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This weekend I had the extreme pleasure of attending a writing workshop that featured a homicide detective from the Calgary Police Services. Detective Sweet’s presentation was fascinating, graphic–turning my stomach more than once—and incredibly enlightening. I came away with so much more appreciation for what the men and women on the police force deal with every day in the name of public service. So first off, I want to say, ‘thank you’ to both the city police and the R.C.M.P.
Now, because my interests lie in the paranormal/mythological realm, I was fascinated to hear Detective Sweet talk about the volume of information that comes in from psychics. He was quick to point out that none of this information is usable because the source in non-scientific, but that it can be fascinating all the same. He went so far as to say there was one incident where the police actually considered investigating the psychic who’d contacted them for involvement in the crime because she had knowledge of the incident that only a few members of the police, the victim (deceased) and the perpetrator, had.
What do you think? Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever seen one? What about past lives? Is time travel possible?Have you ever been to a medium? I’m talking about these topics and more over at LOVE OF BOOKS today. Drop by…I’d love to hear a few good ghost stories.
I’m guest blogging today over at Krazy Book Lady and asking the question, if you could go to any time and place, where would you go and why?
It’s been quite a weekend for a number of my writing pals and I’d like to take a moment to congratulate a few of them.
1. Steena Holmes – author, cover artist and indie proponent.
Her latest book, Finding Emma came out this weekend.
A child torn from the arms of loving parents, a relationship torn apart from loss…
Megan sees her daughter Emma everywhere. She’s the little girl standing in the supermarket, the child waiting for the swings at the playground, the girl with ice cream dripping down her face. But it’s never Emma.
Because Emma’s been missing for two years.
Unable to handle the constant heartache of all the false sightings, Megan’s husband threatens to walk away unless Megan can agree to accept Emma is gone. Megan’s life and marriage is crumbling all around her and she realizes she may have to do the thing she dreads most: move on.
When Megan takes a photo of a little girl with an elderly couple at the town fair, she believes it to be her missing daughter. Unable to let go, she sets in motion a sequence of events that could destroy both families lives.
Ms. Holmes has partnered with The Missing Children’s Society of Canada and is donating a portion of all proceeds to the charity. Congratulations on this release!
Lady Serena Buxton follows her husband from England to Bandit Creek, Montana. Randolph is a partner in the Ellis gold mine, but when she arrives, she is horrified to find that Randolph is missing.
Sheriff Wilson seems to be keeping a watchful eye on her. Why? Douglas King, the mine manager, treats her as if she is already a widow. What does he know? The bank manager refuses her request for access to Randolph’s account. With no husband and no money, what is a girl to do?
Serena has an unsuspected and quite shocking talent. With the help of two enterprising local ladies, Serena prepares for a public performance. But when the news leaks out, she finds the only venue she can secure is in the Men’s Club owned by King. Like it or not, she has no option but to ask him regardless of what terms he may insist on. Billed as Ayesha, Oriental Dancer Extraordinaire, she prepares for her show which she hopes will make enough money for her to stay in Bandit Creek until Randolph is found.
The whole town, as well as a train full of people from nearby Missoula, turns out for her performance. The Club is packed. But who is in the crowd, watching? Will King insist on exacting his fees? And will Serena be reunited with the husband she loves?
Congratulations, Victoria on your debut release! I’m so happy for you!
3. Louise Behiel - author, psychologist and overall wise woman.
Louise not only writes compelling blog posts, she writes a compelling story and I am so pleased to announce her debut novel, Family Ties.
Loner, Grayson Mills realized long ago that he’s unable to establish and sustain meaningful relationships – especially with women. He’s constructed a lifestyle based on being alone and his sexy new neighbor isn’t going to change his decision.
Child psychologist Andie Bowen has four foster children, all with special emotional needs. Andie’s committed to the children and she’s not going to upset them by getting involved with a man who could never accept her family.
When six year old Chloe breaks into Gray’s home, Andie is appalled until she realizes that Jamie, her clinging youngest child, left her side for the first time in months – to look at one of Gray’s treasures.
When an unknown assailant starts tormenting Andie’s family, Gray has no choice but to step in and help protect his neighbor and her family. To protect Andie and her children, Gray will have to acknowledge his nightmares and their meaning in his life.
Together they will face his past, forcing Gray to confront his emotional needs while struggling to keep Andie and her children safe.
Congratulations on your debut release, Louise! I’m looking forward to more of your work in the near future.
4. Michelle Beattie – From pirates to cowboys, Michelle weaves tales about strong women and proud men and the adventures that bring them together.
Michelle is a DOUBLE winner of the 2012 Silken Sands Star Contest. Her winning entries include, Another Chance and Love by Accident.
