Thursday, April 30, 2009

Win a Tote Full of Brenda Novak Books!

It's finally here! Brenda Novak is at Prairie Chicks Write Romance today, April 30th and she's giving away a tote full of her books and a $25 gift certificate for her online auction to one lucky person who leaves a comment any time until midnight tonight.

I'm sorry, but comments left here WILL NOT COUNT toward Brenda's giveaway. So, head on over to the Prairie Chicks blog and leave a comment where Brenda can see it/you.

Tomorrow, on May 1st, Brenda Novak's month long auction to benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research starts and this year it appears it may surpass expectations.

The online auction is run like eBay and it's really simple to sign up for and receive a bidding number. Since Brenda Novak, the auction's creator, is a New York Times best selling author, a lot of the items have to do with books and writers. In fact, there are a couple hundred books up for grabs and all sorts of adventures like lunch with famous writers. There are also everyday items like jewelry and gift baskets (lots with books).

The items for writers include agent and editor critiques, evaluations, classes, etc. For more info on what's offered, check out my Apr 8th blog or better yet, go to Brenda's auction site.

I've already registered at the auction because the first 500 people receive a free book from Brenda. Why don't you join me.

If you have any questions about the process, let me know and if I can't help you, I'll find someone who can. :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Brenda Novak Blogs at Prairie Chicks Write Romance

Have you checked out the blue banner above this post? It's for a special day we're having over on the Prairie Chicks blog at http://prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com/ this coming Thurs, the last day of April.

That's the day New York Times Best Selling author Brenda Novak will be spending the day with us and then at the end one lucky person will win a tote full of Brenda's books plus a $25 gift certificate for the auction. And it could be you. All you have to do is stop by the Prairie Chick blog at http://www.prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com/ sometime on April 30th and leave a comment.

You see, on May 1st, Brenda Novak's month long auction to benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research starts and this year it appears it may surpass expectations.

The online auction is run like eBay and it's really simple to sign up for and receive a bidding number. Since Brenda Novak, the auction's creator, is a New York Times best selling author, a lot of the items have to do with books and writers. In fact, there are a couple hundred books up for grabs and all sorts of adventures like lunch with famous writers. There are also everyday items like jewelry and gift baskets (lots with books).

The items for writers include agent and editor critiques, evaluations, classes, etc. For more on what's offered, check out my Apr 8th blog or better yet, go to Brenda's auction site here:
http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/.

I've already registered at the auction because the first 500 people receive a free book from Brenda. Why don't you join me.

If you have any questions about the process, let me know and if I can't help you, I'll find someone who can. :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It's Raining Cars among Other Things

Here are images taken last Friday on my trip down to North Dakota:

I didn't dally on this section of the highway because it looked like I just missed a car storm.

Either that or this guy thinks he can plant cars. From the looks of it, he wants a crop of the 50's or is it the 60's?


Okay, give the guy some glasses, would ya.

Found in North Dakota along the highway between Noonan and Crosby, this cement box has fascinated me for 2 yrs while I've tried to discover what it is. I've photographed it in all seasons and this is the first time I've seen water beneath it and realized it's a bridge of some sort. This time around, I also saw tracks gouged into the ground leading down to it.

I'm going to use it in my Prairie Juntion series as a haven for a runaway.


Coal mining along the highway between Estevan and the border.



What's left after the coal is retrieved. This is right beside the road south.



A few Canada geese mixed in with the Snow Geese.






Moose tracks.

Hubby has seen 5 moose in the area during his travels around our farm. There weren't any when we moved here 8 yrs ago.






Well, that's it for me.

What caught your eye this week? Tell me about it...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can People Read What You Write?

I'm blogging at Prairie Chicks today about readability tests.

Yes, you know how to read and write, but can others read what you write? Are you so skilled a writer that the average person can't read and understand it?

Come on over and let me tell you where to go to find out.

Or come over and tell me it's all a bunch of crock.

Either way, come for a visit at http://prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Before, After, and What Could Have Been

Here's Nelson coming home from work in April 2001. When the water rose too high, he left the Mazda at the corner, put on his wading boots and walked home following the road and driveway.

Note the shack in the back ground - it's the one we use on the Prairie Chicks blog. :)


I was out and about tonight taking 'after the flood' pics and I saw this on the side of the road. It's either a fish or someone pointing the way south.




Looking east, this is our driveway when the flood was at it's highest - during the Easter weekend.



This is what our driveway looked like today.












But, this is what we avoided. It's a pic taken back in April 2001 when we had our last flood.

