Happy August, everyone! We are finally getting some summer-like weather here in Northern BC and my mood has improved along with the temperatures.
This week on the blog hop, it’s Flash Fiction time!
Write 500 words and include Pickle, Letter and Looking Glass.
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome. And without further ado, here is my short but (hopefully) sweet contribution.
Jacinta was in a pickle. And it was her own fault.
What had possessed her to read the letter? It wasn’t her fault she’d opened it—it had been in a stack of office mail, and it was her job to open everything addressed to her boss. Once she’d realized it was a personal letter, she should have immediately folded it away and put it aside. But she hadn’t realized until she’d read the first few lines, and by then it was much too late to stop. And now that she’d read it once, she couldn’t help but read the short missive over and over.
I know you told me never to get in touch, but I am hoping you might have found a little forgiveness by now. You will never be able to forget the hurtful things I said. That is too much to wish for. And yet I do wish it.
If a reconciliation between us is at all possible, please meet me Thursday at one o’clock at the park. You know where I mean. If you do not appear, I will never bother you again.
“Jacinta? Can I see you for a moment?”
She looked up, flushing guiltily. As if summoned by the words on the page, Alexander McIntyre stood in her doorway. She’d been his administrative assistant for two years now, and their relationship was strictly professional.
Other than the fact her toes curled when she looked at him. Every. Single. Time.
Reading the letter from his mother had been a horrible violation of that trust, and she had no idea what to do about it.
“Jacinta?” He frowned. “Are you okay?”
Her blush deepened and sweat prickled between her shoulder blades. “Yes, I’m fine. What do you need?”
His glance narrowed. “Are you sure? You look a little feverish.”
Maybe it was better just to get it over with. She had to give him the letter, and there was no way to seal the envelope again to make it look unopened, as she’d slit the seam with a letter opener.
She held it out. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I shouldn’t have opened it, but I didn’t know.”
He took it from her and slid the single page out. His entire body seemed to freeze in place. Fury replaced the confused expression her words has sparked. “Did you read it?” The words were clipped and cold.
“I’m sorry,” she repeated helplessly. “I couldn’t help it.”
“You had no right.”
“I know. I’m so, so, sorry.”
For a moment she thought he was going to throw the page to the floor and stomp out. But as quickly as his fury had flared, it faded, leaving him looking lost and lonely. It gave her the courage to speak.
“Is there anything I can do?” she said softly.
He shook his head. “This isn’t anything my administrative assistant can fix.” His gaze locked on hers. “No matter how wonderful she is.”
Feeling like Alice stepping through the looking glass, she said the words that would change their relationship forever. “What about your friend? Is it something she can fix?”
Well, I’m over the 500-word limit, so I guess I’ll have to leave you hanging. 😊 But I hope you enjoyed this little scene. Now hop over to Leslie Hachtel to see what she came up with.
Why not check out Leslie's paranormal romance, THE DREAM DANCER, only 99 cents right now!
Lady Bryce has a gift.
She can enter dreams and persuade her will onto others.
It has served her well, especially in eliminating unsatisfactory suitors of her father's choosing.
But when she encounters Lord Rowland she wants him more than anything and decides to visit him in his sleep and make him desire her above all others.
When she has driven Rowland to the edge of longing, she extracts a promise that he will marry her.
As time passes, Bryce and Rowland fall in love.
But will their love be able to conquer all once Bryce’s secret is revealed? Rowland must decide if he truly loves her or has been bewitched.
Available to purchase here!
I’m afraid Leslie Hachtel’s topic this week is not quite appropriate for the summer we’ve been having in Northern BC.
It’s summer and it’s hot. What is your favorite meal to cool off? Recipe please.
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome!
We’ve been having a rainy and cool summer so far where I live, which seems especially unfair since the season is short to start with. But we are supposed to be heading into a stretch of heat this week, so hopefully we’ll get some sun and a lot less rain!
When the weather is really hot, my favourite meals are salads. While a juicy steak on the barbeque is a summer favourite, some times you just don’t want something that heavy in the midst of a heat wave. One of my go to recipes is this Tortellini Salad with Creamy Vinaigrette Dressing from 365 Great Barbecue and Grilling Recipes by Lonnie Gandara.
¾ pound frozen tortellini (either meat or cheese filled)
½ pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut bite-sized
½ pound cherry tomatoes, halved if large
In separate pots, cook tortellini and green beans until just tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Add tomatoes. Toss with dressing below.
