Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Ugly Sweater Day


It's becoming quite popular. People gather to show off the ghastly sweaters their inlaws gave them for Christmas. This week, we had an Ugly Sweater Day at our newspaper. The winner would receive a couple of movie passes.

I thought I had it nailed until I flashed my neighbour and she said, "It's cute!" I said I'd wear it to her place on Christmas day if she thinks it's so cute.

When I got to work, I discovered another employee had chosen the exact same sweater, so we cancelled each other out. We made nice bookends, however, in the staff photo.

I suppose, like query letters, Christmas Sweaters are subjective.

Happy ChristmaHannaKwansika!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Dear Santa, I want a plot for Christmas...

In the meantime, here's a little gift to my friends. This recipe has been a hit every single time. It's easy, universal, and festive:

Chumplet's Apple Cheeseball


Ingredients:

1 package cream cheese

1 - 1 1/2 cups finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (white if you can get it)

Paprika (preferably smoked, but Spanish will do - fresh and red!)

A cinnamon stick

1 or 2 bay leaves

Worchestershire sauce or hot sauce (optional)

Garlic powder or ground spices (optional)


Mix the two cheeses, the sauce if you've got it (and any little savoury spices you like) together with your hands until well mixed.

Form it into a ball about 3 or 4 inches around, and shape like an apple, with a little dimple at the top. Use plastic wrap if you think it's too messy.


Roll the ball in the paprika until nicely coated and red. You can brush off any excess.


Stick a cinnamon stick in the top to represent the apple stem, and a bay leaf or two to represent apple leaves.
Put it on a small plate, surrounded with crackers, pita pieces or those little toasty slices with a nice knife. The first person to cut a chunk out will make it look like someone's taken a bite out of the apple!

My friends claim I came up with this recipe, modified from some other cheeseball, but I probably got it from a magazine. My friend Debbie asked for the recipe, and when she made it for family it was an instant hit. She passed it on to her daughter, who got the attention of her college dean's wife. Debbie appreciated the contribution so much she gave me that cute little leaf-shaped plate to put my apple on.

Enjoy!

Oh.... and Merry Christmas if I don't check in before the Big Day. Busy, busy!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

My Own Personal Marley


His name was Jesse. Jesse James. When we gave the moniker to that ten week old, wiggly Golden retriever with a couple dozen bald spots, we had no idea how he'd live up to his name.

My friend Mariella gave me a tip that her veterinarian was giving away a purebred Golden retriever. Gratis! His owners apparently gave him up because of his recurrent skin infection. They left the pup with the vet on the condition that anyone who adopted him should neuter him to prevent passing on whatever gene had caused his mysterious skin condition.

I, the stupid one with two preschoolers, jumped at the chance to take this unsocialized, un-housetrained ball of half-shaved fluff into my home in the dead of winter.

The vet gave Jesse his shots free of charge but I'd have to pay for the neutering when the time came. He also provided the first round of antibiotics Jesse would require to keep his skin from erupting into countless little volcanoes of ickiness. I'd have to pay for any subsequent prescriptions.

No matter. He was sooooo cute! Sure, he had bald patches all over his body, but he had real potential. His big brown eyes followed me everywhere. He crawled all over the kids with adoring glee. He pissed on the floor with reckless abandon. (There were also a few other emissions due to an allergic reaction to his inoculations, but we took care of that with some Pepto Bismol.)

He grew quickly. He was American bred, with a rangy physique and a dark red coat, unlike the boxy and blond Canadian Goldens. By spring he was already 90 pounds and well on the way to being an Alpha male. When I took him to the vet, I needed my hands free to root around in my purse so I hooked his leash around my ankle. He took the opportunity to vault after a cat and I flipped in the air and landed on my ass. I could almost hear the cartoony thweep and
thunk.

He became adept at depositing humans on their butts. One day I allowed my brother to fetch Jesse from his dog run in the back yard. Buddy opened the gate and I glanced away for a moment. When I looked back, Jesse had my brother pinned to the ground and was in the process of giving him sloppy kisses.

Jesse didn't eat us out of house and home - he ate the house and home. He ate the wooden kitchen cupboard handles, the linoleum flooring, the wallpaper and a good chunk of paneling on the back porch. I got pretty good at using wood filler and matching paint. He even ate a tent that had been left pitched in the back yard. Well, not the whole tent. He shredded it into unrecognizable bits.

He knocked over the kids and then he happily gummed them, reducing them to giggles. His skin medication was more expensive than groceries. The only bright spots were his impeccable manners while on the leash during walks. He sat down at every intersection, came when he was called, and didn't pull.

Still, I finally cried "Uncle" and put notices up in the local pet stores. A nice older couple with teenage sons and a fenced yard came over and took Jesse for a spin around the block. I asked a hundred dollars as reimbursement for his neutering costs, and they complied. Jesse cheerfully accompanied them home.

He was just across town. I often felt the urge to visit him, but stopped myself. No, he had a new family now. Sometimes I heard a familiar bark and thought it was Jesse.

My brother has a new dog. He looks exactly like Jesse and he's just as goofy. His name is Homer. Go figure.

Image: My painting of the day Jesse left to meet his new owners. He was looking out the front window as if he knew his future.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Big Fish



One of my favourite movies (I should get the book) is Big Fish, a story about a son who has issues with his father's tall tales. He couldn't take his dad seriously throughout life, and near the end finds out the true value of a good storyteller, whether the stories are exaggerated or not.

Memoir writers draw from their own experiences to write their books. Maybe they keep journals, or some might have superior memories. Some of them have great stories to tell, like John Elder Robison's Look Me In The Eye. Others exaggerate and pass off their lies as truth.

Not all of us have spectacular lives to draw from, so we use our memories as building blocks to create fiction. A memoir can be a simple account of an interesting life, or jazzed up with dialogue and incredible detail.

How accurate can we possibly be if we are writing a memoir? While some authors can recall past experiences with crystal clarity, I have a hard time remembering what I ate for dinner last night. I guess that's why I'd rather use mere snapshots of my life as a resource for my fiction. That way, I can embellish to my heart's content. Within reason, of course.

How big is your fish?

Image: Ridley likes fishing shows and hockey.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

I Smell A Story


When I write about different locations, I must remind myself to include smells as well as sights. We often describe odours in bars, houses, flower shops and on people. The delicate smell of a special perfume or comfort food can trigger memories, but cities and towns also have a their own brand of olfactory uniqueness.

The lovely old city of Saint John, New Brunswick smells like hot road tar mixed with sea salt because of the proximity of the oil refineries along the Bay of Fundy. When I smell tar, I go back to the days when I was a kid, wandering with my cousins in search of mischief. I see in my mind's eye the multicoloured wooden houses with white trim. I remember steep hills leading down to the bay.

