Thursday, October 30, 2008

My North Dakota Mission

This past Tues, I went down to North Dakota on a variety of errands which included picking up my mail, mailing my partial, doing a recce to Prairie Junction and visiting the library.

Why did I drive 1.5 hrs to use a US post office? When I need to order supplies that will fill a large box or two, such as Sunday school supplies from the Christian Dollar Store in Zanesville, Ohio, I'll pick a calendar date for about a month in the future and start my list:

Shipping: I'll do all the on-line ordering that I've saved over the past few months and send them to my Noonan, ND post office box. This saves shipping costs. Yes, I pay taxes when I take them across the border, but that's okay with me because the taxes aren't nearly as much as the S&H charges would have been.

Mailing SASE: I had a partial manuscript of An Outlaw for the Lady to send out to the editors of Steeple Hill in New York. I needed a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope). The reason it has to be SASE is so that the editors can reply with either a rejection or a request for me to send the full ms. (Sometimes, they'll offer suggestions.) However, since I can only buy Canadian stamps in Canada, I would have to buy an International Reply Coupon and include that with the envelope. The last time I did that, the IRC cost me $5 Cdn and yet when the SAE came back, it had a .72 US stamp on it. Clearly, I lost money there. So, this time, I left my envelope open, questioned the postmaster, and stuck a 1.20 stamp on the self-addressed envelope. This will ensure postage to Canada for up to 9 pages. Since I'm only expecting 1 page, I think I'm safe.

Mailing Out: By sending my pkg from Noonan, I didn't have to worry about it being stopped at customs enroute. (don't laugh...it happens) I know my precious partial parcel will arrive in New York by the end of next week.

Recce: My contemporary inspirational trilogy is located in my imaginary town of Prairie Junction, North Dakota which in my mind is located part way between Noonan and Crosby, to the west, both in Divide County. Each time I visit, I take photos of the flora and fauna of the season. It also allows me to have a 'feel' for the area which I hope relays back into my writing.

Mail Pick Up: Many authors give away free books just for leaving a comment on their blogs or where they guest blog. This past summer, I was blessed to win books and other prizes just for leaving blog comments. I had picked up over half a dozen pkgs like this enroute the ACFW conference in Sept, but some hadn't arrived yet. (When I know I'm going down, I let the US authors mail the goodies to Noonan to save themselves S&H costs.) So this time when I went down, I was pleased to find the following from:

- Tina Russo at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/ - a very nice Foray roller tip red pen (I expected this) and the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King (surprise!)

- Betty Hanawa at http://www.writersatplay.com/wordpress/ - a copy of Not Without Her Family (Count on a Cop) by Beth Andrews

- Lindsey Brookes at http://www.writersatplay.com/wordpress/ - a gorgeous silver bracelet which I'm wearing as I type. It glitters...

- Stacey Kayne at http://petticoatsandpistols.com/ who also is a member of Writers at Play (WAP):

  • I expected: The Bounty Hunter and the Heiress by Carol Finch HH#909
  • Stacey said she'd throw in: The Gunslinger's Untamed Bride HH#904 (Yippee!!!)
  • Surprise in the pkg: a Stacey Kayne autographed Petticoats & Pistols fan, a Stacey Kayne 'dragonfly' pen and pin, a Tawny Weber (WAP) magnetic bookmark, and 5 'book cover' bookmarks including one of Stacey's with a beaded dragonfly attachment.

As you can see, I'm still excited about my gifts.

So, a humongous Canuck hug and thank you going out to Tina, Betty, Lindsey and Stacey. As you can see on the right, your blogs are a regular part of my day.

Library Exchange: And finally, before heading down to ND, I gather all the books that I've read but aren't 'keepers' according to my Book Reviews and bring them with me to the Divide County Public Library in Crosby. I love this library. So, on Tues, I brought down about 18 books and then checked their 'free books' for any I hadn't read. I walked away with 15 new-to-me incl'g Marta Perry and Jillian Hart's Love Inspired series books that I was missing, and 2 Linda Lael Miller's Stoney Creek books incl'g the one she's promoting now. Those 4 books alone are worth the gas money for the trip down. Now, I realize the author doesn't get any royalties from these books (just like in a used book store), but there's something so exhilarating about a free book exchange without limits, membership or monetary exchange. The only requirement is the need to read and be read. Most libraries will only accept donations for books published in the previous 2 years. Plus, even people who don't have a library card can borrow these books.

I think it's a great system for used 'unwanted' books. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Burst Blood Vessel Update

(In a deep echo voice) And now, for the on-going story of ‘My Hand’s Gonna Explode!’...

