Saturday, October 18, 2014

Of Puppies and Book Signings!

Hey everyone, hope you're enjoying your fall whatever the weather is throwing at you. Here in southern Alberta it has been a brilliant gold and blue few weeks. Now that the freak early snowstorm nonsense if over with. The poplars/aspens are golden torches on the mountainsides, pirate's gold against the blue green of the firs and spruce trees. And the sky is that clear Alberta blue that almost seems to burn across the heavens it's so intense.
I volunteer for an animal rescue in Calgary called Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society, they are a no kill rescue who works closely with the Spay and Neuter Assistance Program(SNAP). Currently I am fostering a lovely momma dog with eleven puppies. They were three weeks old on Oct 13 and are just starting on soft food. Takes about 2 hours to get them all fed, mom fed and walked and the pen cleaned. What a joy they are, all with different personalities and colouring. A few a monster puppies while the majority are medium sized and a couple are quite small. I named them after black colour names because when they were born they all looked black. There is Ebony (F), Sable (F), Onyx (F), Jet (F), Obsidian (F), Midnight (M), Black Jack (M), Ink Spot (M), Brown Eyes (M), Noir (F), Tiger Eye (F)- she is turning out to be a golden brindle colour.

My upcoming release form Books We Love is Christmas Storm, a romance set in Longview, Alberta. The scene stealing dog in the book is based on a number of dogs who have touched my life over the years. The dog, Storm, is dedicated to a black momma dog who didn't live long enough to get rescued. I wish she had been as lucky as Storm. My last rescue dog is a black lab X and I called her Storm in this dog's memory. You'll have to forgive my un-techiness, I can't get the image to rotate properly. Sorry.

I am very excited to share that I am attending the Surrey International Writer's Conference in Surrey British Columbia this weekend. I leave on Thursday morning and am in Jack Whyte's Masters Class at 1:30. I love this class, it will be the fourth year I have participated. Each person submits 3 pages of their work that they would like some feed back on. Jack reads it to the class in his amazing Scottish accent and then there is discussion. The class is limited to 12 people so it is quite fun and a lot of us are regulars which makes it very dynamic. For the last two years I have worked the conference as a presenter,this year I am not presenting so I will have more time to play! There are great workshops and great presenters every year. Friday night is dress up costume night, the theme this year is Spies, Lies and Bad Guys. I am going as a spy, I'll share pictures next month! In the meantime here is my costumes from 2012 (Flapper) and 2013 (Evil Editor)

Saturday night is a massive book signing which is open to the public. If anyone is in the Vancouver/Lower Mainland please come by the Sheraton Guildford and say 'hi'. The book signing is in the Fraser ballroom at 5:30 pm. Some big name authors will be signing their books, Jack Whyte will have the next book in his Guardians of Scotland series available at the onsite Chapters store, Diana Gabaldon of Outlander fame will be in attendance, Anne Perry is another favorite. There are many more, for more information you can check out the conference website Surrey International Writers Conference

I'll share my conference experience with you next time, and keep you updated on the puppy progress. Once they are old enough, the babies will go to separate foster homes to learn about crate training and house training. Momma dog, Missy, will stay with me until she finds her forever home. AARCS has a very through adoption process, so I am confident everyone will find a good home.

Till next time...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Conferences and Horu's Chosen by Janet Lane Walters - New Release

Wasn't sure what I would write about since I'm undergoing a bit of a split in my personality. I want to shout out about my new release, Horu's Chosen and also talk a bit about conferences. So I've decided to do both.

I used to attend conference after conference and have been to some that are different. This weekend I'll be at New Jersey Romance Writer's conference and this is usually a fun time. Mainly because I get to see old friends and even make new ones. One of my old critique partners is going to be a featured speaker and I really will be glad to see her again. Two of my friends are finalists in a contest and that makes me happy for them. Would love to see them both win. They're competing in different genres so there's a chance.

This made me think. Why do you go to conferences? Do you want to learn new things? Do you want to see your friends? Do you just like to be part of a group? I've been to large conferences and one tends to get lost in the shuffle. Smaller conferences are more fun. One conference I've never wanted to attend is RT. Somehow this isn't my thing. One I really enjoyed was the EPIC conferences and the RWA ones where I've been a speaker. Also a science fiction conference that meets across the river from here. That was fun. Sold a bunch of books and met some new and interesting people.

