Friday, 28 June 2013

Damn it all – I am an Athlete!

What makes an athlete? I’ve been asking myself that a lot since the entire Lance Armstrong scandal. Just like Armstrong I got up every morning even when I’ve been totally exhausted.  I’ve pushed my body to the limits with first the all-night baby nursing marathons and have entered the long stretch of the run with the teen years. It’s been one heck of an uphill jog and I’ve almost tripped a few times but I’m determined to make the finish line for these four kids.

And, like Armstrong I too pop bills – vitamin D, C, cod liver oil, B12 and let’s not forget my essential women’s multi-vitamin. And, Armstrong, like you I’m extremely careful about what I allow into my body- only red wine at night.

And like Armstrong I too sweat when competing. Half the time I don’t sleep when the deadline is two days away and I’ve still got to pound out 5,000 words or finish copy edits on over sixty pages in a novel.

Now, I know Armstrong had a support team that made his life of lies easy to comply with and let me tell you I totally understand. I’d be lost without my BFFs who know exactly how to keep a ‘secret’ and to smile and tell me I look great even when I’m not wearing my usual made for camera-make-up face. They might even give me a peep talk to help me on the path so I get that he surrounded himself with followers. Now, my group isn’t as large as his but my BFFs still know the meaning of loyalty and friendship because…well let’s face, I truly do care about them and not just myself.

Now I know Armstrong is competitive but has he ever juggled one sick child vomiting for hours, one teen going through the ‘I hate everything’ stage while trying to finish a sexy romance? I bet not. I finished the novel which I must confess won an EPPIE award so like Armstrong I’m bragging.

And the similarities continue. Armstrong is trying to remake himself and I get that it’s totally all about branding. I too have had to do that when I moved into a new genre. I had to rebrand my name, my identity on-line and even what I like and don’t like. I have a few words of wisdom for Armstrong but he’s still trying to figure out what his new role will be now that his friends and his business foundation along with his charitable role are distancing themselves faster than rats jumping ship.

So this bring me back to what makes an athlete? Does winning make you an athlete? No. Trying and doing your best even when you’re exhausted, even when you are sick of the sport you’re in because you’re having a bad day – that makes you an athlete. I’m in this for the long haul and while there are many days when it seems it’s only me cheering myself on I’m a firm believer that an athlete is this – determined, caring of others, willing to share the podium, and plays by the rules. So yes, I’m a proud writing athlete.

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Why Selling Your House is Like Selling Your Book

by Annette Gallant
For the past year, my husband and I have been consumed with selling our house. During this time, I’ve also been busy revising my current women’s fiction manuscript, with the goal of selling it to a traditional publisher. What I’ve discovered is neither endeavor is for the fainthearted, and it occurred to me recently that the approach needed to accomplish both is actually quite similar in many ways.

1.       Assess – After we decided to sell our house, my husband and I made a list of everything that needed to be repaired or replaced. We then tried to look at the house the way a potential buyer would. Were there areas that needed de-cluttering?  Were there too many personal items on display? Basically, we made a list of anything that might deter someone from envisioning themselves from living in our house.

   When it came time to revise my rough (very rough!) draft of my contemporary    women’s fiction manuscript, I did the same thing. First, I read it start to finish, checking for pacing and characterization issues, inconsistencies with the plot, while making note of any research I still needed, which was important since my story has a legal and medical component to it. I confess, by the time I was done I wanted to scrap the whole thing and start fresh, but I’ve decided to keep going since I still really like the story and believe it has potential.

2.      Prep – Once we had a clear idea of what needed to be done with the house, we started completing the tasks on our list. Some we did ourselves and some we contracted out. It took months to get everything finished, but in the end the house looked a lot better. Less like our home and more like a place someone else could (hopefully) imagine themselves living in.

In the case of my manuscript, I realized during the prior step that I had started the story in the wrong place. Which meant I needed to delete several scenes and rewrite pretty much the whole beginning. I also discovered that the great ending I thought I had was… well, kind of a wallbanger, so back to my outline I went. As I write this I’m still revising, still rewriting, still tweaking my outline (and yes, occasionally still wondering if I should go on to something shiny and new), and hoping that eventually all the work I’m putting into it will be worth it.  

