Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Where Does the Time Go?


The plate above the dial face on my clock reads Tempus Fugit - Latin for Time Flies and that has certainly been the case for the first part of this year. Regardless of what has been happening in the world, I have written more diligently for the first few months of this year than I did in all of last year. 

Hester Dymock, the first book in my new Regency series, Those Regency Belles, came out in March and today my second contemporary western romance Legacy of Love is fully available on Amazon and other markets. 

Added to that, there is a promotion on my Berkeley Square series which hopefully will help you with your summer reading.

These are the details.

His Dark Enchantress is free for June, coupon code XL475



His Ocean Vixen is at 30% discount until June 30th 

His Unexpected Muse is at 30% discount until June 30th

I have enjoyed writing all my books, eventually. I think most authors find a tricky bit in every book, whether it is that all-important opening, maintaining interest through the middle, and then reaching a satisfying conclusion. After all, if the author doesn't love what they do, how can they expect to hold the reader's interest?

More to the point, how many authors read books from their back list? I still enjoy my books now and again. I'll read a passage or lines of dialogue and think, did I really write that? That's so good. Or I'll reach a point where I cried a bit while I was writing it. If it touched me, did it also touch my reader? I hope so. 

Look out for more promotion information coming soon! 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

What's in a Name?

 Our Round Robin topic for April is: How do you choose your characters' names? Are there any you avoid?

The origin of names goes so far back into history, there is more than one truth or theory, depending on the era, the culture, and what part of the world a character comes from.

 What is clear is that names mostly stemmed from a need for identity and connection within families and communities.

People were often named for the trade in which they were skilled like the English surnames Smith, Baker, Archer, and Tyler, or after the towns or countries from where they originated like York, Hamilton, or French.

First names were often handed down from father to son, mother to daughter, which could get confusing if you had a long line of Edwards or Marys and even more so if, like the boxer George Foreman, all his five sons were named George. Today it seems anyone can name a child anything and often seems more by fancy than reason.

As an author of historical romance, I have most of my work done for me as all I need do is Google the popular male and female names for any given year and go from there. Please note: Google is a starting point, not the be-all and end-all for any type of research. I have also used parish records and names found on tombstones to be full of information, too.

Light from Beyond

Because my settings are mostly English, I can pinpoint the county my characters populate and run a list of names for that area. My next Regency romance is set in the New Forest in the county of Hampshire, England, so I am currently researching surnames from that area in the early 1800s.

Once I have a list of names, I consider how easy those names are to pronounce and if the first and second names not only fit together, but also suit my characters. Into that mix I must consider the intricacies of the British peerage if I include lords and ladies in my books. Burke’s Peerage is an invaluable resource for this.

One thing that I find frustrating is when I come across a name in a book and have no knowledge of how to pronounce it. In this instance Google is my friend, as you can search ‘how to pronounce’ whatever the name is and listen to the result. That is why I would never use an invented name in any of my books unless I can qualify it in some way for my reader to easily understand it.

In my current work in progress, a contemporary western romantic suspense, my female character is Callie. Where did that come from? Her mother (like mine!) loved calla lilies, so I have worked that into the story. It is just a small detail which I think (hope) gives my character a little more reality.

Now I'm going to take a look at what ideas my fellow Round Robing bloggers have to offer. I hope you'll join me.


Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2i7

Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com









Saturday, March 20, 2021

Developing Tension in Writing


Our topic for this month is how we develop tension in our writing. The elements of a good story, which apply to any genre, are

·         A character (hero/heroine, antagonist/protagonist), in a world (setting), with a conflict, goes through a dramatic arc, from a beginning, through a series of rising actions, to a climax and resolution, with some change in the character.