Now for my second matter. Horu's Chosen was released. Though it was up for pre-sale, I have no idea what that meant or did. This story had an interesting start. When planning the trilogy, and writing the first book, I needed a hero for the second. A few lines in the first book gave me the hero. Seth, an undercover cop. Never realized he was in the first book. There's just a small few lines where he warns the heroine of the first book not to go home. Something in his eyes made her think he wasn't the homeless man he pretended to be. So he came into being, betrayed by his handler and a priest he had to flee and he found his way to another world and another ancient Egypt.

    Seth, an undercover cop has been betrayed by his handler. To escape he calls a number on a flyer and is transported to an ancient Egypt he doesn’t understand. He must rescue the Daughter from the evil priests of Aken Re. Merin is the Daughter....

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ring Around the Rosy by Roseanne Dowell

My goal in life was to become a topnotch journalist. I loved writing. Always had. Ever since I can remember that’s all I ever wanted to be. Suddenly, the goal was at hand. Within reach. I got it. My first big byline! I beat out all the other reporters at the scene and the paper printed my story. MINE!
So… there I was drinking coffee and reading my story. My headline! GEORGIE PORGIE PUDDING AND DIE by me, Susan Weston. Word for word just the way I’d written it. I’d been first on the murder scene the night before, even before the cops, so I got a pretty good look at the body. Turned out to be a guy I knew from the neighborhood. Not a sight I’m likely to forget.
 It made me feel good that my story got printed. This was my big chance. Things were going to change now. No more fluff pieces for me. And then everything went haywire.
The phone rang. Of course I answered. The voice on the other end sent goosebumps up my arm, down my spine, and chills down to my toes. It still does. Just thinking about it.
I could hardly hear the caller. His raspy voice faded out. Something about liking my story and strawberries. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Probably a crank call. But something about it bothered me.
My life hasn’t been the same since. To find out what happened, you’re going to have to read my book, Ring Around the Rosy available from Amazon.

Susan propped the News Gazette on the counter and focused on the headline. ‘Georgie Porgie, Pudding and Die’ by Susan Weston, it blared at her. Her headline. Her story. She’d done it. Finally got her headline. She drummed her hands on the counter and did a little dance step. She swore if her grin got any wider her face would crack. .”Susan Weston, journalist!” she shouted. God, she wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
The phone rang, startling her. “Who the heck is calling at this hour? “ She grabbed the phone. “Hello.” Bella rubbed against her legs, waiting to be fed. “Hello?” Susan grabbed the box of kitty food, filled the bowl, and set it on the floor.
“Hello,” she repeated, ready to hang up if no one answered this time.
The evil, raspy voice on the other end sent goose-bumps up her spine. “Who is this?” she whispered.
The voice mumbled something she could barely hear.
“Strawberries? What are you talking about?”
“Just for you,” the garbled voice continued.
“I can’t hear you. Who is this?” What kind of sick joke is this?
She caught the words, “loved your headline,” more garbled words, and “Watch for Jack be nimble.” Then the phone line went dead.
Susan grabbed the counter to steady herself. Her hand trembled, and she stared at the phone. She dropped the receiver back into its cradle as if it was on fire. But she couldn’t stop the trembling. Her stomach churned. Nausea filled her throat. What was wrong with her? Just someone playing a sick joke. This wasn’t her first crank call, why react like this? Maybe because none of the others had sounded like this.
He said he liked her story. That shouldn’t bother her. Something about that voice, so harsh, so evil. It gnawed at her. The hair prickled on the back of her neck. Something about it seemed familiar, but she couldn’t quite place it.
After pouring a cup of coffee, she read the story under the headline aloud, trying to keep her mind off the phone call. “Police are investigating the death of thirty-one year old George Lucas, whose body was found last night in Lagoon Park near his west side home.” The sound of her shaky voice surprised her.
What was the matter with her?  “Get a grip, girl.”
Must be the effect of seeing the lifeless body. The way George Lucas’s eyes stared into space. What was he thinking when he looked into his killer’s eyes? The distant street lamp didn’t help. It cast an eerie shadow on the victim. His face frozen in terror, lips parted in a silent scream, and his head tilted to one side as if it was too heavy for his neck. The way one hand clutched at his throat and the other gripped the note, fingers frozen around it, sent icy chills through her, even now. She shuddered.
Thank God there wasn’t any blood, since the image would forever be embedded in her mind. Susan rubbed her arms to warm them.
Picking up the paper, she continued to read. “The coroner will determine the cause of death, but early reports indicate that Mr. Lucas was strangled. Lipstick was smeared across the victim’s mouth, and he clasped the nursery rhyme, ‘Georgie Porgie,’ in his hand. The teen who discovered the body reported seeing a man carrying a bag and wearing a gray shirt running from the park moments before. Police have no suspects at this time.”
Bella brushed against her legs, jumped on the counter, and snuggled against her.
Susan’s heart pounded. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. So much for the thrill of seeing her name on the front page. The image of the body filled her mind. Her hands trembled while she held the paper and reread the headline with her name below it. It was exactly as she had written it — not one word changed, short and to the point.
George Lucas lived in her neighborhood. She’d seen him a few times in Meliti’s Market talking to old Mrs. Meliti. Although they never spoke, they had nodded and smiled hello. Nice-looking guy, about her age. What a shock seeing him dead. Another shiver shook her body. Seeing a dead body was bad enough, but knowing the victim threw her for a loop. Made it personal.

