Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Snippets: First Pages: Judgement By Fire


Which of the two powerful men in her life wants Lauren dead?

Writing posterWe’re about to start a new month, so I thought I’d start something new: Posting the first page of each of my books. Just a taster, so to speak!
Judgement By Fire is my first novel, written over a long period of time while snatching minutes from a full time job, a part time job, a hobby farm and family with four kids. These days I wonder where the energy came from!

This was published b y Red Rose Publishing, which is now defunct,(a whole other story) so I went on to revise and publish it in dependently. I thoroughly enjoyed the Indie publishing process and went on to do it a few times more!

So here goes, your taste of the first page of Judgement By Fire! Enjoy!


Canadian wildlife artist Lauren Stephens swore off men after her marriage collapsed and burned. Instead, she's focused on her increasingly successful art career and made her home in an artists' colony based around an old mansion estate in Ontario.

When a multi-national corporation wants to buy the estate and turn it into a health spa for the very rich, turning the artists and writers out of their rented cottages, Lauren volunteers to lead the protest against the sale. The move brings her into direct conflict with Jon Rush, the powerful CEO of Rush Co. International.

An instant attraction springs up between them, although Lauren is reluctant to trust the handsome industrialist. When Lauren's studio is trashed and her life is threatened, Jon fears she's being targeted by the mysterious person trying to destroy his company – a villain not afraid to use violence in his determination to see Jon suffer.

But is there a darker shadow over Lauren? And can Jon save her from a Judgement By Fire?

Chapter One

“Damn it, Warren, surely you can come up with something better than this?” Jon Rush, president of
one of Canada’s largest independent business conglomerates, glared at the man who faced him across the cluttered mahogany desktop.

“I pay you for facts, not fairy tales. You’ve taken a whole series of unrelated events and turned them into some kind of soap opera plot!” Jon ran his fingers through his thick blond hair in a characteristic gesture of frustration.

It was the gesture the heavyset black man across the desk had been waiting for. Warren Dillon, chief of security for Rush Co., was one of the few men who knew Jon Rush well enough not to be intimidated in the face of his anger. Their friendship went back a long way, back to the dark days of their tour of duty in the burning deserts of the Persian Gulf, where the privileged son of a Canadian industrialist and the angry young black youth from the Southside slums of Chicago had forged a lasting friendship.

Coolly, Dillon watched as Jon Rush slammed down the thick red file folder causing a small blizzard of papers to break loose from their untidy stacks on the desk. Then he let out a heavy sigh and, leaning forward in his leather-covered chair, began speaking slowly and quietly, punctuating his words with a stabbing forefinger.

“Jon, your problem is you just won’t believe anyone would betray Rush Co. from the inside. Didn’t you learn anything in the Gulf? You’ve said it yourself - everyone has their price.” He paused for a moment, waiting for Jon’s face to react as the words sank in, and then continued in the same deep, intense tone.

“Even you have to admit that Rush Co. is in trouble. We’ve gone from being the golden-haired boy of the stock market to a walking crisis center in just a few months. Do you really believe that’s just bad luck? Well, do you? Or would you rather own up to jackass management?”

End of Page One, Judgement By Fire If this tweaked your appetite for more, you can read the entire first chapter for free at

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday’s Writing: If You Can Talk, You Can Blog.

image003 Blogs are a great promotional tool for writers – and they can be fun, too! I know some people back off from the idea of blogging and there are many reasons.

The most common would be: 1)  What Do I say? 2) Who’d Be Interested? 3) Every Week! I don’t have time! 4) It’s too complicated. 5) I’d feel silly – what would it actually achieve?

Taking number 1) If you can talk, you can blog. The best blogs are conversational in tone, and you can chat about what interests you. I have a blog most Mondays which simply features quotes that I’ve found inspiring and hope will inspire others.

2) Who’d be interested? Lots and lots of readers actually seek out blogs for information and entertainment. Write yours well, make it interesting, post on social media, and they will come.

3) I don’t have time! Sure, I confess that sometimes I miss a blog date because of deadlines, personal happenings, or being just too darned tired to be inspired. But mostly, blogging has become part of my routine and I enjoy the challenge of coming up with a subject and writing 500 words, less or more, about it. Usually I can find something that interests me enough to chat about, either from experience or from research that I do on a subject. Think of it as a way of increasing your own knowledge and strengthening your writing skills!

