Saturday, December 22, 2007

'Twas the week before Christmas and I had the flu . . .

I'm a firm believer in not leaving things I need to do until the last minute. I'm a compulsive list maker and list checker - checking off tasks as I complete them. Have I mentioned before that I'm a Type "A" personality? : - ) Anyway, I generally finish my "to do" list before the tasks are actually due, with time to spare, But not this week. This week I was down with the flu.

I am not a good patient - not one who suffers in silence : - ) or who grins and bears it, sucking it up and trudging on, keeping on, no matter how lousy I'm feeling. When I'm sick, everything is all about me. : - ) As a result, this last week was a bust, and I got nothing on my list done.

Today is the first day that my thoughts turned outward - outside of myself and the fact that I was sick. A good sign; if I'm no longer focused on being sick, than the worst is behind me and I've come out of it. But, with my thoughts turning outward again, came a reality check: It's three days before Christmas. Three Days.

I have three days to get my house tidy after several days of neglect, finish my Christmas gift shopping, grocery shop, and prepare a meal for twelve people. That's doable, right? : - )

I wish you a happy and safe holiday.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Newsletter From Karen Fenech - December 2007

Dear Friends,

The holiday season is upon us. Didn't the summer pass quickly?

I had a wonderful summer and fall, and in large part due to so many of you whom I had the pleasure of meeting while touring for BETRAYAL. Thanks to all of you who came to my events. I loved meeting you.

The winner of the drawing for a hardcover edition of BETRAYAL is:

Sharon Palmer


New York


Thank you to all of you who participated. Again, response was tremendous. You continue to make the contests great fun.

We're hosting another drawing. This time we're giving away a signed copy of Unholy Angels and a $20 gift certificate at to one winner. Just send me an e-mail for your chance to win. Please remember to write "contest" in the subject line. Enter as often as you like.

We're in the process of updating my website with the new contest information. Please visit the CONTESTS page shortly if you would like a re-cap of the details for the drawing, and for the closing date. Link to the page:

Feel free to let all of your reader friends know about the contest, and feel free to pass this newsletter along to them.

Reading and responding to your letters and e-mails is a great part of my day. I love hearing from you. Some of you may have written and have yet to receive a reply from me. I've fallen behind in my correspondence and it's taking me some time to catch up. Thank you for your patience in awaiting a response, and as always, thank you for keeping in touch.

I wish you a happy and safe holiday season.

Until next time, very best wishes,


Friday, December 7, 2007

What's on your menu this holiday season?

With the holidays approaching, and concern for our waistlines temporarily suspended, I thought I'd share a delicious recipe a reader kindly sent to me for my favorite dessert - chocolate cake. : - ) I've been told that this cake has been named the "Better Than Sex Cake" . : - ) You'll have to let me know what you think : - )

Teoh, if you're reading this, thanks so much for the recipe.

When I was researching BETRAYAL, I looked into twelfth century recipes. Spices such as salt were liberally used in cooking, often times to conceal the taste when food had spoiled. Saffron, which turns foods yellow, was a pricey spice that hostesses delighted in, despite the cost, for important parties and feasts.

I thought I'd include a link to a Medieval recipe site:

I just may include a Medieval dish as part of the Christmas meal this holiday season. : - )


Better Than Sex Cake

1 German chocolate cake mix
1 can sweetened and condensed milk (I use Eagle brand)
1 jar caramel ice cream topping
1 8 ounce container of Cool Whip
6 ounces crushed Heath bar
6 ounces crushed plain Hershey bar

Bake cake as directed in 9x13 pan. Take the handle of a wooden spoon and poke holes all over the cake while it's still warm. Pour can of condensed milk over warm cake, then repeat with caramel topping. Refrigerate for 6 hours. Frost cake with Cool Whip topping and sprinkle with crushed Heath & Hershey bar. Serve immediately.

Friday, November 30, 2007

One way to add realism to our fiction

On this day, November 30, 1959, production on the film "Psycho" began.

Now you may be wondering why I began my blog with that tidbit of information. The reason is that I discovered a new research site. If you've read my earlier blogs, you've read about my fascination with research. I'm sure you can imagine my excitement at being able to add another one to my list. : - )

I got the above information from the web site of the History Channel by clicking on "This Day in History" and choosing the Entertainment category. I checked out the Literary category first, of course : - ). I learned that on this day in 1835, writer Mark Twain was born.

But while I was browsing the site for fun trivia, it occurred to me how useful this site could be for writers. It got me thinking about how we can use "day in history" information to add realism to our fiction.

The goal in writing fiction is to suspend disbelief. Writers want readers to believe that the story they're reading and the people they're reading about could really exist. It doesn't matter when or where our story happens. If our readers don't believe what we're writing, then our fiction has failed.

Referencing people who lived during a given time period helps our readers identify with the people we've created. Including events which actually took place at the time of our story is one way of making our fictional world familiar. Maybe even a place that readers will want to go to. : - )

In case you'd like to take a look, here's a link to the site:



Saturday, November 24, 2007

A "Real" Writer

I received an e-mail from a writer who has lost heart with his writing. Since he hasn't been published, he doesn't feel like he's a writer.

