Follow the evolution of the Writer Knapsack (and even participate and help make decisions) as I create the face and materials of a new and different take on helping writers in this crazy world of publishing. Join me from the beginning and watch the website change as I work on sketches to a final logo, offer tips and tales toward final production, and develop an array of materials for those living the writing life...all to fill the pockets of your own writer knapsack.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy Holidays from the Elves!

Merry Christmas!!  Stacy asked me to join her today, and I am soooo happy to be here sharing my most favorite season with you all!

I'm Serendipity Sparkle, Elf in Charge of Wrapping Paper Design here at the North Pole. And oooh it is one of the best jobs because I get to create all sorts of bright, colourful, and sparkly paper for Santa to wrap up his special gifts.  You should see my recent snowflake-dancing-reindeer design--it's my best work yet.  Oh wait, some of you just might get to see it on Christmas day *grin*...that's why I love my job--it makes so many people happy and brightens all the presents under the tree.  But don't worry, I don't mind at all that you rip right through my designs Christmas morning...that's the best part!

Mmmmm, do you smell that?  Ohhh I so love iced sugar cookies with sprinkles during break time!  Mrs. Claus makes THE BEST sugar cookies and even makes sparkly ones.  We listen to lots of Christmas music while we work, too.  I love ALL the songs so you can often find me dancing in my curly elf shoes around the studio.Then, after a long day, there is nothing better than curling up in front of the glowing fireplace with my studly elf hubby and warm cups of candy cane cocoa with whipped cream.  

Do you know what else I love about the season?  Getting to play Secret Santa....shhhhhh,  don't tell Pinky Twinkleton I'm her Secret Santa this year.  She's the veterinarian for the animals here at the North Pole.  That's very important, especially to keep all the reindeer in tip top shape for their big night run.  She's been taking special care of Lester the Christmas goat lately (because he got into Mrs. Claus's pantry and started eating right out of the cans...and the cans LOL), so I painted her a special picture of him.  Wanna see?

Hey, I just had a thought...want to make your own Christmas wrapping paper?  How about a Rudolph design?  It's really easy!  

All you need is a large piece of paper, a couple paper plates, a sponge, red and brown paint and a little sparkle--like stickers or glitter glue.

First, carefully cut your sponge into the shape of a reindeer antler and another piece into a circle shape, then spread each paint colour on a separate paper plate.

Gently press the reindeer antler sponge into the brown paint until it is fully covered (but not too thick, just a nice, light coating) and then softly press the paint side down on the paper.   Add a little more paint and press again right beside the first one so you have two antlers.  Now take the circle sponge and do the same in the red paint, pressing it on the paper just below the bottom of the antlers.  Can you see Rudolph now?  

Repeat the same process, randomly placing two antler prints and a nose print around the paper--as much or as little as you like. 

Once the paint dries, take the stickers and/or glitter glue and add a little pizzazz to sparkle it up.  

Let it all dry and voila!  Rudolph wrapping paper!

How much fun is that!!  Well, I need to get back to work.  Thanks soooo much for visiting with me today!  And if you want even more fun, go on over and visit with my fellow elves...

Carol Henry -
Linda Carroll-Bradd - (participating on Dec 6 only)

And if you are looking for some fun Christmas reads, why not try one of Stacy's Christmas in Noelle series, such as...

A Cinderella Christmas
Christmas in Noelle...where love and laughter are always at the top of Santa's list!
A Cinderella Christmas

Her mother's ridiculous idea to gift her with 'a man' for Christmas is driving Angie Bellini insane! Every bachelor and his brother in Noelle are asking her to save them a dance at the upcoming wedding of Santa Claus Holloran's daughter. What's a girl to do to keep her sanity and thwart a scheming mother? Date the one man in town her mother despises, of course.

Wes O'Connor doesn't like the plan Angie has coerced him into for two reasons: 1) He's still paying for the last time those big brown eyes made him do something stupid and 2) He doesn't want to 'pretend' to date the beautiful baker, he wants the fairytale to turn into a real happily-ever-after.

Their ending may not be so happy, though, when they discover they aren't the only players in their little game of make-believe.

Available from

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stationary Junkie on a High

This is my recent old document drawer from a law office.  For a stationary junkie it is the PERFECT storage set...everything hidden away but right at hand LOL.

The cowboy at the top is just a sweet added bonus as the poor lad had been stored away for the last ten years or so because of little wall space in the office and the floor to ceiling, old, heavy bookcase there prior to the new stationary containment facility (as my husband would consider it LOL)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Beauty....and the beast within

I absolutely love where we live...and can't believe we've been here for seventeen years this past October!

