Today's an exciting day for me! It's the release of the last in the Bendixon Sisters Series, CROSSROADS CORNER! If you preordered it should already be on your ereader, but if you haven't, be sure to buy soon, as the price will be going up in a few days! More information is below this week's blog post. And speaking of which...
The saying goes “Never judge a book by its cover,” but be honest - you have, right? This week on the Romance Writers’ Weekly Blog Hop, we’ve been asked to share a couple of our favourite book covers - whether our own or someone else’s - and explain what it is that draws us to them.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
I have a couple of major preferences when it comes to book covers. I generally don’t like to see people’s faces, and if it is part of a series, I want all the covers to have strong commonalities. As a reader, while the cover of a book definitely has influenced my buying decision, what I’m mostly looking for (especially in a indie book) is professional design. If it looks good on the outside, I’m hopeful it is written well on the inside.
Some of Susanna Kearsley’s books are linked, although I wouldn’t call them part of a series. Her covers, though, are immediately recognizable as being from her world. I think they are wonderful, reflecting the magic and mystery that all her stories have.
Diana Gabaldon’s books have been released with numerous covers, but I love this look the best. It is simple yet striking, and let’s the story stand for itself.
Courtney Milan does write books in series, but no matter what series it is she has a distinctive style. For her historicals, a woman in a jewel-toned gown on each cover. I read once she designs her own, which is awesome, too!
CROSSROADS CORNER, Book Three in the Bendixon Sisters Series, is now available!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Elizabeth Schechter asks:
Playlists - what's in your Spotify? Lyrics or instrumental? What's your favorite writing jam?
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome!
Here’s the thing. When I started writing seriously about ten years ago, I didn’t want to be unavailable to my family for more hours than I already was, given I had a day job and had to write on evenings and weekends. My "office" became the living room, which is slightly separated from the kitchen and family room (where the TV lives). From there I could still help with homework, keep track of the hockey game on TV, monitor what was cooking on the stove, and generally be accessible if someone needed me.
Adding music to the soundtrack already surrounding me would have been one distraction too many!
Things have changed over the years, of course, and it is becoming more and more common for me to be along( or at least the house to be quiet) while I am doing my writing. I’ve grown so used to the background babble that I am finding the silence a little unnerving, and am not nearly as productive as I would like. In the new year, things are going to change again, as I am leaving my day job and plan to focus even more on my writing, which means a new routine is in order. I’ll definitely be exploring how music might help me keep up the word count and get the creative ideas flowing.
Now it’s time to move on to instigator of this topic, Elizabeth Schechter. I am sure she’ll have much more concrete suggestions for music to writing by. And you should check out Elizabeth's newest release, FORGED IN FIRE. It's book two in her "Heir to the Firstborn" series. Find out more here!
Pre-order for only 99 cents, and it will be waiting for you when you wake up on Tuesday morning!
If flash fiction wasn’t challenging enough, this week Jenna Da Sie has tasked us with writing MICRO flash fiction!
Write 250 words with a genre of your choice. The location is a tunnel and the object is a flower.
Here's my contribution. 😊
I yawn and stretch, scratching my belly as I blink the sleep out of my eyes. The space around me is warm and cozy, but I’ve spent way too much time here lately. Spring is stirring in my blood, sparking energy in my nerve cells, burning the dullness of winter from my brain.
A faint glow catches my eye, and I move toward it. Peering around the corner, I see a round circle of brightness—the sun at the end of a tunnel. I am drawn irresistibly to the warmth, and my notice twitches with the scent of newborn flowers.
I poke my head out of my burrow cautiously, wary of hawks, coyotes and other vicious marauders. Green sprigs of grass form a waving hedge around the entrance to my home, and for a moment I just savour the end of the long dark. Then I scurry out for the first feast of the new gopher year.
Maybe it’s the onset of winter here in Northern BC that has me thinking of spring already. What do you think of my furry little story? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Then be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel and see what she came up with for Jenna’s challenge.
Want to get swept up in a dashing adventure? Check out Leslie Hachtel's BOUND TO MOROCCO!
Yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving, and I am still wallowing in gluttonous enjoyment of family and food. But recipe hops are one of my favourite kinds, so this week I said to my fellow bloggers:
As the weather gets cooler in Northern British Columbia, I tend to make more stews and casseroles and soups. Share your favourite cold weather meal recipe!
If you joined me from AJ Andersen, welcome!
I love my slow cooker, especially in winter. But I do get tired of chicken and beef recipes after awhile. Also, if I’m using a slow cooker, I want the meal to come out of it complete, and I’m not a big fan of cooking pasta in the pot (I feel it has a funny texture). After all those disclaimers, here’s one of my favourite recipes.
Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers
8 – 10 uncooked Italian sausages (can be any flavour)
1 onion, sliced
3 peppers (any colour), sliced
5 – 6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bag baby potatoes (or about 4 – 5 cups cut in large cubes)
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
¼ cup water
1 bay leaf
Brown sausage in frying pan. Set aside.
In large bowl mix next eleven ingredients. Spoon enough of this mixture into greased slow cooker to cover bottom. Add layer of sausage, more sauce, another layer of sausage, and the rest of the sauce, covering the sausages.
Add bay leaf. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. Remove bay leaf before serving.
After yesterday, I didn’t think I’d ever be hungry again, but maybe this will be on the menu later this week!
Now, hop over to Jenna Da Sie to another new recipe to add to your collection.
Oooh – I like this week’s topic! I’m going to be sure to hop around and maybe discover games I’ve never heard of. Jenna Da Sie says:
I love game nights! Do you have a favourite game you like to play when you get together with friends or family?
We are a BIG game playing family. Over the years we’ve played all different kinds. For board games, we probably play Pictionary and Scrabble the most, but we’ve been known to play Monopoly, Sequence and Risk. Our usual game of choice is some sort of card game, though. We know all sorts of different Rummy games, and May I? and Ugly Sticks are old favourites. Recently we’ve been playing a game called Golf. I have no idea why that name. Maybe it’s because you are trying to get the lowest score and you play 9 rounds. The rules are quite simple.
Use a standard 52 card deck including jokers.
Deal 4 cards to each player (works best with no more than 6 player and one deck of cards). Place remaining cards face down and start the discard pile with one face up card.
Each player looks at ONLY TWO of their cards, then places all four cards face down. You can only look at the beginning of the round – no peeking later!
The goal is to get the lowest score. Each card is worth its face value (Jacks and Queens are worth 10) except as follows: Fives are worth minus five, Kings are worth zero, Jokers cancel out the card of the highest value, and pairs cancel each other out.
On your turn, you choose either the discard or the top of the facedown deck. If you choose the discard, you place it face up in front of you and discard one of your face down cards. If you choose the top of the deck, you can either discard it or replace one of your face down cards. But each turn you must turn leave a new card face up. Once a card is face up it is “locked” and cannot be discarded. Play continues until all players have revealed all their cards.
At the end of the round, points are tallied, and at the end of nine rounds the person with the lowest score wins.
The element of chance makes this game lots of fun, because you don't know if the two cards you didn't look at are good or bad, so sometimes make the wrong decision.
What about you? What is your favourite game to play? I’d love to hear from you! Then, be sure to hop over to AJ Anderson (a new Romance Writers Weekly member!) to see what games she likes to play.
Now, I’d like to pass you on to a new member of the Romance Writers Weekly! Clair Brett is an historical romance author with three published novels who empty-nests in New Hampshire with her husband and various furry critters. Welcome, Clair! And to discover the best book Clair read lately, head to her blog here!
many personal stories that touched my heart and sparked my subconscious. One of the letters was written by Leslie Nuefeld, a soldier from the town of Nipawin, Saskatchewan. My father grew up in that area, and reading the words of this young man was both humbling and thought-provoking. He writes: "If anything should happen to me, do not feel sad or burdened by it, but take the attitude of "He served his country to his utmost." With that spirit I am going into battle…I have full expectations of returning and with God's strength and guidance I'm sure He will see me thro' all peril. My trust is in God." He died two days after writing this letter in the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944, You can read the full letter here. It is both tragic and uplifting.
Now, be sure to hop over to A.S. Fenichel to see what interesting fact she dug up during her researches recently.
Andrea's next book in the Everton Domestic Society, "A Lady's Past" is available for Preorder and on NetGalley.
Amazon PreOrder: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07R4K3Y1J
Why not check it out?
I missed the last time we did Flash Fiction on the Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop, so when it was my turn to decide a topic I assigned it again.
Write no more than 500 words using these three words: grandmother, freckle, giant.
I just finished reading "Madam, Will You Talk" by Mary Stewart, which is set in the south of France. Maybe that was a partial inspiration for this little story.
The giant sunflower waved and bobbed in the breeze. The stalk supporting it was almost a thick as my wrist. Even in this field full of its siblings it stood out from the rest.
My grandmother stopped beside it and peered up at the enormous blossom. “My,” she said in her soft, accented voice, “aren’t you a tall fellow.” She reached out and patted the fuzzy stem, her age-freckled hand trembling with the Parkinson’s that ravaged her body.
“Do you want to go any further?” I asked. “Or are you tired?”
