June 14, 2019

A Blurb About Blurbs

Love writing? Ask any author and, I hope, the answer is "yes." Love writing blurbs? Not so much.

The blurb is one of the most important promotional tools at your disposal. The potential reader is drawn to your attractive, professionally designed book cover, but the blurb will tip the scales on whether they buy/borrow your book.

Why is writing a blurb so challenging? It's difficult finding the right balance between piquing the reader's interest and not spoiling the story. A blurb that contains spoilers is like a move trailer that shows all the best parts. You use the blurb to give readers a decent idea about your story, but just enough for them to want to keep reading. The quality of writing also gives the reader a good idea about the caliber of the rest of the book.

***

Last week, my husband got a message from his oldest niece. She and her husband were driving across the country and had a chance to meet up with us. We decided to meet at a mutually convenient location. My, life can be a whirlwind. Luckily, we have a lot of experience with rolling with it. Within a couple of days, we had booked an airbnb (one that allowed pets so we could bring our little dog with us), packed our suitcases, and hit the highway. The kids had a PA day on Friday so we had a three-day weekend ahead of us. I didn't bother bringing my laptop.

Believe it or not, this story is related to blurb writing. And...it's the reason I didn't write a blog post last Friday...

***

My publisher sent me an email last Friday morning about the blurb for my soon-to-be-released paranormal romance A Wizard's Choice (available for pre-order now). She wanted me to include more about the romance aspect of the story than I had in the original blurb I sent her.

I used the 'notes' app on my phone to revise my blurb, and I emailed it back. After a couple back-and-forths, I finally 'confessed' that I was out of town. And, in the interest of doing the best job, we agreed I'd take another stab at it when I got home.

Authors, do you have any crazy blurb-writing stories? Readers, do you buy a book based on a clever blurb?


The original:

The wizards of The Circle are guardians of the supernatural world. They serve as protectors and defenders for both magicals and humans.
Wizard apprentice Kurtis Warde is a quiet guy, a bit angry at the world. He doesn’t want to become a full-fledged wizard, but he feels obligated to his grandfather who raised him. Making The Choice, whether to become a wizard or not, doesn’t feel like a choice at all.
There is unrest in the magical world. The more Kurtis learns, the more questions he has. Who were the ancient beings The Anunnaki? What caused the long-time feud between wizards and fairies? What lies in his past that is so key to the future?
If Kurtis knew the whole story, it might make his decision easier. Or not. Will he become a wizard, pursue his crush sexy vampiress Dee, or link with a sweet fairy to re-unite the wizards and fairies?
What will Kurtis choose?

The remake:

The wizards of The Circle are guardians of the supernatural world. They serve as protectors and defenders for both magicals and humans.

Wizard apprentice Kurtis Warde doesn’t want to become a full-fledged wizard, but he feels obligated to his grandfather who raised him. Making The Choice, whether to become a wizard or not, doesn’t feel like a choice at all.

Leaving The Circle would give Kurtis the freedom to follow his dreams and, perhaps, pursue his crush, the sexy vampiress Dee.

But there is unrest in the magical world. Kurtis uncovers his connection to the ancient beings The Anunnakiand the long-time feud between wizards and fairies. Something in Kurtis’ past is the key to a peaceful future.

Will he accept his duty or follow his dreams? What will Kurtis choose?


The winner:

 Dreams or duty?
            Wizard apprentice Kurtis Warde doesn’t want to become a full-fledged wizard, but he feels obligated to his grandfather who raised him. Making The Choice, whether or not to become a wizard and join The Circle, doesn’t feel like a choice at all. Leaving The Circle would give Kurtis the freedom to follow his own dreams, and to pursue vampiress, Dee, who has always intrigued him. He knows there’s more to Dee than the icy being she portrays, but will she give him a chance to know the real her?

            There is unrest in the magical world. Fairies, a magical being thought to be long extinct, still exist. And the long-time feud between wizards and fairies threatens everyone Kurtis cares about, including his life coach, Alina, who has quickly become a close friend. And perhaps more. He discovers his connection to the ancient beings The Annunaki, the ancestors of wizards and fairies, may be key to the future. The more he uncovers, the more questions he has.

Will Kurtis choose to follow his heart or risk sacrificing his own happiness for peace in the magical world?

Pre-order on Amazon
Release date July 17, 2019
Read on Kindle Unlimited



May 31, 2019

Book Spotlight - Harcourt's Mountain by Elaine Dodge

Spring, 1867 

The western frontier of British Columbia hardly seems a likely place for romance. Filthy, terrified and confused, Hope Booker is waiting to be sold off the ‘bride’ ship. 

Luke Harcourt happens upon the sale. It’s not love at first sight, but he feels compelled to save her from a life of slavery and prostitution. To allay her fears of being raped by him, Luke promises never to touch her. Being a man of his word, this is a pledge he quickly finds almost impossible to keep.