Fall is the most beautiful time, especially for walking...

As noted back in a May post, I've been slowly making progress with my knee and am finally able to do my full walk--not that it was long to start with, but that just made it even worse, because I couldn't even do the simply route.  Hitting the top of the turn around ended up being quite an emotional moment for me because I had worked to get there (I would say long and hard but it was more slow yet determined).

This got me thinking, that it IS possible to accomplish things going slow and steady as it is going hard core all out.  Sure, it takes longer, but it does happen.  And the reward is just as special, maybe more so because it took that much longer.

Sometimes I get those thoughts that if I can't work at my series project full time, then it just isn't going to get done, so why bother?  And I always seemed to put it on the back burner for more important, work, editing etc.  Like doing something for myself was a selfish beast that I had to keep locked up.

But, one thing physiotherapy taught me was that I needed to take that time to focus on me, to get my knee and ankle better.  To sit down and massage them and ice them over and over, to schedule in the exercises and cycling needed to strengthen my legs.  That it isn't selfish to take time for yourself, to want to do things to make yourself better or healthy...or happy.

So, I've decided to put the same dedication into my own projects as I do into my physio.  Actually schedule time in to focus on some things that make me happy, even if it is only once a week or twenty minutes every few days.  

I've got great ideas, fun ideas, and I REALLY want to get them finished so I can share them with you, and hopefully help a lot of writers in the process to make the writing process less...stressful.  That's one of my main goals.

So remember, no matter what, keep writing...

The amount of time you put into something isn't as important as the fact that you simply do.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

I made treats to take into the office today....spooky lemon sugar cookies...mmm-mmm 

Happy Halloween!

And for a quick and spooky Halloween read....

A chance meeting in a honky tonk on Halloween finds Luke in the arms of a brown-haired beauty. But if the haunted stories he overhears are true, she may be far more than she seems...and he's more than ready to find out.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How cute is this!

I've been needing a new office chair for a bit now--the old one having lost its hydraulics and I kept having to adjust the height constantly for comfort.

I found one online and showed my husband--who rarely goes online in the first place.  But he did and order it for my birthday!

How cute is this...

Yep, I know how lucky I am and am thankful for him every single day 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Quick tips pulled from the pockets of the writer knapsack

POV and Mirrors

Unless the main POV character can see himself/herself in a mirror, they cannot see his/her face to describe it—they can “feel” expression, but not visually see an expression.

For Example:

Fly Telling

Anger darkened his features as he fought against the need to punch someone.

Deeper POV

His brows tightened, and he clenched his jaw against the need to punch someone.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Relaxation and Creativity

September's Labour Day weekend is the same as January 1st for me...a new beginning, time to get re-organized, and implement new routines.

The best part, however, are the two weeks before, when my family goes on our annual camping electronics, no technology, and books to read made of paper.

This year was a little different because the first half of the trip was just me and my one child while my husband and oldest headed for Newfoundland for the Eastern National Softball tournament--a real high for the team and they came in 4th!!  So proud.

This year, I took my art supplies and the two of us had fun doing another favorite hobby I just don't get time for between two jobs and multiple sports for the kids.  Here are some samples of my paintings...all interpretive of course LOL, but most I'm pretty proud of...

And my favorite of that week is...

On the second week the other two joined us and we just had such a great, relaxing time with awesome weather and a view of the lake.

This yearly break from the rush of life also gives me time to consider the past year, what worked, what didn't, what needs to change, and I make decisions for that re-organizing. By the time I get back, I'm raring to go and have a good, solid outlook and least for the remainder of the year :)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Swat that Fly!

Okay everyone, get out your flyswatters.  Yes, it's summer, but it is also time you let your characters reveal their story.

One thing I see a lot of is narration coming from the point of view of something that sees all and knows all.  I call this Fly on the Wall narrative—as if a fly is stationed merrily on the wall above everyone and describing the events.  The problem is...the fly isn’t a character in the story.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of stories done in this type of third person narrative and some work well.  The issue that I see often, however, is a story being told from the perspective of the main character and then the fly dropping in to have it’s say and thus pulling the reader out of the head of the main character—and subsequently, the story. 

One other main issue the fly narration often produces is passive writing in the form of more Telling vs Showing.

Using deeper point of view (POV), keeping in the “head” of your main character, gives the reader a chance to know them, to understand them, and most of all, to relate to them.  You want a reader invested in your characters and the story so they leave the laundry, housecleaning, and any other chore behind for another time while they are riveted by your character’s journey.