4) It’s actually not complicated at all. You can dedicate a page on your website - you do have a website, yes? – or use one of the free blogging engines like Wordpress or Blogger. Quite a few writers don’t bother having a formal webpage any longer, as they can use their blog for the same purpose. These blogging sites offer templates and lots of help programs built in. Trust me, if I can do it, you can!

5) What would it actually achieve? Wow! Obviously that depends on your subject, why you’re blogging, and how you go about it. The first thing, really, is to give some value to your readers, something they can take away. That can be as simple as information, with links to further information if you can, (mentioning the source, especially if it is from someone else’s blog, with a link will get you brownie points!) or something to think about, or a smile that brightens their day. Blogging makes you visible, and the reason many authors aren't selling their books is because of 'invisibility'. Readers need to get to know you, and a blog is great for that.

A title helps bring people to your blog – look at the one on this page: If You Can Talk, You Can Blog. It got you here, didn’t it?

Blog titles are a bit like book titles: they grab the readers attention either by offering information or by something intriguing. I have a book titled The No Sex Clause and yes, that grabs a lot of attention. Sounds a bit raunchier than it is, but people want to know why there’s a need for such a clause, and what happens between the sexy couple on the cover…an attention getter.

This blog is called Romance Can Be Murder, because that’s what I write about: Stories with romance and mystery (and a few murders). I also have a touch of humor in my books, which is reflected in the blog title, too Smile 

Some of the most successful blogs combine information with a style like chatting to your best friend. They can be very short, or quite long, but bear in mind this is work that will appear on the Web, so try to keep paragraphs short, dole out in formation in little bits rather than huge lumps that would choke a reader.

Most of all, while blogging is a great way to get your name in front of readers, it shouldn’t be used to constantly sell, sell, sell your work. Mention a book release, use your work as an example, but constantly asking readers to buy, buy, buy your books without giving them anything else is going to mean your blog gets lonely fast.

So, now it’s your turn. What adventures have you had in the Blogosphere?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wednesday’s Writing: The What If? Game, Characters, Motivation, & Ideas.


womanwritingToday I’m going to talk about characters, motivation, stereotypes and The What If? Game.
Now, you might think that some of this applies only to fictional writing, not to personal essays or to non-fiction. But all forms of writing involve characters, and to paint them well in your writing, you need to understand them, who they are and what makes them tick.
There are lots of stereotypes out there and there’s an argument to be made for stereotypes rather like the one for cliches: that there a number of traits in humans that appear over and over again. Think more closely, though: the jolly fat person; the ruthless Type A personality; the sweet granny; the crazy cat lady; the nutty professor; the neurotic housewife.
All stereotypes; all have some truth in them. But how many really jolly overweight people do you know? Happy, well adjusted housewives? Contented Type A’s? Smart, ambitious grannies? Perfectly ordinary professors? Jolly fat folk, not so many. But plenty of people who exhibit one or two traits but do not fit the stereotype.
Because we’re human. we all have many different traits rolled into one personality and it’s a big mistake – and lazy - to stereotype your characters along these simplistic lines.
Motivation, experience, and characterization go together. People react differently to different events based on their own natural inclinations colored by their experiences. Even if they appear, on the surface, to fit a particular personality stereotype, they won’t react true to that stereotype because of their different experiences.
So your characters shouldn't be stereotyped, either.  Everything your character does is a reaction to events (or perceived events), based on his own personality and past experiences. For example, someone who is very confident, from a safe, financially secure family background, reacts a whole lot differently to a setback than someone who has never had money or family support, has no backup systems and a lot to lose.
For example:
The company folds:
The company CEO, we’ll call him Jack, is probably relieved. After years of work, he looks forward to early retirement with his golden handshake
The tea boy, Stu, knows he doesn’t have much by way of qualifications and doesn't have much chance of finding another job, so he’s depressed.
Lizzie, whose husband owns his own car dealership, shrugs and thinks she'll have to persuade her husband to pay for her facelift, after all.
Peter just got married and took out a mortgage, sure that he’ll get promotions and raises to build a secure future for his family, one he didn’t have growing up. Probably the worst hit of all, unless his wife has a very good job and even then he may experience panic or depression.
Superficially, you would imagine that they would all react according to their circumstances. But we can shake that up a bit. This is where we play the What If game -
What if Jack, the company CEO, has been embezzling and knows that the auditor will look at the books closely now the company has folded? He may be looking at jail time.
What if Stu, our teaboy, doesn’t give a damn about his lack of qualifications for another job, because he just won the $4.5 million lottery?
What if Lizzie was planning to leave her abusive husband and this job was a way of squirreling some money away for herself?
What if Peter's new wife is the daughter of a very rich family who hate Peter and will use his lack of a job to try to pry them apart?
Do you see how the storylines can emerge – and what a difference the non-stereotyped personality and motivation makes?
It's important to avoid stereotypes. People are complex beings, and nothing ruins a good book more than putting obvious motivations onto clichéd characters.
Naked Writing CoverTaken from Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday’s Inspiration: Post Holiday Depression Got You In It’s Grip?