Battling their growing attraction to each other, they must learn to live together in the forests of the wild and almost unexplored mountains. They face white water, Indians, wolves, as well as a dangerous man from Hope’s past. 

No longer able to deny their feelings, their ‘happy-ever-after’ is shattered when a corrupt land baron forces Luke’s hand. Enraged at the man’s actions, Luke rides into town—and disappears. 

Alone and pregnant, Hope faces the prospect of the worst winter in ten years, a hungry grizzly, and a breach birth. Is Luke still alive and if so, will he make it back to Hope in time?

Praise for Harcourt's Mountain

"A brilliant achievement! 'Harcourt's Mountain' is a gripping, emotion-packed historical romance story with compelling characters, captivating adventures, and a most beautiful, epic love story. Dodge has a talent for painting vibrant scenes and stirring up strong emotions in readers. A well-crafted, immersive, and memorable story sure to appeal to fans of historical romance. 5 stars!" - Natasha Bentley, NY Literary Magazine 

"Elaine Dodge paints a masterful canvas rich in authentic detail and replete with the gamut of human emotions" - Robert Groess, Astrophysicist


"It's the best book of the genre that I've read." - Kevin McLeod, Best-selling author


"Elaine Dodge has a new style that keeps a reader turning the pages and wanting to know what is on that next page." - Shirl Deems, Author

Elaine Dodge Author Bio:
I was born in Zambia, grew up in Zimbabwe and am currently living in South Africa. I did my first round-the-world trip when I was four years old, and have travelled a lot since then. When I can I’m going to visit countries for myself to do research for my books rather than rely on Google.

Writing was an aspect of each part of my career – I trained as a designer, worked in Advertising and Design and then moved into local and international broadcast television when I emigrated to South Africa. Now, I’m a solopreneur content creator and am just about to launch a new business as a ‘restart-your-life coach’.

My second novel, The Device Hunter, which is an altogether different animal, both in genre and temperament is in its third draft – that’s my own fault as I attempted to write this novel ‘by the seat of my pants’, rather than via the in depth plotting I usually do. I’ve had two stories, ‘The Man with a House on His Back’ and ‘Widows Walk’ featured in two different SA Horrorfest Bloody Parchment Anthologies. ‘The Man with a House on His Back’ was featured in the anthology, Bloody Parchment: Blue Honey and The Valley of Shadow and reached the semi-finals of the Screencraft Cinematic Short Story Competition.

Wanting to expand my writing skills, I did a romance writing course where I tried out scenes from a story I had been thinking about for years, At the end of the course, the facilitator took me aside and told me I must write the book. So, nights, weekends and the Christmas break later I had written Harcourt’s Mountain. I realised that apart from white-water rafting down the Zambezi, I feel most alive when I'm writing. That’s what I want to do more than anything else!

My first book, Harcourt's Mountain, signed by Tirgearr Publishing, was launched 15 August 2013. The reviews have been marvellous! Mostly five stars. And, Harcourt's Mountain was nominated for the 2014 RONE Awards. It has also won the NY Literary Magazine Best Story Award and is one of the four highest rated books at Tirgearr Publishing winning me the best-selling author award for September 2018. Because so many readers have asked for it, I've been deep into the plotting and research needed for the sequel.
My Social Media links:
Publisher Links:
http://www.tirpub.com/edodge        http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Dodge_Elaine

My Author Website: http://elainedodge.weebly.com
My Twitter: @ElaineRosemaryD

May 28, 2019

#TirgearrTuesday

“I should've stayed away, but I couldn't resist you.” – Corgan Halton

A Vampire’s Tale by @mayatylerauthor
#pnr
#TirgearrTuesday
@Tirgearr




For more great titles, check out the new #TirgearrTuesday blog.

May 24, 2019

Dedicated to: You

I saw this picture... probably on Pinterest...and knew I had to incorporate it into a blog post. As an author, I often include (sometimes subconsciously) real life things—places, people, events—in my stories. 


I've seen a lot of funny memes about this very phenomena over the years... Warnings about not pissing off authors or you'll become a fictional character who gets "killed" in their next book. Etc, etc, etc.

There's a reason. You write what you know.

When I reread my work...especially after a longish break...I learn all kinds of things about myself and my feelings. Seriously. I'm not a big talker. I write to process and understand how I feel. I really do. That being said...not every part of my very fictional stories is based on my real life. Full disclosure.

I bet you're wondering now what's true and what's not.


May 10, 2019

Bad Things Happen

Life is filled with many events—good and bad—beyond our control. Every experience helps form you into the person you are today.

No one chooses voluntarily for bad things to happen to them. I know I didn't. I confess to asking "Why me?" a time or twelve. But I'm a different person now than I was six years ago. I'm stronger.

I could've lived without the decimation of my core values and deterioration of my health. But will it happen again? Hell, no.


*** GAME OF THRONES SPOILER BELOW ***




HBO's Game of Thrones (GOT) took a bit of flack for Sansa Stark's comments to The Hound in Season 8, Episode 4. A lot of really horrible, disturbing things happened to the 'Sansa Stark' character. George RR Martin has taken "kill your darlings" to a whole new level. No character on GOT has survived to Season 8 unscathed.