Without a conflict, a story would be flat and likely boring to read, like a single piece of string. As it is, it’s just a piece of string. Add a series of knots in it, and the picture changes. Why is a knot here and not there? What is the reason for the knots? The series of rising actions are like those knots. They are incidents that create both the pace and the tension of a story. Think of it this way. Like an elastic band being wound up, the rising actions in a story show tension. Stephen King is a master of creating tension. This quote is from my favourite King novel, Salem’s Lot.

Still, there was no sleep for him. Faces lurked in the shadows, swirling up at him like faces obscured in snow, and when the wind blew an overhanging tree limb against the roof, he jumped.

Conflict is an outright confrontation; the elastic band snapping could result in two armies fighting or two people arguing, like the characters in my upcoming contemporary western romantic suspense, Legacy of Love.

Callie drew herself up to her full height, hands fisted on her hips. “Tell me this. When you look at me, what do you see?”

Under her steady glare, Colt’s eyes narrowed. “Now there’s a loaded question,” he said. “Is this Read a Woman’s Mind 101?”

 “Be honest. I promise I won’t fire you.”

He leaned back against the corral fence, his arms across his chest, his hands tucked under his armpits. He stared at his boots and, when he looked up, Callie almost took a step back from his piercing ice-blue gaze.

“What I see right now is a woman spoiling for a fight.” She watched the bob of his Adam’s apple as he swallowed. “So how about we turn that around, huh? What do you see when you look at me? Be honest. I promise I won’t quit.”

“You are impossible,” she hissed.

As a writer, you sometimes have to be sadistic in creating conflict. Hit the character where he’s most vulnerable. If a child is floundering in a swimming pool, have someone scared of water, not an Olympic class swimmer, jump in to effect a rescue. Your rescuer could be standing on the side of the pool, frantically reviewing all the reasons why he is scared of water before taking the plunge. That raises the tension in the scene.

Now you have some idea of what tension is, let’s move on to how I create it. I start as many authors do with determining what my main characters want. Next,  why do they want it?  What is their most significant problem in getting this? What is their ultimate goal? Who or what is preventing them from getting what they want? I have used plural determiners because I write romance in which there are always two characters to consider.  My method is to work on an Excel spreadsheet. I have columns for both my characters and run lists below each, similar to writing down pros and cons. What do they each like/dislike? What are their fundamental values? It sometimes takes several questions before I begin to see where the tensions are likely to lie, and I know what can go wrong between my lovers. Who can be hurt the most from those tensions? The push-pull between the two, one denying the other or their own emotions, is the build-up to the story’s climax.

And now I’ve offered my take on the topic, visit these fine authors for their thoughts and methods.


Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2fU

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

It Never Gets Old



Here she is - Hester Dymock, Book 1 in my new series, Those Regency Belles. The premise for the series is that not all young Regency women were ladies with a capital L. While reading and writing about the upper classes, those heady echelons of the ton with all those Dukes, Duchesses, Lords and Ladies, can be fun, I had an idea that there might be another approach.

Enter Hester Dymock, a young lady who has a connection to the nobility but is far removed from it because of her mother's choices. Hester has uncommon skills which puts her on the edge of society in any social circle but Lord Gabriel Ravenshall is fascinated with her.

In Book 2, Charlotte Gray sets out to take up a position as a Lady's companion but finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and has no choice but to become a governess for Benjamin Abernathy's two young wards. Benjamin's very odd hours convince Charlotte he is up to no good. When she and the children are abducted, she is sure of it.

Phoebe Fisher, in Book 3, is a very different character, as is her love interest, Andrew Fitzgibbon. Her father's brickworks have provided Phoebe with a fortune, he needs one to restore his family home. Is this simply a marriage of convenience, or will true love prevail?

Three quite different girls, three quite different stories, and all, I hope, entertaining.

Saturday, February 20, 2021


Feb. 20 - Where do you get your ideas for stories?

One of the great things about being a writer is that ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere.

When you think about the elements that get woven into a story, characters, setting, plot, conflict, and theme, any one of these can prompt an idea. Think of them as the who, where, what, why, and when. Who are the characters, where are they, what is the problem, why do they have a problem, and when does this all take place?