3.      Polish –  As good as our house looked by the time we finished step two, it still needed some work to get it ready for the market. So we gave it, from top to bottom, a deep clean. (And not just the kind of clean we do when my in-laws comes for a visit!) We also enlisted the help of a home stager, who went through each room and advised us on furniture and art placement. Honestly, her tips made such an improvement to the overall flow and look of the place that I’d never sell a house again without hiring one.

Even though I’m not at this stage yet with my story, I know that like my house, my manuscript will need to sparkle before it gets sent out. It’s not enough for an author to write a compelling story with witty dialogue, sympathetic characters and a gripping plot, but the story also needs to be free from typos and grammatical errors. In both cases competition is fierce, so even a great house or a great story can get overlooked if it’s not presented in the best possible light.

4.      Research – When we were ready to list, my husband and I hired the agent we used to buy our house. We were comfortable dealing with him and liked the years of experience he brought to the table. Getting your house ready for the market is one thing, but pricing it correctly is key, and this is where we relied on him for guidance and information. He showed us comparables (houses in the neighbourhood similar to ours that sold) and from there we agreed on a price.

While self-publishing is a viable option these days (and one I can see myself doing in the future), for my current story I hope to sell it to a traditional publisher. Since it’s a single title and I know nothing about book contracts, I plan to query agents. Having a motivated, knowledgeable agent who gets my writing is very important to me, so I’ve already started this step by researching agents who represent the type of books I write. I also use social media to learn about these agents as people, since I believe it’s important to trust and respect the person I end up signing with (and vice versa).

5.      Show/Submit – Now that our house has been listed, our agent has been busy setting up showings for us. These give potential buyers a chance to view our house. It’s my least favourite part of the process, and although we got lucky right out of the gate, that offer fell through so we’re still waiting to find our perfect buyer. Hopefully that’ll happen soon!

 Once I secure a literary agent (positive thinking!), he or she will be responsible for submitting my manuscript to editors in the hopes of selling it. I can tell you now, I’m already stressed at the idea, which is why step number four is so important. Having an advocate in your corner, whether you’re selling your house or your book, definitely helps when you’re dealing with something as big as these two things.

 There are other similarities too. In the event of a sale, each agent will receive a pre-determined commission. And while the best case scenario for our house would be a bidding war (unlikely since we’re currently in a buyers’ market), for my story, having my book sell at auction (or be optioned for the movie rights) would definitely be the pinnacle. Dare to dream! J

6.      Offer – Once an offer for our house happens, our agent will then negotiate the terms of the contract on our behalf. Some things that will need to be hammered out during this time will be the final sale price, the move out date and anything regarding an inspection.

In the case of my story, my future agent will also need to iron out certain parts of the contract on my behalf, such as determining how much advance I will receive, the royalty rate, plus a myriad of other things that will ensure I’m signing a contract that is fair to me. If he/she ends up getting me a multiple-book deal at the same time, all the better!  

7.      Sold – Once our house sells, there will still be lots to do. Since our plan is to downsize, we’ll be getting rid of lots of stuff and will need to decide what to keep and what to pitch. Our change of address will also need to go out to people, plus all the other details that come with leaving a place.

With regards to my story, if it sells, there is a strong likelihood that I’ll need to do some revisions for my new editor. Once those are completed, I’ll then need to work on marketing my book, especially once the release date nears. (Throwing a fun book launch optional!)

8.      Next step – Unlike the previous times we’ve moved, my husband and I haven’t figured out where we’re moving yet, other than what city. Since we plan to rent for a year or two, we are going to stay at his parents’ place until we find something we like. In some ways this is nerve-wracking, but mostly it’s exciting.

As for my story, if the day comes that this one is sold, I will already be in the process of doing the whole thing over again, because that’s what writers do!

So this is why I think selling your house is like selling your book. Can you think of any other ways they're similar?

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Monday, 24 June 2013

What You See is What You Get? Not Always

I’m a big fan of James Herriot. I’ve read all of his books several times. James was told in university that if he became a vet he “would never grow rich, but would enjoy a life of endless variety”. I’d say the same about teaching.

I’ve taught a wide variety of subjects to a wide variety of age groups, and I’ve always learned more from my students than I could ever teach them. That’s especially true of the year I spent teaching English as a second language to a group of young Muslim women.

I learned that the concept of time really is just that – a concept, open to interpretation. One day, when a group of students walked into my room twenty minutes late for the umpteenth time, I asked the class “Back in Saudi Arabia, when you make plans to meet a friend to go shopping at ten o’clock, what time do you actually meet?”