The fact is bad things happen. Even downright heinous and unspeakable things happen. But the key is not to accept it. When we accept that fill-in-the-blank "happens everywhere," something truly revolting happens. Tolerance. Condonement. Indifference.

Continue to be shocked by the bad things. The alternative is worse.


May 3, 2019

Camp NaNoWriMo Goals

My Camp NaNoWriMo goals were writing-related, not project-specific, since the writing process includes more than putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). It's more like—write; edit; promote; repeat. Plus all the in-between steps. Too many to mention.

I'm juggling a lot of projects right now. I knew dedicating the month to one book was an unrealistic target so I set up some flexible writing-related goals.


1. reformat / pre-edit A Wizard's Choice
2. schedule A Vampire's Tale promotions
3. start my latest work-in-progress (WIP)


I reformatted my soon-to-be released book A Wizard's Choice and emailed it to my editor. She sent it back with round 1 edits / comments, and I'm in the process of addressing her mark-up.

A cover reveal for A Wizard's Choice will be coming soon...

I ran a successful 99c/99p promotion for A Vampire's Tale around the Easter long weekend. Promos ran with Red Roses Romance, Pillow Talk Books, and Romance Reads.

My latest WIP is turning out to be a massive undertaking. I have had to do a lot of pre-writing research—including pages and pages of handwritten notes and diagrams—so my word count is less than 500, but my storyline is sorted... and after a little more thinking... the writing will start in earnest.

Chapters: Interactive Stories released my TapTale Fly Boy as a visual novel in April too which was really exciting. Check out the book trailer.

All in all, April was a successful writing month for me. I can't wait for better weather so I can write outside in my family room.


April 30, 2019

#TirgearrTuesday

Reviewers call AVT "a whole lot of originality, romance and drama" 


A Vampire’s Tale by @mayatylerauthor
@TirgearrPublishing

#mayatylerauthor
#pnr
#TirgearrTuesday



April 26, 2019

Perspective and Point of View

Last week, I had a pretty negative (for me) post. That was where I was. Alone. Lost. In a dark place. I went ahead and posted it because we all cross over to the dark side sometimes. Despite my best efforts, life is not always rainbows and lollipops. I'm only human, and a "normal" human at that. You might even relate to my experiences.

My dark place was more than a figurative spot. I felt drawn to the rec room in my basement where I drank my coffee, in the dark, and laid on the couch until I felt up to emerging. I admit that I was hiding. From myself? From life? I'm not sure. I needed to clear the storm cloud hanging over my head before I could stand in the light.

I let a wave of sadness and despair colour my normally optimistic and determined self. The wave pinned me down and wouldn't let go. I had to borrow some of my husband's strength until my own returned.


I started somatic therapy last week. Somatic therapy (my abbreviated definition) considers the relationship and connection between mind, body, spirit, and emotions; and proposes that past emotional and traumatic events can have lasting effects on the central nervous system. It seems like a good fit, and I hope it helps me. For a pain-and-suffering-adverse person like myself, these past years have been very difficult. To say the least.

I don't want to be here. In this place of pain and suffering. I'm tired of hurting.

Yet here I am. Working through life the best way that I can. Wanting to make a difference. Hoping to make the world a better place.

Maybe it means something. Maybe it means nothing. And maybe someday it will end.


April 23, 2019

#TirgearrTuesday

Celebrate Tuesday with Tirgearr Publishing! #TirgearrTuesday

Will the story of a lifetime cost her life?


#pnr A Vampire’s Tale by @mayatylerauthor


“…This was a fun and refreshing read…” -- Christina Smith Belcher



April 18, 2019

In The Prime of My Life

If you have your health, then you have everything.

Unfortunately, you don’t learn this particular truth until you lose your good health. I can’t help but feel frustrated at my health situation. I’ve had this particular rant before so forgive me if you've already read it.

Five years ago, I was in the prime of my life. Happily married for ten years with two amazing sons. In a career with a great salary / benefits and room for advancement. Newly published author. At a time in my life when everything seemed to be going my way. Falling into place. The future looked bright.

That’s when it happened. It being the rug pulled out from under my feet. Or whatever cliché you can relate to best.

I was 32 years old. I can only speculate why my coworker targeted me so viciously. Jealousy seems to be the most logical reason. Whatever the reason. It doesn’t matter. I was harassed and assaulted at work. My whole belief system fell apart. And I got sick. I suffered a trauma that manifested in physical symptoms. Ones I still experience daily... years later.

Sick is such a broad and insufficient term to label what I am. Disabled is another label I’ve used to explain my condition. Hell would also be an apt description.

I’ve gone down the ‘why did this happen to me’ road more times than I care to count. I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. Although sometimes I still do. It’s not fair. Life isn’t fair. But, at least, it is fairly unfair to everyone. We all have our crosses to bear. Mine is a miserable one, but not a death sentence. So I know it could be worse.

