Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween or Why I Became a Writer

Halloween is my #2 favorite holiday.  I think I should first explain that qualifier.  Halloween falls to #2 on the holiday scale because of New Year’s Day.  There is just something so exciting about having a fresh start.  How could you not make that number 1?

Which leads me to #2: Halloween.

I had a magical childhood.  Seriously.  I look back on it now, take a breath, and thank every deity that I was so blessed.  It was the place, it was the time, it was my parents that all contributed to making it so special.

The place: Bear Lake, NY.  A valley of green goodness, innocence, and all things happy, beautiful, and serene.

The time: the 1980s.  Do you watch the show The Goldbergs?  That was my childhood in neon colors, big hair, and anything goes because nothing could harm you.

The parents: I told my parents early on that I was going to be a writer.  By first grade, I was planning what stories I would write one day.  My parents’ reaction?  They bought me a word processor before computers were a big thing. 

But the best part was my dad.  My dad would clean out auctions of military uniforms, old ball gowns, and other props I would use for something I called story time.  I had costumes for everything.  Accessories for everything.  I would dress the part to act out the stories I would write.  Like I said, it was magical.

Other kids did not think so.  I was a bit of weirdo with my dressing up.  To make it worse, I would try to pin down friends to listen to the stories I was working on. 

And then came Halloween.

Halloween made my flair for costume normal.  Even celebrated!  I was everything from Indiana Jones to Holly Golightly.  My costumes were authentic, detailed, and believable.   While my friends might have been impressed, it was the adults that I blew away. 

Their reactions were my first experiences understanding the awe of others, understanding what it was to bring others joy.  I would go on to stage haunted houses every Halloween, and the entire town would look forward to the occasion.  So many happy memories were created for families that still remind me of those times today.  All of this happiness fed my drive to be a writer.  My stories, my creations made so many people happy, brought so much joy.

I could only imagine what would be possible through the reaches of a book.

When She Knows: Franconia Notch Trilogy Book One by Jessie Clever

His latest problem is her newest assignment.

Shannon Wynter has it all figured it. Abandoned by her mother and left to care for her agoraphobic father, Shannon focuses on building her career as a journalist to the detriment of all else including her love life.

Ian Darke has his own problems. Battling past failures, Ian sets his eyes on launching a new factory for his father’s defense firm. But it’s the very father he failed that will do anything to sabotage Ian’s progress.

And when Shannon follows an anonymous tip that leads her to Ian’s factory door, the last thing she expects to discover is what she already knows.


    "But fraud for a defense contractor is serious.  You don't want to defend your reputation as a provider to our armed forces?"

It took him a minute to realize that clicking noise was her following him over the pavement.  He spun around, his arms coming up once more to gesture his acquiescence, only she was standing too close, and instead of gesturing with authority, he ran into her, his arms striking her shoulders and knocking her against him.

He froze, feeling the length of her body collide with his, the scent of her shampoo invade his senses, her breath fall across the exposed skin above his shirt collar.  He felt her hesitation, the hitch in her breath, before she shoved against him, pushing herself away.

"I'm very sorry," he said, his hands moving uselessly in front of him as if to help her regain her balance.

She stood with her pad held against her chest like some sort of shield, and he felt his anger drain into annoyance.

"I'm sorry," he repeated, much more carefully, "I don't have a comment, and I need to get back to work.  Please excuse me."

He turned slowly this time, resuming his walk to the loading dock door.

"What is it that you're using this factory for, Mr. Darke?"

He didn't answer.  No matter how much he wanted to turn around and rail about his stupid brother's stupid decisions, he did not.  He kept walking.

"Fraud, I mean, come on, that's-"

And then he did turn.

"If you want a comment, you can call our PR department."

"Great!" she said, and he almost smiled at her enthusiasm as she pulled up a clean page of her notebook.  "What's the phone number?"

He shook his head at her and let his feet carry him back to where she stood on the pavement, notebook poised for the phone number.

