This is Mary Balogh signing “A Summer to Remember” for my hubby Rolf.
On Sunday night, Rolf and his friend Bryan returned home from a two-week car/bike trip from Calgary, Alberta to Winnipeg, Manitoba and back.
Along the way, they stopped in the little town of Kipling in southeast Saskatchewan. The town is named after the English author Rudyard Kipling. And, the town is also the summer home of Welsh Canadian author Mary Balogh.
A long time ago, when Rolf was looking for a new book to read, I suggested one from my Mary Balogh collection. Since then, he has been hooked.
Naturally, he looked up Mary Balogh’s website . . . and discovered she might be in Kipling when they were travelling through. So he visited the town.
The town is home to the world’s largest paperclip.
World’s Largest Paperclip
Rolf and Bryan are congenial sorts, and while walking through the town, they took up a conversation with a friendly, retired gentleman. When this gentleman learned that Rolf is a fan of Mary Balogh’s, he walked them over to Mary’s house.
Rolf had been hoping she might be in her yard, because, of course, he knew not to knock.
This is the sign I have on my Writing Room door.
Over the years, I have trained Rolf not to interrupt writers. (Or so I thought…)
Unfortunately, Mary wasn’t in the front yard. But since Rolf is persistent and hopeful, he went around to the alley to look in the backyard—where he saw her on her screened-in porch. She was typing, and looked up.
Rolf: I hope we’re not interrupting you.
Mary: Well you have now!
And then this gracious lady signed the book Rolf had with him, and talked to him and Bryan for twenty minutes about how she creates her characters.
He phoned me that night to tell me he’d met her. This was the highlight of the trip for him.
Mary Balogh Place
The town has named a street after its famous author, but she doesn’t live there. The full name of this street is “Mary Balogh Place”.
Here is Rolf creating his own Summer to Remember.
Rolf with his autographed book
From the realtor listing: Mary Balogh Place has lots for sale “offering a wonderful countryside view with unlimited possibilities for landscaping dreams.”
I first met Mary Balogh at an Alberta Romance Writers’ Association workshop in Calgary in March 2001. I had just started writing.
I also heard her speak at workshops for the Calgary Association of the RWA. Since she is a teacher by profession, she is also an excellent teacher of writing. And she is one of my favourite authors.
If you are ever in Kipling, please do not interrupt Mary while she is writing. After all, we do want to get that next book. Why not go to this coffee shop instead? You might just get lucky and find her here!
Paperclip Cottage Cafe
Here is the first book in a new Mary Balogh 3-book series. It releases on July 12. Mary was writing the third book in this series when Rolf spotted her.
For lots of information and an interesting read, check out Mary’s website here.
Have you read Mary Balogh? Have you ever met her? Have you ever attended one of her workshops?
Saskatchewan map from Depositphotos #53987815
My print books are now in the Calgary Library. This one, WEDDING BELL BLUES, is the first to hit the shelves. It’s at my local library, the Crowfoot branch.
The other two books in the “SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW” series are at the new Central Library downtown.
~ the new Central Library ~
GO TO https://calgarylibrary.ca/ and do a search for Suzanne Stengl.
Sign out a copy!
Here is the catalogue entry for A WEDDING AND A WHITE CHRISTMAS.
A whirlwind Christmas visit to Las Vegas. A long night of merrymaking. An Elvis Chapel. Whoops!
ON THE WAY TO A WEDDING is also on the shelves downtown.
My wedding series (SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW) is set in Calgary. I took some liberties—like calling my hospital the Nose Hill Hospital. It somewhat resembles the Foothills Hospital where I used to work. I renamed a few other places. The Oak Room at the Fairmont Palliser became Kipling’s. I also combined a junior high school name with a senior high school name to get the high school called Aberton. Some of my friends will recognize their names as streets and avenues. But the essence of Calgary, the foothills city east of the Rocky Mountains, is here with its Chinooks and its wet Junes and its cold autumns.
If you’re looking for LARGER PRINT, you can find THE GHOST AND CHRISTIE MCFEE in the Large Print Collection at the new Central Library downtown.
My other book, THE THURSTON HEIRLOOM, is at the Judith Umbach Library in Thornhill on Centre Street. You can put a book on hold at any branch in Calgary and have it delivered to your local branch.
I have one more book to convert to print (ANGEL WINGS) and that is on the list for next year.
