Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Expanding Your Boundaries as a Writer

Whew. Thanks 2014.

Life is an exciting ride and as the calendar flips, I like to reflect. New Years is always an interesting time for me. I usually have a lot of emotions; gratitude, relief, anticipation, excitement. 

I wrote my longest book to date this year, and am now expanding it further. It reminds me of what it must feel like holding the reigns of one horse vs an eight-hitch team. There is beauty and purpose in both, but the two experiences are different. That is a lot of power in your hands, waiting to be channeled.

I'm really loving expanding my boundaries as a writer. Not only in story length and all the plot and character adaptations that entails, but also including more of my environmental/nature-loving side. I'm also exploring going deeper with my characters and their emotions. Let me tell you, that's a trip. Characters are as rich and deep as you take the time to explore. They are there, patient, waiting for you to get to know them more. Waiting for you to then share that with the reader. 

The more confident I become as a writer, the more I am able to push those boundaries, to get to a place where I feel comfortable taking myself beyond my previous comfort level. Writing is dynamic stuff. :)

How do you expand your writing boundaries?

Writing: as dynamic as a shoreline
Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island, Canada

Monday, December 29, 2014

Writing Ideas: Where Your Flow Comes From

I was at the grocery store the other day and feeling marginally bad I hadn't changed out of my yoga pants to make the trip (** definitely in Holiday mode**). But as I stood in the produce department, checking out fresh dill and basil packages, SHAZAM! A scene pops into my head to write. I love when that happens. I can't say I know exactly what set off that scene, but I'm sure glad it came.

Holidays are often a good recharge for my creative mojo. I stop pushing, stop the frantic pace. Holidays provide room to breath and play. Room to Be.

I write year-round, but clearing out the stress cobwebs from the day-to-day push sure generates sweet results. I am so grateful to have this Holiday season to do just that!

Where does your writing flow come from? How do you generate the flow?

Kings Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Friday, December 26, 2014

Writing More: One Foot in Front of the Other

The Christmas Season brings with it a lot of joy and merriment. And for this writer, it also brings a chance to log more minutes/hours writing! This is a gift I give myself and let me tell you, it fills my bucket. :)

I'm working on expanding a story. I love this story and what I'm adding I really resonate with and dig the direction it is taking the story. But as I carve out writing time, the road to completion sometimes feels a long way away. Ever get that way? The project is cool, but man, sometimes the journey feels like "are we there yet?

But like any journey, you get there by putting one foot in front of the other. So as I navigate my way through this writing experience, I am getting there one word/sentence/scene down, and then another. And as I go, I am learning more about this story, myself as a writer, and what direction I want my writing career to go in.

Dang, that sounds just like what travel does; learning about yourself, your world, and putting life into perspective. Clever Universe and all its parallels. Double dang, now I want to plan a trip.

What are you working on? How are you putting one foot in front of the other?

We get there by putting one foot in front of the other.
Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Christmas and Reindeer Sparkle Confetti

It is Christmas Eve night. For some it preludes a religious day, for others a family day, for others just another day. But for me it is a day of magic. When I was a kid Christmas Eve was always The Day. Santa came when we were at the 5pm Mass. How clever. Now days, my spiritual path runs more along the forest lines. Still, I celebrate Love in all her forms. And that is what Christmas is to me. A season of loving your family, friends, colleagues, community, the world. And on Christmas Eve night, it feels good to celebrate the magic and Love all around us. *Happy twirls and reindeer sparkle confetti*

So Dear World, Happy Day! 
May we all have a beautiful day filled with extraordinary Peace and Love. 

a magical winter wonderland...
Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Happy Winter Solstice

Celebrating the Seasons
I love celebrating the seasons, including the turn of the seasons. Although we had a doozy of a snow dump in September, the rest of fall was actually pretty fall-ish. Calgary's seasons have their own rhythm and the calendar date seems to have limited influence. That can be said about a lot of places. Getting to know the nuances of the seasons of a particular place is one of the great relationships we have access to.

Yup, I called it a relationship. That's what it feels like. Knowing a place well, knowing it's moods, knowing you are a better person for having experienced it and swearing the feeling is mutual . . .  To the average conversation, sharing that a landscape noticed you might sound odd, but, well, welcome to my world. Sometimes you just feel a place. 

In celebration of Winter Solstice, or Yule as many call it, I've included some pics of a few of my happy wintery places. 

How do you celebrate Winter Solstice?

Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada

Friday, October 17, 2014

The City Hiking Continues

Fish Creek Provincial Park,
Calgary, Canada
October 2014
Fish Creek Provincial Park, 
Calgary, Canada
Last weekend we went walking/hiking in Fish Creek Provincial Park in Calgary. Exploring the natural world close to home is proving to be a delightful eye-opener. I've always known we don't have to plan epic adventures to play and enjoy outside, but before I didn't make the time for the wee trips.
I am now. And really enjoying it!

If your weeks are like mine, weekends are used to recover from the stress of the week before and gear up to do it all over again.  (The immediate question of why pops up, but that's another blog post. ;))
I'm really digging this quieter approach to outdoor play time.

Where are your favorites spots to play outside?

Happy Hiking, Happy Reading, Happy Writing.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Getting Local: Exploring Local Pockets of Nature this Fall

Mini pumpkins, October 2014
I love Fall. Every season has its charm, but Autumn is my favorite. The crinkle of dried leaves underfoot or their rustle in the breeze is a melody I look forward to every year. The air feels different, too. It can be crisp or a last ditch warm, but it is undeniably "fall" air. I get to see my favorite constellation, too. Orion is back in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere.

Where summer is a bustling play time, fall is a more reflective, internal time for me. I have to switch to a slower pace. I just have to. After the natural full throttle of summer, in autumn I quiet down and go into nesting mode. I enjoy cooking and baking more, I knit, I light candles, I listen to calmer music, I read more . . . you know, nesting. I also like to be outside and feel the natural world doing the same thing.

