Monday, February 29, 2016

Top Five Reasons Why I Love Revising

But first Happy Leap Day! Any Leap Day rituals we should know about? No. Well, either.

February has been my least favourite month for so long now is probably a self-fulfilling prophecy. My mental health takes a hit. My energy level sinks. I let things slide. But here we are on the cusp of March and spring seems that much closer - tangible. So, as I sit here sipping my green smoothie I'm feeling pretty darn good.

I have to admit February wasn't all bad either. That angsty, winter's never gonna end feeling is crazy good writing mojo. Also, January saw the end of me writing the first draft of my third Aspen Lake book so February has been all about revising. Which I love. Love . LOVE.

My Revising Top Five

My first draft is always bare bones. Plotting, of course. Lots of dialogue and lots of physically positioning people here and there, were I think they should be, which allows me to better picture the scene. Revising is about taking that garbled mess, fleshing it out and turning it into something multi-layered someone might like to read someday. To me, the first revision pass, because there will be more, turns it into a story for me instead of a bunch of chopped up scenes.

This first draft was a hard one because my hero, Constable Mike Davenport, has been with me since the first book. I knew exactly what was up with him from the very beginning. Until I started writing the first draft of his story. Then it all fell apart because it just wasn't going to work. Letting go of the idea for the heart of him was HARD. I wasted considerable time trying desperately to make it work. Finally letting go of an idea that wasn't working and seeing a better alternative lifts the spirit. In the revising process I can run with the new developments, knowing it's the right path to take. He's still tortured, but in a different way.

Emotion. Expanding on the goals, motivations, and conflicts of the first draft. Or why the protagonists and antagonists are doing what they're doing. Which means scenes are added, or deleted, or rerouted. It means amping up the internal dialogue as the character thinks, emotes, decides a course of action, and implements it.

Developing Secondary Characters, which are some of my favourite characters. They make the story go round. They can be what your story needs: zangy, merciless, nuturing, or hurting. They are the tie that binds. Sometimes I get a little too attached to them and I find myself having to pull back and not let them take over too much of the story. Such was the case with Sophie's sister Marnie in Off The Grid. I could have given her character her own book. Not a romance, but a suspense surrounding her 'job' as a Finder.

Description and Detail. Like turning set amounts of flour, sugar, and butter into a confection of cakey goodness. Or meat, potatoes, and vegetables and turning into a savoury stew. Better yet, it makes for a whole meal when you serve them both. This is where the Back Forty Bar and sometimes grill turns into a place with dartboards and a pool table. Where the summertime heat lingers well past midnight and the locals and tourists play at getting along. Bowls of peanuts grace the tables and country music gives more than one patron the swaggers. And maybe four guys from the neighbouring town the locals love to hate pay a visit and pick a fight.

Again, happy leap day! Whatever your creative endeavors, whatever makes you tick, or saw you through February...I hope you tap into more of it in March? Come on, tell us your secrets?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Cover Reveal - In Deep Wish

Are you ready for some cover reveal?  I can't hear you.  (Well, naturally. This is the internet.)

The conspiracy to ruin Jo Mayweather’s life is growing like blue fuzz on last month’s leftovers. But they’ve messed with the wrong genie this time. Jo will do whatever it takes to blow their plans apart before they achieve their ultimate goal—her death and the total enslavement of djinn-kind. 

Everything's on track for this puppy to release on March 15th.  Watch for links as the date gets closer.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

New Release: The Hitwoman and the Chubby Cherub

now available!

AVAILABLE NOW ON KINDLE (waiting for the other retailers to catch up)

Love and Murder are in the air. 

In years past, Maggie Lee has not been a fan of Valentine’s Day, but this year, the holiday has warped into its own special hell. 

She's stuck working at her aunt’s lingerie shop during the busiest (and cheesiest) time of the year, someone volunteered her to help with the Valentine’s Day party at her niece’s school, and there’s a hitman in town, known as the Cupid Killer. 