"One) lucky reader who comments on my blog will be randomly selected to win an eBook of Ring Around the Rosy. Good luck!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How I found my hero by Sheila Claydon

There I was, off to visit friends in the Yorkshire Dales for a weekend of over-eating and dog walking, with absolutely no idea that I was going to meet the hero of my next book!

Visiting the glorious Yorkshire Dales when the weather is good is, indeed, like visiting 'God's own country.' Ask any Yorkshireman.  Visiting, as we did, when a blanket of grey mist hung like a pall over the whole landscape, was another story altogether. Walking left us damp and cold with our walking boots inches deep in mud, our trousers spattered with it from ankle to thigh and our hair lank and wet from the moisture swirling in the air around us. And when we climbed to the top of Middleham Low Moor we could have been at the end of the world. The gallops where race horses train most mornings were deserted. There was not a single  sound, not a jingle of harness or a creak of leather, not the snorting effort of the horses or the sharp calls of the jockeys, not even the sound of a curlew or the harsh shriek of a pheasant, just that strange cotton-wool silence as the world closed in on us. Think <em>Never-ending Story </em>if you've seen the film, and you'll be close. It was like Fantasia once it had been destroyed by <em>The</em> <em>Nothing</em>, except that in Yorkshire on that day, there wasn't even colour. Just a bleached white-out that hid the wonderful views that we knew lay below us.

Of course the local beer, the pubs that welcome dripping walkers, muddy dogs and wet boots in no particular order, the excellent and abundant yorkshire food, all made up for it, as did the log fires and the hospitality.  A delicious lunch of pork belly and apple washed down with beer soon had us putting the world to rights again. And then, right in the middle of everything, serendipity came to call.

I had only just decided that I wanted a musical background in my next book.  I hadn't even got as far as deciding what sort of music, and I was still in a dilemma about the hero when...there he was playing jazz piano at a jazz evening that we were taken to later that day, and where we swayed and clapped and drank wine with the best of Yorkshire.

So thank you Yorkshire, thank you Red Stripe Band, and thank you jazz piano player.  Don't worry.  You won't recognise yourself in the book because it isn't you, so please don't fret and please don't sue!  I just needed someone to point me in the right direction and you did it, with your music, your band, and your wonderful let's hear it for The Red Stripe Band.