Aspen Yellow, October 2014
Yesterday we went to a local corn maze. I know, not exactly wild, but still a beautiful exercise in witnessing Mother Nature. She does rock our food sources and although the point of that corn field was for entertainment, it still holds natural energy. And as I was walking through that field, the total history nerd inside was thinking of all the fall traditions associated with corn and pumpkins. There were times it was easier to feel those connections to our natural world. The good news is we can still plug back in if we want. I'll be honest, it helped going early before the crowd became a crowd.

Today we went "hiking." I absolutely adore hiking in the mountains, but finding closer pockets of the natural world to explore and enjoy is more practical some weekends. Like today. We explored a local park along the Bow River that is indeed a city park, but had trails that you can forget how close to neighborhoods or Deerfoot/Highway 2 you really are. Going at 8:30 on a Sunday morning helped, too. Not many folks out on the dirt paths that early. :) And we got to hike alongside the Bow River. Rivers can be bring that touch of wild energy to urbanized places.

I'm roasting a turkey today for Sunday dinner. Not the norm in our house(!!), but today I wanted traditional. And the nesting of Autumn continues . . . I've learned to embrace it and see where it takes me.
Carburn Park, Calgary, October 2014

Happy Autumn.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lessons from Mother Nature and a September Snow Storm

This week it snowed. A lot. Wait a minute, I swear it is only September! I know I've been working on slowing life down, but maybe I accidently sped it up? Nope, my time bending skills didn't ricochet.  ;) Calgary just got a flash snow storm this week.

I was up in the Peace River area (*interactive part* search Peace River Valley on Google Images. Gorgeous!!) for the first part of the week. We had snow up there. But the intact forests were snow-kissed, each section as picture-perfect as the last one. Beaver dams and lodges on quiet ponds, and moose and deer completed the scenes.

I came home to heavy snow, the bending-trees-over-until-they-snap heavy.

I'm a tree kid, I adore trees. Driving with my family to work and school and seeing street after street of broken, battered trees made me catch my breath in dismay. But I don't subscribe to railing at Mother Nature. It is my philosophy She knows what she is doing, even if we humans aren't privy to plan is.

As I took in the magnitude of broken tree limbs I wondered what wisdom I could gleam from such dismay. Turns out a lot.

Some parts of life have been heavy lately, others for a long-ass time. Candid, but true. :) The feeling of being at that breaking point might have crossed my mind. Seeing broken trees surround me, trees whose limbs or trunks broke or shattered under the stress and weight of the snow, was appalling until I put it in a different perspective. Yes, magnificent, stately trees were humbled, but they will thrive again. It might only take the rubble being cleared away. Snapped limbs can create opportunities for new growth and new direction. Broken doesn't mean dead. It's a great opportunity to regroup.

Taken from that perspective, what weight am I feeling stressed under? Do I want to wait until I snap, or simply realign until I find that beautiful balance, that sweet spot of strength and give? Which reminds me, my husband called from work and asked me if I was up to knocking off what snow I could reach to ease the burden on our trees. My daughter and I were home sick, but the fresh air and falling snow lifted our spirits. Our helping hands lifted the trees' limbs. Together, we found that sweet spot. This time, no limbs broke under the weight of snow. We lost a bunch of leaves, but no limbs.

What about you? Is it time for taking inventory on your stress levels or a regroup?

Thank you Trees and Mother Nature for the lessons. Again. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

To Ranger, with Love

I have a solid belief system that life works out. Even when crap happens, hindsight usually shows the bigger picture of perfection. I want to share one of those times with you. Just a heads-up, it has taken me several tries to get this post out. You'll know why in a second.

I had an epic time at the writing conference When Words Collide in early August. I followed that grand adventure up with a family trip to the cottage in Muskoka (Ontario). August was shaping up to be a memorable, life-affirming month of wonder, gratitude and connections. Two days after we arrived home from the cottage, I took our dog to the vet. I thought he had a sore paw. Ranger had flown with us to Ontario, like he had done so many times before, and had taken a few nasty falls at the cottage. Odd, but I chalked it up to old age. He had been aging over the past few years, but recently it had been seriously accelerating.

Turns out his paw was fine, but his brain wasn't. He was given less than two weeks to live. Looking back, I realized Ranger had been preparing me for this for about a year. Which of course made/makes even more tears fall. He was the most extraordinary dog I have ever met. Besides writing fiction books, I also do energy work. Ranger was an extraordinary healer. When I was learning and growing on my path, he was calmly, gracefully, lovingly facilitating so many of my own healings. He continues to teach me and the little stinker isn't of this world anymore. So is the way of Beings of straight-up Love.

Yes, he was a dog. He chased cats, bunnies and squirrels. He herded other dogs and small children. He would position himself between our family members and any other dog nearby. He had doggie breath and a beautiful happy face when all was well in his world. But he was, and continues to be, unconditional Love. His very Being was Love. That's just the way he was/is. Some might argue assigning a pet's affections as Love is anthropomorphism. Maybe. Or maybe Love just Is where it Is.

It has been my experience that animals cut through the layers we spend years carefully constructing around ourselves. Thank you Ranger for helping me release so many of mine. I Love You, I miss you like crazy, but know your timing was perfect. As usual. Thank you for joining our family. We adopted you, but you chose us. Thanks. :)

June 2006, Ranger's first day with us.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

When Words Collide 2014 is here!

Wow. . . it has been a spectacular two days, and we're still in the pre-festival festivities of When Words Collide 2014. I'm all floaty and happy . . . I love writing and the writing communities!!

I started my WWC 2014 yesterday when Adrienne Kerr of Penguin Canada rocked it with the Author-Publisher Relationship workshop. Today Mark Leslie, director of Author Relations at Kobo Canada, totally delivered with the workshops Marketing Best Practices and Hybrid Publishing.

My brain is fantastically full of new information . . . and maybe some information I've heard before but it has finally sunk in. :) Thank you Adrienne and Mark and When Words Collide.

