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!
Well, it is that time of the year. This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Leslie Hachtel asks:
Two days until Valentines’ Day. Why is it a special day for you (or not) and what are your plans?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
Many, many years ago, Mr. C and I decided we wouldn’t do Valentine’s Day. Not from any bah-humbug mentality, but just because it seemed unnecessary. We’d much prefer to make our anniversary a special day.
Well, we’re making up for it this year! We’d hoped to get away from the cold for a little while this winter, and it just so happened that the vacation we planned departs on Valentine’s Day! How romantic is that – leaving for Puerto Vallarta for 9 nights of couple time on February 14th? LOL!
That being said, I won’t be joining the blog hop next week, but should be back for February 26. I have a lot going on with the release of ALLEGRO COURT that I want to share with you! Remember, for exclusive excerpts and bonuses, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. You can find the form on the homepage of my website, here.
Now, be sure to hop over to the poser of this question, Leslie Hachtel! I bet she has something interesting to say!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, A.S. Fenichel asks:
What was your most romantic memory? Did you set up something, did someone else do something romantic for you? Come on, dish...
Well, this is a tricky one. There’s romantic, and then there’s romantic (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). But if we’re going for we’re going for something safe for work, then I have a few to share.
One of the most romantic moments in my life was the night Mr. C proposed. It was our second anniversary of dating, and we'd decided to go to our favourite restaurant. It was a tiny place - about ten tables or so. We were the only people there (afterwards, he would claim that he had booked the whole restaurant just for us, but there's always a teasing gleam in his eye when he says that so I'm not sure whether to believe it). There was candlelight and flowers and after we ordered our meal he placed a small box in front of me. I couldn't say yes fast enough. It is truly my most romantic memory.
Our first major holiday after our honeymoon (and the birth of two children) was to Costa Rica. One evening, we booked a sunset cruise on a sailboat. It wasn’t a private cruise (now, that would have been even more romantic) but it was a small group with elegant hors d’oeuvres and classy cocktails—and it was on a “real” sailboat. One the way out of the bay we say a manta ray leap out of the water, and the sunset was spectacular. Just sitting on the wooden deck and listening to the water and the wind as we watched the light fade was an amazing experience.
Sometimes romance has to be snatched in small doses amid the maelstrom of life. We have a small motorboat, and there is a lake not far from our house. On a few beautiful summer evenings over the years we’ve picked up sushi from our favourite restaurant, packed some cold drinks, and headed out. Within half an hour we can be on the water, just drifting as we enjoy each other’s company along with the meal.
What about you? Do you have a romantic story to tell? I’d love to hear it! Then be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel for her most romantic memory.