The setting is as important as the characters. The readers need to know where the story is taking place, what the world of the story is. Is it contemporary and set in a recognizable city/country? Is it fantasy, science fiction, paranormal? I mostly write Regency romance and so I have to be upfront with the era so that my readers don’t get a jolt a few pages in.

Listening to people talk can often lead to a ‘what if?’ moment that prompts a plot idea. Several years ago, when I had a day in which to please myself, I stayed on a light-transit train right to the terminal to hear the end of the conversation two ladies in front of me were having. Such is Karma, we rode all the way to the last stop and I never did hear the end of their story, but I made up my own conclusions all the way back into the city. The basis of the conversation was that the brother of one of the ladies had taken off, leaving his wife and two children. What prompted him to leave? What was their conflict? Did she perhaps do away with him? Could he be buried under the roses in the garden?

Another overheard conversation in a farmer’s market in Vernon, British Columbia still makes me chuckle. The gist of it was, the homeowner couldn’t let the dog out of the house because a bear was in the garden eating apples. That could work its way into any kind of story, but especially contemporary western romance.

photo from trib.com

Light and shade can prompt ideas, too. The way the light falls across the surface of water on a bright or a dull day, can create images that help set a scene. Never mind fifty shades of grey there are, give or take, roughly two-hundred-and-fifty shades of blue. Pick one and work a scene around that shade of blue sky. How does that make your character feel? New writers often worry about how much of themselves they put into a story but thinking about how you feel about something is a good place to start in imagining how your character might feel. Transferring those elements of emotion can help create a more rounded, three-dimensional character, as it gives them more depth.

You might see an advertisement, a book title, an incident in the street. All these can prompt ideas. I once wrote a short story entitled ‘Size No Object.’ The idea for that came from an advert in a woman’s magazine, back in the days before the internet when people often looked for pen-pals and wrote real letters. The gist of this advert was that an inmate of one of Her Majesty’s Prisons was looking for a female pen-pal, size no object. I couldn’t get that one out of my head. Another was watching flags fluttering in the breeze on a castle which prompted. ‘The Hedge Witch.’ Witches always hung around castles, right? Think of the movies Sleeping Beauty and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with Geraldine McEwan playing Mortianna. Watch this two-minute clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwyV_mntOHg which also shows the late Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Next take a look at where my fellow bloggers get their ideas.

Skye Taylor 

Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com

Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2eA  

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/

Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com


Friday, January 22, 2021





And now let's get down to business. Right off the bat our first Round Robin blog for 2021 asks:What is on your writing to-do list for this year? Do you have any long-range goals, or just wrap-ups?

In December 2020, this is what 2021 looked like for me:

And then January 1
st rolled around, and I started filling in my 2021 calendar. In no time at all I was swamped with work. Fun work admittedly but anyone who thinks writing is not work should try it for themselves. Now I need to look for ways to carve out time for myself as well.

Why didn’t I schedule myself more efficiently in 2020 you might ask? As with most people, 2020 hit hard. Losing a friend in February, then family members in May and June, none of them covid related, had their effect but when another friend passed in August my brain gave up. I simply could not find the words to put on the page to finish my novel, so took time to deal with accumulated grief.

National Novel Writing Month came around in November, and I signed on with a target of 50,000 words of a new contemporary western romance, a marked departure from my Regency romance which languished on my computer. Isn’t it said that a change is as good as a rest? November rolled around and I hit my target, so now I had two unfinished novels. That’s good, right?

My first target for 2021 was to wrap-up those two novels. I revived the Regency first and found the break from it had been a boon. I saw plot holes where before I saw none, was able to better flesh out a couple of characters and develop some twists even I didn’t see coming. For that I must thank my cast of characters. One more week and this book will be off to my critique partners. While they work their magic, I will revisit the contemporary western, also the better for being put to one side. Both books are like day-old pizza – the flavour seems better.

