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Write Chicks

Write Chicks

Last Saturday, some of the “Write Chicks” had a Christmas party. It was hosted by the mega-creative Write Chick, Katie O’Connor. Katie is the Queen of Christmas decorations!

For this get-together, we had a potluck lunch and a Secret Santa gift exchange.

pot luck

pot luck

“Write Chicks” is a group of writers who meet to provide motivation and accountability for each other, and to get “words on the page”. At the party, we tallied up our word counts for the year, and guess what? As a group, these Write Chicks wrote about 900,000 words.

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t contribute many words to that total—but I am definitely motivated for next year.

Christmas Cookies

I love Christmas cookies!

At the party, we also had two contests.

  • Best Holiday Outfit, and
  • Ugliest Sweater

Here are the sweaters and outfits.

Katie O'Connor

Katie O’Connor

Katie O’Connor writes contemporary romance, often steamy ones! Now, she’s also writing cozy mysteries. Find her here

Shelley Kassian

Shelley Kassian

Shelley Kassian writes Romantasy, a combination of Fantasy + Romance. Find her here.

Brenda Sinclair

Brenda Sinclair

Brenda Sinclair writes historical western romance and contemporary romance. She has published over twenty novels. Find her here.

Katie O’Connor, Shelley Kassian and Brenda Sinclair are part of the Women of Stampede series. You can read about the project here

Jenna Howard

Jenna Howard

Jenna Howard loves to write sexy, contemporary romance. Find her here. By the way, I love the Welcome page she has on her website.

Victoria Chatham

Victoria Chatham

Victoria Chatham writes “history, mystery and love”. You can find her here

A.M. Westerling

A.M. Westerling

A.M. Westerling writes historical romance “from Vikings to Viscounts” and she is the winner of the Best Holiday Outfit. I love the necklace with the flashing Christmas lights. You can find her here.

Both Victoria Chatham and A.M. Westerling are authors with Books We Love.

M.K. Stelmack

M.K. Stelmack

M.K. Stelmack is a contemporary and historical romance author who writes for Harlequin Heartwarming about “Home & Heart, Family & Friends”. You can find her here.

MK is the winner of the Ugliest Sweater contest. (Points also for the tinfoil hat and earrings.)

Suzanne Stengl

Suzanne Stengl

And this is me. The Sweet Romance author. I’m still hobbling around with my cane, but next year, I get a brand new hip.

Thank you, Santa!

Wedding Bell Blues

Wedding Bell Blues

Introducing . . . Wedding Bell Blues


The lady goes to the highest bidder!

Alone and new to the city, with all her possessions in a single suitcase, Krista MacKenzie stumbles into a gentleman’s function—­­given a little shove from an earthbound fairy godmother disguised as her new best friend.

Logan Nicholas, CEO of Peregrine Oil & Gas, thinks that auctioning off escorts—even if only for dinner and a drink—is a poor idea for the fundraiser. He’ll make a donation for the cause, but he does not intend to bid. Not until he sees the stunning brunette come across the stage. Suddenly his competitive spirit takes over and he’s desperate to win her.

But what happens when the clock strikes midnight? Technically, he’s still got a girlfriend—who’s pushing him to set a date. He’s not ready for a wedding, and he’s sure not ready for the irrational feelings he’s having for this lady of the night.



~ the third book in the Something Old, Something New series ~

All the books are standalone.




This one is Logan’s story and it takes place in September.

Click the button to read an excerpt on Amazon!

Fifth Annual Sylvan Lake Retreat

Fifth Annual Sylvan Lake Retreat

In 2014, five writers started a tradition. The writers were Michelle Beattie, Suzanne Forrest, Amy Jo Fleming, M.K. Stelmack and Suzanne Stengl. (me!)

We thought it would be nice to do some North-South mingling of Alberta writers. Michelle and Suzanne F came from the north, Amy Jo and Suzanne S came from the south and M.K. Stelmack met us in the middle. That is, M.K. lives in the small town of Sylvan Lake. That year we met for brunch at the Boston Pizza where we discussed what we were working on. Then we moved over to Waves Coffee Shop and critiqued One Page of each other’s work. 

In the summers that followed, M.K. Stelmack (aka, Moira) took ownership of the Retreat and arranged for it to be held at the local library. 

Last Saturday, August 18, 2018, the Fifth Annual Sylvan Lake Retreat was once again held at the Library and hosted by Moira. We had a cozy eight writers in attendance: Brenda Sinclair, Katie O’Connor, Amy Jo Fleming, S.L. Dickson, Lori Feldberg, Victoria Chatham, M.K. Stelmack and Suzanne Stengl.

In the morning, we critiqued one page of each other’s work. And sometimes we did two or three pages. Comments and suggestions flowed freely and Amy Jo kept us on course with a timer so we could get through everyone’s work.

Moira arranged for our lunch of cold cuts, cheese, buns, add-ons, potato salad, veggies, fruit and desserts.

