Saturday, June 23, 2018

Getting Through the Difficult Patches

I've been MIA from the Round Robin blog as I've been concentrating on other writing projects but am pleased to be back. This month Robin has asked: Why do you write or feel compelled to write even through the difficult parts?

Well, even before I really knew what I was doing, I wrote. Yes, I’ve joked in the past about my writing with crayons on the wall not being appreciated by my family (for obvious reasons). But making my mark by writing something, somewhere has, for me, always been a tangible expression, like handprints on the wall of a prehistoric cave, of my being here, on this planet, now. The now has shifted considerably over the years from childish drawings and weirdly shaped letters, to short stories about ponies and dogs, to prize-winning essays at school and onwards and upwards.

image by courtesy of  Shutterstock
 Writing, as an art, was something I took up when I learned calligraphy. It came out of an art class where we were encouraged to illuminate the capital letter of our first name. I chose V for Victoria, not H for Hammond as I was then. I liked the look of the letter V, and very early on picked as favorite words victory and valor. They seemed strong words to me then as they do now.

Combining the art of writing with the craft of it was something that I came to a lot later. Although I loved English classes, both literature and grammar, writing in my family was a serious business. It had to impart knowledge and instruction and, consequently, fiction and fun writing didn’t enter much into my education. However, at age thirteen I read a book whose title now escapes me although I can see the cover clearly. Anyone who remembers Douglas Fairbanks, or maybe Douglas Fairbanks jnr., would recognize the look of the handsome pirate wearing a bandanna, an open neck shirt and swinging from a rope on some ship or another. If you’ll pardon the nautical pun, it opened up a whole new horizon for me.

I wrote short stories mostly for my own benefit, sometimes showing them to friends who said I should write more. One I showed to a children's book editor who encouraged me to submit to The Argosy, a now defunct UK short story magazine. It was rejected, as were others to several different magazines, but that didn't bother me because there was always something else to write. 

So, what does keep me going when the words won’t come, or won’t come in the way or order that I want them to? I stop writing. I return to my favorite books, the ones that have left vivid impressions that can have me sobbing my socks off or laughing out loud. My most likely go-to read is Georgette Heyer’s Frederica. I know that when I’m done reading it, I’ll have more energy and enthusiasm to give to my own writing and, when I do go back to it, everything seems to flow again.

Check with these fine authors to see how they cope with the subject.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Little Bit of Nostalgia

Sitting outside early this morning, head back and sun on my face, I suddenly had an image of an old mid-60s British TV children's series, Camberwick Green, and in particular one of the characters, Windy Miller.
Windy Miller

I have no idea why that image came to me. After all, there were many characters in Camberwick Green. Mickey Murphy the Baker, Jonathan Bell the farmer, Dr. Mopp, Mrs. Honeyman (the village gossip), and the miller at Colley's Mill, good old Windy. He would whistle for the wind to make the sails go round and liked his cider.

Close to Camberwick Green was Trumpton, where we found Pippin Fort under the charge of Captain Snort and who could forget the firemen? Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, and Grub. The law in town was represented by Policeman Potter while Camberwick Green had PC McGarry to keep its citizens in check.

Once all these characters started running through my head, I was toast because then I started remembering all my children's favourite TV shows, and what a list there was. The Woodentops, The Clangers, Noggin the Nog, Bagpuss, The Herbs, and a series that my late husband grew to love, Wind in the Willows, which played from 1984-88.

Based on Kenneth Graham's book, my DDH (the acronym for dear departed husband) was totally charmed by Badger, Rat, Mole and Mr. Toad of Toad Hall. But his
Chief Weasel
most favourite character was Chief Weasel. I'm not sure, but I think Nitch identified with this character's rascally ways! Not only that, but the Weasel was voiced by one of Nitch's favourite actors, David Jason.

Anyone who has watched any British TV shows will likely have their favourites, too, but Nitch enjoyed many of the shows in which David Jason appeared like Only Fools and Horses, Open All Hours and particularly The Darling Buds of May based on the books by H.E. Bates. 

Mum and Pop Larkin and their brood of children lived on a farm in Kent. They made a living from selling scrap and doing deals and particularly devising ways to avoid paying taxes. It was set during a gentler period of life at the end of the 50s and beginning of the 60s. Catherine Zeta Jones had her first major TV role in this series, too.