Northern Ontario smells like wood smoke and pine needles. It will always remind me of camping and warm rocks.

My husband says Toronto smelled like rising dough when he was a kid, due to the flour and sugar mills along the shores of Lake Ontario.

Then there were the little lumber towns in northern Quebec. We lived in Chandler on the Gaspé Peninsula when I was seven years old. It always seemed to smell like an enormous fart.

From a WIP: "The Chandler pulp and paper mill on the west side of town served up its usual sulphuric stink with extra sauce on the day JC Bernard decided to kidnap his best friend Alphonse."


Newmarket doesn't have many distinctive odours, except perhaps the smell of newly cut grass on a summer day, or lilacs. Each season brings its own memorable smells.

What does your town smell like? Do any smells take you back to a place you once lived?


Image: A view of Saint John from Martello Tower

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The Puck Has Dropped


Three forwards and two defensemen (and women) faced off with a poetry contest to celebrate the Amazon release of Bad Ice: Bernard, Michelle, Precie, Kerri and Wordtryst.

My trusty assistant Cujo picked the winner from my Maple Leafs beer cozy because the linesman tripped over the blue line. And the winner is...


...Kerri!

See? You visited a new writer site and won something! It's that easy. Please email me through my profile with your physical address and I'll send you an autographed copy of Bad Ice. I hope you enjoy it.

I think I'll print off these cool poems and frame them for my writing room (when I get one). Thank you everyone for participating. It was a lovely diversion.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Hat Trick Poetry Contest


The first goal was the e-release of Bad Ice. The second goal was the print release on the Champagne Books site. Now it's my Hat Trick, my Amazon release. It seems a few kind souls have bought a copy already because it has a ranking. Thanks, and enjoy!

If you've already enjoyed the book, please toss in a little review. It can only help!

To celebrate the Amazon print release, I'm holding a little hockey theme contest. Don't worry -- you non-hockey types will have a shot. All you have to do is write a short poem using the following words:

Puck
Ice
Pond
Stick

It doesn't have to be a GOOD poem, but try to entertain the other posters. I'll take each poem and put it in a hockey helmet. We have several in the house. My assistant (whoever I can recruit) will draw the winner out of the helmet on Saturday, November 15th during CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.

The winner will receive an autographed copy of Bad Ice.

(Once again, I extend infinite thanks to those who expressed their support during a difficult time. I appreciate every message and love you all.)

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Thank You

I am overcome by the generous outpouring of sympathy from you, my old and new friends. The last few weeks have been both surreal and all too real.

The authorities believe Brandon climbed a tree for the night because wolves and coyotes are prevalent in the area. He may have fallen asleep or simply fell. Chest injuries from the fall seemed to have caused his death. It was probably the first night he went missing.

The funeral is set for next Friday.

Sigh.

In other news, Bad Ice is now on Amazon. Just thought I'd let you know.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Now We Know

I came back from lunch and everyone stared at me. The phone rang. It was my husband. He asked if I had seen the news - Macleans magazine in particular. I had just picked up a copy because there was an article about Brandon. He said, "No, the website." He told me hunters found a body they believed to be that of my nephew Brandon Crisp.

Mary drove me home from work, and Mark's co-workers drove him home. Mary and I caught my son Andrew walking home, and we quickly picked him up and brought him home.

I have to drive to Oakville to get my daughter in college. Then we'll go to Barrie to be with Brandon's parents.

That's all I can say for now. I'll update you later.

Thanks again for all your support. I truly love you all.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Words Fail Me...

... but I'm going to try anyway.

Since my nephew Brandon went missing, our family has been in the center of a whirlwind of shock, concern, dismay, media attention and controversy. It's not over by a long shot -- Brandon's parents will continue to push for an investigation of Brandon's online activities. They are convinced he is holed up somewhere, being told he's a "Pinball Wizard." Maybe his captors are telling him his parents hate him, don't want to talk to him. Maybe he wants to contact home, but he can't.

I refuse to believe he's hurt, abused or lying in a ditch somewhere. My mind cannot process that. I hold the same hope that authorities will flush out the people who lured him away with promises of money and status.

Old friends and new have dropped by to offer condolences, hope and prayers. I can't begin to express my gratitude.

In the meantime, I must tear myself away from obsessing over every breaking story. (Some online discussions infuriate me and I wish I could reach out through cyberspace and slap some of those people upside the head. They don't know this family. I do.)

Although I feel I'm in a holding pattern, I must go on with my life. I feel like I'm not allowed to laugh at a joke or smile at my colleagues. It feels strange.

This is a writing blog. I have to get back to the task at hand. While I pursue my latest career, a piece of myself will still hold vigil for Brandon. Until he is found, he will always be on my mind.

If I receive any breaking news, I will be sure to tell you right away.

Now, I'll try to change the subject...

Ravenous Romance has offered me a contract for The Toast Bitches. Those bitches (the characters, not the publisher) have been roaming around in my head for a long time, and it's time to unleash them on the world. I'll be busy cranking out a hot, sexy manuscript.

Sheesh. Wish me luck.


Saturday, 25 October 2008

A Missing Boy



My husband and I drove north and exited Highway 11 to join the searchers that were organized at a park on Ridge Road and Line 8. As we proceeded along Ridge Road, we noticed the Oro-Medonte walking trail cross the road several times. We also notice five or six groups of volunteers along the roadside, poking through the patches of long dried grass for signs of Brandon.

We overshot the sideroad and turned around. Just north of Ridge Road on Line 8, we found Burl's Creek Family Event Park, where volunteers gathered to find my nephew, Brandon Crisp.

Tents were set up, and several school buses were parked alongside over a hundred cars and vans. We searched and found Anna and Steve almost immediately. Steve was talking to a news photographer, so we approached Anna and each gave her a big hug. Their daughter Natasha stood nearby, her face pinched with old and new tears. I wrapped my arms around her.

The volunteers were incredible. Yellow school buses sent loads of searchers to designated groups along the regional roads and trails, dropping them off with an experienced searcher. Many members of the search groups worked for Metroland, the media group that employs Brandon's mom and myself. They were so positive and supportive.

A man with a grey beard and a Tilley-type hat stood near one of the buses. He was introduced to Angelika and I as Terry Grant, the host of a show called Man Tracker. He is based in western Canada with a show that features tracking human competitors through rough terrain.

He had flown here to offer his support, and was very kind. Wow.

As he talked to us, a camera appeared and a fluffy boom mike hovered above our heads. I hope I didn't say anything to embarrass my kids.

Later, we went to Brandon's parents' house to regroup. A local restaurant delivered a lovely spread - wings, salad, cheese and crackers. We all stood around the kitchen island, discussing the various possibilities in the ongoing investigation.

