Sunday, December 1, 2013

2014 Olympic Cross Country Ski Team hopeful Chris Hamilton

In 2003 I raced . . . okay participated might be a better word, in the Sleeping Giant Loppet. I did the Sibley's family fun ski, a whole 8 km route. :)  The other choices were the 35 or 50 km races, which is  why I chose the "family fun ski." I'll tell you the truth, I was passed by 5 year olds. How did I find myself skiing the Sibley and getting passed by 5 years olds? My husband and I lived in Thunder Bay that winter and our very dear friends the Hamiltons introduced us to the coolness that is cross country skiing.

I Knew That Kid Was Going Places
But we needed gear. Early in the season we joined our friends at the local ski swap. This is where I'll introduce you to Chris Hamilton. I bought a pair of boots and found out they were Chris' old ones. On impulse I asked him to sign them. He was maybe 14 years old at the time and a bit bashful when I asked. But in that crowded room full of gear and skiers, it was the most natural thing in the world for me to do. I knew this kid was going places.

2014 Canadian Olympic Hopeful
He certainly did. Chris is on the Alberta World Cup Academy. He now lives in Canmore and instead of  helping his parents' friend figure the whole waxing thing out (that's another story, apparently that groove on the bottom of skis shouldn't be plugged with wax, go figure) minutes before his 50 km race and my family fun ski debut, he's training hard for a spot on the Canadian cross country ski team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Did you hear that? He's training for a spot on the Canadian Olympic Team!!! 
(Seriously SO proud of you Chris!)

You Mean I Can Help?
It takes athletic excellence to make it to the Olympics, but it also takes funds to pay for team fees, equipment, registrations, travel and living costs. The Canadian Olympic Trials are being held in early January and Chris is crowd-source fundraising to help cover his winter racing costs. This is where we can help an Olympic hopeful!

Chris' goal is $9000 and donations are handled through the MakeAChamp website via PayPal. Any donation helps and is greatly appreciated. Chris has created a list of GiveBacks to thank his supporters, too. Ask him to sign them . . . and ask if he'll finally sign my boots, too! :)

To help Chris reach his fundraising goals, please donate to:

By the way, Chris' mom, Bev gave me a Milky Way candy bar as I crossed the finish line back in 2003, just like she did with all her kids. :) I remember how much that candy bar meant to me. I hope I can help repay that kindness and so many more by asking you all to help Chris reach his goal. 

Go for the Gold Chris. It matches your heart.

Chris Hamilton, 2014 Olympic Hopeful

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, twice

As some of you know, I am an American Canadian. Besides paperwork, that means all sorts of goodies. Like celebrating both Canadian and U.S. Thanksgiving! A delicious holiday full of gratitude and good times. 

Saskatchewan (more than Grey Cup Champions!! Go Roughriders!!)
Last month I was in Saskatchewan spending Canadian Thanksgiving weekend with good friends and their extended families. Our extended families are 3000 km away, so the 9 hour drive to Saskatchewan was relatively wee and loads of fun. I walked through cleared frosted fields at sunrise, watched geese fly overhead and waterfowl putter on slough ponds. I ate and drank, celebrated the abundance of the season and great company. 

Horses and Helicopters
I also got on a horse that gave me the opportunity to get my head screwed on straight. Horses have that effect on me. Nearly always, right before I get on a horse, whatever energy that is just below the surface that needs to come out bubbles up. Then the horse waits patiently as I have my epiphany or release before I hop on. Horses are magical like that. Like helicopters, horses get me all fascinated and excited, but there is a serious side to them, too. They both offer me opportunity for perspective and usually release, too.

Celebrate the Process
This Thursday is U.S. Thanksgiving. As much as I love turkey, we're going to celebrate with one of the salmon we caught this past summer on the Pacific Ocean fishing trip we did. Again, something to be thankful for. That trip rocked! And it has the added energy of eating food that which we have procured ourselves. There is a connection, a satisfaction and tapping into something universal when we pay attention to, respect and honor our food. Whether you are cooking, gardening/farming, fishing, hunting or ranching, celebrate it. As for the eating, savor that experience, too. It keeps us ticking . . . so we can write more! And everything else we do, too. :)

Happy Thanksgiving.

PS, Pumpkin pie with the salmon? Sure, why not. ;)



Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Harvest Festival

First off I need to say whoops, I meant to blog about my garden harvest pre-snow. Today is the second winter wonderland spell we've had this season. Gorgeous fluffy white snow out there. I was thinking how busy fall has been, but then I thought the same for summer and spring, heck last winter, too.  Life is awesome, busy, beautiful and awesome. 