Deeper POV means that things are described specifically by the POV character and thus can only be shown by what the character knows, sees, hears, feels etc. 

Let’s take an example:

Her cheeks flared an angry shade of red as she fisted her hands and aimed her steamy blue gaze toward the bane of her existence.

Unless the character can see herself in a mirror, she wouldn’t know the color of her face or could reference her own blue eyes in such a fashion, therefore the above is a description from that of a Fly on the wall, and because of this, it is also Telling.

Let’s revise Showing the anger through the deeper POV of the character, the specific percpective of the main POV character—giving the reader a better sense of the moment:

The burning in her cheeks scorched down her neck.  Fisting sharp nails into her palms, she fought back a verbal slaying and narrowed her gaze toward the bane of her existence.

With the above revision, the reader now experiences the moment with the character instead of just being told what is happening.

Another fly example that happens often is referring to the POV character in a group:

They came to a small pathway and decided it was better for the other two to go first.

Who is the POV character in the above sentence?  Exactly-?-unknown.   The sentence also doesn’t Show much about the path or tension of the scene—is it a happy, yellow brick road or a scary, dark corridor? A garden in the sunshine or through a dark forest?  If that many scenarios can be thought of, then you aren't painting the full picture for the reader to follow your character's moment specifically.

Let's see what a stronger revision could look like:

Jenny bit her lip as she stopped behind her friends near the darkened pathway.  The boys decided to go first, and she blew out a thankful breath, only to suck it back in when a cold breeze blew across her neck. 

Now we know exactly whose head we are in AND that there is something about the path making her nervous.  That “something” is what makes the reader WANT to continue to read to find out what happens next.

Remember, for a stronger read, leave the fly on the wall and let your characters be the story.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Hollywood comes to a small town

Some exciting happenings in the last week as a film production crew took over the small town where I work to film Stephen King's IT.

Rumor has it Stephen King was even in town, yet no known sightings or verification.  Though I have to admit that I have only read one of his books for the sheer fact I have a VERY overactive imagination and horror freaks me out, I respect the man for his work and as a infamous author in the industry, so being a writer myself made the rumor alone extremely cool.

And I found the behind the scenes so fascinating.  The funniest parts were the revamping of the local establishments into 1980s America.  A shoe store became a dry clean shop and another a deli, while a tattoo parlor became an ice cream parler (much to the surprise of some tourists LOL). The old cars were awesome roaming up and down the streets!  Not to mention the 20 foot lumberjack statue reminiscent of Paul Bunyan in the middle of a full decked out fourth of July setting in the park.

It really brought to light how much money it takes to make a film--and not just paying actors and directors.  The amount of crew lining the roads to ensure pedestrians didn't get in shots or politely asking us to wait before heading down the streets, the police officers directing traffic (and being really cool in letting me take a vacated parking spot close to the office), the extras (most local), the builders, designers and hired labor were all way too many to count.

But, I have to say, from my experiences and what I heard from other business owners and townsfolk, the crew were all so respectful and nice overall.  It made the small headaches of traffic, parking and just getting to the office or a block down to the bank less annoying and more interesting.

Now, will I watch the movie when it comes out?  I want to sooooo bad, but I don't know.  Like I said, I don't do horror so I have to find a way to watch it that it won't scare the living beejeesus out of me :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Word Jumbles

Seems like a good time for another word jumble...not the puzzle, but the words that get you puzzled--similar words that authors often mix up in manuscripts.  Last time we talked about reign, rein, and rain (you can read the post HERE).  Today...

Further vs Farther

This duo can get jumbled up pretty easily in a manuscript, so here is a bit of an explanation to help you figure them out.

Think of the two words as physical versus speculative:

Farther is a physical that can be measured in real distance (think how FAR can you go): scooted inches, walked a mile down the trail etc. Or in terms of our word: scooted farther behind the wall, walked farther down the trail.

Further is speculative…more of an abstract time or advancement: thinking further on a subject before giving an opinion, discussing this further when we have more time.

Marianne slid farther back on the surfboard as she propelled it through the water.  The bright sun and cool water inspired her to let her mind drift further into the future, picturing herself winning next weekend's tournament.

Add these two words to your self-edit checklist and assess each use to its appropriate it a physical distance, or just a speculative descriptive?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

TWRP Submission Call: Boots & Babies

Boots & Babies—new submission call for The Wild Rose Press’s Yellow Rose Line. Who doesn’t love a sexy, rugged cowboy?  And who can resist a cute, adorable, chubby-cheeked baby?  But what happens when you combine the two?  Commanding strength? Or total chaos? 