Then there was Ranchman's. For anyone who knows Calgary, you might have checked out this iconic western bar. More fun and a really good dinner. Then we found the mechanical bull. Full disclosure, we did not in fact ride it. But we might have included it in a few photo ops.

What's on for tonight? Prepping my Alberta Romance Writers' Association workshop on writing with depth that I am team-teaching tomorrow morning with Diana Cranstoun, Mahrie Reid and Jessica Jackson.

And with that, I should get to it. :)

Happy When Words Collide 2014!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Top Five: When Words Collide

When Words Collide 2014 is almost here! I'm starting the pre-festival workshops on Wednesday and I am solid conferencing through Sunday. That's right, five whole days devoted to all things writing. (I'm fanning myself right now.)

Giddy. Up.

Which brings me to this Monday's Top Five: When Words Collide. And as usual, in no particular order.

1) 5 solid days devoted to all things writing. There is something magical about a group of people coming together, ever. This group is coming together in the name of words. And I'm going to be there!!  And present. Be present. Soak it up!

2) Learning. Constantly. The more I write, the more I learn. That's one of the things I love about writing, it is a craft that you can work on a lifetime and still find new, dynamic, funky things to do with words and storytelling. I guess that's the same with musicians who have been making cool music for years. Never stop learning. Or stretching your artistic boundaries.

3) Celebrating achievements. There are always awesome announcements and a conference full of people to share in the good news of each other. It's pretty cool.

4) The pool. This conference is fabulous, but can be intense with the weekend-long sprint of everything that's going on. The pool keeps it real.

5) Laughing. Writers are fun. This is a happy crowd and I'm looking forward to lol'ing the WHOLE WEEKEND.

Happy When Words Collide 2014 week.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

You Want Me To Do What? Stand-Up Comedy and Other Pushed Boundaries

I love expanding my horizons. It helps me grow as a person. When I push past my comfort zone, I find a new place of normal, a new horizon, a new dimension to myself previously unexplored. Life has winked many a time I have pushed past those previous boundaries and found new ones.
Of course, sometimes I blow past my comfort zone then have to live with the deer-in-the-headlights feeling. It is often followed by me wondering how I got myself in that situation. Sarah, dude, what were you thinking?! It has always turned out awesome (probably why I keep doing it), but some of the hang time can fluster.

Personal growth . . . Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Enter When Words Collide (WWC). It is an all-genre conference held in Calgary for readers, writers and publishing types. I'm active in WWC. I love this conference. I love this crowd. I have a blast the second weekend in August playing with other writers and readers types. (It starts next week!!)

I have a solid line-up this year, including my third year on the Humor in Fiction panel. Our dear moderator is rocking it organizing us this year and innocently asked if I'd prepare a brief stand-up comedy piece.

After I picked myself up off the floor from laughing so hard, I looked at the computer screen and  realized he wasn't kidding. Crap. Stand-up comedy? Me? Deep breath . . . Good 'ol Sarah pep talk . . . Then sanity returned.

That's me, next to pilot.
This boundary pushing was pretty fun.
Well, until the weather got crappy.
But we made it. Another round
to personal growth.
And I realized some boundaries I wasn't ready to bump out. Then I realized there was personal growth in that, too.

A week from Friday, at When Words Collide, I will be a panelist for the 2014 version of Humor in Fiction, but I will not be doing stand-up comedy like a couple of my fellow panelists. (Whew!) I will be sharing how this past year especially, including humor in my writing has added depth and relate-ability to my characters, it has upped the human and emotional element, it has been an avenue for my author "voice" and it has been straight-up delightful to write funny characters.

Write on.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Top Five: Running Books . . . looking for #4 and #5

I'm a random runner . . . maybe jogger is a better description. But I am interested. My running is spontaneous. I should go more often because I feel like gold after. Seriously, my whole body feels great, even achy muscles are singing yes, yes, yes. My writing flows better when I'm running more regularly, too. Running clears all the cobwebs out of my brain and body.

I don't do schedules or train, yet. Life might be easier if I did, but so far no dice. Gen X Aquarius anyone? But I have found a few running books that I have really resonated with. So for this Top Five blog entry I bring you my favorite running books and am asking for suggestions for #4 and #5.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never SeenBorn to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book gently, but effectively, takes your hand and leads you down a whole new way of life; trusting your body, trusting yourself, and invites you to move.

View all my reviews

To add to my original review, this is the book that started me running. I don't go as often or as far as I would like, yet, but this book got me me moving. Thank you.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first found this book in the library rather serendipitously . The only table left to work on was next to the running books. I looked up from my laptop and saw this awesome title. I had to pull it off the shelf. The cookie on the front charmed me further and I spent more time reading that afternoon than writing. When I got  to the part that inspired the title I laughed out loud. For anyone who has been scared to try running, try this book. Happy running.

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon GreatnessEat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am not an ultrarunner or a vegan. I'm more a spontaneous jogger who likes locally grown/sourced omnivore food. But I definitely enjoyed this book. It reminded me how amazing the human body is, how food is fuel and community depending how we treat it, and that life is as fulfilling and satisfying as we make it. The sport of ultrarunning sounds like a welcoming community of folks who happen to run long and hard. Cool. I'll stick to my wee runs for now, but a seed once planted can be darn inspiring.
Run on.

View all my reviews

Any suggestions for #4 and #5 of running books to read?

Happy Running, Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Release: Kiss Me in the Rain

I am delighted, giddy, crazy awesome happy to announce
Kiss Me in the Rain, Book One of the Tanner Family Series 
is out!! 

Glaciologist Savannah MacIntyre was happy with her life far away from her family. But sometimes life has a way of bringing you back home when you least expect it and most need it. When the opportunity to reconnect with her estranged dad comes up, she takes it. Then finds herself distracted from her turmoil by ex-CSIS agent turned archaeologist Gabe Tanner, who would rather get another bullet to the head than reconcile with his own father. Family betrayal has taught both Savannah and Gabe not to trust, or love, which makes navigating their mutual attraction on a remote archaeological survey beyond frustrating. But somewhere between roaring fathers and dense spruce forests, they let go of the past and learn that love doesn’t care who the extended family is.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Time For Top Five!