His story touched me. I don't think there is a writer among us who hasn't endured the heartbreak of rejection and questioned his or her path as a result.

Though I am certainly no authority on writing and publishing, I thought I'd share with all of you something that I'd gone through several years ago when I questioned my own path. I hope, if you're reading this and struggling with your own writing goals, you will feel a little less isolated and know you are not alone.

I'd been working on a novel for a very very long time. Another novel. That current work in progress wasn't my first. I had scenes on paper, sketchy bits of dialogue, snippets of description. And nothing to string one scene to the next because I'd long since given up the project.

I'd called it writer's block that I'd stopped writing, though I winced at the term. It sounded like an excuse to me for not working and, worse, calling not writing by that label seemed pretentious to me. "Writer's Block" is something that afflicts writers like Hemingway. It's a phrase used to describe why words fail best- selling authors. I was certainly not one of those - I hadn't published one word - and so I wasn't worthy of having that same affliction.

Not worthy. Right there was the heart of my problem. I didn't think of myself as a 'real' writer. For all the effort I'd put into my writing, the world was not beating a path to my door, clamoring for my prose.

If no one wanted to read what I wrote, then why was I writing it? Clearly, my time would be better served doing things that were productive.

With my husband's loving support, I'd made a decision to write full time. Since I wasn't writing, though, what did that make me?

I struggled to find another purpose for myself. I was doing the chores in my home, things that kept my family comfortable. Okay, I was a homemaker, then. I'm a homemaker, not a writer.

I put my novel into my desk and went about my house doing what needed doing. Not just for my family's benefit. It was for my own, as well. Doing for them fulfilled a need within me. A well-cooked meal or fresh towels in the linen closet was my achievement. As caregiver to my family, I felt validated.

And that was a feeling I could no longer get when writing. A dramatic sentence or poignant description no longer made me feel the time was worth the effort.

Admitting to that, hurt. I'd lived with writing in my life for so long that I didn't know how I'd cope without it. But the pain that was coming lately from writing was as bad as from not writing.

So, along with my novel pages, I put aside all of my hopes and dreams for my work. And didn't write.

Time passed. Nothing earth shattering happened. The sky didn't fall. The world didn't mourn the loss of my prose. The world didn't change at all because of my decision, but I did. I felt a loss as if something important to me had died.

I hadn't expected to feel that way. I'd thought by not writing, I would have felt better, but I didn't. It took me a while to figure out why. Somewhere over the years, while I was pursuing publication, my writing became all about publishing, and not about writing. I'd lost the joy of writing.

But I regained it. In that time of not writing, when I realized that something was missing from my life, I also realized that I couldn't stop writing --whether I was ever published or not.

I started writing again. Did I put aside my dream of publication? No. I've since had novels, and short stories published. But I realized that it wasn't publication that made me a writer. It was the manuscript pages in my desk. A pretty tall stack, I recall. : - ) But tall or small, a word or a phrase, it didn't matter. All that mattered was that I was writing, because it isn't publication that makes me a "real" writer, writing does.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Where do you write?

With an active and exuberant family in my house, it's sometimes difficult to get any writing done on weekends. I usually write Monday to Friday, but with a book I need to finish quickly, I require the additional writing time just now of Saturdays and Sundays.

I use the spare bedroom as my office, which happens to be right in the middle of all of the activity. Even a closed door, I've learned, isn't always a deterrent to the more persistent. : - )

So, out of necessity at times, I take my writing to the road - literally.

Some writers thrive on the busy atmosphere of coffee shops. Others I know listen to music, or have television or a movie playing in the background, I write in silence. The tap tap of the computer keys as I strike them is all the sound I want. For me, that tapping is a symphony or a rock song, depending on my mood. : - )

I recently discovered a great place to write that can be as quiet or loud as I prefer - my car.

Now, when the weekend comes around, and things get a little too hectic at home for writing, I take my laptop out to my car and let the words flow . . . : - )

Where do you write? : - )


Thursday, November 8, 2007


Are you participating in NANOWRIMO this month?

In case you haven't heard of it, NANOWRIMO is short for National Novel Writing Month, an annual event each November in which writers register to attempt to write 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days. The emphasis is on quantity not quality. The thinking behind NANOWRIMO is to write freely, accumulating words, without stopping to edit.

I think the concept is wonderful, particularly since, as I've blogged before, I'm obsessive about editing as I write, thinking out each sentence before it makes it to the page.

Each year I intend to sign up for NANOWRIMO, and each November I'm neck- deep in another project and unable to start something new.

Being the Type A personality that I am (I blogged about that a few weeks ago : - )), I don't know if I can take the necessary step back from the work that I'd need to in order to write without editing - but I'd love to try! I'd love to challenge myself and see if I can let go and just write.

I'd also like to see just what I'd end up with in terms of useable material. Wouldn't it be a kick to discover that I'd actually written something worthwhile?

I won't have an answer for that this year, since I didn't participate. I'm working to complete my current novel at this time. But, I have high hopes for participating next year : - )


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Where does good writing come from?

There's a writing fairy godmother who flits about the universe, visiting all writers, waving her magic wand over us so that we will all instantly produce perfect prose.

