Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Visit to a Castle!

Had an exciting day yesterday! After finishing my first historical novel, I've been immersed in all things, well, historic. So when my good friend suggested for our Christmas outing that we go to visit Casa Loma in Toronto, I jumped at the chance.

One of Toronto's richest men, Henry Pellatt, built this 'house on the hill' for he and his wife, Mary back in 1911. In its glory days, they entertained lavishly and employed over 40 servants.Even British royalty visited there. It was almost as good as going to Britain to visit a reall life castle!

Sir Henry's library housed wall to ceiling glassed in bookcases filled with really old looking books!

I loved walking through the underground tunnels to get to the stables whose stalls were built with pure mahogany! Since the hero of my latest book was a stable hand at a grand English mansion, this really hit home for me! And when the audio tour told us that Sir Henry's favourite horse was named Prince, I took this as divine confirmation that I was on the right path with my story - since the hero's favourite horse in the stable was - you got it - Prince! And to think I was going to change the horse's name!

I got to see the servants' rooms on the third floor, where my heroine, a kitchen maid, would have lived. And I got to see up close and personal the type of furnishings and fireplaces that I had tried to describe in my book. I especially loved the dining room all in pale blue, ornate plaster ceilings and ornate furniture.

Secret staircases and passageways, turrets and ghost stories, all combined to make it a super day!

I think I'm hooked on historicals!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happiness is...

finding a Christian book store within half an hour of my home!

I was so happy to find such a bookstore recently, only a twenty minute drive from my work. They didn't carry every author I like, but they sure had a great selection. Up until now, I'd been able to get some Christian romance authors at the library, but not in our local bookstore. So I've bought most of them on-line - costing a fortune - and now that shipping charges have gone sky-high, I've really had to cut back.

So this made my day, finding Speelman's bookstore - especially with big Christmas sales on as well!

Happy reading ahead!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Review of The Irish Healer

Recently I've had the chance to be an 'influencer' for a debut novel coming out in April 2012. The book is "The Irish Healer" by Nancy Herriman.

Right away the title drew me in because I love all things Irish! The premise of the story is that the main character, Rachel Dunne, is leaving the stigma of her past in Ireland behind to take a temporary position in London, with the hopes of starting a new life and eventually bringing the rest of her family to join her. Acquitted of murdering a child in her care, Rachel still can't outrun the disgrace and shame. She comes to work for Dr. James Edmunds, a man with many secrets of his own. Unable to overcome the horror of not being able to save his wife, James feels he must give up his practice. As Rachel works to help James pack up his house in London, she discovers the gift of healing is harder to ignore than she expected. And when an outbreak of cholera hits the city, Rachel finds herself trying to save the young daughter of her employer.

This is a wonderfully written tale of healing and redemption. Both main characters are richly portrayed; both suffer incredible guilt over the patients they couldn't save and both feel unworthy of happiness in their lives. Not only have they lost patients, they have lost faith in themselves and in God. Together they manage to find the courage to heal each other and restore their faith. Their tender romance is one of the best I've read to date.

From the docks of London where Rachel arrives, to the rolling English countryside, Ms. Herriman's depiction of the English setting brings 1830 London to life.

A wonderful debut novel. I can't wait to read more of Ms. Herriman's work!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's OVER!

Just a quick check in on the last day of NaNo! I made it to my 60,000 word goal, and
as of right now, 10.30 pm, my final word count for November is 68,701!!!

Yay, and I'm almost finished the book. I've got a baby to get born and a sub-plot to wrap up and that should do it!

Then I get to start the editing process! That may have to wait for January while I catch up on my housework, and oh ya, get ready for Christmas!

Hope everyone else had success! Or at least learned some valuable lessons!

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Woo-Hoo!!! Celebrating today because I reached the 50,000 word mark for NaNo way early!

And I loved the scene I wrote today ! I can't believe I have written 187 pages of a new book in 20 days. Unbelievable! Nora Roberts move over!!! LOL.

Now my new goal is to hit 60,000 words by November 30th.

Think I can do it?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just over mid-mark update!

Taking a bit of time out today. Actually met friends for coffee after supper. And knowing I was going out, I had to get my word count in before I left - which I did!

I'm thrilled to announce that today I surpassed 40,000 words!!!

That's the great news. The other side of the coin is I need to work out some plot issues. Hopefully tomorrow before I begin writing again!

But tonight I'm celebrating!

How's it going for you?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNo Update

Taking a quick minute to send an update on my NaNo progress!

So far, so great. I'm doing a little above the average daily word count. I've written 13,767 words or about 49 pages on my new story. And I'm really liking it. Not that I won't have to revise a lot later (have cheated just a little a tweaked a few scenes each day before I start my new stuff). But it's very freeing just writing on without polishing as I go.

