Monday, December 27, 2010

writer wisdom & life wisdom

This morning, while browsing the blogs I follow, I came across some words of wisdom that I'd like to share with my friends.   So venturing forth, into the world of "links" ... check these out..
my first sale by Keri Ford, reminds me not to get lost in the rules and forget to have fun writing  and Deb Elise - From the happiest place on earth reminds me (in the words of Kermit) that

"Life's like a movie
Write your own ending
Keep believing, keep pretending"

On that note, with a smile on my face and a cat on my shoulder, I close this post and get back to my characters - to remind them that they are indeed.... having fun.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas Morning !

Thursday, November 11, 2010

a day to REMEMBER

I wonder why now?
Why this year?
I've been conscious of the purpose of REMEMBRANCE DAY for about forty-five years.
I've made a conscious effort to think of the reasons behind those two-minutes of silence nearly every one of those years.
Yet this morning, as I watched the ceremonies from Ottawa, saw the faces of those who have served our country, I was moved.
Really moved.
And I wonder,
why now?

So from me,
 late, yet in time, 
to those who serve,
   have served,
     and will,
I say from my heart,
 for the first time,
                    THANK YOU.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm still here... sort of

For those of you who may have noticed that I'm not posting or partcipating much lately, thanks!

I've had to drop my twittering, facebooking and blog commenting to squeeze in time for writing. I still take a quick breeze through my favorite blogs most mornings and enjoy the vague feeling of staying in touch, I just can't take the time to say much.

So at least until Christmas break I'll be one of those invisible lurkers in the blogosphere, quietly enjoying what everyone has to say.

and Mysteryhorse.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Peer Support

I'm here to say that although writing for me has been a solitary endeavour, I thrive on peer support.
As a member of the KOD-RWA  (Kiss of Death chapter of Romance Writers of America), I have joined a subgroup that plays together for a week, four times a year.
And what the heck does that mean?
Four times a year, the shout goes out on the KOD loop, for people who want to join BIAW (Book In a Week).

This then becomes a group of twenty to forty writers who are split into two teams with equal numbers of those who have committed to either write part time (less than 4 hours per day) or full-time (more than 4).
Each person reports to the team leader at the end of the day, with their word count.
The team leaders, who are actually writing for the opposite team, keep the tally and cheer everyone on.
For one week, I write only new words, no editing is allowed. And each day, I try to beat my wordcount for the day before.
Yes the team with the most words wins... the only prize, is praise from each other and a grand sense of accomplishment for everyone who played on either side.

This week, I have been so busy with my newly complicated life, that I would have written absolutely nothing... if I hadn't had the team waiting for my wordcount. So I got up at least an hour early each morning and wrote.

The over 5000 words in my brand new WIP (work in progress), would NOT  have happened without the support of my peers.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I know, I promised to explain... so here goes.

Entering contests (for me) is as much about getting feedback and editor/agent exposure as winning a prize.
I enter contests offered by various chapters of the Romance Writers of America.  There are tons to choose from, so I look for the ones that can give me something back, win or lose.

The contests I've entered, have both published and unpublished writers to judge the first round, then an agent or editor who will make the final decision.
-If I don't make the finals, I still receive a score sheet and possible edit/critique comments and/or suggestions.
-If my work makes the cut, it will be read by an agent or editor, and THAT is the goal most of us seek, for we can't sell if they don't read.

Last year, I entered TOUCH ME in four contests and scored one win!  The feedback was invaluable, especially the critical comments from the agent that gave me the win.

And what was the actual prize?  ha ha, the return of the entry fee. (most contests run at about $25.00 - 40.00)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

onward ho!


UNDERCOVER COWBOY is officially finished, right? 
Yup. Polished and sent forth to my favorite agent.
Is this the part where I sit back, sip something cold, turn my toes up and wait? 

Nope. I've already fired off three more query letters as well as three contest entries. Oh and did I mention my next project?   ~~smiles mysteriously~~

Quinn, the sexy younger brother from UNDERCOVER COWBOY,  has stepped to center stage.
He has a lovely, gutsy lady to play with, and together they have a mystery to solve...  involving race horses.

Quinn and his kick-ass heroine have most of my attention for the moment, but I will still be preparing UNDERCOVER COWBOY for more contests.

hmmm there's that word again. Are you wondering about contests?

Come back in a few days and I'll explain them to you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

colour / color... it done

Well, I made the move, the big bold move and pushed the 'send' button.

