I live in a part of the world where the four seasons are clear and distinct. The weather, however, doesn’t always line up with the dates very well! This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, A.S. Fenichel says:
Spring is here in the US. What’s your favorite thing about the season? If you can, share a Spring related memory.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
This is my view as I write this blog. In Northern British Columbia, early spring is pretty much late winter. We don’t dare plant anything delicate out of doors until the third weekend in May. To me, that is the true first day of spring!
We sometimes joke that we have five seasons here. Spring, summer, autumn, winter and The Melt. That’s the horrible in-between weeks when the snow is melting but nothing is green yet. The only good thing about The Melt is that it means winter is over!
But once we're truly in spring it is lovely. My husband and I always made a big deal of the first sunny, warm day. Our tradition is to play the Gypsy Kings Greatest Hits nice and loud, have a Corona and lime, and simply bask in the sun. Well, that’s what I do. He gets his joy from doing yard work, while I appreciate his efforts.
Going back to when our children were young, my favourite spring memory is sitting in the front yard watching my toddler son shovelling snow from the lawn onto the driveway to help it melt faster, and splashing in puddles in his yellow slicker and little red boots. Soon I am hoping we’ll be able to have the same fun with our grandchildren!
What about you? What’s your best memory of spring? I’d love to hear from you. Then be sure to hop over to Clair Brett for her thoughts on spring.
A.S. Fenichel has set us a tricky topic this week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop. She says:
Pick a book or story you’ve written and tell us where the inspiration came from.
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome!
Inspiration is an odd thing. It can be like waiting for lightning to strike. Sometimes is just a sentence that pops into my head. Or I read something and wonder what happened next. Sometimes it is more deliberate, like AFTER WORDS, my first seasoned romance.
Here’s how AFTER WORDS came about.
I knew I wanted to write a romance with older characters. I was also toying with the idea of writing a dual timeline story – one where plots in the present day and in the past run concurrently and are linked in some mysterious way. I also knew I wanted to write something that was Canadian.
In my wanderings on the internet, I came across the Canadian Letters and Images Project, which preserves the memorabilia of soldiers. That’s where I found the diary of William Henry Smith – and the rest, as they say, is history. You can find out more in the Acknowledgements section of AFTER WORDS (which is available now at all e-retailers. You know. Just in case you haven't read it yet...).
For my upcoming release, RICHLY DESERVED, I wanted something “the same but different” as AFTER WORDS. I live less than two hours away for the famed gold rush town of Barkerville, and had always thought it might be interesting to write something tied in with that. As I researched the history of that town, I came across the biography of William George Richardson Hind, one of the only artists known to have visited Barkerville during the height of its fame. The idea of centering a mystery around an antique painting caught me, and so Titus and Claudia’s story was born. I can’t wait for everyone to meet them on March 29!
Are you a creator? Whether with words, paint, clay or some other medium? I’d love to hear how you are inspired. Then hop over to Jenna Da Sie to see what gets her creativity flowing.
Cabin fever is a real thing here in Northern BC. With travel restrictions in place, it’s been even more insidious this year. But no matter what our “real” life is like, reading can take us to other worlds and times, and help us get through the darkest days.
Maybe that’s why I chose this topic for the Romance Writers Blog Hop today:
Writers are readers, too! What have you been reading lately?
I am a big re-reader. It’s not a lie to say I’ve read some of my favourites ten or more times. When I know the ending, I can really get involved in the way the story unfolds, and see nuances I never noticed before.
In February, I reread (again) two different series by Courtney Milan – The Brothers Sinister and The Worth Saga. These are both set in the late 1800’s, and have heroines who are chess champions, biologists, computers (when that word meant someone who does complex math), suffragettes, daughters of traitors, and more. Ms. Milan’s romances are complex and emotional and ALWAYS a delight. Even if you don’t think you like historicals, I highly recommend you give them a try.
What did you read in February? I’d love to hear from you below. Then hop over to Leslie Hachtel to see what she’s been perusing lately.
It’s March – which mean’s is release month for RICHLY DESERVED!
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and other exciting news in the lead up to release day on March 29! CLICK HERE
When I saw Jenna Da Sie’s topic this week, I couldn’t say no to joining! She asked:
If you could renovate one room in your house, which one would it be and why?
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome!
One reason I was excited to see this topic is that we are actually in the middle of a minor renovation right now. Well, I call it minor, but I’m not doing any of the work. It is keeping Mr. C busy, though!
Also, I love renovating in general. We’ve lived in our current home twenty-five years, and we have renovated all the bathrooms (one of them twice!), the family room (three times), and the kitchen. And I’m not just talking paint and new flooring (we’ve done that in every room of the house more than once). I’m talking taking walls down and putting them back up in new places. For some reason, the chaos and clutter of renovating doesn’t bother me at all, and the results are always worth it. Luckily, Mr. C and his brother love this kind of hands on work—and they are good at it—so we don’t have to hire people other than for some of the more specialized tasks.