So, the big holiday kerfuffle is over. Presents unwrapped, to cries of joy, or frowns of hidden disappointment, or gasps of horror: ‘You bought me that? What were you thinking?”
The decorations are down. The clean up begins – maybe our home looks suddenly dull, boring, even scruffy but we lack the energy to do anything about it.

We’re back to our day jobs, all the late nights and late mornings, the excitement, the visitors, the feel-good factor of being free of the everyday, all that is gone.
It’s dull outside, and unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, it’s pretty cold. –23C here right now, and snow. Even the birds seem depressed.

And so do many people. It’s hard to get back into the groove. You’re tired, despite a good night’s sleep – if you were lucky enough to get one. Writing seems such a big effort – and why bother, when all those dreams of success and a huge readership, or of good reviews and praise for great writing, all seem so unattainable now?

It’s the post-holiday blahs. Which will soon become the February blahs.

There are lots of myths about suicide stats around holiday times, and I say ‘myths’ because the whole holiday thing is actually a kind of life raft, lifting us out of the daily grind, full of hope.
Then come the Blahs. The depression stats for January aren’t mythical, nor are the rising numbers of suicides at this dark and cold time of the year, post party. The ‘goodwill’ is over, the bills are coming in, and a whole other work year looms ahead. After all the hype and expectations of the holidays, is it any wonder that the day after New Year’s Day brings a hard landing down to earth and reality?
Time to take action.

The odds are good you’re not depressed in the clinical sense, but if you think you are, of if suicide tends to creep into your thoughts a lot, you need to drag yourself over to your doctor’s office. He or she may suggest anti-depressants, and they can be a good start to getting back to your usual self. Better yet, a good counselor can be a life saver, literally. Many professionals believe that a short-term drug intervention, combined with counseling, is the answer to depression for most clients. Remember that a good counselor doesn’t just sit and listen, she helps you find the root of your problems, and to find the solution that you need, as well as developing coping mechanisms to keep the Black Dog of depression away.

But if you’re just feeling down, dissatisfied and restless, a good start is to get back into a routine. That may not be your pre-holiday routine – perhaps you need something more, such as greater stimulus or more free time.

Maybe there are things in your life you need to change, and that’s something to think seriously about. Get out  your notebook, write them down, then write the obstacles, the pros and cons, to each one, and list some possible solutions. Choose the best solutions and see how you can implement them.
Maybe it’s just the letdown after the holidays. The big annual holiday brings with it a lot of stress, physical demands leading to exhaustion, unrealistic expectations (your own or someone else’s), and the feelings of inadequacy coming from the sheer over-commercialization. Family get togethers can be a source of tension and leave you feeling depleted. Or perhaps you couldn’t see your family because they’re too far away, or maybe you were alone and it seemed everyone else was having a great time. Blah!

Here are some links you might find useful. Or you could get a copy of my book, Depression: The Essential Guide!

Have you found a routine that gets you our of the blahs and into a happy routine? Please share in a comment here for others who may be going through the blahs.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday Snippets: The Idea That Became Winters & Somers

winters&somersfinalcover (3)(427x640)While living in Ireland I took a course to qualify as a private investigator – my, what I won’t do for my art! Anyhow, this was research for a completely different book idea. But I noticed that there didn’t seem to be a single woman PI in the country, and not really an awful lot of police women, either.

