Tag: The Man for Her

Spring Suddenly

After all my whining about our cold, long winter (for Victoria) suddenly, it’s spring. The photo at the top shows the last remaining patch of snow in a shady spot in our yard.

Today marks the equinox and our temperatures have soared to record highs. Soon I’ll be complaining about drought and heat. 🙂 The crocus have burst into bloom. The heather is showing a happy, purple face and the forsythia buds are near to bursting. Those little red nubs in the ground are rhubarb shoots. That lovely red fruit is usually the first harvest from the garden and equates with spring in my mind. It’s also a tender reminder of my mother. She practically danced in the kitchen when she made pie from that first fresh food.

Maybe it’s the farmer’s daughter in me, but I’m very aware of weather. Is the ground warm enough for seeding? Does the sky hold thunder clouds? Are there enough bees around for pollination?

The Man for Her, the first book in my Prospect series begins with the weather. Now, if you go to how-to-write classes, they’ll tell you to not discuss the weather. But I think the weather is a great place to set mood and tone.  Here’s a sample.

1886

A glaring sun bore down on the small mining town of Prospect, bleaching the colour from the landscape and sapping the strength of its citizens. The streets were nearly deserted as people huddled indoors or in patches of shade, seeking respite from the unrelenting heat.

Only Lottie Graham was out and about, hurrying across the unnaturally quiet main street, her worn books kicking up small eddies of fine white dust. The heat and the dust filled her nostrils and choked her throat. It was late August and Prospect was desperate for rain. But not just yet, Lottie prayed, even as she wished for a breath of wind.

That book was published years ago and I still like it. Lottie is a farmer, or course weather is always on her mind.

What’s your opinion, dear reader? Are weather reports boring or a means to draw you into the story?

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The Call of the Pipes

 

There’s something about bagpipes that stirs the soul. Why else account for their use in battle?  Soldiers, tired, defeated, and frightened, will rise from their cover and follow the piper one more time into the fray.  Over and over in history, that scenario has played out.  One notable example is Canada’s VC winner, James Richardson. I’ve written about him here.

Recently, at a Remembrance Day service at our local cenotaph, I watched the pipe band marching past and felt the excitement race through my veins, but when I watched closely, I did a double-take. I had always believed those blowing the bagpipes were male members of Scottish clans. Not this time.  The band I saw had an Asian man, a black man, and a few women, wearing kilts, and proudly piping out “Scotland the Brave.” Welcome to Canada in 2017.

“That would never happen.” These dismissive words have blighted more than one budding writer’s career.  Even when the event in question is a true-life example, the editor or beta reader insists it is too far-fetched to be used in fiction.  Book guidelines say the editor is looking for something “new and different.”  The invisible subtext likely reads but not too different.

Publishing is a risky business, so publishing houses like to hedge their bets. If book A about a shape-shifter sold lots of copies, then they want more shape-shifters.  If book B about a werewolf tanked, they don’t want to see werewolves anywhere in your submission.

If you are writing something “different” don’t be discouraged. Remember someone had to be the first to write vampires, or steam-punk, or aliens, or a small-town knitting story.  And “real life” does give us some wacky examples of the non-probable. Like my pipe band, “different” but great!

Today, when “diversity” is all the rage, maybe a female of Chinese descent with a passion for bagpipes could be a captivating heroine. Or a male soldier returned from deployment in a war zone who finds solace in crochet – there are real life examples of that, too.

Finding the balance between the old and the new for readers and editors is never easy. What appeals to one reader as quirky and interesting, may elicit the “never happen” response from others.  In The Man for Her, my editor questioned the heroine’s long mourning period for her lost lover.  Yet, in real life, Queen Victoria mourned the loss of Prince Albert the rest of her life.

For writers, the best advice is still to write the best story you can, be true to your own vision, and keep trying.  Fads may come and go, but good writing will endure.  Combine good writing with some off-beat characters and you could be the next “big thing.”

Now, I’m off to listen to some bagpipe music, it will lift my spirits and send me forth with determination and courage.

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Harvest

It is harvest time where I live.  Although I’m not on a farm I have a garden and small orchard, so I am reaping the rewards of my summer’s labour.   Our storage bins are full,  I’ve given away boxes of apples, and still the trees are loaded with fruit.  My shelves of preserves look like sunshine in a jar.  On a cold, wet, dark night in January, we’ll eat strawberry jam and it will taste like summer.  An apple pie at Christmas time will come straight from our own trees.  Truly, we live in a bountiful land.

In my book, The Man for Her, I talk about that feeling of harvest and plenty, and the satisfaction of laying in stores against a season of want.  Lottie Graham lives more than a century before me, her harvest is essential to life, whereas mine is a hobby, but the sense of well-being, the urgency to pick and preserve, the permission to rest when it is all done — those things are common to my life and to the life of my character.

As I enjoy this beautiful Indian Summer in British Columbia, I think often of Lottie and her Pine Creek Farm.  I imagine her safe and warm with children at her knee and Sean, in from the fields,  washing up for dinner.  I do love a happy ending.

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Free Book

When my book, The Man for Her, was sold to Kensington, a shock wave went around the romance writer’s circle.   You see, my book was purchased in public at a writer’s conference, “Royal Rendezvous,” in Victoria, B.C.  No one goes to a conference expecting to sell a manuscript.  We go to conference and hope to meet an editor or agent who will request a partial of the manuscript and then we wait and hope and wait some more that she will request a complete manuscript.

When Hilary Sares from Kensington Books announced that she wanted to buy the top three entries in the historical category of the conference contest, the room went wild.  I, on the other hand, sat there in a stupor.  My friends had to tell me that, yes, she had said “buy” and yes, my book was sold and yes, I would get money.   There was still more waiting and writing and re-writing and editing to come, but I had a contract.

The story of that sale spread through the romance community because it was so unusual.  I’ve never heard of a similar contest result since.  So, that book actually has two stories — the one inside the cover and the one about its publication.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of its publication, I’m offering it free on Kindle  on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, Sept. 16 and 17.  Hope you take advantage of the offer, and tell your friends.

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New Venture

Whew!  I’ve done it.  I’ve got back the rights to my earlier books published by Kensington and have made them available as e-books. “The Man for Her Her One and Only” are now available at Amazon.

This has been another learning experience for me.  Previously I self-published a collection of short stories, “The Man Who Loved Christmas” but in that case I used a pre-made cover. This time I worked with Dawn Charles at Bookgraphics to create entirely new covers for these two books.  I love them.  And what a sense of power getting to make all those decisions.  With a print book, the publisher gives you a cover and that’s it.  Like it or lump it!

Both of these books contain a few extras.  There is an historical tidbit about Remittance Men in The Man for Her  and one about crossing rivers in a basket in Her One and Only.  Each book also contains an excerpt from the other.

I’m thrilled to see these books getting another life in digital form.  I’m very fond of the characters in these stories and was sorry to see them disappear from bookstores.  Now readers around the world have a chance to visit Prospect, British Columbia and come to know Lottie and Sean; Emma and Grey, not to mention the host of supporting characters.

The books are available here.

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