"Shannon, was it?" he said when he was close.
He had felt her breath hitch when she had bumped into him, and now he dared to step a little closer than politeness would have dictated.  He saw it again, the slight hitch in her chest, and he felt a smile spread over his face.  He leaned in, dropping his voice to a soft, rich level.
"Have you heard of the Internet, Shannon?"
"Yes," she whispered softly, her eyes locked on his.
"Use it," he said and walked away, leaving her standing in the parking lot, her pen completely still.

Goodreads Link:

Purchase links:
Barnes & Noble:
Google Play:
All Romance eBooks:

About the Author:

In the second grade, Jessie began a story about a duck and a lost ring.  Two harrowing pages of wide ruled notebook paper later, the ring was found.  And Jessie has been writing ever since.

Armed with the firm belief that women in the Regency era could be truly awesome heroines, Jessie began telling their stories in her Spy Series, a thrilling ride in historical espionage that showcases human faults and triumphs and most importantly, love.

Jessie makes her home in the great state of New Hampshire where she lives with her husband and two very opinionated Basset Hounds.  For more, visit her website at

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day of the Dead or All Hallows' Eve

Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, and acknowledged around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey.

Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, the celebration took place at the beginning of summer. It was moved to October 31, November 1 and November 2 to coincide with the Roman Catholic festival All Saints’ Eve or All Saints’ Day. Traditions include honoring the deceased with sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts. Visitors also leave possessions of the deceased at the graves.

The holiday has spread throughout the world, being absorbed within other deep traditions for honoring the dead.

Here, both in the US and Canada we celebrate All Saint’s Eve, or Halloween on October 31st.

Halloween is actually a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening. According to many scholars, All Hallows' Eve is a Christianized feast influenced by Celtic harvest festival, with possible pagan roots. Other scholars maintain that it has solely Christian roots.

Typical contemporary festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins. Visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films. Locally we have a zombie dance and we also celebrate Day of the Dead with a party. Do you celebrate October 31st? How?

                                     Happy Halloween everyone!


Monday, October 26, 2015

Tuesday’s Tips and Tweaks

This week author Kay Kendall shares tips on persevering with your writing in the face of discouragement. Kay is a dual US-Canadian citizen who now lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house bunnies, and spaniel Wills.
Kay’s Tip on Writing

During my lengthy path to publication, sometimes I set my writing aside. But something kept drawing me back. If I fell off my writer’s horse, I always got back on. Here’s what gave me strength to continue—three lessons I learned that I share in hopes that my experience and pain—yes, it sometimes felt like real pain—can help you avoid some misery and keep going with your writing.
Enjoy the writing process itself. You will spend countless hours learning your craft, practicing it, editing and re-editing the same parts of your manuscript over and over again. If it is torture and you aren’t enjoying yourself, I doubt if happiness lies in that direction. Maybe you fantasize at landing on the New York Times bestseller list, but that’s like dreaming about becoming the next Angelina Jolie. Odds are that ain’t gonna happen. But if something compels you to write and the hours fly by when you are doing it, then listen to and heed your inner voice.
Don’t set a timer. If you look at your calendar today and decide your first book will be published by, say, June 2017, then you may set yourself up for failure. One expert told me the average time a writer takes to publish a first novel is twelve years. Many authors I know took that long, and so did I. Relax into your new writing career. Remember to enjoy the experience.
Post the answer to this question beside your writing space. What is the difference between a published writer and an unpublished one? The published author never quit.

Kay’s Books

Kay writes the Austin Starr Mysteries series. Austin is a young Texas bride who moves to Canada in 1968. Hit with unexpected culture shock, she learns to cope in the turbulent 1960s by turning amateur sleuth. In the first book, DESOLATION ROW (2013), Austin must prove the Toronto police are wrong in jailing her husband for killing a draft resister. In RAINY DAY WOMEN (2015), Austin tracks down the murderer of women’s liberation activists in Vancouver and Seattle when the Mounties make her friend Larissa a prime suspect.

Excerpt from “Rainy Day Women”
Gary returned with our Molsons. Again he dallied at our table, but this time he gave details about the gossip he’d heard.