My manuscript took a short trip through cyber space and landed on the far side of the US.

It will likely rest in Ms. Agent's computer for a while because she is extremely busy selling manuscripts for the authors she already represents.

One day, when Ms. Agent has time, she'll pull up the file with my name on it and read. Then she'll make a decision whether she loves my book enough and if it is marketable enough to offer me representation.   (major simplification of just one step)

In the meantime, I'll put a printed copy in the hands of my beta readers, a special group of family and friends who have been cheering me on and hounding me for a new read!

I love giving my stories these people so much, that I can't imagine how incredible it will feel ... someday... to have strangers enjoying the stories I've written.

....  but I will confess to looking at the shelves in the bookstore and imagining my name alongside the authors I've worshipped for years.

Monday, August 9, 2010

3rd draft... officially tired.


Well, for an hour or two I wasn't sure I'd ever get this done.

Does it make me a writer if I can always find a different way to say something?

Could I be making a big mistake by editing too much?

Have I lost the essence, the voice of the story?

And should it by Lay or Lie or Laid?  hmmm, that's smile worthy.

I probably should've waited a couple of weeks and left this story alone.

But when there is an agent, (my number one choice of agents), waiting to read it, how can I wait? 

Who knows if I've done right by this story, but I'm coloring it done... for now.

The next one has already been fighting for my attention.

So Beta readers... start your engines...  the printer is hard at work.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

2nd draft complete


Another reason to celebrate! 

I finished the second draft of my manuscript today.  What the heck - you say?

The first draft is the one where the story is born but the writing sucks.  So for the second, I begin with a hard copy (on paper), sit down, read it from beginning to end and make a gazillion notes in ugly green ink (fine point sharpies are fabulous for this kind of scribbling).  

I discovered funny stuff like Wesley's hair and eye color changing between chapters,  Cassandra walking out of a room she wasn't in, a cat with two names and person who must have three hands. oops. 

Of course there were the usual gramatical and spelling errors, and the words that suddenly repeat themselves over and over and over again.

Once the work is done on the hard copy, it takes a few days to update the manuscript on the computer. (and mine is overheating and shutting down these days which scares me spitless.)

I finished that portion today and printed another hard copy.  This one, I won't look at for a few days so that my 'eyes' are fresh.  Hopefully I'll sit down and read it through one day next week.   This time I'll have a red pen in hand, getting ready for the 3rd draft!

off now to celebrate!  ...going to the bookstore to by the latest new one from my top five favorite authors,  Christine Feehan.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

excitement and reality

Two requests!  Much happy dancing at my house, scared my cats clear under the bed.

Two of the agents I would most love to have represent my work, like what they've seen so far and have requested that I send more for them to read!

So, I was quick to send off what one asked for,  the first three chapters and a synopsis. As it was already set up and ready to go.

Now I'm preparing the other agent's request for the FULL manuscript. I'll be up to my neck in pages and pages of editing for the next few days, making sure that my work is polished and shining before I send it to her.

This will be the first time that anyone has read the whole story. So I'll be on pins and needles. Oh, did I mention that it sometimes takes up to six months to hear back from an agent? The jeopardy theme song could get very old by then. 

In the meantime, I'll get this baby out to my patient, kind and loving   beta readers. You know who you are so get ready to read by the end of the month!

back to work ....

Friday, July 16, 2010

another step

Another step...  Having just finished an online course - query writing with C.J.Redwine - I'm off and running!

This morning I sent out query letters to four 'to die for' Literary Agents. That means, that now, I will be checking my inbox every two or three minutes for the next couple of hours, looking for a reply.  After a while, I'll become resigned to reality, and only check once an hour.

Tomorrow, I'll hold my breath while turning on my computer and going straight to email. When I find no AMAZINGLY FAST REPLY,  I will slap myself upside the head and get on with my life, only stopping to check mail about six times a day.

This is good for a body, right? Yes!  Anticipation is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately it's often folowed by disappointment, but hey, this is real life... so anything is possible.

I'll keep you posted and share any exciting news.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Well finally, summer has arrived! July 4th, I was wrapped up in three layers of clothing and still too cold to stay and watch the parade.
14 Celcius = 58 Farenh.

July 6th,  the cats and dog are all lying around limp like noodles, oh yeah, me too, because it is so hot out! 
28 Cel.  =  86 Far.