All this remembering has put a smile on my face. There seemed to be much more warmth and wit in some of those old TV shows than there is today. Maybe it's a sign of the times that we have so many shows dealing with disaster and death but I, for one, am happy to visit YouTube for a real dose of nostalgia.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Felicity at the Cross Hotel

I have just finished reading this book and really loved it. I found the all the characters engaging, plausible, and despite mixed messages and misunderstandings between them, it all worked out to be the happy ending readers of contemporary romance look for.

The tagline on the cover says "A feel good, uplifting romance for the summer" but this is a good read any time of year. I was happy to leave a review for author Helena Fairfax. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Books by Shelley Kassian

Hello again! I'm happy to showcase three of Shelley Kassian's books. Shelley, a multi-published author, appreciates the corridors of medieval history and in particular the Tudor period. She has visited the United Kingdom, touring many castles in her pursuit of story. When asked, Shelley assists novice writers in building fictional worlds and enjoys crafting her own stories into novel-length fiction. She shares her life with her husband, adores her adult children, and lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Here are three titles showcasing her talents. A romantasy (romantic fantasy) , a historical romance and a contemporary western romance which I am particularly looking forward to reading.

The Scarlett Mark, A MedEvil Romantasy. Book 1 in The Odin Saga

A Lord cursed.
A Princess cast aside.
A Mark that could change everything!

Seeking justice, Princess Scarlett challenges her stepbrother by way of a serpent test, unaware that her treasonous act will endanger her father the king, threaten her two royal sisters, and play into the premeditated plans of her stepmother—the queen. Known as a witch, the evil queen has an agenda to steal the throne and rid the castle of her stepchildren. Soon condemned to death, a risk taken saves the princess from execution, forcing the queen to banish her from the kingdom.

Cursed by the same spiteful witch, Lord Nicolai is most dangerous when transformed. Feared by everyone, he can’t see an end to his phantom life, until the princess arrives at his door. When a chase ensues to break the curse, the princess risks everything to save Lord Nicolai. Will a remedy be found in time, and how might the solution challenge the evil queen, should the Scarlett Mark prevail?

Fate cannot escape its guilty charge. Should the truth be discovered, the night watchman could detain Madeleine Bourbonnais once more…

A ward of King Louis XIV, Madeleine escapes from a Parisian hospital by accepting the king’s dowry, which frees her to immigrate to New France and secure a husband. Given her past and her condition, she’s an unlikely candidate for the Filles du Roi initiative, but when she arrives in the new world, she ashamedly accepts the admiration of a brave officer, hoping this handsome man could be the remedy for her misfortune.

A Captain in the Carignan-Saliere’s Regiment and a second son, Julian Benoit would never inherit the family estate, so he traveled to New France to serve and protect the French colony from Iroquois conflicts. When his commanding officer forces the statute of marriage, he complies with the edict, succumbing to a pretty mademoiselle, but he’s ill-equipped for her hidden truth.

Will Madeleine accept the challenges waiting to be borne in the new world? Can Julian recognize that this is the woman he’s been waiting for, and take her deeper into his heart and the demanding life of the Canadian wilderness, or annul their marriage and send her back to France, gambling the lives of all involved?


The Half Mile of Baby Blue, a contemporary romance, is part of the Women of Stampede Novels. This book will be available in June or early July, during Stampede time. It will be available in print at three Indigo and Chapter’s locations. Likewise with the rest of the series.  

No family can conceal its past forever. When forgotten findings inside a suitcase reveal a stampede legacy, a new generation risks history repeating itself…

After Kit Wheeler learns her family’s ranch has been threatened with foreclosure, she puts her former project manager skills to work to initiate a plan. Secrets are revealed, altering her objective and inspiring a wagon race laden with family conflict. To triumph, she requires a strategy. Her genius sister stages an auction and an attractive businessman scores the winning bid.

Gabe Bradshaw first glimpses Kit through the pages of the morning newspaper. Drawn to her evocative portrait and baby-blue eyes, the President of TarSan Oil proposes a strategy to champion her acquaintance. His motives might seem suspicious, but Kit understands his gameplay.

What distance will a family go to save their ranch? What risks will a man and woman take to reach the finish line? The only question remaining is, will they secure the Half Mile of Baby Blue?