Botanical Tales


August 18, 2017  •  No Comments

Those who follow me on Instagram (RowanAshArt) will know that I have a great interest in plants and flowers. It’s not just because the botanical world is photogenic enough to overcome my poor photography skills. Somewhere in the distant mists of childhood I decided I wanted to become a herbologist. Why? Maybe it was all the herbal healers that showed up in the fantasy books I read. Anyhow, herbology got laughed right out of the career counsellor’s office and I took an English degree instead because, y’know, we have to be practical.

Fast forward to the present. I’m still interested and have done some learning along the way. I’m in a pitched battle with Things That Munch in the garden, but have had a few victories, including a very healthy bay tree and a rosemary that will eventually take over Vancouver Island. With luck, I may even have tomatoes this year. It’s all about figuring out what plants go in what location and how many plants it takes to yield enough material to be useful once the deer, bugs, and rabbits help themselves.

But beyond all that, I’ve grown interested in the history and literary applications of gardening. There’s the whole murder mystery connection, with Brother Cadfael and his herbarium. There’s also the metaphor of gardening and the mind. I’m in the very early stages of developing a character with an exceptional garden, but it’s as much an expression of her past and her aspirations as of her green thumb. It’s a historical setting, so the extravagant Victorian glass houses and hand-drawn etchings of botanical specimens are part of her world. That Victorian mix of science, superstition, and adventure—not to mention their mania for collecting and codifying everything—are intoxicating to me. It’s great fun to have something in common with a character because we can both enjoy ourselves during the research process.


State of the Workbench

Emma Jane HollowaySharon Ashwood
August 17, 2017  •  No Comments

It’s almost September and I’m evaluating my monthly progress. There are plenty of projects on the workbench, so here is the state of the lineup:

Coming Soon:

Enchanter Redeemed (Camelot Reborn book 4). This is the last of the series and the last book I will do for Nocturne since the line is closing. This is currently with the copyeditor and will be released in February of 2018. It’s up for preorder HERE.

Kiss in the Dark (Corsair’s Cove Chocolate Shop book 4). My first indie book and a novella. Is also with the copyeditor and will be released September 30. If you want a glimpse of this universe, check out the web site HERE.  If you sign up for the newsletter, you get a free prequel short story I just finished, The Brotherhood of the Rose.

Fragile Magic re-release (short story from the Dark Forgotten universe). I hope to get this up and available for sale in August. The cover is done. This is a personal favorite of mine.

Looking ahead:

Sharon’s projects have been coming thick and fast, in part because I’ve been participating in a project that will educate me about indie publishing. So far, so good. I want to be a hybrid author, so that’s one of this year’s goals achieved! In addition, there are plans for a new trad series on the drawing board. More to come on that.

Emma Jane’s projects have been ongoing, but there have been delays due to other deadlines, industry hiccups, and time spent learning how to navigate the DIY universe of indie pub. Also, anything historical takes more fact-checking. However, I feel pretty bouncy about what’s lined up here and this is my priority for new material right now.


Sunday Tea and Turtles


August 14, 2017  •  No Comments

This past week was my Mom’s birthday and so celebrations were in order. We went to the Abkhazi Gardens, which dates from 1946 when the Prince and Princess Abkhazi moved there. Facts about the garden and its history can be found HERE.

We began our tour with elevenses. For those who didn’t grow up with a British father or have hobbits for their BFFs, this is kind of like a light tea or not-quite-lunch. In this case, it consisted of a sandwich and dessert spread that occupied one plate instead of the three-tiered affairs reserved for those having the actual tea. I think those portions might have been enough to feed an army of orcs or at least gardeners. Believe me, the elevenses was delicious and quite enough food.

From there, we ambled through the garden. While the property is not huge, the views are spectacular and the variety of plants fascinating. We were too late for the display of rhododendrons, but there were lilies as tall as me and pools replete with lily pads and turtles. There is a turtle in my pond picture, but he’s hard to see.  Here’s the detail:

 

There was also a specimen called Miss Wilmott’s Ghost. I actually know this plant as sea holly, but it does have personality. I gather it became Miss Wilmott’s ghost because she scattered seeds when she went visiting and they’d come up the next spring wherever she’d been.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s just one of the huge lilies:


The Market Green at Corsair’s Cove


July 31, 2017  •  No Comments

One thing I adore about where I live is how close I am to farm country. Half an hour will get me to fruit and vegetables fresh from the fields, not to mention fresh eggs, honey, wine, and organic meat for the carnivores.