Harlequin Romance author, Donna Alward came up with a ringer – Holy Hematoma! (I wish I’d thought of that) Good going, Donna.

Yesterday morning, the swelling had gone done considerably but my hand now had a distinct blue tinge. I forgot to put ice on it (tsk, tsk, tsk) and after posting a couple emails, took a 2 hr drive to the beautiful state of North Dakota.


I picked up my mail, sent off my partial of An Outlaw for the Lady to Steeple Hill in New York, and visited the local library. I love the Divide County library. They have a section of books where you bring some in and take some home. All free. Take what you want to read. I brought about 18 in and picked out 15 to take home including a nearly new copy of The Rustler by Linda Lael Miller which I believe is the current book she’s promoting. Yippee!

Anyway, did you get that part about sending out the partial to Steeple Hill? Yeah? Okay...

By the time I was enroute home, my hand throbbed. I’d tried to keep it on the top of the steering wheel but that was only when driving. I didn’t want to walk around ND with my hand raised in a perpetual sign of greeting...mind you, they probably would’ve just thought, ‘Another crazy Canuck’ and forgotten it...

I'd bought Ibuprofen at Wal-Mart in Estevan but it was in the back of the van and I didn't feel like stopping so close to home. Yes, I did put frozen peas on it as soon as I got home and then I took the photo:

I did a bit of writing last night but the burst vein started to bulge again. (sigh)

JodieG posted in the comments why she guessed it grew so large: She asked if I take an aspirin every day: Yes, I do.

She said that will stop the blood from clotting quickly.

Jodie also mentioned I should have put ice on right away (I waited an hour before I even noticed...but I was writing!!!)

So, thanks Jodie I’ll be ready next time – and yes, I’m positive there’ll be a next time since after 20 yrs of military arms by my side, I love the freedom of movement...

Anyway, this is what it looks like today – I am now worried...NaNoWriMo starts in just over 2 days and that means optimum writing – eeps.

But you know what? Love Inspired author, Cheryl Wyatt, worked on 2 book deadlines with severely injured hands after a vehicle accident this past year. If she can do it with 2 ‘bad’ hands, there’s no excuse for me with only one injured one.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Hand's Gonna Explode!

So, guess what happened to me on the way to my bedroom?

Before your mind goes into overdrive, let me tell you - I burst a blood vessel in my hand.

How? I’m glad you asked...because I love to swing my arms while I walk. This alone isn't that dangerous, but when your hallway is filled with bookshelves, it can be hazardous to your health. Let's just say a bookshelf got in the way of my swinging arm.

But, I'm so used to it, that after shouting a word that's better left in the bathroom, I kept walking.

Now, picture this: It's an hour later and I'm sitting at my laptop typing. My hand is itchy. I ignore it. It starts to feel...funny. I rub it. Mercy! Somethings wrong! I look down at my hand and I've got a humongous blue lump ready to burst!

I show it to hubby who looks stunned but then kicks into his First Responder persona and starts to question me. I'm now back in the bedroom trying to find matching socks so I can head into the nearest medical clinic. Hubby suggests I phone the Saskatchewan Health Line. Brilliant! I go to the fridge, phone in hand, and call it in.

Ten minutes later, I hang up. The diagnosis is that yes, it appears I have a broken blood vessel in my hand. The nurse was concerned with my high BP so I have to keep an eye on my hand (unlike the first hour where I ignored it). I’m to put ice on it for 20 mins every couple hours and keep the hand elevated above my heart. If it bursts, (yikes) I’m to report in for sutures.

O-kay.

By the time I was off the phone, hubby handed me a little Ziploc baggie partially filled with frozen green peas. Awwh. I kept it on the req’d time, put it back in the fridge, and now 6 hrs after the fact, just realized I should’ve used it again...at least a couple more times. Oops.

The nurse had said it probably got so big because there’s not much besides bones in a hand and the blood had nowhere else to go. After keeping my hand elevated most of this evening, I can honestly say the swelling has gone down, but it’s not gone. Apparently it can take 7-10 days to return to normal. In the meantime, I’m to try not to use it.

Not use it? I’m a writer on a deadline!!!

So, I probably shouldn’t be typing this because as my fingers are working, I feel tingling under, on and around the injured area.

But...I...must...write...