Maggie is up to her eyeballs in declarations of love, sex toys, and candy hearts, when all she really wants is to chase down leads pertaining to her missing sister. 

Can Maggie survive a guy with a bow and arrow, the pain in the butt parents of school kids, and a romantic proposal? 

Or will she succumb to her favorite fantasy? 

The one where she runs away with her pets. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Glimpse Into The Writing Life #AuthorLifeMonth

At the beginning of February I stumbled upon a photo challenge on Instagram and Twitter started by the lovely author Dahlia Adler which is themed #AuthorLifeMonth. I'm not sure how interesting an author's life is. It's the stories that are the interesting thing. But perhaps a glimpse into the process of bringing a book into being creates some curiosity.

Unfortunately, I became somewhat sidetracked by life and the plague.

But I thought I'd share a few of the ones I missed with you.

Day 17: Where You Relax

This is my favourite reading spot. I like to stretch out or curl up here depending on my mood. I have read many great books in this spot.

Day 21: Your Muse

Here's my muse. She sits beside my desk with ideas sparking out of her head. When I think of how my muse works I think of a quote from Nanny McPhee.
"There is something you should understand about the way I work. When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. It's rather sad, really, but there it is."

Day 20: Fave Chapter Ending

This one was a little more challenging as lots of my favourite chapter endings revealed spoilers.  But I do love this one from EXPOSED, Aspen Lake series, Book 2. 

Day 16: Where you write

This is my office. It's my favourite place to write. Right there at my messy desk. My little corner of creativity. 

There you are! A brief glimpse into my writing life. Care to give a brief glimpse into yours?What is one of your favourite places to relax? Or the answer to any one of the other themed days for February?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Newsletter News

Hi there, Killer Friends!

My semi-regular newsletter goes out sometime in the deep-dark of tomorrow morning.  I say semi-regular because it's supposed to go out quarterly, but sometimes I'm late.  Which still ends up being quarterly, but not regular quarterly.

Anyway, if you're interested in news about my books, or a cover reveal, or a snippet of my next release, sign up today.  There are even a couple ways to get neat stuff from me included therein.

Just to give you a sample of what's in the newsletter, here's a tease of the cover reveal:

I really don't have much else for you today.  Last Friday I held a contest.  But the only commenter was a Killer Chick, so I don't have a winner to announce.

Have an awesome weekend and a great week, and I'll see you next Friday - when I'll have some more interesting things to talk about.

Peace out.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I attended the Citizens Police Academy...and had a ball

So....writers can get excited about weird things.

The average person might have no interest in sitting in their local Police Department for an entire day learning about what the guys and gals in blue do every day.

I am not one of those people.

I was thrilled to take part in my town's Citizens Police Academy recently.

It was awesome.
It was very organized and ran on time. ( I love things that happen on time!)

I knew we were in for a good time when the Captain said we had to start off with "power rings".

Power rings are donuts.

That sense of gentle, self-deprecating humor set the tone for what prevailed throughout the day.

Even more impressive than the power rings was the one inch binder that was FILLED with all sorts of useful information.

(Have I mentioned yet that I thought that this event was better run than most conferences I've spent a small fortune on? It was, in terms of organization and value.)

So what was covered? A little bit of everything!

1) We got a complete tour of the facility, from the interrogation rooms, to the holding cells (where I felt it necessary to go behind a half-wall to get a look at the toilet/sink combo), to going into the dispatch room and watching the little blue GPS dots move around the computer screen indicating where all the police cars were.

2) There was  a lesson on the history of the department which I must admit was more interesting than I'd anticipated.

3) We got a lesson about what it's like being a Patrol Officer and how the department runs its Field Training program for newly hired officers -- it involves A LOT of paperwork!

4) We learned about the School Resource Officers. I found this to be a bit depressing since the role of the Resource Officers has changed so much as the dangers at schools have increased.

5) We got a lesson about Scams & Frauds -- lots of resources in the provided notebook about that!

So that was the morning session. I point that out because I think it's a testament to the planning that the "classroom" topics were in the morning when everyone was fresh.