Nelson put a pole to designate the drain that crosses under the road. Note the top of the fence post 4 to the left of it.



The road going north on the worst day of the flood this year.






This is the road north today.



This is what the road north looked like in the spring of 2001.






The Red Winged Blackbirds have staked out their territories. I love their song.

Monday, April 20, 2009

From Coin Shows to Kilts

My weekend went the gamut from wonderfully satisfying to frightfully awful.

On Friday, I headed down to North Dakota to pick up my mail, exchange the free books at the Crosby Library and visit a bank for some state quarters. I listened to writing podcasts while I drove. A tiring, but satisfying day.

Sat morning found the kids and I packing the van with our overnight bags and heading to Regina. First stop was the Regina Coin Club’s Spring Coin and Stamp show where my son, JJ and I set out our displays.

JJ’s display of Dinosaurs contained Coins and Tokens.

I entitled my display ‘Motherhood’ with the description: On these coins, bank notes and medals, you’ll find mothers nursing, rocking and playing with their babies. And yes, even protecting them.

Once the set up was complete, we headed off to do a bit of shopping as Jessie needed an item for her recital costume. At noon, I dropped her off at the Royal Conservatory of Music and took the 2 boys back to the Coin Show.

First up was selling 30 old worn quarters that were no use to a coin collector due to holes and scratches. You couldn’t even make out the date on one of them. I headed over to the George Manz table and handed over my scrap quarters worth $7.50 if I brought them to a bank. A few mins later, I walked away with a cheque worth $54.65 in my wallet and a smile on my face.

We headed across the hall to where JJ’s CoinHawk mtg was about to start. This is an excellent coin club for kids up to 16. The club provides the young numismatists the required books and a binder to hold the info given out each month. As well, they usually hand out free coins, etc to every kid who attends the mtg. JJ has also rec’d 2 free magnifying glasses and the 2x2’s to hold his new coins. And membership in the club is FREE. It’s worth the trip into the city every month to give JJ this wonderful education of a hobby I’ve loved my entire life. And, the free coins sure help, too.

Anyway, we were half way through an interesting discussion on Canadian 25 cent pieces when the cell phone in my pocket vibrated. Jessie’s recital was over. I left the boys at the mtg and drove over to pick up a smiling Jessie. Her recital had gone well and her instructor had been pleased with her performance.

By the time we got back to the Coin Show, it was 3 pm and JJ’s mtg had just ended. Nick waved a new 1949 silver cased dollar at me which he’d won as a door prize. Plus they showed me the free 1999 and 2000 series coins sets (12 coins in each) which they rec’d for being CoinHawk members. They were happy but wanted to get to the pool.

First, however, I had an assignment to complete. I’d been hired by a Consumer organization as a Mystery Shopper. It took just over an hour to complete the assignment and I know you’d love to hear about it but that’s a topic for another post. J By the time we got out of the store, it was near 5 pm and the kids were antsy. After a trip to SuperStore to buy pepperoni sticks, snap peas, snacks, pop, muffins, juice, etc, we headed over to our hotel.

Once we hauled everything up to the room, the kids got into their swimsuits and waited for my nod. I tried to get onto the internet to check in with the Prairie Chicks blog where Victoria Bylin was guest blogging, but I couldn’t get on. I asked Jessie to try while I was gone and give my go ahead for the pool. Man, those kids disappeared fast!

I headed back to the Coin Show for the evening auction. Bidding started at $2 and ran the gamut up to $5,100 for an 1872H Canadian 25 cent piece. Wow. I spent $24 on some trade dollars and 25 cent pieces.

Satisfied, I arrived back at the hotel at 9 as the kids were coming up from the pool, wet and happy.

That’s when my fun ended and my troubles began as I spent the next 4 hrs trying to log on and stay on the internet. Horrendous! Lots to talk about here but that’s another post.

Sun morning, the kids enjoyed a morning swim before we headed off to the coin Show. Being a CoinHawk, JJ did his stint at the registration table handing out free coins to any kids coming through the door, member or not. It was neat when they called the next door prize number because it was JJ’s and he was sitting right there. All he had to do was stand up and smile.

After an hour, we finally left the table and started shopping. None of the fancy cased stuff for me. No, I head for the buckets of mixed coins where my fingers turn black from who knows what after an hour of digging. There’s so much to see, I only stayed 30 mins or so at each dealer. Still, I missed one. Yes, I would’ve had more time if I hadn’t let the kids go for a morning swim, but that wasn’t an option.

The Show was over at 4 pm. With the judging completed, JJ and I headed over to pack up our displays. They informed us JJ had won the Junior division. Yay! As for the adults, they said the winner would be announced at the next mtg. However, they pointedly asked if I would be attending. Hmmm...

