Ross Bay Villa

Emma Jane Holloway
October 6, 2015  •  No Comments

2015-08-15 14.31.48I recently had a chance to visit the Ross Bay Villa in Victoria. It’s a historic house I’ve driven by a thousand times and finally made time to visit. Both the garden and building are being restored and tours are available. The best part of visiting was the tour guides, who were tolerant of all my questions and willing to go off on a tangent if asked!

Here are a few details about it, mostly borrowed from its excellent website here, where there is also a fundraising campaign to preserve the site:

  • Ross Bay Villa was the home of Francis James Roscoe, his wife Anna Letitia, and their five children from 1865 to 1879.
  • Roscoe was a Member of Parliament for Victoria from 1874 to 1878.
  • A “Villa” in Victorian architectural terms was the country dwelling of a gentleman. This one is built in the gothic revival style.
  • It is believed the house was designed by Write and Sanders, Victoria’s first professional architects.

I can’t imagine seven people plus servants living in this small residence, especially as they must have entertained given Roscoe’s political aspirations.

The wallpaper in the photos was replicated from examples found buried beneath other paints and papers. They believe it is the original or close to it. Notice how the pictures are hung from trim placed right under the ceiling during this period.


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Saturday Giveaway!

Sharon Ashwood
September 19, 2015  •  1 Comment

2012-04-19 22.34.37The Demon Lord of Kitty Badness is demonstrating how the best things come in packages. Such as prizes! (of course, he is the ultimate prize, at least in his opinion).

Leave a comment below and you’ll be eligible for a book draw. The prize is an autographed hard copy of Possessed by a Warrior.

warrior small

Already have that one? Don’t worry, you can pick your prize from my backlist (cat not included!).

I’ll pick the winner September 26, 2015


Dark Hero Product Testing

Sharon Ashwood
September 18, 2015  •  No Comments

captive vampireI wrote this post in 2009 for Sidhe Vicious Reviews shortly after I released RAVENOUS. The original post is here. It remains one of my favourites, so for a Friday Flashback, I’m running it one more time! It’s still a good answer to one of the perennial questions authors get from readers:

 

Where do authors get their characters from?

 

Always a good question. When I needed to choose my hero for RAVENOUS, I perused the Author Supplies Emporium catalogue very carefully. What should he be like?  I flipped through the Romantic Tycoons, the Sexy Cops, and the Hard Hat Hunks. I wanted just the right guy for my book:  definitely an alpha hero, but not one of the overly pushy types. He’d have to be heavy-duty enough to like smushing villains, because I had a lot of action planned. There was no getting away with the affordable but flimsy Comic Lite products.

 

Picking the right model took time. My favourite heroes may be a little twisted as well as dark, but there’s always some line they won’t cross, and it’s that restraint that divides these edgier heroes from the villains. Still, a little envelope-pushing keeps things interesting. For me, the best kind of dark hero has to earn his way into the light, and the price he pays for his happy ever after is high. This kind of hero doesn’t stumble into love and flop down on the couch. He has to earn it, and it takes a strong heroine to stand up to him.

 

When I found the model I wanted, I placed my order, being careful to select the “sense of humour,” “fully operational brain,” and “redeemable soul” options.

 

I was so happy when my order arrived!  Unlike most true life heroes, mine came with instructions:

 

Hello, and welcome to your new Dark Hero, Vampire Edition 3.2!  Warranty provisions require that you follow these instructions for safety and for optimal customer satisfaction:

 

1.  This unit may be damaged if left for long periods in direct sunlight.

2.  This Hero unit may be cleaned using products designed for dark wash.  Do not bleach. Dry flat. Cool iron only.

3.  Your Dark Hero, Vampire Edition is intended for nighttime use only. Recharge daily.

4.  Use of the unit during the “brood” cycle is not recommended.

5.  If unit begins to watch Underworld repeatedly, remind him that he wears leather way better than Kate Beckinsale. This should reset unit to “arrogant” mode.

6.  It is not recommended that unit operate heavy equipment during full moon.

7.  This unit is not designed for domestic use. For daily household tasks, we recommend the Dark Hero, Djinn Slave 4.0

5.  If you wish to disassemble unit, use stake provided.

 

By way of product review, the Dark Hero, V.E. 3.2 worked a treat. I have to admit, though, I’m curious about the 3.3 upgraded “green” model. The solar rechargeable batteries might present some issues.

 


The chair is not your friend

Sharon Ashwood
September 17, 2015  •  No Comments

2015-08-15 13.56.00It’s become one of those irritating truths that if I don’t make an appointment with myself to move, I won’t.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate exercise. I’ve never been into sports per se, but I like  walking, low impact aerobics, and even mild weightlifting is quite fine by me. Sweat is good. I walk a half hour to and from work. I belong to a gym.

