyment of an author’s books by a disappointing experience in real life.
That being said, I think I’d like to meet Jill Shalvis. Her romances are funny and sweet (with plenty of heat, though!) and from what I’ve seen on her Facebook page she seems like a pretty down-to-earth person. Kristan Higgins also looks like someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously and would have some funny stories to tell!
But in many ways, the authors I’d most like to have lunch with are other independent writers who are dealing with the same issues I am – getting noticed in the sea of self-publishing, struggling to work a “real” job while keeping up with writing, honing our craft in order to be better writers. While I have an awesome online community of just these kinds of writers (mostly through Facebook) there’s something special about being in the same room and talking face to face.
How about you? Which author would you like to have lunch with? And do you have the same reservations I do, or would you not worry about that at all?
Be sure to visit A.S. Fenichel and see who she'd like to do lunch with!
Have you seen this, yet? The new cover for RESERVED FOR YOU (formerly Chef d'Amour). What do you think?
I'll be releasing the updated book soon. If you want to find out first, sign up for my newsletter (there's a form on the home page of this website). It's where I share special news and bonus features about all my books.
How many movies do you watch in a year? I’m afraid we don’t go to see many, so this week’s topic is a little tricky for me. Jenna Da Sie asks:
Have you seen any movies this year? If so, which one was your favourite and why?
We haven’t been to any movies in the theatre this year (and maybe not even last year) but we have watched a couple at home – Bohemian Rhapsody and Can You Ever Forgive Me?
I enjoyed them both. Rami Malek and Melissa McCarthy were excellent in their respective leading roles. It must be very difficult to play such a dramatic, flamboyant character as Freddie Mercury and not make him into a caricature, but somehow Malek does just that. And McCarthy plays a very unsympathetic character (at the start, her only redeeming feature is she loves her cat) but somehow you end up rooting for her to succeed.
What about you? Are you an avid movie-goer or someone like me that usually sees them once they’re available on demand?
Drop me a line, then head on over to A. S. Fenichel to find out what she's watched this year!
Tomorrow's the big day!
Allegro Court goes live tomorrow, and you'll finally get a chance to meet Mattie and Marcus.
If you pre-order it will automatically show up on your e-reader so you don't have to wait any longer.
Buy links are here (you know, if you're interested).
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!