In 2012, I published my first book — The Ghost and Christie McFee. At the time, I was calling it a Contemporary Romance. It does have a sweet romance subplot. However, it turns out to be more of a Cozy Mystery, and more specifically, a Cozy Ghost Mystery. So I decided to give it a new cover.
Since this was my first book, I wasn’t sure about how covers matched up with genres. And so, this cover has gone through several iterations.
available on Amazon in eBook and Larger Print
I think this new one defines the story best.
Do you like it? Do you like cozy mysteries? Do you like ghost stories?
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.
“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.
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 writes contemporary romance, often steamy ones! Now, she’s also writing cozy mysteries. Find her here.
Shelley Kassian writes Romantasy, a combination of Fantasy + Romance. Find her here.
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 loves to write sexy, contemporary romance. Find her here. By the way, I love the Welcome page she has on her website.
Victoria Chatham writes “history, mystery and love”. You can find her here.
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 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.)
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!
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.
the conversation continues…
Suzanne Stengl, M.K. Stelmack, Victoria Chatham, Brenda Sinclair, Katie O’Connor, S.L. Dickson, Amy Jo Fleming, Lori Feldberg
Amy Jo, Brenda, Vicki, Shaa
Katie, Amy Jo, Suzanne, Shaa
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.
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:
- Secondary Characters, Secondary Plotlines
- Writing Humour
- 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?
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!