A Freebie!

We all love a freebie, especially with the weekend coming on. But only until tomorrow! So head on over and get your copy.

Purgatory by Denise Moncrief

Book Two of the Colorado Series (The follow up to An Impostor in Town)

Free on Kindle from Feb 4th through Feb 8th

Displaying Purgatory_w8162_750.jpeg

Five years ago, a tragic accident robbed Chris Smith of a normal life. Left with only a jagged scar, a set of wedding rings, and bits of memory—smells, sounds, and fleeting feelings—she copes with the loss of her identity. Amnesia has made her life a living purgatory…until she meets Steve West.

Steve’s construction company is remodeling the ski lifts in Purgatory, Colorado. However looking at Chris is seeing the face of his deceased wife. Now the truths he’d been forced to believe have him searching for answers.

Murder, deception, and missing ransom money. Can Steve protect Chris…and prove she’s the wife he never believed dead before the killer tries again?

Excerpt:

A swoosh of wind burst through the front door as a man entered the building. Dragging her attention away from the magazine, she turned to greet him. He hesitated for a fraction of a second as if to get his bearings before trudging through the lobby toward her. As soon as their eyes met, her words of welcome froze on her tongue and the pain began—flashes of light across her vision—tightness in her throat—intense, piercing sensations in her head. Panic and the desire to run soon followed.

She massaged her forehead, trying to rub away the stabbing pain that throbbed between her eyes, and then returned her attention to the man in front of her, pulling the computer keyboard toward her, determined to do her job despite the sudden fear gripping her insides.

She attempted her most professional tone. “Good morning. Welcome to the Inn at Purgatory. How can I help you?”

No response.

She glanced up at him. To her dismay, he presented all the indications of a panic attack. She recognized the signs well. His forehead glistened with tiny beads of sweat. The vein in his neck pulsed. Anxiety flashed in his eyes as he struggled with each new breath he took.

“Mister, are you all right?”

He braced against the counter and rubbed a hand over his face. “Yeah. It’s just…you look like someone I used to know.”

Chills ran down her spine. He wasn’t creepy, not in the least. On the contrary, she sensed an unmistakable connection to this stranger. She recoiled from the feeling, but nothing could have pried her eyes from his for a few brief, intense moments.

Displaying summer 2010 066_2_1.JPG

Denise Moncrief is a Southern girl, who’s lived in Louisiana all her life. And yes, she has a drawl. She’s been writing off and on since she was seventeen. She has a wonderful husband and two incredible children. They not only endure her writing moods, but also encourage her to indulge her passion.

Her first “novel” was se
venteen handwritten pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel she read. The urge to write wouldn’t let go of her. In her twenties, she started another novel, only to abandon it after Chapter Four or Five. She started writing seriously about eight years ago and has already published several stories.

If you feel like sharing...

Keeping Warm: A New Fireplace!

We are having a new gas fireplace insert but in today. Yay. Our current one no longer works. So, while I”m waiting and before I phone to see where the installer is at I’ll tell you about my writing group’s January writing challenge. We used to do something called BIAW (Book In A Week) but this year we decided to have an all month challenge. I was feeling quite productive until my cold resurfaced, now I’ve slowed down to a crawl. Time to get back at it. This year I’ve set revising goals instead of first draft goals. I’m finding it a challenge to keep track of progress because there is a lot of backtracking and a bit of jumping around.

Right now I’m stalling over a sex scene. You’d think those would be terribly exciting to write. They aren’t. They’re complicated. It’s a plot pivot in the relationship between the main characters and it’s a very important scene which will set the tone for the second half of the middle, if that makes any sense.. Hopefully things are stirring around up there in my brain and it’s working on sorting out a couple of things.

Here is the old one, and I’m informed by the installer unsafe fireplace. Yikes. Good thing we haven’t used in a couple of years.

New Fireplace 006

Here’s the new fireplace, which is very attractive and modern looking even if you can’t tell from the picture!

New Fireplace 007

I love it! But it’s a bit smelly in here right now as we have to let it run for about five hours so it can season. Good thing it’s a nice day here (only -2 C) and we can open a window.

Have a lovely weekend! And remember to include a little romance in the weekend, like maybe a cuddle in front of the fireplace.

 

If you feel like sharing...

Letting Go Of Summer

TKAM Quote2

So…two things.

1. Either Harper Lee was comfortable existing with very little…or that was one hell of a friend.

2. It suggests that To Kill A Mockingbird was a story she’d been thinking about for a long time. An opportunity presented itself and she took it. Because To Kill A Mockingbird was meant to be written and shared and loved. Yep! Indulging in a fangirl moment.

I’m thinking of my favorite book today. Probably because summer and the ending of the season usually make me think of TKAM. Even though I love autumn, the older I get the tougher time I have letting go of summer. This also might have something to do with our Canadian winters seeming harsher the older I get.