In the afternoon things became more interactive.

6) Traffic stops -- where I volunteered and got to strap on a fake gun, and actually turn on the lights and siren of a real police car!!!!!!!  (I was as excited as a little kid, lol)

We ran a bunch of simulated traffic stops. (Dorky, excited me volunteered to be one of the cops!)

7) DUI  -- They had these really cool goggles that simulated what a person's vision is like if they're blowing a 2.0.  We all had a good laugh as everyone stumbled around trying to walk in a straight line, but it drove home how scary it is that drunk drivers are on the road.

8) Eye Witness Accounts -- A detective came in and gave us a lesson about how inaccurate and incomplete the accounts are, by having someone else come in and steal something while we were watching.  It's amazing any crimes are ever solved.

9) Taser Demo -- (I did not volunteer for this one.) They didn't really taser anyone, just a pressboard cut out, but it was interesting to watch and I learned interesting stuff about tasers.

10) K-9 Demo -- The demo was interesting, but the officer's story about he'd lost his last dog in the line of duty was heartbreaking.

11) Narcotics -- This was partially covered in the morning since we could smell pot during the tour since a big bust had been made and the building reeked of it.

So, as you can see, considering it was an 8 hour day, a lot of material was covered.

I learned a lot to use in my own writing and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Tell me Killer Friends: Have you ever done a Citizens Police Academy? Would you want to?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy Holiday Monday!

It's holiday Monday! It's Family Day in my Canadian province of Saskatchewan*, and  I believe it's President's Day in the United States.

It's freakishly warm here. I'm tempted to say something snarky like it's impossible to get freakishly cold, but that would be promoting a Canadian weather stereotype. Next thing I know, I'll be living in an igloo.

*A province named after the Saskatchewan River which was known as kisiskaciwani-sTyiy (swift flowing river) in the Cree language. Not because it's "home to a lot of sasquatches" as one NBA announcer suggested.

I wish!

Not only a tea freak, I might be a bit of a bigfoot enthusiast. Okay, more like I watch the reality show Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet because I have a secondary character in mind who just might spend his/her spare time searching for the elusive creatures. But tea freak is quite accurate.

Although the next time we're out camping and I hear tree knocks in the middle of the night I am going to freak way the heck out. This happens a lot. Me freaking out in the wilderness. And by wilderness I mean regulated provincial or regional parks smack dab in the middle of civilization.

Have I ever told you about the time I was reading a book about a campground serial killer while we were camping.

Me: Oh my God, this book is about a campground serial killer.
Jack: Put it down. Right now.
Me: But--
Jack: I'm not kidding. Put it away.

Also, I've never been to prison, but I'm pretty sure they have better shower facilities then this particular campground.

Why do I camp again? I'm not sure. I'm not exactly the roughing it type. So, it's kind of bonkers.

And why am I thinking about camping in the middle of February? Oh right, because it's Family Day.

Wherever you are, whether you're enjoying it with family nor not, have a wonderful holiday Monday!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Happy Anniversary to Me

One year ago tomorrow, Dying Embers went live for everyone in the world to buy.  To celebrate my book's birthday and my anniversary of taking the leap into self-publishing, I'm doing a few fun things.

1) Starting tomorrow, Dying Embers will be free on Amazon through Sunday night.  If you haven't snagged a copy yet, now's your chance to do it!

2) Starting tomorrow, you can enter for a chance at a copy of Dying Embers in paperback over at Goodreads.

Yeah, you say, but that's tomorrow.  What about today?

Well, today, I'm going to have a little contest for our Killer Friends.  One commenter here will receive a paperback copy of one of any of my books.  (U.S. only.  Sorry.)  All you have to do is leave a comment.  Tell your friends to stop by and leave a comment.  Invite family and acquaintances.  Encourage perfect strangers.  The more the merrier.  Hell, maybe if I get enough comments, I'll pick two names.  I'm crazy that way sometimes. 

Whoever wins will also get some swag to show off.  

