This week, I set the topic for my Romance Writers Weekly colleagues:
Our oldest daughter is getting married this summer, and our second daughter next year, which has me thinking about how people meet and fall in love. Share your favourite story. It could be you and your spouse, your parents, friends or family.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that one of the reasons I started writing romance was because I love to hear how people met. If you can dream it, it probably happened!
My husband and I met at work. This isn’t exactly the most unlikely of places, of course. What some of you will be surprised to learn, though, is that we are still working together more than 30 years later. Our jobs have changed over the years, but we are both with the same company, and we have worked very closely that whole time. We were joking recently that, when we retire, we’ll probably end up spending LESS time together!
My second daughter met her fiancé through mutual friends, and our first daughter met hers in—get this—kindergarten. That was in the days when school’s had morning and afternoon classes for kindergarten, and they weren’t in the same session, but the groups did get together once in a while. But from Grade One on they were together throughout school, and started dating on Prom Night of their Grade Twelve year.
My parents-in-law are from the same tiny village on the Portuguese island of São Miguel. They knew of each other, of course, but my favourite story of their courtship is that my father-in-law would show off by throwing rocks at chickens as my mother-in-law walked past. I guess he was displaying his hunter/gatherer skills!
In the writing world, when two characters first interact, especially in a romantic comedy, it is called a “meet-cute.” One of my favourite meet-cutes is Sheldon and Amy from The Big Bang Theory. It was a blind date, and things were not going well until they both ordered “tepid water” at the coffee shop. Obviously a match made in heaven!
Do you have a favourite story about two people meeting—in real life or fiction? I’d love to hear it! Then be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel for her take on this topic!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Dani Jace says:
This is 4th of July week for those in the US, but most countries have an Independence Day of similar celebration. What was your tradition growing up? Fireworks? Trip to the beach? Cookout? As an adult, what’s your favorite Independence Day activity or what would you love to do?
It is July 1st as I write this, which means Canada is celebrating its 151st Birthday!
The biggest celebration in our city takes place at our biggest park, on the banks of the Fraser River. It’s hosted by the Immigrant and Multicultural Services Society, which I’ve always thought was a true reflection of how our country has embraced—and been embraced by—those who choose to live here. There will be performances by groups representing First Nations as well as those ethnicities who have more recently come to Canada. And the food! All sorts of food from all around the world!
My family doesn’t have any hard and fast traditions when it comes to Canada Day. Sometimes we go to the park, sometimes we stay home. Other years we’ve gone camping. No matter what, it’s always been a day to spend with family and friends.
Next on the hop is Jenna Da Sie. Jenna has ties to both the US and Canada, so this must be a busy week for her! Check out what she as say here!
This week on Romance Writer’s Weekly, I set the topic for my fellow bloggers.
It may seem obvious, but writers love words. And most of us have our favourites. Give examples of your favourite words (the more unusual the better). Have you ever made up a word because there just isn’t one that describes exactly what you want to say?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
I love playing with words. “Different words have different meanings” may seem like a ridiculous statement, but if you’ve ever used a Thesaurus you’ll understand what I mean. Each of the words listed as a synonym of the word you are searching has a slightly different meaning and can change the entire tone of a sentence or paragraph.
I’m a big fan of multisyllable words that are easy to understand when taken in context. Discombobulate and rambunctious are two of my favourites. For example: I was very discombobulated by the rambunctiousness of my nephews.
Then there’s words that are softer, gentler. Limn is one I like to use. It means “to represent in drawing or painting.” Her profile was limned with light by the sun behind her.
If you have read Anne of Green Gables you might remember the scene where Anne laments about the word alabaster. She always envisioned it as a rich purple, so is disappointed to learn it is actually white. I have felt the same on occasion when I’ve heard a word spoken aloud and realized it is one I have pronounced in my head in a completely different way. In fact, my daughter and I came up with our own word to describe a word you’ve only seen and not heard – voxilliomatic. It draws on Latin (which my daughter studied) and is pronounced voks-ill-ee-oh-mah-tik (so it is not voxilliomatic to you).