I thank everyone for their incredible support and good wishes. I hope we wake up from this nightmare soon.

Monday, 20 October 2008

We Interrupt Our Regular Blogging...

I don't normally use this blog for personal concerns, but this time I feel it's necessary to get the word out to as many people as possible.

My 15-year-old nephew Brandon Crisp has been missing for a week. On Thanksgiving Monday he had an argument with his parents over his obsessive on-line video game use, and his parents took away his X-Box.

As a result, he took off from his home in northeast Barrie, Ontario. He hasn't been seen since. I found out about this late Friday night, and have since kept in contact with his parents during this ordeal.

A flyer campaign last week brought no leads, so the media stepped in. After a few online news reports from The Star and our Metroland papers, local television stations asked for help this weekend.

His bicycle was seen mid-week at the side of a walking trail north of Barrie, but wasn't reported until after it was taken by unknown parties. There was a ground and air search in the rural area northeast of the city yesterday (Sunday) and several unconfirmed sightings.

My sister in law phoned this morning to tell us the Barrie police are now treating this as an abduction.

If anyone in the Barrie area sees their kid with a Huffy yellow and black mountain bike, call Barrie police. If they see anyone acting suspiciously, call police. If your kid is taking extra dinner to his room, investigate.

Here's the latest online news report.


For those who can't directly help, a few prayers would be nice.

Edited to add: According to news reports, authorities still don't suspect foul play, but they're concerned about his safety, considering the cold nights in the past week.

I can't seem to post a comment this morning, so I'll edit my post:

Anyway, I was saying to anon, that would be awesome if you volunteer. The police aren't allowing civilian searches at the moment, but anyone with a cottage in the area should check their attics and such.

The fact that a witness saw him walking the trail after he ditched the bike gives me assurance that he wasn't picked up by someone with a car.

Still in a holding pattern...

Friday, 17 October 2008

Typing furiously


I pitched my idea for The Toast Bitches (love that title - you can't have it) to an e-pub and they want to see a manuscript. Problem is, I haven't written it yet. D'ya think I can knock off three chapters in a week?

Same pub, different work - I recently signed a contract with them for my short story If The Shoe Fits, which will appear in their upcoming anthology, Sex and Shoes (December). I'll provide details when it's up on their website.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Do-Over


When I was eight or nine years old, I gazed at the blue sky through a high window in my bedroom and wished I could fly through that window and end up a couple of years in the past. I wished fervently that I could have done things differently, already knowing my future in a life that was so brief, yet seemed so long at the time.

I don't know what triggered such a need to be elsewhere, or elsewhen. Perhaps I was mad at my parents for uprooting me again. Maybe I lacked friends at the time. All I knew was that I wanted to try again, maybe to speak to that boy I liked, or to stand up for myself in a schoolyard altercation.

Now that I'm older and only slightly wiser, I look back at the vast expanse of years in my past, and realize I'm just past the halfway point of what I hope will be an optimistically distant future. Would I have done things differently if I knew where I was today? Whatever decisions I made in the past, I think I'd be as happy as I am today. Maybe not the same kind of happy, but still happy.

Would you have done things differently if given a do-over? Are we hard wired to be the people we are today, or does fate deal a different hand with each shuffle of the cards?

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Life's Too Short


I got this in my Fortune Cookie today. I'm going to get it laminated. Maybe make a keyring or something. Nothing like positive thoughts to keep me going.

As an avid listener, I find myself on the receiving end of a lot of complaining - at work, at home, even at the grocery store. Maybe I have a sympathetic face, who knows?
People complain about lack of communication, but don't bother to tell management that their computer isn't working. They complain about not being included in corporate events, but don't attend the annual Christmas Party.

They complain the house is a dump, but don't mow the lawn for weeks at a time. If their hair is curly, they want it straight. If it's straight, they want it curly. They're too skinny, too fat, too hot, too cold.


Some people make a living at complaining. They jab at their partners, parents and children with sharp-witted and humorous glee on television, movies and on the stage. Stand up comedy would be nowhere without complaining.


Don't get me wrong - it's okay to bitch once in a while, but when it starts to sound like a broken record, maybe complainers need to take a step back and look at their lives. Even when life seems like it's shitting on them at every turn, they don't realize how precious it is.


Perhaps they have spouses and children who love them. Even if they aren't rich and famous, they have the company of friends who see beyond the negativity and give them the support they need.


Writer
Patry Francis , who often has every right to complain, quoted Woody Allen:

"Life is divided up into the horrible and the miserable. The horrible would be terminal cases, blind people, cripples. The miserable is everyone else. When you go through life you should be thankful that you're miserable."

My little cousin Austin fought a courageous battle with cancer for five years, finally succumbing at the tender age of eight. Every step of the way he laughed, played and came up with marvelous insights about life, death, friends, Heaven and Pokémon. Even as he was wheeled through the parking lot on a gurney while being transported by ambulance from one hospital to another, he asked the paramedic to stop so he could catch the raindrops on his tongue.


When you are inclined to complain, stop and think about your Fortune.


What is your Fortune? Is it money? Fame? Contentment? Family? A spectacular sunset? Tell me.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Fan Girl



It's that time again.

Yes, you heard me. Hockey time. It's only pre-season, but tonight our local sports channel is airing the first Leaf game of the 2008-2009 season.


Every year, the diehards exclaim, "Maybe this will be the year."

Every season, we're disappointed. As the summer wears on and fall approaches, our hope springs forth once again. We're such positive thinkers!

Curtis Joseph, a local boy, first joined the Leafs in 1998, after a stellar stint in Edmonton. He stood on his head year after year to keep the pucks out of the net and earned the adoration of the usually critical Toronto fans. Later, he moved on, and now he has returned as the backup goalie. His nickname is Cujo.

A couple of years ago I saw him in the craft store at the local mall browsing with his wife and daughter. I quickly scanned my brain to come up with a suitable opening line.

I had one. I approached and said, "Funny you should be here when I'm looking for a clock mechanism for my Toronto Maple Leaf Goalie Clock." (I was, really!)

He smiled and said, "Too bad you didn't bring the clock. I could have signed it."

I fished around in my purse for a scrap of paper for him to sign, and I found one of my pet portrait business cards with stuff scribbled on the back. "All I have is my card, and it's got stuff on it."

I handed it to him. He looked at the card and said, "Oh, you paint dogs?"

"And horses," I said. He has horses. Yes, I'm a pathetic hockey fangirl. "You can keep the card."
Hey, why not drum up business?

He handed the card to his daughter. "Here you go."
Damn, she's gonna lose it.

His wife stood nearby, looking slightly annoyed. Afterward, I felt awful for not saying hello to her. She must get that fangirl stuff all the time.