Somehow that doesn’t make living it any easier.

Especially when the things I enjoy like writing have been taken from me. Some of the time. Most of the time. I had a great idea for a story last week. I’ve been trying to write the prologue ever since. My brain won’t focus on the task. I just keep blanking out. It’s not writer’s block. I wish it were that simple. I want to write, but I can’t think. I can’t envision my story. My whole process is hijacked. So I stare at my computer screen for minutes or hours, and I feel discouraged and frustrated. And angry.

I feel like crap. My head hurts and my neck hurts and I’m tired. I’m lying down typing this onto my phone. That’s how terrible I feel. I know complaining is futile, but sometimes I can’t keep it in any longer. My husband would ask me what I’m going to do about it. Right now? I’m going to wallow for a few more minutes and then I’m going to have a rest.

I’m fighting a losing battle. I’m trapped in my body while my mind fixates on all my to-do lists and the constantly increasing amount of tasks that need done. Will I finish my spring cleaning before summer arrives?

I feel lost in a world where purpose brings meaning. I can articulate these helpless feelings, but I can’t write my fictional story. Not yesterday. Not today. Maybe tomorrow will be better.


April 16, 2019

#TirgearrTuesday

"Overall a very good story. I really liked the premise of the book and the world the author created." - - Julie Ramsey



A Vampire’s Tale by @mayatylerauthor
@TirgearrPublishing

#mayatylerauthor
#pnr
#TirgearrTuesday

April 12, 2019

A Matter of Perspective: Wizards and Dragons

Today, I have wizards and dragons on the brain.

From ancient folklore to pop culture, we have different ideas about wizards and dragons. When you think of a wizard, are you picturing Merlin or Harry Potter?


Are they good? Bad? Either? Do they use wands? Does magic flow straight from their hands? Are they mortal? And the answer to all those questions: it depends on the version. The last time I faced so many conflicting opinions, I ended up writing a book about vampires. I have a very firm idea of what a vampire is and isn't. If you've read A Vampire's Tale, you'll know what I mean.

I started watching BBC's The Adventures of Merlin yesterday on Netflix. My eight year-old son wanted to watch a show about knights... He turned on The Last Kingdom (I've seen it, it's a great show, but not for an eight year-old) so I told him we had to find a show that wasn't rated R or M or any of the other ratings that means unsuitable for eight year-olds. Saves us parents from nightmares and unnecessary questions. <<wink>> One episode in, and I already know it's good show. Plus, it has five seasons so I figure I'll have at least a month before my son starts looking for his next show.

Yes, my kids watch a lot of Netflix. I hardly watched TV as a kid, but I read A LOT. Like a book (or more) a day. The boys are simply switching one format of entertainment for another. And, we make sure they do plenty of reading too. I'm a reader and a writer—I want my boys to love books. They won't love books if we shove them down their throats or don't make an effort to find books they'll enjoy. Whoa... that topic seems like it could a blog post of its own...

Back to wizards and dragons...

My soon-to-be released book A Wizard's Choice, following characters I introduced in A Vampire's Tale, is obviously about wizards. I do (in my humble opinion) a comprehensive job of defining wizards. That subject could also be its own blog post. Who knew writing a blog post would give me so many ideas for other blog posts? I guess that's what happens when I let my muse run free.

Back to wizards and dragons...

Last week, I started writing a new book—my Camp NaNoWriMo project—with dragons as my inspiration. It's amazing how much "information" is available on dragons.



Before I start writing in earnest, I need to do A LOT of research. Stay tuned for my perspective on the mythical creature that is the dragon. I have a strong feeling I'll write a few more blog posts on this topic before the book is complete...


April 5, 2019

Day 15 and Thinking About Cynicism

The balance always seems to be shifting. Like a teeter-totter. Adjusting and adapting. Yin and Yang. Does the equal and opposite principle always apply?

Even our bodies constantly seek homeostasis—maintaining a stable internal environment as conditions change. I had laser eye surgery two weeks ago. My eyes are (pretty much) healed now. It's amazing. I can see clearly now...

The first few days after my surgery were very low-key. When you can't use screens, read, or exercise... and you need to rest your eyes... your options are fairly limited. So, I did a lot of sleeping. And chilling. And it was just what I needed. After a busy March break with the kids—aged 10 and 8—home, I needed another break. Unfortunately, when you have kids—who I love more than life itself—there are no breaks. You are "on" all the time. Having an amazing partner helps. My husband and I are a great team and, between the two of us, all the bases get covered. But a break usually only comes when there is no other option... in other words, I lie down or I fall down.

Being a parent is a full-time plus job that nothing on Earth can prepare you for. Our twelve year-old shih-tzu has had congestive heart failure (CHF) for the last two years. He was given months to live. He's beating all odds just by being alive right now. But a geriatric dog comes with its own set of challenges. He takes—albeit reluctantly—medication three times a day. He has to go outdoors in the middle of the night. He rests more and takes shorter walks. But, in his mind, he's still a puppy.