I'm sure you've met her.

You haven't?

Don't feel badly, I haven't either.

But, if I can indulge the thought for a moment, wouldn't that be wonderful?

Reluctantly letting that fantasy go, where, then does good writing come from?

I've been at this for a while and though I'm certainly not the definitive authority on the subject, I've learned that good writing comes from bad writing.

Good writing is made, not born. Often for many of us, first drafts of a piece of writing are a mess of rambling in places, with gaps you could fly a plane through in others. Reading over such a mess, it can be very difficult to believe that out of that muck, will come good writing. But the truth is, it will.

That first draft - messy as it is - is the most important writing we do because it gets the story from our heads to the page. Once there, we can go about moving words, discarding, and adding at will, turning bad writing into good. We'd never be able to do that if we didn't have something to work from.

I'm working my way through a first draft now, turning a mess of bad writing into good. I am getting there. But, if you happen to meet up with a writing fairy godmother, do send her my way : - )


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Medium, anyone?

I don't watch much TV. Like all of you, I'm sure, time is at a premium and we just don't have any to waste watching programs that we don't enjoy. It's rare for me to find a program that I like and that I like enough to stick to, watching faithfully week after week. I found one last season. That program is MEDIUM.

I've never really watched movies or read books that deal with the paranormal. I don't know why that is except that I haven't come across many. I liked MEDIUM from the first episode and I've been looking forward to its return this Fall.

The thing is, I've been watching for it and I haven't come across any new episodes. I'm wondering if I've missed them, despite my best efforts : - ) or if the season hasn't started yet for this series.

If anyone knows which is the case, please do let me know. Maybe I should just ask a Medium. : - )


Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Tortoise and the Hare

My writing isn't coming as quickly as I'd like with my current work in progress. Or so I've been thinking. I seem to have developed this idea lately that I'd written my two previous novels faster than this one. Thinking back on this, though, I realize that wasn't the case. I've always been a tortoise when it comes to my writing, rather than a hare.

I'm a slow, methodical writer. I think each sentence through as I write it, testing it for its purpose in the story. Each sentence must earn its place in my mind first, or it will never be included on the page. As a result, I don't write a full chapter at each writing session, but only a few pages.

I don't complete manuscripts at lightning speed, but, neither do I find myself discarding countless pages when I get to the editing stage. All of the thought that I put into each line makes for tight and accurate writing.

I am definitely a tortoise when it comes to my writing. Since I'm working on my third novel, though, slow and steady works fine for me. : - )


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Writers' Foreplay . . .

Recently, I noticed that over the years I've developed habits or rituals as a warm up for writing and to get the thoughts flowing. I hadn't realized that I was doing anything "special" or maybe what I mean is "specific" to get me in the writing mood. I wonder if getting in the writing mood could be described as writers' foreplay : - )

Before we all start conjuring up lurid images , I think I'd better explain just what I mean.

In an ideal world, we writers would get comfortable in front of our computers (or with pen and paper in hand) and WHAM! brilliant prose and ideas would come to us that we could then just record. Unfortunately, for this writer at least, my writing sessions don't go that way. I've found that I need to encourage the creative process - often drag it forth - kicking and screaming : - )

So, just what do I do? A variety of things I realized. Some days, I read over the pages I wrote the day before. That reminds me of where I left off and puts me back in the lives of the people I've created. Other days, I write a note to myself of what I want to accomplish with the days work - not so much a number of pages, but the plot points and emotions that will move the story and characters forward. Lately, though, I've been doing something different: I've been pondering what type of music - or what specific musical recording would suit the scene I seek to write.

This addition to my process surprised me. I don't play any musical instruments, read music, or know much about music at all. I don't understand why someone as challenged musically as I am would find thoughts of music a stimulant to creativity. I don't know how, or more, why this is working for me. : - )

But, it is. : - )

Today, I'm seeking to write a scene in which the FBI heroine in my work in progress has lost her only lead to break her current case.

Now, what music would suit this scene. . .


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sneaking away. . . almost

I'm sneaking away for a belated anniversary getaway with my husband. Belated because I've been touring for BETRAYAL and working to meet a looming deadline for my current work-in-progress. My husband and I acknowledged our anniversary briefly when it came around last July, with the promise that we'd celebrate properly when our schedules eased.

Since there isn't any indication of that happening, we've decided to go for it and sneak away anyway! : - )

The thing is, I'm not sneaking away entirely. I'm setting a scene for my next book in our getaway locale, so this trip will be part vacation and part work. I just haven't told my husband about the "work" part yet. : - )


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Before I Die. . .

I read about people making a list of everything they want to do before they die. I hadn't ever thought about that. I can't say that I ever considered my wants and goals and hopes and dreams in such a way.

I'm not unaware that the clock is ticking, of course. I realize that at some point I will be out of time. But, while I've set personal and professional goals for myself over the years, I've never considered how I would feel if, when my end came, I wasn't able to put a check mark beside each of them.

I think, somewhere along the line, I shrugged and accepted that what is left undone, will remain undone.

Am I right? Or, when all is said and done, if I still have things that will never be checked off, will I feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled . . .

Just in case, maybe I should get started on that list. : - )


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Am I still Type "A"?

I had a lot scheduled to get done by this mid-week. That's right, I did write "scheduled" as in written down, listed, planned. If you've concluded that I'm a Type "A" personality, you're right. With apologies to other Type As who might take exception, we are described as: work-obsessed, strong-achievement oriented, competitive. I fit this profile too well. : - )

In my typical fashion, I had scheduled work to be completed each day this week, but I've fallen behind. For a Type "A" or specifically for this Type "A" that's a calamity of monumental proportions. : - )

For some reason, though, not being on schedule or on track just isn't that catastrophic today. I wonder if I'm still a Type "A"?

I enjoy doing research and will jump at the chance to read up on almost anything, so I did some reading on the subject of whether or not personality types can change. What I found out confirmed that personality types don't change. We are what we are and remain so.

So if I'm not obsessing about being behind schedule, why aren't I?

Is it possible that I'm learning it's all right to let go just a little? (gulp) That it's all right to deviate from my schedule and actually carry work over to another day or week . . .

I don't have an answer for that. Not yet. I'll know when Friday night rolls around - if there's still work left on my desk : - )


Friday, August 24, 2007

While researching the twelfth century . . .

My latest romantic suspense release BETRAYAL is set in 1122, England. I did extensive research into that time period so that my people would be true to the customs, everyday concerns, and political climate of the day.

One of the aspects of that time that I found fascinating was the influence of the church. The rules set out by the church were not to be broken, and for those suspected of an infraction, the church's punishment was swift and severe. Suspected heretics, for example, were subjected to impossible tests - called trials, at that time - to prove their innocence. One method used was to tie an accused hand and foot, place him or her in a sack weighted down with rocks then throw that sack into a lake. If the accused floated to the top, alive, then he was judged not guilty of a crime against God. If he did not surface, then it was decided that God's justice had been served.

In BETRAYAL one of the characters who antagonizes heroine Katherine is a bishop. Once she is introduced to him, she soon comes to realize that this particular bishop has an agenda of his own which he furthers by using his power as a member of the church. After reading of some of the methods used to prove heresy, I couldn't resist including a scene in which Katherine's faith is called into question. The scene turned out to be quite powerful.

I won't spoil it by revealing anymore, in case you haven't read BETRAYAL.

Research, I find, triggers thoughts and ideas to deepen characters and further the plot. It also makes for fascinating reading : - )


The two sides of me

I did an interview with Romance Junkies . The interviewer asked about my life - things like - what was the most romantic gift I've ever received; how I met my husband; how would I describe myself.

I've become accustomed to answering questions about my professional life, and I have to admit, answering questions about my personal life threw me for a loop. : - ) It seems that I've developed two sides over the years - the professional me and the personal me. As I went about responding to the interview, I realized that I hadn't thought about the personal side of my life in sometime.

Answering those questions reminded me that I do have a life beyond writing. Sometimes, when I'm deeply into the work and the business side of the work , I tend to forget that. If you'd like to take a look at the interview, here's the link:


Me and Stephanie Plum

I was never a "pet" person. Growing up, our family didn't have any pets, and I never really thought that I was missing anything. Writing is a solitary occupation, though, and while I usually don't mind living inside my own head for much of my day, it can get a little lonely at times. My husband suggested that a dog would be a good companion. After some hemming and hawing, I agreed to visit a pet store. Anyway, I fell in love and we walked out with our little pooch.

After many years of loving our little dog, sadly, she went on to Doggie heaven. Anyone who now has, or has had a pet knows of the void that is left when our furry little creature passes on. Despite the void, though, I'm unable to move on and get another dog. My husband has hinted that I consider another type of pet. While browsing the pet store one afternoon, an animal did catch my eye. That animal was actually a fish - a Goldfish.

Now, when people find out that I'd like a pet Goldfish, it is often implied that this isn't a pet for a grown-up. Of course I live in the world and I know that a Goldfish is typically a pet young children choose or have chosen for them.

Call me the exception to that rule. I stand behind my choice. Stephanie Plum would understand my selection of pet. Stephanie, from author Janet Evanovich's bestselling Plum series, has a pet hamster she named Rex. Just because Stephanie named her pet after a dog, doesn't mean she wishes he were a dog. Rex is plenty enough pet for her, and a Goldfish would be plenty enough pet for me.

I've injected some humor by introducing fictional character Stephanie Plum here. But humor aside, what it comes down to for we pet lovers is that our pets are our friends. My pet friend would live in a small aquarium, perched on my desk. And, when I eventually do come out of my head and rejoin the real world, my friend would be there waiting for me. Now, what could be better than that?


If today is Tuesday this must be . . .

Yes, I realize that it isn't really Tuesday today. Yes, I understand that you're likely wondering why I called this blog entry "Tuesday" when clearly today is Wednesday - ah - Thursday, I mean. Oh, boy - allow me to explain.

My book tour for Betrayal is underway. Readers have been so great in coming out to my events. It's been so wonderful being able to meet the very people I write books for. In an effort to meet as many people as I possibly can, I've extended my tour over three months.