Each story should revolve around a cowboy and a baby (or babies) newborn to 18 months. The baby could be his or hers, a niece or nephew, a friend's being taking care of, or any other scenario you can think of as long as the story revolves around a cowboy and baby/babies. 

These stories can range from romantic comedy to more serious in nature and heat levels from sweet to hot (but not erotica) Stories should be 20,000 – 30,000 words in length.  Please be aware that these stories will not be released in print.  They will only be available in digital format. Send us your query and synopsis through with the subject line: Boots & Babies Query—[your Title]

For a perfect example of this theme read Asking for Trouble by Jannine Gallant:

Contact Stacy Holmes, Senior Editor, Yellow Rose line:

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Surprise from my sweetheart

My wonderful husband sent me a text one day last week saying he had a surprise for me, but wouldn't tell me what it was.  When he got home that night, he brought--or rather, lugged--in this...

Since excitedly starting my writing career at the tender age of eleven on my mother's very old, huge, heavy, black antique typewriter, I have always had a thing for them. (Unfortunately, later in my teens, she sold hers at a yard sale. I didn't think I held a grudge, but with fond memories of the deep-pressed, clacking keys typing out the adventures of handsome private eyes, maybe I still do hold a little one LOL)

My husband saw this one with, believe it or not, a free sign attached to it--and teases me that he spends so much money on me ;)

I have been doing some research and am pretty sure it is a Remington Super-Riter, 1960s, and with a rare large carriage often used in legal type offices of that day because of the unusual paper sizes of certain documents.  Pretty cool to me!

The keys are quite deep set, and with small hands, I need to give a good little pound to get each one down.  The funny part was that when I came back to work on my laptop, my fingers retained the muscle memory from the typewriter and I hacked away a few words on the thin keys before realizing what I was doing LOL.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Come chat with me!

On June 7th , I will be hosting the weekly Tuesday night chat from 8pm to 9pm EST in The Wild Rose Press Chat Room   (if you haven't been in the room before, when the sign in box pops up, click the New User Account button in the bottom right corner and fill it in to join the fun)

I will be talking cowboys, and a special new submission call for the Yellow Rose line, but I love to talk about anything writing and editing so feel free to bring your questions!

Everyone is welcome!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Trying few weeks

Back in December I buggered up my ankle--my Achilles--and it had been giving me enough trouble I finally went to get it checked out.  Luckily, nothing torn, just Achilles tendinitis, but it needed some physiotherapy to help with the discomfort and limping that had become my new normal gate.

Except that by the time I made the physio arrangements, I must have overcompensated for the limp, and my knee had been suddenly giving me lots of pain.  Enough that it made sitting at a desk uncomfortable--and considering both my day job and my night job involve desks (not to mention twenty stairs up to the day office), well, as I said, it's been a trying few weeks.  I had even attempted to set up a standing computer station at my home, but it didn't work any better.

So, I started physio last week for what was supposed to be my ankle, but the therapist had given me that quirked-down brow expression and said we needed to get the knee fixed first.  I don't think my body has ever been pulled, poked and stretched so much.  But man, those heating pads are nice LOL.

Though I can't say the sessions are overly enjoyable, I have a good and entertaining physiotherapist which helps immensely, and not wanting to follow in my mother's footsteps with knee replacements, I have been diligently doing the assigned home exercises in between.  But, in truth, it has all just been a little exhausting lately, and I truly feel for the others in the clinic needing far more care than I due to car accidents or work related injuries.

Has anyone else been through physiotherapy?

UPDATE:  Well crap.  Had a doctor's appointment today (Wednesday) and the doctor says I've got a meniscus tear in my knee.  Sure doesn't sound (or feel) pretty.  The silver lining at the moment is that he isn't inclined to recommend surgery right now and has given me some exercises (same as physio) and I have to get a stationary bike (and outside bike for nice days) and build up to riding for 30 minutes every day. EVERY DAY as he put it. Indefinitely.  Guess what I will be doing this weekend?  Yep, starting with our local sports store that sells used equipment and working up to retail if I absolutely have to (ugh).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Wild Rose Press turns 10!

I am so proud to be part of this wonderful company and even prouder of what these two women have accomplished to be able to take a simple idea and have it thrive in such an ever changing industry.


And don't forget to come join us May 3rd for an all day party chat.  I will be there at 6pm....


Celebrate with us, all day in the Wild Rose Press chatroom!