I asked the lady at the counter for a piece of paper, and Curtis gave me a nice autograph for my son.

Wouldn't it be cool if I got a current or former NHLer to read Bad Ice? That would be a blurb to beat all blurbs. I sent an email to Cujo through the Leafs site offering a free book, but no answer. Well, it's worth a try!

When I'm famous, perhaps Cujo will dig up my card and think, "Hey, I have Sandra Cormier's business card! I wonder what it'll get me on EBay?"


Sunday, 14 September 2008

Tea for Eighty


Yesterday I attended a Victorian tea party, part of a fundraiser for a church in Bradford, a neighbouring town. After I crawled around the house looking for two matching black shoes and squeezed into the only dress that still semi fits, I picked up my neighbour Carol and her friend Rosemary.

They had an art sale, with paintings arranged along the pews. Lovely stuff! A big room at the back of the church was filled with ladies of all ages at tables that seated six. Tiered trays were placed at the centre of each table, adorned with little sandwiches and cakes and scones and tea and coffee. Alas, no sherry.

There was a contest for Best Hat, but all I had were cowboy hats and baseball caps. Some of the ladies really worked hard to make their lids attractive. A woman in the corner made hers by hand with satin, pearls and ostrich feathers in the back. It was lovely.

Another lady in her nineties decked out her mother's jewel green wide-brimmed straw hat with flowers from her garden. She even visited the field behind her house and snagged a few clovers to complete the look.

One lady had a red hat with a cardinal perched on the top. A fake one, not a real one.

After the awards were handed out for Best Hat, a woman arrived late - decked out in a wide brimmed hat, white elbow length gloves and a parasol. She was obviously wearing a corset because her décolletage almost grazed her chin.

Her friend at a neighbouring table asked if they could sit with us since there were two chairs free. Victorian Lady sat down and announced she was a writer. Everyone at the table pointed at me. "She's a writer, too."

Our new guest told us she writes for Red Sage under the name Chevon Gael. She's a lively, exuberant lady who's been writing for many years with several novels under her belt. We immediately exchanged cards and passed around to the rest of the table, too. I fully intend to pick her brain for tips on giving readings and signings in our area.

Her friend is a librarian. She graciously listened without interruption while Chevon and I babbled enthusiastically about the e-publishing world. It's refreshing to be able to talk about writing without the listener's eyes glazing over.

I had a great time. In two weeks Carol and I embark on another adventure, all the way to the foot of our street to attend a fund raiser for our local hospital.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Lit Soup has Bad Ice up on her Blog

Jenny Rappaport over at L. Perkins Agency has been kind enough to allow us upwardly mobile authors to promote our books on her blog. Mine is first up! Hop on over to her blog, Lit Soup and have a look.

If you have a book you're promoting, fire her an email!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Bad Ice Available In Print


I was just informed today that Bad Ice is now available at Champagne Books in trade paperback format. I'm ordering a bunch, so Bernita, your copy will be mailed to you soon!

It's not on Amazon yet, but Champagne is pretty good about mail orders, and they'll take a cheque if you don't like to mess with credit cards. I ordered one through the site (as a civilian) and it was pretty easy. I'll let you know how fast it ships!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Fighting Like Cats and Dogs


Yeah. Really. Cats and dogs.

Three years ago, Chester the dog and Ridley the cat had a pretty violent tiff, in which the dog received a poke in the nose, the cat got a hole in his neck, and my husband almost lost a finger. We figured it was super hot that day, the animals were miserable, and the cat hadn't been fixed yet. They kissed and made up, and things were uneventful... until last week.

We put the dog out as usual, but when he came back in, Ridley got right up in his grill and made him nervous. Chester scooted down the hall to get the lamprey off him, but Ridley kept at it, trying to decipher some smell the dog had brought in.

In his rush to get away from the cat, Chester tried to jump on my daughter's bed, but he's not as spry as he used to be. He missed and fell on the cat.

Well, you can imagine how insulted Ridley became. I guess forty pounds of dog landing on your head can be pretty upsetting when you're a cat. He latched onto the dog's face, howling ad hissing. Chester, in a panic, pinned the cat down and gave off the most horrendous high-pitched snarls.

Add the kids' screams to the mix and I ran into the bedroom, shouting at the dog to leave. He scrambled out and we locked the cat in the bedroom to allow him to calm down. The dog just looked confused.

After a day and a half of growls and howls and the judicious use of baby gates, they finally sniffed noses and gave each other the old half-hearted 'guy hug', kinda like Joey and Chandler in Friends.

Monday, 25 August 2008

If I Could Be Like That


I'm watching the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics. We won 18 medals, and local resident Eric Lamaze won individual gold and team silver in Show Jumping, a sport I had followed since I was a teenager. He shed a controversial past and more than one tear as he listened to the Canadian anthem during his medal ceremony.

As I watched the the joy in the faces of the winning athletes during the final montage, I wondered if I could achieve the same absolute feeling that all is right with the world.

Then I realize I already have.

I experienced it with the moment Father Paul announced my marriage to my husband twenty-four years ago today. As I kissed my new spouse, Father Paul touched his shoulder and murmured, "Down, Boy." I resisted the urge to laugh and kissed him all the more deeply.

I felt a similar bliss the moment my children were born. They were both absolutely beautiful, and they still are.

Every time I finish a painting, I sigh with satisfaction, knowing I did the best job I could.

I giggled with delight when I saw an actual ISBN number that validated the existence of my first book. I'm experiencing a similar warm and fuzzy feeling, seeing that my second novel Bad Ice is number 86 among 8000 romance releases on Fictionwise. I know - it's the only indication I have of sales. I don't know if the rating represents five or fifty sales, but I'll take it.

--Photo: Canada's Eric Lamaze rides Hickstead to a gold medal Thursday at the Beijing Games. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Just when she was getting interesting...

My oldest is about to start college. The next ten days will be a flurry of shopping, packing and assurances that everything will be okay.

She's studying for her BA in Arts and Animation at one of the top schools in Canada, Sheridan College. Someday you'll see her work at Pixar! We managed to find her a nice place just across the street from the school, and if she wants to come home for the weekend, she's only a couple of hours away by train or bus, and we can always make the 1.5 hour drive to get her. After all, she'll want a decent meal at least once every couple of weeks.

I have mixed feelings about my oldest youngling leaving the nest. Like any parent, I've been frustrated, infuriated, enraged and worried. She bickers. She swears, calling her brother every name in the book. She won't eat a meal with food touching each other. Shes keep me up at night, yapping in the hallway, slamming her door and complaining she's cold. She doesn't clean the cat's litter box without being hounded for three days.