I planned carefully to fit in as many events as I could. Well, one opportunity came up, last minute. It was an afternoon "meet and greet". A chance to meet more wonderful people, I was thrilled! It happened that I was going to be in that city later the same day for another event. The timing was such that I could attend both. Simple, right? What could possibly go wrong?

I went to the later event first.

I don't know how I did that. I don't know how I confused the two, but that's what I did. As things go, the meet and greet that I was supposed to be at was across town from where I was. I am a stickler for arriving early to my destinations and on this occasion that habit served me well. That - along with the lovely people who came out to the event, and the staff organizing the meet and greet who kindly said they would wait for me to get there when I called and explained that I'd gone to the wrong place.

Luckily when I did arrive, I was only a couple of minutes late. This Saturday, July 28th, at 2 p.m., I'll be at Chapters Bookstore in Ajax, Ontario, Canada. If you're in the area, please do stop by. I'd love to meet you.



At a recent 'meet and greet', one of the questions asked, was "What would you tell aspiring writers about getting published and on writing?"

One of the most important things I've learned about writing is that writers must believe in themselves and learn to be our own cheerleaders. Any time we send out a piece of writing to market, we're setting ourselves up for possible rejection. Rejection is inevitable. A part of the process. It is naturally discouraging to be rejected, and it's hard to separate the writer from the work and to keep in mind that the particular piece of writing has been rejected not the writer. The rejection may have nothing at all to do with the writing; the story may just not be right for the market it was submitted to at that time.

Still, the reason may not matter at first. All we know as writers is that the work didn't make the cut, and that hurts. If this happens enough times, and likely it will happen plenty, particularly during the early stages of our careers, the discouragement and pain can shut us down.

So, how do we keep on keeping on? We become our own cheerleaders. We believe in ourselves. We celebrate the accumulation of pages, even the rejection slips that we wouldn't be getting if we weren't writing.

Becoming our own cheerleader doesn't have to be limited to our writing lives, I think. Why can't we cheer for ourselves in every aspect of our lives?

Here's hoping that you're cheering for yourself right now.


A Letter from Lady Katherine Stanfield, the heroine of BETRAYAL

England, 1122

My dear Friends,

My name is Katherine Stanfield. Five years ago, I was betrothed to Lord Nicholas de Lauren, the only man I will ever love. And five years ago, I deserted him for another man.

Fate and a deadly enemy have brought us together again now. Finally, my dream of marriage to Nicholas has come true and I am Lady de Lauren. But I cannot delude myself that this marriage is the second chance at love that I'd prayed for. Not at all. Nicholas is openly bitter. He has not forgiven me for that betrayal of five years ago.

In a recent conversation, we quarrelled about the past:

Following a tense meal in Merton hall, Katherine walked beside de Lauren up the wide castle steps. She went by the lady's chamber, onto the lord's with him. Inside the room, she turned on him.

"You knew. You rendered aid following William's attack. You knew what he had done, yet, you brought me here where my presence could only hurt these good people. Had you no other allies in the vicinity where we could have lodged this night, we were well prepared to sleep on the road."

"Lord Perry is my ally," de Lauren said. "Perry Keep is but three miles north."

"Yet we are here? Why? Sweet Mary, can you tell me why?"

De Lauren's voice was cold. "'It was time Stanfield's lady saw for herself what her noble house has become under William Norris' rule."

Dishonorable. Unscrupulous. Treacherous. Tears burned her eyes. Aye, she knew well that with her marriage to William, she'd destroyed all her father and what Stanfield lords before him had spent their lives building.

"Think you, you have revealed something about William that was unknown to me?" Katherine wiped her wet cheeks with the back of her hand, and straightened her shoulders. "Be assured, I knew what manner of man William was when I married him. And if I had it to do again, I would do the same."

"And if I had it to do again, I would do the same."

I spoke the truth when I said those words to Nicholas. I would not change that past, even if I could. In truth, even if he did forgive my betrayal of five years ago, that would not be the end of it and enable us to start fresh.

For what Nicholas does not know, is that in the last few hours since I became his wife, I betrayed him again . . .



Dear Friends,

I'll be signing copies of BETRAYAL at Chapters Bookstores in Ontario, Canada this July, August, and September. If you're in the area, please do come by and say "Hi". I would love to meet you.

Warmest wishes,

JULY 2007

Saturday, July 7th - 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Chapters Bookstore - Oakville Town Centre - 310 North Service Road West. Oakville, Ontario. Canada.

Saturday, July 21st - 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Chapters Bookstore - 873 Lansdowne Street - Peterborough, Ontario. Canada

Saturday, July 28th - 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Chapters Bookstore - Durham Centre - 90 Kingston Road. Ajax, Ontario. Canada.


Saturday, August 11th - 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Chapters Bookstore - 76 Barrie View Drive. Barrie, Ontario. Canada

Saturday, August 18th - 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Chapters Bookstore - 2225 Bloor St. West. Toronto, Ontario. Canada


Saturday, September 8th - 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Chapters Bookstore - 1950 The Queensway. Toronto, Ontario. Canada

Saturday, September 22nd - 2 p.m to 4 p.m at Chapters Bookstore - Kennedy Commons Mall - 20 William Kitchen Road. Scarborough, Ontario. Canada

EXPRESSIONS (Originally posted to the Five Star Authors' Blog)

Has anyone heard the expression, laid like broccoli? I heard it again today. It got me thinking of other expressions that we use and how we all have our pet phrases.