Why am I telling you this? Because you never know when you’ll need a good idea for a story, of course.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Current On-line Writing Contests

For you writers out there, here are 3 writing challenges/contests going on now in order of deadlines:

http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/ Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent: Showing VS Telling mini Contest. 25-75 words. Entry to be posted as a comment. Deadline Wed, Oct 22nd.
Prize: "Winner can choose an evaluation of ten pages of their work, or a $20 Amazon gift card."

http://community.eharlequin.com/forums/write-stuff/writers-challenge-4?page=8#comment-112343 Writer's Challenge - click Current Challenge for more info. Max 1000 words. Entry to be posted anytime between the morning of Oct 30 until midnight Oct 31st.
Prize: Peer recognition

http://scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com/2008/10/october-2008-prompt.html Love Inspired author, Cheryl Wyatt's monthly Prompt Contest. 500 word scene. Deadline Oct 31st.
Prize: Free Steeple Hill book

So there you go - 3 small contests you can enter to sharpen your writing skills. The first 2 will give you confidence of putting your work 'out there' but only Cheryl sees your entry for her prompt contest.

Good luck.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Book Review: A Passion Most Pure


A Passion Most Pure (The Daughters of Boston) by Julie Lessman 2008 Revell Books

This book is 2008 Top 10 material. I loved it. With vivid descriptions, heart hammering emotion and the most passion I've ever read in an inspirational book to date, Julie Lessman has written a book that mirrors real people with all the faults God bestowed on us.

I usually don't like books where either main character has another love interest because I only want to know about what happens between the hero and the heroine. But in this book, it's a major plot development b/c the hero is courting the heroine's sister.

The hero, Collin McGuire is a nice, handsome fellow but I don't like the way he treats women. He's no angel and if you're wearing a skirt, watch out, you're fair game. Not exactly hero material. He does have one redeeming feature...much to his chagrin...he can't forget Faith or her words. Too bad she won't give him the time of day.

Actually that's not true. Faith O'Connor would like to give him more than the time of day b/c she's loved him since they worked together in school. But she sees the man he is and won't settle for anyone less than the man of her dreams - a church-going believer with eyes only for her. That would not be Collin.

Collin is actually confused. He's courting one sister who would willingly ‘put out' if he asked. He's got a girl or two on the side for...release. And yet, he can't stop thinking about Faith - the only girl who doesn't want him. Do you think he wants her just b/c she's unattainable? But she's not really...for when they kiss, he realizes her true feelings...he's just not willing to give up his ‘standards' to be true only to her and her God.

This story kept me engrossed from beginning to end, from the streets of Boston to Europe's WWI trenches, to the green fields of Ireland and back to Boston again. I cried. I laughed. And I cried some more. I drew looks from my hubby who snuck peeks at the book when I put it down. In fact, I actually finished it a few days ago but couldn't do the review b/c he kept taking it to read.

A Passion Most Pure is Book 1 in The Daughters of Boston series.

Book 2 is about Faith's sister - Charity - who reminded me of Joan Collins on the old Dynasty show. Actually, Charity looks much like the heroine, Charlie in my novel, Charlie's Saint. It was kind of weird, actually. Both have curly blond hair with figures to catch a man's eye. Both have no time for God. Both are ‘bad girls'. But there the similarity ends b/c my Charlie isn't as bad as Charity. Hmmm. Is that a good or a bad thing? I'll let you know when I've read the sequel - Charity's story:

Book 2 - A Passion Redeemed - is in book stores now.

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Heat Level: Sensual (My teen has never dated but I want her to read this book)

My Rating: Excellent - 5 stars (one to re-read; Top 10 list)
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2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

Total books Read: 96 Harlequin Imprint: 90 Others: 6
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Book Review: Courting Miss Adelaide


Courting Miss Adelaide by Janet Dean Love Inspired Historical #16 - Sep 08

Please excuse me while I wipe the tears off my laptop and clear all the used tissues away. There, that's better. This book certainly was a surprise. For all you ‘peekers' out there on eharl - yes, I read the blog posts where you say you read the end of the book first - well, you'll want to jump on this one b/c the last few pages pack a punch.

That's not to say the rest of the book is boring - far from it. In this debut novel, Janet Dean gently lures us into her story, dropping crumbs that we eagerly snatch b/c although we know how it's going to end, we want to enjoy the awakening attraction, the kisses, the bickerings, and the distrust the two main characters must endure before they realize nothing else matters except their faith in each other and in God.

It's 1897 and milliner Adelaide Crum is a 31 yr old spinster. She could've married years ago but refused to settle. It seems like she's been lonely - wanting to be loved - her whole life. When news of an orphan train reaches her, Adelaide believes this is the answer to her prayer. With all those children needing parents, surely there's one for her.

Charles Graves is going through the motions of living but fear keeps him from getting involved. A product of a dysfunctional home, he worries that he'll turn out like his father so he stays clear of relationships. He turned the dismal future of the town newspaper around since taking over not too long ago and the town elders seem to consider him a role model citizen. He's not about to do anything to change their opinion of him.