I wondered what I should start my Time For Top Five blog series with. There are so many different things to choose from, anything from my top five favorite hiking trails to favorite beers to favorite books I read in English class.

My big opener? I chose university text books. That's right, folks, you read it correctly. I graduated a long time ago, but it was interesting which books had staying power for me. Besides, when was the last time (or any time) you saw a top five text book list that was for fun instead of required reading?

So without further ado, Sarah's Top Five: University Text Books (in no particular order)

1) Dilemmas of World Peace
2) Wheelocks Latin
3) Water, The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource
4) Ishmael
5) Fladmark's Guide to Archaeology Field Procedures

Dilemmas of War and Peace; Companion To Studies An Integrated Audio-Print Course by Dick Ringler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the textbook for my Dilemmas of War and Peace class in my undergrad. I considered majoring in Political Science after taking this course from Dr. Leonard Gambrell. It was one of my favorite classes in university and top three for ones that made me think the most.

View all my reviews

Workbook for Wheelock's LatinWorkbook for Wheelock's Latin by Paul T. Comeau
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lord knows why I decided to take Latin in university. The two years of Spanish I had in high school were not particularly positive experiences. But something amazing happened in this language class. I studied. Outside of class. And I resonated with my prof's teaching style. A potent combination.

View all my reviews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm counting this book as one of my favorite text books, although I read it after university, I was working at Brandon University when I read it. Over beers with my husband and one of his thesis advisor, it came out that this book was used as a text book. So I read text books for fun. Could be worse.

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and SpiritIshmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was required reading in my World Religions course in my undergrad. Reminds me of that saying, a mind once opened can never be closed. Happy Reading indeed.

View all my reviews

I first came across Fladmark's A Guide to Basic Archaeological Field Procedures at my archeaology field school in 1997. It has been the go-to book on every archaeological crew I have ever worked on since. Every archaeologist I know, knows this book. It is the quintessential field guide to archaeology in Canada.

What are some of your favorite "text books?"

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friendship Through the Trees

Room with a View
Waterton National Park, Canada

Backcountry Backpacking,
Waterton National Park
When I was a kid, camping involved canvas tents. You know, the ones that always smell musty, had aluminum fit-together poles that had at least one that never fit correctly and were pitch black inside even in the daytime? Yeah, those ones. My dad would take us to some local campground. There would be a pool we'd play in all day and at night we would roast marshmallows and hotdogs over the campfire nestled safely in a truck rim. Sound familiar? We had a great time, but camping was really an opportunity to swim in a pool and eat marshmallows.

When I got to high school, I went camping with a youth group. The campground they took us to seemed pretty normal to me, but one of the guys was beyond agitated. I had met him a few times and as we walked along the paved drive through the campground, this mild-mannered, polite guy muttered how can they call this a forest. I figured I should know what he was referring to, but I just saw pine trees. We walked a bit more, still behind the rest of the group. I was pretty sure he would have preferred a game trail to the paved road, too. Finally he blurted why in the world are we camping in this sick forest?

Again I looked around, but this time I finally saw the forest. Even to my untrained, naive eye, I could finally see that the trees were sick. I also noticed that they were all the same size. It was a man-made forest and it was not doing well. And I hadn't even noticed.

It was one of those ah-ha moments in life. I am not a tree expert, but that moment opened my awareness and I have never looked at a forest the same way, since. My new friend's distress was real and his respect for the natural world palpable. I wanted to know more. It was an auspicious start to a friendship that has continued over two decades. And I'm still learning.

My expectations of camping experiences shifted. I still look back at those canvas-tent family trips from when I was a little kid fondly, they were my first fledgling forays into camping. But now I need more. And I get more out of each experience, too. Pools are awesome, but swimming in a mountain lake, although typically crazy-cold, is absolutely invigorating. Seeing big horn sheep grazing high above in the bowl that surrounds the trail you are on is infinitely more intriguing to me than watching TV in those campground rec rooms. Now, don't get me wrong, I like TV. But I can't imagine missing out on the sight of those Big Horns. Or a sunset. Or a fish jumping. Or a canoe paddle. Or the Milky Way. Or a real forest . . .There's so much to see!

What is your favorite thing about camping?

PS, I still love roasted marshmallows.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sneak Peek of Kiss Me in the Rain

I'm really excited for summer. Besides the whole flip flops, tan lines and sun-kissed everything . . . I have a book releasing this summer! (I just twirled in delight.) Anyway, in celebration, I wanted to share a sneak peek of said book, Kiss Me in the Rain. It is Book One in the Tanner Family Series, which is a five book family-saga series focusing on the adult siblings of divorced parents and the whoopla their lives, and their family, entail.
Please stay tuned for the summer 2014 release date by signing up for my newsletter or following me on Facebook or Twitter. Or all three. Who doesn't like a hat trick? ;)
Happy Summer, Happy Reading, Happy Chapter One!