So I got to wondering, like you do: how would a woman make a living at private investigation if so many doors were closed to here?

And Ciara Somers, Heroine of Winters &; Somers, was born!
Ciara actually wanted to be a policewoman, but her interfering – and very rich – grandparents “protected’ her from such an unseemly life by whispering in other influential ears.

After her first few jobs, mostly helping old ladies find their cats, Ciara finally finds her niche – she takes commissions to test the seduction temptability quotient of other women’s boyfriends/fiancés/husbands to reassure their suspicious or insecure women. That is, she goes out and tempts the guys to see if they’ll stray – then scarpers before they take her up on the offer!

It works well until she makes a horrible mistake and runs afoul of sexy New York Homicide cop Jonathon Winters – who’s also a bestselling, sexy author of wild romance novels (but don’t ever tease him about that!). Winters is in Ireland on sabbatical to write his latest novel, but it seems he left his Muse at home. Until he clashes with Ciara, Then he decides to show her how to run a proper detective agency.At least she restrains herself from biting him – although biting in some form sounds like a fun thing to do with the delicious Det. Winters.

Throw into the mix a diamond thief, a whacky grannie, two rich and misunderstood grandparents, an eccentric landlady, a pregnant friend, a pampered MG sports car, and a Guinness drinking dog and you have a plot which allowed me to put Irish dialogue, humor and characters to hilarious use. Winters &; Somers is one of my favourite books!

Here’s an excerpt:

“Myself, I think I rather fancy the little vintage MG – the red one over there.”
It happened every time. Guys got a look at the sports car, and this drooling expression came over their faces. She wished she could have the same effect.
“Jeez, that’s just gorgeous,” Winters said, drawn towards the car as if on an invisible string, “Such a fabulous restoration job, too.”
“Yes, it is." She enjoyed the expression on his face as she slipped behind the wheel. The powerful engine purred to life at the touch of the key, and Cíara gave Winters a gracious little wave as she shot off down the driveway, spurting gravel all over his shoes.
She might have won that round, but Winters was a cop and a writer, which meant that he knew a thing or two about persistence. He had something he wanted to discuss with her, and he was damned if he was going to let her get away with swanning off like this. And he’d really like to know how she came by that fancy car….
It took a few minutes, but she finally became suspicious of the headlights that followed steadily behind her. Slowing down a little to get a better view of the vehicle behind, she swore loudly and long, words that would have had Grannie Somers washing her mouth out with soap and water, and Grandmother Henley in a dead swoon on her polished oak floors.
She didn’t stop, though. She assumed Winters was still staying in the swanky Dublin hotel where she’d taken those ill-fated photographs, so he did have to return to the city, Maybe he’d get bored of following her once they got into the traffic.
But it was a forlorn hope. When she finally found a parking spot on Grosvenor Square, he pulled up right alongside her, boxing her in. “I’d love to come in for a coffee, but I don’t want to block the street and parking’s bad,” he told her as if she’d actually invited him. Then he pulled out a crumpled piece of paper from one of his immaculate dinner jacket pockets, ”I found this on your desk at the office, and thought it was really serendipity. I’m looking for a place to stay when I’m working here, and you’re looking for a flat mate. Perfect, eh?”
Cíara nearly choked on the words that struggled to climb out of her throat. When she was finally able to put them in order, she croaked “You’ve got to be joking? This stupidity is why you followed me home?”
“Partly. Partly I wanted to see you safe back. It’s not good for a woman to be out late and alone, especially in a vehicle like that. It’s not exactly invisible, is it?”
Speaking slowly, as if to a young child, she said “I am a big girl. I can stay out late if I want, and I can handle any Neanderthals with the wrong idea. Including you! Now, stay out of my way, out of my flat – and preferably, out of my life!”
“I wonder if your good buddy Frank O’Keefe will see it that way?” Jonathon said casually.
“What? Are you still on about…I thought we had a deal….”
“So did I. A partnership.”
“But now you want my flat. You want to take over my life….” She knew she was squawking, but couldn't help herself.
“Nonsense. The partnership is good for both of us. And as for the flat, I’m looking for someplace for a few nights a week. I don’t care for living in hotels. And I need to spend time at the cottage in Dunmore East, as well – so you’ll hardly know I’m there!”
She slumped back in her seat. She knew when she was outgunned, but did he have to make it all sound so reasonable? Slowly she got out of the car, locked it, and walked, shoulders slumped, towards her own front door. He fell into step beside her, slipping an arm around her. “You must find it chilly, wearing so little in this breeze,” he excused himself. She didn’t even have the energy to shrug him off. From her grandmother on the phone first thing, then Winters’ rearranging her office and making her impossible bets, Mary Margaret's lunchtime revelations, Harry’s behavior, the dinner party, and Wallace – now this! Her day had been a total washout. Besides, his arm was warm….then she had an awful thought.
“You’re not wanting to come in now and look around, are you?”
“Nah, I’ll give you time to get your underwear off the shower rail. Tomorrow morning, early – before office hours.” He watched her climb the stone steps and insert the key into the huge door. She felt his eyes on her and grinned as she remembered the short skirt would give him quite an eyeful as she reached the top of the tall steps. She gave a little provocative hip wiggle before slipping inside the house, and had to admit, against her better judgment, that his presence did feel safe. Not that she had ever felt under threat, coming home alone late at night. At least not that she would admit to, anyway. After all, if you start to feel like a victim, you are a victim, her martial arts instructor had told the class. And no granddaughter of Grannie Somers would ever be a victim.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Saturday’s Snippets: The Idea That Became “Another Man’s Son”