One comment entry per person.  Winner to be announced next Friday.

Happy Anniversary to me!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sometimes being "polite" is overrated -- contains a "NOTE TO THE IDIOTS OF THE WORLD"

This past weekend I went to a writer's group meeting.

The presenter was horrible. HORRIBLE.

He was unprepared, obnoxious and a misogynist. AND he didn't even freaking speak about what he was supposed to because he was too busy stroking his own damn ego.

I'm not exaggerating. His blamed his unpreparedness on being a "good person".

**NOTE TO THE IDIOTS OF THE WORLD** -- If you have to tell people how good, or smart, or kind you are, chances are you're not all that good/smart/kind.

I knew within three minutes that the session was going to be a disaster and yet I stayed through the whole thing.

It's Wednesday, and I'm still frustrated at myself for not walking out.

Normally I have no problem walking out. As a general practice, I sit in the back of workshops so that I can walk out without disturbing others.

Some people think this is rude.

I happen to think that if something is not worth your time, you shouldn't feel stuck.

Side note: It can be challenging to set up speakers at meetings, so this rant is in no way a reflection of the group, just of the obnoxious speaker who wasted 2.5 hours of my life. The last two speakers I saw that the group had, a novelist and a hospice nurse, were AWESOME.

So why didn't I just get up and walk out of this meeting?

1) Because the room is laid out in a way that doesn't allow for easy escape.

2) Because I was attending with a friend, and I didn't want to make her uncomfortable


This is the second time this has happened in the past couple of weeks.

I went to see a play with a friend and hated it too. I wanted to leave during the intermission. (See, I'm not so rude that I'd get up and disturb everyone during the show.) My friend wanted to stick it out.

If possible, the second act was worst than the first.

So I'm invoking a new rule for myself: I give myself permission to get up and get out of any situation that I want.

If people are offended, too bad.

Life is too short to spend being miserable.

Tell me Killer Friends: Do you stay in situations where you're miserable? Do you walk out of workshops? Plays? Concerts? Talks?

(I have to say that I've walked out of workshops at conferences and ducked into others and more often than not found my second "choice" to be worthwhile.)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Reading, Watching and Music

My apologies. I'm late. Again. 

I'm in the writing zone. Or the revision zone to be specific, and working my way through my work-in-progress. So, quick post today.

What I'm Reading:

I'm dipping my toes in Audible. Confession: I've never listened to an audio book. But I have set a walking goal and I need something to listen to on the treadmill. I asked the advice of a friend and she gave me some great recommendations for narrators. The first thing I learned? Audio books are expensive. Because I'm still testing the waters of whether I should listen to a fiction or non-fiction book, I downloaded a free fiction read (or listen?). Yeah. No. I knew it was not the book for me in the first 5 seconds. Should have listened to the sample. Looking into downloading one from the library. Will try again. 

Actively reading and LOVING the The Ivy Years series by Sarina Bowen

Lady in Waiting - The Lake House by Kate Morton. Started it but was seduced into reading the above because it's February and I needed a sweet, sexy romance and the first book led to the next. Also, for those of you who are curious, it has nothing to do with the movie of the same name. 

Next up is The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt for next book club. Looking forward to this one too. Looking up the link I realized I could listen to it in Audible. Huh.

What I'm Watching:

Watched The Martian. Loved it. 
Watched Dirty Dancing again. Loved it again. 
Watched Brick Mansions. Watching movies with Paul Walker makes me sad. It was good(ish). 

What I'm Listening To:

I listen to music when I write and these days I'm listening to a lot of Dean Brody, Paul Brandt, and Blake Shelton.  And Easton Corbin's  I'm A Little More Country Than That is playing on repeat.

Back to revising! What are you reading, watching, or listening to? Any Audible advice or recommendations?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Scar Tissue

A friend and I were chatting yesterday, talking about a post she did about fear and feeling broken and how she's not sure if she's fully healed yet.  I happened to mention that it's all scar tissue.  We know it's there, and it doesn't really hurt anymore, but it's never the same.  That's when she mentioned Kintsukori.

