Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Christmas memories

by Deborah Hale

Because it’s less than a month until Christmas and I won’t have another blog post before then, I would like to share a special Christmas memory…

The first Christmas I remember, my parents and two of my younger sisters were living in the small New Brunswick village of Kouchibougauc, surrounded by lots of extended family.  That year, we were supposed to go to my great-grandmother’s house for a big family dinner but a snowstorm blocked all the rural roads and made it impossible for anyone to venture out. Instead, my little sister and I had a tea party with our spiffy new table and chairs and doll dishes.  Later we feasted on tomato soup for Christmas dinner! 

These days, I feel so blessed that two of my sisters live nearby so we can still gather, along with our families and parents, to enjoy one another’s company at Christmas time.  The meals we share may be quite a bit more elaborate than on that long ago Christmas, but I think we could be quite happy with bowls of tomato soup, as long as we were all together!
Wishing the blessings of the Season from my family to yours!
- Deborah Hale
Today, I also have an interview over at READINGNKS where I'll be talking about my current book The Duke's Marriage Mission. Drop over - love to see you there!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Just Do It

by Shawna Romkey

Nike’s slogan in the 90’s still does the trick today. I’ve run several businesses, teach business courses at the community college, help authors with marketing as well as operate, a Kobo eBook promotion site. I’ve also written a book, Speak of the Devil, which came out earlier this year.  I’ve paid for ads, taken part in giveaways, social media’d my ass off, and the stuff that has earned me the most attention has been to just do it.

What I mean is, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on marketing my book if you count the conferences and travel and online advertising services. And I’ve done free social media work which took time and energy. I’ve run contests and rafflecopters and giveaways. None of that can I directly trace to having any significant impact on sales or exposure.

Three things have happened to me since March that I consider to be good unsolicited publicity. Three things that I’ve found to be cool and that gave me a chance a good reach or the possibility of more down the road. What they all have in common is “just do it.”

The first thing is my being featured in a cover article of The Coast in Halifax, NS, our arts and entertainment paper. The reason that came about was that I was planning a big book launch shortly after my book was released. It was mainly a big party to celebrate that after twenty years of trying to get published, I finally had.  Part of the planning of the book launch was that I sent press releases to all of the local media, not really thinking anything would come of them. An editor at The Coast got mine and passed it on to a writer who was working on a column about paranormal writers. Score.  If I hadn’t been doing anything, there would be nothing to write about or take pictures of. So not only was I included in the article, but a photographer came to my launch and a photo was included as well.

The next thing was to get invited to be a guest author at Hal-Con, our local sci fi, comic convention. This happened because I contacted them offering to do a writing presentation at the convention.  I just asked if I could do a workshop and they invited me to be a guest. Being an author guest entailed getting a free table throughout the weekend and gave me access to the other guests. It put me in the program and gave me some great exposure. If I hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have been involved at all.

The last thing is a spin off of Hal Con. While I was an author guest I introduced myself to the other author guests, including Robert J. Sawyer and Terry Brooks.  In chatting with Terry Brooks, he asked about my book, then said he reads YA. On the last day of the con, I gave him a copy of my book, which he asked me to sign. That alone was a really cool writer moment! Then the next day he emailed me saying he’d read it on the flight home and sent me an email with a lot of great feedback! Having Terry Brooks critique my work is something priceless that I wouldn’t have even known how to arrange on my own.  You have to just take a chance, take a risk, and just do it. I put my book in his hands in the hopes that something like that might happen, and it did.

Shawna Romkey, Author of  Speak of the Devil
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Monday, 18 November 2013

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce with a Twist

By Linda O'Toole

It is now mid-November and all the seasonal decorations are in the stores.  T'is the season!  As we all start to get ready for the holidays I thought I would share a quick and easy recipe for cranberry sauce.  Just
perfect for busy writers to prepare.  No cooking involved!  Even those who traditionally do not like cranberry sauce tend to like this one.  It goes well with a turkey dinner and even better the next day on turkey sandwiches made with fresh bread and a little mayo.

1 bag cranberries
1 orange
1/2 cup sugar or to taste

Put small grinding blade in food processor.
Grind cranberries.
Cut orange in wedges, leave rind on.  Grind in processor.
In a bowl, mix ground cranberries and ground orange together.
Add sugar and stir.  You may want to add a bit more sugar it is personal preference.
You are done.  Enjoy!