Chapter One

Gabe carefully sipped his beer and watched his father and Meredith with a disdain he hoped he concealed. It was their engagement party after all. If he wanted to be such a grumpy ass he should have stayed at home. But at home there were no doubt several phone messages left by his irate mother, the sting of adultery still sharp even after all the years. Gabe had long since turned his cell phone ringer off and wished he had the foresight his siblings had; being out of the country made it hard to attend such family functions. They had all invited him to join them, but he had turned them down, as usual. Family was a powder keg better left corked.
Andy walked up, beer in hand, and clapped him on the back. “Breathe, dude. This is supposed to be a happy occasion.” His best friend took a long pull from his bottle and scanned the crowd with the practiced eyes of the soldier he was.
“Right, I keep forgetting.” Gabe absently rubbed the scar on his temple, partially hidden by hair. He looked at his half-empty bottle and wanted to down it. That would be stupid, though. His thoughts were too close to the surface as it was. Beer would only turn off his verbal shit filter. Besides, it didn’t matter what he thought, this was their party, a celebration of their upcoming nuptials, their promise to honor each other, to be faithful to each other.
“Where are your siblings? They coming?”
“Nah, Dad’s not speaking to Tucker and Becca, well, this week, anyway. But Tucker’s at a law enforcement conference in Virginia and Becca’s buying horses in Montana, so it’s hardly relevant.” Bruce had never pulled that stunt with Gabe. His siblings were into second, third, fourth chances. Gabe wasn’t.
Andy had a good poker face, but Gabe could still see his disapproval of Bruce’s silent treatment. Andy was as protective of Gabe’s siblings as he was. “What about Colt? He still climbing on the backs of bulls?”
“Yes. Damn kid is crazy.”
“Did you forget where we met?”
“I suppose CSIS isn’t exactly tame.”
“Not the jobs we were on. Still can’t believe you joined CSIS to pay off your student loans. Who does that?”
“It worked and was a hell of a lot better than the alternative.” Gabe’s parents both had money, but it always came with too many strings attached. At the time, he had paid his own way through school and took out loans for the rest.
“Touché.” Andy stood a bit straighter, his towering height and dark good looks drawing feminine interest, as usual. “Dang, this party has gorgeous women at it.”
Gabe rolled his eyes and turned to see who of the fairer sex had captured his former partner’s attention now. He spotted the woman and felt the wind rush out of his lungs like a backdraft. She was stunning, beautiful. Tall and athletic, her blond hair was swept up dramatically from square shoulders. He had never seen hair that color before, like liquid honey, and it looked just as silky. The red slip of a dress she wore screamed goddess. It clung to her form and Gabe immediately felt his body respond. That pissed him off. Andy was the dopey ladies’ man, not him. The woman took that inopportune moment to turn in his direction.  Their eyes locked and a small smile appeared on her perfect mouth. 
“Look at her, she’s incredible.” Andy tipped his beer bottle in a salute. “Amen sister.”
“Go get her, tiger.” Gabe tried to sound bored and took another sip of beer, but he couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was perfect. He didn’t want her to be another of Andy’s lady-friends. His best friend didn’t believe woman were conquests, he thought they were goddesses who should be worshiped in bed, naked and repeatedly. A lot of women lined up for that, no doubt this one would, too. 
She laughed at something someone said and the rich sound, even at the distance, filled Gabe’s ears like a chorus he wanted to hear again. Ridiculous. He watched as she took a dainty sip of her red wine and his pulse kicked up another notch. Make that damn ridiculous.
“I’m going to go talk to her.” Andy straightened his immaculate tie. Before he took a step, they both noticed her tense up. Even from halfway across the room Gabe could see she trembled. Something had spooked her. Her eyes were wide and she darted around like prey looking for cover. She zeroed in on where Gabe and Andy were standing. With a look of relief, she damn near ran in their direction, the ridiculously high heels making her gorgeous legs falter a fraction of a second. Only someone watching intently would notice. Gabe noticed. 
Andy’s eyebrows shot up, but he nodded in approval. “Looks like the damsel in distress has dibs on you. Lucky bastard.” 
As soon as she was within grabbing distance of them, she clutched Gabe’s upper arm, locking him into a couple’s walking embrace. With surprising strength she turned him and started them towards the door. “There you are, Sweetie, let’s go.”
He had no idea why he allowed himself to be pulled by the gorgeous woman. Scratch that, yes he did. He was thinking with his dick. He couldn’t remember the last time that had happened. Even Gillian had never made him do that. He heard Andy’s laugh in the background and turned in time to see his best friend actually wink at him and wave. Gabe would thump him later for that, but right now he wanted to see where this little scenario would go and he let himself be led away. 
The beautiful woman with the death grip on his arm didn’t say anything until she had him out of the private party room and into the public lounge. She stopped at the long, polished bar and looked down in surprise at the glass of red wine she still held in her other hand. She set it down and pushed it away with a shaky hand. “That’s so not going to cut it.” 
She clutched the bar with her now-free hands and nodded toward the bartender. “Gin please, on the rocks.” She nodded in his direction. “And whatever he wants.”
She was a mesmerizing storm, an elemental force standing beside him in a siren’s dress. Gabe waited for her to say something else, anything else, but she remained silent, staring straight ahead and taking steadying breaths. Her hold on the bar lightened a fraction, enough her knuckles went from white to just pale.
“I’ll have the same, please.” He addressed the bartender, but never took his eyes off the woman. Her hands had stopped shaking, but she still didn’t look at him. Damn, she smelled good. Not frilly, but an enticing, exotic scent that was wholly feminine. He wanted to drink in all of her. The dress she was wearing exposed a stunning swath from her neck to just above where her waist started to flare to her perfect hips. The crimson material clung, and swung, where it needed to. It also left her arms bare. A faint tan line from a t-shirt was barely visible in the dim light. He liked that.
Gabe watched the way she held her breath, the way she shifted slightly on the ridiculously high, but oh-so-hot heels. It might be one hell of a seductive dress, but Gabe would bet this wasn’t her normal get-up. Out of her element and flustered, what was her deal? He leaned against the bar, settled in, and for the first time in his life decided to wait for a woman.