Of course, all things we adore go into our fictional town of Corsair’s Cove. I’ve mentioned the Cove as the setting for an updated group project–keep your eyes peeled for the first release within the next few weeks!

It’s a tourist stop, but that’s certainly not the only industry. Agriculture has always been a foundation of the town’s economy and some of the residents have a keen interest in the farm to table movement. Mack even has his own distillery.

There is a fishmonger’s by the wharf and a market green at the edge of town where farmers bring their wares to sell. They are busy places all the year round, but summer means crowds. Some customers will be the townsfolk doing their regular shopping, but there are others from the marina or camping nearby. Then there are the professional foodies—the chef from upscale Blackthorne Manor as well as cooks from the more modest Zephyr’s Rest Inn and the local café and bakery. Who wouldn’t want to cook with berries still warm from the sun or seafood fresh from the ocean?

The sensory experience of shopping at a farmer’s market is amazing, both as a regular shopper and as a writer. There is a saying that setting is character, and I do believe that Corsair’s Cove has emerged as a character on its own. The businesses that make the town run are its heartbeat, and the everyday flow of humanity through places like the market green shows its regular rhythm. Judging by the quality of the produce, I’d say the Cove is very healthy indeed. Stop by for dinner sometime—I recommend the curry at the Zephyr’s Rest.


Tea and Travel


July 24, 2017  •  No Comments

Last weekend I treated myself to a few days away. I’d just survived a book deadline and was looking forward to baking in the sun at a local music festival. This meant a few hours’ drive up Vancouver Island on a beautiful sunny Friday. Getting there is half the fun, right?

One of the real treats with taking a road trip is the opportunity to stop in interesting places along the way. The very first tea farm in Canada, Westholme Tea Company (www.Westholmetea.com) is just north of the city of Duncan. After a drive down a winding country road, my friend and I stopped in a completely charming oasis that housed not only the farm, but also a charming garden patio, an intriguing shop filled with single origin and blended organic teas, and a pottery gallery.

The tea plants were smaller than I expected and grew in shaggy terraced rows along the hillside. Inside the shop we were offered samples of the tea du jour in tiny cups made from the very funky local pottery. The building was open and airy and filled with wonderful scents and lots of treasures to investigate. The staff was great, too, filled with suggestions and information.

I learned a lot about the differences in taste between first and second flush teas. This refers to whether the tea is gathered from the first growth in the spring or from a later crop of leaves. The first flush has a more astringent taste and the second is mellower. Preference is a matter of taste, although many prize the first flush and often that’s more expensive. Yes, I bought a few things, including a nice second flush Darjeeling.

I don’t follow a hundred mile diet, but investigating locally produced foods is a great excuse to seek out fascinating people doing cool things. Hopefully I’m shrinking my carbon footprint and expanding my horizons at the same time!


Dreams and Promises


July 1, 2017  •  1 Comment

Giving a bit of air time to my chapter mates. They’ve done a box set in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday!