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Cats and Dogs by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

My Cats and Dogs by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey
I have always loved cats.  When I was a child we had a gray cat named Smoky. He slept with me most nights and greeted me at the door when I came home from school. When he was outside and wanted in he jumped up onto the narrow ledge of the front window and sat down looking in until someone opened the door. We had him many years and then one day he became ill. My parents tried to cure him but nothing they tried made him better. He lost weight and they finally decided to take him to the Pound and have him put to sleep.  It was a cool autumn day when they put him in a box and set the box on the floor of the back seat. Mom and Dad and we four kids went to the Pound to drop him off. It was a sad day and we each took turns saying goodbye.
       But he proved to be a tough cat. On a cold winter morning when mom opened the drapes of the front window, there was Smoky sitting on the ledge. She quickly opened the door and let him in. We never found out if he had gotten better at the Pound and escaped or if someone adopted him and he left them to find his way back to us. He lived another three years before finally dying.
       We then got brother and sister tabby kittens and I named them Salt and Pepper. They were still around when I married and moved away. Due to my first husband not liking cats and my son being born with an allergy to animals, I was unable to have indoor cats. However, after my daughter was born a collie dog showed up in our yard and we had ourselves an outdoor dog. Over the years my second husband, Mike, and I had outdoor cats and dogs but I disliked that they had to stay outside during the cold winter months.
       Shortly after my son’s eighteenth birthday he came home with a Cockapoo pup which he was not allergic to. When he graduated in the summer he headed to college and left Chevy with us. Chevy grew to be about twenty pounds. We had him seventeen years before we had to put him to sleep.
       During that time Mike and I rescued an abused and starved pup while on holidays in northern B.C. He was about the size of our little cockapoo and on our two week jaunt home he slept on the bed with us and Chevy. When we got home I thought Modie would be an outdoor dog. The first night he howled so long and loud that I let him in the house but made him stay at the back door landing. That wasn’t what he wanted and he continued howling until I let him onto the bed where he settled into his spot with Chevy and us. Even when he grew into a 130 lb, dog he insisted on sleeping on the bed with us.
      During the day Modi followed Chevy around and grew to idolize him. However, Chevy was less than happy to have Modie in our family and would turn and snarl at him. Modie thought Chevy was playing and would run around him excited. If Chevy ignored him, Modie would trab his tail and pull him backward to get his attention.
       Our house had a three bedroom basement suite that we used for family get togethers and when family and friends came to visit. Because my son was allergic to Modie we kept the door to the basement closed so he couldn’t get into it. Since my son was already allergic to one of my animals I decided to get a cat. A couple we knew in the country had a stray kitten show up at their place so I went to pick her up. It was a striped tabby just like the two cats we’d had when I was a teenager. I named her Salt.
      Just after that, my sister, Gwen, got a male tabby and called him Pepper. When she got a female tabby she called her Saltina. Unfortunately, Salt left us one day and never returned. Mike suggested that I go to the SPCA and find another cat. I brought home two female cats. One was a ten month old tabby that I named Saltwo and the other a three month old gray and white kitten that I called Saltry. So we had two dogs and two cats but then we had to put Chevy to sleep. Not a happy time in our household.
       One day Mike noticed an advertisement in the newspaper that was looking for a home for a cat that had been left by its owners when they moved. The cat had survived the winter outside and the people who found it already had three cats which was the limit allowed per house in the city. I phoned and then went to pick up the cat. It was a short haired orange tabby which I named Red. We were now a family of two adults, three cats and one huge dog.
       So those were the animals we had when we moved from Edmonton to Vancouver Island. We settled on a small acreage and put up a fence so Modie would remain in the yard. Red and Saltry liked to explore our acreage as well as the neighbours. Saltwo was more inclined to stay close to home so it was a real surprise when she got into some poison somewhere and died.
      Once I had recovered from her loss, I called the SPCA and asked if they had any cats for adoption. One had just come in. They needed a few days to check her over and then I went to pick her up. She was six months old and a long haired orange tabby. I decided that I had one orange tabby named Red so I named my second orange tabby Purple. Saltry took over from Saltwo as the head of the pride (not sure if that is the word for domesticated cats) and the others acquisitioned.
       The next year when I was doing a book signing for my first mystery novel at Comox B.C. While waiting for me Mike saw some cats at an SPCA display. He took me there after my signing. He had looked at a long haired white cat but I found a tortoise shell cat and decided on her. Her name was Molly and she had been born in the SPCA and was now two years old. She had never been outside except to be taken to these displays. When we got her home I changed her name to Daisy.
       Daisy had lived in large cage with three other cats and was used to cats coming and going in her life. When she saw Saltry she mewed and went over to her. Saltry was not that friendly with strange cats and hissed and swatted at Daisy. Daisy stopped in surprise and Saltry walked away. Daisy next tried Red who was a bit standoffish but friendlier. After a couple of days, Red had taken Daisy under her wing and was grooming her and they were sleeping together. Purple didn’t really care that there was a new member to the family.
       It didn’t take her long to figure out how to go in and out the cat door and she was soon enjoying her taste of freedom.
       About a year later I looked out onto our front deck and saw a skinny, long haired orange tabby eating the crumbs from Modie’s treats. I went out but she took off. I found a small dish and put some cat food in it and left it on the deck. The next day I saw her eating from it. I went outside to talk to her but she scurried through a hole in the skirting under our mobile home. I called to her and heard her answer but she never came out. The next day was the same but this time I went to another opening under our mobile and talked with her. She answered me and slowly came to me. I picked her up. She was so light, it felt as if she weighed about three pounds although she was a full grown cat. I carried her inside to the pails of cat food I leave out for our cats. She ate but then left again. The next day she was back and this time after she ate she allowed me to carry her into our bedroom and lay her on our bed. Over the next three days all she did was sleep, eat, and use the kitty litter. She became our fifth cat. Even though I was naming our orange tabbies after colours, this time I couldn’t think of a colour that suited our latest addition. She was quiet, demure, aloof and just wanted to be left alone so I named her Lady
       By this time Modie was 13 and had very bad arthritis. He was overweight because we had had to stop our walks, and was having a hard time walking and standing up when he laid down. We finally decided it was time to put him out of his misery. Mike took him to the vet and two days later we had his ashes.
       So we were left with five cats. Three years later Gwen’s cat, Saltina, died. A few weeks later Gwen was at our place and Lady spent the night with her. Gwen said that if we ever had to get rid of Lady she would take her. We offered Lady to Gwen and she accepted. So we are now down to four cats, the same four cats that my husband and I are now on a three month tour with through the United States.