Dressing (makes enough for two salads)
¼ cup white wine vinegar
3 tbps. Lemon juice
2 tbps. Plain yogurt
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 large garlic gloves, crushed
½ tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup vegetable oil
Mix all ingredients except the oil in a jar with lid. Add both oils, cover tightly, and shake until well blended. Store up to 5 days in refrigerator.
Discover a new summer recipe with Jenna Da Sie, next on the blog hop!
When we left our careers in television and radio early in 2020, Mr. C and I planned to do a lot of travelling.
Anyway – the last few months don’t mean we can’t look forward to new adventures some day. So this week on Romance Writers Weekly, I suggested we go on a Travel Hop! I asked my fellow members the following:
Share the places and activities in the area around your home that you would recommend to someone visiting. Include photos and links so we can make future plans.
I live very close to the geographic centre of British Columbia. My hometown, Prince George, has about 80,000 people, and is a hub for government, health, mining and forestry for the northern half of the province. We are surrounded by mountains, lakes, and forests, and have a vibrant arts community.
One of the unique places to visit within the city is Northern Lights Estate Winery. It is BC’s northernmost winery, and produces red, white and fruit wines from locally grown produce. There is a lovely riverside bistro and they host tours of the orchard and facility.
While there is a lot to do right in the city, short drives in all directions will bring you to amazing locations.
About 1.5 hours to the east is the Ancient Forest/Chun T'oh Whudujut Provincial Park. In the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh and BC’s newest provincial park, this area protects a portion of the only inland temperate rainforest in the world. Some of the western red cedars are more than 1000 years old, and these pictures don’t do justice to their massive size.
Stuart Lake, one of the largest natural lakes in BC at 70 km (44 miles) long, is less than 2 hours away to the northwest. There is plenty of camping and fishing, or spend the day hiking Mount Pope for amazing views of the surrounding area. As well, the Fort St. James National Historic Site, a restored fur trading fort is a must-see.
Another National Historic Site is only a short drive away, this time to the south. During the Cariboo gold rush in the 1860’s, Barkerville was known as the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. Today it is the largest living historic museum in western North America and a National Heritage Site of Canada. It is actually two historic sites in one, as it includes The Chee Kung Tong Building - a rare surviving example of Chee Kung Tong architecture in Canada, a living testament to the large Chinatown that existed in Barkerville. (By the way – my current work in progress links into this amazing site and history).
There are so many other great places I could share with you, but I hope this has whet your appetite to visit my part of the world some day. Now, on to Clair Brett for another virtual travel tour!
Three of our RWW members are pleased announced the Regency Romance Anthology ONCE UPON A TWELFTH NIGHT! Congratulations to A. S. Fenichel, Clair Brett, Christina Alexandra – this looks delicious!
The honor of your presence is requested by The Earl and Countess of Stapleton at their house
party to celebrate TWELFTH NIGHT. Festivities include: a titillating masked ball, ice skating, a
romp in the local village, a naughty treasure hunt, midnight kisses in the garden and the Twelfth
Night Ball where holiday magic brings about seven perfect matches.
Available July 28 - preorder now!
I never considered my self a terribly social creature, but the last few months have shown me that I may have taken for granted the joy of simply sitting and talking with someone face to face. Which makes this week’s blog hop topic a little...unsettling. Leslie Hachtel asks:
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you want with you and why?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
I suppose a deserted island would be the ultimate in social distancing, wouldn’t it? 😊 Not very long ago I might have yearned for a chance to read uninterrupted by other human beings, but it doesn’t seem quite as appealing right now. That being said, here’s my list:
I love this week’s topic! A.S. Fenichel asks:
How do you choose your characters’ names? Do you have a system, a book, an app or is it random?
If you joined me from Caro Kinkead, welcome!
When I was pregnant with our first child, I thought picking a name would be fun and exciting. I had no idea how stressful it would be. Names are powerful and can evoke strong emotions. If someone treated you poorly as a child, that name is often tainted for the rest of your life. If you liked a person, that name is attractive to you. When it comes to character names, I feel the same pressure.
As I’m brainstorming a new story, I’ll make lists of names, trying them on to see how they fit. But I don’t always get it right the first time. I’ve actually changed names part way through writing because the one I started with just never sat right.
