Welcome to Suzanne’s blog, the Chimes Café

Suzanne StenglAuthor Suzanne Stengl writes whimsical, heartwarming romance and cozy mysteries. When she needs a break from her keyboard, she swims lengths at the Y, skis at Sunshine Village and hikes in the Rockies. She’s also a pretty good line dancer . . . and a very poor euchre player.


computer wires under my deskI got a new monitor and I was getting my wires crossed so I decided to sort out the mess.

First, let me tell you about the monitor. On Tuesday, I brought home a 24 inch Samsung SD390. It had a beautiful display but I didn’t like the stand. I type so fast that I set up a vibration and that was making the screen shake. So the next day, I returned the SD390 and purchased the SD590. It has the same beautiful display but with a more solid stand.

I’ve been using two monitors for some time now. This new one is my main screen and I have an older monitor, also 24 inches, that I use for a secondary screen. Since it’s older, the colours are not as vibrant but, hey, it works.

Why two monitors?

I open Scrivener on my main screen. On the secondary monitor I  have several WORD documents open: a name chart, a calendar of what happens when, a list of threads to keep track of, and an INSPIRATION mind map that shows my character relationships.

Add a cup of coffee to this setup, and I am in my perfect writing place.

helpful husbandI have a helpful husband. A long time ago, he installed an 8 outlet surge protector under my desk to deal with the computer wires but since then I have found more things to plug in. So yesterday he installed another bar. This one has 7 outlets, giving me a total of 15. I’m only using 11 of them. Maybe I should buy another lamp? (just kidding!)

What’s under there?

I have power for:

  • CPU
  • main monitor
  • secondary monitor
  • speakers
  • USB splitter
  • inkjet printer
  • laserjet printer
  • external hard drive
  • backup hard drive
  • really bright lamp
  • cell phone charger

And this is the final configuration.

computer wires under my deskKudos to Rolf. Gotta love a hubby with power tools!

Happy Easter Cupcakes!

Easter cupcakesIt’s a snowy Easter morning in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. But that’s okay. Canadian Easter bunnies don’t mind the snow.

Tonight about 5:30, the family starts to arrive. I’ll get someone to carve the turkey and someone else to make the gravy. Yesterday I mashed up yams and butter and maple syrup so I’ll pop that dish in the oven once the turkey is done. We’re having all the fixings—stuffing, pickles, cranberries. A big salad.

And, of course, dessert. Instead of Easter eggs, we’re having Easter Cupcakes. My favourite Crave Cupcakes. Plus, strawberries for the health conscious.

I hope the Easter bunny is good to you and that you are surrounded by family and friends.

Happy Easter!

Debra Dixon: Goal, Motivation & Conflict

Debra Dixon, author of GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT is coming to Calgary, Alberta, Canada on May 2, 2015 and I’m already signed up for the workshop.

Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation & ConflictThis is my underlined, stick-it-noted, well-read copy of her book.

It was back in 2002 when I first heard Debra Dixon speak. I still remember that workshop, presented by the Alberta Romance Writers Association, otherwise known as ARWA.

That Friday night when she arrived, we immediately learned something about setting.  

Alberta writers would never think of meeting someone outside the airport. You wait inside, right? That’s normal, isn’t it? It could be minus 30 out there. Who would ever wait outside at the airport?

Someone from Memphis, Tennessee.

Finding Deb Dixon at the airport on that Friday night was an example of romance writers creating a comedy of errors. But Jenn, diligently walking around with her sign, eventually found our speaker, and the Board took her out to dinner.

The next morning, I remember arriving about 8:30 to a room bubbling with conversation. The day was packed with information, much of the format was lecture and a good portion was “interactive”. We created the GMC chart for Sarah, the rebellious debutante in a Western. The trick with the exercise was to try it outside of our usual genre.  

The GMC chart can be used to create a new story, to tweak an existing one, or to find out why you’re stalled. And it’s also useful for that query letter or editor interview. I believe GOAL, MOTIVATION & CONFLICT is one of the most important books you will ever put in your writing library.  

We had such a good time that day and I can still remember going out for dinner after the workshop.

Trish and I walked into Madison’s at 5:15. It was a Saturday night. The maitre d’ looked a little worried when we said we had about 10 to 15 people coming over.  And no, we didn’t have a reservation.

But she quickly sorted things out and found us a long table where we could all sit together. I told her we were the ARWA group.  

“ARWA?” The maitre d’ clearly had not heard of us.

I spelled it out  for her.

The waiter also looked a little confused. Trish told him, “We’re writers.” And then she quickly added, “But we have money!”

The service was excellent, the food was high cal and the talk was flowing. I was still trying to come up with my Dominant Impression for my heroine. So was Donna Wickens. We were making notes on the napkins. The waiter brought more napkins.  

I love these post workshop debriefings. The chairs around Deb Dixon kept getting new people in them as writers came to her with their specific questions. This lady is like the energizer bunny. She just doesn’t stop. Finally at 9 pm, twelve hours after our official workshop start, we called it a day.

And now the Calgary Association of the RWA is presenting a Deb Dixon workshop. I have a chance to hear her speak again, to reinforce what I know and to fill in the blanks for what I don’t know. And, besides that, I get to spend some quality time with writers.

Here are the details.

Date: Saturday, May 2, 2015
9 am: Registration and light continental breakfast
10 am: Workshop starts
Noon: Buffet lunch
5 pm: Workshop ends

Buy your ticket here. Tickets will be on sale until April 24th.

If you’re a writer and you live in or near Calgary, I hope you will join me at the workshop.

One more thing:

Register by March 31st and your name will go in a draw for a 25-page critique by Deb Dixon.
Good luck!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick's DayMay the Irish hills caress you.
May her lakes and rivers bless you.
May the luck of the Irish enfold you.
May the blessings of Saint Patrick behold you.

—traditional Irish blessing

Image from dreamstime.com #2930899

Brave little buds

brave little budsCalgary is at 51 degrees North with an elevation of 1,048 m (3,438 ft) so spring does not come early. Not usually.

But so far, March has been beautiful with temperatures up to 15 degrees Celsius! (That’s 59 Fahrenheit for our neighbours to the south.)

The weather predictions keep changing. A few days ago, they were saying snow on the weekend, but it looks like we may miss that. Although it will drop below freezing again.

These little buds don’t seem to care. I hope they survive the next few weeks. I think it’s a long way until spring, with a lot of snowy weather yet to come and there’s not a robin in sight.