It's only taking me about an hour a day to achieve my goal which is very doable!

All in all, a great learning tool!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Taking Another Challenge!

I'm admitting here for all to read that I am going to participate in the National Novel Writing Month (November). For those of you who have never heard of this, it's a forum where thousands of writers commit to writing 50,000 words, the size of a Harlequin size book, in 30 days.

I'm not sure why the powers that be chose November for this - especially since the U.S. participants celebrate their Thanksgiving during the last crucial phase of this challenge. But it could be something to do with the lousy weather and how everyone is huddled inside preparing for winter. What better time to write, write, write!

I've never been at the right spot in my writing to do this. You have to have the idea in mind, maybe a rough outline of what will happen in your plot, but you can't have actually started any writing on it yet. Usually by this time of year, I've got 2-3 months of work on a new story done.

This time, however, I've been revising an older story and not even sure what to do next. Suddenly this historical story that had been playing around in my mind for a while came to life. So I started jotting down plot ideas, character sketches and the story started to take shape. This is even stranger to me because I'm a contemporary writer.

So I'm taking a leap on 2 counts - writing outside my genre and writing 50,000 words in a month! Hopefully at the end of November I'll have a viable book on my hands.

Good luck to all you writers out there attempting this challenge with me! See you in December!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Two Steps Forward....

Just a quick update to give myself a proverbial pat on the back.

One month after I came back from the ACFW Conference, I have submitted two proposals to different literary agencies. One was a very detailed, in-depth proposal. The other a quick query letter and sample pages. Yet each took the same amount of courage to push the SEND key!

Whew! It's done and gone.

Now back to more revisions! And try to forget about those proposals!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Today as I cook the small stuffed turkey breast and clean my messy house, I find myself thinking about Thanksgiving Day and what it really means. (For my American cyber-friends - it's our Canadian Thanksgiving weekend).

I used to get so stressed out at Thanksgiving that I didn't enjoy one minute. I'd spend all weekend scouring and cleaning, and cutting and chopping and peeling and cooking, carving the turkey, serving food, then cleaning up some more. I'd have to recuperate all Monday before heading back to work. What kind of fun was that? I wouldn't even have a minute to give thanks for anything (the grumbling overtook everything else).

Even though we now do Thanksgiving differently, (usually we meet in a restaurant for a meal and then come back to my house for my mother's famous pumpkin pie), I still find myself getting a little grumpy. So I decided to take time out to thank God for all the things in my life I'm grateful for.

I'm grateful for ever strengthening relationship with God. I'm grateful for my family (my husband and two great kids), for my health, for my little part-time job which I really enjoy, for my writing, for this beautiful weather we've been having, for my house (even though it's always messy!), for my car with the broken muffler, for this country that offers us every opportunity to do and become whatever we wish, and last but not least, I'm grateful for my friends and all the wonderful people I've met - who've touched my life along the way. I grateful for angels actually, those in bodily form and those in celestial form.

May God bless you and your family on our Canadian thanksgiving. I'm thankful for this concrete reminder to be grateful for every little thing around me. And I'm grateful for YOU!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Some Photos from the Conference!

Finally figured out how to get the pictures off my camera! All by myself without my daughter!! So I thought I'd post a few and share some fun moments.

My roommate Eileen Astels Watson and author Cathy West!

One person I really wanted to meet was one of my favourite authors, Julie Lessman. This picture was taken in the midst of chaos but I cherish it nontheless!

Here is myself, Eileen and Sandra Orchard on the steps of the capitol building. (I'm the 'unstylish' one in green! LOL)

And of course we took some great pictures of the famous Arch!

Next time I'll try to take more pictures of the awesome people I meet. Though sometimes I just ran into them in random hallways or the bookstore and didn't think to pull out my camera. Good thing George Clooney didn't show up! No one would believe me!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I'm back!! Where do I begin to describe the wonderful experience of the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference?

It was my first time at a large writers' conference. Despite sometimes feeling like I was in another reality, like a walking zombie, it was a fantastic experience. Everyone was so friendly and encouraging. I wasn't even nervous at the three appointments I had with agents and editors!

I got to meet the wonderful authors I had wanted to meet, like Julie Lessman, Laura Frantz, Tamera Alexander and Julie Klassen, as well as Patti Lacey, Lyn Cote, Janet Dean, Debby Giusti, Mary Conneally, Cara Lyn James, Sandra Orchard, and many others I can't remember at the moment. (I missed meeting Ruth Logan Herne, Melanie Dickerson, Audra Harders, Myra Johnson, and Pam Hillman & Sandra Leesmith)but saw most of them flitting around here and there.