Rewind to Harvest
But let's rewind to harvesting time! I have a couple raised garden beds that I started by trying the square foot gardening method and have transitioned to a free-for-all. I know,  free-for-all fits my "pantser" writing style. And it absolutely delights me having plants come up from last year that have self seeded! I have trouble pulling them. I also get all twitchy when I go to cull so that the ones left may thrive. Pulling plants feels like stripping books in a bookstore. Ouch. But I digress, back to my garden. The potatoes actually grew!! This was my first year trying them and YUM!


Form and Function
We put in a new deck a few weeks ago and are planning where additional garden beds will be going next season. We like form and function (i.e. edible plants). I'm so going to have more potatoes next year. And a pumpkin patch! And carrots, and beets, and zucchini, and squashes, and a mix of leafy greens, and tomatoes, and loads of fragrant herbs, and oh my gardening is fun!

Still Learning
I'm still learning. And realizing gardens need more lovin' than winking and water. Weeding is good, and plant food, etc. But it brings me joy, and delicious organic, heirloom bounty. It brings me closer to my food supply and I get to witness earth energy.

Happy Learning, Happy Growing

Beets and carrots from my garden.
Potatoes from my garden this year.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Wee Hockey Story to Celebrate the NHL Season Opener

Today is the NHL season opener. So I thought it appropriate to write a wee hockey story that my husband still laughs at. Stay with me ladies/readers, it involves Scott Stevens.

My husband is a hockey fan and grew up just outside of Toronto. Yup, you guessed it, he is a Leafs fan (and at this very second watching the Toronto/Montreal game). I know, we live in Calgary now and we both dig the Flames, but he'll always watch the Leafs. It's like it was early childhood programming or something.

Anyway, after we married I immigrated to Canada and wanted to be supportive, check this whole hockey thing out that he loves so much. I remember he had the pre-game crap, I mean stuff, on and I sat down to watch it with him. He then had to leave for a bit. I kept the channel where it was to watch, pay attention and figure this whole hockey thing out. I played sports, I can get this.
Get your hockey geek on. ;)

Toronto was playing New Jersey that night and they interviewed a dude names Scott Stevens. Okay, for anyone who doesn't know what colour this guy's eyes are, please do a Google Images search right now. Stevens played for Jersey and in his interview, among other things, he promised not to hit anybody. Then he smiled.

And I have loved hockey ever since.

My husband got back home and I told him about the interview and that he might have mentioned hockey players looked like that. He still laughs about it. When I told this story to a male hockey-loving fan, he had a completely different reaction, "Sarah, you just ruined hockey for me."

Sorry! But those eyes are so blue, that facial hair so grrr, that grin so cute. . . Yeah, that didn't make it better when I told him that.

Anyway, Stevens retired shortly after. Bummer.

So, I'd like to say thank you Mr. Scott Stevens for introducing a beautiful side of hockey to me. ;)

Happy NHL Season Opener.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

What is Your Writing Inspiration?


A well of inspiration.
Grotto Canyon, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada
Love and Nature

At the ARWA For the Love of Romance panel at When Words Collide a woman in the audience asked us what our writing inspiration was. It was a wonderful straight forward question and one that made me take a mental pause. 

What inspires me to write?

What inspires me is twinned with why I write. As I sat at that panel table, microphone in front of me, the audience looking expectant to hear our answers, I felt what inspires me rush in; love and nature. 

I felt with great clarity the (for me) blaring parallel of Love and Nature. The two create the same storm of feelings, rush of passion, swell of emotions, excited senses. The Natural World is a potent well of energy and feeling, just like Love.

In a few seconds, that question brought my whole writing career into focus. Writing is a way I can share Love and Nature with the world. 

Grotto Canyon, Kananaskis Country
Alberta, Canada
Feeling that Energy Feels Good

I walked in a canyon last weekend and the sound and feel of the wind enveloped me in an absolute heady energy that made me stop in my tracks. I just wanted to savor it, let myself experience the sensation. The smell of the sun-warmed trees delighted me every time I caught their fragrance. Each place I looked was as magical as the next. 

Love is like that, too. Just being near your beloved, feeling his/her energy, savoring that energy, that feeling, makes you feel good. For me, being in love and being loved parallels the experience of nature. I feel more in both.

How I Hug the World

I like to share Love and Nature with the world. For those who have met me, I'm a hugger. Writing about Love and Nature is a way I can wrap the reader in an embrace of words and feeling. A hug from me to the world.

The next time someone asks you what inspires you, think about. You might have a cool "feeling storm" right there in front of them as you try to keep a straight face and answer within a normal amount of time, meanwhile inside you are absolutely delighted 
and ah-ha moments are pinging throughout you. 
It's pretty cool. 

