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.
Summer is a busy time, with vacations and weddings and visitors. So I thought I’d make this an easy week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop. I asked my fellow member to share their favourite summer photos, from any year.
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse at some of my favourite summer memories. Now hop over to Leslie Hachtel to see some more great summer shots!
I’m back with the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop! Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long. Middle Child (or Daughter #2) got married on July 27, and things were a little busy. 😊 But it was a wonderful ceremony (the rain held off just long enough!) and a great weekend all round.
This week on the hop, Dani Jace asks:
I am entering the “dog days” of summer in my area. Do you have pets? What type and how many? Do you write pets into your stories?
Summer in my part of Northern BC has been cool and rainy (is it possible to have Seasonal Affective Disorder in the summer? I. Am. So. Tired. Of. Rain.) so I’m so glad this topic is about something that makes me feel good – pets!
There’s something different about a house where pets live. It feels warmer and friendlier to me. Since Mr. C and I were married, we've always had at least one furry critter around.
We currently have Gilligan, our eighteen-year old Calico cat. She wasn’t doing well over the winter, but since spring seems to have a new lease on life.
Then there’s Aspen, our first foray into puppydom. We had one dog before her, but adopted Kasey at five-years old, so had never lived through the puppy stage. Once we’d survived those first months, she’s been great. I do a little agility with her, and she loves the boat. As as Beagle/Spaniel mix, she can’t really be trusted when she gets her nose to the ground, so we have to keep an eye on her at all times!
We also have a pond in the backyard, and have populated it with feeder goldfish over the years. I’d hate to count how many we’ve gone through (survival is not guaranteed!) but right now we have eleven happily swimming around.
Not all my books have animals, but I do like to write them. Chaucer is a Bernese Mountain dog in WHEN TIME FALLS STILL and is the one of the catalysts that bring Charlotte and Justice together. Mutt, in GATEWAY CRESCENT, also plays a role in clarifying Luke’s feelings for Jo. In NO LIFE BUT THIS, Abigail does battle with a hired horse – definitely not a pet, but it was a fun scene to write!
What about you? Are you a pet person? If so, what kind? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Then be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel to find out about her pets.
Leslie Hachtel has set a near impossible task this week:
Which romance novel hero/heroine would you like to spend some time with and why?
Really? Like I could pick just one? I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll try.
I recently read “The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang. The heroine has Asperger’s Syndrome, and the story is sweet and lovely. Stella has a unique view of the world, and I think she might be a very refreshing person to get to know.
I might also like to meet Eve Dallas and Roarke from J. D. Robb’s “In Death” series. They are one of my favourite romance couples – but I might also be too intimidated! They are both such strong characters that I might be too starstruck to say anything (which, if you know me, is saying a LOT!)
One of my all-time favourite writers is Courtney Milan. I love her historical fiction the best, and meeting any or all of her characters from those books would be amazing! Violet, from “The Countess Conspiracy” is a genius who is investigating genes and inheritance traits. I love that sort of science, and I think it would be a thrill to discuss that with her over coffee some day.
How about you? Is there a character you’d like to meet? Tell me about it in the comments, then hop over to A. S. Fenichel and see who she who she would like to spend time with.
I had the chance to apply to a summer-themed promotion with KOBO US.
I won't know if I'm in it until Thursday (July 11) but I decided to put my two summer books on sale anyway!
You can pick up NO LIFE BUT THIS and MOUNTAIN FIRE for just 99 cents, from now until July 21.
It’s drizzling as I write this, but yesterday was a true blue summer’s day, so here’s hoping the sun comes back to Northern BC soon. This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, Dani Jace says:
We’re on our beach vacation this week. Post a recipe of your favorite summer cocktail or thirst quencher and your favorite place to drink it.
Oh, yum! I love recipe swaps with RWW!
I’m not a huge fan of sweet drinks, and one of my favourite flavours is lime. So you might be able to guess my favourite summer drink – a mojito! It’s even better if you make it with fresh mint from your own garden, but not required, of course. Some people like simple syrup in their mojitos, but I prefer them without.
In a tall Collins glass, muddle together about 10 fresh mint leaves and 3 thin slices of lime. Add sugar (I only put in a half teaspoon, but if you like yours sweeter go ahead and add more to taste) and mix. Fill the glass half full of ice cubes, add an ounce of vodka and club soda to fill. Garnish with a wedge of lime (if you like to get fancy).
As for my favourite place to drink a mojito – well, I was introduced to the drink on a beach in Puerto Vallarta, so that’s my holiday choice. But a hot sunny day in my own backyard is a very close second.
What’s your favourite summer drink? Do you prefer sweet or sour? Feel free to share in the comments, then hop over to A.S. Fenichel for another summer drink recipe!
Well, you wouldn’t know it by the temperature as I write this, but it is technically summer. May often tempts us with hot, sunny weather, but it isn’t unusual for June in Northern BC to be cooler and rainier. Not unusual, but still disappointing!
