Category Archives: It’s All About The Writing

Free Books and other Fun Things

September is a wonderful time to start new projects (and I want to tell you about mine) but first I’d like to announce that I sent Emily from North Carolina an autographed book last week. Why? Simply because she’s on my Newsletter Mailing List–and I appreciate that. Once a month (and sometimes more often than that) I select someone randomly  from the list and send them a book. I’m picking a name today. Will it be you? Perhaps–if you’re on the list. And if you’re not, why don’t you sign up now?

It’s been a busy summer. I wrote two novellas which I’m very excited about. One of them is Promise Me, Cowboy. The cover is a bit of a departure from my usual–I’d love you know what you think of it?
sept long weekend 2013 014

In between my writing projects, there was lots of time for fun this summer, such as buying cherries and huckleberries at the Farmers’ Market in Polson Montana. I used the huckleberries in a crisp/crumble for dessert and it was delicious. I’m making my crisps without butter or sugar these days, using the suggestion in Gwynth Paltrow’s new cookbook to make a crust with oatmeal, almond flour, maple syrup and olive oil. Maybe that sounds strange, but it’s really yummy!

And now for the new project…it’s going to be a spin off from my Promise Me, Cowboy novella. The story will be about older sister Mattie Carrigan who lives with her cowboy husband on his family ranch where they raise Tennessee Walking Horses. More on that in future posts.

For now, let me wish you a happy and productive first week of September! (With a little time left over for reading, of course.)


Summer and New Projects

Just finished a one week writers retreat with authors Roxy Buroughs and Brenda Collins. Must say, even ten hour days don’t seem like work when I’m at the cottage at Flathead lake. We’ll be posting more information about this project soon. Stay tuned for details…

Bird's view of Flathead Lake
Bird’s view of Flathead Lake






In the photo below, Roxy and Brenda are taking a minute to read my latest Coffee Creek book on the deck. Yes, we did take some time off to relax now and then…including dinner at the lovely town of Big Fork one night.


June and July 2013 081



But mostly we ate in, one evening trying the lemon and fresh herbed chicken and the fruit cobbler from Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cook book, It’s All Good. Both recipes were delicious!


So how is your summer going so far? Been someplace beautiful? Tried a new delicious recipe? Read an amazing book? If so, please share!






Starting a new project = Pinterest Time!

Lately, when I’m about to start a new project, I begin by creating a board on Pinterest and gathering images that I hope will inspire and guide me. Committing to a new story is serious business. Months of precious time, spanning several years, will be required for the project, so I want to make sure I’m choosing a story that will worth this big investment. Right now I’m working on a Pinterest board called Twisted Cedars. A few months ago I released the first of several mysteries I hope to write set in this fictional, coastal town in Oregon.

A lot happens in A Buried Tale, and while my readers discover the “whodunit” at the end of the story, there are also a lot of loose threads. Because murder is a messy business. And it leaves damage and mayhem in its wake.

Damage and mayhem that I will need to deal with in this new book, while, at the same time, introducing a new mystery.

So, as I mull over ideas for the next Twisted Cedars story, I find myself thinking about my characters and how they’ve been coping in the months since I wrote about them last. I feel myself about to sink back into the vortex of their world. But, as if afraid of the commitment, I hesitate. And pin another image to my Pinterest Board…

Road to Twisted Cedars

Coming This Spring

Springtime to me means many things. It’s the season for tulips, my favorite flower.

It’s time for filing income taxes, too–definitely not one of my favorite things.

And for me, this year, it’s also going to mean some major spring cleaning. In fact, I’m redecorating my office, a project I hope to share with you over the next few months. Keep posted for my “before” and “after” photos.

This year spring, for me, will also mean writing deadlines. I have so many projects in the works, even I can hardly keep them straight. But this is a good thing, right? Watch for lots of sneak peeks, contests, and hopefully some new book covers coming soon!



Writing With Bears

Just back from a five day writing retreat with authors Jane Porter and Barbara Dunlop. We’ve traveled to Banff, Kelowna and Saltspring in the past for our retreats. This time we headed to Whistler and indeed there were bears! Jane was out for a walk when she came almost nose to nose with a black bear munching on spring greenery. She then had the fastest sprint ever back to our townhouse! Barb tried to send her back to get a photo, but she wouldn’t do it. So I had to publish this photo of us at the Fairmont instead:

whistler 2011
After ourTea
So what gets accomplished on a writer’s retreat? Well, for the three of us, there was sharing of pages and ideas, brainstorming plots and careers, and, amazingly, not as much consuming of wine and chocolate as usual. (But yes, there was some of that!)

I brought along a writer’s retreat “kit” with ideas for making the most of the occasion. Mostly we giggled through ideas such as: “create an altar,”  “ring meditation bells,” “consult an oracle.” We decided that for us, success as writers comes from  not giving up, from putting in the sweat and the hard work, from acknowledging that good writing and good storytelling is never easy–no matter how many books you have under your belt.

And speaking of books under the belt…we were amazed to realize that between us we have almost 100 books published…this in the span of the twelve years since we first met as unpublished writers at a Singletree Conference in Victoria.