She says things in a quirky way that doesn't fail to make me laugh. She introduces me to movies and authors I never would have discovered if not for her appreciation of the really funny stuff. She got me hooked on 30 Rock, Arrested Development and The Office. She walks the dog.

I'm a lucky Mom. Many of my peers have complained about teenagers who stay out late, are lazy, unappreciative and belligerent. Some kids smoke, drink and do drugs, either in the open or on the sly. They get into fights, talk back to their parents, and barely scrape by in school. They treat their home like a hotel, expecting their laundry to suddenly appear, all washed and folded in their drawers. Not my kids.

The biggest disagreement I have with my son is his stubborn habit of composing his school essays in Lucida Grande instead of Times New Roman. (I know... first it'll be fonts, then it will lead to cocaine OMG!)

The thing that worries me most about my daughter is that she worries too much. That being said, I have nothing to worry about, except to stop her from worrying.

Will I feel that tug and snap of the apron strings when we finally say goodbye? Will I sit in her room for all of Labour Day, crying into her stuffed toys?

More likely, I'll be turning her bedroom into my writing room. Or not. She'll probably be back for a visit within a couple of weeks, already tired of living on peanut butter sandwiches.

That's okay. I'll welcome her back with open arms, then shove her out the door again.

Illustration: Dog Spacedog in Space - used with permission from my daughter, the creator.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

The Big Dark



Today marks the fifth anniversary of The Big Blackout.

"At 4:11 p.m. ET on Aug. 14, 2003, Ontario and much of the northeastern U.S. were hit by the largest blackout in North America's history. Electricity was cut to 50 million people, bringing darkness to customers from New York to Toronto to North Bay." - CBC online news

I usually work a half day on Thursdays and on that day I was in Toronto with my daughter, shopping at a specialty store for her new school uniform. After our transaction, we left the store and got in the car. I think that was the exact time the lights went out, because when we left the parking lot the traffic lights were out. I thought it was just a localized problem, so we inched our way through and proceeded north.

Every light was out! Obviously, treating a downed intersection like a four-way stop is great in theory, but much harder in practice when dealing with six lanes of rush hour traffic in each direction.

I was running low on gas and we dodged into a gas station. The owner shrugged and shook his head. The pumps weren't working. We switched on the car radio and discovered the power was out in a widespread area. My daughter tried the cell phone but the signal was garbled and whiny.


We felt isolated although we were surrounded by hundreds of other motorists. At a rural intersection north of the city, a Hydro worker in his bright orange overalls directed traffic. It took three surreal hours for us to make it back to my home thirty miles north of Toronto. By then the car was on fumes.


Everyone in the neighbourhood dragged their barbecues to front yards, and an impromptu street party ensued. When the sun went down, the clear sky revealed more stars than I could ever imagine. My neighbour Carol brought out a bottle of Crown Royal and we sipped and talked late into the night. It was too hot to go inside anyway.


I waited Friday morning for a call from my boss before going in to work. I work for a newspaper, so we didn't have the luxury of just not showing up! At 11:00 am I got the call to go in. They had restored power at one of our offices in Richmond Hill. I told my boss I didn't have enough gas to get there, so I went to our local office and helped a colleague stuff our Classified server and a few Imac workstations into his Honda hatchback. We looked like a couple of looters.


We set up in the boardroom of the Richmond Hill Liberal office and managed to put together a decent number of pages by about 11 pm. My boss dozed on a sofa in the foyer, waiting to take me home when I was done.


One printing press that had power got the papers out for the weekend editions. What a team!



Several barbecues and thawed Popsicles later, the power was finally restored by the end of the weekend. I look back on that weekend with fondness, although I'm sure it was a nightmare for a lot of people.


Does anyone else remember their experiences during The Big Blackout?


Edited to add: Our newspaper, The Era-Banner was just awarded Newspaper of the Year (Non-Dailies, Over 37,500 Circulation) by Suburban Newspapers of America! What a team!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Breakfast Special

I'm resurrecting something I posted last spring over at the Romance Writers Unlimited blog. I think it warrants a repeat performance (sorry, Wordtryst, you saw this before).



She shuffles across the worn tiled floor and plucks her pencil from behind her ear. "Hi, I'm Belinda. What'll ya have?"

You pluck a laminated piece of cardboard from between the ketchup and the chrome napkin holder, and notice the All-Day Breakfast Special. For only $3.99 you get three eggs, bacon or sausage, toast, potatoes and juice, accompanied by a bottomless cup of coffee. Sounds good. "Gimme the Breakfast Special."

"Fried, boiled or scrambled?"

"Scrambled."

"Bacon or sausage?"

"Brown or white?"

"Hash browns or home fries?"

"Apple or orange?"

"Decaf or regular?"

In about ten minutes, you have a satisfying plate of Coronary Club for just under four bucks.

Let's mosey down the street to a high-end bistro.

A carefully coiffed waiter approaches, handing over a leather-bound folder.

"Good morning, my name is Alphonse but you can call me Al." Your new best friend slides into the booth and leans forward with a friendly smile. "Our special this morning is the Petit Déjeuner a la New Orleans. It consists of fluffy, mouth-watering scrambled free-range Omega-3 eggs, three crisp slices of grain-fed pancetta, artisan bread toasted to golden perfection, sautéd sliced Yukon gold potatoes, fresh squeezed organic orange juice and a steaming cup of cappuccino made from Fair Trade coffee beans, roasted on the premises."

"Sounds great. How much is it?"

"Only $13.99."

Hell, when you describe it like that, it must be worth the extra ten bucks! Imaginative copy writing has raised the lowly breakfast to a culinary delight.

In case you don't know where I'm going with this, let's discuss one of the Cardinal Sins of the Novel Writer: Telling instead of Showing.

Telling: The barn was burned down.

Showing:
All that remained of the century old barn was a jumble of smoking, blackened lumber surrounded by a low foundation of mottled gray stone. The singed bricks forming the silo stood alone at the rear of the mess, a few forlorn bits of insulation flapping in the cold breeze at its severed summit.

Telling:
He missed his wife.

Showing:

He felt the old, familiar ache lurking around the corner. It advanced until it became a sharp pain. He balled the socks in his hand and gazed at the photo, concentrating on Marion's smile and the warm look in her eyes. He looked at the socks. Normally he would have just left them on the floor, but thinking of Marion, he took the trouble to place them in the hamper.

Can you think of a way to jazz up a menu? Let's try putting a hamburger or shepherd's pie into the Hamptons bracket.

Excerpt One is from my Romantic Suspense, Bad Ice. Excerpt Two is from my WIP, The Yearbook.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

All Things Seventies


They're baaaaack...

Long straight hair, flared jeans, peasant skirts and platform shoes have been making a comeback for the last few years. That
Seventies Show still boogies across the airwaves in reruns. New shows like Swingers show the questionable side of married life when innocence took a back seat to exploration.

