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XOX Valentines

XOX Valentines

Last Friday night, I was in the central Alberta town of Sylvan Lake to attend a special event at the Sylvan Lake Municipal Library.

For the fourth time, the Library hosted the XOX Valentines—a ladies only event that is the library’s best-attended event of the year.

This is a night of pampering and luxury featuring displays and demonstrations of massage, makeup, soaps, teas, psychic readings and more. Coffee and treats were available, and with special event licensing, so was wine.

There were also six romance authors invited and I was one of them. Here we are. XOX VALENTINES AUTHORSKatie O’Connor, Jean Oram, M.K. Stelmack, Suzanne Stengl, Brenda Sinclair and Ellen Jorgy.

For the event, the six of us put together this gift basket: a collection of our books (autographed) along with chocolates, body lotion, a scented candle, socks and more.
XOX VALENTINES gift basketWe arrived about 5 pm to set up and Moira had a sandwich tray ready for us. We arranged our tables, set out books, and decorated the room. Then there was time to tour the rest of the library displays until 7 pm when the event opened to the public.

Our Event

Our event was held in the program room at the back of the library—a soundproof room where we did author interviews and readings for about an hour. Ever creative, Moira combined the readings with audience participation. Each reading had “keywords” and when someone in the audience heard one, they raised their hand for a chance to win a book.

The Thurston HeirloomI did a short reading from THE THURSTON HEIRLOOM and chose the keywords: Teague, Shredder, hiking, Mariah and maid. It was the three-page scene where we meet Hazel Anderson, first-time hiker. Do you know the passage I’m referring to?

The event officially ended at 10 pm, but attendees were still wandering from one display to the next, sipping coffee and eating treats.

Many thanks to the organizers for a wonderful night!XOX VALENTINES AUTHORS

 

 

 

 

Getting healthy – the Fitbit and the Air Cast

Right about the time I published THE THURSTON HEIRLOOM, my good friend Anna Marie suggested a reward. This would be for publishing, and for my birthday (the 27th of November) and for a Christmas present to myself.

Since THE THURSTON HEIRLOOM involves an amethyst that looks like this—
HeirloomI decided on a purple-banded Fitbit that looks like this—
Fitbit Alta

I bought the Fitbit Alta, Anna Marie and I became “fit buddies” and we started cheering each other on in our fitness efforts. However, the best laid plans often run into snags.

I found I was walking more, but I was also limping. More and more. A minor detail, I thought, and I hobbled on. Until I couldn’t.

After the Christmas rush, I was finally forced to make time for a doctor visit which involved, first, an X-ray of my foot. The X-ray only showed swelling. Then, second, came the bone scan which shows stress fractures of the third and fourth metatarsals and cuneiform. In other words, I broke my foot. It was probably the time I did a quick rollover of my ankle while rushing about the kitchen. It turns out kitchens are dangerous and I will try my best to avoid them in this new year.

Fortunately, they have invented the air cast. It looks like this—
air castApparently plaster casts are only used for really bad breaks, and for non-compliance. I will comply . . .

I can take it off for sleeping and for showers. It was time for a shower this morning and that proved challenging. My good leg is strong, but not really strong enough for the one-legged standing of a long shower. I used my walking sticks for hopping around in there but I will have to work on something easier.

In the meantime, Anna Marie and I will continue our fitness efforts, though my steps probably will not be as high as hers. Since the air cast boot is made of plastic and since the sidewalks are often snow-covered, there is a risk of slipping if I walk outside. So, my walking needs to be indoors.

The other minor issue is that this is my right foot, so I can’t drive. Fortunately I have a hubby and friends who are happy to chauffeur for January. At least, I hope I only need this thing for a month.

Have you ever had an air cast? Or a plaster cast? Do you use a Fitbit to help motivate you to step away from your desk?

The Thurston Heirloom

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 HeirloomThe 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

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 also visit the Thurston Hotel website at www.ThurstonHotelBooks.com for more about the books and authors of this series. There is even a map of Harmony.

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 Thurston Hotel

The Thurston Hotel

The 100-year-old Thurston Hotel is located on Main Street in Harmony, Alberta, Canada.

Harmony?

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.

The Thurston Hotel Series

Thurston Hotel seriesIn 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 . . .