Shrugs all around. “Maybe eleven o’clock, maybe twelve...I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.” I shrugged, too. What else could I do?

I also learned how hijab really works. All of my students wore head coverings, and a few wore full burkahs in public, but in the women-only classroom the robes came off to reveal skinny jeans, tank tops, jewelry and skilfully applied makeup. One student in particular – I’ll call her Miriam – enjoyed pushing the limits with clothes, and she had the flamboyant personality to carry it off. In public she showed nothing but her eyes, but there was nothing retiring about the woman beneath.

One fine summer day, another teacher and I took the class down to the Halifax waterfront. We strolled along the boardwalk, enjoying the festive atmosphere and exploring the shops, including a confectionery. Browsing the shelves and trying to ignore the smell of homemade fudge and ice cream, I came across something I never imagined existed. Remember those multicoloured candy necklaces you used to buy as a kid? Well, someone has taken the idea a bit further. I found this picture on Wikimedia Commons. Apparently, one size fits most. All I know is  I’d have to wear two of them.

There they were, in neat little boxes next to the gummi bears. I couldn’t resist showing one to the students. I handed the box to one girl and she puzzled out the English label. Her eyes got big. “It’s CANDY!” The other students gathered around, giggling.

Miriam burst out laughing. “What size? What size?” They examined the box, trying to find out. A hurried discussion in Arabic took place. Then Miriam, eyes sparkling with glee, marched up to the cash with the box.

The other teacher retreated to a corner, shaking with laughter. As for the teenaged clerk at the counter, I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take a picture of her face, but I was too busy laughing myself.

The bra wasn’t exactly cheap, but I’d bet Miriam’s husband considered it a few dollars well spent.

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Friday, 21 June 2013

Weddings and Hope

How many wedding themed films has Jennifer Aniston been in?

Wedding Themed Films

Just Go With It (2011)
The Switch (2010)
The Bounty Hunter (2010)
Love Happens (2009)
He's Just Not That Into You (2009)
Marley & Me (2008)
The Break-Up (2006)
Friends With Money (2006)
Rumor Has It (2005)
Along Came Polly (2004)
Bruce Almighty (2003)

If I missed some that's because I'm impressed with the list so far!

Seems like Jennifer Aniston takes on films that have some sort of marriage conundrum going on or else there's a happily ever after associated with the characters.

Why did I look these up?

Happily Ever After in romance novels usually incorporates a marriage ending. Complete with white picket fence and baby. These items can also be found in other sub-genres of romance but with a different take i.e. the main characters find their soul mates or embark on a multi-series in depth relationship rather than marriage. The end result is the same: the heroine and hero get together and are happy.

Does this mean that marriage is being promoted as the be-all-and-end-all answer to a happy life in romance books?

In my opnion: yes. Considering how popular some of Jennifer Aniston's films are I would argue that the public seeks hope.

I write romance and give my characters happy endings. I do not believe however, that this can translate into my own life. I draw a line between fiction and my own experience.

So, why do we read romance if the happy ending isn't realistic?

Heather Sharfeddin believes: "The popular version of the happy ending is destructive to our culture in several ways. Certainly it creates unrealistic expectations, and it does so very subtly."

I believe that we read to explore our own selves. We engage in characters who don't exist to fulfill our need for knowledge and self-fulfillment. I do not believe this is harmful to our culture. We are capable of dividing fact from fiction. I do believe, in fact, that we need more happy endings in a world for example, so terrorized by extremists that we are still at war. Other examples in our world are people experiencing natural disasters and famine or genocide. A world we do not write in romance. I believe we need hope and that writers provide hope. Romance writers allow us to believe that with love, anything is possible and really, a world without love is not a world I'm interested in.      

Photo by Rebecca Clarke

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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Great Heroines - And How To Build 'Em

By Nikki McIntosh

Paula Altenburg did a great post last week on heroes and their similarities to young boys, and it got me thinking about heroines and what makes them great.  As a chick lit writer, the heroine is the key to the whole story – we only have her point of view, so she has to be someone you root for instantly.  Of course, all great heroines are built that way, not just chick lit ones … so I started to think about characters I connected with in books.
Elizabeth Bennett, Katniss Everdeen and Bridget Jones are all literary characters I think make great heroines.  I know a few of you don’t agree with Bridget, but you really need to watch her scooting down a fire pole again before you commit. 
Oddly enough, all three of these heroines have made their way into movies.  So I guess if you follow my rules for creating a great heroine, you too will see your book turned into a movie deal. 
You're welcome!