Late boomers are feeling nostalgic for the old Donny Osmond posters, Volkswagen buses and kitsch kitchens. Some never left the seventies -- that goddawful brown paneling is still on my basement walls.

My kids are discovering the cool sounds of the Seventies - no, not disco, but good stuff like Joni Mitchell, The Stones and The Doobie Brothers. Gotta love those classic rock radio stations.

I am currently working on a cross-genre novel in which half is written in the POV of a sixteen-year-old girl when she goes to an unfamiliar school in 1975 and falls for a boy who doesn't know she's alive.

The other half is in the POV of the boy, all grown up. He meets the girl, now a woman. He's a widower and a father of a young boy, and she's a divorced mom. They are drawn together by her son's illness and he helps her deal with the situation, since he lost his wife to cancer.

In writing this book, the seventies are taking centre stage. Memories are flooding into my brain with such clarity, I want to go back. I want to return to those days when we looked into the future and saw a million possibilities. As a young person, I still saw the world with clear eyes and mostly missed the political turmoil entangled amongst the Peter Frampton concerts and Saturday Night Live.

My daughter, who is now nineteen, says she likes the seventies because they were so weird, and hates the era because it was so gross.

How do we treat novels about the seventies? Are new novels set in the seventies still considered contemporary, or are they now seen as historical? Will publishing suddenly have a glut of books set in that era?

I want to go into the minds of agents and publishers to find out if books set in the seventies will fly in the next couple of years. I don't want to submit and get the answer, "No one reads books about the seventies."

Edited to add: A commercial just came on, selling the complete collection from "Midnight Special" - live performances from - you guessed it - The Seventies.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Warming Up The Grill


It's that time again! Tomorrow, July 24th from 9am to 9pm, my friend Chris Eldin and Roastmistress Phoenix are set to roast me and my novel, Bad Ice at this month's Book Roast. Drop by for the party! The party goer with the best answers to Phoenix's clever trivia questions will win a pdf copy of Bad Ice.

Now, I know some of you prefer the old fashioned paper books, so as a special bonus I will arrange to send an autographed print copy to the winner when it becomes available this fall/winter!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Lost in Hamilton

Most of my father's relatives live in the Hamilton area, but every time we visit, it takes a few tries before we figure out where the heck we're going. Over twenty-five years, I think we had to have a dozen relatives come get us because we could never remember where Uncle Tony's farm was.

You know the kind of directions local people give: "Turn left at the little bridge, there'll be a fork in the road, take the left fork, then turn right at the first gravel road you see."

Poor Hamilton's track record was already poor in my husband's opinion. During the NHL lockout we attended an outdoor charity NHL game at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium. With all the one-way streets and roundabouts, we finally stumbled on the stadium in a shower of sleet and sloppy snow. Hubby was not amused. He sat under a plastic poncho (we paid $5.00 for something we could have bought for a buck in a dollar store) for three hours, watching a bunch of wet and miserable NHL players a mile away in the middle of a football field.

Yesterday we were supposed to gather with the rest of the clan for the annual Cormier picnic at a conservation area. We had gone last year, so at least we knew where it was. However, in spite of the clear blue sky in Newmarket, I received a phone call yesterday that the picnic was canceled because of the possibility of thunderstorms in the Niagara region.

We laid aside our plan to make fried chicken and bean salad, and instead prepared to meet my father, sister and brother with their spouses at a motel in Hamilton for an afternoon visit and dinner out.

We left a little late -- the kids wanted to pack enough electronic paraphernalia to entertain a Boy Scout troop, although the only other child would be my eight-year-old niece.

I had diligently copied my stepmom's detailed directions to the motel and printed out Google Map instructions as well, but in my rush to leave, I left the handwritten note with the phone number on the coffee table, thinking the Google instructions would suffice.

We decided to take the toll highway and almost missed the exit. Hubby crossed four lanes of sparse traffic to hit the ramp for the 403, and we continued through steadily darkening skies. When we approached Hamilton, the clouds opened and poured buckets of rain on us. Traffic slowed to 40 km/hr and we followed a red 4x4, the only vehicle visible in the muck. I had to squint through the side window to see the exit sign, but we found Main Street West.

It's a one way street with five lanes. We drove through the downtown area in the middle lane, but cars in the far left lane plowed through six inch deep puddles, sending a mini tsunami onto the sidewalk. At one point, a lady huddled under an umbrella and watched in horror as an arc of solid water rushed toward her. I could see her whole body flinch, but the offending car thankfully slowed just before reaching her, so she was spared the Bridget Jones treatment.

We kept going through the deluge, but it seemed we were on Main St. West an awfully long time, then it turned into Main St. East. The rain eased and we peered at buildings that appeared more and more disheveled, with rusty fire escapes and boarded up storefronts.

"Dad couldn't have taken a room here. It's not like him." My dad always chose neat and tidy accommodations when they visited Ontario. This area was definitely not on the tidy side.

I pulled out the map of Hamilton and peered at impossible small printing to find out where we were, but nothing looked familiar. After turning around twice and more than a little swearing, my husband pulled into a parking lot, got out of the car and stomped into a convenience store to ASK FOR DIRECTIONS WITHOUT BEING TOLD. I was so proud of him.

He came back and said, "We're going the wrong way." We searched for landmarks on the map and discovered we were actually in the east end of Hamilton, not the west. "I hate this %$#@ town," he muttered as we meandered through four one-way streets before finally heading in the right direction.

We arrived an hour late, frazzled and silent, to a tiny motel room crammed with happy relatives. After a beer and a wholesome dinner at Boston Pizza, we felt better.

When the evening ended, we found Highway 403 in five minutes flat.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Ask A Canadian


Kanani gave me a great idea. I scooted over to her blog to check out her friend Gustavo Arallano's book Ask A Mexican, and it got me thinking about how the rest of the world views Canadians.

We seem to come across as some mysterious entity that insists it doesn't want to be noticed, and yet performs in such a way that we
are noticed. For example, look at Jim Carrey or Mike Myers. Not exactly shy fellows.

I think I'll have some fun and invite questions about us from non-Canadians. You can try me with anything from beer to moose to hockey. I don't promise to be accurate - in fact, I'll probably be wildly inaccurate.

Kanani asked me in a post:

Dear Canadian,

What's with the aboot? Do Canadians say this because there's no other way to distinguish themselves from Americans, or to put a barrier between them and the rest of the Commonwealth? Or is this just some natural genetic flaw?

Dear Non-Canadian,

I honestly don't think I say 'aboot' but maybe some Maritimers do. When listening to Americans speak, they seem to broaden their vowels and say 'abaaawhut'. Maybe it's because they're warm and lazy from sitting in the sunshine drinking mint juleps.