100

083

111

001

018

If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance. ~Bern Williams

Enjoy the last days of summer. Read that last book outside, take that last camping trip, toast that last s’more. Until next year. Now the gathering starts. The organizing. The settling in.

 

If you feel like sharing...

Waiting for Spring

Everything melted,
rained, unraveled,
became, grew wings,
attempted flight,
flopped, tried again,
succeeded.
Just another day.

From The Persistence of Yellow by Monique Duval

As I wait for spring…

353

If you feel like sharing...

The Glam Watch Is On

Girl playing electric guitar

It’s hard to feel sorry for a woman wearing thousands of dollars worth of designer duds. Unless she ends up on someone’s Worst Dressed List. I not a big fan of these post award show lists. Lists suggesting it might be an honor to be nominated but look out if it’s a thumbs down on your styling choices. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fashion hater. But I like to think the whole over the top evening is about more than the dress, the shoes, the jewels, the hairstyle. It’s about the role they played and the character they brought to life on the big screen whether it was this year or last year.

I figure it’s always a good time of year to pull out my favorite body image quotes so I can keep some kind of perspective. BTW, those dresses can be worth anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000. That’s just the dress. A thousand bucks for shoes and clutch. Hair and makeup – $5,000. Need a stylist? $1,500 to $6,000 a day. Needed for several days. The jewelry is borrowed, but still pricey. I wonder what happens if you somehow manage to lose a $750,000 ring? There might be the need for a little laser resurfacing and a chemical peel. Did you know Botox injections keep armpits from sweating? For $1,000 no one can see you sweat. I kid you not.

What about brow shaping, eyelash extensions, waxing, tanning, teeth whitening, nannies, travel costs, hotels and all the other little incidentals? Who knows. Most of the tab is picked up by the studio, loaned or borrowed, donated or gifted.

And if you’re unfortunate enough not to go home with Oscar you receive $45,000 worth of consolation swag.

Oh right, some perspective.

On body image. Because natural has it’s advantages and should be enough. It’s the performance that counts. Therefore, I have this quote taped to the wall in my office:

“At some point in your adult life, you’ve probably walked into a party and felt a frisson of relief upon discovering at least one woman there who was fatter, uglier, and/or dressed more inappropriately than you. We sure have. But if you want to have any hope of making peace with your own body, you need to knock that shit off.”  Taken from Screw Inner Beauty by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby

Because once you stop judging others and holding other women up to some crazy, imaginary standard, you stop doing it to yourself. Honestly! It works.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for fashion. But I think it should be less about someone else’s choices and more about your own.

“Even by resisting dominant ideas of beauty, whether through celebrating our wide hips or wild curls we still give priority to the physical over and above the intellectual. We’re still accepting archaic ideas about women being seen and not heard.”  Mehal Krayem

“My body is an instrument, rather than an ornament.” Alanis Morissett

Will you be watching The Oscars on Sunday? Who are you cheering for? Which movie was your favorite? I think the only one I saw was Brave. But I loved it!

If you feel like sharing...

Our Vanished Sisters

I’m about to put the finishing touches on my latest work-in-progress, Off The Grid. This story takes place in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, which is infamous for being Canada’s poorest postal code. I loved writing this story. I love the characters, especially Marnie. But it really started with my fascination of the setting. It called to me from the first time I became aware of the reputation of the Downtown Eastside (DTES). At the time I had no idea I would craft a story set in Vancouver. But as I look back, I realize it all started with my book club and a selection I never would have chosen to read on my own.

That book was Missing Sarah: A Vancouver Woman Remembers Her Vanished Sister by Maggie de Vries. Sarah’s remains were never found, only trace amounts of her DNA. It also meant she was a victim of the worst serial killer in Canadian history, Robert Pickton. Sarah was a sister, a daughter, a writer, a poet. She loved and was loved. She had hopes and dreams. She also happened to be a prostitute and a drug user living in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. de Vries’s book is her tribute to her sister. It’s also brutality honest. It is sad. But in the end I cared about Sarah as a person, as a sister. Before I read this book I knew less than nothing about Canada’s vanished and murdered women. I’ll always be thankful I read it. It gave me a new perspective, a new way to look at stories about lost sisters.

And now I do care.

February 14th Annual Women’s Memorial March is held on Valentine’s Day each year to honour the memory of women from the Downtown Eastside who have died due to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual violence. Now in its 22nd year, the march brings courage and commitment to remember and honour murdered and missing women, and to end the violence that vulnerable women in the DTES face on a daily basis. Women’s Memorial March Many cities across Canada now hold their own Women’s Memorial March. Check your city for details.

“We are here to honour and remember the women, and we are here because we are failing to protect women from poverty and systemic exploitation, abuse and violence. We are here in sorrow and in anger because the violence continues each and every day and the list of missing and murdered women gets longer every year,” says Marlene George, Memorial March Committee organizer.

February 14th is also a day for dancing. One Billion Raising to stop violence against women around the world.