Do you enjoy spending time in the library? Do you ever go there to get some writing done? Or to do some research? And then, do you end up wandering the stacks and looking for books by your favourite authors?
Since 1995, the Virginia Romance Writers chapter of the RWA has been hosting the HOLT Medallion contest. Medallions are awarded to authors whose books are selected by a panel of romance readers as the best in each of twelve categories.
I am happy to announce that A WEDDING AND A WHITE CHRISTMAS is a finalist in the Short Contemporary category!
As luck would have it, a fellow Calgarian is also a finalist in the contest. My friend Lecia Cornwall entered her book, ENCHANTED BY THE HIGHLANDER. This one is a finalist in the historical category.
Here is Lecia’s book:
Enchanted by the Highlander is the fourth book in a charming and enchanting Scottish series that reimagines fairytales by Lecia Cornwall.
Gillian MacLeod is shy and quiet, the least likely of all her sisters to seek out excitement and adventure. But on a moonlit night at a masquerade ball, Gillian steals a kiss from a mysterious stranger, knowing she’ll never see him again.
John Erly, disowned by his noble English father, started a new life in Scotland. Most people are suspicious of the foreign mercenary and he does everything in his power to avoid romantic entanglements. But he can’t forget the bewitching beauty who kissed him in the dark, and stole his heart, even though he has no idea who she might be.
A year later, John is given the duty of escorting Gillian to her wedding and immediately recognizes her as the temptress he’s dreamed of for months. There’s not much he can do when she’s promised to another man, but fate intervenes and this time, passion—and adventure—can’t be denied. Honor demands he stay away from the MacLeod’s enchanting daughter, but love has a very different ending in mind…
And here’s my book:
Getting from “I do” to “I don’t” before anyone finds out!
On a whirlwind Christmas visit to Las Vegas, and after a long night of merrymaking, Emily and her best friend, Mark, stumble into an Elvis Chapel and get married.
The next morning she realizes her mistake. Although she loves Mark, and has since childhood, he’s not marriage material.
For Mark, it’s not that he has commitment issues—or any issues, for that matter—but marriage would complicate things. He and Emily are friends and he doesn’t want to mess with that. Besides, he knows Emily is on the rebound. She’s not over her failed engagement to Dan the idiot.
On top of that, there’s Emily’s aunt. Myra doesn’t like Mark and if she learns about this elopement . . . well, let’s just say, there will be no Peace on Earth this Christmas!
The winners of the HOLT Medallion will be announced at a party in Glen Allen, Virginia on June 9th.
Unfortunately, that would take about nine to ten hours of travel from Calgary, so neither one of us will be going. However, we are considering dressing up on June 9th and celebrating here!
Today is the Launch Day for my book, THE THURSTON HEIRLOOM. That’s Mariah and Teague on the cover. And that’s Larch Valley in the background. Larch Valley is a very popular hiking trail in Banff National Park.
You can read the first chapter of the story here.
The Thurston Hotel Novels are stand-alone romances connected by the Thurston Hotel and the town of Harmony. Each book represents one month in 2016. I am the “September” book.
The Thurston Hotel is located on Main Street in the mountain resort town of Harmony, Alberta. Built by Thomas Thurston, the hotel opened in 1916. His three grandchildren—Wendy, Bailey and Ben—operate the six-story hotel today.
The town and the hotel are fictional, but the actual location is not. Working as a group, we found it was helpful to know our surroundings, so we chose beautiful Canmore, Alberta as our setting. Tucked in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, Canmore is just outside the gates of Banff National Park.
And here’s the view from Mountain Jewel Sports of the Three Sisters.
The Three Sisters
Actually, the Three Sisters can be seen from almost anywhere in Canmore. (Or, from anywhere in Harmony!) The three peaks are called Faith, Charity and Hope, or Big, Middle and Little Sister, respectively. They are one of the most photographed views in the Canadian Rockies and have come to be associated with the town of Canmore.
If you would like to find out more about the Thurston Hotel, you can read my posts on The Thurston Hotel and The Thurston Hotel series.
You can find more details on my Bookshelf. There is even a map of Harmony! Go here.
Since 1916, the hotel’s motto has been: We promise you’ll enjoy your stay at the Thurston!
Three Sisters from Depositphotos.com #31762611_l-2015
The 100-year-old Thurston Hotel is located on Main Street in Harmony, Alberta, Canada.
