What does the writer read?

What am I reading right now?

First you have to know that I’m horrid about sharing what I’m reading on Goodreads and I’m also the worst friend/reader for an author because I rarely leave reviews. (I get it – those of you who are tired of authors asking you to leave a review for them… you just want to read, escape for an hour or two – I totally get it, and I don’t hold it against you.) I am trying to do better though.

cropped-book-1738609_1920.jpgSo that leads me to my current reading list. I didn’t get as much time to read over the Christmas holidays as I would have liked – my in-laws were here for a week from out of province.  But my husband surprised me with a great Christmas gift… a week away later this month – just the two of us. And I did get a gift card for kobobooks.com from my in-laws… so I have downloaded quite a few books to read on the beach.

 

First up I have to say I love the Compass series by Jayne Rylon and Mari Carr – I think I like these authors together more than on their own. So I was very excited to see the latest series Compass Boys. I’ve downloaded those (already read the first one – Heave on Earth – so good!). Can’t wait to read book 2 – Into the Fire.

I am woefully behind on Lexi Blake’s Topped series. I read book one but have downloaded the next three! It’s a spin-off from her Masters and Mercenaries series – also excellent! Spies, and suspense and subs and Doms – they have it all plus happily ever afters. If you haven’t read them – start at the beginning to get a sense of how the characters evolve over time.

I was also really pleased to see that Lorelei James is continuing her Rough Riders series with Rough Riders Legacy #1 – Unbreak My Heart.
I also hope to read the latest cozy mystery from Jenn McKinlay – Death in the Stacks, the 8th book in the Library Lovers Mysteries. And I found a new series to try… the Kelly Jackson Mysteries (of which there are two and they have dogs on the cover so I was kind of hooked) by Janet Finsilver. 


That should keep me busy for a little while. I doubt I will get through them all but I like to plan in case there are rainy days too. Do you plan that way too? 

PLAYING IT COOL

This novella was harder than any I’ve written. To take two characters with very little history, and throw them together in a snowstorm and watch the sparks fly between them, but also to nurture the tender beginning of a relationship. It’s not just the sex, though Gina is very happy that the sex is amazing, she is awed by the way Spencer just slips into her life, like he was always there, that blows her mind.

Gina, too, deserves that. She’s a single mom – trying to be there for her little girl and build a business. She doesn’t have time for the wrong relationship. If you read Winning Cait or Tempting Sophie, you will have met her there, and hopefully like her as much as I did.

She needed her story to be told and I hope you like it. No doubt, you will continue to see Gina in future stories within the Men of Steele series. Her and Spencers’ story is just beginning.


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WATCH THE TRAILER 

When Spencer’s old college roommate offers him a job at Steele Construction, he doesn’t hesitate. Not only does he get to be closer to his sister and her family, he may finally have the chance to repair the rift between himself and his parents.

His parents live only three hours away but it may as well be on Mars as a blizzard moving up the coast has him seeking refuge at The Red Gate Inn. Spencer prides himself on playing it cool, but something about the raven-haired innkeeper has him overheated.

As a single working mom, Gina didn’t get much time to herself. With her mom and daughter off to Florida for a week, and the inn she owns closed for the holidays, she is looking forward to some me time. Then it started to snow. In good conscience she couldn’t turn away her brother’s newest employee when he needed shelter from the storm, but her guest has her feeling anything but professional.

It may be cold outside but things are heating up at the Inn.

(Reader Advisory: Grab a glass of wine, and put the kids to bed to read this novella. It’s cold outside but the temperature is rising at The Red Gate Inn.)

Amazon.ca http://ht.ly/IfYp30h0TZj

Amazon.com http://ht.ly/X0Bc30h0U11

iTunes http://ow.ly/NgH8308tjP8

Kobo http://ht.ly/3Z2J30h3rO4

Nook http://ht.ly/gBQ130h3rQf

 

Finishing a book… what does it feel like?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember, so I finished writing many stories, and at least two books before I finished the first book that I would try to publish. That book was Winning Cait.

I was pondering this weekend as I finished the edits for what will be my eighth published story – Playing It Cool – whether the feeling has changed since then. And if so, for the better, or the worse.

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When I finished Winning Cait I knew who I was trying to sell it to. I wrote it in a style that I hoped would be appealing to Ellora’s Cave. I had read their authors voraciously and I knew at that time, I wanted to be one of them. Unfortunately, my brief time with them was at the end of their shooting star, I just didn’t know it then.

When I finished Winning Cait I was relieved and nervous. I remember tentatively giving it out to a few beta readers and hoping for the best. I remember labouring over the synopsis hoping to do the story justice so that someone would read it. And then submitting and waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

The experience of the latest book is 100% different. It’s self-published, so I don’t have to worry and labour over the synopsis and question will a publisher want it or not. It will be available for pre-order before my editor returns her final remarks. But the nervous excitement is still there. Wondering what will readers think?

