We’re going back in time on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop. (farther back for some of us than others…)
A.S. Fenichel set the challenge:
We all have stories from our childhood; good, bad and ridiculous. Tell us your favorite story from when you were a kid.
(PAUSE HERE WHILE I TYPE, ERASE, TYPE, ERASE, TRYING TO DECIDE WHICH TO PICK. THERE ARE SO MANY...)
I grew up on a small acreage just a few minutes from town. We had a couple of horses, chickens, ducks, rabbits, and for awhile a couple of cows that we bred for our own beef.
The most unusual member of our small menagerie was Peter. Peter was a yellow-headed Amazon parrot. He’d lived in a large cage in the corner of my grandparent’s dining room for as long as I could remember, and then we took him in. All told, he was in my family for about forty years.
Peter was a great attraction whenever I brought friends over. Much bigger than a budgie, he was very talkative, and the way he peeled the tiniest seeds was fun to watch. When his cage needed cleaning, my Mom would take him out and let him wander on the table. His wings were clipped so he couldn’t fly, but he could glide. Sometimes he’d launch himself off the table to the floor. Then you had to beware your toes! Not the friendliest of birds, being on the floor made him even crankier, and he would waddle as fast he could after anyone in reach.
He was a one-woman bird, and that woman was my mom. He would let my mom, and sometimes me if he was in a good mood, scratch him on the head, but did not like men, including my dad. Once, my mom spent some time in hospital, and my dad was so proud because Peter had let him pet him. He tried to show Mom when she got home—and Peter bit his finger!
We don’t know how old he was when he died, but one morning we found him laying on the bottom of the cage. That wasn’t the end of Peter, though. My mom is an amateur taxidermist, so she stuffed him and put him on a perch. My sister now has him in her house.
It’s so hard to pick a story to tell. There are others that have more to do with me, but Peter was a unique part of my childhood that I thought you’d enjoy hearing about.
Now it’s time to head over to Jenna Da Sie for her story!
Have you signed up for my newsletter? You get a free short story just by subscribing, and with three new releases coming this year I'll be sharing excerpts, deleted scenes and all sorts of fun things. The sign up form is on the home page of this website!
I am really excited about this week’s blog. Leslie Hachtel says:
Give us the first three sentences from your Work In Progress.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a new book released – but this year, I am planning to publish three! The Bendixon Sisters series features Mattie, Jo and Camryn as they do their part to keep their grandfather’s construction business profitable, while dealing with life and love.
Here’s are the first three sentences from each of their stories.
Allegro Court (Mattie and Marcus)
“I’m eighty-seven. In case you’re wondering.”
Mattie smiled at Mr. McDonald, and discreetly steered them off a collision course with another couple shuffling across the dance floor. “I never would have guessed.”
Gateway Crescent (Jo and Luke)
“I'm sure you understand,” Phyllis Redmond said, her blue eyes kind yet implacable.
No, I don't, Jo Bendixon thought. I don't understand at all.
Crossroad Corner (Camryn and Will)
This isn’t the way things are supposed to be, Camryn Bendixon thought, despair making her brain muzzy and thick.
The burly man standing next to her said, “I’ll give you two hundred for the table and chairs. And five hundred for the sofa and end tables.”
I just released the cover for Allegro Court – I absolutely love it. Plans are to have Mattie and Marcus’ story released this spring, followed by the others every three months or so. It is my very first series, and I’m so excited to introduce you to the Bendixon Sisters!
Now, be sure to hop over to Jenna Da Sie and get a taste of her work in progress!
We’re back! The Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop starts up a gain for 2019, and I’m leading things of.
This is the time of year to set goals. But I think it is important make sure those goals are realistic and achievable, or all we do is set ourselves up for failure. What achievable goals are you setting for yourself this year?
If you joined me from Dani Jace, welcome!
Many of us have heard the term SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. I think this is where a lot of people fail in their New Year's resolutions—they make them too broad (I’m going to exercise more this year) or so difficult they immediately fail (I’m never going to forget the kids at school) (Okay, maybe that last one isn’t THAT hard) that they give up almost before they’ve started.
When I am writing a new manuscript, my goal is 500 words a day, seven days a week. If things are going really well, I let myself have one day off. I came up with the number by analyzing how long I wrote each evening (I only have so much energy after the day job and family chores) and also by my long-term goals for my writing. Since I don’t do it full time, I only expect myself to complete one manuscript a year. At 500 words a day, I can complete an 80,000 word novel in about five and a half months, which allows plenty for revisions, beta reading and more revisions within my one year timeline.
I haven't released a new book since April 2016, as I’ve been working on a trilogy of romances about the Bendixon Sisters. While Book Three is still in revisions, Books One and Two are done from a writing standing point. This year, I’m setting myself the following goal:
Release Bendixon Sisters Series in 2019: Allegro Court in March, Gateway Crescent in June, Crossroads Corner in September.
