Saturday, 28 February 2009

A Tribute to a Young Woman

One of my readers, Michelle, has asked me to tell you about a memorial service for a young woman from my town who was murdered a year ago. If you live in the area north of Toronto, please offer your support.

Here's what she said to me:

"Since you work at the Economist you must be aware of the beautiful young lady that was murdered in York Region last year - Brenda Healey... They posted a memorial for her in the paper for March 8th which is also International Women's Day. Just wondered if you could post or mention it on your blog for all those who are able to come and support this family. You and yours suffered such a great loss last year and I am sure you can understand why the more people that show the more support the family will feel."

Here is a link to the local news story with the details about the service.
Here is a more recent article from the newspaper I work for.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Make Him Stop Stopping

For everyone who knows Stephen Parrish, get thee over to his blog and give him a smack upside the head. He thinks he's gonna stop blogging? Hah!

Although he is unpublished at the moment, he is a brilliant writer and has often inspired me to improve my craft. I'll never be as talented, and I think it sucks that he's so frustrated he wants to give up blogging in order to concentrate on writing.

In this day and age, blogging and writing go hand in hand. It's like cutting off your hand!

ETA: I guess he needs to do what he needs to do. It's selfish of me to try to change his mind. Sometimes blogging can seem like more of a chore than writing.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Bitches Are Unleashed

The Toast Bitches

Released Sunday, February 22, 2009 from Ravenous Romance in e-book format

Hana, Paige, Connie and Pepper form a lasting bond at Dempster Media, gathering in the break room for tea and toast. When Pepper leaves the company, the girls add a new venue - Paige's cottage in the woods - where, over cocktails and gossip, the four friends trade secrets and sex tips.

Pepper abandons her domestic life, restlessly flitting from man to man looking for the perfect balance of sex and compatibility. Will she find it, or was it always right in front of her?

Sweet, sexy Connie's infinite patience can't save her when her jealous husband leaves her for another woman. Now single, she attempts to relocate her sensuality with a hunky handyman.

Paige is the earth mother, sprinkling snippets of advice like herbs on a salad. Married to her high school sweetheart, she seems to have the perfect life. But she carries her own secrets...

Small-town Hana tests her sexual boundaries with hot editor Adam, but she gets more than she bargained for. When he asks her to experiment with BDSM, she panics and calls off the relationship, setting off a chain of catastrophic events that brings the four women closer than ever.

Sexy, hilarious, and wise, The Toast Bitches is erotic chick lit at its finest!


Before she could move, he turned to face her, toweling his hands. "Ah, you're here. Glad you made it on time. Sorry about the mess. We had a little shindig last night and I still had some cleaning up."

"Uh…" She pulled an envelope from her bag. "Here's my resume. Don't you think your office would have been a better meeting place?"

"No, this is fine."

"But this is for the ad coordinator job, right?" She looked for a computer but only glimpsed a closed laptop on the kitchen table.

He didn't seem to be listening. He left the kitchen, beckoning her to follow. She walked behind him with a sense of trepidation.

In the washed-out brightness of the living room, he crossed his arms and looked her up and down as if he was taking her measurements. He frowned and shook his head. "Can you please take off your coat?"

She didn't like the appraising look in his eyes. "I think I'll leave it on, thank you."

Was he into drugs? Was he using his newspaper ads to troll for women? Should she quietly reach into her purse and hold down a button on her cell phone to call 911?

"Suit yourself. You look about the right size, anyway." He drew a large white cardboard box from under the oak coffee table and opened it. Inside nestled a blazing red silk nightie, trimmed in black lace.

Hana stared at the garment. What the hell kind of staff was this guy looking for? She wasn't even hired yet and he was already well on the road to a sexual harassment suit. "I don't think this was part of the deal."

"Deal? You said on the phone you were okay with it."

"Listen, I'll help put together your newspaper, but I'm not wearing that! Are you crazy?"

He straightened and regarded her with a quizzical expression. "You're the model for our piece on Valentine’s Day, aren't you?"

"No!" She instinctively gathered her wool coat close around her neck.

"You're not Shannon Fields?"

"No, I'm Hana Shields. I applied for the ad coordinator job."

His puzzled expression slowly morphed into a slow smile. He flopped onto the leather sofa and held his hand over his eyes, shaking with laughter.

At the same time, the rising tension in Hana's neck suddenly melted. It was a mistake. Just a mistake. His laugh sounded nice, like the sun that warmed the Oriental rug.

Mr. Preston finally wiped his eyes and sat up. "Well, then I guess this is definitely not part of the deal." He leaned forward and closed the cardboard lid, hiding the scarlet silk from view.

Friday, 20 February 2009

I LIKE it!

So... waddaya think?

I'll post a proper link on Sunday when The Toast Bitches are released, but I couldn't wait to show everyone the cover.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Thursday Thirteen: The Downside of Staycation

(Cross posted on The Writer's Vineyard)

I'm home from work this week because I forgot to book vacation time through 2008, and I have to use it up by the end of March. So here I sit 'cause I have nowhere to go. The rest of the family is busy with work and school. The cat and dog carry on as usual, napping the day away.

People say, "Great! You can get some rest, or you can do some writing, or catch up on those pesky tasks that have been ignored, etc."

As if.

Here are my reasons Staycation doesn't work for me:

1. Television Sucks in the Daytime.
I have a gazillion digital channels plus HD. Do you think I can find a single television program I'd be interested in? I flip channels like a sniper and am inundated with reality shows, inane talk shows and courtroom dramas.

2. Too Many DVDs
. The vast array of movies makes my brain turn to mush. I can't decide on one. I pluck a title from the rack, hit Play and five minutes later I'm bored so I yank it out and try another one.