“Sorry about that, I needed an escape and well, you looked perfect.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Savannah wished she could take them back. She stopped herself from clapping her hand over her mouth at the faux pas. Just because the man looked perfect didn’t mean she had to tell him. Reasonable, rational, controlled women did not go blurting stuff out like that.
The sight of Blaire had knocked her off kilter, that was all. And what was he doing here anyway, crashing her aunt’s engagement party? There was no way he would be on the guest list, and it was too much of a coincidence that he would be here as someone’s date, wasn’t it? She had only worried about running into her dad, not her ex. At least her mom was in Europe somewhere. Well, that was the story everyone was sticking to, anyway. Who the hell knew what was going on? Family functions had always been a mine field of strategy and manipulation. That’s why she had left five years ago and hadn’t looked back. Until now.
Savannah eyed the attractive man next to her. He was certainly an unexpected perk to the charged day. Although he hadn’t said anything to her yet. But he had the hint of a smile. Great, the silent type. What was a woman supposed to do with a guy that didn’t talk? Several things immediately came to mind that had nothing to do with talking. A blush stole up her neck and cheeks at the steamy images that were flashing through her mind. What was wrong with her? She never fantasized about men, let alone while standing right next to one. He was close enough she could smell his clean, masculine scent. Good lord, did she just flare her nostrils to take in more of him? 
This was not going how she hoped, but what had she expected? Did she think that she could  highjack the most fascinating looking man in the room and suddenly be witty and dazzling and not completely freeze up? For the love of god she was sniffing him. Maybe she could politely excuse herself and go hide until everyone left and she could be humiliated in peace.
Screw that. Enough running. Gathering resolve, she released the death grip she had on the bar and turned to her damsel-saving knight. “I mean you looked. . .” Sexy, like a dream boat . . . or an instant orgasm. Her mind raced for socially acceptable possibilities, but she was having trouble moving past orgasm. Good lord, imagine an orgasm from this man. Reining in her starved libido she plastered a smile on her face and offered an outstretched hand. “My friends call me Anna.” 
The man took her hand in his larger one and finally spoke, “Gabe.”
His voice was deep and the low sound made every cell in her body sing. His palm was warm, solid. The polite contact was made somehow intimate when she noticed his callouses. She was  no stranger to physical outdoor field work, but she had never once considered callouses a turn on. Until now. A small smile was still threatening the corner of his mouth and she had a panicked moment where she thought he must be able to read her mind. Savannah actually shivered at the contact of her hand still wrapped in his and wished she was a bolder woman, to make good on all the images he was inspiring. She had the crazy desire to feel those hands all over her. If ever there was a reason to have a fling, this guy was it. Strength and sensuality radiated off him. His face was that of someone used to playing outdoors, all tanned with that weathered masculinity. Except his eyes, they were too hard for playtime. 
The bartender smiled at them with a knowing look. He finished pouring their drinks and placed the short tumblers in front of them on small cocktail napkins. Oh god, could everyone read her sex-starved mind? Embarrassed at her racy thoughts and the bartender’s conclusions, she busied herself with pulling at her small clutch purse to pay for the drinks. 
Gabe waved it away. “I got it.”
She snapped her head up, bills gripped in her hand. Her back was up, along with her ire. She adored the idea of chivalry, but life had taught her it didn’t exist. At all. There was always a catch. Better to be guarded and caught aware, than manipulated and made the fool. Gabe merely looked down his perfect nose at her and smiled. The effect was potent and she wondered if that was what he had intended. She hated being manipulated, or the brunt of a joke. Was he mocking her?
“Seems you’re having a rough day. The least I can do is buy you a drink. A rather stiff drink.”
Savannah sucked in a breath, shocked at his comment until she noticed his hard eyes were now twinkling. A measure of her irritation evaporated. “You’re teasing me.” Not mocking.
When was the last time a man had teased her? When was the last time she had let one?
His eyebrows furrowed in confusion and he handed her her drink. “Of course I am. Who am I to judge what you drink?” 
She accepted the glass and waited, unsure what she should do. He took his own tumbler and angled it briefly in her direction. “Cheers.” He tossed back a healthy amount of the clear liquid. “Besides, I could use a stiff drink, too.”
Savannah eyed him, her wariness easing. He wasn’t being manipulative, he was buying her a drink. She smiled at her kindred spirit and raised her glass. “Cheers.” 
She took a potent swallow and stifled a cough as the gin burned all the way down. She was completely out of her element wearing this . . . this sensual red dress, grabbing strange men, leading them to bars and drinking booze with them. She was loving it.
“Savannah, there you are.” 
She winced as Blaire’s unwelcome voice bellowed from across the bar. Couldn’t he crawl back under the rock he came from? 
“Don’t ignore me, I’m talking to you. I had to ditch Claire to run after you.” His voice was getting closer.
Blah blah blah.
Savannah felt Gabe subtly shift beside her and she turned. He held himself coiled, like he was ready to spring. His hard eyes were glacial and zeroed in on Blaire. Comprehension dawned, he’s ready to rip Blaire’s head off. She had never had a man stick up for her before. It was a foreign, exhilarating feeling. And incredibly hot. Her rational, reasonable self should not have been swayed by the protective gesture, but the woman inside wanted to bring him back to her cave. 
Gabe was one of the good guys. He was everything that was sweet and hot in the world and Blaire’s belligerent yammering stood for everything she had run from. It still stung she had run in the first place. God, she needed something sweet right now. Without further thought, Savannah stood on tiptoes, grabbed Gabe’s head and pulled him in for a deep, full kiss. His surprise lasted only a moment before she felt his tongue answer her exploring mouth. The man could kiss. His hands slide up her bare back and suddenly she had a visceral appreciation for her new dress. Thank god Maggie had talked her into it,  because she couldn’t remember the last time something felt so good. All her suddenly-awakened senses reeled. She wanted to swallow him whole. He wrapped his large, warm arms completely around her body and lifted her slightly. To her feminist amazement, instead of feeling controlled or manhandled, it was exhilarating to be held like that. She felt cherished, adored. The feel of his arms holding her so securely, so sensually, made her shiver in pleasure. 
His strong body radiated heat and vitality and . . . good lord he was hard. Her newly irrational self wanted to crawl up and wrap her legs around his hips and savor all of him, even if only through their clothes. She wanted to hang on and not let go. She heard an actual moan escape her throat and instead of chastise herself, she let herself let go and spiral deeper into the haze of passion. This is what she had been missing? This is what a real man felt like? She had no idea a kiss could be so consuming, so absorbing, so passionate, or so perfect. Her body wanted more, she wanted more. And he was a stranger.
From a distance she heard her name being called, the sound clashing violently with the wondrous emotions coursing through her sensitized body. No, not yet. She willed the moment not to stop, to keep going, but she felt Gabe start to pull away, drawn by the commotion. Just for a second, she allowed herself to cling to him. She didn’t want to let him go. But the kiss had stopped, the spell was broken. Reality returned and she did let him go. Life had taught her that, to let go before she was the one discarded. But he kept his hand on her back and she savored the feel even as she emotionally withdrew, protecting herself.
The voice stopped calling her name and became more of a commotion. Blaire was being led away, none too gently, by the man who had been standing next to Gabe earlier. Maggie was barreling toward her but stopped long enough to grab a discarded drink and throw it at Blaire’s pristine white shirt. That was Maggie, pure spunk.
“Anna, I’m so sorry I took so long. I should have been back sooner. What is Blaire doing here? God, I’m so sorry you had to see him. I should have punched him in the face instead of throwing a drink. . . wait, who is this?” 
Maggie’s attention had turned to Gabe and her mouth hung open a moment while she registered the scene. Savannah knew how it must look. Gabe’s hand was still on her back and she wanted to pretend it belonged there. But it didn’t and that would be stupid. Instead she promised herself she would allow him to be a secret fantasy; other people had them, why not her? 
She hoped she sounded sophisticated and unaffected when she said to him, “Thank you, I owe you and your friend.” 
Gabe gave a negligent glance towards the lively departure, his deep voice tickling her insides again. “You just made Andy’s night.” With a smile that nearly floored her, he added, “And I am definitely looking forward to collecting.”
Her lips parted as saucy images flooded her mind again. It was a wonder she didn’t come right there. Good grief, what had she been thinking, kissing a complete stranger like that? And one so proficient? Heat still flamed her cheeks, mixed with a tinge of shame. Did he have any idea how much he affected her? She wrung her hands; this was insane, complete madness. The shock of seeing Blaire after all these years, and then the sultry shock of having real passion ignited for the first time in her life proved overwhelming. She had thought Blaire was passionate, now she knew he was a practiced robot compared to what the real man standing in front of her felt like. Standing next to Gabe she was ready to melt, or start hyperventilating. Time to go, now.
A jingle sounded and Savannah smiled in relief, saved by the bell of Maggie’s text ring.
“That should be the cab,” Maggie said and checked her phone. “Oh god, he’s dead.”