Thank You to the woman who asked the question. 
It is a great question.

What Inspires You?

Happy Reading! Happy Writing!




Monday, July 29, 2013

CBC Calgary's the Homestretch Interview Today!

Outside CBC studio in Calgary.
Happy Monday indeed! Today was an awesome day, I was interviewed by Chris dela Torre on CBC Calgary's radio program the Homestretch at 4:22pm! Do you know how excited I am about this?! CBC is one of my "happy places!"

I am team-teaching a pre-festival workshop at When Words Collide on how to write sexual tension with Lorraine Paton. Lorraine and I are members of the Alberta Romance Writers' Association, who is the affiliate writing group for the pre-festival workshop. The workshop is $10 and no conference pass is required! Although, When Words Collide is a fantastic fiction festival/conference and a steal at $65 for the three days! Join us August 9-11 at the Carriage House Inn in Calgary.


I was excited...and maybe a tad nervous for the interview, but I had a great time! Seriously, the team at CBC Calgary is fantastic! Thank you all for making me feel so at home and comfortable! You guys are awesome!

For more information on how to write sexual tension, join us at the workshop!


You can listen to the interview here:
http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/Alberta/The+Homestretch/ID/2398743581/?page=2,

and sign up for the workshop here: http://www.whenwordscollide.org/affiliates.php.

Happy Reading, Happy Writing!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Picture is Worth a 1000 Words

I just got back from an epic adventure on the north end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. We played in Telegraph Cove and then on to Quatsino where we had our base camp for our fishing adventures with Blackstone Fishing. I'll write all about it - both my real adventures in this blog and the landscape-inspired character that just today I added as a secondary character in Kiss Me in the Rain (due out the end of this year) that will of course have his own story TBD.

For now, here is a picture of the beach in front of where we stayed in Quatsino, BC.

Quatsino, north Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Happy Writing, Happy Reading, Happy Adventures!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How To Write Sexual Tension Workshop in Calgary, Canada

One of my all-time hottest and most-popular blog posts was when I wrote the entry Writing Sexual Tension, Heightening Your Readers' Satisfaction from the workshop I gave for ARWA (Alberta Romance Wroters' Association) in 2012.

A year and a half later I am team-teaching the workshop with Lorraine Paton for the wonderfully low  price of $10 as a pre-festival affiliate (ARWA) workshop at When Words Collide, a festival for readers and writers in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The workshop is Friday, August 9, 2013, from 9 a.m. - noon, at the Carriage House Inn. For more information and to pre-register click here.

The workshop is open to everyone who registers, you do not have to be registered for the conference to register for the workshop!

Here is that post that inspired this years WWC ARWA workshop.
From Sarah Kades blog:

SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 2012

Writing Sexual Tension, Heightening Your Readers' Satisfaction


I gave a workshop for ARWA on writing sexual tension. Enjoy and Happy Writing!