If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, then you have already seen the cover to Richly Deserved, my next release coming March 29. But for those of you who haven’t, click here to see it and learn what this story is all about! I absolutely love the the cover, and can't wait for you to meet Titus and Claudia!
The last week or so has been VERY COLD in much of North America, so this week’s topic on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop seems just right for while we are all hunkering down and staying warm!
Let’s talk about food. What’s your favorite food or dish? Does it evoke a memory or is it something new that you adore?
I am not a picky eater. If I don’t like something it is more because of the texture than the taste. So, when I started thinking about what to write for this blog, I had too many choices. But then I started thinking about the memories behind the food, and that made it easier.
One dish that evokes a strong memory for me is moules et frites. In 2017 my husband and I went to Europe with my parents. We visited my mother’s family in Belgium, and then spent a week in the south of France. One day we drove to a village on the Mediterranean and had mussels and French fries at a restaurant overlooking the sea. While the food was amazing, the view, the company and the experience made it all one of the best days of our trip. Every once in a while I make the dish here at home and it never fails to remind us of that trip.
I don’t think I ever realized how much sharing a meal contributed to our human experience until this past year. Eating together deepens the sense of community and belonging between family and friends in a way I don’t fully comprehend. It is that new understanding that made me choose my other favourite meal – turkey dinner.
Like many families, I don’t think we’ve ever roasted a turkey for anything other than a special occasion. That must be why it has extra meaning. Of course, the trimmings that are served along side contribute to the “specialness.” Who can resist stuffing, after all!
What about you? What meal has deep significance for you? Let me know in the comments!
Then, hop on over to Leslie Hachtel and see what she has to say.
Don't miss the countdown to my next release, RICHLY DESERVED! Click here to Join my newsletter to see the cover first, read sneak peeks, and generally keep up with the news leading up to the launch day on March 29. Here's what it's all about:
More than twenty years ago, Claudia Aronson escaped an abusive marriage. She built a secure, stable life, and is now only weeks away from realizing a long-held dream—opening her own art gallery. But her well-ordered world is threatened by the compelling, abrasive man essential to bringing her new venture into the spotlight.
Artist Titus Wilcox is reclusive, nomadic, and passionate. His solitary, drifting habits have fed his creative soul, but played hell with his love life. Soon after he meets the statuesque, seemingly-serene Claudia, however, he feels a compulsion to paint a new reality—with her.
When an antique painting reveals mysterious documents concealed behind its frame, Titus and Claudia unite in a hunt for lost riches—a pursuit that takes them into the remote hills surrounding the fabled gold rush town of Barkerville.
To these two skeptics, true love is as phony as fool’s gold. But this improbable search for buried treasure could lead to their hearts’ hidden desires.
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, we’re indulging in wishful thinking. 😊 A.S. Fenichel says:
Describe a perfect day either in your life or in your imagination. What would it be like?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
I am a firm believer in cherishing what you have, and not angsting over what you have not. By extension of this thinking, I don’t believe you can plan the perfect day. Expectations will colour everything, and humans are easily disappointed. It’s a phenomenon you often see at big celebrations like Christmas or birthdays, especially with small children. They’ve built the day up so much in their head that nothing will be able to match it.
That being said, I’ve been lucky enough to have many, many days where I can look back and say “There. That was a near-perfect day.” And if I study those days, they have a few things in common.
As you can see, this list has no specifics on it. It doesn’t say my perfect day MUST have this, that or the other. This leaves me open to experiencing a near-perfect day almost any day. Although a day where I haven't read can NEVER be a near-perfect day LOL!
What about you? Does your perfect day require certain things? There are no wrong answers. Leave a comment below, then hop over to A. S. Fenichel's blog to see what she wrote!
I took a few weeks off from the weekly blog hop to celebrate the end of 2020 and welcome the beginning of 2021. But it’s time to get back into the groove (especially since I have a new release coming up in March. More on that in future blog posts!).
This week, I challenged our members to write Flash Fiction using the phrase/words: Happy New Year, cigars, and orchids.
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome! Here is my contribution:
Eloise had never felt the slightly hysterical excitement so many others did watching the seconds tick down to the new year. It was a completely arbitrary distinction between one moment and the next, something dreamed up by whey-faced administrators centuries ago. There was no magic in it. Nothing ever changed. It was the same old same old, just with a new number next to it.
She had planned to sleep away the last hours of the year, much as she'd slept the last week away. Instead, she found herself curled in bed, the glow from her phone the only light in the room, streaming the countdown from New York City that had already happened three hours ago but was being replayed for those in the Pacific Time Zone. Just one more indication of how fake the whole celebration was. Like another version of the movie Groundhog Day, only without the saving grace of Bill Murray’s comic insanity.