Thanking my lucky stars we live so close to the ocean so there's at least a breeze while we adjust to the rapid change.

Writing you ask?  not much today. Up to my armpits in edits and an online course.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

guest blogging

Hi folks

Today, I am a guest of the very interesting and funny blog group, Petit Fours and Hot Tamales.

Please stop over and take a look!

ps. never mind me.... but it's a great blog to check out on a regular basis.

Friday, July 2, 2010

literary agents

My last post ended with a hypothetical situation...  an agent requesting pages to read, maybe a whole manuscript etc and a writer, getting pretty darned excited. Why the happy dance?

Because without an agent to market your books to publishers, you are like the pretty girl waiting tables in Hollywood, hoping to get noticed.  Not much chance of that. Lots of pretty girls waiting tables.

As a writer, I am one of thousands of writers with books sitting in my computer.

Unless I can attract the attention of an agent, my chances of being published by a major house are slim to none.

YES there are many self-publishing options and with Electronics, there are even ways to upload your book and offer it to readers with minimal effort.

BUT ... AT THE MOMENT in the publishing world, do-it-yourself is frowned upon, sort of like those movies that feature the Hollywood waitress. 

Once that pretty girl has been seen in  a dozen B or C movies, are the big companies going to rush to offer her a contract?  Maybe. Would they rather offer a contract to a FRESH face? Probably.

So at the beginning of my writing career, I'm hoping to go through the expected steps, figuratively knocking on doors, to find a Literary Agent to represent me.

What exactly does the Agent do?
Lots of things. Just like a sports agent, movie agent etc. They represent the client by: SHOPPING their talent; looking after CONTRACT issues from the dollars to foreign and movie rights; READING manuscripts; making suggestions on CURRENT WORK; work with their clients on everything from SOCIAL NETWORKING to getting to the next deadline.

Agents and writers work together to get books published. Most reputable agents work on straight commission so they work VERY hard to get their authors published.  This of course makes them pretty darn picky about what and who they represent.

So. Sounds simple right?
Nah, I just gave you a simple outline.  Like any job description, there's a WHOLE lot more to it!..

On a personal note,  I have found about a half dozen agents that I REALLY like and they are the ones I will target with my Queries,   and probably faint! if they are ever interested in representing me and my work. 
These agents are mostly New York based and receive upwards of 100 Query letters every single day! 
They have lots to choose from and the only way you can get their attention is to have the BEST, MOST INTERESTING AND MARKETABLE work that crosses their desk.

For now, I will get back to work making sure that my manuscript is so well polished that it will positively shine!

Monday, June 28, 2010

... THE END ... now what?

Yup, got it done, typed those words yesterday!

I finished the first draft of my latest book, called,  UNDERCOVER COWBOY.

Now the work begins. In the writing world, I'm what they call a Pantser or Organic Writer, which means, I don't write copious notes, outlines or even character sketches prior to writing my first draft.

Nope, what I have is a character or two  or maybe a single scene kicking around in my head. Then I sit down and let the words and story flow. The process is sometimes exciting, sometimes scary and always consuming.

I occasionally get up at four in the morning and write non-stop until noon, and other times start late and write through until two am.  The difficult days are the ones when no words seem eager to jump out and I'm not certain what the characters are up to.  This is often because I've made a wrong turn. So I go back a ways and try to change a scene or how a character reacts to something and poof, the fingers are flying over the keys again.

The nice part about pantsing is that I pay no attention to grammer, repeated words, etc etc.  That's where the rewrites begin.   For the next few weeks I'll be whipping my story into shape.  Then it will go out to my critique readers and they'll find a bunch of things that I hadn't seen. And I'll rewrite again.

Then I send it to my beta readers - friends and family who love me and don't want to hurt my feelings so they are really kind in their responses.

From there, I will begin sending query letters to literary agents. These letters have to be no more than one page long, with enough about my book to interest them and if I'm lucky, they'll ask to read a PARTIAL.

A partial is usually the first few chapters, up to fifty pages.

IF I'm lucky enough to have partials requested, then I will hold my breath and wait, making random promises to gods I've never met, hoping they like it enough to request a FULL.

If that happens, first I would be speechless - yes me! Then, I'd happy dance for a while before I shipped a full manuscript off to the agent who I now think IS god.

That's when the waiting gets longer because when you think about it,  How many books can you read in a week?  Agents have to read A LOT.