Sexual Tension, Heightening Your Readers’ Satisfaction
by Sarah Kades
I love writing sexual tension. It’s fun, it’s dynamic, and you get to create a storm of feeling within your characters. Your characters dance around each other and their feelings for each other and wrestle with darn near everything under the sun trying to ignore the burning heat that is threatening to scorch them if they don't give in to the passion exploding through their system.
But they can’t give in. Not yet. Something is stopping them from grabbing that other person and rocking their core. And not just any something. Nope. It has to be a big enough deal to stop this rocking attraction. And sexual tension isn’t soft and fuzzy. Soft and fuzzy has a place, mind you, but it is not when the stakes and the passion are so high somethings got to give and your characters have no idea what they are going to do because they can’t act on the attraction (insert plot element here where acting on it would be the dumbest thing in the world, internal or external conflict) and they can’t not act on the attraction (because the attraction and passion are so real, so intense, so burning that not acting on it is the most unnatural and dumbest thing in the world).
Sexual tension has very little (sometimes nothing) to do with the actual act of sex. Sexual tension is passion unsatisfied. It is emotion and conflict, both internal and external, with anticipation and frustration thrown in the mix. 
It is that passion, that attraction that makes your characters’ life impossible because they cannot stop feeling their beloved (or be-lusted) everywhere. It’s distracting and oh-so-fun to write your characters going through it. It is up to you how you put it in there.
Sexual tension scenes grip your reader. I want my reader to feel what my characters are feeling, feel the sexual tension, feel the sexual frustration, feel the heat that is the no holds bar, intense, crazy attraction that can exist between two people.
The core of writing believable, charged sexual tension, is to feel it. Feel that fire and translate it to your reader. Have you ever met someone and were rocked to your absolute core? Have you ever felt completely consumed by passion? Have you been floored that you could feel that much? 
Write it. Make your characters feel that. 
And if you haven’t experienced, no worries. As writers we create. Create that feeling, that passion, with so much clarity that your readers are caught up in the maelstrom of emotions and conflict, both internal and external, the anticipation and frustration, that they are squirming in their seats desperate for release, too.
We write sexual tension by overstimulating our characters’ senses with each other. We have (at least) five senses to work with. Go play and have fun working your characters into a frenzy over each other. Remember, sensuality trumps sexuality in the sexual tension game, so work with your characters’ senses!
Love (or lust) amplifies everything, it takes ordinary situations and experiences and blitzes the system with feeling. Everything is more intense because there is an underlying feeling that is inexplicable, and impacts everything, it amplifieseverything. Sexual tension is part of that. Write it.
A few things to note:
Direct the sexual tension where you want it to go, not where you don’t. Don’t ‘conflict’ your characters into a corner they cannot get out of. Or a corner where your reader looses interest.
Throw your readers enough bones. Teasing your readers and characters is one thing, but they need something to tide them through. Sexual tension ebbs and flows. Heightening satisfaction includes the sensual dance of push and pull. Keep your reader actively engaged in this drama by keeping it rolling. Too much pushing with no pull will disengage your reader. Keep them engaged and wanting more.
Check otherwise “non-sexy” scenes and see if there is opportunity to heighten your hero and heroine’s awareness of each other. Sexual tension builds. Utilize the opportunities for it to build in your story.
Condom are sexy. Romance novels now include responsible, safe sex. Have fun writing condoms into your sizzling scenes.
Exquisitely craft your sexual tension scenes. Your characters, and your readers, will thank you. Happy Writing!
For more information, check out:
Juliet Burns, Sexual Tension – You want his WHAT to go WHERE? ©
Connie Flynn, Creating Sensual Tension 
Marg Riseley , The Exquisite Heat of Sexual Tension

Monday, July 8, 2013

Beautiful British Columbia

I was in northern British Columbia for my other job, the non-fiction writing one, and had the pleasure of not only seeing stunning scenery and meeting great people, but also getting back up in a helicopter. Giddy-Up. (Calgary Stampede pun completely intentional. ;) Happy Stampede everyone!!)

Landscapes move me, just like many of the characters I write. What can I say, I dig sharing the natural world with people. . . and getting up in a helicopter. ;)

Sarah Kades' view from helicopter.

Happy Reading, Happy Exploring!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

10 Steps to Overcoming Writer’s Shyness by guest author Lorraine Paton


It is with great pleasure that I introduce my friend and fellow author Lorraine Paton. She is an incredible woman and I am absolutely giddy she has released her first book! I met lorraine through the Alberta Romance Writers' Association. We have taught and taken workshops together, sat on the ARWA board together, we are in the same awesome critique group and will be team-teaching Writing Sexual Tension, Heightening Your Readers' Satisfaction at the When Words Collide conference in Calgary, August 9, 2013.

So, without further ado, I introduce to you Lorraine Paton!

10 Steps to Overcoming Writer’s Shyness
By Lorraine Paton

Thank you, Sarah, for having me on your blog today!  I’m thrilled to be here! 
As a newbie writer, I was anxious about sharing my writing with other people, particularly other writers, and now my debut novel has been recently released! It has been quite the journey! So, I thought I’d share the ten steps I took to overcome my writing shyness: 

1) Friends and Family
For me, the safest place to start sharing my writing was with friends and family… probably because usually they usually said they loved it!  They wanted to encourage me, and that is a wonderful thing.  
The one challenge was that if they sensed a problem with what I'd written (and I'm sure there were a lot of problems in those early pages), they didn't always understand how to define what it is because they didn't really know writing terms nor had they studied the craft of writing.  
I didn’t ask questions of those first readers, and, truth be told, I probably didn’t want to know if they didn’t like my story. I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.  At this stage in my writing, I still had a lot to learn, but I was excited about my writing and the joy of creating stories, and I instinctually wanted to share on some level. Having friends and family read my early work was a "feel good" way to start sharing.

2) Application for Writing Group
When I joined the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association (ARWA), I needed to submit pages to the Membership Chair in order to become a full member.  I wanted to be a full member, so I sucked it up and submitted my 50 pages.  Even though I knew my pages would not be critiqued—and, at the time, I thanked God for that!  It was nerve-wracking, but well worth it!

