Summer Wrap Up and Exposed is 99 cents

EXPOSED is 99 cents until Friday, September 16th!

Exposed, Book 2 Aspen Lake Series

Kate Logan needs a safe haven, a place to start over after her modeling career disintegrates in scandal. But her hometown of Aspen Lake isn’t the sanctuary she hoped. Her vow of a low-key life is disrupted by a break-in and other strange happenings at her boutique. As the chair of Aspen Lake’s Gothic Revival Festival, she’s also drawn the ire of a religious fanatic. Kate is up to her stilettos in drama and intrigue including one sexy carpenter who’s determined to get in her way.

New to town, Seth Stone is seeking inspiration and solitude to concentrate on his art. Short on funds, he agrees to take on a second job restoring the damage to Kate’s Closet. Trouble erupts along with the desire to get to know Kate better. When he’s used as a pawn in a smear campaign against his gorgeous boss Seth fights back. But now the whole town is watching. Including the man determined to further his own agenda. Time is running out with nowhere to hide.

* AMAZON * KOBO * BARNES AND NOBLE * THE WILD ROSE PRESS * iBOOKS * ALL ROMANCE eBOOKS *

It’s been a great summer!

It’s also flown by way to fast. August basically passed in a blur! Doesn’t it always.

Top Three Images!

This happened!! Our son and future daughter-in-law!! That was the giant news of the summer! Huge! And we are SO excited!

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We swam and camped and golfed and generally had fun.

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Our Second Annual Hundred Mile Dinner which included everything local with a couple of exceptions. So much fun and such good eats. Thanks mainly to my talented mother and my sister, who along with the Adorables stayed for two whole weeks!

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Top Book I Read This Summer

The Nest by Cynthia D’aprix Sweeney

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Technically, I’m not sure it was one of my favourite books. But I sure had fun discussing it for our Holiday Family Book Club and this crew! Also, it’s one of the picks for my Sanity Seekers Book Club so now I’m ahead of the game!

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Three Things About My Life This Summer

I put my writing on hold for a couple of months while I made over my office. I needed to clean and declutter my space which I hope will get me back on track again. I can already feel my writing mojo coming back. See my post at the Killer Chicks if you’re interested in pictures!

I upped my golfing game by taking a lesson. Much work needed in this area but I saw improvement which was exciting. Even if it was preceded by a whole bunch of why-did-I-think-this-was-a-good-idea.

We went camping this summer. In a tent. Twice. The first time I also got lost on a trip back from the bathroom because it was pitch dark. The second time the first night got down to 4 degrees Celsius. I think that translates to 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Whatever. It was darn cold. Both experiences will some day find themselves in a book!

What I’m Looking Forward To Next

Getting back into the writing groove!

Autumn. I love fall. Especially the clothes colours.

The start of another season of Globe Theatre productions. This is our local theatre company and they put on amazing performances.

What are you looking forward to the most in September?

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Story Settings and What’s Next!

Like all readers I have favourite story settings. Some real, some fictional, most are a combination of both. One of my favourite story settings is found in this incredible novel, now motion picture, ROOM by Emma Donoghue. The importance of place is paramount. One room is five-year-old Jack’s world. Another is the farm Green Gables found in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. The inspiration of which is found in Cavandish, Prince Edward Island. I was lucky enough to visit Green Gables Heritage site.

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I fell in love with the Chesapeake Bay area because of Nora Roberts book Sea Swept. Was fascinated with Tara Janzen’s Steele Street series and her chop-shop turned special ops heroes based in Denver.

My own fictional setting of Aspen Lake is based on a resort area I spent a lot of time at when I was a young child. I also worked there for a couple of summers while I pursued my post-secondary education. I met my husband while working at Moose Mountain Provincial Park. I have very fond memories of this area. And although I’m a city girl at heart I love reading and writing about small towns.

Modelling Aspen Lake after this region seemed a natural thing to do. Especially considering I was a novice at writing. There was a very clear picture on the environment and the social construct of the place in my head and the missing details were easy to find.

But now that I’m writing the final book in this series, I’m starting to think about the next series. For this series, I’m heading Into The Woods…

And into northern Canada. Which provides endless options as that encompasses a vast space.