Okay, so now, the agent thinks they can sell your book so they CALL you and make you wet your pants...  oops, did I say that?  sorry. I mean you are so excited that you can't breath.

At this point I'll pause for a day... and say be continued.

I'm going to let you chew on these steps for tonight and continue this loooong story tomorrow.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

This big eagle watched as I walked to within about twenty feet of him. I talked to him and explained that I only wanted a picture ... or ten.   

Kinda cool, the white object in the distance, right over his head, is the PEACE ARCH, at the  US / CANADIAN  border crossing.

Monday, June 14, 2010


...In my lasst blog, I wrote about perseverance and mentioned a filly I'd once trained. INISH GLORA was something of a problem child at the beginning of her career. But after a bumpy, temper tantrum, bucking adolescence, she went on to earn nearly a million dollars! ($977,618 to be exact.)   ... and she was named CHAMPION TURF MARE of CANADA,  twice.

Yesterday, I watched INISH GLORA's daughter race at Woodbine, in the Canadian Oaks - for those of you unfamiliar with horse racing, the Oaks is the most prestigious race in Canada, restricted to three year old fillies born in this country.

ROAN INISH ran with the heart of a true champion yesterday, proving that she was indeed her mother's daughter.

From behind the two front runners, ROAN INISH took aim on the wire... her ears flat, her neck stretched out and every muscle in her body straining to get her head out in front of the others. With guts and determination she raced through the opening in spite of the close quarters and proved that she was indeed, the best!

To quote her trainer, Carolyn Costigan after the race, "what a fighter!"

 And there lies the rest of the story. A story of daughters to be very, very proud of.

CAROLYN COSTIGAN is the trainer of Roan Inish, and the daughter of Robert and Nora Costigan, the horse's owners.

When I began training for Bob some years ago, he told me that his daughter was part of the deal. If I couldn't handle having a teenaged horse lover hanging about sometimes, then I wouldn't be the kind of trainer he needed. I grinned. I'd been that teen at one time and I got it. No problem.

Carolyn was there for all of the highs and lows of our racing, as well as Bob's wife and son. They are one heck of a family.

So, cutting to the chase, flash forward past my retirement, the Costigan's horses relocating to Toronto, Carolyn going through extensive hard work including the Darley Flying Start program and apprenticing with a famous Irish trainer.

....And there they are, In the winner's circle. Two daughters, two determined young ladies with guts, talent, good sense and just enough precociousness to put them at the top of the class.

I feel blessed to have watched a good deal of their journey. I am so incredibly proud of them both.

To the Costigans, I can only say, again, thank you. I still feel like part of the family. I was crying happy tears when the filly crossed the wire and when the four of you walked to the winner's circle with her.

Congratulations to all of you, including your jockey David Moran.

Job Well Done!

check out Carolyn's website!....

Sunday, May 30, 2010


On Friday and Saturday, I attended a writer's conference called Write-On Vancouver.

For those of you in the Race-Horse world, this is rather like attending a Sale. A day and a half in the company of your piers, slightly outside your normal racetrack setting, wearing your other clothes, working hard to get it right.
Yes. I'm that tired!  But like a good Sale, it was well worth it.

Published Authors gave workshops on honing the craft of writing. Editors shared Industry News such as what the publishing 'Houses' are looking for, or not.  And there was lots of socializing - think several hundred trainers at the Sale.

For me, the best part of the whole thing was the Keynote Speaker.  Laura Resnick is a multi-published author who has bumped her way through numerous potholes on the road to success. The key word being SUCCESS. Listening to Laura's stories of ups and downs and how perseverance is the only way to succeed as a writer, was inspiring - on steroids.

I already know and understand the value of perseverance - insert picture of Kathy paddock schooling a two year old delinquent filly that went on to win nearly a million dollars!

So along with a picture of the filly - Inish Glora - Laura's book,  'Rejection,Romance&Royalties' will sit close to my keyboard for those moments when I wonder if I will ever get published.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

contest win

Well, it's not that I've been putting this off, exactly, it's just that I keep writing it, then pitching it out as not good enough. sigh... You see that's the problem when you're a writer. It is NEVER good enough and always needs to be tweaked - or so it seems.

So today, before it's really OLD news, I'm going to just tell it once, to heck with perfection, the right tone, etc etc.

On Monday, on the blog there it was! MY name, at the top of the page, announcing that I was the winner of their 'Hook, Line and Sinker' writing contest. And what does that mean? Happy Dancing! Fist pumping! Giggling, jump up and down, scare the cats excitement! I felt like Sally Fields, "they like me!" not the exact quote but you get my drift.