Some are unique to only us. Some we've adopted because they suit our personalities. Some we've adapted to the people in our stories as one means of rounding out their characters and making them more "human".

Today, while I'm out running errands, I'm going to listen for pet phrases from the people I speak with, and in the conversations going on around me. I may hear something that will suit one my characters.

If you have any expressions that you'd like to share, post a comment or send me an e-mail at:


DO YOU KEEP A JOURNAL? (Originally posted to the Five Star Authors' Blog)

I started keeping a journal when I was very young, filling the pages with pre-adolescent events in my life like I went to the beach. I had fun. I stopped when I began thinking of writing professionally and was spending so much time writing.

In the last couple of years, though, I began to journal again, and I've re-discovered the freedom of writing anything that comes to mind and not having to be concerned about revising and editing. I've re-discovered the freedom of knowing that no one other than myself is ever going to read these pages. I've found another benefit to journaling that has helped in my writing - writing out plot problems.

Often writers work alone and we don't have anyone to talk to about a problem with plot or character. I'm "talking" my problems out on the pages of my journal. I'm finding that writing the problem down and through helps me solve it.

I'm no longer talking out writing problems aloud to myself. Well, not as often : - )


THE WORST THING ABOUT WRITING (Originally posted to The Five Star Authors' Blog)

Quite often, writers are asked about writing. One of the questions most often asked, I've found, is "where do you get your ideas". I blogged briefly on that topic here, at The Five Star Blog in May, and I'll be blogging on that subject again on November 2nd at "The Idea Boutique".

Recently, however, I was asked a question that I couldn't recall having been asked before. It was: What did I feel was the worst thing about writing? After I gave my response, I thought the question had the makings of an article. And so, I wrote one. The result was a first-person opinion piece that appeared in this week's issue of AbsoluteWrite.

My agreement with the publisher doesn't permit me to reprint it here, but if you'd like to take a look, the link to the article is:

If you'd like to share your own thoughts on what the worst thing about writing is for you, post a response here, or write to me at:


BOOK COVERS (Originally posted to The Five Star Authors' Blog)

I've been out of touch for a while, busy with new releases due out this month, next, and November. While all this pre-publication prep has been going on, one of the things I've been focused on are book covers.

Waiting to for my book covers is always nail-biting time for me. It's a lot to expect for one image to capture the essence of a 90,000 page book. That's the equivalent, I think, to writers condensing our stories into a one-page synopsis. It's not easily done, and not always done well. We've all seen some terrible book covers out there and felt the author's heartbreak.

I received the cover for BETRAYAL a while back, and am thrilled to write that I was, well, thrilled. Five Star invites authors to submit an idea for their covers. I had a vague one, and after I submitted it, I worried that the artist reading my small offering, might be thrown off a great idea of his own. I was worried that I might have contributed to a terrible cover. The artist, however, included a couple of the elements from my idea and then came up with something so much better than I'd imagined. I'm challenged when it comes to uploading files etc, so I couldn't post the cover here. It's on my website, though, if you'd like to take a look. Let me know what you think.

The link to my site is: The cover is posted on the "BOOKS" page.

I just received the cover for my September short story release, and I'm happy to write that I like that one too. Two covers down, one more to go. . .


FINDING TIME TO WRITE REVISITED (Originally posted to the Five Star Authors' Blog)

A few years ago, I wrote an article called "Finding Time To Write When You Have No Time". It was published in a writers' journal, then reprinted in e-zine AbsoluteWrite where it is currently archived.

The subject of finding time to write strikes a chord with a lot of us who are struggling to fit one more activity into our crowded lives. Some suggest that writing, or not writing, is a matter of priority, claiming that we always manage to find time to do the things we want to do most.

That's true in some instances, but I don't believe it's true in all cases. It isn't always simply a matter of deciding to do it. If it were, I believe a lot more people would be pursuing their dream. It isn't the will that may be lacking, but the way.

My life isn't in the same place that it was when I wrote that article, of course. I'm not struggling with the same demands on my time that I was then. Instead, I now have a new slew of demands clamoring for my attention. :-) I'm sure it's no different for you. As a result of these new demands, however, I'm re-examining how I spend my days, looking to carve time to write.

It's an on-going battle. One that I'm winning. So far. :-)


WHAT'S IN A NAME? (Originally posted to the Five Star Authors' Blog)

I spend a lot of time thinking about names. Actually, I collect them. I write them down in my "name" journal. Since my husband and I aren't planning any more children, that would seem like an odd preoccupation, but the truth is the search for names has become an important pursuit for me.

I wasn't always into names, but as a writer I've found that having the right name for my characters is key. A character named James behaves differently than one named Jim, or Jimbo.

With BETRAYAL, due out this November, I had the great fun of researching names from the twelfth century. One of my discoveries was "Elspeth" a variation of Elizabeth. I couldn't resist giving that name to one of the characters in my story.