Genre: Women’s Fiction/ Romance
Release Date: July 1, 2017


Dreams and Promises includes six short stories and novellas written by authors who live in beautiful British Columbia.
It’s our way of honoring Canada’s Sesquicentennial.
Some of Canada’s major cities were founded in the seventeenth century, but July 1st 2017 marks 150 years since our country became a Confederation.
Our stories range from the era of the fur trade, to a commercial enterprise that opened up the Canadian and American West, to present day James Bay, a thriving neighborhood in the garden city of Victoria, British Columbia.
Among our heroes are a World War One soldier suffering from amnesia, an RCAF pilot from World War Two, and a pioneer prairie farmer.
A British war bride, a suffragette and a modern-day university student are just three of our heroines.
Our stories play out in a land of infinite promise and sometimes heartbreaking challenges.
Thank you for helping us celebrate our nation’s milestone birthday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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My Baby Wrote Me A Letter- Jacquie Biggar
A family’s brush with the past will threaten the fabric of their lives.
Grace Freeman is eight months pregnant, and with her navy husband away on a mission, she craves the security of her childhood home in Canada.
When she finds a letter written by her long-lost mother, it creates a tear in the foundation of those she loves.
Can Grace find a way to bring her family peace, or will a message from the past destroy their future?
Rendezvous-Anna Markland
Ian Donaldson is a gentleman clerk with the NW fur trading company in 1815. Newly arrived in Fort William from Scotland, he is immediately drawn to Nindaanis, a metis woman with an illegitimate child. When the baby’s voyageur father returns for the annual Great Rendezvous, Ian defies convention and fights for the woman he loves.
With Glowing Hearts- Reggi Allder
Would you leave everything to follow the man you love?
A Royal Canadian Air Force pilot and a British nurse meet in London during the Blitz. Can the love that blossoms between them survive the ravages of war?
Once Upon an Attic- LizAnn Carson
Kate is Jamie’s ideal woman. His meddlesome grandfather agrees. Only two problems stand in the way: Kate has uncovered Gramps’ long-hidden love story, and Gramps is… a ghost.
Prairie Storm- Sylvie Grayson
It’s 1918, and prairie farmer Shane Narraway is doing his best to help feed the Allied troops overseas. But his real goal is to marry Emily Waddell. With the war news worsening daily, his brother fighting in Europe, and the outbreak of the Spanish flu, Shane’s life is about to unfold in ways he never imagined.
When the Boys Came Home- Alice Valdal
When Dot McGuire’s fiancé is reported missing during the Great War, she accepts the inevitable and builds a new life for herself. Then he comes home, suffering from amnesia. Does her future lie in the old dream, or in the changing world of the roaring twenties?
Jacquie Biggar is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love.
She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has just started a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls.
She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.
Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can’t function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. 🙂
Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her website.
You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Or email her via her web site. Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!
You can also join her street team on Facebook or her exclusive Review Crew.
And sign up for her newsletter and stay up to date on her new releases.
For this anthology Anna Markland enjoyed writing about a more “modern” era than the medieval times she normally use for her settings. Anna’s page-turning adventures have earned her a place on Amazon’s All-Star list. You can find all her books listed on her Amazon page.
Besides writing, Anna has two addictions-crosswords and genealogy, probably the reason she loves research. She’s also a fool for cats. Her husband is an entrepreneur who is fond of boasting he’s never had a job.
Anna lives on Canada’s scenic west coast now, but she was born and raised in the UK and loves breathing life into history.
Escape with Anna Markland to where romance began.
You can find her: website and Facebook page, Anna Markland Novels.
Tweet @annamarkland, join her on Pinterest, or sign up for her newsletter.
Reggi Allder writes romantic suspense including Money Power and Poison and contemporary romance including Her Country Heart, part of the Sierra Creek Series, where determined women and alpha men intersect. She relates the tension between the hero and heroine. They fight to keep their motivation when offered temptation and untenable situations. Her characters struggle to reach opposing goals while falling in love.
Reggi lives in the west with her hubby and two dogs. She enjoys long walks and always brings her camera as well as her dogs.
It makes her day when she hears from readers so drop by Facebook and say hi.
Check her out on Amazon or visit her website for recipes and excerpts.
LizAnn Carson cheerfully conjures up her own fairy-tale life, writing stories of romance and fantasy (often with a humorous twist) from her base on beautiful Vancouver Island. In her free time, you might catch LizAnn hiking, quilting, or watching her cats sleep.

Visit LizAnn through her website or purchase a book via Amazon.

Sylvie Grayson writes romantic suspense in contemporary stories such as The Lies He Told Me, and sci/fi fantasy in Khandarken Rising:The Last War series. When she’s not travelling, she works, plays bridge and spends time in her garden.
There are lots of ways to connect with Sylvie. Website, Facebook, Twitter or Amazon.
History fascinates Alice Valdal; it’s where the best stories are found. She spends hours happily doing research for her historical novels. The first two books her Prospect series, stories set in the gold rush, originally published by Kensington Books are now available as e-books on Amazon. She is currently working on a third book for the series.
When not writing she gardens, knits, plays with the cats and does her best to avoid housework.

You can connect with her via her website, or on Facebook. She posts a weekly Blog and invites comments there, too.

 

 

 


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Tick tock


June 28, 2017  •  No Comments

Here is a lesson on deadlines and writing survival 101 aka human behaviour in action.

The challenge:  between being an adult, working a 9 to 5, launching 2 different books, social media, learning how to manage independent publishing, and maintaining minimal human contact, I got really behind on the book I was supposed to be writing. To remain on track, I need to finish draft one (75 – 80K words) by the weekend of July 1, 2017. Last Tuesday (June 20) I was at around 37.5K. I am not a fast writer. On a weeknight I’m lucky to do 800 to 1,000 words.

I’m often asked for writing advice, so I’m offering up this real life example of the one true and simple principle of writing. Writers write. They are also people and need to do other stuff, but at some point during the day they must shove everything else aside and apply fingers to the keyboard. It’s the one job that can’t be skipped. The same applies to anyone in a creative industry. Call it product creation, taking care of your main business, or cuddling your muse—all the auxiliary activities from Twitter to keeping the books don’t mean a thing without Actual Work.