Within half an hour, we were on the road, 7-Eleven Slurpee’s in hand. But we couldn’t go home just yet.

The kids’ youth group was hosting a Scottish Fundraiser for the kids going on a mission trip to Scotland this summer. Here’s Samantha and my Jessie (on the right) after serving the meal to 30 people. Once the clean up was done, Jessie and Nick were free to leave so we were back on the road, heading south to home. Nelson had joined us for the meal but was already home sleeping since he’d been up since 4 am.

Finally, just before 10 pm, we drove into the dry yard and unloaded the van. It sure was nice to be home.

And how was your weekend? Do anything different? Exciting? Come on, tell us...

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Waters are Receding

Yay! Looks like the 2009 flood is over because the waters are receding. I'll take some pics this morning and post them tonight if I have time

I'm off to North Dakota this morning and will bring my camera to see what else is going on in my little corner of the world.

Have a good day!

What are you planning to do today? Enjoy the weather? Go for a walk? Pray? Hug someone? You could always write... lol

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jazzy Writing Prairie Chick

The flood water has receded to the edge of the road so it looks like the danger has passed for this year.

Meanwhile, I'm blogging over at Prairie Chicks Write Romance about the use of rhetorical devices in writing.

Rhetorical devices are things like metaphors, similies, alliteration, and hyperboles. I give references for dozens of others. Everything to liven up your writing and give your reader a satisfying literary experience without them realizing why.

And if you're wondering about the big words (like I was) don't because most writers use these all the time without realizing it. Knowing the term isn't necessary, but using it is fun.

My questions for discussion today are:

Do you use rhetorical devices in your wips?
Do you feel there’s a place for them in the modern fast-paced 55,000 word romance books? What’s your favorite rhetorical device?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

JJ Takes Pics of Flood

My son was a 3 yr old the last time we flooded but doesn't remember the water. Since he's fascinated by it and keeps running out to look at it, I gave him my camera this morning and said to take shots of whatever caught his fancy. Just make sure he took pics of the road. I showed him yesterday's photo and said to make sure the photo's not all sky. We do live on the prairies, after all. These are the pics he took:

This is the pasture behind our house (on the left). Usually, you'll see land and a dugout but at the moment it's hard to see where the dugout starts and stops.



The road heading north. It looks like the water is holding back for now.



JJ's close up of the road. I wonder what caught his eye...




Ah - so this is the chattering I've been hearing all morning. The blackbirds are back.




That's all the pics I have today. In other news, the plug hubby put in the basement is still holding although we're to check it every few hours which we'll do before we head into the city today for music lessons.

During the last flood, we were about to leave the city when hubby phoned us to stay in town since the road was under water. He doesn't think it'll be a problem this year.

Jessica says I shouldn't bring an overnight bag because that will seem like I'm expecting the worst.

I like to be prepared and usually when I am, I didn't need to be after the fact.

We'll see...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2009 Flood Photos

Okay, we're officially flooding.

If you look at this driveway pic, check out the fence posts on the left.


Uh - oh!


The road north just before you turn down our driveway.






Close up of the action.


It's quiet outside - well, except for the chatter of birds and the sound of rushing water.




I'm standing near the part where the water is over the road and I'm looking south. The farm is on the right.





Looking west to our farm yard.

See the fence posts...




But it's so beautiful.


We have the sump pump going on an 8 min on and 3 min rest cycle and it seems to be holding its own. Still, there are several inches of water in the lowest part of the basement. I took the first watch until 3 am when my knees gave out from going up and down the stairs. Then hubby took over and I went to sleep on the recliner. I woke at 8 to find the boys doing sump pump duty. They said Dad fell alseep while reading his Bible at breakfast but he's gone to work now.

We are Flooding

The basement is flooding.

Water in the ditch is 1/3 across the main road that you see in the photo below.

I will upload a new photo in the morning but for tonight, I am on water detail. Every 10 mins, I must go down and put sump pump on until water level lowers. But, it's rising faster than we can clear it.

With the temp above zero, there's no chance of the water stopping. We need a good long freeze to stop it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

We're on Flood Watch

I took this photo as we left home yesterday around 11 am. It shows the water around our farm at a high level. Nine years ago when we first moved to the farm, the water rose up over the road. Hubby had to wear waders and walk through the 1-2' high water to get to his truck parked on the other side just so he could go to work.


We're praying it won't happen this year, but that water is high and there's still a lot of snow to melt. Plus, it rained yesterday. I'll keep you posted...