1) Flaws That Matter ... For Realsies
Instead of using an iron to straighten my hair, I like to use
a heavy book ... it's a long 6 or 7 hours but it's sexy!
Somewhere in creating “strong, independent” heroines, we’ve forgotten what makes them relatable to us:  flaws.  I’ve read too many novels where the heroines only flaws are the same ones I use in job interviews ... that is, flaws that aren’t really flaws at all (please see my answer of “I work too hard” in my last job interview as an example).
Great heroines have real flaws, flaws that other women share, and they own them.  They know they should be less judgmental of others (Lizzie) or be more likable (Katniss), or stop trying to be something you’re not to make a relationship work (Bridget).   Great heroines make sure you know what their flaw is, and the best ones turn it around at the end of the book.
Lizzie stops judging Mr. Darcy, Katniss learns that in order to stay alive she has to be likable and Bridget learns that there are men out there who will like her ... "just as you are" (she did not seem to learn how to put on pants before she runs out in the snow, but think 'baby steps' when letting her grow).

2) They Fail At Something … And They Should Do That Right Away
Great characters need a place to go, and if you start them out strong there’s way we’re going to follow them to the finish line – we already know they’ll win.   Heroines who fail almost immediately, and yet vow to try again, are instantly classified as underdogs … and everyone loves an underdog.  Well, Stephen Harper doesn't ... but everyone else does.
Man, I want this jacket!  Do you think she left
it near the cornucopia? 
Katniss fails to shield her sister from getting her name picked for The Hunger Games. And worse, she knows if she fails again (by getting herself killed), her mother and sister will probably not survive.
Lizzie meets Mr. Darcy and he immediately rebuffs her, telling her that she’s not handsome enough.
Bridget starts off the book with a laundry list of what she’s not going to do this year – accentuating the fact that all of last year was a  complete failure for her.

3) They Care About Someone, Other Than The Hero, And Show It
I think this one is key.  The heroine has to exhibit one of the most basic qualities of a female – she’s got to be a nurturer.  Not all the time, but she needs to connect with one character in the book so that we can see that side of her.  Even Katniss, one of the most kick-butt heroines of our time,
I know this isn't a picture of Lizzie, but really ...
who cares? 
displays that quality when she takes Rue under her wing.
Lizzie comforts Jane's broken heart throughout the book, and even though her best friend Charlotte is married to a complete moron, she still makes sure to spend time with her.
Bridget cares for her father, and when her mother leaves him she spends time with him to make sure he’s okay.  I think there’s a drink involved there, but she’s working on it …

4) She Has To Be A Fighter
No matter what, your heroine needs to be fighting for something.   When you have a character like Katniss, who’s literally struggling to stay alive, it’s easy to visualize the “warrior heroine”.   But all the great heroines are fighting for something.
Lizzie is fighting to marry a man she loves.   She rejects not one, but two proposals, and when she has so few prospects, sticking to her guns on this one could seem like she’s settling for spinsterhood. Luckily, she changes her mind on that second proposal.
Bridget is fighting to accept herself the way she is.  She has these dreams of being skinny, and being successful, and attracting dangerously sexy men.  But at the end of the day she wants to be with someone who’ll love her for herself … even if that means giving up Daniel Cleaver to go find him.

That's my list ... what other qualities do you think are important in a heroine? 

Monday, 17 June 2013

What a (writer) girl wants

A minor miracle happened on Saturday–the sun came out. We’ve had more than our fair share of rain in these parts, and with the notable exception of the freakishly hot and sunny weather we had the first weekend in June it has been a typical Nova Scotia spring--that is, cold, wet and prone to despair if you are of the gardening persuasion. This past Thursday, when June 13 was doing a rather decent impersonation of March, I caved and put my socks on. However, Saturday morning we were greeted to sun. By the end of the day, we’d mowed, went to the zoo, and ate ice cream at a stand.

Summer in Nova Scotia is two months long, though September is brilliant too. When it is summer I want to be outside, puttering, drinking tea on my back deck in the morning, reading books in the shade, and a whatever else I can accomplish while parking my backside in the great outdoors.  But I’m a writer too, and what I’d love to be doing on my deck at 2 pm is writing. But I can’t.