Ten years ago The Wild Rose Press set out to be a different kind of publisher, a kinder and gentler publisher. One where authors felt they were in a partnership with their publisher. We are a publisher built by writer for writers. We've never given form rejections, rather taking the approach of helping grow writers into published authors. 

Ten years later, and we want to thank everyone for every day of making this Garden a great place to publish. 

And we want to thank our readers for their continued support. We wouldn't be here without authors giving us their amazing stories and all of you who read them.

Join us all day May 3, starting at 9am ET in the Wild Rose Press chatroom. 


Tuesday, April 26, 2016


It is very important for every author to have their own self-editing sheet.  I say "their own" because, though a sample sheet from someone or somewhere might be used, each self-editing sheet should be constantly added to, customized, making this amazing device unique to each author.  Anytime a critique partner, proof-reader, or editor notes something to you such as a constant correction they are finding or making, add it to your list.

I have a sheet I use when editing manuscripts and which has evolved and grown over the years--things I've added because a number of authors may have issues with them in their manuscripts, or something new I've learned (yes, even editors learn something new every day), or little things I want to make sure I didn't overlook (because sometimes stories are so good I catch myself being a reader and have to go back a few pages to re-read as an editor.)  Some items on my list are simple, some more complex.

I realized the other day that it would be a great idea to do a regular blog post on helpful items to add to your own self-editing sheet.

First up, it seems only fitting to share a few of the initial ones I began with on my own list:

a) taught vs taut--this is one of those that the spelling is so close you might glance over it quickly, your mind filling in the blanks automatically.  This happens with a lot of words because you are often so focused on looking for bigger things.  It also falls into the same jumbled word category as one of my previous posts with reign vs rein. Taught = teach, taut = pulled tight, stretched, controlled.

b) alright--technically, this is not a word and should be changed to "all right" as the correct use.

c) blond vs blonde--though the difference is masculine vs feminine, it is actually okay to use either word for both males and females.  However, the most important thing to remember and note is to keep to one style throughout your manuscript.  You should not have a blond male and blonde female and then later in the story have a blond female.  Make a choice and keep it unified throughout.  As soon as I come across the first reference in a manuscript I'm editing, I circle the author's choice on my sheet; this way, I can fix any references that then come up in a different style.

You can check out a few more items to add to your list on another of my previous posts HERE.

Self-editing sheet...don't submit without using one first!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Blink - is that spring?

I have to admit, for a little while there, every time I thought maybe, just maybe winter was over, another snowfall would happen, or worse, ice rain--ick!  It had been quite a few stressful months, making the whole world appear depressed.

But, I looked up today and the sun was shining, people were in T-shirts, and everyone was cheerful and the dark clouds had shifted away from over their heads.  

And I was like, Ya baby, Spring!

So, to all those still dealing with the cold and white crystals of winter, hang in there.  It won't be long until you can raise your face to the sunshine, take a breath deep, and sigh with the fresh pleasure, too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Repurposed office furniture

I hate to admit this, but I getting older.  Working all day in a law office then at night in the editing office has started to take a toll on these baby blues.

I do wear glasses, but for distance only--as in I only put them on when I am driving or watching a school play type thing.  But I don't need them to read.  Still, I've notice the last couple months that my monitor keeps overtaking my desk closer and closer.  The problem, however, is that pulling my monitor forward takes up too much of my desk space when I want to write things manually.

Then, on the weekend, while revamping my desk for the umpteenth time trying to find a comfortable "feng shui" as my husband teases, I found my old keyboard shelf.  I had taken it off because I preferred typing on the desk, so it had just been in my way underneath.  I looked it over and figured maybe if I turned it upside down, it might be the right height for my monitor to raise it to a better eye-level.  And it was, as you can see...

THEN, because the shelf was built to move forward and back under the desk...I discovered that, remarkably, it does the same thing on top of the desk.  I know, surprise, right :)

A few screws to secure it later, and VOILA!  I can now move my monitor forward and back when needed and still keep my desk free.

Lesson learned--don't hesitate to think outside the box.  You never know what might come from repurposing items...or ideas.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Proud Mother Moment

As this is a blog about the writing life, I like to share personal things here and there as you've seen recently with our new pup.

This time it is a proud momma moment because my oldest son recently won a series of youth bowling tournaments and gained a spot on Team Ontario.  He will be heading to Calgary to represent in the National Tournament.  Very cool for him and our local bowling organization.  He's been practicing hard for each tournament that got him there, and his coach and the bowling centre owner have been so good to him.

Not only that, but he has also qualified for the next rounds in the local Youth Dart league and will be heading to Sudbury just before this.