3. The Internet.
I surf endlessly and end up going full circle. How much useless information can I possibly absorb in one day - er, one week?

4. I Should Be Writing.
But I'm not. My best writing time is after everyone has gone to bed. During the day, time slips by and suddenly it's time to pick up the boy from school. I have zero self-motivation.

5. Crappy Weather.
I know I'm Canadian and a hockey fan and all that, but I am the first to admit that I really hate winter. If I was in California or Florida or Phoenix or Mexico, I'd at least get outside for sunshine and fresh air, but it's too damn cold, wet and slimy.

6. Guilt.
I should be taking the dog for daily walks since I now have the time. See above for Crappy Weather.

7. Housework? I'm on Vacation!
Who wants to catch up on six months of housework and laundry, or rearrange furniture when she is supposed to be having a fabulous vacation? I throw a couple of loads in the washer just to stave off the guilt.

8. Spending Time With Friends.
What friends? They're all at work.

Home Improvement Shows remind me what a crap-hole my house really is.

Co-Workers. I try to hide, but they know where to find me.

Food. It's right there within arm's reach, taunting me. Calling to me. Screaming at me. 'Nuf said.

Drink. It's right there... well, you get the picture.

13. Time. It's all over too soon. Thank goodness my next staycation is in two more weeks!

Image: Brent Butt on Staycation courtesy of Corner Gas

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Am I back?

For some reason all my posts disappeared and I freaked out.

I Take It Back

Yeah, yeah; I know what I said last year about Valentine's Day. Too much pressure, yadda yadda. Corporate greed, etc.

But... here's some chocolate anyway, 'cause I love you guys.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Passing It On

An author friend lost her older sister recently. Not only did she feel the loss of a dear sibling, but also the loss of the stories that disappeared with her. It reminded me of the many stories that might be locked up in the heads of our loved ones.

When I was an adolescent, my Grampy Louis Bernard told me about the day he was thrown from the back of a cart twenty miles away from the Halifax Explosion. Mom shared her childhood friendships and the songs she like to sing while sitting on the steps with her best friend Joanie (who also became an author).

Dad told me about his pet raccoon, and the time he saved his brother from falling down a mine shaft. At least, that's what I remember! I regret that his parents passed away when I was only seven or eight, but I remember a colourful story my great-uncle Edgar told about a mishap involving his wife, a carpet, and his buddies in the Royal Canadian Legion. My father was clever enough to plant a microphone on Uncle Edgar's hat during a Christmas gathering and I played that recording over and over again, enjoying Edgar's charming Acadian accent.

My adopted uncle Bob who lived next door for most of my life told me of the longest NHL playoff game. Ever. He also shared his story of the big snowstorm when he had to deliver Thanksgiving turkeys by sleigh because the roads were too bad for regular wheels. Oh, and also
the story about the skunky pony.

Some of us are eager to hear the stories of those who have walked the Earth before us, and others can't see past the arguments and misunderstandings that build up over a lifetime or two. When relatives with their own valuable experiences pass on, their memories remain locked in their brains, never to be shared with the rest of us.

If you have aunts, uncles or grandparents - or even older sisters, ask them about the things that shaped their lives. You'd be amazed at the treasures you might uncover.

Image: Louis Bernard, my grandfather on my mother's side during his youth in the early 1900's

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Fear of Book Signings

During my lunch hour I worked up the nerve to visit my local Chapters bookstore to inquire about selling my book on consignment. I took my one remaining copy of Bad Ice, a typed press release and a letter of introduction with me. I packaged the whole thing in a pocket folder with a dark blue marble pattern that looks like the scarred surface of a pond on a cold Canadian day.

The consignment manager wasn't in, but another manager was kind enough to take my kit and give me information. She flipped through the book, inspected the back and asked if it was fiction. I assured her it was, and pointed out the press release containing a blurb and the two reviews I had received so far. *Note to self: beg for more reviews*

She apparently liked what she saw and suggested I coordinate the consignment and my upcoming newspaper profile with a book signing.

My heart lurched at the mention of a book signing. She must have seen the fear in my eyes and assured me, "Oh, it's easy. Our schedule isn't too full and you can book it a couple of weeks in advance. We put a table right at the front and put up some posters."

I've seen the posters. I've also read horrifying accounts of authors left sitting by themselves with hordes of shoppers avoiding eye contact. I've also heard about signings when the author only brought twenty books and a hundred people showed up. What to do?

I asked, "What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do I get the newspaper article out first and then schedule the signing?"

She suggested I make the signing shortly after the newspaper article. Many authors have had profiles in the local paper but never informed the bookstore. When customers came in asking for the book, the poor staff had no idea what they were talking about.

My other dilemma is book supply. Since Chapters has a strict ordering protocol, I still haven't seen Bad Ice on their database. Therefore it is up to me to supply the books. I'm still waiting for my shipment of 15 books that I ordered back in December. My publisher is chasing down the order right now.

It wouldn't be a problem if it didn't cost me megabucks in shipping to order my author copies. Then the bookstore takes 45% of the cover price. This is the part that confuses me. At first glance, I'm actually paying to allow my readers to enjoy Bad Ice.

Hmm.... maybe I can write it off in my taxes as a loss. At least local readers will be able to read a book with a familiar setting. Plus, if I get lots of inquiries, Chapters might put Bad Ice on their database.

I have yet to hear from the consignment manager. Is fifteen copies too much or not enough? Should I order more? Will they order directly from the publisher if sales go well?

This is all new to me. I'm basically going into this on my own and I'm scared as all heck, but I'm goin' in.

Cover me.