Getting to the gym is another matter (it’s not fair, because really owning a membership alone should magically keep me in shape). Like so many people, I sit in front of a computer at my day job and then in the evenings, too. Everything seems to be connected to a screen these days, and that means sitting, sitting, sitting. Unfortunately, writing requires more of the same. Current medical wisdom claims sitting is as bad for one’s health as smoking, and I’m inclined to believe it. It’s not just about burning calories; I don’t sleep if I don’t get at least some physical activity during the day. I need exercise to burn off stress.

It’s the new fall season, so I’m making a new commitment to being healthy. I got new gym shoes to replace the pair that I’d worn through (nothing but plastic left in the heels!) and I have my gym clothes ready and waiting for the early morning treadmill. Wish me luck!

I wrote this post because making a commitment out loud is supposed to make us accountable. There, I’ve done it!

 


Lunchtime obsessions

Sharon Ashwood
September 16, 2015  •  No Comments

I have a terrible obsession with containers. I deeply believe that if I owned the right organizers and boxes, my life would run smoothly. There is some truth to that: if stuff has a home, it’s less likely to be toppling off tabletops and making mountains on the floor.

But mostly I think I like pretty colourful toys. The trend toward brightly coloured lunch kits pleases me enormously.  I love these GoStak containers for holding nuts, dressings, and other spillable items. The bottom of one jar forms the top of the next and the top one has a handle.

I pack a lunch for work pretty much every day (I hardly ever escape my desk for a restaurant meal). The other consideration for good containers is therefore how light they are.  I managed to tear the muscles in my shoulder from carrying too much in my tote bag day after day, which has taken months to heal.  So, lightweight is good. These are made of a tough but light (and toxin-free) plastic.  The other find I made lately is from Sistema – they make a range of containers that have the cutlery built in and clipped inside, so if you forget a fork there are no worries.  They also have sections that segregate wet and dry ingredients, so the granola for your yogurt doesn’t turn to rubber before you eat it.  A small consideration, but texture is part of what makes food enjoyable!

I bought a few of these containers when I found them to replace old ones that were past their prime. They aren’t the cheapest on the market, but I know I’ll get the value out of them since 5 lunches a week x 52 weeks a year means plenty of mileage. By packing my meals, I’m eating better, spending less, and keeping waste out of the landfill.

On the whole, though, I think I was drawn by the bright colours and the fact that there were lots of clippy-snappy bits to play with. Maybe what I really want is an edible Lego set?

 


Mystery box holiday

Sharon Ashwood
September 15, 2015  •  No Comments

IMGP0163So earlier this summer (it seems ages ago) I went with two dear friends to the west coast of Vancouver Island. We rented a cabin in Ucluelet, which is about as close to the wide open Pacific as you can get without actually falling in. It is truly wild and beautiful out there, with a few touristy spots but far more unspoiled beauty. There are lots of hiking trails that range from “suitable for couch potato” to the kind that requires helicopters and alpha heroes. You can guess which one I was on!

Yes, I took my writing but didn’t spend all the time at the keyboard because a) I wanted to spend time with my friends and b) look at that view! We walked a lot, ate a lot, and in the evenings . . . well, we had cable and a mutual obsession with cooking shows in general and Masterchef in particular.

Yes, we went to the ends of the earth to sit in a cabin and watch Gordon Ramsey turn red in the face and yell about the proper sear on steaks. And we loved each other because we could enjoy this guilty pleasure without having to apologize for it.  That’s what old friends are for. And the best part?  Since the cabin had a fully equipped kitchen, there was plenty of opportunity to make some terrific meals ourselves. I’m not a big fan of barbecued food, but I’m slowly being converted by the excellent meals I’ve been served lately.

So why the fascination with Masterchef and its mystery boxes, challenges, and personalities?  I think for me it’s the opportunity to reclaim the rituals of sharing food. I love cooking, but the pace of life makes it too easy to cut corners.  Learning the language of cuisine, what makes something good, and a little bit about how to elevate one’s own meals is a kind of mindfulness exercise. Now I pause–at least sometimes–to think about presentation, the balance of flavours, and how to assemble ingredients in an interesting way. And when I’m with similarly-minded friends, we talk about cooking far more than we did in the past. I appreciate having something new to enjoy with them, even in a remote holiday cabin.

 

 

 


Parlez-vous vampire?

Sharon Ashwood
September 14, 2015  •  No Comments

Coming November 1, 2015 Le pouvoir du vampire écrit par Sharon Ashwood in paperback and ebook

le-pouvoir-du-vampire-677987-250-400

 

Also known as Possessed by a Warrior.  Yup, that’s Sam and Choe, en francais

Here’s a link on Amazon.fr

So far that’s the only French edition in the works, but it’s a landmark because it’s the first Ashwood title to be translated into French. Previously, the Dark Forgotten was done (beautifully) in German by Knaur with some of the nicest covers I’ve ever received (check out this page for a look). I’m very, very happy to expand my world domination plans to Paris. Hopefully it’s the beginning of great things!