The boy is on fire, and I couldn't be more proud so had to share out loud.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Don't Forget to Do Your Homework

Though it is FINALLY spring and our March Break is over, the kids are back in school, and I have to make note that this is a good reminder to authors in general...especially newer authors...

Don't forget to do your homework!  

This is a good life lesson, especially in the publishing industry.   Study your craft constantly.  Learning never stops (even for editors).

But most importantly, do your homework BEFORE you submit.  Most publishing houses have their submission guidelines on their websites.  


In reality, this is your first test as an author.  Can you follow simple guidelines?  Can you do what is asked of you in the general form? 

You may be quirking your brow and thinking, What? A test?  Seriously?

Yes.  Maybe not a serious, sit down, use a #2 pencil type one, and maybe not in the terms any publishing house would actually use, but there are editors on the other end of that submission email.  Trust me, those editors quirk their brows at someone who sent multiple attachments when it was specifically asked that no attachments be sent with a query, or when you use a really weird and fancy font when a simple Times New Roman 12 was specified.  No, you aren't physically graded, but not adhering to simple guidelines can start you off on the wrong foot with someone that you really want to impress.  They need to know you can follow simple directions so that when it's time for the more in-depth directions of edits on your manuscript, they know up front you are someone they can work with. 

So, show them  you are someone they want to work with. Show them you are someone they CAN work with. Show them you are serious and took the time to research their site. This effort shows them you are someone willing to learn and willing to work for your craft. 

And I'll let you in on a secret, those are the answers to that first test called Submission Etiquette 101.  

Do your homework and you'll ace it every time!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Word Jumbles

I've decided to make a regular post (once a month or so) dedicated to word jumbles...not the puzzle, but the words that get you puzzled--Homonyms and/or very similar words that authors often mix up in manuscripts.

I am lucky enough to work on the Yellow Rose (contemporary western) line for The Wild Rose Press.  Cowboys, cowboy, and more cowboys....ah yes, such a sacrifice LOL. And there is one set of words that more often than not get mixed up in every three out of four manuscripts I edit...

Rain   ~   Reign   ~   Rein

Rain: moisture drops from the sky.  (To be honest, this is the one version that rarely gets mixed up, but as it is part of the homonym set, I felt it needed to be included overall)

Reign: to rule over something such as a country.

Rein: the long straps attached to a horse's bit in order to help guide the animal, or to check or guide (as in pulling on the reins to stop or turn direction).

Now, as for the last two, these get mixed up all the time because a cowboy doesn't reign in his horse, he reins in his horse.  A king doesn't rein over his kingdom, he reigns over his kingdom.  Amazing how one letter "g" can change the whole meaning.

But, here is the tricky part when using an abstract description.  He doesn't try to reign in his emotions, but instead, he reins in his emotions.  An easy way to remember is thinking of it as the character is holding back/controlling all his pent up emotions, kind of like a cowboy controlling the reins of a feisty horse.

Reign is to rule--think of the "g" as if to govern over. Rein, on the other hand, is a strap or to hold back--no "g" needed.

Just for fun, let's put them all together...

Storm clouds reigned over the darkening sky as rain poured down on the cowboy attempting to rein in his fear-ridden horse.

Do a Find in your manuscript for reign and rein and make sure you are using the right word spelling.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

2016 Maple Leaf Awards Competition

The 2016 Maple Leaf Awards competition is now open for entries.

If you have a romance title published in 2015 you may be eligible to enter the competition.
Complete details are found here: 

Please feel free to spread the word about the competition to your writing groups and writing friends!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Visiting Trans Canada Romance Writers

I am over at the Trans Canada Romance Writers blog today talking about the connection between haircuts and manuscripts....all in the trimming.

Pop over and join the conversation!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

One of those months

It has been a crazy stressful month--one of those when life says, "Hey, things are going a little too even keel for you.  Let's see what I can do to freak you out."

The universe definitely knows how to mix things up...a lot.

Jimmy Fallon has been the best part, but at the same time, there has been a number of sleepless nights and a learning curve for all of us.  He's awesome, though, and has been the BEST walking partner, making sure I make my step goals every day.

My son and I ended up with a horrible cold that had been going around--the one that makes you a snotty nose, hacking cough mess for a couple weeks and put me behind on many work deadlines.  Thankfully, I didn't miss any, but I hate when everything comes down to the last day.