“Two officers from the RCMP were in here yesterday to ask about you, Larissa. They wanted to know your habits and what kind of person you are. They wouldn’t say why they were asking, but after they left, guys here got to talking, and someone suggested maybe their questions had to do with the murder at UBC.” He twisted the towel that hung from his belt.
“Thank you, Gary.” Larissa’s voice was composed, reassuring—sounding like the old friend I’d known so well back in Toronto. “I appreciate that you told me. Did they say anything else?”
He shook his head. “That’s all I know. Sorry. I have other customers, but I’ll tell you if they come back in here. Good luck, eh.” He left.
Larissa watched him walk away. “What a nice man. Don’t you think his eyes are extraordinary, Austin?”
     “You’re right.” I spoke without stopping to think what her words implied. I was busy trying to think who Gary reminded me of, then I snapped my fingers. “That’s it, Mannix. With his dark hair and kind face, Gary looks like Mike Connors.”
“An actor who plays a private eye on a television show. I forgot you never watch TV.”
“Hmm, maybe.” She still gazed in the direction our waiter had gone. Her eyelids were half shut, and a small smile played around her mouth.
Then her comment about Gary hit me hard, one as unexpected as a compliment from my mother. For the first time in our friendship, Larissa had made a favorable comment about a guy. She was usually so picky.
She took a deep breath, bit her lip, and seemed to come out of her trance. “All right, all right, I’ve got to stop running away from the jam I’m in.” She placed her palms flat on the table and stared straight into my eyes. “What do you want to know about the murder? Now I’m ready to talk.”
Waves of relief washed over me. Larissa had come to her senses at last. Here I’d been dreading having to get her comfortable with talking, and good old Gary had somehow provided the key to unlock her reserve.

Buy Links:

You can find Kay at:
Social networks: /             Twitter: @kaylee_kendall

Thanks Kay, for dropping by and sharing that great marketing tip.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Things That Go Bump n the Night – What Do You Believe?

What a cool topic Rhobin has come up with for this month. Do you believe in angels, spirits, ghosts, demons or other ethereal beings or locations? What do you think when they appear in stories? Have you used them in your own stories?
Yes, I believe in angels, spirits, and ghosts. I’d never actually thought about demons, but I do believe in poltergeists.

I’ve had a few experiences with spirits or ghosts. New Orleans is famous for ghosts and spirits. I was staying in an old hotel off Decatur Street with friends. The ghost was friendly, but in the middle of the night it rattled the paper bag on the nightstand where I‘d left the praline I had bought early. I thought it might be mice or something, but nothing was touched or eaten. It just woke me up with the rattling.

Two nights late my roommate saw a woman in eighteen century dress with a hoop skirt passing through the room.
As for locations, I believe New Orleans is haunted by ghosts, spirits and maybe even demons. Victoria, BC, Canada is also haunted. And I’m sure there are others.

In a couple of other situations I’ve suddenly become very cold. I’ve been told this is a spirit close by. It only lasts for a shot period and then it moves on.

When they appear in stories I love them, as long as they are done well and appropriate to the story. Often they can be quite fun in stories.
Yes, I’ve used them in my stories. In my latest, Targeted, the third in the Hawkins Ranch Series which will be released November 6th, I have a spirit grove where past chiefs of the Blackfeet tribe appear and give advice, and protect the heroine. In another book I haven’t published yet, the spirit of a woman who was murdered returns in the form of a little dog.

I’d love to hear if you believe in spirits, ghosts, etc.

Now I’m looking forward to hearing what the rest of our authors have to say. Please check them out.
Marci Baun
Margaret Fieland
Diane Bator
A.J. Maguire
Fiona McGier
Heather Haven
Bob Rich
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Hollie Glover
Rachael Kosinski
Connie Vines
Skye Taylor
Rhobin Courtright

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Cowboy, Mine Boxed Set

Now Available - Cowboy, Mine... He'll Leave You Breathless...

By the best-selling and award-winning authors….
Kathleen Ball, Krista Ames, Cheryl Gorman, Melissa Keir, Lyssa Layne, and D’Ann Lindun

Texas Haven Kathleen Ball
Can love shine through the clouds of treachery and misunderstanding?