Being a veterinarian in the late 1800’s is difficult enough, but for Jillian Matthews it’s impossible. Not allowed in the vet schools, she trained at her father’s side until she had the skills needed to move west. Jillian accepts an advertisement for a position in Montana, using only her initials which happen to be same as her father’s. Convinced that in the untamed west, her skills will be valued and appreciated, regardless of her gender, she’s quickly proved wrong.
Wade Parker is sure the pretty redhead claiming to be the vet he sent for is one of his ranch hands’ practical jokes but the fiery woman very quickly puts him in his place and proves him wrong. His impression, however, turns south when the animal she operated on later dies. With a ranch on the verge of bankruptcy, losing an animal was the last thing he could afford and he can’t help thinking the old vet, the male doctor, wouldn’t have let his animal die.
With Wade’s initial reaction guiding them, the town is quick to want Jillian out. But the more Wade gets to know Jillian, the more he sees her grit and compassion, the harder he falls for her. When Wade realizes he was too hasty in his judgment and urges the town to give Jillian another chance, he makes more than few enemies. Enemies that would do almost anything to get her out, and to make sure Wade doesn’t take her side again.
Soon threats turn to violence and both Wade and Jillian must make a stand. The problem is, at what cost?
Lauren McKinnon’s life changed four years ago when the car she was driving spun off the road killing her lover, Gil and leaving their best friend, Matt paralyzed. Overwhelmed by guilt, Lauren flees town and lives a life as a shadow of the woman she used to be.
Matt Skarpinksy overcame all odds and learned to walk again. Now, after tracking Lauren down, he moves to Jasper to confront the woman he’s always loved. Why did she leave him when he most needed her? What isn’t she telling him about the accident he doesn’t remember? And, just as their friendship turns to love, will Gil always stand between them?
Well, Matt’s about to find out as Gil, in the form of a ghost, guides Matt toward what really happened four years ago. But will the truth set Matt and Lauren free, or tear them apart once and for all?
Congratulations on this stellar double win!
To all those who purchased the book between February 14th and March 14th, 2012, I thank you. I will be donating $1 from each book sold to The Heart and Stroke Foundation.
THIEF OF HEARTS: UNMASKED should have been available March 14th, 2012. A last minute cover change meant that it did not go up for sale until today. Although I am thrilled with the new cover, I’m sorry for the delay.
The saga begins with THIEF OF HEARTS: WANTED…
THIEF OF HEARTS: UNMASKED description:
How could Zaina have made such a horrible mistake?
Lord Hood, her good and noble master, hovers between life and death because of Zaina’s betrayal. In order to save him, she must make a deal with a scale-covered-dragon-wielding witch–a potion to heal Hood in exchange for a vow to assassinate a king.
However Zaina may never get the chance to fulfill her mercenary task, for once Hood awakes–healed by black magic–darkness festers inside his soul and Zaina finds herself on the wrong end of the sharp tip of his sword. Not only is she fighting for her life, she must continue to keep her true identity a secret, no matter what her feelings are for Hood. If anyone should find out who she truly is, all those she loves will find themselves at the mercy of a horde of merciless dragons.
Hope you enjoy!
Happy Leap Day everyone! Wow, we get an extra day this year, what are you going to do with it? I know what I’d like to do. I’d like to sit here in my housecoat, sip on my latte and work on my current novel in progress. But I’m not. Today I’m going to exercise and believe me, I need it.
As a writer, I spend an awful lot of time sitting at my computer. Sitting and sitting and sitting. Occasionally, I get up for a snack and then I sit some more. I am not alone in this sedentary lifestyle. According to both the Canadian Medical Association and the U.S. Department of health, 2/3 of Canadians and Americans lead a physically inactive lifestyle. We are perched in front of our computers and/or television sets for a total of approximately 56 hours a week (according to a poll by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health).
We all know our bodies have not evolved to be sedentary. Our bodies were created to move and the more we sit, the more our bodies stop functioning properly resulting in such wide ranging problems as chronic back pain, obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and stroke. This issue is becoming increasingly more problematic for women who tend to be less active than men. If you’re interested in checking your risk assessment click here and Desjardin Financial Security will donate $1 to The Heart and Stroke Foundation.
So what’s the solution? A regular exercise routine? Yes, that is beneficial, but guess what? Studies are showing that even if you exercise during the day, but still maintain long periods of inactivity, you aren’t actually avoiding some of the above health risks. In fact, it is becoming more and more apparent that we need to incorporate regular movement into our daily routine. The question is, when you have a job that requires you to sit for long periods of time, how do you do that?
It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Simple things like standing instead of sitting while talking on the phone can make a difference. There’s a great article from Rodale.com called, Get Out of Your Chair if You Want to Live that shows us ‘sitters’ a couple of ways to incorporate movement into our sedentary days. Here’s a quick video from Rodale.com too. How not to sit so much
So I hope you’ll join me this Leap Day and take a moment to stand up and then sit down and then stand up and sit down again. Do this eight times three times a day. It could save your life!