Being a writer also means being a reader, so I have committed to reading and reviewing one book a month. I regularly read more than that, but it’s the book I plan to review I’m focusing on. I will also be taking one of my craft books off the shelf and reading it cover to cover rather than having bought it because of a recommendation from someone else, or having read a blurb and thinking ‘I should check that out.’ One step further from reading those craft books is that, if any do not serve my purpose, they will be purged.

The book that I had slated for this year, also a Regency romance, will be my Camp NANO project for April 2021 for which I will also target 50,000 words. Having done it once I’m sure I can do it again. For anyone who thinks the whole program seems extensive, just let me say I am a retired (as in retired from a 9 - 5 day job) senior who prefers to read and write above all else. All I hope and pray is that no more friends and family fall to the extraordinary times we live in. In between all of that, I write two blogs a month, am involved with the Calgary chapter of Romance Writers of America, and since taking to Zoom have probably seen more of our group members then when we had physical in-person meetings.

The plan as it is, is solid. However, if travel and meeting restrictions lift, it might get tweaked a little. After all, there has to be some leeway. To see what other authors have planned, check out my Round Robin cohorts at their links below.

Skye Taylor 
Marci Baun  
Beverley Bateman 
Connie Vines 
Dr. Bob Rich 
Anne Stenhouse  
Diane Bator 
Fiona McGier 
Judith Copek 
Rhobin L Courtright 


Friday, December 18, 2020

All That Other Stuff

 Hello everybody, here we are again at the end of another year - and what a year. Our Round Robin Blog for December 2020 is similar to that of 2019, so here is another short story for you to, I hope, enjoy.







Ellie Harding rested her chin on her hand and stared out of the window across the valley, relaxing as she always did at the sight of the tall spire of the parish church surrounded by mellow stone cottages nestling under their Cotswold stone roofs.

         Her daughter-in-law, Lori, came in from the garden balancing a wicker laundry basket on her hip.

“I will be so glad when Christmas is over.” Lori heaved a dramatic sigh. “It’s nothing but rush and fuss, and no one is ever satisfied. One week left, and I still have to mail cards, shop, clean, and for what? Just one day. And as for peace and goodwill, will you listen to that lot?”

Sounds of discontent burst from the living room where twelve-year-old Matthew and eight-year-old twins, Molly and Hannah, were arguing over television programs.

“And not only that,” Lori continued, “David is due home from Singapore on December 22nd, and,” she paused for breath, “Mother and Dad are arriving the same day.”

“As David has been away for almost six months, isn’t that rather inconsiderate of them?” Ellie murmured. She tried to keep the tone of censure out of her voice and her brow puckered as an additional thought sprang into her mind. “I thought your parents were spending Christmas in Germany with your Aunt Sophie.”

Lori snapped a tea towel, making it sound like a flag in a strong wind. She folded it in half, smoothed it out with the flat of her hand, folded it again and added it to the growing pile of clean laundry on the kitchen counter.

“They were, but Mother fell out with Aunt Sophie over goodness-knows-what and decided that she and Dad would come here,” Lori explained. “Oh, Ellie, what am I going to do?”

“We’ll have a cup of tea, dear.” Ellie, a staunch supporter of that particular beverage’s restorative properties, thoughtfully put the kettle on. As it began to boil, her eyes began to sparkle with mischief.

“Park everybody,” she said suddenly.

“What do you mean?” Lori asked, plainly puzzled.

“I’ll take the children,” Ellie said. “That should give you time for everything you need to do. Book your parents into a hotel, and yourself and David into another. That will give you one day to yourselves, and on Christmas Eve, you can all come to my house.”

Lori’s eyes opened wide. “But I couldn’t…”

“Yes, you could. Don’t think about it, dear, just do it.”