When I have an "idle" moment, my brain kicks into overdrive. I think. I think. And, as you can imagine, my thoughts run into each other, and I don't stop thinking...

There is a lot happening in the Canadian political arena. As a general rule, I don't pay attention to politics. For an optimistic person like me—politics is the anti-thesis of everything I believe in. I believe in democracy. But the game of politics? That's a whole other matter. It's enough to make even the most optimist person cynical. I don't want to be cynical. I want to live in a world of rainbows and lollipops. I do.

I write fiction. That's why I write fiction.

And, the greatest fiction we are fed seems to be that politicians are more concerned about making a difference for their country than getting re-elected. And when you add "abiding by the law" in the equation? Well, we've seen time and time again that the justice system is two-tiered.

Jody Wilson-Raybould. Jane Philpott.

If those names are unfamiliar to you, Google them. Or you can read the blog I wrote that mentioned Jody Wilson-Raybould from a few weeks ago. Is "Superhero" One Word or Two?

We seem to live in a world where the truth-speakers get punished. Yes, that's a very cynical viewpoint. I don't want to believe it, but I've seen too many examples. I would love to be wrong about this.

Prove me wrong.

Until then, I'll try to capture the swirl of my deeply disjointed thoughts here on my blog and in my other writing... and, maybe make sense of this mess.




March 29, 2019

Camp Nanowrimo?

To write or not to write.

I’ve been debating about Camp Nanowrimo this year. I still have a few days to decide... Last November was my first official Nanowrimo, and I finished my book A Wizard’s Choice (release date July 2019). It was an intensive, crazy, nothing-but-writing kind of month. I think I ate, slept, wrote, and bought Christmas presents. Yeah. I even delayed starting the latest season of Outlander. I know.

Do I want to do that again in April? I have a bunch of projects-writing and non-writing-on the go so a concentrated effort on the writing front wouldn’t hurt. That’s for sure. But April also means income taxes and book edits and better weather.

So, I’m on the fence about Camp Nanowrimo.

I printed off the daily goal calendar yesterday. I thought about penciling in some word count targets. It doesn’t have to add to 50k... Lord knows I started A Wizard’s Choice long before November. Maybe I’ll go for 1K every few days? Maybe I’ll count research as a goal?

Anything, any tool, any writing holiday, any moment I’m breathing on this fine earth can be a potential writing incentive. Maybe Camp Nanowrimo is the kick in the butt I need to put some words to paper.

Stay tuned.


March 22, 2019

A Balancing Act

Fear is a huge motivator. It prevents us from taking action. It causes us to take certain precautions. It works to keep us safe. Fear is an important emotion. It can also be extremely deceptive. Our fears convince us to see monsters where there are none. We jump at shadows. We avoid living. We allow fear to paralyze us.

How to find the balance between protection and paralysis?

In a perfect world—which, of course, doesn't exist—the protecting agent that is fear would only kick in when needed and exit peacefully when the need passed.

Living in a perfectly non-perfect world, I struggle with my fears. I imagine I’m not alone in this. As a writer, I draw on my feelings for two reasons... at least... writing helps me understand myself better and (hopefully) gives my characters more depth.

I have more questions than answers. That’s why my blog is a “musing” and not a “FAQ”. The deeper I dig, the less I understand. Like an iceberg, much lies concealed beneath the surface.


March 8, 2019

New Year, New Book

This week, I received some exciting news! Guess what?

I signed a new book contract!

As you can imagine, with everything going on in my life, I am very excited about this new book. It's been a couple of years since A Vampire's Tale came out. And, while I've been busy with other writerly things, I hadn't published a book. Based on input from readers, I decided the wizards from A Vampire's Tale needed their own story. This book is a sequel to A Vampire's Tale and potentially kick-offs a new series.

Stay tuned for more on my latest release... releasing in July 2019... including a cover reveal and a virtual blog tour... that I have in the works.

Thanks for all your support. It means the world to me.


March 2, 2019

Is "Superhero" One Word or Two?

With what is happening in the 'exciting' arena of Canadian politics this week... I've been thinking a lot about heroes.

A hero—to me— is someone who stands up for what they believe in, usually at a high personal cost.


You can't put a price on integrity.

Former Canadian Attorney General and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould testified at the House of Commons this week about the political interference she faced over the decision to prosecute SNC-Lavalin on corruption charges.


Long story short...

In 2015, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) laid rare fraud and corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal-based engineering and construction giant. Some of the charges included: bribing Libyan officials; defrauding Libya; employee embezzling; and paying for prostitutes for the son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Up until 2018, unlike other countries, Canada did not use "deferred prosecution" or "non-prosecution" agreements where companies facing bribery allegations can pay fines to avoid going to trial. The timing of introducing such legislation in the ominous budget bill of 2018, after immense federal lobbying by SNC-Lavalin, seems convenient at best.