That isn’t entirely true of course. When I’m writing a first draft I write long hand. But when I’m editing, or even transcribing that long hand manuscript, I need a computer of some kind. However, even in the shade, the screen of a lap top (or even a smartphone) is practically impossible to see. As much as I squint at the screen, generally all I get back is a mirror image of myself. Squinting. I’ve seen some crazy hacks so people can use their lap tops in the sun, including hunkering down with the lap top under a box to block out the sun, which pretty much misses the point. Which got me thinking—why hasn’t anyone invented a laptop with an e-ink screen?

I have a Kobo Touch ereader, which I love. It’s e-ink, which means I can read it in brilliant sunlight, and because there is no screen to light, the battery lasts forever. I understand the refresh rate of e-ink screens makes writing more difficult (turning a page and refreshing that type is much different than an ever moving cursor), but, as they say, we’ve put a person on the moon now, we should be able to figure this one out.

Apparently there have been prototypes of kits that will turn an LCD into eink display, but I don’t think they went anywhere. This past February there was an announcement of an Android phone (still a prototype I believe) that runs e-ink. And of course, there is the still new but very cool e-paper, which is basically e-ink type display on very thin (and flexible surfaces), and now being used in high tech watches.

But all I want is a laptop. I want a laptop with e-ink and maybe even a little glow around the screen (like a Kobo glo, for example) for the evenings. It would be light, run Word and a few other programs, and surf the web when I need to look something up. The battery would run for a week. Instead of squirreling away in a dark corner, I could sit in a sunny one, or even outside, typing away. No strained eyes. Perhaps it wouldn’t be in colour – to which I say, less writing time spent on Pinterest. Wins all around.

What about you—if a reasonably priced e-ink laptop came on the market, would you consider picking one up? 

Michelle Helliwell is a lover of tech and an aspiring historical romance author. She blogs regularly on her website. You can also find her occasionally on twitter, popping into Goodreads. and far too much on Pinterest. In fact, she gives you permission to scold her about getting back to her writing if you see her pinning too much.

Friday, 14 June 2013

What I’ve Learned From Little Boys (…about what makes a man a hero)

I love little boys. I raised two of them, and as young men, they haven’t lost a whole lot of what it was I loved about them when they were little.

Little boys are honest and tell it like it is. There’s no guessing with them. They’re completely in touch with their feelings, because they have two primary ones. Happy and mad. If they’re mad, they usually know why. If they don’t, then they’re frustrated. And they will usually ask a parent (or other trusted adult) why they’re frustrated so they’ll know for future reference, because little boys don’t like frustration.

They do, however, like a challenge. And this explains so much about them.

Below are my top favorite observations about little boys:

1. Everything is a competition.

Little boys are most impressed by loud body function noises. If you can win this competition, you are a hero. FWIW, grown men are equally impressed by this. They simply don’t brag about it as much.

2. An idea doesn’t have to be smart to be test-worthy.

The outcome merely has to be uncertain and debatable. If you predict the outcome accurately, then you are a wise hero. This includes jumping off rooftops to see which hits the ground faster – a boy or a baseball. And it’s why so many physicists are guys. Boys need hard facts. Seeing is believing.

3. Little boys like pretty girls better than regular girls. 

Their definition of “pretty” is simply not what girls think. “Pretty” is definitely the right word, but little boys don’t use it as an adjective. It’s usually followed by “…good at video games. “…Good at soccer.” “…Good at making loud body function noises.” Ask a boy what color a girl’s eyes are. They may actually know the answer to this, but be sure to question why they know it.

4. Little boys have an instinctive fear of “high maintenance.” 

If a girl is actually physically pretty and thinks this is somehow important, little boys consider her incomprehensible and frustrating, and most likely full of germs (because they need an explanation). She has to work a lot harder to be considered “pretty good” at anything that matters, thus earning their respect. As little boys get older, however, this frustration changes to challenge. But they will continue to be most impressed by pretty girls who can compete with them in their areas of interest. For them, that’s a package deal.

5. Little boys respect physical strength.

Little boys also know the difference between right and wrong. Therefore, little boys don’t like bullies, because regardless of how the situation is portrayed in the press, on average there are more well-behaved little boys (and girls) than there are bullies. And if a boy is willing to stand up to a bully, he is considered a hero. Although possibly a stupid one. It depends on the outcome. (See #2 on this list.)