3) Ask Someone Knowledgeable for Feedback
My next step was to approach the founder of my writing group, Judith Duncan, and ask her to read the first few chapters of two of my stories.  She was experienced at mentoring newbie writers, and was very encouraging.  Her feedback was fantastic.  It helped me step back from my stories and she was able to identify opportunities for growth. 

4) Brainstorm with Other People
This was a fun and safe way to share parts of my story (like characters, plot, internal / external conflicts, etc.) with other writers or friends.  Sure, the other people weren’t actually reading my words, but they were giving my valuable feedback on character development or plot twists, helping me overcome clich├ęs or big picture problems.  And, this helped build my confidence that the fundamental building blocks of my story were strong.

5) Share Excerpts with a Great Writing Group
In ARWA, we occasionally have roundtable discussions or feedback sessions.  During those meetings, members are encouraged to bring in usually one to two pages to share.  What is great about ARWA is that it is a safe and supportive community, so the comments are monitored and people are encouraged to stay positive.  Doling out little bits of my writing to fellow writers for comment kept it from becoming too overwhelming when I was still learning how to accept feedback.

6) Critique Group
One of the single best things I did was find a critique group that suited me.  Sarah Kades and two other writers are in mine.  We send approximately 10 pages to the other members. We read and comment the other submissions, and then we meet to discuss the pages.  This is a fascinating process because it really highlights how individual the reading process is – what one person loves, another might hate.  So, I’m glad I waited until I felt a little more confident in my writing and knowledge of the craft, so I could understand how to address the problems other people find. And, it really opened my eyes to the fact that my writing will never please everyone, and I can’t write in such a way that it will.  This shouldn’t have been a surprise, since there are books by best selling authors that I don’t enjoy, so why would I expect my writing to be different? That said, this process has also been incredibly encouraging, particularly when I submit something that resonates with each of my critique partners.  What a great feeling!

7) Blog Hop
I signed up for a blog hop called Six Sentence Sunday, which is sadly now defunct.  On the blog hop, we were required to post exactly six sentences.  I’d sweat those six sentences every week, but at the same time, the premise of the exercise was brilliant. You could sign up as and when you wanted, and chose any six sentences you wanted. The other authors who visited my blog to read my sentences were incredibly supportive, and I count many of the people I’d met through that blog hop as friends.  Although Six Sentence Sunday isn't around any more, there are still a lot of similar opportunities out there.

8) Enter a Contest
I entered an online contest where other people had the chance to read and vote on the submissions.  Although I didn’t final in the contest, I still count the experience as a huge success!  Not only did I put my words in front of tons of people, but also complete strangers contacted me on Twitter to let me know how much they enjoyed my story and others asked me where they could buy the book.  Woo hoot! 

9) Beta Readers
So, here I come full circle.  I asked some friends who were not writers to read my books again after I thought I was finished my billionth round of edits (but knew there would always be room for more changes).  This time, though, I gave my readers specific questions and encouraged them to let me know if they hated – and, if they did it, where?  You see, now I am further along in my knowledge of the craft of writing and feel better able to decipher and understand problems that are not already translated into writer-speak. And, perhaps naively, I feel confident that I could probably fix damn-near anything in my manuscript.

10) Publish!
And, now, after all of this, I’m excited to announce I’m at a point in my journey where I've entered into publishing.  I’m sending my book out into the big wide world, where anyone could read it – or review it! More importantly, I’m excited about it!  Go figure!  

Author Lorraine Paton
Lorraine's Bio:
Lorraine Paton's debut contemporary romance novel, Devin's Second Chance, was released in June 2013 and the next book in her Morning Lake series, Annie's Christmas Plan, will be available this fall.  Lorraine lives with her husband in Alberta, which is also the setting for her novels.  When she is not refereeing fights between her two cats or having fun on social media, Lorraine can be found working on several other happily-ever-after books.  

You can connect with Lorraine on: 
Her Blog: http://www.lorrainepaton.com/ 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/patonlorraine 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LorrainePaton.Author 
Or, by subscribing to her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/tYuqP

 




 
Devin's Second Chance
Cowboy Devin Trent’s life has been stuck for years, unchanged since his unfaithful wife died, and he is determined to keep it that way - an ever-present reminder of why he doesn’t deserve a second chance at love.  Claire Best, by contrast, is in turmoil – she is renting her house to summer folk, she is planning a big fundraiser, and her doctor has discovered something that needs to be investigated.  

Pulled together by the fundraiser, Claire’s teenage renter, and Devin’s matchmaking mom, their immediate attraction quickly escalates to more, but Claire fears her own health worries will only resurrect Devin’s pain and grief over his wife’s final days and she is willing to sacrifice her own happiness to protect him.