Between them, Ellie and Lori helped the children pack and loaded them and their backpacks into Ellie’s battered blue Audi. Matthew sat silently beside her on the drive out of town, plainly not in agreement with the plan.

“What are we going to do at your house, Gran?” Molly asked. “You don’t even have a TV.”

“I’m sure we can find something to do,” Ellie replied, keeping her eyes on the narrow, two-lane road where she had to stop for a flock of sheep passing from one pasture to another.

“We could do a nativity play,” Hannah said as she watched the woolly bodies crowd either side of the car.

“There’s only three of us, and we already did that at school.” Matthew sounded glum at the prospect.

“Yes, but did you design and make your costumes?” Ellie asked.

“Well, no,” Matthew admitted. “We just used the ones from last year.”

“Ooh, Gran, can I make a crown with sparkles on it?” Despite being restrained by her seat belt, Hannah bounced on the back seat with excitement.

“I’m sure we could arrange that, dear. You three will be the Wise Men, and everyone else can be shepherds.”

“And you have to be the angel, Gran,” chorused Molly and Hannah in unison.

“Can we invite friends from school?” Matthew asked.

“I don’t see why not.” Ellie drove through her gateway, minus its gate, and pulled up in front of a solidly built ivy-covered stone house. “Who would you like to invite?”

“Well, Jamal, because he was new at school this term and doesn’t know many kids yet and Oliver because he doesn’t have a dad.”

“And can we invite other people too?” the twins chorused.

“Yes, you can,” Ellie assured them. “Two friends each. The more, the merrier, don’t you think?”

“Then I’ll ask Yasmeen and Adeera,” Hannah said. “I hope their parents will let them come.”

“Yes, and Susan Howell and Dawn Fry,” Molly added. Hannah nodded her agreement.

Ellie parked the car, and the children poured out of it and in through the front door. They hung their coats on pegs in the hallway and deposited their backpacks at the foot of the stairs.

“We’ll have hot chocolate with marshmallows,” Ellie said as she headed to the large kitchen at the back of the house. “While I make it, you can start designing your costumes.”

She took sheets of paper and coloured pencils from a drawer and put them in the table’s centre. In no time, the girls sketched outfits for the shepherds while Matthew, now warming up to the idea, designed crowns for the Three Wise Men.

Over the next couple of days, Ellie produced lengths of fabric, sheets of art paper, fancy buttons, glue and glitter, rolls of florists’ wire and strands of ribbon. On a brisk afternoon walk, with a light wind gusting from the south-west blowing the clouds inland over the hills, they collected sheep’s wool from the barbed wire fencing around their field.

“This will make the beards for the Wise Men,” Ellie said as she held out a plastic bag for the children to fill with the wool.

“How?” asked Matthew.

“We’ll cut lengths of cotton fabric and stick the wool to it, leaving a gap for your mouths,” Ellie said. “Then we’ll cut a length of elastic so that it fits your heads, sew the ends to each side of the fabric, and you can just slip them on.”

“That sounds pretty easy,” Matthew said. “I say, Gran, can I be in charge of the costumes?”

“You certainly can, dear,” Ellie agreed.

Her angel wings fitting filled an entire afternoon with the children measuring wire and fabric and calculating the best way to affix them to Ellie’s back.

“Donny Williams sat on Carrie Davis’s wings in class and broke them,” Hannah told her.

“Yes, and she cried,” Molly added.

“Well, after all this work, we’ll have to make sure we hang my wings where no one can sit on them,” Ellie said.

Together they draped and stitched the fabric and, once all the costumes were made, Ellie sat the children around the table again and helped them write their invitations. Molly and Hannah decorated theirs with sparkles, sure the recipients would be pleased with them.