We Canadians tend to shorten our vowels and speak faster. Maybe it's because we're so damn cold all the time we need to get the words out quickly so we can go inside where it's warm.

Canadians have no genetic flaws. We are perfect.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

We Have A Winner

Tonight, a slow line of cars rolls down our little residential street as the local citizens take in the annual fireworks display at George Richardson Park. I used to climb on our roof to watch the show, but the trees have grown too high.

Usually, I'd join the exodus, but tonight I sit at my computer and tabulate the answers to my trivia questions about our lovely country. There were a couple of 'wild card' questions with several possible answers, and I received some really imaginative ones.

Travis, you seem to have a special place in your heart for our dear Pam Anderson, who is a real smart cookie besides being well endowed. You made me laugh with your attempts to upstage Bernard.

Stephen, you gave it a great run, and you might be right about the beer, since you live in a country where beer is probably stronger.

Wordtryst, you tried really hard, but living in Paradise probably affects your accuracy.

Barbara, as a fellow Canadian, you came close, oh so close.

Mlh, you get brownie points for sucking up.

But the one who got all the answers right (kudos for the aboriginal name for Niagara Falls) is...

Bernard!

Tell me how you'd like your electronic copy of Bad Ice. I can either email a pdf or burn it on a CD and snail mail it to you in the format of your choice.

Thank you all for dropping by. This was so much fun and I really appreciate your support. Don't forget, you have another chance to win at the end of July over at Book Roast.


Monday, 30 June 2008

BAD ICE Electronic Release Today

Happy Canada Day!

What better occasion (Hey, Jessica, I spelled it right!) to celebrate our country's birthday than to release a romantic suspense about Hockey?

Just for fun, I thought I'd give away pdf copy of my book with a trivia contest. Not just any contest, but a Canadian trivia contest. You don't have to have all the answers right, but please try - I'll either draw the winner from all entries received, or simply pick the person who amuses me and is mostly right.

But first, a word from our sponsor. A brief blurb about Bad Ice:

When hockey fan Christina Mackey prevents a murder attempt aimed at her idol Jason Petersen, the hockey scene she'd always worshiped from the outside suddenly surrounds her.

Jason had entertained a succession of beautiful women since his rookie year, but none were a substitute for his first relationship, which had ended in tragedy. When he meets his saviour, Christina's gentle spirit reawakens him, and her daughter Mishayla reminds him of the child he could have had.


Jason discovers his girlfriend Sheila is behind the attempt on his life. He breaks off their relationship but Sheila won't let go. Her devotion to drugs and alcohol are second only to her obsession with Jason and his lifestyle. She uses lies, threats and manipulation in trying to get him back.


As Jason's feelings grow toward the widow who saved him, his past threatens not only their happiness, but Christina's innocent daughter as well.


Here is an excerpt:

Jason glanced at the nurse and shifted from one foot to the other. He mumbled something Christina couldn’t quite catch.

She raised her eyebrows. “Excuse me?”


He tried again. “Could I take you out for coffee or lunch or something after you get out of here?” His stage whisper was clearly intended to escape Phil's attention, but the nurse only chuckled and hummed louder.


Christina thought about the phone call. She silently argued with herself, but eventually, curiosity overcame caution. She leaned back on her pillow and said, “Hmmm.”
What the hell, I’m all grown up. I can take whatever comes my way. It’s only coffee...or lunch...or something. "Of course, I'd be delighted."

Jason’s blue eyes lit up. “Great! I’ll give you my number. Or you give me yours. No, you won’t be home yet. I’ll give...” He patted his pockets, searching for something to write on.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere for a while.” His flustered behavior amused and surprised her. Not your typical super jock. “Just drop by again in a few days. We’ll probably have something written down by then.”

He sketched a brief salute and pushed at the door. It didn’t move.

“I think you’re supposed to pull it,” she said, hiding her smile behind her hand. He glanced at her with a shy, embarrassed grin and violently yanked the door open to rejoin his friend.

She glanced across the room at Phil. He raised his eyes innocently to the ceiling and sauntered from the room. Off-key strains of “Love is In the Air” drifted from the hallway before the door closed with a soft clunk.


If you don't win, you'll have another chance at the end of the month on Book Roast.

Okay, let's drop the puck:

1. Give me a unique Canadian word. Example: Toboggan.

2. Who wore No. 99 in the National Hockey League?

3. Give me an alternate name for the Canadian Niagara Falls.

4. What Canadian was known as 'America's Sweetheart?"

5. What famous Canadian actor was born in Newmarket and recently became an American citizen?

6. What is the Canadian term for a sweetened carbonated beverage?

7. Name a Canadian invention.

8. Officially, how old is Canada today? (My son will argue this one.)

9. What is the Canadian word for sofa?

10. What is the alcohol content of typical Canadian beer?

I'll take answers until 9 p.m. Eastern tonight. Come on in, have a beer and a laugh. I'll drop in often. Good luck! For those who don't win, please buy an e-copy of my book. It's easy and inexpensive. If you really like it, you can buy a print version when the real hockey season starts, or at least recommend it to a friend.

Tune in Tomorrow...





... for a contest! Drop by Tuesday, July 1 for some Canada Day fun.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

A Different Bob

No, this isn't about Uncle Bob, my next-door neighbour who sold a skunky pinto to a stranger. This is about a long-time colleague at my newspaper who recently retired after forty years in the Production Department. We put together a fake newspaper all about Bob. I wrote a little article about his fictitious life before his newspaper career, and included Photoshopped versions of him in his 'fabulous' roles. I'm sure he won't mind if I repeat my story here:

Whatever Happened to Bob Greenfield?

Long gone are the days when Robert Greenfield's handsome visage graced the front pages of every newspaper and magazine in the country. Many wonder what this Renaissance man had been up to in the last forty years.

This persistent journalist was fortunate to run into Mr. Greenfield at a local g
arden centre. After much persuasion, Bob agreed to a brief interview. By chance, he happened to have in his possession a fine collection of photographs depicting his glorious past.

Today, he sits on the other side of a battered Formica table at the local Tim Horton's, a cup of coffee cradled in his big hands.

He wasn't always the statuesque specimen he is today. He once enjoyed a lucrative apprenticeship in the Sport of Kings. Yes, folks, he was a jockey. At Saratoga Springs, he started out cleanin
g stalls and soon moved up to apprentice rider. As a youth, he was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time when famed horseman Red Pollock failed to show for a race. Ready in a flash, Bob rode the intrepid Seabiscuit to victory in a key race.

After an unfortunate growth spurt, Mr. Greenfield hitchhiked from Saratoga to the City of Angels, hoping to find his fortune in Hollywood.