Because of gendercide and sex selection abortions. Because a child should never be forced into marriage. Because a college student should never face the horrors of being gang raped on a city bus. Because women do not go ‘Missing’. Because of statistics that suggest 70% of murdered women are killed by an intimate partner. They are murdered by people they know. Assaulted by people they know. Stalked by people they know.

When we demand the right to be safe and free from violence, we demand equality.

If you feel like sharing...

A Little Wine and Cheese

I love cheesy movies. I don’t need to tell you that wine goes good with cheese. Everyone’s already aware. But if you’re looking for a recommendation try Wonderwall, a lovely Shiraz out of Australia. Delightful. Now, onto the cheese. I could also add an addendum here about falling for Alan Rickman. Because my pick for best cheesiest feel good movie ever is Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. With Kevin Costner. I never got tired of watching it. There’s something about prowess with a bow and arrows that is very appealing.

Maybe I have tree house envy. For an exiled group of outlaws, they built an incredible fortress in Sherwood Forest without access to anything. Like a Home Depot. Or Lowe’s. Or nails. And they way they got the blacksmithy up and going and manufactured all those swords was nothing short of a miracle.

And then there’s my love for Alan Rickman. See how I tied that all in together? And also because Robin Hood is one of my favorite stories. I also loved the recent Russell Crowe version. But that’s another blog post. Which I wrote but can’t find.

Let’s start with the Sheriff of Nottingham, should we?

“That’s it then. Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.”

 

Yep, he’s a badass. In the best, cheesiest way possible.

We won’t get into Kevin Costner’s sometimes-it’s-there-and-sometimes-it’s-not accent. He’s still adorable as Robin Hood.

I’ve seen knights in armor panic at the first hint of battle. And I’ve seen the lowliest, unarmed squire pull a spear from his own body, to defend a dying horse. Nobility is not a birthright. It’s defined by one’s actions.

I swoon in the face of such clarity of thought. For a member of the aristocracy he’s quite liberal in his thinking. I guess fighting with King Richard all those many years and then escaping as a prisoner of war gives one perspective.

And let’s not forget his I would die for you line. More sighing ensues.

Then there’s Morgan Freeman. Whom I love. Because he’s Morgan Freeman. And he has that excellent voice. He could be reading instructions from a shampoo bottle and I’d still listen.

A wise man once said: “There are no perfect men in the world; only perfect intentions.”

I mean, come on!

Are you with me? Or do you have your own pick for best, cheesiest movie ever?

If you feel like sharing...

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?

If you feel like sharing...

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?

If you feel like sharing...

Decorating Genius or Desperate Decorating

 

I’ve been picking paint colors. The most interesting thing about paint? The inventive names, kind of like crayon colours, with things like purple rain, apple lime cocktail, cocoa sand. I wonder what my critique partners would have to say if I used these color descriptors in my writing.

 They were saved from the worst of it. Dry and safe under the awning while purple rain poured down around them.

Because obviously they’re caught in some kind of chemical downpour. Ha. I can picture the circles of red ink. But cocoa colored sand has possibilities, although I’m not sure it exists in nature. I also found pink polka dot and butterfly wing which I thought were cute. And newborn baby which I thought was downright creepy. And guess what!?! There really are fifty shades of grey.

This is currently our kitchen area. Anyway, I decided to start with the kitchen and chose Natural Linen. Okay, Jordan, who’s in charge of the renos, picked it for me. So, fingers crossed. From there I went on to ignore the whole goes-best-with list. Because that’s the way I roll and why make things easier. I came up with meditation, spa, and lapland – all variations on an earthy-type greenish color. Safe to say my career as a namer of paint is stalled in it’s tracks. Also safe to say, I feel the need to relax within the bounds of a monochromatic color scheme.

But what do you do with the freshly painted walls? Soon I’m going to have to hang up some artwork. And isn’t that a terrifying notion? As in how many nail holes does it take to hang a picture properly? What size? How to space them out? How far up the wall? I’ve got a couple of huge walls.

As in match the artwork to the wall size. Don’t hang a dinky little picture on a huge wall. And likewise, don’t cram some huge monstrosity into an itty bitty space, that sort of thing.  I found a blog that had some crazy notion I should multiply something by some crazy number to come up with the perfect sized artwork for the wall. Not going to happen. Most reasonable advice: 12 inches above the couch; a palm’s width spacing between paintings, or trace out the size of the canvases on butcher paper and tape to wall as a test drive visual. Those ideas I can manage with my feeble decorator’s brain.

 

However, I did come across this idea for cheap artwork and I’m going to give it a try. You take painting canvases and cover them with fabric. Brilliant. At least, I thought so. Maybe you’ve already heard of this idea. Here’s another example. If it’s works and I’m successful (aka I’ll ask my Mom to help) I’ll post pictures.

 

If you have ideas for cheap and wonderful art I’d love to hear them! Seriously, I’m begging you. I need help. And ideas. Just keep them simple.

If you feel like sharing...