Evelina finally gets to college

Emma Jane Holloway
July 31, 2015  •  No Comments

University Coeducation in the Victorian EraSo, when I was about to begin A Study in Ashes, I was hunting about for some reference material on female colleges. I found plenty of references to the fact that such things existed, but not much detail until I got my hands on this book. I blogged about it here.

To my delight and trepidation, the Baskerville Affair (and A Study in Ashes in particular) has been made part of a college course!  http://cdmyers.info/Steampunk.html

It raises some interesting questions about the use of history in what is essentially fantasy. I tend toward a real or real-ish setting because it grounds the story in an “ordinary world” that is the foil of the fantasy. I don’t think it is “bad” or “good” to include a certain level of historical detail but I do think it’s important to make what’s included reasonably accurate.

The other benefit of researching is you never know what you’ll find. The entire setting of the Dartmoor laboratories is a real place I discovered by chance. It’s an old farm and the ruins of a gunpowder mill. However, it serves delightful cream teas and holds pottery classes. The Hound of the Baskervilles was an old collie, I’m afraid.

 


Khandarken Rising

Emma Jane Holloway
July 6, 2015  •  9 Comments

Khandarken rising_CVR_SML A member of my local writing chapter has just released a fantasy book. As it’s a genre very close to my heart, I thought I’d introduce it here. Please welcome Sylvie Grayson and the first volume of Khandarken Rising:  The Last War.  This is brand new to me and I look forward to reading it!

 

_________

What do you usually write?

I have been writing contemporary works, with an emphasis on suspense, romance and attempted murder. I like the way suspense pushes the story along with greater speed and purpose. It keeps the reader reading (and the writer writing 🙂 ) when there is danger lurking and bad guys looking for their own goals.

How is this book different from your others?

The Last War: Book One, Khandarken Rising, just grabbed me by the throat. I read every genre, and enjoy them all. But some books speak to me more at different times than others do. The whole world of Khandarken rose out of the mist, as far as I’m concerned. And I loved writing it. The idea of creating a new world, with different issues, and another focus was very freeing. I hadn’t realized it would be this way, but felt it opened up so much to me. I’m currently working on Book Four of the series.

Will this be your new focus?

Perhaps. Because I have a few contemporary books calling to me too. So if I am free to move back and forth between contemporary and sci-fi/fantasy, it just seems like the best of both worlds. It is also more of a challenge in some ways. Working on Book Four has forced me to go back and really study my notes for the first three – some of the details have evaded me and I have to remind myself of all the nuances of that world. Each book takes me into a different part of the territory and the surrounding countries, and it’s been so much fun creating that.

_________

 

The Last War: Book One, Khandarken Rising

 

The Emperor has been defeated. New countries have arisen from the ashes of the old Empire. The citizens swear they will never need to fight again after that long and painful war.

 

Bethlehem Farmer is helping her brother Abram run Farmer Holdings in south Khandarken after their father died in the final battles. She is looking after the dispossessed, keeping the farm productive and the talc mine working in the hills behind their land. But when Abram takes a trip with Uncle Jade into the northern territory and disappears without a trace, she’s left on her own. Suddenly things are not what they seem and no one can be trusted.

 

Major Dante Regiment is sent by his father, the General of Khandarken, to find out what the situation is at Farmer Holdings. What he sees shakes him to the core and fuels his grim determination to protect Bethlehem at all cost, even with his life.

_________

Sylvie Grayson loves to write about suspense, romance and attempted murder, in both contemporary and science fiction/fantasy and has published Author photoromantic suspense novels, Suspended Animation, Legal Obstruction, and The Lies He Told Me, all about strong women who meet with dangerous odds, stories of tension and attraction. She has also written The Last War series, a sci fi/fantasy adventure, the first book of which was released in June 2015.

She has lived most of her life in British Columbia, Canada, in spots ranging from Vancouver Island on the west coast to the North Peace River country and the Kootenays in the beautiful interior. She spent a one year sojourn in Tokyo Japan. She has worked as an English language instructor, a nightclub manager, an auto shop bookkeeper and a lawyer. She lives in southern British Columbia with her husband on a small piece of land near the Pacific Ocean that they call home, when she’s not travelling the world looking for adventure.


A Memory Book

Sharon Ashwood
June 24, 2015  •  45 Comments

Front

Front

Those who have been following my Horsemen series know that there is a big wedding involved. To celebrate the grand finale of the series, I’m giving away this handcrafted, one-of-a-kind memory book. My favourite feature is the cutaway bird design in the back, but as you can tell there’s not an inch of this cover, inside or out, that doesn’t have something beautiful. To enter to win this treasure, leave a comment below with your favourite celebration memory–it doesn’t have to be a wedding, but just something you’d like to share! This draw is open until July 11, 2015, midnight PST.

inside back cover

inside back cover

inside front cover close

inside front cover

Wedding Journal Back

Back Inside back cover

Inside front cover


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