Bonus Goal: Release an e-book Box Set in December.
I’ve now independently published three books, so I know how much work goes into each. I have to line up reviewers to read advanced copies, hoping to have reviews pop up on my release day. I’ll have to buy some advertising to let people know what’s going on. I need to reactivate my newsletter. And there’s so much more. But all those things are subsidiaries to the main goal of releasing all three books this year. If I can do that, I’ll have achieved my goal, and have something solid to celebrate.
What about you? What achievable goal are you hoping to reach this year? Leave a comment below, and I'll send you a sneak peak of the cover of Allegro Court before I reveal it on social media.
And don't forget to keep the hop going with Leslie Hachtel - she's up next!
We're coming to the end of the 2018 Blog Hop with Romance Writers Weekly. We’ll be taking a few weeks off over the holiday season, so our next post won’t be until January 8. I hope we’ll see you back then!
On this, our last blog of the year, Leslie Hachtel asks:
If you could have any Christmas wish come true, what would it be?
If you joined me from Jenna Da Sie, welcome!
I know it is corny, but this question really does bring into focus what makes us truly happy in life. After all, it’s not the gifts under the tree (although they are much appreciated!), it’s the people we share this time with. It’s the memories we’ll make that will help us through the tough times, and the laughter and stories we’ll tell that will brighten each day. And whether you celebrate a religious holiday or not, I think those are the wishes we all share during this season.
I’d like to wish each of you the blessings of the season, and hope this time of year, no matter how you celebrate, brings you peace and joy.
See you in 2019!
Be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel and find out what her Christmas wish is!
We had an unusually warm November, and while the weather is supposed to starting cooling off, there is not even a skiff of snow on the ground. But it’s easy to get into the Christmas spirit with decorations and baking, even if the weather is not cooperating. That’s why I chose this topic this week on Romance Writers Weekly:
I’m not much of a baker, except for at Christmas. Share your favourite holiday treat recipe!
This topic has become a tradition on RWW, and it’s a great way to discover new recipes. Here’s a family favourite, though, that’s great for people like me who like to eat treats but not spend half a day making them. This recipe comes from my aunt, who calls them “Oat Delights.” I can't remember when the name changed, but we now call them "Chocolate Haystacks."
2 c. sugar
6 tbsp. cocoa
½ c. butter
½ c. milk
½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. shredded coconut
3 c. instant or minute oats
Combine first four ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and stir in coconut and oats.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. Chill for a few hours, then enjoy! Keep in a well-sealed plastic container as they will dry out otherwise.
If you give these a try, I’d love to hear from you. To get your next recipe, head over to Leslie Hachtel's blog!
The Christmas decorations are going up around the house this weekend as I write this, so Leslie Hachtel’s topic is very timely:
What is your favorite holiday movie? Book?
My favourite holiday movie really has nothing to do with Christmas at all. I’m not sure why it became a staple at this time of year, but the Sound of Music always appears on TV in December, and it has always been one of my favourite movies – at any time of the year, really. After all, it’s one of the most romantic stories ever -- the irrepressible Maria who changes the lives of an entire family by falling in love with the authoritarian Captain, all while escaping the Nazis.
I’m also a big fan of How the Grinch Stole Christmas – the original 1966 animated TV special with Dr. Suess’ illustrations. Not to knock the newer versions that have come out (to be honest I haven’t even seen them) but the version I grew up with will always be my favourite.
As for books, I can’t say I have a favourite holiday book. But I know for very many years one of my most anticipated presents was the newest Dick Francis novel. It was usually released in October or November, and the hardcover was a staple on my Christmas list. While I love my e-reader, there is nothing quite like the anticipation of a brand-new book, with its fresh pages and pristine cover. My parents also liked reading Dick Francis, so they would buy the book and both read it (being very careful not to crack the spine) then wrap it up for me to find under the tree. They kept that little secret from me for a long time!
What about you? Any favourite Christmas stories? Then hop on over to Jenna Da Sie to learn what her favourites are!
Flash Fiction is back on Romance Writers Weekly! Jenna Da Sie set the challenge this week:
Write a 500 word or less flash fiction using the words TURKEY, RAIN, and TRAMPOLINE.
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome! Here’s my contribution. Enjoy!
Ella stepped back and surveyed the tiny kitchen. Everything was ready. A ham was in the oven, the potatoes were boiling, the broccoli casserole warmed up and waiting in the slow cooker. Serving bowls and platters were lined up with military precision on the counter, labeled with their purpose—devilled eggs, pickles, ham, potatoes, salad. She washed all her prep dishes and put them away, and the table was covered in a festive orange cloth and set with her favourite dishes.