Can they overcome their pasts and listen to their hearts before their happily-ever-after slips away?


You can find Devin's Second Chance at: 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DEI4BCI 
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Devins-Second-Chance/book-zKwUutiErk-DimMMCcmcaA/page1.html?s=pICsvlfEBkyoqqZx7yehrw&r=1 
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-devin039ssecondchance-1222664-149.html
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/326435

Monday, June 24, 2013

Alberta Strong

As many of you know, I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. And here in southern Alberta, Summer Solstice came with water this year. What usually is a time of celebration and welcoming summer in was a day of disbelief and shock. Many areas of southern Alberta flooded on Solstice and into the weekend, with more areas bracing for the torrent.

But with this devastation came something incredibly beautiful; people at their best. Put adversity in front of a community and watch the heroes and heroines step up left, right and center. Watching the news and social media feeds, I was in awe at the strength and power of the support, compassion and generosity. Seriously, people are awesome! The incredibly orchestrated evacuations and closures were coordinated, methodical in keeping people safe and calm in a time where chaos certainly could have taken over. Excellent work emergency crews!!

My sincere gratitude to my southern Alberta community and all the incredible people here, and to everyone who heard what was going on and helped with prayers, donations or volunteering.
Thank You.

Here are a link to see photos people shared with the CBC.
Here is a link to the Red Cross Alberta Floods Fund for donations.

Be safe. Go hug someone you are grateful for.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Flower Power

Here's a little flower power from my last camping trip adventure. We stopped at the RJ Haney Heritage Village and Museum in Salmon Arm, BC for their pancake breakfast in the tea room. The breakfast, museum, and staff were delightful! Thanks Salmon Arm for the wonderful hospitality!

Hope this brings a smile to your face. It certainly did mine. Go flower power!
Iris flowers at R. J. Haney Heritage Village and Museum, Salmon Arm, BC.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Special Guest Diana Cranstoun, Two Weeks of WWII Food Rations


I've written before on the vibrant writing community that is in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I met today's special blog guest Diana Cranstoun when I joined Alberta Romance Writers' Association (ARWA) four years ago. She is a joy and an inspiration. I am honored to call her friend and to have her as a guest on my blog today! 

For those interested in World War II, you are in good company, as that is of particular interest to Diana, the main topic she writes about, and what prompted her to earlier this month eat only WWII food rations. For more information on Diana, visit her at dianacranstoun.com.

Please welcome Diana Cranstoun:

Firstly, many thanks for inviting me to guest blog on your site, Sarah.  I’m very excited about it!  As to what to write about...

Although I grew up in Glasgow 20 years after the Second World War ended, it’s not really surprising that particular war has always fascinated me.  On my daily walk to school I passed several gardens that still had air-raid shelters in them. When my history teacher asked my class how many of our fathers had been at Dunkirk, at least a dozen hands (including my own) shot into the air. And although the rebuilt stonework was fairly well matched, it was obvious where a landmine had taken out a tenement building on the street where my mother was born. 

The soldier/sailor/airman’s experience of those years is well documented, but those of the women they left behind, not so much. Perhaps that’s what was in the back of my mind when I decided to limit myself to wartime rations for a two week period.  What must it have been like trying to feed your family during that time?  (BTW, rationing in Britain continued until 1954, nine years after the war ended.)

Weekly allowance of rationed food for a British adult during WWII.
Photo by Diana Cranstoun

The weekly allowance of rationed food for a British adult consisted of: 8oz meat, 4oz ham or bacon, 2oz butter, 2oz cheese, 4oz margarine, 4oz cooking fat, 3 pints milk, 8oz sugar, 1lb jam every 2 months, 2oz tea, 1 egg, 3oz sweets.  Bread and vegetables (locally produced/in season) were not rationed and formed the basis of the diet.  Certain tinned foods were available on a points system. Although proteins e.g. eggs were rationed, that didn’t mean they were always available.

The first week was a challenge trying to juggle everything so I didn’t run out of rations, but by the second week I was starting to get the hang of it, and I learned a lot from the experience.  Preparation and cooking from scratch every day was very time consuming.  I had the luxury of a fridge, microwave and being able to buy all my groceries in one trip to the shops, but that wasn’t the case for the women during the war. Even harder if you were holding down a full-time job as well.

But perhaps the greatest thing I got out of the experience were the memories my aunt supplied.  She was a child during the war and had some unexpected tales to tell. 