“Happy New Year!” the crowd in Times Square shouted.
“Yeah, yeah,” she mumbled. “Happy freakin’ New Year.”
The doorbell rang.
Eloise blinked. Had it really been the doorbell, or was it one of the bells and whistles shrieking from the video on her screen? She muted her phone.
The doorbell rang.
Who could possible be at her door at midnight on New Year’s Eve? Well, it was New Year’s Day, she supposed, but midnight New Year’s Day was still twenty-four hours away technically, so it seemed calling it New Year’s Eve made more--
The doorbell rang a third time, cutting off her dribbling thoughts.
She flung back the covers, trod barefoot through her darkened home to the front door, and peered through the sidelight.
Jax stood on the stoop and she recoiled, pressing her back against the wall, her heart racing.
Rapid knocks thudded on the wood panels of the door. “Eloise! I know you’re in there. Please, I just want to talk.”
“Go away!” The words blurted out and she shoved her fist against her mouth. Damn it. If she’d stayed silent, he would have left eventually. Now she’d given him proof she was home, he’d never leave.
“Please, Eloise.” His tone softened. “I made a mistake. It’s a new year. Can’t we start over?”
A mistake. Hah! That’s what he called it? “Go back to your whiskey and cigars or whatever it is you rich people do on New Year’s,” she said bitterly. “I’m just the poor waitress you had a fling with. No need to worry about me.”
“It was more than a fling,” Jax said.
“Really? Then why did you pretend you didn’t know me?”
What they’d had was still so new, they’d agreed that meeting each other’s families over the holidays would put too much pressure on their relationship. But that meant they wouldn't see each other for a few days, so when she’d gotten off work earlier than expected on Christmas Eve, she’d gone to his apartment, hoping to surprise him before he joined his family that evening. Instead, she’d been the one stunned when he’d opened the door with a tall blonde in a sleek, simple black sheath that screamed expensive draped over him. He'd stared at her in shock as the heavy scent of orchids had wrapped itself around Eloise, the woman’s perfume as cloying as the smirk on her face.
“Who’s this, Jax? A friend of yours?” she’d said.
Which was when Jax had broken Eloise’s heart. “No,” he’d said, “she’s not a friend.”
She hadn’t stuck around to hear more, simply spun on her heel and fled.
Now, in the silence of a new year, his voice came muffled through the door. “I was surprised to see you,” he said, “but I didn’t say what you thought I did.”
“Oh, trust me, I heard exactly what you said.” The words were branded on her brain, still sizzling and smoking more than a week later.
“You heard the words, Eloise. But you didn’t hear what I meant.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“You aren’t my friend. You’re so much more.”
Eloise realized she was standing with her palms pressed against the door's surface as if she could reach through to Jax’s warmth and strength. “I’m wh-what?” she stuttered.
“I love you, Eloise. Please, let me in so we can talk properly.”
“If you love me, then who was that with you on Christmas Eve?”
Eloise closed her eyes. “I don’t believe you.”
“Her name is Helene. We were driving to my parents together that night.”
“If that’s the truth, why didn’t you call me to explain? Why did you wait until now to come see me?”
“Because I was scared. I was scared you wouldn’t listen. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. I didn’t realize how much it would hurt, to have the person I love distrust me.”
They came from such different worlds. The dress his sister had worn was probably worth more than Eloise’s monthly rent. But when she was with Jax, all she could feel was how right they were together. Did she love him enough to work through her issues, to find the trust he deserved?
She opened the door.
I hope you enjoyed this little story. Now hop on over to Jenna Da Sie https://jennadasie.com to see what she came up with!
This is probably going to be my last blog post of 2020. And what better way to end the year than by sharing some of my Christmas decorations? A.S. Fenichel asks:
Are your decorations up? We’d love to see some pictures and if you have an ornament with some special meaning, how about the story?
In our house, my husband is the King of Christmas Lights. He makes sure both inside and outside are bright and cheerful—which, given how early it gets dark in Northern British Columbia at this time of year, is wonderful. He is also in charge of putting up the tree, though it is my job to decorate it. This year felt like it needed some extra cheer, so we’ve had everything up and on since November 12 (we like to wait until after Remembrance Day).
Speaking of decorating the tree, I found myself needing to buy more ornaments this year. You see, ever since our son was born in 1998, I’ve bought him and his two sisters a Christmas ornament for their stockings. For a few years, I had so many I couldn’t put them all on the tree! But then the girls left home and took their ornaments with them. Then our son moved out this summer, so his ornaments moved, too. All of a sudden, the tree looked very bare!
One of my favourite ornaments is made from dough and has five snowmen, one for each of us in the family. Even though we’ve added two sons-in-law and have grandbabies on the way, it is still a wonderful memento of the many Christmases we’ve shared. I also treasure homemade ornaments and decorations, and a special one featuring the Nativity that we were given for our very first Christmas as a married couple.