If I have the pleasure of meeting you one day, I hope you'll understand if I take out the little notebook I carry in my purse and jot down your name. :-)


A LIST OF MY LIFE (Originally posted to the Five Star Authors' Blog)

Ever have a day when you couldn't think with any clarity? I did and when it happened to me I panicked, afraid that I'd somehow used up all of my ideas. The real problem though wasn't a lack of ideas, I found, but too many of them. I had information overload.

We have so much going on in our lives. There are so many people and things clamoring for our attention every moment and often, simultaneously. It's no wonder that with so much to think about, at times, thinking of even just one more thing, like writing, is impossible. When this happens, some writers I know take a break from the keyboard and do something different, like taking a walk, or watching a movie, or going shopping. I find that something else works for me: I make a list of all of the things that are going on in my life.

The things occupying, or preoccupying, my thoughts are always about the current events in my life, so I write down all of those things, even the silly and the mundane. Somehow, seeing my life on paper like that is freeing and I find that once I've made my list, my thoughts and ideas start to flow.

Maybe the reason I'm able to think clearly again is that once I've listed these things, I now don't have to worry that I'll overlook someone or something. Or, maybe it's just that once I see what's been consuming my thoughts, I usually end up laughing, realizing how trivial most of it is.

Here's wishing that all of the things keeping you from thinking clearly are trivial, too.


WHERE DO I GET MY IDEAS? (Originally posted to The Five Star Authors' Blog)

One of the questions I'm asked most often as a writer is, where do I get my ideas? Sometimes they spring from the humor of my life!

Anyone who knows me, or has visited my website, knows that I have curly hair. Well, after living with it for so many years, I've learned to work with it, and enjoy the versatility of it. It's not a problem for me anymore. On most days, that is.

There was this one day, though, a weekday several years ago, and both myself and my daughter had slept in. Since I was going to be driving her and a few of her friends to school that morning, I not only had to get her ready to leave the house, but I had to get myself ready as well. While getting her breakfast, I caught my reflection in the toaster and saw that my hair was as wide and thick as a mop. I left her to finish eating and went off to fix the problem.

Several brush strokes later, my arm was aching and my hair still looked like I should be cleaning my floor with it. Clearly, there wasn't a quick fix, and I was out of time. I needed to get the kids to school. I was thinking that I'd just have to leave it, and go out into the world with it as it was, when inspiration struck. I grabbed the toque my husband wore during the winter months when he was out shoveling snow from our driveway, and put that on. Now, that should have been the end of it. Problem solved, right? The thing was, it wasn't January, it was June.

Maybe I just should have gone out with my mop-hair?

One good thing did come out of that - the idea for my humorous short story - Bad Hair Day!

I'm not having a bad hair day today. Honest. See for yourself, if you like. I'm at:


WHEN ANOTHER PROJECT BECKONS (Originally posted to The Five Star Authors' Blog)

Have you ever been deep in a writing project when another project beckons? This has happened to me in the past, and usually I'm able to stall the project by writing down a brief summary of the story that came to me and promising it (myself) that I'd get to it next. Well, it's happened to me again and this time the story won't stay quietly in the background while I complete my current work(s)-in-progress.

The new story idea is a sequel for my upcoming release BETRAYAL (coming November 15th). I really enjoyed writing BETRAYAL and very reluctantly said good bye to the characters on the last page of the novel. It was time to let them go, I know, but it was hard for me. I suppose it's natural after enjoying writing that book so much that I'd want to re-visit the place and the people with another story.

I have other works to complete, however, before I can get to the sequel, so the idea will need to simmer on hold for the time being. For now, I'll content myself with adding more pages to my notes on that project. By the thickness of my folder so far, I'm going to have a book made up of just notes before I ever get around to writing this story! But that's a good problem to have.

I hope your own projects, writing or other, are going well.


CHATTING (Originally posted to The Five Star Authors' Blog)

I participated in an online chat last night at Romance Designs. It was such great fun! Last night's chat was wild! If any of you reading this were there, I think you'd agree. At times I was laughing so hard, I couldn't type my responses.

Though some writers write with a partner, writing is something that is usually done alone. That's the way it is for me. So much of my time is spent in solitude. I joke with my husband that I spend my days inside my head. It's a real treat for me to go out in the world and interact with the people I write for.

If you know of an upcoming chat, let me know. I'd love to be there!


THE BEST INTENTION (Originally posted to The Five Star Authors' Blog)

Last week I blogged about "reading for pleasure" and I mentioned that my "to be read" list is very long. Well, as of last night, it got a little longer, okay, the truth is, it got a lot longer. I can't resist a bookstore. For me, a trip to the bookstore is the ultimate shopping experience. People who know me laugh about this. For some women their weakenss is shoes, for me it's books.

Last night after dinner, my husband and I took a walk to get ice cream. I know, getting ice cream sort of defeats the purpose for the walk, but that's a topic for another blog entry. Anyway, on the way to the ice cream parlor, we pass a book store. I told my husband I was just going to stop in for a quick peek at the new arrivals. I hadn't planned on browsing, because well, we were out for a walk, not a trip to the bookstore.