I’ve discovered that many of these observations carry over into my writing. I love creating my male characters the most, and probably for the same reason I loved raising little boys so much.

Little boys know what makes a hero.

Feel free to add to my list. It’s hardly complete. :)

Paula Altenburg has been a member of Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada since 2000, and served as president, vice-president, and newsletter editor. Paula lives in rural Nova Scotia, Canada, with her husband and two sons. Once a manager in the aerospace industry, she now enjoys the freedom of working from home and writing fulltime. Paula currently writes paranormal romance and category romance for Entangled Publishing.Visit her at, follow her on Twitter, or find her on Goodreads.

 Available now from Entangled Bliss

Available now from Entangled Select

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

They Say Being a Writer is Lonely…

Thank you for having me here today! They say being a writer is a lonely occupation. And sometimes it is—I spend hours on my own, working on my prose. But sometimes it isn’t. I have a group of writer friends. They understand the things my family don’t—the joys and anxiety of new covers, the deliberation over exactly what my editor meant on line twenty-seven of her two page overview of my latest submission. They also take an hour or two to meet me over coffee to plot.

When my friends are all busy, and no one can go for a coffee, I’m still not very lonely. Because my characters are still there, waiting to talk to me, waiting to show me what could happen next. I don’t always let them have their way of course, but sometimes, they have legitimate complaints.

Take my heroine, Soryen Sarina Tariim. She was seriously unimpressed that for her very last assignment as Soryen—a ranking similar to Sergeant—she was stuck protecting a lawyer, a human paper pusher. She didn’t even have an opportunity to go out with a bang, to give her life to duty and earn her clan a final tally of honor points. That just wasn’t going to happen with a lawyer.

Well, I’d already thought of that. I wasn’t going to do that to her, when she’d already lost so much. She was going to get her action, in more ways than one. Her charge, John Bennings, was actually undercover agent John Norton. He wasn’t all that happy either though. He had a job to do, protecting the ongoing Treaty negotiations from the inside, and he hadn’t pictured being saddled with a sexy goddess of a warrior as a body guard. He complained, he whined, as men do.

I said too bad and had him shot. :) But Sarina saved him. She’s just that good.

So, I am never really lonely for long. Okay, for many non-writers, when I tell them things like that, hearing that I speak with my characters can be a bit…odd. Of course they find my research into body part disposal quite alarming as well. Too bad.

I say in life, whether you are a writer, or an administrator, or a mom, you need imagination. It’s good for you. Have you stretched your imagination lately?

Lilly Cain
The Confederacy Treaty Series – Alien Revealed, The Naked Truth, and coming June 25th, Undercover Alliance! From Carina Press The Confederation Treaty series from Carina Press. Undercover Alliance  released in ebook and audio formats.

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Monday, 10 June 2013

The cure for anything

By Heidi Hamburg

The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea. ~Isak Dinesen

A long time ago I lived for a year beside a large lake in northern Manitoba. The lake was beautiful, and very peaceful. I was happy there.

Still, there was always something missing. The air was sweet and fresh, but there was no salt tang in it. There was no lift and fall of the tide, washing and changing everything, renewing all the edges twice a day. I never got used to that.

For most of my life I have lived at the edge of salt water. Even when it was the Arctic Ocean, and frozen much of the year, there was still the lift and renewal of the tides, the scent of salt at the edges of the ice.

Salt water plays a part in a great deal of my writing, a source of joy or tragedy or redemption. Sometimes it’s far back in a character’s story, sometimes it’s almost a character itself, but it’s nearly always there.

Risser's Beach, on Nova Scotia's South Shore

Now I live beside a tidal river in rural Nova Scotia, so the salt water flows past where I can see it and breathe its scent every day. The ocean is ten minutes away. I am content.

Heidi, basking in the salt air
* Note * Heidi has no web links at present

Friday, 7 June 2013

Getting to Know You

Welcome to our new blog, I’m so excited to be here.  I thought I’d take this opportunity for us to get to know each other better.  Just the other day I was asked to tell five things about myself, five things that people wouldn’t know.  So I tell you what, I’ll tell you five things if you tell me five. 

Here goes.

1. I didn't grow up wanting to be a writer. I went to university, did a business degree, and became a Financial Officer for the Federal Government. I lasted one year in that field...shiver.