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day Weekend

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, but I like to look at it as a Happy Maternal/Nurturing Day, too. Mom energy comes to us in so many ways. Biological moms, the woman/women who had a hand in raising us, nurturing us through any point in our lives, sisters, grandmothers, mother-in-laws, aunties, cousins, colleagues, friends, all the nurturing relatives and friends we have known/know/will know, Mother Earth . . .  the list is long and beautiful. Not all the women in our life are necessarily nurturing, but tomorrow is a day we celebrate and say thank you to the ones who are.

To all the nurturing women in my life, Thank You. To all the women who have come before me, are now, and are yet to come and nurture our world and each other, Thank You.

Now I know it's Mother's Day weekend, but like the stories I write, I want to value and celebrate  women and men. So to all the men who value and support the amazing women of this world, Thank You brothers . . . and to the kids who put up with us adults, Thank You for your patience, and joy!

To all the nurturing people in the world, Thanks!!

Happy Mother's Day!!

Eugene, Oregon

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Date Night

Know what happens when Grandma is in town? Date night for my husband and I!

The River Cafe, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The dear woman flew in and it was non-stop go, go, go. But, there was one night that worked for my husband and I to go out.

The wild, the crazy . . . Monday Night.

Yes indeed, that was our night to paint the town red. Well, I wore a red skirt anyway, but there was no town-painting going on. Unless you call picking up a centre channel speaker first as saucy, then wowza, we were on a roll!

Where do a romantic fiction writer and her husband go on date night you might ask? After much back and forth, and several online searches, including in the car as we were on our way to pick up that speaker, we decided on The River Cafe on Prince's Island in Calgary.

I had never been, but all the rumors are true; this place is wonderful!! Lovely space, beyond delicious food, affable service and the restaurant is on an island. . . this was an awesome date night!

I can't even remember the last time I had been to a restaurant like this; you know, fancy. ;) I don't know what it is about great food and great company that melts away the chaos and frantic of life, but it does and it did. Those two hours were exquisite, just like the food. I stopped moving long enough to simply enjoy and be present. As much as I like to write characters who figure their life out, I'm still working on that beautiful balance of fitting in everything I love to do, and well. ;)

And just so you know, the pork tasted like candy. I'm serious, it was incredible.

What are some of your favorite places to go, date night, or otherwise?

Happy Reading, Happy Writing, Happy Date Night!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Tall, Dark and Brooding

Yesterday I was driving in the northwestern quadrant of Calgary and first saw, then smelled, one of my FAVORITE things. For those of you who are local, you might have guessed it. Those EPIC rain storms that rolled through.

Look south and it was patches of blue sky peeking from behind rather mundane pale gray clouds, look north and it was all tall, dark, brooding clouds full of presence and energy. That's what I'm talking about, whew, I love storms like that. All that pent up energy you can feel through your whole body, the depth and texture of those layers and layers of clouds, the sweet smell of rain like someone squeezed a particularly enchanting cologne and you inhale as deep as you can just to smell more of it . . . that was me in the car with my window down just enough to catch that incredible scent.

That rain turned to snow, but I got the preview. Aw man, now I want to write a storm scene . . .

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Springtime in the Country Blog Hop

Welcome and Happy Spring Equinox! Today is the Springtime in the Country Blog Hop!

Please join me in saying a special thank you to Sara Walter Ellwood for hosting this blog hop, as well as all the readers and authors participating! Giddy-Up.

Spring in southern British Columbia
Ever since I was a kid, I have been fascinated with the west. Growing up in Wisconsin, I had dreams of Colorado, Montana and Alaska. Those Rocky Mountains have quite a pull. So do horses and pickup trucks and country music . . . you get the picture. I never did move to the American West, but as Love would have it, I moved to Canada (my Happily-Ever-After is Canadian) and I now call Calgary, Alberta home.