At the end of the day, that is the big question? Regardless of whether it gets to their hands through a publisher, or through self-publishing, the only opinion that matters is yours. The readers.

I would like to think that anyone who writes a book and publishes it and asks for your dollars in return for our time and our creativity (and the not inconsiderable costs we put in to it have it edited, the cover designed, and the final product formatted), are doing it because we want you to be entertained. To gain something from the experience of reading it… even if it is only a few hours of escape after the kids are in bed.

The other interesting feeling, which hasn’t changed for me since book one, is that the book isn’t done. In my heart, I can’t let it go. I keep thinking, “Oh, I should have told the story about the time Jim and Jane did X, or went to Y. You live with your characters, they are inside a writers head and sometimes heart and they have so many tales to tell, and it’s up to us to determine which ones make the cut. It’s not easy.

So as I get ready to publish book number eight, I revel in the fact that there are still butterflies in my stomach. And that I am still invested in the characters I create. It hasn’t, yet, become just a job. I hope it will always be more than that.

And I hope you will keep reading.

 

So a few weeks ago on my personal Facebook I joined the #metoo movement. I, like so many others, have been on the receiving end of sexual assault and harassment.

I am a supporter of the #metoo movement. I think it’s important for those who have never been on the receiving end of sexual assault or harassment to understand that they are the lucky few. I think it’s equally important for whom it has happened to have an opportunity to say “this happened and I have had to live with it every day.”

I think it has also shone a light on how, primarily but not exclusively, women have changed the way they live to protect themselves… many times not enjoying the same freedoms a man has – such as simply walking alone. (I know! Rather than teaching people how to protect themselves from attack, how about we teach people not to attack and punish the heck out of them when they do.)

What worries me about any movement like this is the risk it runs to become a space to ‘out’ people without proof or corroboration. I don’t like trials by social media because of what it does to both sides – victim and accused.

If you have been the victim of a crime, then please talk to the police. Even if it’s one, five, fifteen years ago, then they should know about it. If you are looking for justice, they are your resource. And one voice might not make a difference but a million voices will. It will change the way sexual assault/harassment is perceived by the world (including law enforcement).

For me – and this is only my perspective – I hope #metoo will give us a historical reference point in time that we can look back one day and say “things got better after this and because of this.”

And I think our relations with one another can get better from here on in. We should be empowered by this movement to say, “I won’t stand for it. I won’t stay silent. I won’t watch it happen to someone else anymore.”

And I hope as a writer that I am more mindful of the characters I create – not that I won’t write asshole characters, but that the other characters will call them on their bullshit. They won’t let it stand.

#bethechange #metoo

#metoo

Autumn seems much shorter than it used to…

I realize that title could apply to many things after all, the days (hours of daylight) are shorter but it seems in the last few years, the time between the end of summer and Christmas just seem to pass so quickly. How is it that there are fewer than 60 days until Santa Day!

We used to live in a part of Canada where there was no real discernible autumn. It went from Summer to Winter in the blink of an eye. And you could count on having the first snow long before Halloween. Since moving to the Maritimes, that’s not the case. We have beautiful fall days, and we usually get a few days of Indian Summer (forgive me if there is a better more PC term for that nowadays). We had a few days of it this week with 22 feels like 27 (celsius) but horribly gray outside. Barely a speck of sunshine. Maybe that has me feeling lacklustre today.

eightyonedays_800And it has been a busy fall. Taking an active management role in the yoga studio and teaching barre actually takes up a lot more time than I expected. But I’m loving it. There as been a lot of marketing work for the two releases I had at the end of the summer – Eighty-One Days (jesus, I still love this cover) and Bound to Happen (from the Sensory Limits Anthology).

I am nearly finished my next novella in the Men of Steele Novella series. This one is called Playing It Cool. The cover should arrive next week, and I’ve told my editor she would have it early in November so I need to get it done. It’s crunch time now, and my problem is the ending. Obviously it’s HEA – happily ever after – but trying to do that with some originality and flare 🙂 If everything goes well, it should be released mid-December. (I’m trying for that sweet space before Christmas.)

The next big thing to plan for is Christmas and my in-laws spending a week with us over the holidays. It will be fine, really. I keep reminding myself that a week is after all only seven days. They uh, don’t really know/understand what I write, and are pretty ‘churchy’ so I’m thinking I may have to lock my office door, or at least shroud my photo display of my novel covers (hehehe!) And since they are teetotalers (and we respectfully don’t drink around them) I may need to do make an extra batch or seven of rum balls rum balls 😉

So I will keep slogging away here… enjoying the fact that at this point there is no snow in the forecast and while autumn may go fast, at least winter hasn’t begun (like elsewhere in Canada). Take care my friends!