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“Northern” Canada encompasses all land above the country’s 60th parallel, which is divided into three territories (from west to east): Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Upwards of 90 per cent of the land in all three is strictly uninhabitable, a barren wasteland of rock, ice and snow, meaning most populated areas are located either in the southern region or close to the coast of some lake, river or ocean. Even then, “habitable” is very much in the eye of the beholder. Even in the cities, it’s not at all uncommon for winter temperatures to dip below -40˚(C).  J.J. McCullough J.J.’s Complete Guide To Canada

But how far into the north of 60 to venture, and how far west to explore? What topics do I want to explore with this series. One thing I’ve learned? Creating a setting for your story is more than local fauna and flora, or brick and mortar buildings, although it’s important to get those right too.

Although I don’t write fantasy or science fiction I’m fascinated with world building. And also with the rules of magic. The Rules of Magic, According To The Greatest Fantasy Sagas Of All Time. I’m not reading much fantasy or science fiction at the moment, but I am watching the television version of The Shannara Chronicles.

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The stakes are high. The bad guy is actually a worthy adversary. And the actors are pretty. When they’re not screaming in terror. Because, hello, demons.

In an interesting article by Malinda Lo on world building. In it she repeats Holly Black’s, author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, six questions to use when establishing your world’s rules about magic or science. Also, her thoughts on power, rituals, food, etc. My setting will be a contemporary real-life place. There might not be magic. But I can’t help but apply her questions about rules and power when thinking of developing a potential setting. Because, Power? That’s a theme, big or small, we all explore in one way or another.

  • Who has it?
  • Who abuses it?
  • Who wants it?
  • Who rejects it?
  • What does it mean to each of them?
  • How far will they go to use it, get it, gain it, or deny it?
  • What does it cost them?
  • What does it mean for the people around them?
  • How does their attitude to power break them off into groups?

That’s where I’m at. What are some of your favourite story settings?

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My Top Five Books of 2015

 My Top Five List

The last days of December always lend themselves to reflection. Everyone’s posting what topped their lists in 2016. My top five is books, of course! I read a lot of new-to-me authors and interesting books this year because of free book offerings and book sale sites. A lot. I have to say I enjoyed quite a few of them, but I wanted to keep this list manageable. These five stood out!

12 Rose Street by Gail Bowen (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #15) 

This is no cozy mystery and Joanne Kilbourn is not your warm and fuzzy type of heroine. Not that there’s anything wrong with cozy or fuzzy when it comes to characters and books. But Joanne Kilbourn is a strong female lead who isn’t afraid to make decisions and take action. LOVE. I also loved how Bowen crafted a story about an inner city area and made it about the greed and avarice of the wealthy. And, of course, politics. Well written, well plotted – well done!

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Cold In The Shadows by Toni Anderson (Cold Justice Series Book 5)

Anderson’s Cold Justice Series was new to me this year and it all started with a free book, the first one in the series. But Cold In The Shadows, number five, is my favourite of the series. Again, love her characters, who are strong, intelligent and driven. It’s short on angst and the over-the-top emotional introspection which seems to be very popular these days. You get the sense Anderson knows her stuff and has done her research.

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Deep by Kylie Scott (Stage Dive Series Book 4)

How I adore this series! Which is strange because I’m not usually a fan of New Adult or rockstar romances. But Scott’s got a great voice and a wicked sense of humour. And once again, it’s full of strong, independent female characters, who aren’t perfect and make questionable choices, but they’re smart, honest, and real. There are depth to the characters and each one is unique. This series is fresh, smart, and appealing.

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Him by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen

These two! I loved the banter between these two guys and the internal dialogue which was just the right kind of not-too-over-the-top. Again, not a New Adult fan, but here I am picking another one. In fact, I don’t read sports stories either. But hello…the writing! And it’s super sexy and super sweet with no alpha males in sight.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Read this one for book club. I’ve read a lot of good books for book club. While I enjoy literary works of fiction they don’t comfort or intrigue or whisk me away like genre fiction. But I do love it when an author presents you with a story that makes you question what you would have done in the characters place. Makes you question how noble you really are?

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There you have it! My top five picks for 2015. I’m sure many great books will find their way into my to-be-read pile in 2016. What was you favourite book(s) of the year?

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Holiday Movie Favourites

It’s Holiday Movie Time!