If you make this while the turkey is cooking the flavours will blend, the sugar will melt in, and it will be perfect when the turkey is done.  I like to freeze the bag of cranberries beforehand as I find they grind better and it also helps to chill the sauce.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Writing as Autumn Slides Toward Winter

by Magi Nams

This morning, frost flashes sunlight through countless prisms. Tenacious ochre leaves cling to apple twigs. Birch trees stand bare in white-barked elegance. Autumn slides inexorably toward winter, that time of tension between celebrating the clean beauty of snow and cozying up to a heat source indoors.

Our property in northern Nova Scotia was once a farm settled by Scottish pioneers, but fields eventually abandoned grew over as grassy meadows decades ago (before my family was on the scene) and are now parkland abutting hemlock forest. At the border of parkland and forest we have a special place with a microclimate all its own, a feel all its own. Not meadow. Not forest. It's a place of change. An edge.    

As a writer/gardener, I'm stepping into a  place of change between the demands of producing much of my own food and the freedom to devote more hours a day to writing. I've put my veggie and fruit gardens to bed. I've stored huge bags of leaves to mulch my many flowerbeds after the ground freezes. I've filled my porch planters with balsam fir boughs, alder nutlets, and rose hips to add a festive touch to my house for the winter. I still have a few scattered tasks to complete, but I'm saving those for exercise breaks from writing.

Standing in this place of change – on this edge – is exciting. For months, I've squeezed writing time in around hours of outdoor work, which to my mind was a fair exchange when the glories of summer and autumn surrounded me. But now I can move on to a different harvest – a harvest of ripened characters and dialogue and plot in the remaining 20,000 words of my romantic WIP. I intend to seed and weed and pluck those words as carefully as I did my corn. I also intend to let those words run free like the jumbled beauty of wildflowers. Come and get me, Winter. My characters and I will run into your arms.

Magi Nams 

Check out my website, where I'm blogging today about images of autumn:

Labels: autumn, Nova Scotia, romance, writer/gardener, writing lifestyle 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Romancing the Rock

by Victoria Barbour

When I was in my twenties and living in other parts of Canada, there was nothing I enjoyed more than bringing my friends home to Newfoundland. I couldn't wait to show the place off with visits to George Street (hot Nfld guys), Cape Spear (the most easterly point in North America) and Signal Hill (great for parking with the boys you meet on George St.). What I loved more than anything was that those friends fell in love with Newfoundland too.

When I started writing romance, I couldn't imagine a better setting for my stories. There's such a mix of urban and rural cultures, and I love the juxtaposition between the two. Over the years I've submitted to traditional publishers and received the subsequent rejection letters. I often wondered if it was the location. I even thought about changing it, but in the end, I know who I am as a writer. I'm a Newfoundlander, and for me, the greatest compliment I think a reader could ever give me is to feel compelled to learn more about this awesome rock in the sea. That's why I decided to self-publish. My books wouldn't tell the stories they do if they were set anywhere else.

I believe without great characters, especially the supporting cast, and a setting ripe for romance, a novel just can't flow. One of the most interesting things that's happened since I made the decision to self-publish is the feedback from my fellow Newfoundlanders. They're surprised they are enjoying a romance set here. I guess if you live in a place you can't always see the beauty. I sometimes wonder if I hadn't lived away for so much of my adult years if I would see it myself? But I'm so glad I do.

If you'd like to see an example of how this place influences my writing, pop on over to my website and check out my Romancing the Rock post on my blog. And if you'd like to see it for yourself, why not pop on over to Newfoundland. :) 

Find Victoria online:

Monday, 4 November 2013

3 Ways Not To Write

by Anne MacFarlane

Given that November is NANO, and I like to see myself as a person who dances to her own drummer (my daughter says this is a just a nice way of saying I’m weird) I thought I would share a few of my techniques for not writing.
1)                  Buy writing software.
This is a good one. Because you can pretend you’re writing, when actually you’re picking out your font and choosing pretty colours to tag scene cards and checking out YouTube videos because the how-to-manual makes no sense.  While you’re on YouTube, other interesting videos pop up on the sidebar, like Luke and Laura’s wedding video from General Hospital circa 1981.  Good inspiration for your romance novel so well worth watching. Right. Now. Of course, watching old videos always brings up the question, where are they now? A visit to IMDB is mandatory to find the answer– leading into my next reason not to write.
2)                  Developing Characters
All writers know that you can’t start a book without having your characters’ physical appearance set in your mind. We need to cast an actor to play that role. That’s a writing rule, isn’t it? This necessitates doing a search for images of Matt Bomer, shirtless Matt Bomer, men who look like Mat Bomer, men who have acted with Matt Bomer. A visit to IMDB is required to find out how tall Mat Bomer is (5' 11½") and when his next project is coming out (Space Station 76, 2014.) There will undoubtedly be a picture of other actors in that project that you haven’t heard of but may be suitable for one of your other half dozen projects you have mapped out but haven’t started yet. Leading to our next reason for ‘not writing but pretending we are.’
3)                  Plotting out Your Next Six Books
It takes you over a year to write a book. Since you’ve recently read a book about how to take your productivity from 200 words a day to 20,000, you’re convinced you will now turn into a prolific writer. You plan to have enough books to keep 3 series going, two publishers happy and your own indie publishing career chugging along. You need to spend time plotting out all these series and books, casting the characters (see #2 above) and creating your own spreadsheet (because the software bought in #1 doesn’t work with your “creative” process and, for me, creating a spreadsheet for any reason is awesome) and setting up a Pinterest Board…ah!  Pinterest. Another great way to not write - darn, my “writing” alarm just signaled the end of my writing sprint.
I’ve used up all my time coming up with a topic for this blog, then writing the first three reasons and checking out how to spell Matt Bomer (getting sidetracked by pics of Henry Cavill) that I don’t have time to get to the other three – or chapter 3 of my WIP. Not a problem. I’ll just put this in my pile of unfinished projects that I know I’ll get to, just as soon as I print out pictures of Matt Bomer to glue onto my story collage…


Anne MacFarlane

Friday, 1 November 2013

An aspiring writer's experience

by Debbie Boutilier

My first blog post. How did I get here? Lets start at the beginning. My friend mentioned to me one day that they were writing a book. That caught my interest. I have always wanted to write a book but never quite put pen to paper but I thought it was a great idea, so I joined in. First as support and then as a co-conspirator.

As a voracious reader who reads everything from murder mystery to romance and at least a book a day, I started by reading a few books on writing, did some reading on the internet and talked to my friend. They had joined RWAC and were keeping me in the loop.

I started to flesh out a story in my head. Then I figured I would just sit down and away we go. Well it didn't quite work that way. It sounded easy when I had the idea in my head but it didn't quite translate that easily when I started to type. A lot of starts but not much substance.

Then I joined RWAC. What an eye opener that was. The first meeting left me in awe with everything I hadn't thought of or considered but I was excited.  Deborah Hale did this fantastic presentation which opened my eyes, and made me realize I had a somewhat psychotic story going on with too many themes crammed into one idea which was why I kept going in circles. So I went back and looked at what I had and ferreted out what I really wanted to concentrate on.

Then I went to another meeting and things became a little less fuzzy. The most amazing thing was this great group of ladies so willing to share their knowledge and experience with others. I don't think I have ever belonged to a group that was so open and willing to share and welcome aboard newcomers and support each other. Makes me wonder what the world would be like if woman ran it. Just saying. . .

There is so much I hadn't been aware of or considered when I first thought about writing - pitching,editors, agents, marketing, blogging, web pages, copy rights, IP, twitter and the list goes on.  Do you submit to a big publishing house, do submissions online, go indie? A whole new world and language to learn.

The best thing that has happened was the writers retreat. It was an incredible experience.  A group of eleven ladies some old and some new coming together for a weekend, living in each other's back pockets, so to speak and it all worked.  I didn't know what to expect going into it but it was the most fun I have had in a long time with a group of people while learning a heck of a lot new things about writing.

The brain storming session was great. It made me look at what I was writing in a whole different way and see what I was missing. Getting a look at how others pull together ideas and plot was so helpful. It made me realize that I had only touched the surface with my writing and I have to delve deeper and build my world for my characters.

Things are starting to solidify a bit for me.  I am not going anywhere fast but that's OK - I am enjoying the experience as I go.  The first book will definitely be one of the hardest thing I do, its a part of me. Will I ever write a top 100, probably not, will my first book get published perhaps not, however, I will never regret trying. To finish,

“It’s better to have tried and failed than to live life wondering what would’ve happened if I had tried” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

Debbie Boutilier is enjoying the pursuit of her own writing while still working in the legal field. She is a devoted wife and mother, who loves to travel with family and friends.