One story I remembered my mother telling me, and which has always stuck in my head, was her experience during the Clydebank Blitz.  She was a young mother of a six month-old baby at the time. The night of the blitz, my grandmother gathered the whole family onto mattresses in the hall as the bombs fell. If they were going to die, they would die together.  (This was about half a mile away from the landmine mentioned above.)

My aunt, eleven years of age at the time, remembers the event differently.   We all gathered in the ‘safest’ place in the house but I several times made an excuse to go to the bathroom so I could see the searchlights and the glow of the fires. Ah the resilience of youth!

Oh yes, and then there was her story of the pheasant . . . !

Friday, May 10, 2013

Donald Maass, Writing 21st Century Fiction Workshop, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Last Saturday I attended the Calgary association of Romance Writers of America's Spring 2013 workshop featuring Donald Maass, Writing 21st Century Fiction. What an incredible, intensive day, with absolutely lovely people. The workshop included hands-on writing that really cracked open another several layers of the writer inside. I'm still processing and analyzing all the information (get your geek on!). It was an excellent workshop.

CaRWA hosted the workshop in Redwood Meadows, a small, scenic community south of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and writers from different local writing communities, including ARWA, IFWA, and WWC, attended. It is always inspiring being in a room full of writers and Alberta has a vibrant writing community!

Breaks were enjoyed outside in the best weather we've seen this spring so far. You know when the sun warms up the spruce needles and everything even smells great? That's what Saturday was like, gorgeous!

Donald Maass and Sarah Kades, CaRWA Spring 2013 Workshop.
I first heard of Mr. Maass four years ago.  My first novella was out with Amira Press and I knew I loved this whole writing thing, but that I had a lot to learn!  I joined a local writing group, ARWA, and a name kept popping up, Donald Maass. Everyone spoke so highly of this dude and I was encouraged to check out his books and see him speak if I ever got the chance. So I did.

It truly was a great day, with great people. I learned A LOT, busted past some writing comfort walls I didn't know were there, and reinforced some essential, core beliefs about writing and myself.

Storytelling is part of us. It always has been. It is cool to be part of that.


Thank you CaRWA for the opportunity and Mr. Donald Maass for coming. ;)

Happy Writing, Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Workshop: Writing Sexual Tension, Heightening Your Readers' Satisfaction


*Special 
Pre-Festival Workshop

Writing Sexual Tension, Heightening Your Readers' Satisfaction

In this three-hour workshop, ARWA's Sarah Kades and Lorraine Paton introduce techniques for creating believable sexual tension between characters by exploring the use of sensuality, emotions, and more. Come, learn how to satisfy your readers, and be emboldened.
Workshop will take place on Friday, August 9th at the Carriage House Inn from 9 AM - 12 PM, just prior to the festival.
You can register for this workshop at http://www.whenwordscollide.org/spec_workshop.php, or you can make out a cheque for $10 to "Alberta Romance Writers' Association" and mail it prior to July 31, 2013 to:
Alberta Romance Writers' Association
c/o When Words Collide
c/o The Sentry Box
1835-10th Ave SW,
Calgary, Alberta
T3C 0K2 Canada
ARWA
Note: This workshop is presented by ARWA for the low, low registration fee of $10 and is made possible through an agreement with When Words Collide.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Big Brothers, Big Sisters

Hi Everyone!
Sarah Kades with her super cool brother.

I have an awesome brother. He was super cool to grow up with; we hung out together, had overlapping social groups, laughed like siblings can, he taught me about cars in particular, and explained anything mechanical in general, he was there for long distance phone calls or emails when I was off exploring other countries but homesick something fierce. . . you get my drift. Well, my awesome big brother is also a Big Brother and they are fundraising for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Dane County, Wisconsin! To check out what they are about or to donate, check out the link below! 

Happy Fundraising! 

Also, a big THANK YOU to all who help in their own way to make this world beautiful.  Thank you for sharing your joy and light. ;)

http://bbbsdanecounty.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1046798&supid=381902775

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Energy Hangover

So I know I usually blog about writing or outdoor stuff, but besides the environmental consultant day job and author gig, I'm also a certified Angel Therapy Practitioner ®. Let's talk energy.

So in a dream a couple nights ago an old acquaintance showed up and asked if a person could have a hangover from an upsetting event, like an emotional hangover. It was interesting he was the one who asked because he showed up in the dream in a gigantic black truck and is more prone to watching professional fights on TV, than asking energy questions to a woman who facilitates angel healing. But the dude had an important question, lets answer it.

The answer is yes, you absolutely can have an emotional hangover. I want to take it one step further and talk about an energy hangover.