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, we’re talking summer:
The official start of summer has begun and romance is in the air. What tales of summer love do any of your character have to share?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
I’m quite fascinated by how seasons can affect a storyline. A romantic day outside is completely different in summer than winter. In WHEN TIME FALLS STILL, Justice takes Charlotte to his cabin in the depths of winter. They cozy up next to a fireplace and take a trek across a frozen lake. Still romantic – but not the same as skinny-dipping on a hot August evening!
Tomorrow, Book Two in my Bendixon Sisters Series releases. GATEWAY CRESCENT takes place in late June and July. Luke is an outdoorsy kind of guy, although he doesn’t have a many opportunities to take advantage of the beautiful Northern BC region as he would like. In one scene, however, he takes Jo canoeing. In real life, the lake they explore is one of our favourites—Purden Lake. I won’t give any spoilers, but let’s just say the location is a powerful influence on their emotions on that day.
What do you think of when you think of summer love? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Then be sure to hop over to A. S. Fenichel and see what her tale of summer love is.
Authors often talk about how characters take over their own stories, and what they thought they were writing goes an entirely different way. It is true that characters do become very real to me when I’m in the middle of a story. Often, if a scene isn’t working, it’s because I’m writing something that just isn’t right for the character. So this week on Romance Writers Weekly, I posed the following challenge:
Choose a character from one of your books (published or WIP) to answer the following five questions.
I decided to go with Jo, from Gateway Crescent. She’s the youngest of the three Bendixon Sisters, and was great fun to write. Here are her answers.
What's your favourite word?
This might reinforce Mattie and Camryn’s opinion of me, but I think it is “new.” There’s so much potential in that word. The start of something is always the most exciting. And if something is new, that usually means I’m learning, and I’ve always loved to learn.
What is your fondest childhood memory?
Hmm, that’s a tough one. I think it was my ninth birthday. I’m eight years younger than Camryn, and six years younger than Mattie. We got along pretty well, considering, but they often did things together that left me out. Well, this particular birthday, their gift to me was an entire day together. We went shopping in the morning (Camryn’s idea) and she bought me this awesome dress with her own money. Then in the afternoon Mattie took us to the pool and we went down the slides and jumped off diving boards and had so much fun. It wasn’t long before Camryn went away to university, so I think it was extra special because I didn’t see her as much after that.
What one thing in your past do you wish you could do differently?
This is going to sound weird, but I wish I’d discovered computer coding sooner. It wasn’t on my radar in high school, mostly because only the smartest kids took that class, and I let that scare me away. But coding is about solving problems and thinking with creative logic and making things work, and if I’d only known how much it would hook me I would have started much sooner with it.
Vanilla or Chocolate?
I assume we’re talking ice cream? Then vanilla. Because you can add anything to it and make it different every time.
If you could have lunch with one famous person (alive or not) who would it be and why?
Joni Mitchell. I’m not alone in thinking she’s one of the great songwriters of all time, and is an icon not just in Canada but around the world. She’s listed as the sole producer on most of her albums, plus she designed most of the covers for them. That’s an amazingly talented woman who knows what she wants and is willing to work for it. I’d like a little of that to rub off on me. Beside, she was part of one of the most dynamic and influential periods of music, and must have some awesome stories to tell.
I hope you enjoyed a small look into Jo’s world. I don’t know who was more surprised – her or me – when a minor character in Mattie and Marcus’ story turned out to the love interest for Jo. Luke is steady where Jo is flighty, committed where she is indecisive – and the last person Jo thought she’d fall in love with. I hope you enjoy their story as much as I did writing it. If you're interested, it is available for pre-order right now for only 99 cents! Links are here.
Now, hop over to A.S. Fenichel and see how her character answered the same questions!
We’re sharing up yummy eats, this week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop! Here’s the topic:
Summer is unofficially here! I love a good outdoor party where everyone brings a dish. What’s your signature BBQ/Summer Party dish? Recipes welcome.
I have a few recipes that I make both in the over/on the stove top and on the barbeque. But my favourite versions of all of them are the ones made on the BBQ. Cooking on the grill lends something special to food – as does eating outside. For some reason, the fresh air makes everything taste better.
When we’re having a big group over, hamburgers are my usual fall back. I’ve been lazy the last few years because the frozen patties you can buy are so easy to cook. But the next time we have them I’m determined to go back to the basics, and make them from scratch. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years for making burgers on the barbeque.
No matter what you add to your patty mix, the most important part is to get the texture right using the oatmeal. That’s the real trick to homemade patties that don’t fall about on the grill.
What about you? What barbequing recipe is your favourite? These recipe swap weeks are some of my favourite topics on RWW, and I’d love to hear from you!
Discover another new to you recipe with A. S. Fenichel, next on the hop!