2. I grew up the youngest of three girls and I am a tomboy turned girlie girl. I JUST (and I'm not kidding) got a makeup lesson from my 18 year old (very girlie) daughter before I went to the RT conference in May)

3. I grew up a tomboy but I always LOVED shoes. LOL

4. I'm a foodie. I could spend hours watching cooking shows and I love Hell's Kitchen.

5. I HATE flying. HATE IT. I once asked a man sitting beside me if he would hold my hand during take off and landing. His wife didn't seem to appreciate it, but man, I HATE FLYING.

So there you have it.  Five things you didn’t know.  Next time I’m by, I’ll show you my work space.

Now tell me five things about you I didn’t know.

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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Favorite Historical Films of All Time

Since I am a historical romance author, I thought we could talk about our favorite historical films of all time.

Here are mine, which I’ve categorized according to what has provided me with inspiration for the different periods I have written about.  Sometimes the films are set during the same time period, but other times they simply provided insight for the development of characters.  (For example: The Patriot inspired me when I was writing my Highlander trilogy, even though it was set during the American Revolution.)

American Heiress series:
The Buccaneers
The Age of Innocence
Lilly Langtry
Washington Square
The Way We Live Now
Portrait of a Lady
Wallis and Edward
Pride and Prejudice (I know, I know… Regency period, but still a costume drama/characterization masterpiece in every way.)
Sense and Sensibility

Pembroke Palace Series:
The Madness of King George
North and South
The Secret Garden
Gosford Park
The Remains of the Day
Downton Abbey
Becoming Jane
Amazing Grace

Highlander Trilogy
As background for the Jacobite Rebellion:
The Tudors
Anne of a Thousand Days
Mary Queen of Scots
The Last King
Elizabeth (parts one and two)
Rob Roy
Last of the Mohicans
Horatio Hornblower (great fighting heroism)
Master and Commander (lots of swashbuckling drama)
Rome (interesting characters, no one is all good or all bad)
300 (Hunks with swords)
Phantom of the Opera (tortured Gerard Butler)
Beowulf (more tortured Gerard Butler)
The Patriot
Gods and Generals

Time Travel (Taken by the Cowboy)
Cowboys and Aliens

I’m sure I’m forgetting all kinds of great historical films.  So help me out if you can offer more recommendations.  Or comment on something you saw on the list that inspired you, and share your favorites!

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Monday, 3 June 2013

Introducing the Atlantic Canadian Chapter of Romance Writers of America

As a longtime blogger, it's my very great pleasure to welcome you all to our brand new blog, Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada.

We're an established chapter of our parent organization, Romance Writers of America, based in Houston, Texas. RWA is a professional trade association for romance writers, both published and unpublished, and each local chapter provides a place for romance writers to meet for industry-based workshops, networking and general camaraderie for creative professionals whose paths are solitary.

Our chapter represents romance writers from the four Atlantic Canadian provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Our meetings take place once a month in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with some members travelling in from the other provinces in order to join up for lunch and take part in the workshops. We also have several long-distance members, and have recently been Skyping them in to the meetings.

Our long-distance members have discovered that being included in our online email loops, as well as being present on our social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, have made direct impacts upon their writing careers.

We have a history of showing the kind of support to one another that includes Nova Scotia members driving to New Brunswick to attend a book launch, and well-attended welcome dinners for a Newfoundland member flying into Halifax for an all-day workshop.

Our members include USA Today best-selling authors, Booksellers Best award winners, Golden Heart nominees and winners, and Rita nominees.

As the unofficial 'official' photographer of our chapter, I'll let these pictures do the rest of the talking.

Welcome to Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada -- we'll be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with the odd Tuesday or Thursday thrown in when something exciting crops up. Hope to see you then!

RWAC members attend the RWA National Conference in New York City, 2011

RWAC members attend a charity breakfast date with a cover model at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, 2013 -- photo by Tara MacDonald

RWAC published authors introduce themselves at an event at Argyle Fine Art in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2011

RWAC group book signing at Chapters in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 2011

RWAC hosted Harlequin senior editor Birgit Davis-Todd for an all-day workshop that included Ms. Davis-Todd accepting story pitches by appointment, 2011

Brainstorming session at the RWAC fall retreat, 2012

Laughs aplenty at the RWAC Christmas potluck, 2010

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Photo by Helen Tansey