Manic Monday

It’s the second last Monday of August. How did that happen? Harvest is in full swing here on the prairies. Wheat being one of our staple crops with the first attempts at planting dating back to 1753. Stats like that one always make me smile. When I was a little girl I remember thinking everyone’s grandparents had come from somewhere else. Mine were immigrants to this country by way of Poland, Norway and Sweden. It wasn’t until I started school and began learning about the long and rich history of our First Nations people and that of the first European settlers coming later at the beginning of the 18th century that I realized how new our roots were to Canada.

My romantic suspense novel, Backlash, takes places in the month of September. My fictional setting of Aspen Lake, being a resort town located at the foot of the scenic Moose Mountains, would still be surrounded by farmland. Frost is on the ground in the morning. Days are still warm. Nights are filled with stars.

I love to savor the approach of autumn. Warm enough to enjoy the beach during the day and cool enough for backyard fires in the evening. The air smells different. It’s heavy with dust of harvest, the scent of ripening fruit, and the bittersweet smell of brand new back-to-school supplies. We’re mixing the daytime summer fashions of shorts and flip-flops by adding jeans and light jackets to our evenings.

And let’s not forget the stars. So bright. A startling reminder of the vastness of the universe. With the sun setting earlier we have more time to enjoy them. I never fail to look up and wonder what others in past centuries have thought about as they gazed up at the same stars.

What is your favorite part about this time of the year?

I’ll sign off with this is a snippet from page 97 of Backlash. It’s early evening in the middle of September. Chase, Lily and Jason were involved in a incident earlier in the day. Lily is waiting for Chase to come by and let her know what’s happening.

Lily led Mike out onto her front steps and lifted her face up to catch the leftover heat from the setting sun. It didn’t help. The bone deep chill remained. She rubbed her arms, wishing for a sweater.

She wondered where Chase was and why he’d sent an emissary. “So, he’s with his aunt?”

 Here’s What Reviewers Are Saying About Backlash!

5 Stars

“Chase and Lily are made for each other; they complement each other so well.”

“The description of the enforcer was so vivid that it seemed that I could actually envision the soulless enforcer in front of me.”

CozyReader at The Romance Reviews

4 Stars

Ms. Good sure spins a tale of deceit and a trail of clues that lead right to a climax I never imagined.
Need some suspense to keep you up long into the night? Why not giveBacklash a chance. Immerse yourself in the strong sense of right and wrong, with a great cast of characters.

Sunflower at Long and Short Reviews

 A Rating

Add to that, this book is fabulous on the suspense side. Lots of high-stakes danger, really evil bad guys (super-creepy spider tattoo guy), and it kept me guessing how the author was going to resolve it all till the very end. Overall this was a fabulous book and definitely one that reminds me why I LOVE to read! Perfect entertainment and escape!

Christi Snow at Smitten With Reading

 5 Stars

WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW… could i say WOW anymore? You bet! I don’t have time to write my full review now, BUT if you enjoy romantic suspense with killer sexual tension and a smokingly HOT yet tortured lead, then y’all need to read this!!

Sheryl on Goodreads

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Say Cheese: Camera Tips and Tricks

I tried to catch him paddling into the shot.

I love photo art, especially black and white images. It’s very tempting to share all the beautiful and haunting images we find on the web with others. But as we’ve come to know that’s not okay and an infringement on the photographer’s copyright. The only photos you’ll see on this blog are my own or those that I have paid for the privilege of using.

Because everyone likes to look at pictures on blogs. Right? They add something to the words or they are the words. Take food blogs for example. You need to be an amateur photographer to be a successful food blogger. Here is one of my favorite blogs. I’m not going to admit at how often I actually attempt the recipes but I love reading them. Here’s another one. And my very first food blog crush.

I have a camera. I love taking pictures. What I’m lacking is some basic knowledge. Here’s some tips that I found that might be helpful if you’re a wanna-be photographer.