For my main characters, I want names that are unique and interesting, but not so unusual they distract the reader. I think my most unusual name was Justice in WHEN TIME FALLS STILL. I saw a sign advertising Justice Motorcycle Repair and almost immediately the idea for the character popped into my head—although he had nothing to do with motorcycles. ?
Minor characters are often the hardest to name. If he or she is only appearing in a scene or two, I often don’t bother, because I don’t want the reader to think they are more important than they are. But if they are necessary to the plot, they need a name, so I have to spend some time thinking about it.No Life But This - Excerpt
Anne Bishop (if you haven’t read her, you really should. I love her The Others series) uses the names of people she knows, and then acknowledges those people in an Author’s Note. I did this for a minor character in NO LIFE BUT THIS, but am going to consider doing that more often. For my upcoming new release (sorry, no title or date yet!) I ran a contest where readers could submit their own names to be one of two minor characters. That was a fun and stress-free way to come up with a name!
When I come across a name that sparks my imagination, I make a note of it, because chances are I won’t remember it when I need it! I also scroll through baby name lists on the internet (I like the ones that are listed gender neutral so I don’t have a preconceived notion of the person it is meant for). While I’ve used random name generators (the program I write my first draft on, Scrivener, has one built it), I find those names often feel as if they are trying too hard.
In my current work in progress, I had to come up with a name for an art conservator. I was already using the name of a real museum, so I checked the staff list on their website, chose a first and a last name from two different people, and voila—a character was born!
If I am making up a name, I immediately do a Google search to see who else might have it. That has saved me some embarrassment when it turns out it already belongs to a well-known person - sometimes even one I've heard of (there was a reason it sounded good)!
Now hop on over to the originator of this topic, A.S. Fenichel , to see how she comes up with names for her characters!
I—along with a lot of other people if social media is to be believed—are taking comfort these days in re-reading and re-watching favourite books and movies. The world is in such flux that the unknown is even scarier than usual, and we are seeking out stories that we know to avoid even more uncertainty.
But even when I am not re-reading beloved favourites, I often choose books where the plot is familiar. In publishing, we use the word trope to describe well-known themes.
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, I asked my fellow members:
What is your favourite romance trope to read and/or write? Friends to Lovers? Marriage of convenience? Second chances?
As a reader, I enjoy historical romance very much. Marriage of convenience is probably my favourite trope, and it works well for stories set in the 1800’s or earlier, when women were expected to marry. But it also speaks to my favourite trope for contemporary romance—friends to lovers. In historical marriage of convenience stories, the heroine and hero must navigate from being strangers to being in a loving committed relationship. Somewhere in the middle is friendship. In contemporary stories, coming up with a credible marriage of convenience plot is almost impossible, but friends to lovers is very common and enjoyable.
As a writer, I’m not comfortable with the insta-love scenario. I prefer what might be called a slow burn, where the characters only come to realize they love each other after they have actually gotten to know each other. While friends to lovers falls into this category, I’m a big fan of writing second chance romances. This doesn’t only mean the main characters were once married, or even dated, before. It means that they are taking a second chance on love—either with someone they know, or a new person in their life.
There are many, many tropes in romance—too many to list. But if you study the stories you like best, you might find a certain theme that runs through them. I’d love to hear what your favourite trope is. Be sure to comment below! Then, hop over to Clair Brett and see what she prefers to read and write.
Inspiration comes in many forms. It can be something as small as a snippet of conversation overheard in a coffee shop, or as life changing as the first person that believes in your talent. This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, A.S. Fenichel asks:
What inspires you? Do you or did you have a mentor, parent or friend who you credit with making you the person you are today? It doesn’t have to be a person: Music, Art....
In the largest, most general sense, my inspiration as an author has come from the many, many, MANY authors I read as a child—even those whose names I can no longer remember. The simple fact that someone in a city or country far away—or even on a day long before I was born—wrote words that I was reading seemed a miracle to me (and still often does). I wanted to have that connection with a reader, too.
When it comes to what stories I write, I am mostly inspired by everyday life and the people around me. I firmly believe there is someone for everyone—those people that seem unlikeable for some (usually superficial) reason, and those who, if you could get them to admit it, believe they are unlovable for some real or imagined issue. I want to give those people the happy endings we all deserve!