Until he meets Adelaide Crum. For one thing, she threatens his equanimity with her glimpses of what might be if he would only grasp it. But what really irks him is her demand that he run articles on women's suffrage in the newspaper. Why, he'd lose customers if he did that!

Adelaide is a strong woman living in a man's world without a say in anything important. She's tired of playing by their rules, but if she persists in making trouble, will the town elders - the ones who decide which orphan goes where - believe she's a good role model to raise a child?

I am eagerly awaiting Janet Dean's next adventure.

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Heat level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great! 4 ½ stars (a keeper)

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2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

Total books Read: 95 Harlequin Imprint: 90 Others: 5


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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Land of the Sleeping Giant

Okay, so here are the photos of my recent sojourn to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Thunder Bay is known as the Land of the Sleeping Giant and this photo of him was taken from Crescent Park on High Street. You can see the calm harbour in the foreground with the rough waters of Lake Superior behind the breakwater.

This pic is what you see on the right side of the Port of Thunder Bay. It's rare to look out over the harbour and not see a freighter.

I spent many years of my childhood in this city which is a combination of the Port Arthur and Fort William. I remember when the twin cities amalgamated back in the late '60s.

I was in Thunder Bay to visit my mom and my other relatives. My mom's parents were both from Finland and came to Canada as young adults. Thunder Bay has a huge Finn population and one night, we went out for supper at the Finlandia Club where Finnish cooking is their specialty.

From left to right:

Torsti (Mom's hubby)
Mary (my mom)
Uncle Paul (Mom's bro)
Nancy (my cousin)



One night, we went to visit my brother Johnny and Cathy. Squeeky - I know I said I'd use the other photo but finally decided on this one since everyone was smiling and looking at the camera.

It was the last Sunday in Sept and we decided to go for a walk. This is the walk my mom and Torsti make every few days on a regular basis although they've been told to never walk it alone. It's 2.5 mls from the Finnish senior's housing complex they live in to Tim Horton's and back again. They've been told never to walk it alone, due to dangers posed both by 'bad' people and wolves that frequent the area feeding on the deer population. (Yikes!)

Here is the route:

We went down the road...I'm not sure what Nancy's doing...




I followed Uncle Paul, Mom and Nancy over the bridge.



There had been a heavy rain the day before and the water under the bridge flowed fast. Here you see it head under the hwy. To the left is the pedestrian tunnel under the highway.
This is the tunnel under Hwy 11/17 which is also known as the TransCanada Highway No. 1.

It was weird walking in the tunnel because you have no sense that freightliners, logging trucks and countless other vehicles are crossing over your head.

Or was it that I was so used to them, I wasn't aware of them?

I'm sure you've heard the expression 'The Light at the End of the Tunnel' well...here it is...


Walking along the path with the fast flowing water gurgling alongside.


These Mountain Ash berries were still attached to the branch but they hung in the water - bobbing along with the flow.


It was Sep 28th and plants were completing their cycle all over the place, but these Forget-me-Nots were still flowering.






I've Been Tagged!

You can't know the jolt that shoots through your system when you read those words, 'You've Been Tagged' unless you've actually been tagged.

I was.

I wasn't even back home from my trip to the ACFW conference when Margaret Daley sent me an email telling me the good news. Except I didn't know what it meant. Sure, I've read other people being tagged over the last 18 months I've read the blogs and joined http://www.eharlequin.com/ but I'd never been tagged so I never cared.

Once I became IT, I went to Margaret's site at http://margaretdaley.blogspot.com/ to see what it was all about. Hmmm. It didn't look too bad. I noticed she also tagged Debby Giusti at Craftie Ladies of Suspense which is another of my favourite blogs, so I went to http://ladiesofsuspense.blogspot.com/2008/10/ive-been-tagged.html and checked it out.

I think I get the picture. Hopefully by the time I finish this post, I'll have picked out 6 people who will be thrilled to get tagged. I see that Debby turned around and tagged Cheryl Wyatt at www.scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com/ even though Margaret had already tagged her.

Can she do that? I didn't read that in the rules. Who made up these rules, anyway? Where's the website with all the rules for tagging. And the referee. There's gotta be a ref, right?

So I can't confirm the rules right now, but since both Margaret and Debby list them as such, I will as well:

Here, then, are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.

2. Post the rules on your blog.

3. Write six random things about yourself.

4. Tag six people at the end of your post.

5. Let each person know when he or she has been tagged.

6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So, according to the rules, I've already done #1 & 2.

You really want me to do #3?