If it sounds like I’m shaking my finger and scolding, it’s because I’m doing that to myself. I got distracted, fell behind, and ended up in a pickle. There is always a good reason for distractions. Often it’s practical, like getting groceries or posting a blog. That’s still not putting the story on the page and, sooner or later, a deadline looms and there are not enough words.

So then what? I had to pay the piper and burn vacation days. That meant sitting down at the computer at my usual day-job start time and working through to 10:00 pm with two meal breaks of about an hour (exception – one night I went to my regular critique group meeting).  Five days and 24K words later, I’m almost caught up. I have about 13,000 words and a week to go. I’ve done these marathons a few times before and they always follow the same pattern:  day 1 is awesome, day 2 I’m missing variety, the sunshine, and friends, and by day 5 I’m dragging every word out with tongs and hate my characters’ guts. But I did it.

And, of course, I swear I’ll fall behind like this again. Ever. Well, not for a while. Seriously.

We’ll see how long my resolutions last.

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Goodreads Giveaway for Royal Enchantment!


June 24, 2017  •  No Comments

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Royal Enchantment by Sharon Ashwood

Royal Enchantment

by Sharon Ashwood

Giveaway ends July 01, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


Cover reveal! KISS IN THE DARK

Sharon Ashwood
June 22, 2017  •  No Comments

Cover reveal! Corsair’s Cove alert! I’ll have Kiss in the Dark up on the site soon, but for now here’s a peek at the cover!

KISS IN THE DARK

The last thing he wants is to rest in peace.

Captain Daniel Blackthorne, the swashbuckling pirate they called the Wolf of the West, was cursed to death by a jealous witch. Since that day long ago, he’s haunted the attic rooms of Red Gem’s Chocolates in sleepy Corsair’s Cove. The rules of the curse are clear: He has until Hallowe’en night to help the women of Blackthorne blood find true love, or his soul is doomed forever.

When Eloise Wilson moves in above the chocolate shop, she’s unprepared for a spectral roommate. Sadly for Blackthorne, she’s terrified of ghosts—and with good reason. Gifted with the Sight since childhood, she’s seen hauntings end in gruesome tragedy. Worse, family and friends think she’s just a pretty young college grad with an overactive imagination. When she finds out her new home is haunted, the last thing she expects is a ghostly captain who rewrote the book on seduction.

But Eloise can’t save his soul until he heals her heart, and Hallowe’en is only days away. Blackthorne is the darkness she fears, even if his touch is as sweet as anything from the shop below. He’s delicious, but he’s dangerous, and Eloise knows better than to taste what she can’t have.

And yet lovers are like chocolate—for some, only the dark will do.

Book 4 of the Corsair’s Cove series is up at iTunes on an exclusive preorder: http://corsairscove.com/?page_id=76


New beginnings in Corsair’s Cove


June 21, 2017  •  No Comments

Here’s my work-in-progress Wednesday update:

A while back, my friend Lee McKenzie invited me and Rachel Goldsworthy to a restaurant and one hot afternoon over glasses of wine. As we kicked around writing ideas, we came up with the group project eventually named Corsair’s Cove. The incomparable Shelley Adina joined us, and we were away. Each of us was to contribute a novella around a small town setting, but this wasn’t your average romance collection. We wanted pirates and ghosts and curses and a chocolate shop and family drama. And a parrot. Why not?

And so we did it. We ordered the stories from the least to most paranormal content. It’s no surprise that Kiss in the Dark, my story, is the last and the longest and features a supernatural hero. These are sweet romances, which is a little different from the Nocturnes I’ve been writing, but I honestly don’t think the story needs the bedroom door open. Some heroes don’t need to read the recipe aloud in order to serve dessert.

This project is wonderfully fun because the group itself is solid. The voices of these books are all unique and yet the place, the characters, and the spirit of it all is consistent throughout. Not only are my co-writers professionals, but they’re excellent human beings. I want to return to the Cove again and again just to hang out.

The other key piece for me is that these novellas are self-published. I’ve never done indie publishing before, but I’m learning alongside friends, celebrating each step, and seeing possibilities for the future. I can’t think of a better way to go through the learning process and get the first whiff of empowerment independence offers. Oh yes, and the enormous amount of work and responsibility.  To do a good job means taking on a lot of diverse roles. At least I have some business skills to bring to the table!

Talk about new beginnings all around!  Best of all, now I have some fresh tools to work with. Who knows what plans and ideas might hatch?


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