Then the car broke down....three times.  The fourth time it's get up and go got up and went and died all together in the middle of an intersection. *Sigh*  The funny part is our last car caught fire in the middle of a snowstorm in February seven years ago.  Don't know what it is about February and us and cars, but sheesh.  And I always thought going out to look for a new (used) car would be awesome--I quickly learned that first time that it is not, at all.  Not only are you restricted by funding, but when you have a six foot husband built like a linebacker, and you are only five foot three on a good day and most of that is body with short legs, trying to find a car you can both drive comfortably is an ordeal to say the least.  So, I really wasn't looking forward to repeating the experience, and once again on a tight budget and needing a car as soon as possible when you live in the country and have to plan one vehicle around three work schedules, children sports and activities, meetings, etc. Occasionally I miss the city where you could walk or take the bus anywhere....hmmmm, no, no I don't. I much prefer the small town and country life :)

Still, as stressful as it all is, if you don't laugh you cry, and I am all for laughing whenever possible.  Like today, when driving my husband's old farm truck, as I am doing for now, and the driver's side door flew open as I rounded a corner.  Man, I thought I was in an action flick!  Then I groaned thinking I had broken our only vehicle left.  Luckily, I was able to pull over safely, and he came and fixed it because the silly thing would not stay shut.

Starting to catch up from being behind a bit, so at least that is good.  Here is hoping March won't come in like a hungry winter lion, but more like a fluffy pink teddy bear.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Spell Check...friend or foe?

Spell Check is not a proof-reader.

Spell Check is a wonderful device. The problem is, too many people trust it to be their proof-reader--if there are no red squiggly lines under the words, then the spelling must be correct, right?


the is the correct spelling....unless you meant them

accept is the correct spelling....unless you meant except

he is the correct spelling...unless you meant she

And as with the last example, mixing up simple genders might not make the best impression on an editor reading your manuscript.

Perhaps this is your first submission, perhaps you don’t know all the ins and outs of Point of View or Goal-Motivation-Conflict; that is all part of the learning curve and feedback an editor can give you. But one of the comments you don’t want from an editor is that your manuscript was sloppy with a lot of spelling errors that could have easily been avoided by a good proofing. You don’t want an editor thinking you’re lazy; you want them thinking you are a diamond in the rough that they can’t wait to help shine.

Proofing your manuscript is one of the simplest things you can do to ensure a good read by an editor.  But don't leave it up to your word program's spell checker.  One of the best ways to proof is to simply read your story out loud--you will be AMAZED how many things you can discover when reading aloud, everything from spelling to sentence structure to paragraph beats (Paragraph beats? What's that? you say--don't worry *wink* I will be talking in the future.) 

Just to be fair, though, Spell Check can be a good friend to international writers submitting to American publishers--IF you make sure the dictionary on your word program is set to the proper dictionary (eg: US). It is a good catch for words that you have used your whole life according to the country you live in. Canada for instance: colour vs color, favour vs favor etc.  Both are correct--depending which country is publishing the book.  Just don't rely on it for that final proofing before submission.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine's Day Blog Tour with the Trans Canada Romance Writers

Valentine's Day may be a commercial holiday, and no, you shouldn't need a reason to express how you feel about your loved ones--you should do so every single day just because you are thankful they are there...but, let's be honest, if we have a good excuse to have chocolate or make treats, are we gonna give that up?

Nope, not me.  I will take any excuse at all to make cupcakes.

That is my thing at the day job, children's baseball games, family gathering or parties--Stacy brings the cupcakes.  And sometimes for no reason at all but that a cupcake = smiles and always makes people happy.

These ones are cherry chip with French vanilla icing, mini chocolate chips, and a strawberry Belgian chocolate on top.

The best part about cupcakes is they are easily adaptable for every holiday, every special event, and just to bring colour to a dreary week--a special way to show your special someones how much you care on Valentine's Day...or any day of the year.

And while you are baking/eating yummy cupcakes, why not read a Valentine's story sure to make you smile...

The Apple of His Eye

The Golden Rule of Friendship: Do not covet thy best friend’s fiancée.

An easy rule for Shane Gallagher to obey when he meets Eden, as staid and business-minded as his good friend, Brad, whom she is about to marry . But when she unexpectedly blossoms before his eyes, temptation takes seed.

Eden is happy with her calculated marriage plans until she is forced to spend a day with her fiancé’s best friend—minus her fiancé—and experiences an evening far different from her usual calm and analytical existence.

On this Valentine's Day, can Shane stay away from the forbidden fruit? Or will the sweetness and allure prove too much to bear?

And make sure you visit fellow Trans Canada Romance Writers to 
celebrate more this Valentine's Day!