christmas card picI’m baaack!! Yes, after the holidays (fun) and the flu that followed (not so fun) I’m finally defying the awful snow and record breaking cold to get back into the blogging routine.
We actually had a green Christmas – the weatherman says it’s the first in 64 years for our part of the world (Ontario, Canada) and it was really nice. Able to attend all sorts of events with clear roads and no need for heavy parkas and snowboots (mine are ancient, comfortable and have crampons on – rubber and metal covers that help traction on ice but also make a lot of noise.
So now it’s payback time – winter has happened with a vengeance. That’s my house in the picture, just so that all you folks in warmer climes – or Canadian snowbirds sipping cocktails on your balconies in Florida (!) - can have a laugh or two at our expense.

So, to today’s snippet. Another Man’s Son is in ebook and print, and published by The Wild Rose Press #TWRP as part of their Lobster Cove series. It’s romantic suspense, and the idea came when I wondered what would prompt a 21st century young woman to marry someone she hardly knew, just to protect her unborn child. And what would happen when the man who really loves her returns and threatens to sue for custody of the child he believes is his?

Especially when the man she married is part of a wealthy family and the man she really loves is a law officer charged with investigating that family?

Yes, my imagination just kept going and going….Smile

In this excerpt, Kathryn Morgan’s son seven year old son has disappeared. She believes her husband has taken the child just to punish her for an earlier transgression. She is in the Lobster Cove police office, asking cynical acting sheriff Ben Asher, the man she really loves, for help. Here goes:

He should have known she'd come to see him. Women like her treated men like something they'd wipe off the soles of their shoes. Once a man got them out from under his skin, they came running back to try and get that old itch wanting to be scratched again.

perf5.000x8.000.inddBen's impassive face showed none of his thoughts as five minutes later one of the deputies, Roy Webb, showed a pale-faced Kathryn into the office. Ben thanked the deputy, then silently indicated that Kathryn should sit on one of the hard, uncomfortable visitors' chair before returning to concentrate on the papers he was reading.

Or pretending to read – the sight of her took his breath away again, and he watched her covertly from under his brows. Dark rings under her eyes accentuated her paleness, and she was thinner than he remembered, dressed in an expensive designer suit in a pale oyster color that accentuated that pale skin and luminous green eyes. Her features had matured and she had developed a poise that suited her. The pretty girl he had known had become a stunningly beautiful woman.

Finally, when he could put it off no longer, Ben signed his name with a flourish and dropped the paperwork back into its file in his out basket. He leaned back in his chair, met her direct gaze and asked: "What can I do for you, Mrs. Morgan?"

Something flickered across her face at his tone, at the slight emphasis on her married title. She pushed back a stray lock of hair with fingers that shook a little, but her voice was even as she replied. "I've come to you because I need help, Ben."

Another Man’s Son is available on TWRP website, and on most Amazon sites.