Another word I distinctly remember creating while I was writing MOUNTAIN FIRE is loppeting. I wanted to describe a rabbit hopping in a unique way, and for some reason this arrangement of syllables really spoke to me.
I’d love to hear about your favourite words – drop me a line in the comments below! Then be sure to hop on over to Jenna Da Sie for the next stop in the tour this week!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, we’re back to an old favourite. Dani Jace set this week’s topic:
Flash Fiction: 500 words or less using dog, fire & rain
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome! Here is my contribution this week.
The smell of wet dog permeates the cab of the truck.
“Get back,” I say as a cold, damp muzzle is thrust in my face. Argos whimpers and wags his tail. “I know you don’t like storms, but stop being such a big baby.”
I sit behind the steering wheel, Argos taking up the remainder of the bench seat beside me. He’s fifty percent Bernese Mountain Dog, fifty percent Newfoundland and one hundred percent yellow coward. A few minutes ago, we’d been sitting around the campfire, both of us quiet and content after sharing a steak dinner, when he’d bolted to his feet and attempted to leap into my lap. Moments later I heard the deep rumbling roll of thunder, and before I could even think to react, slashing wind and pelting rain assaulted us. Leaving the fire to fend for itself, we dove for the truck, a much more secure refuge than the tiny two-man tent I’d erected earlier that day.
Argos is too nervous to lay down. He stands on the seat, switching positions constantly. One minute I have a sopping wet tail slapping me in the face, the next I am battling dog breath and drool. Through the windshield I keep a wary eye on my tent. Its fragile fabric is billowing and collapsing violently in the wind, and I pray that the pegs hold.
The rain bulleting on the roof is so loud I can barely hear myself think. When I see headlights appear in my rearview mirror I am not surprised I didn’t hear the vehicle approach. I am surprised when someone jumps out of the cab and dashes to my window.
The figure is tall and broad and his—I assume his from the way he moves and his size—his face is shrouded by the hood of the dark slicker he is wearing. He taps on the window and motions for me to roll it down. Argus starts barking, just about blowing out my eardrums. “Quiet,” I command, and he stops, but a rolling growl continues to escape.
Surreptitiously I press the lock button, barricading Argus and myself in the truck. I’ve set up camp in a forestry site just off a well-used logging road. There is no one else here, which is its main appeal. But its isolation is also the reason there’s no way in hell I’m opening my window to a stranger.
When I don’t do as he asks, he gestures again. One hand holds the brim of his hood so it doesn’t whip off in the wind. I don’t know how well he can see me, but I shake my head and shout through the cacophony of rain. “What do you want?”
He either hears me or figures out what I want on his own. With no regard for how drenched he will get—the rain is driving down so hard it is rolling in sheets down the windshield—he pushes back his hood.
Using the torch on my cell phone, I illuminate his face.
Well, that’s just over 500 words, so I guess I have to stop there. What do you think happens next? Does she (I know the narrator is a woman, not that I gave you any clues to that) recognize the man outside her window? Is he really a stranger? Does she open her window? Let me know in the comments, then be sure to hop on over to Jenna Da Sie and see what she came up with!
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, Jenna Da Sie asks:
What is your favourite thing to do in summer?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
At first glance, this topic seemed pretty easy (but then, a lot of them do until I start thinking about them!). There are so many great things to do during summer in Northern BC, however, that it’s harder than I thought to narrow it down.
There’s swimming in clear, cool mountain lakes right off the boat. Wearing sunhats and short skirts and flip flops. Morning coffee in our backyard in the crisp morning sun.
But I think my favourite thing in the summer is the hour or so before going to sleep in our holiday trailer. When we’re out camping, it’s wonderful to sit around the fire, talking and stargazing. Summer nights in Northern BC are usually still quite cool, which makes for great sleeping weather. I’ll cuddle up in our bed in the trailer, ebook in one hand, glass of Rye and Seven in the other, and read until my eyes droop. Usually the air gets a bit nippy, so my nose will be chilled but the rest of me is toasty warm. Then I put away my book and curl up under the covers and listen to the silence. Or, better yet, listen to rain clattering on the roof. I feel so cosy then!
What your favourite thing to do in the summer? Leave a comment below, then hop on over to the instigator of this post, Jenna!
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!