If you’re into the holidays you probably have a favourite holiday movie. And goodness gravy are there ever a lot of them out there. I swear they’ve been on since the middle of November. Hallmark has a whole trove of them. They’ve been redone, reworked, re-everything. I have to confess I don’t watch many of them. I also don’t start watching any of them until mid-December. But I have my favourites!

My Top Five Six Seven Favourite Holiday Movies!

  • Love Actually
  • The Holiday
  • Elf
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • The Santa Clause
  • Die Hard
  • Muppet Christmas Carol

Christmas doesn’t usually dissolve into chaos like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Thankfully, we’ve never left anyone Home Alone. We’ve never had to deal with Gremlins. And we’ve never been the stressed out parents in Jingle All The Way. So, I guess I can safely say real life is nothing like the movies! Thank goodness.

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I cuddle under a blanket, sip hot chocolate, and nibble on gingerbread while laughing at Colin Firth learning Spanish, swooning over Hugh Grant as Prime Minister, heart breaking for Liam Neeson. Emma Thompson is one of my favourite actors. And what’s a holiday movie without porn star stand-ins. It’s got it all. Love’s delightful twists and turns. And that airport scene? And the reunions of real people? Sigh.

What are some of your favourite holiday movies?

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Filling The Creative Well

Just back from a trip to Toronto, Canada to see my sister and the Adorables. I’ve not spent much time in Toronto and I can honestly say it was a marvelous place to visit. Especially the Riverdale area where they live. Artsy, trendy, and culturally diverse. And the people I met were so friendly and welcoming. It was wonderful to have a break and spend some time filling the creative well which felt much depleted.

Let’s face it, we all need to regroup sometimes. We need to do the things that foster the creative process and ignite the fire that fuels productivity.

Some highlights and ways I refilled my well.

Trip to the Art Galley of Ontario! My sister is an artist. I’m a writer. We’re creative people. I LOVED it! It was impossible to not be inspired.

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Because, oh my gosh, Emily Carr. Her modern style was ill-received at the beginning of the 19th century but she went on to become a Canadian icon and a leading modernist known for capturing the spirit of Canada, particularly the Pacific Northwest Coast. A sculpture by Henry Moore. It’s huge! The vision required to complete a project like this always amazes me. I was also amazed by Lawren S. Harris, a founding member of the the Group of Seven. Who was also a mentor to Emily Carr. Very austere and lacking in detail, his landscapes just pull you in and make you wonder.

The Royal Ontario Museum. This is a favourite of my nephews. Of course, we had to go. We only managed to see a fraction of the place. It’s immense. Which means I’ll have to go back and see more of it!

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The Rotunda! Magnificent and part of the Stair of Wonders. Which we went past on the way to Earth’s Treasures. A favourite of my nephews! Every rock, gem, and mineral known to humanity. A collection guaranteed to fascinate anyone. The ROM is currently showcasing a beautiful and vibrant Mexican textiles exhibit. The blouse (not the proper name, my apologies) was embroidered by an award-winning artist, who’s name I didn’t write down, but the the flawless detail is exordinary. I can only imagine the length of time required to create such a piece. And finally a Tiffany lamp, which is about as close to a Tiffany anything as I’m likely to get, found in the Evolution of Style section.

That’s only a couple of the things that helped me feel inspired. There were many, not the least of which was spending time with a most adored sister and my nephews!

What inspires you? How do you refill the creative well?

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Today is Book Release Day!

The release date for my latest romantic suspense, EXPOSED, is finally here!

You can find Exposed in the following places:

The Wild Rose Press

Amazon * Kobo * Barnes and Noble * All Romance Ebooks * BookStrand

Someone’s always watching…

Kate Logan needs a safe haven, a place to start over after her modeling career disintegrates in scandal. But her hometown of Aspen Lake isn’t the sanctuary she hoped. Her vow of a low-key life is disrupted by a break-in and other strange happenings at her boutique. As the chair of Aspen Lake’s Gothic Revival Festival, she’s also drawn the ire of a religious fanatic. Kate is up to her stilettos in drama and intrigue including one sexy carpenter who’s determined to get in her way.

New to town, Seth Stone is seeking inspiration and solitude to concentrate on his art. Short on funds, he agrees to take on a second job restoring the damage to Kate’s Closet. Trouble erupts along with the desire to get to know Kate better. When he’s used as a pawn in a smear campaign against his gorgeous boss Seth fights back. But now the whole town is watching. Including the man determined to further his own agenda. Time is running out with nowhere to hide.