I loved meeting other friends of Seekerville, like Casey Herringshaw, Pepper Basham and Jessica Nelson, Katie Ganshert and Jodie Hedlund, among others. Such great ladies.

And of course, my awesome roomie, Eileen Astels Watson! She put up with my cold, coughing and even, I'm sorry to say, some snoring. (It's the cold, honest!) Thanks Eileen for keeping my sanity!

Lots of new people crossed my path, too, and for that I am most thankful, since most of them appeared at times when I needed a friendly face!

Key note speaker, Tracie Petersen, was awesome. What a wonderful example of a career to aspire to!

The workshops were inspiring and insightful. The award banquet, with all its glam and glitter, was fantastic.

Now to take all that energy and enthusiasm and channel it into my writing! Maybe a day or two to recuperate first!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Preparations for attending a major writing conference is a lot more work than I had anticipated. It has been a bit overwhelming, but piece by piece, the details are coming together.

I managed to get my flight through Airmiles and only had to pay the airport taxes and fees. That was a huge help, saving me over $500. The only drawback is traveling alone (I don't like going into new situations by myself) and having to transfer planes in the busiest city in the USA (Chicago O'Hare). Having to carry all my luggage alone with my hubby to lift the heavy ones - that will be a challenge. But I'm sure I will get through it.

I researched the transportation to the hotel and booked the shuttle. Hotel reservations have been made (thanks to my efficient roommate!). Now to remember all the little things to bring, what to pack where, and what airlines allow on board these days. Thankfully American Airlines has an excellent website with the information detailed in an easy to read manner. Who knew you had to pay a fee to check a suitcase in?? I guess you're supposed to travel without luggage! And food!
But I digress...

What I didn't figure on was the homework required. Not only polishing your manuscripts, preparing one-sheets, verbal pitches, ordering new business cards (with a photo so people will remember you), but advance homework for the courses I'll be taking! Whew. Almost finished all that.

The worst part was ... don't faint now ... dress shopping!! Horror of horrors. I have not bought/worn a dress in over twelve years. And have not worn any sort of heeled shoe since then. I was hit with a major culture shock when my daughter and I headed to the dress stores! Thankfully, after trying many outfits which regaled my daughter into fits of laughter, I found a dress I didn't look horrible in. But now I have to take it to the dressmaker to get it adjusted. It never ends!!

However, I did manage to find the exact type of shoes I was looking for - silver sandals with small heels that I can hopefully walk in!

This has been a whole lot of work! I'm sure hoping it's worth it all!

Will let you know - after I recover from the excitement! (end of September or so)

Until then, I need a nap!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Life Interrupted

Hey all. Sorry I've been so lax at posting, but between my daughter's Grade 12 prom and Graduation in late June, company visiting from the States, family events on my husband's side, I got behind. Now life has been interrupted in a most unexpected and serious way. On Sunday, my mother had a stroke and has been in the hospital ever since.

She drove her car to my house in that state. It's a miracle she didn't have an accident. I knew right away something was very wrong and called an ambulance. She had lost the ability to speak, so I had to remain at the hospital to be her voice. From Sunday afternoon until 5 am Monday morning, I sat in a chair in the ER and waited, and waited. Time slows to a standstill when you are in a situation like that. One minute seems like an eternity. Especially since Mom couldn't talk to me. Finally the doctor said I could go home for a while. I drove through pouring rain and lightning that illuminated the entire landscape around for miles, and dropped into bed for a few hours rest. Only to start all over again....

We have been lucky in our family to never have had really serious illnesses to contend with. This past May my mother was hospitalized for the first time in her life with pneumonia. After 5 days she was released and bounced back in an amazingly short amount of time.

With my brother out of the country on vacation, my husband and I have been handling everything and trying to keep a positive outlook. Mom's speech has come back almost totally - except she can't remember a lot of words and gets very frustrated. The worst thing for her is not being able to drive for at least 3 months. Mom is fiercely independent and this has thrown her for a loop.

I know that God is with us and will help us all persevere through this trying time.

In the meantime, I am still trying to prepare for the ACFW Conference. It has taken a bit of a backseat, but I will try to post about it over the next few days.

Until then any prayers would be appreciated!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

ACFW Conference

I'm so excited that this fall I will be attending my first really BIG Writer's Conference. The American Christian Fiction Writers are holding their annual conference in St. Louis, Missouri this year, and I have made the bold step of registering for it!

It's amazing how the universe works to make things happen sometimes. At first I thought I'd be going alone - a newbie out in a sea of pros. But as luck would have it, a former critique partner is going also and asked me to be her roommate! Though we'll probably attend different lectures and workshops, it will be nice to know there's a friendly face in the crowd!