From experience however, my husband has learned that I can never dash into a book store for a "quick peek". But he's a good guy and nodded agreeably when I told him that I would be in and out of the store in five, and then we would resume our walk. Since he's not much of a book shopper and I wasn't going to be long, I suggested that he wait outside and enjoy the evening.

I had the best intention - really - but once I was in the store, I couldn't help myself, and what started out as a quick browse became a full-fledged shopping event. As luck would have it, there was a sale on paperbacks. Buy three and get the fourth free. Now, how could I resist that? Of course, I couldn't and I didn't. Forty-five minutes later I emerged with my purchases. My husband took a look at my two bags of books and just smiled. Oh, well. . .


SUMMER DAZE (Originally posted to The Five Star Authors' Blog)

The warm weather this week that came along a little early for summer reminded me that summer is near. For me, the start of summer is typically a slow time in my writing. The first warm, sunny days make me want to sit out on my deck, sipping iced tea, and reading a good book, rather than at my desk in my office, writing. I call this state of being my 'summer daze'.

Though it's not officially summer yet, so today can't really be called one of the first summer days, I'm in a summer daze today. The sun is bright and the breeze blowing across my desk is soft and warm. I know I'm not going to get any work done today.

Once the summer is underway, I don't have summer daze. Strange, I guess, that on the warmest, brightest July day, I'm content to be in my office, and writing happily. It's only the first days of the summer that affect me. Maybe it's the newness of the season that I'm aware of and attuned to?

Whatever the reason, when a day like this comes along, I've learned to go with it and enjoy the moment. I hope you are also enjoying this lovely day from whereever you are.


READING FOR PLEASURE (originally posted to the Five Star Authors' Blog)

One of the questions a reader asked in an e-mail this week was do I read for pleasure? That's a good question. It's understandable that since so much of a writer's time is spent reading for work, could we want to spend free time doing what amounts to more reading?

For me (and likely most writers) the answer to that is yes. There's a difference between what I read for my work, and what I read for pleasure. In my work, I spend a lot of time reading as part of my research. For my book BETRAYAL, a historical romantic suspense to be released this November, I read a lot of history about the twelfth century since that was when the book was set. I read a great deal on the customs and culture of that time period and delved into medical practices and treatments since my main character, among other things, is a medical practitioner. I wanted to true to that time and make my characters people of that period of history with twelfth century interests and concerns.

Though reading for work is essential reading, I enjoy it. Often when I'm reading, I find something intriguing that will spark an idea for a scene, or that I can use to enrich a character. Usually, I get so caught up in the reading that I have to stop myself and get back to the actual writing.

When I read for pleasure, however, I read fiction. I'm drawn to the types of novels I write - suspense. I buy a lot of books, far more than I have time to read, lately. My "to be read" list is very l-o-n-g and keeps getting longer, since I can't resist bringing so many of the wonderful books I come across home with me.

What do you read, either for pleasure or for your job? I'd love to know. Post a response or send me an e-mail at:

We just may discover that we're reading the same book!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

SPRING CLEANING (Originally posted to the Five Star Author Blog)

Every year at this time, like so many others, I start thinking of doing my spring cleaning. For me though, spring cleaning always involves more than my house, the biggest job for me is cleaning - or cleaning out - my computer harddrive.

I'm a messy writer. Now I'm not talking about leaving scraps of paper and pens and pencils around my home office. I write almost exclusively on computer so the mess I'm referring to literally occurs on the harddrive. That's probably why it gets so out of hand, the mess isn't readily visible - no piles of papers littering the floor of my office for me to trip over.

When I'm writing, or thinking about what to write, I journal and brainstorm ideas on characters, plot, setting etc. If a line of dialogue or a scene comes to me, I make a note of it. Recording my thoughts this way is a process that helps me develop my fiction and non-fiction and lets me see what an idea looks like on screen, rather than just inside my head. It's a process that works well for me. What results from this process, however, are hundreds of notes that are not in any order. To organize them, I read each one and either discard it for not being the gem I thought it was when I wrote it, or decide it still has potential and file it for easy reference at a later date.

Spring cleaning my harddrive takes a l-o-n-g time and I usually end up discarding more notes than I keep, but doing it takes me back to ideas I'd had and then forgotten about, bringing them once again to the forefront of my mind. When I find a note that sparks an adrenaline rush, and gets my heart pounding, I know I've just found the next book or short story that I'm going to write. And of course, I now have a clear harddrive that I can spend the next year filling with ideas again!

How is your spring cleaning going this year?


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

BLOGGING (originally posted to the Five Star Authors' Blog - 5/24/07)

Hello Everyone,

I've been hearing a lot about blogging lately. I visited a few blogs and have to say I can see why people are so captivated by them. It's a nice way to communicate, very personal, like having a conversation. So, here I am now, having a conversation with all of you. I hope someone out there will reply, so I don't end up talking to myself! : - )

I suppose I should tell you a little about myself. I write books, which you've figured out by now, since you're visiting this particular blog. Specifically, I write contemporary and historical romantic suspense. While my characters are falling in love, they're also facing some sort of life-threatening danger. I'm glad to write that I lead a quiet life with my husband and daughter, and the only danger I experience is through my characters!

I look forward to getting to know all of you!