If you—individual or corporation—break the law, then you face criminal charges. No brainer, right?

Alas, not in the case of SNC-Lavalin...

Wilson-Raybould made the decision to prosecute SNC-Lavalin. She then experienced 4 months of what can only be described as political interference—from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, and the Office of the Minister of Finance—in the form of in-person conversations, telephone calls, emails, and text messages. When she didn't reverse her decision, she was "shuffled" out of the role of Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada to Veteran Affairs. She later resigned from cabinet.

Unfortunately, for the Prime Minister's Office, Wilson-Raybould did not fade into the night quietly. She kept detailed notes and documentation on what had occurred. She employed a lawyer, a former Supreme Court justice, and told her truth, despite the political consequences that could occur.

A truth that puts Justin Trudeau's government in a very poor light. Knowledge of criminal acts. Intentional concealing of such acts with threats and retaliation. Putting political gain over adhering to the law. Justin Trudeau made clear, in conversation, that a Quebec provincial election was a concern, and also that he was "the member for Papineau" for the upcoming federal election.

A hero stands up what is right. Jody Wilson-Raybould is a hero.


Canadian LawyerRCMP lays corruption charges against SNC-Lavalin

The Globe and MailSNC’s fraud, corruption hearing set for 2018

National Post: SNC-Lavalin paid for Gadhafi son's debauchery while he was in Canada: report

CBC NewsKey moments from Jody Wilson-Raybould's SNC-Lavalin testimony

National PostThese are the people Jody Wilson-Raybould named in her testimony on the SNC-Lavalin affair



February 22, 2019

The Year to Face My Fear

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has fears.

My fears come in an assortment of ranges—from major to minor—and usually involve safety. Fire. Heights. Losing limbs. Yes, you read that right. I'm not keen on pain or any kind of surgery. And I am especially partial to my eyes.

When I was fourteen years old, I finally convinced my parents that I was old enough to get contact lenses. Unfortunately, I couldn't leave the vision centre with my new contacts until I could put them in and take them out. On day one, I learned to put them in. Then, I had to return on day two to master how to take them out. I was determined to succeed. And, even though it took me two days, I got my contacts.

About fifteen years ago, my husband came home with a brochure for laser eye surgery. It was a promotion of some sort (I forget the details now), but basically it was an advertisement for laser eye surgery. He tried to sell me on the cost savings. No glasses or contacts. No contact solution. Etc. All I could think about was a laser cutting into my eyeball and possibly blinding me. "No way. No how."

My sister had the procedure done a few years ago. She said it was painful. She's one of the toughest people I've ever met. Remember my aversion to pain? <<head shaking>>

Laser eye surgery has been around for almost twenty-five years. Millions of people have had it. It's perfectly safe. Why am I afraid?

Pain.
Being awake.
(did I mention) Pain.

Since my husband first suggested laser eye surgery, I've had two children. After childbirth, especially natural, pain medication-free childbirth, 'pain' gets redefined. Is it better or worse than labour? Seriously. Birthing two children naturally is one of my greatest accomplishments. I'm proud of myself. I yelled, "No meds!" whenever the hospital staff asked. Me. I can't even stand to get a paper cut. Which actually does hurt. And don't get me started on breaking a nail...

So, last week I decided I would look into getting laser eye surgery, and I booked an eye exam. Today, I scheduled a surgical consult. Will I do it? If I'm an eligible candidate... the answer is a resounding yes. Because I'm tired of letting fear dictate my actions.

Twenty-five years ago, my fourteen year-old self was determined to get contact lenses. Today, I am determined to get laser eye surgery.


February 15, 2019

Romance 2.0

I love love. Every since I was a little girl. From my first fairy tale to my first crush. To say I am a romantic—perhaps even hopeless—would be pretty accurate. I believe in soulmates, true love, fate, destiny... I believe in love.

It should come as no surprise that I also love to read and write romance novels. And enjoy a movie or TV show with a love story. Michael Bolton got it right. "Love is a wonderful thing." Love gives me hope for the future. A world without love would be a pretty dismal place indeed.

February—the love month—gets me thinking about all kinds—romance, love, hearts, flowers, and a zillion other—stereotypical Valentine's Day things. I've been thinking about romance as a genre.

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Did you read my last two blog posts?

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Last week, I mused about the romance novel. That got me thinking about what subgenres (types of romance novels), themes, and tropes (plot devices) I enjoy to read... and what themes and tropes I've actually used in my writing... and what I'd like to write in the future.

Reading

I read mainly historical and paranormal books... even better when the book is both historical and paranormal... like a time-travel romance. Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Highlander series by Karen Marie Moning.

Themes I enjoy? I love a good Highlander or regency romance. The Naked Nobility series by Sally Mackenzie is fantastic. I own the series in paperback and e-book. Time-travel? Yes, please. I like a non-cheesy vampire or an alpha shifter. I've developed a recent fascination with dominance and submission. I've read E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. If that's not your particular cup of tea, there are many others I'd recommend. Club Sin series by Stacey Kennedy. Redemption series by Sarah Castille.