So, now it’s back to real life and planning the next retreat…

Back from RT Conference

Nobody promised me that Los Angeles was going to be warmer than Calgary, but I had my expectations. California versus Alberta? Should have been a slam dunk, right?

Unfortunately, L.A. greeted us with cold, wind and clouds. The bad weather, however, was offset by good times and interesting workshops.

I’m always intrigued by the opportunity to meet a bestselling author and hear him or her speak about their writing process. Dean Koontz was no exception. The man has a wonderful sense of humor and a true dedication to his craft. I had no choice but to power up my Kindle and order a book. I chose: The Husband and am finding it a fast-paced and high-stakes read.

 Over breakfast Superromance author Debra Salonen and I had a nice chance to chat and I was able to congratulate her on her RT Award for Best Superromance of 2010. Make sure you check out Deb’s wonderful hero Rufus in: Until He Met Rachel . And don’t you just love that title, too?

Deb Salonen and me at RT 2011

Now, back to sunny Alberta and my writing desk…

The Story Behind The Book Cover

People often ask me if I have input into my book covers, and the answer is, Yes, I do, but I don’t get to see the cover beforehand, nor do I get any sort of final approval. So the unveiling of a new book cover is always a moment of excitement, tinged with anxiety. (What if the cover is terrible? What if I absolutely hate it? What if it doesn’t fit my story at all?)

Luckily, I have loved almost all my book covers and most of them have suited my stories very well. This is not too surprising, as there is a thorough process that is followed for every single book.

Shortly after completing the revisions on a story, I am asked to fill in a questionairre called the “Art Fact Sheet.” This is my opportunity to communicate with the Marketing Department and the Artists who will be designing the cover for my book.

I start by providing a description of my main characters (which is sometimes a challenge as I often don’t know certain details about them myself. Since I focus mainly on my character’s personality and interior thoughts, I may not even have selected an eye color! So at this stage, I may need to retroactively give them one!)

Next I write a synopses of the story (which is always harder than it sounds)  and finally I suggest 3 “possible” scenes for the cover. More often than not, my scene suggestions have made it to the final product, and this is the case with the cover for my upcoming release, book one of the Fox & Fisher Detective Agency trilogy–Perfect Partners.

Since the Detective Agency is so central to all the books in this trilogy, when I completed the art sheets, I envisioned showcasing each couple in front of the brownstone where the business is located. Since the stories take place at three different seasons of the year, I suggested we use fall colors for Perfect Partners, spring colors for The P.I. Contest and winter colors for Receptionist Under Cover.

So far it looks as if the artists have agreed with my suggestions and I love the covers they created for book 1 and book 2. Now I’m anxiously awaiting the cover for book 3 which should be available shortly. Will it also showcase the Fox and Fisher Detective Agency? Will they use the winter colors I suggested? More importantly, what will Nadine and Patrick look like?

Check back in a few weeks and we’ll all know the answer then!

Writing Furiously

I was doing something dangerous today. Writing in my head while operating a moving vehicle (my car). The advanced arrow was green and I wasn’t turning. Instead I was realizing that my heroine was the kind of woman who would give five thousand dollars to a stranger…a lonely old woman who puts feeding her dog ahead of buying food for herself.

Fortunately, I snapped back to the present, turned the corner and proceeded to buy my groceries like a regular, sane, human being. Now I am back in my office where I can safely tune out reality again.

21 days until deadline… My holiday in Ixtapa seems far away now!

Mary Balogh Is Coming To Town

Though I’m in “Deadline Hell” right now (an affectionate term, I assure you…) I am excited about an upcoming workshop being held by our Calgary Chapter  this Saturday. Mary Balogh is coming to Calgary! There will be a booksigning at the Dalhousie Station Chapters from 4 – 6 on Friday night. I plan to stock up on some books!

Then on Saturday we have our workshop, and I’m hoping for major inspiration. I have two sets of revisions and a manuscript to complete by May 4. (See aforementioned reference to “Deadline Hell.”)

At any rate, in preparation for the workshop, I bought one of Mary Balogh’s books, which I’m reading bits of every evening. Is anyone else out there a fan of her work? I don’t usually read historicals, but I’m finding this one a lovely escape. I clipped the cover from Amazon, to show you which book I mean. It’s the first of a new series and I’m hoping to get it autographed on Friday!

First Comes Marriage

The Book Is Done!

Yay! I just put book 2 of my next trilogy in the mail to my editor. I’m writing about a Detective Agency in New York City. Book One was titled: Her Perfect Parter, Book Two is: The Partner Quest, and Book Three (due to my editor May 1) is: An Unlikely Partner. Anyone spot a theme here? 🙂

Anyway, the important thing is that Book 2 is done! What a lovely feeling…now I can catch up with the rest of my life.

I used to try to write 8 – 10 pages a day so that I could meet deadlines without shifting into panic mode, but now I’m finding that the writing seems better when I totally immerse myself into the story and aim for 20 – 30 pages a day. That’s a pace, though, that I can only keep up for so long.

Now it’s time to pay bills, catch up on reading and organize the house!