Advertising for a wife seems like the answer to all of Burke Dawson's problems. He wants a wife and kids without emotional attachments, but he has no idea how much havoc one woman can cause.
Annie Douglas has her heart set on her hunky cowboy's love and she isn't about to stop until she gets it.

Take Me Home, Cowboy by Krista Ames
When tragedy strikes, will building tension and pride destroy a growing attraction or show them the way home?

Ally Kincaid returns to Rock Creek, Wyoming, to see her father after a two year absence. Anticipating a quiet family reunion, she finds herself butting heads with Matt Gentry—her father’s foreman—instead. The man’s arrogance and sexy drawl push all her buttons, making her wonder what he’s hiding beneath his cowboy swagger.
When tragedy strikes, will building tension and pride destroy their growing attraction or show them the way home?

Honeymoon Ranch by Cheryl Gorman
Can two reluctant partners ride off into their own blissful sunset on Honeymoon Ranch?

When wedding planner, Summer Conroy, discovers she has inherited half of Silver Creek Ranch, she is stunned to learn the other half is owned by sexy cowboy, Bryce Jericho. Her idea of turning the ranch into an exclusive wedding and honeymoon destination is met with a wall of resistance from Bryce who doesn’t want his ranch ruined with a bunch of wedding nonsense. He is determined to conceal his vulnerable heart that beats in fear of being betrayed again. Will this woman with dreams of happily-ever-after in her eyes transform his fear into love everlasting?
Chalkboard Romance by Melissa Keir

Will a One Night Stand prove to be their disaster or their salvation?
Lauren Walsh, a divorcee and elementary teacher, wants to feel sexy again after her ex tosses her aside for a younger woman. Her best friend encourages her to sign up for The Playhouse--a renowned dating agency. Forced to stay away from his young son, Mac Thomas lost the ability to trust. After the death of his wife, he returned to care for his son but his sister wants more for him. She sets him up with The Playhouse.

Passion ignites but Mac’s a parent of one of Lauren’s students. A teacher and a parent dating could cost Lauren her job and her chance at happiness. Will Mac be able to convince the school and Lauren, that love is the most important thing?
Until You Fall in Love by Lyssa Layne

Can a longtime friendship suddenly blossom into love?
Single mom Jordan Glastetter doesn't know how she'd survive without her best friend, Abram Tomko. He's the father her son never knew and he's the rock she's always leaned on.

When Abram's father suffers a heart attack, it's Abram's turn to depend on Jordan, finally seeing her as the woman she's become and not the little girl he grew up with.
Will they risk their friendship for a chance at love?

The Cowboy’s Baby by D’Ann Lindun
Cat wanted to keep her baby: Tanner insisted she give it up...can they find common ground seventeen years later?

Cat O’Brien left her heart in Granite, Colorado, seventeen years ago—her first love, Tanner Burke, and the baby girl she gave birth to at sixteen. Suddenly, both Tanner’s high school sweetheart and the teenage daughter they gave up for adoption are back in his life.
Cat is adamant their daughter keep her baby; Tanner isn’t as sure. Just like seventeen years before, he and Cat are butting heads over the fate of an unborn child.

Amazon ebook:

Monday, October 19, 2015

Curious Habits of Famous Writers

I was looking for unusual facts abut writers and came across this site. I thought I'd share what I found. Hopefully you find it interesting, too.

Edgar Allan Poe, wrote his final drafts on separate pieces of paper attached into a running scroll with sealing wax.

Jack Kerouac was especially partial to scrolling: In 1951, planning the book for years and amassing ample notes in his journals, he wrote On The Road in one feverish burst, letting it pour onto pages taped together into one enormously long strip of paper — a format he thought lent itself particularly well to his project, since it allowed him to maintain his rapid pace without pausing to reload the typewriter at the end of each page. When he was done, he marched into his editor Robert Giroux’s office and proudly spun out the scroll across the floor. The result, however, was equal parts comical and tragic:

To [Kerouac’s] dismay, Giroux focused on the unusual packaging. He asked, “But Jack, how can you make corrections on a manuscript like that?” Giroux recalled saying, “Jack, you know you have to cut this up. It has to be edited.” Kerouac left the office in a rage. It took several years for Kerouac’s agent, Sterling Lord, to finally find a home for the book.