Composition

This is kinda like being a writer. The image in the viewfinder is your story. You want it to be effective. To that end, make sure your subject fills the frame. I have tons of photos of things that are so far in the distance you’re squinting to see it. Move closer and check the space around and behind your subjects. Make sure there isn’t acres of wasted space or an object way in the back that’s going to look like it’s sitting on top of someone’s head.

The Rule of Thirds

Also the Golden Ratio, which has to do with math and sounds like something they discuss on The Big Bang Theory. Like Penny I have no clue.

Apparently, this is an important one when it comes to photography. You’re supposed to divide the image in the viewfinder into thirds both ways, horizontally and vertically. Which means there are nine square boxes, like the game tic-tac-toe. Where those lines intersect are your strongest points and where you place the important elements of your subject.

How to use the points.

If you have a lone object, then place it on the left side of the grid. On the left line. That’s your strongest point. When you have multiple subjects, the object in the front is more dominant than an object in the background. The bottom right point is the strongest in this case and the upper left point is the weakest. If you want to play around with this idea try placing the background subject in the right of the grid or the foreground subject on the left. Play around and experiment. See if different places on the grid produce a more emotional effect.

Click here for some examples of photographs and an explanation of using the Rule of Thirds.

I decided to test it out so off I went to the park and our provincial legislative building.

Looks very squishy.

In this one the fountain takes up too much space.

I think this is the most interesting of the three. I’ll add a couple more of my attempts to place things in different spots in my lens. As you can tell I have LOTS to learn. But it’s fun to play around. How about you? Do you like to play photographer? Got any tips?

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As We Shift Towards Another Season

I won’t be tiresome and asked the obvious, like how can it be Friday already. It’s been a productive week renovation wise. Our kitchen transformation is finally on the upswing so the place now has the cupboards, minus the door fronts. Layers of ugly wallpaper have now been removed and they’re starting on the baseboards and window casings. New windows are in and the new flooring is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Yay.

But it’s also August 10th. Days are getting shorter. Back-to-school ads are everywhere. Harvest has started. Fall is just around the corner. Here is my corner of the world, the school years ends at the very end of June and students don’t go back to school until after the long weekend in September. Going by the glass is half full approach, there’s still almost a month of summer left.

There are market gardens to visit, campfires and hot chocolate to enjoy, and books yet to be read. A sense of gathering has started in the harvesting of grains, readying all those garden vegetables, or putting together supplies for school. Our purpose is shifting and we’re preparing for a new season.

I love fall. I’m just not ready to let go of summer yet.

My Playlist For This Sunny Summer August Day:

Drunk on You by Luke Bryan

Come Over by Kenny Chesney

I’m On Fire by Bruce Springsteen

Goodbye Girl by Rumer

The Cave by Mumford and Sons

On My eReader:

Still plugging away at Jane Eyre!

On the Menu

Takeout!!!

What are you listening to, reading, or eating this weekend?

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Aiming for Gold

Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger”

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” 

The motto and creed for the Olympic Games.

No one can help but be impressed by the physical prowess of athletes competing on London’s world stage. They are magnificent. Powerful, agile, honed to perfection, they push the bounds of human stamina. It’s all very impressive to behold. But what’s truly impressive, to me anyway, is the mental toughness it takes to get this job done. To compete and challenge the best in the world and not get lost in the mental garbage land of doubts, desperation, and the dark places one goes when things are not going as well as we had hoped.

No excuses allowed in this arena. Mental toughness and resilience are everything.

All this can apply to success in any endeavor, writing included. If you want to be the best you have to think like the best. According to David Yukelson, Affiliate Associate Professor of Exercise and Sport Science Sport Psychologist at Penn State there are four Key Psychological Characteristics Associated With Mental Toughness: Self-Belief, Motivation, Focus, and Composure/Handling Pressure.

Self-Belief: You have to believe you can do it. Without a doubt know you can do it. You need to figure out what makes you unique, make the absolute most of those qualities and strengths that work in your favor and that put you in contention.