Their invitations were hand-delivered and, when Christmas Eve finally arrived, so did the rest of the family and all the guests, including Yasmeen and Adeera’s parents. After a happy and noisy reunion with their father, Matthew, Molly, and Hannah helped everyone into their costumes. Ellie couldn’t help but notice that Lori’s parents, Margaret and Richard, looked somewhat bemused to find themselves clad in tunics made from old bedsheets and cinched around the waist with frayed scarlet cords from thrift store velvet curtains. When everyone was dressed, Ellie clapped her hands which made her wings wobble frantically.

“Quiet everyone,” she said. “Now, who can tell me what the Three Wise Men did?”

“Oh, Gran, I know, I know!” Hannah’s hand shot up as if she were answering questions in school. “They followed the star.”

“Indeed, they did.” Ellie nodded sagely. “Now come this way.”

She took everyone outside and then clapped her hands again. From the dark at the bottom of the garden, a bright white light appeared amongst the old and gnarled apple trees. Its silvery glow illuminated the whole area. She watched the children’s eyes open wide in wonder and smiled as they stopped, in total astonishment, at the edge of the lawn.

There, its legs folded neatly beneath it, sat a camel. With a graceful movement of its long neck, it turned its head, looking at them from beneath long lashes with liquid-dark eyes. A small tubby man, sporting a large moustache and wearing a red fez, stood beside it.

“This is Fred,” Ellie said. “And this,” she patted the camel’s neck, “is Harun.”

Margaret sniffed. “Don’t expect me to get on that filthy beast.”

Ellie hid a smile as she heard Richard say, “Don’t worry, dear, only the Wise Men rode camels. You’re a shepherd. Here, hang on to your crook.”

Fred helped the children onto the saddle, showing them where to put their feet and where to hold on as Harun stood up. His spongy feet made no sound as he lurched and swayed across the winter-damp grass.

“Mother, how on earth did you manage that?” David asked as he caught up with her.

Ellie patted the hand he slipped into the crook of her elbow.

“Oh, a phone call here and favour there,” she said casually. She clapped her hands once more, and the light in the trees winked out before appearing again further away in the paddock next to her garden.

“It’s over Mr. Donovan’s stable now.” Molly couldn’t keep the excitement out of her voice as she pointed over the hedge to the next door neighbour's property.

“And there’s a light in there, too,” added Hannah. 

Mr. Donovan himself opened the gate set in the hedge and welcomed them all.

The little procession came to a halt outside the stable. Harun obligingly collapsed his legs, and the children all but fell off him in their haste to peer in at the stable door. The sweet smell of hay assaulted their nostrils, and they heard the rustling of straw as they looked in on a cow contentedly chewing her cud, a donkey who flicked his long, fuzzy ears at them, and a ewe with twin lambs. A young woman wearing a blue robe smiled a welcome and invited them to sit on some straw bales placed in readiness for the visitors. Beside her, a tall, bearded man wearing a brown cloak welcomed everyone. Between them, laid in a wooden crib, a baby kicked its feet and gurgled happily.

“Oh, Gran, this is magic,” Molly whispered. She went to the crib and knelt beside it, staring down at the baby as if she couldn’t quite believe it was there. Hannah, Matthew, and their friends were more interested in the animals.

“Well, Ellie, I think you have surpassed yourself,” Richard said, still looking around and taking in every little detail with an expression of wonderment on his face. Even Margaret seemed suitably impressed.

“This is so cool, Gran.” Hannah looked up from the lamb she cuddled while Matthew and Jamal petted the donkey.

Matthew’s eyes opened wide as a thought struck him. “Christmas isn’t about what things we get, or what food we have. It’s all the…the other stuff, isn’t it, Gran?” His pre-teen voice had a croak in it.

Ellie nodded. “That’s right, Matthew.” Her voice was soft. “It’s all that other stuff. Christmas is for loving and caring, sharing and,” she looked at Lori, “peace and goodwill.”



I'm looking forward to reading my fellow Round Robin bloggers' Christmas posts. I hope you'll join me and check in with:

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea

Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/

Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/

Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-29F

Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/

Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/

Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com

Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/

Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com