In the afternoon, we did our usual Ask & Answered session, discussing Social Media, group series, formats, distribution and craft. That continued until the Library closed. We reconvened down the road at the popular Wing’n It Restaurant.

after the Sylvan Lake Retreat

the conversation continues…

Suzanne Stengl, M.K. Stelmack, Victoria Chatham, Brenda Sinclair, Katie O’Connor, S.L. Dickson, Amy Jo Fleming, Lori Feldberg

by the lake

Amy Jo, Brenda, Vicki, Shaa

by the lake

Katie, Amy Jo, Suzanne, Shaa

and more by the lake

Katie, Amy Jo, Moira, Shaa

smoky skies from the BC wild fires

Several of the writers spent the night in Sylvan Lake and I’m sure a lot more critiquing (and wine) was involved.

Need inspiration? Try a Bailey’s S’more!

I love this annual meeting of the minds and am already looking forward to next year’s event. Thanks to Moira for handling the logistics and thanks to all of you for your help with my story.


Kristan Higgins Workshop

Kristan Higgins Workshop

On Saturday, May 5, 2018, the Calgary Association of the RWA hosted its annual Spring Workshop.

As usual, we started with a continental breakfast.

For this workshop, our guest speaker was Kristan Higgins, one of my favourite authors.

With eighteen novels written and published—in two dozen languages—Kristan obviously knows what she’s doing. Her nineteenth book is showing up in August. Her “NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT” is nominated for a RITA. This woman is definitely a professional writer.

She’s also friendly, an excellent teacher, and humble. The first thing she did as she started her workshop was to pick up her cell phone and take a picture of us. “First things first. I’m always tickled that people come to my workshop!”

The workshop was held at the Delta Calgary South in the Kananaskis Room—I love the classroom style setup.

This workshop had three topics:

  1. Secondary Characters, Secondary Plotlines
  2. Writing Humour
  3. Character Mistakes and Missed Opportunities

There was so much good material to absorb.

We break for a hearty lunch.

Kristan also critiqued several humour submissions telling us what worked, and what did not resonate. Notice her choice of words. She didn’t say it didn’t work. It just didn’t resonate with her.

My head is still spinning and I’m still high from this workshop. I learned so many things that I can use in my own writing.

Some of the things we talked about

  • Different types of characters: The Mentor, The Best Friend, The Deflector, The Reflector
  • The difference between Secondary Characters and Fringe Characters
  • What a “Christmas Card” is. (A character dropping in from another book in a series—and serving no useful purpose.)
  • Having a sense of humour does not mean you can write humour. Note: In case you’re not aware, I’m writing in Canadian, so humour—instead of humor. (I’m bilingual 😊)
  • Don’t try to be funny all the time.
  • Don’t announce that something is funny. (Beth laughed and laughed.)
  • Thor vs. Loki
  • Assassin Jason Bourne vs. Amnesia Jason Bourne
  • An overlay of Questions to Ask Your Character—my favourite being: What is the new situation and why is your heroine the worst person for the job?
  • Why do we laugh? What is the Psychology of Humour?

continuing the discussion: BC Deeks, Ellen Jorgy, Susan James, Kristan Higgins


In the Q&A at the end of the workshop, I found a little gem:

Kristan says to write your book for twenty minutes. Open the document every day, and spend twenty minutes with it—even if all you do is read the last bit you wrote. You might change a typo. You might tweak a sentence.

Don’t plan to sit down and write for Two Hours. Plan on Twenty Minutes, knowing you can stop after that. Knowing that after that Twenty Minutes, you can make tea or check Twitter. But do the twenty minutes.

And if you find you got lost in the writing, you may have to cancel the hair appointment.

Kristan Higgins, Suzanne Stengl

Have you read a Kristan Higgins novel?
Have you ever been to a Kristan Higgins workshop?
Did you read the one about Tweety?


A Wedding and a White Christmas

A Wedding and a White Christmas

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!


Something Old, Something New

Something Old, Something New

When I first published ON THE WAY TO A WEDDING, I had no idea that someday it would become part of a series. I’m calling this series SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW.

Some of the books have weddings in them, some only have the promise of a wedding in the future.

Although I wrote it first, ON THE WAY TO A WEDDING is Book 2 in the series. This story takes place in early June, before the summer solstice, so the season is not officially summer, but it’s close enough. At any rate, this is the “summer” book in the series.

The “winter” story happens first. Ryder has just got engaged and Pro is telling him to get a prenup. Ryder is only a minor character in this story that takes place from the first week of December to Christmas Eve.

If you’ve read ON THE WAY TO A WEDDING, you will meet some of those characters again in Book 1.

All of the books are standalone but if you read them in order you’ll see some of the characters grow and change.

The series is about four friends who met in high school. Pro, Ryder, Logan and Mark. They graduated the same year at Aberton, and then they all went on to the University of Calgary. Logan and Ryder in engineering, Pro in law, and Mark in medicine.

Now Ryder owns a construction company. Pro has his law firm in the Sun Valley Tower. One floor down, Logan has a petroleum exploration company. And Mark is in his final year of residency in orthopedics at the Nose Hill Hospital.

The four friends still meet to ski in the winter or hike in the summer. Sometimes they play squash at the university courts. Sometimes they meet to toss a football in the park.


Part of doing a series involves creating a set of covers to tie the books together. 

I love my original cover for ON THE WAY TO A WEDDING with that purple lettering. And I like the way the letters slant. I think it suggests a runaway bride.

But the cover needed to change to suit the other titles. Now this cover has green lettering and I love this new font.So this is the new cover for Book 2. 
Book 1 releases this Wednesday, November 1st.

I hope you’ll come and have a look!