 

 

 

Advice to ‘wanna-be’ authors

It took me a long time to realize that I was a writer, not a ‘wanna-be’ writer. I had been working in communications/public relations for over ten years and I said to a designer I’d been working with that I wanted to a writer some day.

She laughed at me. Then she pointed out all I’d written. Articles, newsletters, press materials, websites. She said “you are already a writer.” That was an eye opening moment. She was right. I was a writer. I wanted to be an AUTHOR.

That day started me on a journey, because part of my ‘fears’ evaporated that day. I was already a writer, how do I make the leap to becoming an author. Now with book number six about to be released today, I want to share some of what I’ve learned along the way… I have no doubt you have heard this before. But I had written a lot before understanding that I was a writer, so I think some things need great repetition before it sinks in.

  1. Watch people. Not your phone. Not your TV. It’s the people where you will learn about mannerisms, and habits and quirks that bring your characters to life.
  2. Write something. And you don’t have to necessarily start with fiction – not even a short story. Volunteer at a community non-profit or church and write their newsletter. This is where you practice your craft. Or as some may say – this is where you learn the rules before you break them.
  3. Read. A lot. Find out what authors you like. What about their story telling appeals to you? Are they very descriptive? Are they the rockstars of dialogue? Use their works – what you like, what you hate – as your mentors. And to find out what genre interests you.
  4. Sit down and write. Or stand up if you are one of those people who prefer a stand up desk. (I can’t stand and write – I can stand and dictate though). Put the words on the page and leave them there. Even if it’s rough. Especially if it’s rough. It’s your blueprint to getting better. You can’t edit something if there is nothing there.
  5. Finish it. Whether it’s a poem, or a short story or an epic novel. Get the first draft done. You are now an AUTHOR.
  6. Enjoy the moment. Go pour yourself a glass of wine, or take yourself out to dinner, because now is where the real work begins.

You may never publish your work. Or you may go on to be a bestseller. The point is once the draft is done, you’ve already made it further than most people. You may have always been a writer, or in your heart knew you could be. But now you’re there, and the next steps are up to you.

In my spare time…

You would not naturally look at me and think ‘ATHLETE’ or ‘FITNESS BUFF’. Neither of those things would be true. What is true is that I like trying new things, even if I’m not very good at it.

Right now that means indoor rock climbing. I’m still working on the beginner circuits up the wall, or on harnessed routes (though I worry the harness will not hold my weight and instead of repelling down  – the fun part – I climb back down.)

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Each time I go, I spend about 45 minutes laying my right shoulder and elbow on ice packs. when I get home. I did my elbow a mischief about 6 years ago when I was working with a trainer to lose weight. And my shoulder I injured falling on a patch of ice nearly fifteen years ago. But rock climbing is not about upper body strength (you just use your hands to hang on for dear life), it’s about your quads. You push up with your legs. The strength of your quads propel you and my quads are awesome shape.

This sudden interest in rock climbing came about for a couple of reasons – my favourite yoga studio (to which I’ve been going for the last four years) is takinga summer hiatus while they move to a new location. And our city’s first rock climbing gym just opened up. So here I was with a hole in my schedule and nothing to fill it… Voila! Zoe is rock climbing two – three times a week for the summer.

Yoga is one of the few exercises that have held my attention. I have done it off and on for most of my life, and I am always learning something about it or myself when I practice. Happily I connected really well with the owner (we are both Northern Ontario girls now translated to the east coast.) She has supported and encouraged me both on the mat and off. Her encouragement led me to submitting my first book “Winning Cait” for publication and trying my first (and to date only) triathlon. (I came in second last, just ahead of the woman who was recovering from a stroke.)

And now she is prodding me along to pursue one other fitness passion – Barre.

I may not look like an athlete now but in my youth I did gymnastics and competitive dance – jazz, modern and musical theatre. My mother actually taught ballroom dance at one point and mus660691eda70414d666af2b087c0d72d5.jpgic and dance was part of our home. I only quit when my math grades suffered from my training schedule and my mother threw a fit. She thought I was going to be (read: she wanted me to be) an accountant – yeah right! My calculus teacher actually called her to convince her to put me out of my math-misery because “everyone knew” I was going to be a writer.

To make a long story, short – I am doing my online certifications to become a Barre Instructor, and I will be teaching in the fall at my favourite yoga studio. So while you may not think ‘athlete’ when you look at me, I hope people see one thing… someone who isn’t afraid to try new things. To follow their dreams. And to laugh at herself and life.

I keep thinking, there are so many things I want to do, and want to try, it’s a shame we only have one life in which to do it.