I just spent fifteen minutes writing and discarding introductions to this week’s topic. I give up, so I'm just going to dive in.
This week on the Blog Hop, A.S. Fenichel says:
December seems like a good time to tell us all about your writing plans for next year. Tell us what’s upcoming and why you’re excited about it.
I am really hoping to finish my current work-in-progress before Christmas. That means I will have worked on three manuscripts this year, which for me is amazing. That includes AFTER WORDS, which I completed in January and published in September. The other two stories are what I am planning to release to the world in 2021, and I am very excited about both of them!
RICHLY DESERVED will be the second in my TIMELESS Season Romance Collection. I need to write the formal description still, but here’s the gist: Claudia owns a frame shop and is opening a private gallery. Titus is the artist she lures into doing her grand opening exhibition. They become involved in a mystery that involves Barkerville gold miners and long-lost artwork. I just sent the second draft off to my editor, and I’m hoping to release this in March of next year.
THE ROOTS OF THINGS will by my third seasoned romance. It revolves around the search for a child given up for adoption sixty years ago. Aubrey and Phillip, the main characters, are the daughter and nephew of the birth parents, now in their 80’s, who are reunited in a seniors residence. They have their own troubled past, and I am having a lot of fun exploring their relationship. The plan would be to release this book in September 2021.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that plans can change at a moments notice. But having goals is healthy, as long as you can roll with the punches, be flexible, and look for the positives.
Now hop on over to Jenna Da Sie to see what fun she has in store for next year!
Make sure you don't miss out on any book announcements by joining my newsletter! I usually only send it out once a month unless I have really exciting news. You get a free short story just for signing up, will be able to tag along on my dog-walking adventures, find out what I'm reading when I should be working, and other randomness…along with all my writing news, of course! Just click here.
Sometimes being grateful isn’t a feeling. Sometimes it’s an act of defiance. 2020 has been that kind of year. That’s why this week’s Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop is so important.
Leslie Hachtel commands: Tell us what you are most grateful for.
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome.
It will be hard to write this post without being too maudlin. 2020 has had its challenges – COVID and non-COVID related – but in the grand scheme of things, it would be selfish of me to complain. There have been a lot of wonderful things, too, including the announcement of two grandbabies soon to join our family.
So what am I most grateful for?
The way this year has forced me to realize how much I took for granted.
Hugs from family.
Face to face visits with friends.
The freedom to come and go when and where I please.
Days unburdened by anxiety.
Once these trying times have passed, it will only be human nature to relax back into the casual acceptance of all these things. But I hope the memory of 2020 will help me take a little extra joy in the ordinary everyday.
I’d love to hear what you are most grateful for. Leave a comment below, then be sure to hop over to Caro Kinkead who is next on the list.
The Bendixon Sisters Series is on sale this week!
ALLEGRO COURT – FREE! (was 99 cents)
Mattie thinks she sees a way to save her beloved construction company—if she can convince world-class cellist Marcus Temple, the man who destroyed her dreams once before, to stay in his hated hometown for one month. All she has to risk is her heart.
GATEWAY CRESCENT – ONLY 99 CENTS! (was $2.99, will be going up to $3.99 after this week)
Jo is flighty and scattered and impulsive – or that’s what her sisters think. Luke Donwell is destined to be a Catholic priest – or that’s what his parents hope for. Neither is prepared for the heat between them. Jo’s heart will break when he leaves her, but how can a girl compete with God?
CROSSROADS CORNER - $2.99 (will go up to 3.99 after this week)
Nothing will stop Camryn from dragging Bendixon and Sons back to profitability—especially not Will Danson, the sexy single dad who is standing in her way. Soon the two are competing for construction bids and career-making contracts. But it is Camryn’s battered heart that Will truly wants to win.
New Release from Caro Kinkaid - To Lure a Lord
She must find a husband quickly or be forced into an arranged marriage. But can the man trying to scuttle her efforts be the answer to her prayers?
The London season is a ticking clock for Augusta Eastleigh. With her mother’s help, she has a marriage prospect she hopes will satisfy her grandfather, the Earl of Forebridge. But Lord Blair MacDonald, recently returned to London, does not look kindly on her efforts to snare his friend. Nor does he hesitate to make his views known about Augusta and the rumors surrounding her birth.
Blair has more than one reason to dislike the girl. With his older brother Hamish critically wounded while fighting on the Peninsula, and his eldest brother refusing to marry, the Marquess of Rutherglen has decided his third son will be the one to carry on the family line. Which means he needs to marry. Now. The girl his father has chosen for Blair? None other than Augusta Eastleigh.
The situation pleases neither of them. But with the heads of the families set on the match, can they find common ground together, or will they face an unhappy future?
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