Book Review: Disappeared, by Jenny Twist

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I started reading this while at the hairdresser’s, and as soon as I got home, I had to finish it right away. It is really well done — shades of the “Twilight Zone”, “Fright Night”, and Frankenstein, a chilling mystery that put me in mind of “The Woman in Black” as well. If I am ever fortunate enough to visit the mountains of Spain, this is what I will think of. It would be amazing to see this story put into film. I loved the unconventional vampire, the village, and the characters’ quest to find the truth of what happened to June (Mantequero, Book 1) — absolutely intriguing. I don’t want to say any more for risk of spoilers, but I highly recommend Disappeared as an enjoyable, creepy-romantic read.

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I50N9QE

You’re Invited to a Cover Reveal Party for Blood and Fire: Book Two of the Talbot Trilogy!

It’s very exciting! My second full novel is close to release, only a few weeks away, and now I get to lift the veil on the cover!

NOTE: Original time (7-9) has been changed to 8:30-10:30 pm EST — seems I double-booked myself for that evening, but it’s all good now…

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Click the link and remember to join us on Saturday night! https://www.facebook.com/events/344783562329745/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Book Review: Cinderella’s Secret Diary (Book 1: Lost)

I wasn’t sure what I expected when I started this book last night — perhaps some light reading, or humour. Instead, I discovered a powerful reflection on the power of love, betrayal, hope, fear, innocence lost, and magic. I enjoyed the language, though it felt stilted at times, and I was absolutely captivated by the twists in the plot. I will definitely recommend Cinderella’s Secret Diary to my friends. Ron Vitale has written a moving and honest examination of a woman’s heart and power.

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Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005IHDX18/ref=cm_cr_mts_prod_img

Urban (Suburban?) Winter Olympic Sports that I’d Like To See…

Grocery Cart Steeplechase
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The Playing Field: a large flat parking lot covered in alternating patches of hard-packed and slushy snow, 5 cm deep.

Objective: Complete a circuit of parked cars with a heaping grocery cart without letting a bag fall off or hitting the side of a vehicle.

Points are scored for keeping on straight tracks, smoothness of cornering, and fastest arrival at the target vehicle.

Penguin Parkour
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The Playing Field: a stretch of sidewalk downtown after the ploughs have gone by and left massive heaps of chunky snow piled over curbs, around fire hydrants, and covering benches.

Objective: Make it to a bank, a pharmacy, a gift shop, and pick up take-out without falling on the slippery sidewalk or street, using obstacles to propel yourself over the dangerous snowbanks.

Points are scored for creative use of fire hydrants, uncovered benches (even the edge), lamp posts, parked vehicles, baby strollers, and shopping bags in manoeuvring the body up, over, and around the snowbanks. Bonus points are awarded if no damaged is caused to these objects.

Freestyle Tandem Shovelling
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The Playing Field: A double driveway with connecting walking path during a heavy snowfall.

Objective: Midway through the snowfall, partners take turns clearing the freshly fallen drifts before the snow plough comes by and re-buries half of the lower driveway.
Points are scored for grace, rhythm, synchronization, speed, and thoroughness. Double-points for scraping ice down to the original paved, dirt, stone, or gravel drive. Highest scores go to those who put their snow in the plough-away direction, so the majority is carted further down the street by the vehicle.

That’s it, that’s all I have for now. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments! Cheers!

The Queen of Procrastination

That’s what I used to call myself, years ago in high school. Not much has changed. The trouble is that every option seems to be as important and I feel stuck, unable to decide what to do.

At this moment, my options include:
-doing the dishes
-shovelling out the car, which is bottomed out in the driveway (but hubby said he’d do it when he gets home)
-doing my marking (a task which feels impossibly overwhelming but I know will likely not be once I get going on it)
-making lunch
-folding laundry
-adding a section to Blood and Fire so I can send it back, edits complete

I hate feeling torn between tasks. But having written them down, I already know that dishes will come first. Why? Because I’m hungry, and the kids are as well (we all slept in and our schedules are off), and it’s the easiest way to feel accomplished. Little steps, right? After that, I’ll put some bread on to bake, and then mark one folder. Then do some writing. I will try to do a little bit at a time to get through.