Darlene Fredette -
Gini Rifkin -
Daryl Devore -
Victoria Adams -
Casi McLean
Denyse Bridger -
Linda Carroll-Bradd -
Krista Ames -
Susanne Matthews -
Zrinka Jelichttp://forromanceloversonly.

Trans Canada Romance Writers 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

We've been adopted by JimmyFallon

This week has been a busy one in the Holmes house as we were adopted on Wednesday by this spunky guy--yes, his name is JimmyFallon LOL.

 He's a three year old lab/vizsla(pointer) mix and it was a little bit of an odd situation that brought him to us, but definitely involved Heavenly intervention if you ask me.

His previous owners loved him and trained him very well--but their lives had been recently upturned unexpectedly with losing jobs, new jobs and having to find new living arrangements in a tiny apartment in the big city. They loved him enough to know that wouldn't be good for the energetic JimmyFallon and wanted a country home where he had space, could go for multiple walks, and play.

He seems to be adjusting well as we all learn his habits and preferences and he ours. Jimmy loves to play tug-o-war, but we learned quick that the rope toys don't last long and the heavy duty rubber ones gives more enjoyment with less clean-up LOL.

He walks well, likes to snuggle, and has already embedded himself in our hearts.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Check List

One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to make a self-editing checklist.

When a critique partner or editor makes a comment--such as delete 80% of the word "that"--add it to the list.

Then, when you've finished your first or second draft, go through your list doing a Find for the words or phrases, or checking for slips like misplaced modifiers.  Whatever is on your list, make sure you've taken care of it.

The more you catch instead of the submission editor the better!  Not only will your manuscripts be cleaner, your writing (drafts and final products) will improve with each story because the more you use your list, the more aware you will be as you write the next one...and the next and the next.

Here are just a few items to start you off:

  • that--delete at least 80% as most uses are not necessary
  • your versus you're--double check you are using the correct one
  • its versus it's--double check you are using the correct one
  • misplaced modifier--when the descriptive word/phrase doesn't match the subject it is meant to describe. e.g.: Rushing to the door, her heart skipped a beat.  Her heart is not rushing/running to the door, she is.  Therefore, the sentence needs to be rephrased.  Her heart skipped a beat as she rushed to the door.

Keep adding to your list with each manuscript.  The more aware you are, the stronger your writing will be.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Say what?

Dialogue is a funny thing. It can work for you, or against you.

Dialogue is all about the character. Simply put, rarely would you have a low educated character talk with perfect grammar or an English butler talk in slang.  Few people speak grammatically correct, so in effect, your dialogue should not be perfect so to speak LOL.

For example:

"I cannot come over to dine with you this evening because my mother has installed a new restriction on my social activities."  

Okay, obviously that is a little extreme, but that's the point.  A teenager would not speak in such a refined manner, but rather in contractions, slang, and inflection.

"I can't come over for supper 'cause my mom grounded me, again."

Being natural is important. Which brings up another good point, you want to be careful of stereotypical dialogue—TOO much character ie: Cowboys that darlin’ every girl in the story, or a mob guy asking, “You lookin’ at me? You lookin’ at me?” of everyone who may pass him on the sidewalk.

The best way to research dialogue and natural flow is to observe.  Take an afternoon to sit in a coffee shop, open a book (so you don’t look stalkerish) and just listen. Listen to inflection, contractions, tones, emotions (excitement and/or anger.) If you are writing a Young Adult, go where the teens are. If your characters are doctors and nurses, maybe try the lobby or cafeteria of a hospital—listen, observe, and assimilate.

And remember, not all conversations are all talk. This is important because if you have a page with a lot of dialogue but no actions dotted in here and there to show HOW the characters are speaking--or better yet, showing HOW the characters are acting/reacting to the conversation--then the scene can become stilted. The picture painted is of two people simply standing face to face, arms at their side, and speaking monotone. He said this; she said that. He said that; she said this. Bland.

On your observances of conversations, whether in a coffee shop, mall, or work environment, I’m sure you’ll find someone raising their hands in frustration or whipping around when offended in order to defend themselves. A subtle smile when they are being coy or tight fists around a coffee cup when they are trying to control their anger. All these observances are part of a conversationpart of the dialogue. Part of the character.

As always, most important is picking and choosing your words--or rather their words--carefully and placing action descriptives in tight phrasing only in the most dynamic area for the scene, because the last thing you want to do is overwrite a conversation with too many descriptions.

Balance is the key.

Where dialogue is concerned: Observe. Natural. Balance.

That about says it all.