It was Mother’s Day, 2006—a beautiful spring day in the Okanagan. The air was heavy with the warm scent of blossoms, the buzz of bees and the graceful flutter of butterflies in and amongst the flowerbeds. Ron, Linda and their young son, Kristian, spent the day in their huge yard: cutting the lawn, pruning trees, weeding and playfully arguing over where to plant flowers. They had just bought a used play structure and Kristian—in his ‘big-boy-four-year-old’ way—helped Ron lay it out on the patio, even picking the color of the stain. They had planned to start painting that day; however, Ron was also preparing a wonderful home-cooked meal for Linda and ran out of time. He was confident he would get to it soon.
After dinner, Ron finished up some work on the computer and went to bed around 11pm, complaining of feeling tired. Linda followed and while Ron fell asleep right away, Linda laid in bed, day-dreaming about all of their exciting reno projects. A short time later, Ron cried out in his sleep and sat up. At first, Linda thought he was having a nightmare, something that had been happening quite a bit, of late. What quickly became apparent was that this was not a nightmare.
This was something much worse.
Flipping on the light, Linda stood helplessly as her husband experienced a massive heart attack. The way she describes it, it was like he was wrestling an elephant off of his chest. His mouth was foaming and his eyes rolled back in his head. After a panicked call to 911, she did her best to calm him while waiting for the paramedics to arrive.
The first responder was the fire department. Unfortunately they did not have a defibrillator with them and were unable to do anything, except move him to the living room. By this time, Ron was unconscious. Linda has a vague memory of this time, of making phone calls, of neighbors and friends arriving and of talking to her unconscious husband, waiting precious minutes (that seemed like hours) for the paramedics.
As soon as the paramedics arrived, they rushed Ron to the hospital, but despite their efforts, it was too late. Ron could not be revived.
“I felt so helpless,” Linda says. “I felt like I should have tried something to save him. But I couldn’t…” she chokes up as she recalls that night. Even six years later, the experience haunts her. “It was so much more violent than I’d ever imagined. I’ve heard all these stories of people simply going to sleep and never waking up. It wasn’t like that for Ron. It seems so unfair.”
Ron was only 55 when he passed away so suddenly in the night. He was a victim of heart disease, a genetic condition that took the life of his grandfather, father and older brother. His father was only 42, his brother 38 when they passed away. Ron was with his grandfather, working out on the farm, when he died. Ron tried to resuscitate him; he was only 16 at the time.
“We knew he had this condition,” Linda tells me. “But we just lived our lives, I mean you can’t carry on your life waiting for death.” In fact, if you had met Ron, you would never have guessed he had a heart condition. He was vibrant and fit, looking much younger than his years. Linda, a massage therapist, was a conscientious cook, making sure to keep their meals healthy and heart-smart.
But at the end of the day, there was nothing they could do.
Six years later, Linda has courageously carried on, changing careers and raising Kristian on her own. She misses Ron every single day and grieves, not only for the loss of her husband, but for the loss of her son’s father. “Kristian was only four when Ron died. There were so many things Ron wanted to do with him, share with him.”
Linda is one of the bravest women I know and she is also one of my dearest friends. I will never be able to understand how helpless she felt that night. To a much lesser degree, I’ve often felt helpless wishing I could do more for her as she has struggled to come to terms with ‘life after heart disease’.
So, in my own small way, I have dedicated, Thief of Hearts: Wanted to the memory of her husband, Ron. It’s a fantastical retelling of the story of Robin Hood – which is fitting because Ron was the kind of guy who would give his last dollar to someone living on the streets. In the same spirit, I will be donating $1 from every book sold between February 14th 2012, and March 14, 2012 to The Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The World Heart Federation, a non-governmental Geneva-based organization said that “findings show that being in love and being loved helps to keep us healthy and is particularly good for our hearts…love also reduces stress, depression and anxiety, three major risk factors for heart disease.” To read an excerpt from, Love Is Good For The Health, by Richard Woodman, Reuters Health (London) Click here.
Not only is being in love good for the heart, READING about love is good for the heart. Even more than watching movies, a reader is enmeshed in the story, feeling the emotions and the events that unfold as if they are right there. USA Today has a wonderful article out today called, Why Do We Need Romance Novels by Joyce Lamb where she has collected anecdotes from authors about how their work has touched people’s lives.
The key to romance? The happily ever after. In a world rife with conflict, economic hardship and uncertainty, people want a little certainty. Reading about love releases endorphins that mimic the feeling of being in love. This is why the genre is so popular! And guys out there, word to the wise, if you want your lady to be in the mood, buy her a romance novel. Or, better yet, read one together!
Thief of Hearts: Wanted is out today! $1 from every sale between February 14th, 2012 and March 14, 2012 will be donated to The Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Vive La Valentine: An All-For-Indies Anthology