Wish me luck! It’s not just the ground that’s frozen outside — sometimes, it’s my motivation, too.

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Hot Writing in Canadian Winters

The holly jolly Christmas songs and festive hubbub have died away. If that was the heart of the season, we’re now in the belly of the beast being slowly digested in its freezing juices.

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Winter isn’t that cold across our whole country, though we certainly give that impression. British Columbia has beautifully balmy weather on its coastal plane and in its rainforest, and southern Ontario generally has mild winters with a few harsh storms. But where I live, in Northeastern Ontario, we generally have at least two weeks of frigid cold in which temperatures dip to -40 (or lower, with the wind chill) and pipes can freeze while ice fog forms over the streets in the night. The snow falls and falls throughout the winter months, up to three feet deep or sometimes more, so many people have to put tiny roofs over their furnace exhaust pipes to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. That nearly happened to us, once, during a blizzard that was so heavy the fire truck responding to our call for help couldn’t get up the unploughed street. The snow piles were higher than our car, that year, (our first living in this region), and we learned the wisdom of
a) shovelling well away from the vehicle so the piles do not gradually close in on the drivable space, and
b) hiring a snow plough or investing in a snow blower, neither of which we’ve done until this year.

Our first winter in Northeastern Ontario, 2002

Our first winter in Northeastern Ontario, 2002

I keep contemplating buying USB warming / heated fingerless gloves, for typing, but I keep putting it off because I’m not 100% convinced they’d be worth the money. And a good cup of tea will warm my fingers when it’s chilly in here, or I can put them under the laptop where the heat is fine.

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Writing in the winter is cathartic, escapism, and makes hiding from the harsh weather easier. Wrapped in my blanket on my couch, I can disappear into an imaginary world (when my children let me), pausing now and again to wipe my cold, wet nose and get a fresh cup of hot brew or a glass of wine, lately (decadence!). I light a candle or two, maybe some scented melting wax thingies, and try to lose myself in the story.

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The trouble with winter writing in this climate and latitude is in the dark time, between Samhain (Hallowe’en) and Imbolc (Groundhog’s Day), I find my days and nights getting more and more mixed up. The hours of darkness are so much longer than those of light, especially on dim cloudy days, that it’s easier to work after the sun has gone down and I lose track of the hours I ought to be keeping. After all, the sun doesn’t fully come up until 8 am on the Solstice, and it won’t be until February that we’ll see dawn by 7:30.

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So much darkness . . . perfect for heated romance, sizzling scenes, and spicy dialogue. Seriously, this is a good season for writing about love. Think log cabins, crackling fires, quilts big enough to cover two bodies, and romantic walks under sparkling velvety black skies or through swirling flecks of lacy snow. Cabin fever gets released by skiing, sledding, snowshoeing — or other less chilly activities indoors. Oh, heck, I’ve read some pretty steamy love scenes that take place in the snowy forest involving opened jackets, though I haven’t yet written any myself. Winter is a season for writing about love, that glorious hot mess that keeps us going when the wind is howling to freeze our bones and shred our skin with its icy nails. The furnace working to pump heated air in my home is the breath of life in a world that is crystallized and unmoving.

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Canadians make good lovers, I think, because we know the best ways to keep warm in the long, cold winter. In a nation of extremes, we have to know how to survive, after all. Summers are as brutal as the winters, but at least in winter warming up is easier than cooling down in a heat wave. Until your pipes freeze or your furnace breaks, that is . . . as has been happening in spades in the houses around me.

Edits are nearly done on Blood and Fire: Book Two of the Talbot Trilogy, and the cover is nearly ready to reveal. Will tonight be another long session of creating with words? As long as my hands are warm enough, I think it will . . . but tea only as, I am out of wine.

Interview on The Romance Radio Network!

Please enjoy my latest online talk, with Desmond Haas, and leave a comment or a question, if you like.

I recorded this on one of our last beautiful sunny days in October of 2013, sitting in my backyard with the grass under my feet and the leaves skittering on warm breezes around me.

It was a real pleasure to chat with Desmond for a little while, and I truly enjoyed the experience. What a nice memory to have in the middle of the dark and cold Northern Ontario winter!

Romance Radio Network Interview

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