It means, that the work I submitted was judged and determined better than the other entries. How many you say?

Step one: The contest began with 50 writers submitting the opening line for their story. These entries were read by 3 or 4 judges and 20 entries/writers were cut.

Step two: the remaining 30 people, submit the last line of their first chapter. This line is what draws the reader into the next chapter. (you know, the one that makes you keep the light on for a little longer because you just need to know what happens.) A new set of judges, and they cut another 20.

Step three: The remaining 10 writers submit their 'blurb'. That is... using only three sentences, tell what the book is about, in a way that makes a person REALLY want to read it. This last round was judged by a very successful Literary Agent, Christine Witthohn.

As winner, I now get to send Christine my entire first chapter which she will critique for me. That in itself is a HUGE deal. But, there's room for more because if she happens to LOVE my chapter, she may want to read more and then, if the planets align just perfectly while I'm sleeping on a bed of shamrocks, under a rainbow, with a bunch of lucky horseshoes shoved.... well, you get it.... maybe she would offer to represent me.

Here's the important part to know, securing the representation of a good agent is almost the ONLY way to get a novel published.

And of course, if I get published one day, (fingers and toes crossed), then I can share my stories with all of you!

Here's my winning entry.

Opening line:
Friggen appropriate, the bathroom door opens and my life goes down the toilet.
Chapter 1 - closing line:
My real life -- the one in which I live simply, work hard, and don't sleep with strange men --is about to come apart, ugly.
The blurb:
He's in the business of helping people disappear and she's making a lifework out of finding them. He plans to shut her down using trickery and seduction but she twists him up like a pretzel and he can't derail her from her mission. Their battle of wills is put on hold when another player rudely steps between them and starts shooting.

Yes, I've already sent the requested Chapter off to New York. Now I have to wait for a month probably before I get a response. (Literary Agents have huge waiting lists and although I've been bumped up a long way, I don't expect to be at the very top... yet.)


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Strolling Eagle

Last week when we went walking on the beach, I took these pictures of a bald eagle. He watched me but never moved as I inched closer and closer. So regal.

The fun part is that when I downloaded, it looked like the perch he was on was actually legs! Cool.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Meet Gracie and Rocky, two foals who beat the odds.

Gracie, was born on a Sunday afternoon, at nearly the exact moment her mother died. So terribly sad. Her mother's parting gift to her must have been her great heart, as Gracie wasn't to be held back by details!
She was happy to take a bottle, right from the get-go, and after two failed attempts, (hours and hours of work), to get her nursing from surrogate mares, she convinced her humans that she prefers her milk from a bottle or a bucket - thank you very much!
She has a lovely old companion mare in the paddock with her but would rather hang out with humans and dogs.
Last Saturday we had the privilege of baby-sitting when her people went to a wedding. But I felt like a substitute teacher in a room with a six year old boy stomping his feet and telling me 'that isn't the way we do it home!' Gracie only drank half her formula (she gets 5 cups every 3 hours) and turned her adorable nose up at the rest as if to say, 'you aren't my mom.'
Of course, when her 'human' parents came home, she emptied the entire bucket and a bottle without coming up for air!

Then there is Rocky, named for the scary start his life had. After a long awaited birth - he was several weeks overdue - he was unable to pass food from one end to the other. He was in terrible pain and his life in danger. He was shipped to a vet clinic right away, where they medicated him through his pain while they fought to get his digestive system up and running.
Just when it appeared that he couldn't be saved and his people were faced with that daunting decision to stop his suffering, he made a remarkable turn for the better. This picture of him playing with his mom was taken about a week later!
Rocky is happy, healthy and gaining weight by the day!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

another beginning

My first blog!

I'll be sharing lots of pictures, and tidbits about the books I've been writing.

I've tucked my first three completed manuscripts into the bottom drawer. I love them and their characters. Most of all I love the lessons they taught me about writing and one day I will rewrite them so that their stories aren't forever lost.

Number four, a romantic suspense with a light paranormal thread, sits waiting for interest from an agent or an editor. It is already a contest winner, so I have my fingers crossed.

My latest project is a cheeky romantic suspense. My heroine is a funny, kick-ass kinda woman who can handle 'almost' anything that comes her way.

In the meantime, I get to walk on the beach every day... who couldn't write in a setting like this!