As a person, I wouldn’t be who I am today without the love and support of my husband. He is always the first to read my books and will talk about his “author wife” given the slightest encouragement. I can’t say I would have given up on this publishing journey without his faith in me, but he certainly has made it a much more enjoyable ride.
I encourage you to hop over to Caro Kinkead and see what or who she credits as her inspiration.
One of my favourite blog hop topics with my Romance Writers Weekly buddies are recipe swaps. This week, Jenna Da Sie asks:
Besides the usual baking of cookies or treats, has anyone baked a really good loaf of bread? Do you have a special bread recipe from a loved one, or one that you’ve come up with yourself? Share your recipe!
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome!
Yeast and I have a difficult relationship. For years I avoided making anything that required it, because my efforts never seemed to have good results. But recently I’ve been trying to repair that relationship with patience and understanding (I’m too impatient to wait for the yeast to start working properly, and didn’t understand that step is necessary for success).
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog, Clair Brett asks:
What do you find most difficult about writing what you write? It could have to do with certain scenes, plotting, dialogue, whatever trips you up. How do you approach those things?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
There are few writers that would disagree with Dorothy Parker’s famous quote: “I hate writing, I love having written.”
For me, this might be overstating things slightly. I don’t hate writing, although some days I’d rather go to the dentist. The thing is, not writing makes me fidgety and restless. So having written something is better than not writing anything.
I am most comfortable writing dialogue. I think that comes partly from creating television and radio commercials for three decades. Those advertisements are written for the ear—to be said out loud, not merely read silently. It’s the same for natural sounding dialogue—it should read like a transcription of someone’s words (without the uhms, ahs, and stutters, of course).
Because I write romance, the ending of my stories is never in doubt—there will be a happy ending. Any tension and conflict comes in how that happy ending is achieved. Rational human beings have a problem, talk things out, and come to a compromise. This does not make for a riveting romance. There have to be troubles and problems along the way, not just between the two main characters but in the world around them as well.
My biggest problem is letting my characters solve things too easily. Since I like my hero and heroine, I tend to want to fix things for them, when really I should be their worst enemy. This issue usually crops up in what many writers call “the saggy middle.” Setting up the conflict in the first third of the story is fun. Solving the conflict in the last third is satisfying. But what keeps the conflict going in the middle third? The proof is in that pudding—unless the conflict is solid and realistic and organic, the middle falls apart.
That’s where I’m at with my current work-in-progress. My hero and heroine are in their late forties, and both are gun shy about relationships. Since neither of them are idiots, it only makes sense for them to talk things out. If they do that, though, the book is over far too quickly, and with far too little drama. Luckily, they are on a quest together, so I can use that to throw obstacles in their path. I just have to make sure they don’t clamber over those obstacles too easily.
I'm off to think of a new torture for my characters. Be sure to hop over to Jenna Da Sie to find out what she has trouble with. After all, misery loves company LOL!
It’s Flash Fiction time again on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop! Leslie Hachtel has set the challenge:
500 words or less using the words herbs, hair and heaven.
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome! Here’s my story snippet today.
The rich, loamy soil blackened her fingernails and stained her palms. Lifting a handful to her nose, she breathed in the intoxicating scent of spring before patting the dirt into place at the base of the small rosemary shrub she’d just planted.
Using the back of her wrist to brush a strand of hair off her face—and unknowingly leaving a dark streak across her cheek—she sat back on her heels and surveyed her garden with satisfaction. It looked like little more than a neatly rowed square of earth right now, but in her mind’s eye she already saw the pea vines heavy with pods, the feather tops of carrots, the abundance of herbs she would preserve.
The long winter had been cold and stormy. Not just the weather, but her life. “Never break up in the fall,” she muttered to herself. Not that there was ever a good time to separate from the man you thought you’d live the rest of your life with. But if Hal had left her in the spring, she would have had her garden to keep her company. Instead, she’d been forced to suffer the barren and empty season trapped indoors by frigid temperatures unrelieved by the barest hint of sunshine.
Lifting her face to the sky, she let the soft breeze tease her skin and sighed. Spending the last few days in her garden hadn’t just been digging and weeding and planting. It had been the first steps in putting her life back together, in rebuilding that wreckage of her soul.
It had been heaven.
Short but (hopefully) sweet! I’d love to hear what you think. Then be sure to hop over to Jenna Da Sie https://jennadasie.com and see what that busy mom of two little ones has come up with!