Kintsukori is a Japanese process where broken pottery is repaired using gold dust and resin.  Something about imperfection being beautiful.  I don't know about beauty, but I do know that the repairs have to be stronger than the original material.  Which is basically what she was talking about. I think.

Or as I like to think about it: Scar tissue makes you stronger.

After it heals, a broken bone will be stronger along the break than it was before the break.  (At least that's what my doc said all those years ago when I was terrified of my leg breaking again.)

Experience - no matter how terrible it seems at the time - will make you stronger.

So, if you're in a place where the world is beating you up and you're feeling like you're made of eggshells, hold on until you find your strength.  It's there waiting for you.

And I'll leave you with this musical interlude thought...

I admit to not knowing all the words, but their concept of Scar Tissue always struck a chord with me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Doing what I love this month

Happy February!!

Big thanks to everyone who helped make the launch of THE HITWOMAN AND THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB a success last month!

Here's what I'm tackling this month.

My writing goals:

I'm having a blast writing the romantic suspense novel HARM'S WAY.  It's all about Kimberly's bad boy cousin, Harmon, who returned to town toward the end of UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT.

He's misunderstood and unappreciated, but I love him.

I'll also be editing THE HITWOMAN AND THE CHUBBY CHERUB and, if things go according to plan, that will be published by the end of the month.

My health goals: To install the habit of drinking 40 ounces of water BEFORE lunch every day. (Last month it was 20 oz before coffee)  AND to continue my habit of walking around the lake every morning, PLUS doing an exercise dvd most mornings.

My creativity goals:  To enjoy the PROCESS of what I'm doing, rather than worrying about whether the PRODUCT will fail. 

My happiness goals: To maintain my happiness/gratitude practice (you can find it here) and to work from a To Do list every day (because checking stuff off makes me happy).

Tell me Killer Friends: What are YOU working on this month? Do you love To Do lists? What are YOU loving this month?

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Benefits of Being a Romance Writer

This morning's sock joice was an omen, I just didn't realize it when I put them on this morning.

Also, I have a thing for socks.

It's February! Yay!

Plus I'm this close to typing The End on the first draft of my current work-in-progress. I'm fleshing out an idea for a new series. New writing challenge starts today. Love writing along side my fellow writing group members. The writing groove has been hit.

The Benefits of Being a Romance Writer

  • Being quirky is a given. No explanation needed. Me: I'm a romance writer. Other People: Ohhhhh. There are three types of Ohhhhs. The people, and by other people I mean some not all men, who have no concept of the romance genre and therefore don't understand what it is I do but assumes it's something substandard. The other kind implies you're one of those kinds of writers and I don't read those books #sorrynotsorry. And the third and most beautiful kind is the reader who appreciates the genre and you go on to have an intelligent conversation.
  • Your characters get a happily-ever-after. After you've tortured them sufficiently. Well, except the ones who end up dead or in jail. Generally characters based on the person who pissed you off in the grocery store three weeks ago don't come off so well. I'm not gonna lie, it cathartic.
  • Real life is a constant source of inspiration. My real life. Not yours, don't worry. Like when the much younger than me water heater renter plumber guy comes to do his scheduled yearly inspection and you've spent the weekend catching up on the laundry you hadn't gotten done because you've been writing and EVERY SINGLE BRA and unmentionable you and your daughter own that has to hang dry is hanging up. Right beside the water heater. You shove the clothes horse into a corner therefore ensuring he notices. Then you gather up the other unmentionables that are in a heap on the floor and blocking his path to the water heater and shove them in the corner under what is essentially a bra tree. Yeah, that is definitely going in a book. 
  • You can do a search for gorgeous and sexy men and claim it's research because it really is research. Even if you already know what every single character, female or male, you ever invented looks like down to their shoe size. 
  • But the best part is writing stories about people who are caught in the middle of falling in love. 
Have a fantabulous Monday! Feel free to add to the list. Or explain your love of socks!