I enjoyed a wonderful Easter celebrating Christ's resurrection with the family in Regina. My sister-in-law, Teresa, always puts on a delicious meal with lots of side dishes. It's a special treat to celebrate a holiday at her house. In the photo, our daughter Jessie is taking a pic of her dad, his mom, and his sister, our hostess, Teresa.


After we ate, we played canasta - a card game. It was more fun than usual because we had extra players and when one player had to leave - like when Grandma started to fall asleep and left to go for a nap - my teen son sat in to play. This was the first time he's played canasta and it was a nice to spend the time with him in such a way. When the phone rang, another player left and someone else sat in to play. After awhile, our partners were all mixed up but it didn't really matter who won the game because it was the socializing that counted. While we played, Teresa served up snack food and dessert so we really had a treat.

Later on, we headed to the airport to welcome back Ashley, an Australian friend who had first come over as an exchange student years ago. It was a long 30 hr trip for her and it was nice to see her land safely.

So, other than a glorious celebration of life over death, my weekend consisted of family, friends and fear of flooding.

How was your weekend? Are you worried about anything at this time of year?

Friday, April 10, 2009

What Caught My Eye This Week

The Canada geese are back.














Here's a pic of a gully I wrote about in one of my books.

This is how it looked on Wed...


And this is how it looked just 2 weeks ago.





This is an arm extending off the big Qu'Appelle Valley.





This is ice, but you can see how the water froze in a circular pattern.




Have you ever seen snow melt?


It just kind of recedes.


This was taken Thurs night.










Snow melting in the ditch.








If you look way up, you can see my first hawk sighting for 2009.







My first robin sighting of the year.















The mama's are watching over their babies.







Newborn bull calves gone exploring.










I stopped to take a pic of the bison and they turned to look at me.
What caught your eye this week?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Prairie Chick has a problem with Character Arc

I'm having a discussion about character arcs over at Prairie Chicks Write Romance.

How fickle a reader are you? Do you close the book if you don't like the main characters?

Or, do you read on to discover if the hero or heroine has a character arc and will be redeemed at the end?

Do books even need character arcs?

As a writer, I'd really like to know what you have to say on this subject. You can comment here or on the Chick's site, but please, let me know what you think...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Brenda Novak's Auction Banner

See my new banner? A big thank you going out to Jeannie Ruesch who does the main design and updates for Brenda Novak's website. She customized one of Brenda's banners for the Prairie Chicks blog.

I am positively thrilled to the tips of my toes to have New York Times best selling author Brenda Novak guest blog with us Prairie Chicks on April 30th. Absolutely thrilled.

The reason for her appearance is her on-line auction throughout May for Diabetes research. It was actually because of the auction that I found the courage to send an email to Brenda in the first place. I asked if she could get her PR people to send me a press release and I would use my Thurs spot on the Prairie Chicks Write Romance group blog to showcase the event due to start the next day on May 1st.

Brenda is such a gracious lady. Her response was to ask if I'd like her to guest blog instead. Well, yeah.

It's confirmed for Apr 30th at http://www.prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com/

And, as you see on the banner, she's bringing a tote full of autographed books and a gift certificate to the auction as a giveaway prize. This is one blog post you don't want to miss.

So, what's this about the auction, you ask? Brenda puts on an on-line auction for Diabetes research throughout the month of May at her website at http://www.brendanovak.com/.

It doesn't matter if you're a reader, a writer or a housewife or even a guy because this auction has something for everybody.

Move your mouse over the items and check out some of this year's biggest offerings:

For writers:

- 97 items For Writers

- 51 Agent Evaluations

- 69 Author Critiques

- 53 Editor Evaluations

- 6 Writing Books

- 3 Writing Classes

Wow!!!

If you're a reader, she already has a few hundred books listed.

And for if you're really want to dream, check out these once in a lifetime experiences:







And this list doesn't include all those everyday items like

- 101 Gift Baskets & Collections

- jewellry including 10 items of Dianne Drake's Antique Jewelry

- Collectible Silver Certificate ($1), Series 1957A

Hand-made Quilt made by Author Anne Stuart (including a personalized touch)

- SINGIN' IN THE RAIN Collector's Plate (A)

- Napa Valley Wine Train Excursion

- Richard Tonner Collectible Doll: CINNAMON SWIRL

Are you excited yet? I am!!!

And because this is a non-profit organization, anything you buy is tax deductible.

The only caveat I can see is if you buy something that needs mailing and you live outside of the United States, you as the buyer will be responsible for shipping charges so take that into consideration when you're bidding.