I’ve gotten to play with trucks, quads and helicopters for work, but my equine-time is limited to events like the Calgary Stampede, tournaments at Spruce Meadows, or visiting ranching friends in the foothills of the Rockies or the prairie parklands of Saskatchewan.

Or is it?! I’m starting The Tanner Series and am delighted it centers on a family who’s maternal roots are in ranching in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The siblings are all outriders, though, and have found their own careers; namely an archaeologist, a bull rider, a dude ranch owner, a police detective, and a Vancouver Island fishing guide. I get to write-in horses and helicopters, plus hot alpha men and the stunning, extraordinary women they love, and who love them back just as completely.

Sign up for my newsletter here (or look on the right side of this blog ;)) to receive release dates for the Tanner Series and other goodies.

I have included two sneak peak blurbs from The Tanner Series and from my two titles already out. My novella Claiming Love takes place in Northeastern Alberta. It is definitely in Western Canada, but a helicopter pilot instead of a cowboy. What can I say, I love the boreal forest as much as I love my mountains, and helicopters as much as horses. My short story, Duke Out at the Diner, is set in a  small-town cafe and bloomed from a hook-writing exercise at an ARWA writing workshop. Fun!

Like my Facebook Page, follow me on Twitter, and/or sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win a copy (Kindle or Kobo) of Claiming Love or Duke Out at the Diner. I'll draw three names, one from each of the new likes, follows and newsletter subscribers on Wednesday, March 26. 
Thanks for hopping by. ;) Happy Spring and Happy Reading!

Sneak Peak from The Tanner Series

The Cop Can Cook and Other Christmas Miracles - A simple hideaway holiday in the Rocky Mountains for Princess Grace was supposed to be a simply horseback adventure with nothing more stimulating than the next mountain pass and gorgeous scenery. Life had taught her to settle for staid, definitely not ignite at the touch of a man who looks as hard as the mountains they are in, and cooks like an angel.
A cop with his own reasons for hiding away, finds himself moonlighting as a gourmet camp chef for his sister, and falling for a foreign princess who fights like a guerrilla and kisses like a Goddess.
But outside forces are moving in and threaten the budding relationship. Will they succeed, or will the princess and her cop find  the greatest adventure of all, Love.

Kiss Me in the Rain - Glaciologist Savannah MacIntyre was happy with her life far away from her family. But sometimes life has a way of bringing you back home when you least expect it and most need it. When the opportunity to reconnect with her estranged dad comes up, she takes it. Then finds herself distracted from her turmoil by ex-CSIS agent turned archaeologist Gabe Tanner, who would rather get another bullet to the head than reconcile with his own father.
Their attraction is definitely mutual, but betrayal has taught them both not to trust, or love. The couple are thrown together at the machinations of her dad at a remote work camp, where together they both find a chance to heal. But will they let their pasts keep them apart or will they finally learn to love and trust again?

Available Now

Claiming Love - Isobelle Cody, or Elle as her friends call her, loves her job as an archaeologist in Canada. Working in remote landscapes suits her completely, but her irrational fear of airplanes has her beyond grounded. She decides backup is in order and asks for Divine help. As an afterthought, she throws in a request to meet her Mr. Perfect. It couldn’t hurt.
The Goddess, Gaia, assigns Bodin. He is a thousand year old warrior, now angel-in-training, who just happens to not believe in love. Grumpy and usually a divine pain, Bodin has met his match with the beautiful archaeologist and finds himself under the healing power of love for the first time. The two explore their budding attraction working in the wild northern forests. When Bodin’s past threatens their future, will love come too late or just in time for forever?

Duke Out at the Diner, A Short Story - Some napkin dispensers hold napkins, others have gorgeous heros locked inside. 
Eric is no genie, but a mistaken curse landed him in the damn thing and now he has to be the one being saved. Shay just wanted to grab a bite to eat and pretend her life was safe. She never expected to be responsible for rescuing a handsome hero. Each wary of the other, the couple must learn to trust and love before danger takes the choice out of their hands.

And as a thank you for reading this far down, tweet or leave a facebook comment with HAPPY SPRING EQUINOX 2014 in it for a chance to win both Claiming Love and Duke Out at the Diner (Kindle or Kobo). Happy Reading!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Expand Your Normal

Sarah Kades and Ski School Instructor Extraordinaire
(he also answers to Rob)

Have these words ever crossed your mind: take a downhill ski lesson, you don't know what you're doing.

Cabin Fever
They did for me a couple weeks ago. Cabin fever had set in at our household so it was time for an adventure. And what better way to celebrate winter than playing in the snow in the mountains?

Winging It
Oh wait, it's been years since I've been on downhill skis and I never really knew what I was doing, just kind of winged it. Well, hello Panorama Resort and the Ski School. And we were meeting friends out there. Okay they knew what they were doing. So does my husband. But this kid < thumbs pointing to chest >  took a lesson. Weeeeeeeeeeeee!

Laptops and Lounges
I did bring my laptop and even got some writing in that wonderful weekend. But, I spent most of the time playing which equalled recharging. And maybe I hit the T-Bar with everyone for a cold one or two... ;)

Sarah Kades, beyond the magic carpet
Gold Medal Game
I did not wake up at 5am that Sunday to watch the Gold Medal Hockey Game between Canada and Sweden. My hubbie did, though. Does that count? just kidding.

Blasted Quads and Inspired Words
It wasn't a relaxing weekend, per say. I haven't blasted my quads like that in years. But it sure was fun! And my writing has absolutely taken off since coming back home. Nice!

Thanks Winter, Family and Friends who played, too, Ski Instructor Extraordinaire (a.k.a. Rob), and those gorgeous mountains! I had a blast...and not just my quads. ;)

Happy Adventuring, Happy Reading

Sunday Morning...before coffee

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Feeling the Love

Kind of late for a Valentine, but here goes . . . 
Dear World, Sending Peace and Love.
And Joy. To Everyone. :)

Happy campfire rocks in interior British Columbia, May 2013