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?


Pumpkin Cookies


June 19, 2017  •  No Comments

The local farmer’s markets are in full swing again, and it’s about time because my stock of frozen produce is dwindling—including the many containers of pumpkin puree I baked and bagged in October. I make a lot of pumpkin soup, but I also use it in baking because it produces moist, melty treats without adding a lot of fat. Because I’ve already prepped and measured it out, it’s basically thaw and go. Of course, canned works just as well for most things but it’s nice to have the option.

Here’s a recipe for pumpkin cookies that really do taste like what my grandma used to make. She taught me to bake while she babysat me, and I’ll always remember standing on a stool in her kitchen while she let me get my hands into the sticky, floury, sweet-scented bowls of dough. This isn’t her recipe, but it’s the type of thing she’d make—practical, plentiful, and tasting like home. These aren’t super-sweet, but you can adjust the sugar to taste.

Pumpkin cookies

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 cups of pumpkin puree
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts)
  • 1 cup seedless raisins (I use Thompson)

 

Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs and vanilla and beat until light. Then add the pumpkin puree.

Sift dry ingredients together and fold into the wet until just mixed and no dry flour shows. Then stir in nuts and raisins.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Moisture can vary when using fresh or frozen pumpkin, so take note of the consistency of the batter. It will be quite sticky but should hold its shape when spooned onto the cookie sheet. Add a little flour if it wants to spread or run.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes. The cookies should be golden brown on the bottom when they’re done. Makes about 4-5 dozen. These cookies freeze well (if they last that long!).


Just another day at the word farm


May 18, 2017  •  No Comments

What happened this week?  I was minding my own business and I got an email telling me that my publishing line closed. Harlequin Nocturne, alone with 4 other series lines, is ceasing operations at the end of December 2018.

Good news: I will probably get the last of the Camelot Reborn books published. I am heartened by the fact that ENCHANTER REDEEMED stars Merlin.  If anyone can beat the odds, it would be him. Bad news:  I will have to exert effort (boo!). The nice thing about Nocturne was that they liked my stuff and getting new contracts was, for the current publishing climate, relatively straightforward.

I won’t dwell on the suckage of all this because it’s obvious. Good people lose their jobs when this sort of thing happens. Books and authors lose their publishing home. Readers don’t get the books they love.  It’s also weird finding out about something so personally impactful via a broadcast email, but that is apparently how modern life rolls.

So what is my response to all this?  I have Merlin’s book to write by deadline. I can’t allow circumstances to slow me down, mostly because I’m behind to begin with. This is publishing. And when this book is done, I have other projects on the boil. This is exactly why I have many things in play at the same time. I’ve learned my lessons.

Disasters?  Bah, I eat them on little crackers for breakfast.


The Arthurverse


May 3, 2017  •  No Comments

 

As sometimes happens, I was over in my corner writing Royal Enchantment while, without warning, other Arthur-related works are popping up all over the place. One instance: Guy Ritchie has King Arthur: Legend of the Sword coming soon to a theater near you. I was lucky enough to be invited to a preview and, while this film has almost nothing to do with any Arthurian legend I’ve ever encountered, I rather liked it. Lots of action, plenty of eye-pleasing effects, some good one-liners, and a competent cast. I applaud the inclusion of a female mage rather than Merlin, and the knights they included were not the usual crew, so it really did feel fresh. One quibble: Maybe it was me, but I think there were a few visuals that seemed to replicate scenes from Lord of the Rings.

This Arthur is a man of the people who grew up with no advantages and yet still holds the spark of greatness. An interesting choice of narrative, but maybe one that will resonate with us right now. A zillion years ago, I went to a weekend conference put on by the local university’s medieval studies folks. It was about all things King Arthur and covered everything from the Mabinogian to Chretien de Troyes to archeologists to Roman studies experts and on and on. I went away having spent far too much money on books and not really knowing anything more about who the real king was. I also realized it really didn’t matter. The Arthur we hold onto is a vessel, and he reflects the king we need at the time.


Footprints and shadows


April 26, 2017  •  No Comments

It’s spring, and the process of renewal happens. Sometimes it’s all bunnies and pansies, but other times I’m reminded the universe isn’t sentimental. In the past two days, I heard one of my long-time supervisors (now retired) passed away in her sleep, I wrote a farewell message in the going-away book of the boss who just left, and I see the posting for his replacement is out.  All this reminds me that none of us is irreplaceable and that all we have control over is the memory we leave behind. That will fade, too, but for as long as it lasts, I want my shadow to be a pleasant one.

Since I’m a supervisor, too, I understand my role isn’t all about popularity. Some of it is about expectations, boundaries, and performance, but for the most part I have fabulous staff and discipline is not an issue. I have the privilege of concentrating on teaching, support, and seeing my folks reach their goals. If they compete for a better position and successfully move on, I’m sad but proud.

I try hard because I know how badly things can suck. At various times I’ve had very good and very difficult individuals in control of my work life. All of them taught me something, even if it was not to be like that. Understanding why someone behaves as they do may lead to sympathy, but it doesn’t prevent a sense of relief when the misery is over.  On the other hand, there have been people I truly miss a lot. I think of them every time I need to check my own messaging. Am I being fair? Am I helping? Am I putting responsibility where it belongs?

Someday, I will be replaced. Today reminded me of that. How other people respond to that moment is entirely up to me.

 

 


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