James Joyce wrote lying on his stomach in bed, with a large blue pencil, clad in a white coat, and composed most of Finnegan’s Wake with crayon pieces on cardboard. But this was a matter more of pragmatism than of superstition or vain idiosyncrasy: He was nearly blind. His childhood myopia developed into severe eye problems by his twenties. To make matters worse, he developed rheumatic fever when he was twenty-five, which resulted in a painful eye condition called iritis. By 1930, he had undergone twenty-five eye surgeries, none of which improved his sight. The large crayons thus helped him see what he was writing, and the white coat helped reflect more light onto the page at night.

Virginia Woolf was equally opinionated about the right way to write as she was about the right way to read. In her twenties, she spent two and a half hours every morning writing, on a three-and-half-foot tall desk with an angled top that allowed her to look at her work both up-close and from afar. But according to her nephew, Woolf’s prescient version of today’s trendy standing desk was less a practical matter than a symptom of her sibling rivalry with her sister.
Woolf remained incredibly resourceful — an inventor of sorts, even. After she switched from standing to sitting, she created a contraption of which she was very proud: She used a piece of thin plywood as a writing board, to which she attached a tray for pens and ink so she wouldn’t have to get up and disrupt her flow of inspiration should she run out of materials.
Driven by a similar fear of depletion of materials, John Steinbeck, who liked to write his drafts in pencil, always kept exactly twelve perfectly sharpened pencils on his desk. He used them so heavily that his editor had to send him round pencils to alleviate the calluses Steinbeck had developed on his hands from the traditional hexagonal ones.

More information can be found at

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Canada - Did You Know?

Did you know Canada is the garter snake capital of the world?

Just 130-km north of Winnipeg is the Narcisse Snake Dens conversation area, where each spring, tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes slither out from their dens for a few weeks from mid-April to early May. Fortunately there are viewing platforms set up so you can watch them from afar.
2. We Have a Secret Underground Labratory in Sudbury, Ont.
Canada is at the forefront in the international search for new forces and forms of matter thanks to SNOLAB. Designed for the study of neutrino and dark matter physics, it’s the deepest clean laboratory in the world dedicated to this type of work. The lab, which was once the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, was built in a mine to avoid interference from environmental and solar radioactivity.

3. McGill put the Green in Greenbacks
We’ve taken a lot of jabs from the U.S. for our Monopoly-coloured Canadian currency, but what most don’t realize is the green ink used for American money was invented at McGill University in Montreal, in 1857, by Thomas Sterry Hunt.
4. We Harvest Icebergs in Labrador and Newfoundland
Every spring, massive islands of ice broken off of glaciers in Greenland parade through 'Iceberg Alley’, past the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland. Entrepreneurs are harvesting chunks of these cool marvels for some pretty unique products, including wine, vodka, beer, and even skincare products.

5. We Built a UFO Landing Pad in St. Paul, Alta.
One of Canada’s most unique Centennial projects in 1967 was the building of the world’s first UFO Landing Pad in St. Paul, Alberta. The town provided the land, and local businesses provided building supplies and labour for the raised cement pad. Making things even stranger? Paul Hellyer, then Minister of National Defense, flew in (by helicopter, not spaceship) to officially open it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tuesday Tips and Tweaks

This week author Teresa Fischer, writing as TR Fischer, joins us with her tip. TR Fischer is a writer, wife, mother and adrenaline junky who gets her fix as a buffalo rancher.

TR’s Tip on Writing and Rules

Rules Schmules
I admit I’ve always been a bit of a rebel. As part of a critique group for two years, I often heard my fellow writers espouse on the “rules” for writing fiction. A character can only cry once in a book. Show, don’t tell. Watch for echos—don’t use the same word within a certain number of pages. You need to establish A, B, C & D in the first three pages or nobody will read your book. And I’m just getting started.

The non-rebel side of me understands the need for clear boundaries in writing. In addition to the various elements that make up a good story, my goal is to write a clean, well-edited manuscript so readers aren’t snagged on typos or missed words, etc. I give no quarter to lazy writing/writers.