The bidding process is similar to eBay. Last year I stumbled upon Brenda's auction and the process was quite easy to sign up and start bidding.

As an added incentive, Brenda gives away a fantastic prize package worth over US $1000 to the person who goes around the site leaving the most bids. I think the person who won last year placed over 2000 bids. And no, I don't know how many items she actually won out of those. How about if we ask Brenda that when she joins the Chicks on Apr 30th, okay?

If you want to help spread the word about the this auction to benefit Juvenile Diabetes research, why don't you head on over to Brenda's website and pick out a banner for yourself.

Does this make you excited? What would you bid on if you could?

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Writing Cave


March was cave month.

A writing cave, that is. Of the 3 tasks I’d set for myself, I managed to accomplish 2 of them:

- I entered both Charley’s Saint and An Outlaw for the Lady in the Genesis contest. This is the biggie of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) with the award being presented at the ACFW conference in Sept. I went to the one last year in Minneapolis and am looking forward to the one this year in Denver.

- I also entered Charley’s Saint and Outlaw in the Touched by Love contest hosted by the Faith, Hope and Love (FHL) chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA). This award will be given out at the RWA’s conference in Washington DC in July. I haven’t attended this conference yet, but will go if I final. Oh, wouldn’t that be something, eh.

I wanted to write and submit my story, The Christmas Ball to The Wild Rose Press for their historical Christmas anthology but, it was a case of working on what I have that needs work instead of starting something new. So, after doing the preliminary research and realizing I didn't have the time to research the required setting and era, I set it aside for a later date. Actually, I'd like to set this one in the Old West but that wasn't an option in this case.

Because of the emphasis on writing/revising and helping my critique partners with their work(Carol, I'll get to you), I didn’t read very much. I usually read 10-12 books a month but this last month I managed to read 3 books. And I haven’t even written the reviews for any of them yet. I really missed my reading.

I managed to read some blogs during the periods the family was home and I wasn’t able to write and in doing so, I won a free book from Silhouette Special Edition author Christine Rimmer who had a blog post going on over at the eharlequin site about memorable characters.

The weather cooperated and I managed to make it up to Saskatoon for the monthly meeting of the Sask Rom Writers. It might take the full day to drive the 4.5 hrs up, attend the mtg, and drive back, but I very much enjoy spending the day just thinking about writing.

And you all missed my April Fool’s Day post. Well, I did get one comment back, so at least one person ‘got’ it and had a good laugh, but I don’t know about the rest of you.

My reign as Member of the Month is over at eharlequin but the title will remain on my eharl signature block. I still can’t believe they picked me.

Now that I am out of the cave, hubby is reminding me of the taxes which I promised to do if he let me have March for writing. He even did the dishes for me during that last hectic week. Now there’s a romance hero.

So, it's April and the snow is melting here on the farm. I actually saw my first robin a couple days ago. Yay! And the Canada geese are honking their way north.

Writing wise, I have a challenge going on with Kelly Marstad to encourage each other while doing revisions to our wips. My project is to complete a submission-ready copy of When You Least Expect, just in case the final judge from the Linda Howard contest wants to see it. :) It's sitting with the final judge as I write this and the results should be announced around Apr 25th. Oh, the waiting.

Did you accomplish what you set out to do in March? Or did you switch directions and do something else that needed doing? Do you have special plans for April?

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Week in Pics

Here's a pictorical post of some of my encounters this past week.

I've blogged about my trip up to Saskatoon last Sat for my mtg with the Sask Rom Writers.

Well, half way there I took these pics of someone building farm buildings made from the abundance of flax straw. Here's the house in the foreground with some type of barn or outbuilding in the back...

...and here they're putting up a couple more outbuildings. One might be a garage but I'm not sure what the other could be.

I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Hubby was working on Thurs evening so I ended up taking the boys to their guitar lesson.
This was taken at 7 pm in Grenfell, SK while we waited for a train to pass.

This is what I see as soon as I step out my door and turn right to the east.
We sometimes use this rooster clanger to summon everyone in. It's more decorative rather than practical since the clanger gives off a thud rather than a clang.

As you can see, still lots of snow here.

Another frost morning, taken on Tues right out my bedroom window.
I literally had to smush my ear against the window for this shot which looks east at the garage through the garden arch on the right.


This is the same photo but around 7 pm that evening with the western sunset splayed all over it.








I woke up yesterday morning to find frost covering just the tops of all the trees.
You're looking north at my sunroom.







I'll leave you with this shot of the barn.
With all the melting that's going on, the chickens are out and about the yard.
Have a great weekend!