Always the lucky dude, he was discovered by the famous agent Duke Diggem while shopping for vegetable seeds at one of California's first garden centres. Diggem signed him on the spot.
Greenfield promptly landed a plum role opposite Debbie Reynolds in the Oscar-winning "Please Don't Eat The Tomato Plants." At
the same time, he starred in the tense detective drama "For Madame With Malice."
His blockbuster year earned him two Oscars.



Bob buried himself in his roles, often performing his own stunts. He kept in shape by participating in various sports like boxing and ice hockey.

He even used his residual funds to finance a trip to Nepal, where he successfully scaled Mount Everest.

His fame and fortune quickly preceded him wherever he went. Whether on the red carpet at a
movie premiere or during dinner at The Longhorn Steakhouse, crowds gathered to ask for autographs. Blinded by flashbulbs and numbed by generous offers to father many babies, Bob found public life increasingly difficult.

When he saw the Hel
p Wanted advertisement in the Era, he gleefully took the welcome plunge into anonymity. For forty years, he quietly produced the pages of the local newspaper, relieved that he was no longer in its headlines. And he's been there ever since.

I finally ask him, "So, Mr. Greenfield, what have you
been up to?"

"Well," he replies in his low drawl, "I kept pretty busy clicking buttons, looking at my computer, going home for a lovely lunch prepared by Mother, and collecting coffee money." He grins. "That is, until today."

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Publishers Weekly

One of my publishers, The Wild Rose Press, got a mention in this week's Publisher's Weekly. It's an article about Erotica E-Publishing. You can read it here. Problem is they spelled the Publisher's name wrong. Her name is Rhonda Penders (not Peters) and she's a peach.

Right now I'm going over my galley for Bad Ice (my other publisher), checking for spelling errors. I received it yesterday and was supposed to return my errata report this morning, but I'm forgiven because it was so late. Nonetheless, I'm in a freakin' hurry to finish it so it can be released in time.

I'd better get it done quickly, because on the third week of July, Bad Ice will be featured on the Book Roast! The free book will be either a download or a CD of my book. I'm the guinea pig of the bunch. I'll work out the details later. Don't worry, Roastmaster Phoenix, I'll send my excerpt as soon as I can.

Pardon me if I run!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

I Heart Polo


This morning I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and made fried chicken.

After all, my daughter and I needed a kick-ass picnic for the Polo For Heart tournament. Top teams from North and South America compete for a trophy, and all proceeds go to The Heart & Stroke Foundation.

Today, rain threatened and we almost turned back for home. I remember about five years ago, storms flooded the playing field and the event was canceled. That was the year I went to the auction tent afterward and procured a signed Wendel Clark game stick for a hundred bucks. For those who aren't up on their sports trivia, he was a pretty decent 70's hockey player.

We didn't get washed out today. Just a few sprinkles. Usually I get to sit at the Corporate table on the south side of the field, but this time we received regular passes, so my daughter and I went slumming with the regular patrons on the north side. We dragged a couple of folding chairs and a small patio table onto the grass, shielded from any wayward polo balls by a low hedge. We shoved our little cooler under the table and nibbled on fried chicken, veggie sticks and strawberries.

Normally, I put a lot more thought into the picnic fare for these events. For us, the big prize isn't the trophy for the polo players, it's the privilege of being named 'best picnic'. Patrons go all out, giving themed picnics with props and gourmet meals. Last year's winner was an African Safari with stuffed monkeys, fake zebra rugs and all that jazz.

Someday, when I have a few days to prepare, I'll purloin my mom's ornate brass mishwe dish and cook up a fabulous Mediterranean feast. I'll drape brightly coloured striped fabric all over my picnic area. It'll be in all the social pages.

In the meantime, I'm researching an idea for a future novel. Howzabout a little romantic suspense with a charity polo match as the setting? Hmmmm?



BTW, I've been informed that the e-book relase of Bad Ice is on July 1st. Canada Day! Shall we have a little partay?

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Chris Comes Up With Another Gem

Announcing the Grand Opening of Book Roast, a fun blog where books are served up for a bit of fun promotion and critiquing. This is a tempting expansion of Chris Eldin's already successful Author Week stints. I was a 'Roastee' a few weeks ago, and it was great fun. Drop by to comment! Win prizes!

Did I mention prizes?

Monday, 16 June 2008

Alert!

Normally, I'm not a big fan of popularity or beauty contests, but I have to tell you that Gawker has its annual Hotties in Publishing Poll up, and one of my favourite agents is in the running. He is a kind and helpful agent who offers great advice on his blog and on Absolute Write. He also received brownie points from me for mentioning my humble name on his blog. Yes, he did reject Bad Ice, but he was right -- it needed more work at the time. I certainly plan to submit to him in the future. Go, Nathan Bransford!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

I'll Take Door Number...?

I've been doing a bit of thinking about my path to publication, such that it is. When Stephen Parrish posted my latest book cover on his blog (thanks, Steve!) he mentioned a few lines from The Little Mermaid, ending with, "Wish I could be part of that world."

Sometimes I do feel like a little guppy swimming with the big fishies. Will I be one of them someday? I hope so. My chances increase with the support of people like Stephen,
Chris, Pat, Joanie, John and Bernita... well, the list could go on and on.

Did I pick the right door with my first book? With my second? I'm not here to complain. They might do well (eventually) but they could bomb, too. Some people in the industry dismiss e-publishers and the POD business plan as a bad choice -- that the author is only hurting his or her chances at success. Some say an author seeking representation shouldn't mention their published e-books. How can a small publisher with hundreds of authors give one little book the attention it deserves? How do authors get their books into 'brick and mortar' stores? Are they shooting themselves in the foot?


Maybe. But not always. Some authors are content to be part of a large group, happily releasing e-book after e-book and reaping modest financial rewards. Some e-publishers are successful while others are not. I know a few e-published authors who now have representation with their subsequent books.

I'm no expert on the ins and outs of publishing, so I won't stick my neck out and enter a debate about who's right and who's wrong. I can only tell you what works for me. I don't regret my decision to release my first two novels with e-publishers. They are both terrific companies and they are helping me learn the ins and outs of publishing, promotion and marketing on a modest scale. These strangers told me I don't suck at writing. It gives me motivation to keep trying.

I consider this stage in my writing career to be a growth stage. Some of my writer friends hit the ground running, finding success right out of the gate. I'm simply taking baby steps, sniffing the air and making friends along the way. As long as my writing brings a smile or a tear to a single face, I consider myself a success.


Every writer must choose the door that works best for him or her. Hopefully, it won't be a closet!


It won't be long before I find the key to that big publishing door, and the one beyond that, and the one beyond that.


Then watch me.