It’s a fictional name for a little town (population 12,000 permanent residents) nestled in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, just outside the gates of Banff National Park. You get there by travelling west from Calgary on the Trans-Canada and it takes about an hour.
No, Harmony is not really Canmore, Alberta . . . but that’s what I think of when I think of Harmony.
The town hosts tourists from everywhere in all seasons of the year, but there are two high seasons: summer and winter. In summer, tourists come to hike or mountain bike or raft down the Kananaskis River. In winter, they come for the skiing and boarding in the Canadian Rockies at Lake Louise or Sunshine or Norquay.
The Thurston Hotel is made of sandstone brick and it’s six stories tall with an impressive entrance. The expansive steps are flanked by black lampposts each with five white globes. Over top of the gabled portico are the three flags representing Canada, the USA and the Province of Alberta.
The hotel was built by Thomas Thurston
and opened in 1916 when he was only twenty-one years old. He didn’t get married until much later. On January 20th 1938, he married Margaret Thurston when he was forty-three years old and she was twenty-eight.
The hotel’s Thomas Lounge pays tribute to the founder, and the Margaret Library is named after his wife.
The couple had four children: three sons and a daughter. Only the daughter, Emily, is still living.
Emily Thurston Jamieson managed the hotel until last August.
Two of Emily’s brothers were childless, but her brother George had three children: Wendy (40), Bailey (35) and Benjamin (30). Ben studied hotel management at the University of Calgary and studied even harder under his Aunt Emily’s tutelage to finally become the Assistant General Manager.
His older sister Bailey is Chief Financial Officer, and his oldest sister Wendy holds the position of Events Manager.
As I said, Emily Thurston Jamieson managed the hotel until last August—when she had a heart attack. She recovered nicely, and decided to turn over management of the hotel to her nephew, Ben.
Rumor has it that his older sisters didn’t particularly like that decision, but then they have always given their little brother a hard time.
And speaking of rumors, there’s also a rumor that the hotel has a ghost. Of course, it’s a silly notion, since we all know ghosts don’t exist.
Have you ever stayed at a quaint old hotel? Have you ever worked in one? Did you like the ambience there? Did you ever meet any ghosts?
The Thurston Hotel Books are standalone contemporary romances connected by common settings, characters and events. To see all the covers, meet the authors, read the blurbs, and see a map of Harmony, go to: www.ThurstonHotelBooks.com.
In 2011, my local RWA chapter began its first group project, Bandit Creek. I published my first book in that series, THE GHOST AND CHRISTIE MCFEE, and Brenda Sinclair published A BANDIT CREEK MIRACLE.
Last January, Brenda decided to do it again. She came up with a Bible for the Thurston Hotel series and invited local chapter authors to participate. She wanted published authors, but also some unpublished ones who wanted to be mentored.
There are eleven authors involved in the project. Published authors include Brenda Sinclair, Sheila Seabrook, Shelley Kassian, M.K. Stelmack, Alyssa Linn Palmer, Katie O’Connor and Suzanne Stengl (me 🙂 )
Debut authors in the series are Maeve Buchanan, Win Day, Ellen Jorgy and Jan O’Hara.
Brenda came up with the idea of twelve books, one for each month in 2016, to be released WEEKLY, on Thurston Thursday beginning THIS THURSDAY September 29. Brenda bookended the series, writing both the January book and the December book.
The books are standalone contemporary romances that are
connected by common settings, characters and events. There is a thread woven through all the stories about a bride who books the 100-year-old Thurston Hotel in January—for her December wedding. No one is quite sure if the wedding will actually happen . . .
Brenda Sinclair is also the author of the very successful Western Contemporary Romance series, SPIRIT CREEK so she knows a lot about doing a series. We have all thoroughly enjoyed working on the project: at our keyboards, in our “secret” Facebook group, and sitting around long tables in restaurants. Together we discussed ideas, debated covers, ironed out details and generally had a good time.
Brenda put us on a deadline for first drafts and found continuity editors who would read all the books. She also set us up with one line editor (so we all spelled Trans-Canada the same way) and one cover artist who took our rough ideas and turned them into beautiful art. You can see all the covers here. You may notice that each cover has that hotel logo on the banner—with a different room lit for each book.
I’ll tell you more about the hotel tomorrow . . .