And I get to meet some special authors that I've been reading, as well as many on-line friends I've talked to in cyber-land.

Super exciting! Now to save my pennies...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The countdown has begun! Two more sleeps till the big day! The Royal Wedding!! A real life Prince is marrying his princess.

I remember waking up at the crack of dawn in 1981 to watch Princess Diana marry Prince Charles. Glued to the television, I didn't move for hours, taking in every detail. I plan to do the same on Friday! And this time, my teenage daughter will join me - if I can get her out of bed!!

Raising a cyber-glass of champagne to the eternal appeal of romance, fairy tales and real life princess stories! May they endure forever!

Here's to a Royal Happily Ever After!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Land of Revisions!

Why am I dragging my feet on making revisions? I've done it before. It never used to seem that hard. But now, as the deadline approaches to make changes to my Genesis entry before the finalists are announced, I can't seem to make myself sit down and concentrate. *sigh*

Maybe, in fairness, it's the time of year. It's spring and Easter and everything needs cleaning. The windows, the yards, the walls, light fixtures. Even the cars need a good cleaning to get rid of the winter salt and soot.

Then there's all the Easter preparations. Chocolate, Easter baskets for the kids and my nieces.

Oh, and my daughter has me searching with her for the perfect Prom dress!! Very important to a 17 year old. Doesn't matter that prom is months away. Everyone is posting their dresses on line NOW! So we are traveling all over the map to find the boutiques that carry the dress she wants!

And of course, we must watch the last 26 shows of OPRAH, now that she's retiring!

Do you hear it? It's called Procrastination! It's lurking around every corner in my house, jumping out at me when I least expect it! I must learn to fight the demon. I only have until May the 1st!

Next week will have to do!!

Friday, April 8, 2011


I went out for about an hour and missed the call, but maybe this way is even better. Because now I can play the message over and over! I'm a semi-finalist in the Genesis!!!

How exciting is that? Now to wait another month for the finalists to be announced. A month to celebrate this victory.

Can't wait to hear who else got the good news today!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Genesis Countdown

Do you hear the clock ticking? Really loud?? It's countdown to the Genesis finals!!

This is the first time I've ever entered the Genesis, the premier contest for unpublished writers hosted by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). I must say as the date approaches, my nerves are getting the best of me. I've been revising my entry and, horror of horror, found typos! How could I have missed them? I'm praying the quality of the writing will let the judges overlook little mistakes like that.

I'm also bracing myself for disappointment. But even if I don't final, I will still get incredibly useful advice from the judges. So really, it's a win-win situation.

I am planning on going to their annual Writers' Conference in the fall and wouldn't it be lovely to go as a Finalist?!

Good luck to all who entered!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


My other new interest/hobby is learning about Angels. It is a fascinating subject. I've had an angel reading done (something like a fortune teller but done with Angel Cards). That was so much fun.

I've also gone on an Angel Workshop to learn about the different types of angels and how they are with us all to provide help to anyone who asks. That is the most amazing thing - you have to ask for help. The angels can't interfere in your life (unless it's life and death) without us asking. Free will and all that jazz.

Everyone has at least two guardian angels that are with them from the moment of their birth until death. These are always with you, guiding you, whether we're aware or not. The archangels are the ones most people are familiar with from the Bible, etc. But I was amazed to learn that angels are not really religion based. Yet all religions in the world believe in angels.

Right now I'm concentrating on the Angel Gabrielle (who is seen as male or female) because she (I like the female version) is the angel of communications, including writers. So she is the one who can help me with my writing talents.

This fascination all started because of certain numbers that I keep seeing - and certain songs that keep playing on the car radio. I found out that this is how angels communicate with humans and try to get our attention. At least now I don't think I'm going crazy when I keep seeing 333 or 33 all the time! And when certain songs come on the radio, I just say thank you! The angels are surrounding us with love and guidance.

May your angels be with you today!!

Writing Life

I can't believe it's been so long since I posted. So now I'll end up posting twice in one day! That's the way my life goes these days.

First to catch up on my writing life ... I am so amazed to say that I am very close to writing 'The End' on my latest manuscript. Just need to create the Epilogue, then begin the daunting task of editing. This is the first time I've ever been able to just bang out the first draft. We'll see how long the edits take though.

And the other news in my writing life is that I've joined the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and entered their big contest, THE GENESIS. I'll find out sometime around the middle of April whether I made the first cut or not. Even if I don't, I'm looking forward to the judges' comments and learning how to strengthen my stories.

Very exciting stuff!