Books of The Travelling Detective Series boxed set:
Illegally Dead
The Only Shadow In The House
Whistler's Murder

Sunday, October 12, 2014


There’s no reason you can’t review a book with class and professionalism.  A book review is a description, judicious analysis, and an evaluation of the quality, gist, and impact of a book.  It’s so important to realize . . . a book review is not a retelling. It’s not a book report or a summary.

A book review should focus on the book's purpose and content. How did the book affect you – the reader?  You should evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the how well the author told his/her story.  Your review should include a statement of what the author has tried to do, evaluate how well he/she has succeeded, and present evidence to support your appraisal.

There’s no right or wrong way to write a book review. Face it, book reviews are highly personal and reflect the opinion(s) of the reviewer. Your review can be as short as 50-100 words, or as long as 1500 words, depending on the purpose of the review.

I might add a personal note here – “If you can’t say something nice, maybe it’s best left unsaid in public.”  If you truly dislike a book, that’s okay, not every book we read will be our favorite.  But chastising a book in a review could make or break an author.  Is that your intent?  I would hope not.  If I don’t care for a book I’ve read, I let it go.  It’s not necessary to berate or trash the book or the author.

The following is a simple guide for writing a book review that works. 

1.   Write a statement including basic information about the book: title, author, type of book.
2.   Write a sentence indicating point of view and genre.
3.   Evaluate the quality of the writing style by using some of the following standards: consistency, clarity, creativity, strength, pithiness, development, and even fluidity.
4.   Ask yourself does the story reach the intended audience?
5.   To me the most important question to ask yourself – then review from your heart – “how did this book affect me?” Did you have preconceived notions about the subject matter and now they’ve changed or perhaps they’re reinforced due to this book?
6.   Did the book realize its goal(s)?
7.   End your review with the oh-so-important, ‘would you recommend this book to others’? Why?

Remember, your review should include a brief summary, analysis, and comment on the book’s content.  Include your general conclusions. If you feel strongly to make a statement, use specific references and quotations to support them. And always end with a comment of support and referral.

Rita Karnopp
Author ~ Romancing the West

Titillating preview by J.C. Kavanagh

WINNER Best Young Adult Book 2016, The Twisted Climb I've been prepping for Autumn book signings and excited to meet new and...