The handprint turkey her nephew, Ethan, had given her hung in pride of place on the fridge. Soon he and her sister, Sara, would arrive. It would be their first Thanksgiving without Ian, and Ella’s emotions bounced like ping-pong balls on a trampoline. One moment she was glad the abusive jerk was finally out of Sara’s life, the next she was angry at how Sara was mourning his loss, an instant later guilty that she couldn’t sympathize with her sister’s grief. Too much to drink and a rain-slick road had taken that monster out of her life. It had seemed like providence to Ella. It was a nightmare for Sara.
The phone rang, indicating someone at the main door of her apartment building. She took a deep breath and went to let Sara and Ethan in.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Then, be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel to read her story!
It seemed like a good idea at the time…. It was my turn to set the topic for Romance Writers Weekly, and I chose this:
Pick a day or event in your life (ordinary or unusual) and describe it from a different point of view. This could be another person who was there, a stranger watching from a far, a pet - whatever you like.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome.
It was a lot harder than I thought to figure out how to do this. It’s difficult to see yourself from the ‘outside!' But I had to give it a shot, of course.
She is not a tall woman. When she pushes the grocery cart her hands are at chest-level. In the produce section she weaves back and forth, wasting no time on choosing the lettuce and peppers and fruit from the bins. The list she consults every couple minutes is illegible to anyone else, but she has no problem deciphering it. In the international foods aisle, she takes her time selecting the soya sauce. You can hear her muttering to herself as she reads the labels closely and discards those with higher sodium. “As if any soya sauce is low in sodium,” she can be heard to say. She continues talking to herself as she strides up and down the aisles, filling her green bins methodically. In front of the shelves holding popcorn and popcorn toppings, she must stand on the bottom shelf, cling to one of the middle shelves, and strain to reach the Ketchup flavour. It’s always on the very highest shelf and always almost gone, so the last small containers are barely within fingertip reach. At the till she unloads quickly, and as the items are scanned through by the cashier she refills her bins, tapping her fingers impatiently as she waits for the conveyor belt to bring them to her. She is done loading before the till finishes compiling the final total and whisks out the door, not to be seen until the following Saturday.
I’m not sure how successful this experiment was, but there you go. I’d love to hear your comments – and then be sure to hop on over to A.S. Fenichel who is next in line!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Dani Jace set the challenge – and a true challenge it was, for me at least!
We’re one day away from Halloween. Have you ever seen a ghost or witnessed something paranormal? Received a sign from a loved one in the hereafter? If not, share the oddest thing that’s ever happened to you that you can’t explain.
My life must be very boring. I cannot think of one thing that fits this topic! And it’s not that I’m a complete skeptic, either. While I don’t 100% believe in ghosts or parapsychology, I don’t totally discount it, either. There is too much that cannot be fully explained by the knowledge the world holds at this moment.
So, because I can’t really participate in this blog hop, I’m offering a giveaway! After you’ve taken part, don’t forget to head over to A.S. Fenichel, whose next on our hop!
I will give you one of my books for FREE, simply by doing the following:
In the comments below, tell me about a time where you experienced something unexplainable. Or, if you’re like me and don’t have that story to share, tell me whether you believe in the supernatural or not. There are no wrong answers! Once you’ve told your story, let me know which one of my books you’d like to receive: Mountain Fire, Chef d’Amour, When Time Falls Still or No Life But This. I will send it to the email you use to comment with.
Then, I have only one more request. Today is my birthday – so while I’m giving you a gift, I’d love if you could give me one in return. Once you’ve read the book I send you, please leave an honest review at your ebook retailer or Goodreads – or better yet share it on Facebook or Twitter! I look forward to reading your comments!
Great villains are hard to find. It so easy to make them caricatures. But a great villain is flawed and human – someone you would root for, if only he wasn’t the nemesis of the hero. This week on Romance Writer’s Weekly, Dani Jace asks:
Villains: Literary, TV/Movie or even real life - Who do you love as a villain and why. Who do you despise and why.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
The first villain that came to mind when I read this topic is Moriarty, from the Benedict Cumberbatch versions of Sherlock Holmes. Played by Andrew Scott, he is brilliantly creepy (I think it has something to do with the Jack Nicholson-esque eyebrows), and yet has a pathos to him that makes him vulnerable – until he does something so dastardly that you are reminded of what a villain he truly is.
In J. R. Ward’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Xcor is a villain that flirts with heroism. He leads a band of soldiers who want to dethrone King Wrath. Raised by a vicious, cruel man, unable to read, and also born with a cleft palate, you do feel sympathy for him, except for the fact that he wants to assassinate the main good guy.
Women can be villains, too. They often go about their mayhem in more subtle ways. I can’t think of one by name right now, but you know who I mean – the ‘friend’ who constantly undermines the heroines confidence, or the mother who sabotages our heroines romance ‘for her own good.’
Whose your favourite villain? I’d love to read your comments. Then hop over to Jenna Da Sie to see who her favourite bad guy/girl is.