Tropes I enjoy? Retold fairytales, marriage of convenience, fake relationships, reformed rake / playboy, redemption / tortured hero or heroine, soul mates / fate.

Writing

I write mainly paranormal romance, but I have dabbled in some contemporary, my initial foray into the world of romance. What tropes do I write?

Contemporary romance
Fly Boy, my recent Chapters: Interactive Stories TapTale [playboy / alpha hero / mistaken identity]

Paranormal romance
Dream Hunter [protector / redemption]
A Vampire's Tale [tortured hero / protector / redemption / virgin]

Future Books

A Wizard's Choice [tortured hero / dominance / love triangle]

I have many stories left to tell... Stay tuned for a retold fairytale or a conspiracy theory / person in peril.


February 8, 2019

Romance 101

What is a romance novel?

A novel with a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending (either happily-ever-after or happy-for-now).

Subgenres

A romance novel may also fit into a subgenre or two. To properly belong to a subgenre, the elements unique to the subgenre must be present and integral to the plot. In other words, the story would not work if those elements are removed.
  • Contemporary - novels set from the 1950s to present day
  • Erotic - novels that include explicit sexual interaction
  • Historical - novels set prior to the 1950s
  • Paranormal - novels that include aspects of fantasy or science fiction
  • Inspirational - novels that include religious or spiritual beliefs
  • Suspense - novels that include aspects of suspense, mystery or thriller
  • Youth Adult - novels that feature young adults

Themes

The subgenres can be further subdivided into themes. Contemporary romance includes chick lit, cowboys, medical, and sports. A historical romance covers themes like Highlander, medieval, regency, time-travel, and frontier. Paranormal romances feature ghosts, magic, shapeshifters, time-travel, and vampires.

Tropes

A romance trope is a plot device used to bring lovers together in a story.

According to Romance Writers of America (in a 2014 survey), the top ten most popular romance tropes are:

  • Friends to lovers
  • Soul Mate / Fate
  • Second chance at love
  • Secret romance
  • First love
  • Strong hero / heroine
  • Reunited lovers
  • Love triangle
  • Sexy Billionaire / Millionaire
  • Sassy heroine

Romance is vast literary genre. You can find novels written in every imaginable niche, from 'a secret baby, billionaire, contemporary romance' to 'a time-travel, vampire, paranormal romance'. Romance novels have come a long way since the "bodice rippers" of the '70s and '80s. I am proud to be an avid reader and writer of romance.

What is your favorite type of romance novel?


February 2, 2019

Paranormal versus Fantasy

Why do I write paranormal romance? How does paranormal differ from fantasy?

When I want to understand something, I arm myself with information. I think. I analyze. I conduct research. When I was a kid, we used physical encyclopedias and the public library. Later, encyclopedias were available electronically on CD-ROM. Today, the Internet and Google make research easier and more assessible. There are no more excuses for poor or inaccurate book research.

So... I had a question. I needed information. I did some googling...

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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'paranormal' as an adjective that means not scientifically explainable. Synonyms include otherworldly, supernatural, unearthly.

The same dictionary defines 'fantasy' as

a noun: a hallucination; the free play of creative imagination; a creation of the imaginative faculty whether expressed or merely conceived; an idea or desire; a daydream; a coin not intended for circulation.

a verb: to indulge in reverie; to create or develop imaginative and often fantastic views or ideas.

an adjective: a game, like fantasy football, in which participants create and manage imaginary teams consisting of players from a particular sport and scoring is based on the statistical performances of the actual players.

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I may be wrong, but paranormal and fantasy—with regards to fictional creation—seem pretty interchangeable. Supernatural creatures, like a vampire or werewolf, are definitely a creation of imagination and fill many a fantasy. But not all fantasies—for instance, princesses and fairy tale castles—must be paranormal.

The dictionary definition of 'paranormal' is much simpler than 'fantasy', but the common denominator is imagination.

Back to my original question... Why do I write paranormal romance? Imagination is the answer. Only the limitless possibilities of the paranormal are a match for my boundless creativity.


January 26, 2019

When The Ending Is Wrong

I submitted my latest book for publication this week. I started writing A Wizard's Choice (AWC) about a year ago and finished writing it during NaNoWriMo.

I ran through three rounds of self-editing before I deemed my manuscript presentable. During my last round, I struggled with a scene near the end of the book. It seemed rushed. It seemed stilted. It seemed like I was bending my characters to my will.

That never works.

My hero Kurtis has been a particularly strong character. He wants to do all sorts of things that I would never do. Like swear. A lot. I've been aghast at the language he uses. But I wrote him the way he wanted to be portrayed. When you listen to your characters, the writing is a heck of a lot easier.

In AWC, Kurtis has two potential love interests. Dee, a vampire he's been crushing on for ages. Alina, a fairy he's just met. I had to pick one so I considered the pros and cons.