I’m celebrating by giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a fabulous little red leather wallet I picked up on Vancouver Island this summer. So check out my rafflecopter giveaway and see what you need to do to enter! The winner will be notified within 48 hours of the contest ending by email.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also find me answering questions at Jana Richards blog!

Fall is my absolute favourite time of year! Pumpkin everything, cozy sweaters, backyard fires, and changing colours. Out comes the crockpot for those fabulous soup and stew recipes. There is change in the air. It’s a time to set goals and forge ahead.

It’s fall in Exposed, too!  My heroine Kate Logan is, among other things, the current head organizer of the Aspen Lake annual Gothic Revival Festival. Plenty of pumpkins, wheat sheaves,  black crows and Edgar Allan Poe readings to go around. There is even a Mad Man’s Ball!

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So tell me, what’s your favourite thing about fall?

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Holidays, Inspiration, and The Best Of Times

We all need to fill that creative well so I guess it only makes sense that being on holiday inspires creativity. We absorb inspiration in through sight, sound, taste, and touch. We make memories. Have good times. If we’re lucky, the best of times. And sometimes the rough ones when things don’t turn out as planned make the most memorable holidays.

Back in 2010 we camped at Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada. Hauling our trailer around has been one of our favourite ways to holiday. And I would call camping at Writing-On-Stone one of our best times. The Milk River runs through the campground. I guess, for us, that was unique because we’re used to camping by lakes. The Milk River was given its name by Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition who described it like this:

“the water of this river possesses a peculiar whiteness, being about the colour of a cup of tea with the admixture of a tablespoonfull of milk. from the colour of its water we called it Milk river.”

Milk River is a slow moving river that you can raft lazyly along. There’s a beach and the mixture of clay and sand makes for awesome sandcastle building. There are sandstone cliffs called hoodoos to climb all over. It’s peaceful and quiet with a first class interpretive center/museum that gives a wonderful look at the history of the area. The perfect holiday.

It’s a beautiful spot, where people have been camping there for 3,000 years. For centuries native people camped along the Milk River, where they found shelter, water, and an abundance of food. They also found inspiration here. They believed this wide, lush valley with its hoodoos was charged with supernatural powers and was home to powerful spirits with the ability to help the people who journeyed to this scared place to pray.

They were so inspired that they documented the importance of this place. Writing-On-Stone park is home to petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) that tell explain their history, beliefs and way of life on the sandstone cliffs.

If ever there was a place to inspire a story…

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Where have you found inspiration? What are some of your favourite holiday locations?

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Grouchy Pants

Ugh. Why are they always a perfect fit?

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What’s that? You don’t care? Come back when I’ve got it together?

Fair enough. No one wants to hear about my grumpy business.

But what to do when one cannot even tolerate one’s self?

  • First, acknowledge your grumpy! Okay, done that.
  • Get moving! Next on my list.
  • Smile!
  • Clear clutter! It’s easier to throw stuff away when you’re feeling evil.
  • Listen to (upbeat) music!
  • Talk to a friend! Hi, there!
  • Write down the good stuff! Like how it’s FINALLY sunny! Yay! Or how I went out to lunch and didn’t have to cook!

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Or

Read a book!

What a good idea! I’m busy reading through Vivian Arend’s Takhini Wolves series. Must say I’m enjoying them!

What’s your favorite method of getting rid of the grumps!

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Tilting At Windmills

Sanity is a slippery slope at times. We all know this. We’ve all fought our share of four armed giants and lost. None of us as innocent as when we started out. Certainly, as supporters of the romance genre, whether as reader or writer, we’ve defended against countless giants in the form of cynics and naysayers. Some might say we are the Don Quixote of the literary world. The laughingstock. The discounted. The delusional.

Romantic ideals don’t put food on the table. No matter the ideal is food for the mind. Reality must be dealt with. But how we deal with it is up to us.

man of la manchaI saw Man of La Mancha at Globe Theatre last night. Can you tell? In case, like me, you’re unfamiliar, it’s a play within a play. Tax collector, writer, soldier, and unfortunate poet, Miguel de Cervantes, is tossed into prison and is waiting his hearing by the Spanish Inquisition. First, however, he must defend himself against his follow prisoners to save his most precious possession. His unfinished novel, Don Quixote. The trials and tribulations of a mad knight.