Okay, so 6 random things about myself:

1. I prefer 7-Eleven coffee/capuccinos to Tim Horton's (can you see the Canadian jaws dropping...that's like saying you prefer McDonald's coffee to Starbuck's!)

2. I tell my kids to pick up their stuff from the floor or sofa while my own pile of 'stuff' stays in plain sight...because mine's more important. (Yes, I'm working on this.)

3. I can't abide squished bread.

4. My hubby does my laundry.

5. My pockets usually contain rocks from my walks and yes, hubby's the one to find them because...well...see #4.

6. I think the sweetest sound on earth is a voice raised in praise and worship.

Well, that wasn't too hard. What's next...tag 6 people...yikes. Okeedokee...I tag:

1. Vicki Bylin http://victoriabylin.blogspot.com/ (Harlequin Historical - Magic of Christmas anthology in stores now)

2. Cheryl St. John http://cherylstjohn.blogspot.com/ (Harlequin Historical - Magic of Christmas anthology in stores now)

3. Linda Ford http://lindaford.org/blog/ (LI Historical - The Journey Home)

4. Barbara Phinney http://barbphinney.blogspot.com/ (LI Suspense - Deadly Homecoming)

5. Donna Alward http://www.donnaalward.blogspot.com/ (Harlequin Romance - The Rancher's Runaway Princess)

6. Amy Andrews http://www.amyandrews.com.au/index.htm (Harlequin Medical - Top-Notch Surgeon, Pregnant Nurse)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Book Review: The Magic of Christmas


The Magic of Christmas - Harlequin Historical Western Anthology 2008

My Rating: Great! - 4 ½ stars (a keeper)

Fantastic Christmas stories. I loved them. This book has 3 emotional Christmas novellas, all of which appropriately involve infants. Of the 3 authors, 2 of them - Cheryl St. John and Victoria Bylin - are favourites of mine. I will buy books from these 2 women on sight without even reading the back cover. And, their novellas in this book have reinforced my opinion of their writing.

The first novella, however was written by Carolyn Davidson. a new author to me. I have to say I wonder what the editors were thinking when they put her novella first in this anthology. Why? Because I expected something Christmassy with love and forgiveness - especially after looking at the gorgeous cover with a young couple holding a baby. But, the first novella starts with disease, death and was depressing to me. I actually wondered why I was reading it. But, I was sent the book to review and like I said, I was eager to read Vicki and Cheryl's novellas, so I persevered And, of course, I'm glad I did.


A Christmas Child by Carolyn Davidson:

Heat level: Sensual

Marianne Winters' mother dies from typhoid right after giving birth to a boy. Marianne takes her brother to a new town and can't even find a warm place to stay. When the lonely young pastor, David McDermott offers refuge, they run into public opposition from busy bodies in the church who believe the baby isn't Marianne's brother, but her ‘born out of wedlock' child.

This was a nice story, but it didn't seem to draw me in emotionally like the other 2 in the book.


The Christmas Dove by Victoria Bylin:

Heat level: Romantic (I'd share this book with my 16 year old daughter)

As a young man, poor Dylan McCall kissed Maddie Cutler and poured out his dreams. She turned her nose up at him and his dreams and ran off with a gambler. Now she's back - with her baby. She's left her gambler and that life behind. Dylan finds her in a stable. She's hit rock bottom. He takes her to the ranch she once scorned. She seems humbled, but is she? Or is she just biding her time until her rich father takes her back?

I have a soft spot for stories about fallen women who have hit bottom and are trying to climb out - especially when it's a 'lost love' story and the hero is still waiting. (sigh) Vicki Bylin writes these types of stories with originality and depth. I was there, in her story, and I didn't want to come out. I cried during this one.


A Baby Blue Christmas by Cheryl St John:

Heat level: Romantic (I'd share this book with my 16 year old daughter)

Turner Price was an orphan who now owns the livery, serves on town council, and aches from personal loss. When he finds Gabrielle Rawlins and her twin babies in his stable, he assumes she's the mother even though she doesn't seem to have maternal instincts for the babies' needs. When she suggests putting them in a foundling home, Turner becomes angry and tells her his awful experiences as an orphan. To circumvent this, he takes the trio into his own home but makes it plain he cannot invest any personal feelings into the situation. But is that possible? He already loves the babies as his own.

This hero really touched me. He's big and strong and doesn't want to do 'the right thing' and help the strange lady with the babies, but he must because that's just the way God made him. I cried while reading this one, too. I cried for the hero. I cried for the heroine. And, I cried for their joy in finding love at last.
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2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

Total books Read: 94 Harlequin Imprint: 89 Others: 5
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