Dee

Kurtis has a serious crush on Dee. He's known her forever. They have an established relationship of sorts. Dee is a hellion. She loves to tease and torment Kurtis and doesn't seem to care about him. Is the attraction one-sided?

Alina

Kurtis meets Alina during his quest to find his mother. Alina is sweet and kind. She has a crush on Kurtis. They share common interests. A relationship with Alina will help end the wizard-fairy feud. Does Kurtis feel an obligation to Alina?


I wrote the story giving Kurtis plenty of opportunities to spend time with both ladies. Although, I had planned Kurtis' love interest from the beginning, I never gave the reader hints. My original draft selected one, but Kurtis changed my mind during the third round of editing. I rewrote the ending to adhere to Kurtis' preference. Did Kurtis choose the she-devil vampire or the peaceful fairy? What do you think? Who would you choose?


January 18, 2019

Editing by Number

Remember painting by number? You follow the steps and end up with a beautiful picture. I think about editing as a similar systematic process.


Editing is as much a science as an art. In order to attain the desired result—a beautifully crafted piece of writing—you must follow the steps.


The Writing Process

I could write an entire series of blog posts on the writing process alone...so for the purposes of this post... The writing process occurs with a rough first draft as the end result.

My current project is A Wizard's Choice, the book I completed for NaNoWriMo. I created an outline using Excel and used Evernote to keep my notes organized. I ended up with a word count of 50K and a very rough first draft. Before the ink had 'dried', I had already identified several deficiencies to address. But the goal of the writing process was to write the first draft so mission accomplished.



The Period of In-between

Before I commence self-editing, I let my story sit. It's more effective to read your work with a fresh pair of eyes. After a week or a month, you can objectively critique your own work.

I started self-editing A Wizard's Choice this Monday, about six weeks after I completed the first draft.


The Editing Process

I'm no stranger to editing. I've edited work, my own and that of writer-friends, on many occasions. Last year, I completed an Editing Certificate from Simon Fraser University. To get the ball rolling, I read some articles on approaches to editing and reviewed some of my class notes. Then I exchanged my 'writing' hat for an 'editing' one.

1. Structural Editing - assessment of the big picture - deciding if any reorganization is required
Using an outline helps a great deal when it comes to structural editing. If you didn't use an outline or an outline isn't provided, then creating one as you do your first read-through can be beneficial.

2. Stylistic Editing - improving the work to make it easier to read and understand
This is the point where specific replaces abstract, and active voice replaces passive voice. Look at word choice (employ appropriate and necessary) and construction of sentences and paragraphs. You can use a quick search in Word to identify the telling and overused words.

3. Copy editing - fixing grammar, spelling, and punctuation - adhering to a style guide (house style or a recognized guide like The Chicago Manual of Style)
Use a style sheet to note unusual spellings or personal choices regarding numbers and capitalization. If you aren't provided a style sheet, then creating one during the first read-through will save time later.

4. Proofreading - one last chance to polish your piece and catch any errors - at the publishing stage, proofreading also ensures final design and typeset is consistent and error-free


This is a very simplified overview of the editing process. Refer to a resource like editors.ca for a detailed listing of the professional editing standards or a professional editor for more specifics.

In doing a self-edit, in addition to the general areas to review, you may see a pattern of your common errors. My first drafts are usually riddled with passive voice and more telling than showing. Writing your story is only the first step in a lengthy process. Your first draft doesn't have to be perfect. That's what editing is for.


January 12, 2019

A Few Fast Facts about Maya Tyler

Last week, I found this author's challenge list and thought answering the questions—basically an interview with myself—would make a great blog post. Here goes...

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1. 2019 writing goals - polish and publish A Wizard's Choice (my nanowrimo book); complete some of my work-in-progresses; and write my fictionalized life story

2. Who are you? - I am kind

3. Your title page


4. Fav cover art


5. Nature setting - sunny, cloudless day on a sandy beach with the waves gently rolling toward the shore

6. Great opening line - Once upon a time - because that's how all fairy tales begin...

7. Writer food - coffee... it's a food, right?

8. Dialog - In a novel, I write it as I hear my character's say it, but writing it well—using it sparingly to move the story forward and identifying the speaker without overkill tags—is a challenge. In a chat story, dialog drives the whole story which has made me think differently about dialog.

9. Book quote


10. Your protagonist - from A Wizard's Choice, Kurtis Warde—an angry and conflicted wizard's apprentice

11. Writing advice


12. Fav classic


13. Fav book and why


A favourite for many reasons... including... "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles." What else does a great story need?

14. Your writing life - inspiration and sacrifice

15. Where you write - anywhere and everywhere - especially my beautiful purple office and my outdoor family room

16. Why write?


17. Pet friends - my precious nine-pound wonder Buddy who is living with (as opposed to dying from) congestive heart failure


18. Great closing line - The End - where you expecting something a little more auspicious?