Basically a hangover is your body re-harmonizing. We usually can physically feel some (lots) of the re-harmonizing. Alcohol, greasy food, sugary food can all give hangovers. Strong emotions can give hangovers, especially when they prompt the body to release goodies like adrenaline or endorphins. Energy can, too. Energy work often unlocks toxic energy that a person has been holding onto, sometime for a very long time (years, decades, or even hereditary energetic toxins you've decided to turf out). It is good thing to release crappy energy that you don't need anymore, but your body can sometimes feel it.

Hangovers, energy or otherwise, is your body rebalancing. Let it. Water, rest and time are good things to remember. Oh yes, and to be gentle with yourself. Sometimes we are crazy hard on ourselves . . . why do we do that?

It was a rather strong prompt to write this post. Hope it helped some of you.
Take care, happy reading, happy writing!



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why I Write Romance Novels Set in the Great Outdoors

I write romance novels and novellas set in the natural world, the great outdoors. Why? Because every time I sit down to write, I get to connect with places like this picture and it makes me really happy. 

It also gives me the opportunity to share my love of this beautiful world with my readers.

Have fun out there! Happy Reading, Happy Hiking!

Sarah Kades with Family and Friends in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canadian Rockies

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sharon Wildwind, my Spring Equinox Guest

Happy Ostara, Happy Spring Equinox!

Today is one of my favorite days, the spring equinox. It is a day of balance and fertility (e.g. creativity). I will be celebrating the balance and creativity in my life and writing today.

For now, it is my pleasure to welcome Sharon Wildwind as a guest on my blog on this special day:


What Comes Next is Not the Way to Plot

Today the world balances on its polar axis, and soon the northern hemisphere will make a joyful tilt toward spring and summer. What comes next is longer days, warmer weather, and a plethora of enjoyable outdoor activities.

What next is a good question for equinox, but when I ask a writer about her work in progress, all too often her answer is a litany of events that don't reflect the book's heart.

Tell me about your book.

It’s a mystery-romance about a woman who got in trouble at work and left home in disgrace. Her friend runs a fishing lodge where she used to live. He calls in a panic, insisting she come back, but won’t say why. When she returns, she discovers her brother and his new bride honeymooning at the lodge. She doesn’t like her brother’s wife. Her friend has family problems, too. His grandfather, from whom he’s been estranged for years, decides to hold a family reunion at the lodge. When his grandfather is murdered, the two of them have to find the killer.

This is a what-comes-next summary. This happens, then this happens, then this problem happens, and then they solve that problem, but this other problem comes up. It might be interesting (or not), but is it compelling? It took me a long time to realize there was a better way to summarize a story.

Tell me about your book.

It’s a mystery-romance. A woman was forced to leave a small town in disgrace after making an unethical business decision. Her brother’s unexpected marriage compels her to return. She immediately discovers why her brother didn’t invite her to his wedding, and she fears that his new wife is a gold-digger. The man she once loved was responsible for her being fired. She’s not sure what their relationships is now, especially when his estranged grandfather’s murder forces them to work together. Finding the killer is certain to put her in more ethical hot water.

Focusing on what’s at stake in place of what comes next works for plotting, too. For the writer who prefers to plunge in without a lot of planning, two questions will suffice:
When the story begins, what is the character’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual situation?
What is his/her first challenge and how does he/she meet that challenge?

Karen Hogarth is tired. She’s grateful to have a job, and a furnished room in a boarding house. Working casual means her schedule, and her sleep, changes daily. She hasn’t time, energy, or inclination to make friends. Thank goodness for library cards. She taught herself to knit from a book, is already bored with scarfs, but can’t focus enough to try anything more complicated. She’s not sorry for what she did, but regrets getting caught. Someone needed help and she helped. That’s the way life should be.

Being told her brother is married is her first challenge. Why in the world would he get married without telling her? For his sake, she has to go back, right away. Returning to the small town she left will be inconvenient, expensive, and scary, but this is her brother we’re talking about. She didn’t spend eight years raising him to have him throw his life away on the wrong women.

That should be enough to kick-start the writing.

For writers who like to plan in more detail, repeat those two questions for each major character. Attempt to have characters start from opposing positions. For example, Karen doesn’t like her new sister-in-law; her former lover thinks the woman will be a good influence on her brother. Bingo: instant tension.

Here’s my token to celebrate spring. Hope you have a wonderful equinox.



 

























Sharon Wildwind is a Calgary, Alberta mystery writer. Her most recent book, Loved Honor More, was published in 2012 November, and that completed her first series. She’s currently at work on a stand-alone mystery set in the folk music world. Her web site is www.wildwindauthor.com and she tweets @sharww.