Don Quixote is a lot bonkers. He’s read too many books about chivalry and knights and romance. Poor sot. Determined to resurrect the notion of chivalry, he sets out on a journey.

I shall impersonate a man. His name is Alonso Quijana, a country squire no longer young. Being retired, he has much time for books. He studies them from morn till night and often through the night and morn again, and all he reads oppresses him; fills him with indignation at man’s murderous ways toward man. He ponders the problem of how to make better a world where evil brings profit and virtue none at all; where fraud and deceit are mingled with truth and sincerity. He broods and broods and broods and broods and finally his brains dry up. He lays down the melancholy burden of sanity and conceives the strangest project ever imagined…. to become a knight-errant, and sally forth into the world in search of adventures; to mount a crusade; to raise up the weak and those in need. No longer will he be plain Alonso Quijana, but a dauntless knight known as Don Quixote de La Mancha. – Miguel de Cervantes, Man of La Mancha

Yeah, there are days I’d like to lay down the melancholy burden of sanity too. Then again, I am a romance writer and reader. So…there you go. Fortunately, I haven’t read so many romance novels my brains have dried up. Or given me unrealistic expectations, a familiar taunt and most insulting insinuation by the way.

Here’s the thing. You know he’s nuts. But…you can’t help but root for him, even if there’s a little pity mixed in. He sees the world, not how it is, but how he wishes. In this age of text messages and the illusion of 750 Facebook friends, why not dip your toe into the pool of delusion. Not as a full time job, of course.

I come in a world of iron to make a world of gold.- Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha

I loved this play. It inspired me to think and wonder. I’m not quite sure I understood it all, but that only makes me want to see it performed again. Because, you see, I couldn’t help but relate to Don Quixote. And that’s the thing about this play. There’s a little Don Quixote in all of us. Reality can break a person. Therefore, we must bend it a little to suit ourselves.

Which loops me back to romance. Romantic fiction is necessary. Stories filled with sole purpose of traveling the winding, uphill road to a happily-ever-after are important.When reality presses in, pick up a romance novel. Immerse yourself in modern acts of chivalry. Spend some times with heroes or heroines who you know will fight to figure it out. Let them inspire you. Give you a few precious moments of peace. Of adventure. Turn the pages, dream the impossible dream. At least for awhile.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!  – Miguel de Cervantes, Man of La Mancha

If you get a chance to see Man of La Mancha I hope you take it. I hope it inspires you. I hope it brings out the Don Quixote in you, my fellow travelers.

 

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Food, Family and Holidays

One of my favorite things about holidays is all the good eats. I enjoy food. A little too much, but whatever. This past week in hot and sunny Arizona was no different. We partook in our share of wonderful meals while we were gone, home cooked and restaurant style.

It was so nice to sit on the patio at my in-laws winter home after a record-breaking cold winter back in Canada. They went all out for us, as usual. We ate lots of wonderful meals outside, during the day with the hummingbirds, or in the warm evening air. We were thoroughly spoiled. I didn’t lift a finger. I almost feel guilty about that…

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I was lucky enough to tag along with my mother-in-law on her community group’s spring fling lunch at the Arizona Culinary Institute. (See, totally spoiled.) The company was delightful and the food was delicious. Lovely setting and the food was almost too pretty to eat. Almost. From the Sweet Chili Shrimp appetizer to the sea bass main course to the out-of-this-world chocolate cake.

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Grandpa and Grandma spent an evening with their granddaughter dining on her favorite food of cheeseburgers and hotdogs and Jack and I treated ourselves to an evening out at SOL Mexican Cocina restaurant. A little bit of Baja California served in the desert. Oh sweet mercy, it was delicious. Bonus, I enjoyed with the best margarita EVER. If you love tequila this is the place for you! 60 artisan tequilas. No wonderful my margarita was extra yummy. Definitely recommend this one!

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We also ate at a place called Wally’s American Pub and Grill which was served great food. Also, recommend. And a fabulous pizza place that I can’t remember the name of for the life of me. But when I get it I’ll add it in!

Food and family make for a wonderful combination. Especially when someone else is doing the cooking. Now it’s time to detox. Have a favorite meal you’ve eaten lately? Any restaurant recommends?

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