/*from pinterest*/
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.

WEDDING BELL BLUES

 

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

All the books are standalone.

Book 1 is A WEDDING AND A WHITE CHRISTMAS

Book 2 is ON THE WAY TO A WEDDING

Book 3 is WEDDING BELL BLUES

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.

Covers

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!

August update and some painting

Summer in Calgary is almost over. The indigenous poplars are starting to turn yellow and drop their leaves but the warm weather continues. It’s hot during the day with the temperatures ranging from 27 to 30 Celsius (81 to 86 Fahrenheit). Too hot to walk, at least for me, so I walk at 6 a.m. before the sun is up when the temperature is closer to 10 degrees (50 Fahrenheit). I’m trying to hit my 10,000 steps per day. This is important for a person who spends a lot of her time sitting at a computer.

August has been a busy month. For the first time I attended a local conference for Readers and Writers, called When Words Collide. I liked it so much I am already signed up for next year.

When Words Collide

I also attended the Annual Sylvan Lake Retreat with thirteen other writers from Calgary and Edmonton and surrounding areas. We even had a writer there who came all the way from Keewatin Ontario.

Sylvan Lake Library

Sylvan Lake Library

And, yay me, I finished my latest manuscript. My editor has it now. In the meantime, I am working with my cover artist and finalizing a design. I hope to have the book ready for October. This is the prequel to ON THE WAY TO A WEDDING that I’ve told you about.

Also this month, Rolf and I got to doggie sit Makita for two weeks, while her humans were on vacation.

Makita saying hello to Rolf

Here she is greeting Rolf at McKinnon Flats as he finishes a canoe trip on the Bow River. She is such a happy dog, but I know she missed her humans and she was happy to be reunited with them.

Makita missing her humans

We don’t have a cat because Rolf is allergic to them, but apparently cats have the same attachment needs as dogs.

Bourbon the cat

A friend of mine wrote a beautiful (and funny) article about her experiences with fostering cats. I think you’d enjoy reading it. You can find it here.

On August 21st, I watched the partial eclipse of the sun with my son Kyle. Here we are using his welding helmets.

Suzanne and Kyle, eclipse watching

Kyle somehow managed to get this shot of me – watching the eclipse, with a jet stream in the sky, while he was holding the “pin hole” and reflecting the stage of the eclipse off my shirt. Pretty cool, eh?

See the “pin hole” image of the eclipse on my shirt?

As this month ends, I am edging into a new story. It will be book three of my Wedding series. While part of my mind works on that in the background, I am taking a watercolour course. At this point, I am mostly learning about paints and brushes and papers. And I still enjoy playing with acrylics.

For no other reason than it seemed like fun, I decided to paint this Sun and Moon. Someone threw it out and I figured it could use some brightening. And of course one person’s trash is another person’s treasure . . .

start with this

paint the sun yellow and decide I don’t like it . . .

so paint the whole thing white . . .

then another coat of yellow for Mr. Sun and a first coat for the stars . . .

some blue for the moon . . .

a darker blue for the moon, a bit of detailing . . .

a couple coats of varnish and put it in the garden!

And that’s it for August. How has your summer been?