She answered with a dismissive snort and continued up the row of flowers. We had had to leave her walker in the rental car so she was using her cane, and we walked slowly, but given the heat of the Provençal sun that was just fine by me.
When I was a child, Grand-mère hold told stories of her own childhood growing up in the south of France. It had seemed a fairy tale land, haunted by the ghosts of Roman soldiers and renegade Popes. We would pour over maps, planning our travels while she spoke to me in French, insisting I would only fully appreciate the experience if I immersed myself in the language.
As I grew older, we still talked about the trip, but it got lost in the anxiety of high school, the flurry of university applications, the drama of boyfriends, the minutia of life as an adult.
Then Grand-père passed away, and Grand-mère was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and I broke up with the man I thought would be my forever love, and in a fit of rebellion and rage against life I bought us two tickets to Paris and presented them to Grand-mère as a fait accompli. She’d demurred at first, but when I’d told her the tickets were non-refundable and I couldn’t afford to not take the trip, she lifted her chin and said, “D'accord, let’s go.”
So here we were, wandering in a field full of sunny flowers, my grandmother lost in memories, myself making them.
I’d love to hear what you think of this scene. Then, hop over to visit Leslie Hachtel to see what she dreamed up.
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, A.S. Fenichel says:
Tomorrow, September 11, is my birthday. I know, things got terrible on this day in 2001. Where were you that day? What do you remember? What stood out to you? What was your “silver lining” takeaway?
A lot of people who don’t read romance dismiss it because they think it is goopy and melodramatic. What they don’t realize is that the best romances reaffirm the goodness of life in even the worst circumstances.
The first I remember learning of the attacks was coming downstairs to find my three-year-old son watching TV as the second plane hit the World Trade Centre. I’m still not sure what he was watching before then, but as the coverage took over the airwaves it was impossible to avoid.
I work at a broadcast centre with two radio and one television stations, and even though we were thousands of kilometres away from the events, it took over our day. I spent the morning stuffing envelopes for a sales presentation we were planning for the next week while watching the horrifying images coming from New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon. It was so disorienting, to keep doing regular, ordinary things while the world was changing before our eyes.
But life does go on, as the victims of war and violence and plain-old bad luck have learned for thousands of years. And the tragedy of that day has inspired many in unexpected ways.
There are lots of books written that involve the events of 9-11 – both fiction and non-fiction. I can still remember my reaction to “Sex, Straight Up” by Kathleen O’Reilly. A Harlequin Romance published in 2008, this story treated the subject with grace, humour and understanding. The hero’s wife died in 9-11, and it is one of the most wonderful romances I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it.
And then there’s “Come From Away.” Many of you will have heard the story of the little town of Gander, Newfoundland which was flooded with thousands of people when commercial airliners were forced to land there after American airspace was closed because of the attacks. Even in a country as friendly as Canada, Newfoundlanders are famous for their hospitality – but this put them to the test.
Written by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the musical "Come From Away" is set in the week following the September 11 attacks and tells the story of the residents and stranded travellers. 12 actors portray multiple characters, and the sparse set is transformed from airliners to school bus to Tim Horton’s coffee shop to school gymnasium as needed. I was privileged to see the production on Broadway, and I can honestly say I have never seen anything so moving, so hilarious, and so emotionally stunning as this show. It is now in production all around the world, and if you get a chance, you must see it. Click here to get just a taste of the awesomeness.
And don’t forget to visit Jenna Da Sie next!
It’s September already! Can you believe it? While I certainly love the freedom of summer, there is something to be said to getting back into the routine. And part of that routine will be better attendance on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog! This week, we start with a subject supplied by A.S. Fenichel:
Lordy, it’s hot! I still really like to write outdoors if I can. What’s your favorite place to tackle your daily writing goal? Describe it and tell us what makes it work for you.
It might be hot where Andrea is, but In Northern BC we had a cool and rainy summer. Also, Labour Day Weekend in the unofficial end of summer, and while we can still have lovely, sunny weather, the sun loses much of its intensity so the evenings cool down quickly.
That being said, however, I definitely agree with Andrea, as I love to write outdoors, too. There's something about the fresh air and open atmosphere that helps get the words on the page. But the place I get the most work done, though, is my living room. Since I have to do my writing in the evening, I started doing so in the living room because at least there I was available to my family if they wanted me. Now they are all grown, it is still my usual place, and where I’ve put in the most words over the years. Even if I did have a writing office, I’m not sure I would work there all the time.
Andrea asked us to describe our writing place, but I thought it might be better to show you, so I went back through the archives and dug up a few photos. Enjoy! Then be sure to hop over to A.S. Fenichel to discover her favourite place to write.