Motivation: You have got to be able to taste the success. Feel it with your fingertips. See it as clearly as your face in the mirror. And you have to want it with everything you have in you. You need to take the setbacks that are going to come your way and use them to strengthen your determination. Use the momentum of motivation to bulldoze distractions.

Focus: Retaining that concentrated focus at the right times. By using routine and practice to signal effort. You walk through that door and it’s on. You need to shut down the negative voices telling you things you don’t need to hear. And you need to be able to turn it off when you walk back out.

Composure/Handling Pressure: Be in the moment. Embrace the pressure. It’s in your hands. What you do with the distractions and unexpected events can mean the difference between productivity and negative gains. You will worry, the anxiety will wrap around you like an old friend. Learn to cope with it.

A Positive Attitude

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

Patience and Persistance

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”    ― Calvin Coolidge

Dreams do not come cheap. Nor are they easy. But we all have them. Are you prepared to put it all on the line to achieve yours?

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My Own Personal Reading Challenge

My first blog hop is over and it was a blast. Thanks for all the lovely comments and for taking the time to travel the web in search of why we love heroes. My winner for the $5 Amazon Gift Certificate and a copy of The Storytellers’ Bouquet was:

Jan D.

Go Canada!

We all know unless you live under a rock the London 2012 Olympics Games are underway in Great Britain. So exciting to watch and cheer on your country. But I can’t help thinking about those parents in the stands. I mean good luck to all the athletes and everything, but seriously? How hard it must be to sit in those seats and wait for your son or daughter’s turn to be the focus of the entire world. OMGosh, if you’re a parent of a gymnast you have my sympathies. They are in the spotlight and they love to show the parents whether things have gone their way or it wasn’t their day. And you really have to love pink!

I’m not what you’d call an athlete (how’s that for understated sarcasm) but in honor of The Games I’m creating my own event – Book Reading. I’m combining this with love of country and an unreasonable desire (because I have absolutely no free time) to participate in a some type of book reading challenge. See? Three birds with one stone. Kind of. Maybe.

Okay, not really. But here it is anyway. I know there are challenges out there that encourage you to read a 100 books or some crazy number. If you’ve tried this and succeeded I applaud you. You deserve a medal. I’m going to try and read – wait for it – 7 books. I know, crazy ambitious right? Let me explain. I had some criteria. They had to be Canadian authors. The stories had to be set in Canada. Mostly. They had to genre fiction (because my book club reads mostly ‘literary fiction’). They had to be new-to-me authors. I love it because now I know what I’m going to be reading for the rest of the year. Or at least along side my book club’s picks and my go-to authors releases.

Hopefully, I’ll be more organized with this challenge than with Jane Eyre which I planned to read while away on holiday for our Summer Reading Challenge. Which was family reunion fun than camping capers. With kids. Two of whom belonged to my sister and who are aged one and four. And adorable. But exhausting. If they were a TV channel I would watch it all day. I’m back on track though and making my way through Jane’s time at Lowood. The plague (or whatever they’re calling it has arrived) and children are dying. Something terrible is going to happen to Helen and I’m dreading this next part.

Anyhoo…The List for my 2012/2013 Personal Reading Challenge:

September – Anthony Bidluka – Dos Equis – Mystery – Saskatchewan

October – Pamela Callow – Damaged – Crime – Nova Scotia

November – Janet Gurtler – If I Tell – Young Adult – Alberta

January – Louise Penny – Still Life – Mystery – Quebec

February – Maureen Jennings – Murdoch Mysteries: Except the Dying – Mystery – Ontario

March – Barbara Dunlop – A Cowboy Comes Home – Romance – Yukon

April – Nadine LaPierre – The Slayer – Mystery/Thriller – Nova Scotia

Wish me luck. Or better yet join me! It’ll be fun. Do you participate in reading challenges? Book clubs? Read-offs?

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