That said, every time I heard one of my writing companions go on about their rules, I would think of a book that broke that particular one and know that it worked for me as a reader.

My advice—not that you asked for it—is to know the rules and use them as guidelines. In my sometimes-humble opinion, one can either write a good story or not. (Those who don’t have that ability sometimes rely on the rules, as if there’s some sort of formula or recipe for success that doesn’t flow from a creative gift.) For me, story trumps everything else.  On balance, even if there is a good story buried in mistakes and weak writing, I’m not going to waste my time digging for it because well-written books are everywhere.

It’s painful, but I recommend getting honest feedback from other writers along the way. Try to find people who will be honest without cutting you off at the knees. That’s how I improved as a writer. Fortunately, I no longer need the level of help I did early on, but there was no shortcut.

Blurb for Changing Sky

After walking away from her job as a teacher, Skylar Biondi drives a brown truck and delivers packages. It keeps her busy and out of the bars. Skylar closely guards the painful truth about why her romance with a Colorado Rockies pitcher ended suddenly. She relives the past in her dreams, only to wake to the brutal reality of being alone.

Former army medic, Enrique Avalos, keeps his distance from Skylar, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his ex-wife. When she sets up a contest to name the cat he rescued from a dumpster behind his motorcycle repair shop, new business begins to flow in, forcing Enrique to bolster his armor.

While on her route, Skylar comes across nine-year-old Mia and knows she’s in peril. When Enrique spots Skylar skulking around at night, he assumes she’s casing the neighborhood. Can Enrique and Skylar set their differences aside in time to help Mia?

In this warm, sometimes heartbreaking tale, an extraordinary confluence of events leads three people from different worlds to the doorstep of a journey none of them could have foreseen.

Excerpt from “Changing Sky”

A surge of desperation gnawed at Skylar’s gut. What did one do when life took a sudden turn and the music stopped? When the dock suddenly ended and you found yourself in water that was over your head? It was as though she’d shed her skin and the new Skylar was as yet unformed, though completely exposed. She wished there were some way to know how long the process would take—assuming there would be an end to it—and how much pain to expect along the way. It was like emotional chemotherapy. Would she survive? If so, would she be more than a shadow of her former self?

“Where’d you go?” Alex brought his arm around her shoulders, drawing her out of the swamp.

“Sorry. Sometimes I get lost in my own head.” Though she wanted to, she didn’t dare put her arm around him. After what happened in June, she no longer trusted herself.

He sighed. “It’s okay.”

As they approached the second corner, she turned them around, walking back in uneasy silence. They’d covered all the safe topics. What remained were all the things they couldn’t say. Subjects they couldn’t raise for fear one or both of them might capsize. They crossed Ohio Avenue and arrived at her car. “So, are you seeing anyone, Alex? Or still playing the field?”

He elbowed her. “You are the only woman—no, the only human—who gets away with crap like that.”

Knowing it was true, she couldn’t help smiling. “That’s because I knew you before you were Mr. Baseball.” He’d been dubbed that by the press years before and it had stuck.

“Lots of people knew me then. None of them talk to me the way you do.”

“Well, that’s too bad. I think you need it.”

Alex faced her, gently grasping her shoulders. “You’re right, Sky. I do need it. You keep me honest.” He looked like he wanted to kiss her. His hazel eyes, cloaked by dark lashes, gazed at her mouth.

Skylar put her palm on his chest. “Alex, don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

“Look at me like that. We can’t go there. It will just make things worse.”

He whipped off his hat and ran a hand through his hair. Just like she remembered. “Skylar.” It came out ragged. “There hasn’t been anyone else. Not since …” He trailed off.

She clamped her eyes shut, thinking of her own indiscretion. Whether there had or hadn’t been women in his life these past months made no difference to her—she was in no position to judge. And she didn’t get why he said it. Had what happened made him regret his lifestyle choices? Skylar pulled her keys from her purse. “I should go. I hope you’ll keep this between us. I’m not ready to face anyone else.”

Buy Links:

You can find TR at:

Thanks TR, for dropping by and sharing that great writing tip. 

Don’t forget to check back next week for another author’s tip or tweak.