Saturday, January 3, 2015

What did you read in 2014?

   2014 was a productive year for me, working on The Women of Independence series, as well as completing three books in The Gold Rush Romance Series.
   In spite of that, I found plenty of time to read, and I’d like to share with you some of my favourites.

   I first discovered Russell Blake’s Jet series, and enjoyed it immensely. But, dedicated as he is, he still can’t write ‘em fast enough, so I scoured the rest of his impressive list and came across his Assassin series. I’m not sure how he does it, but he’s created a likeable character out of an assassin. If you’re not sure if this is your cup of tea, the first book in the series is free. Check it out HERE.

Nick Russell is another author I first discovered through a series. His Big Lake books are difficult to pigeonhole. Part police procedurals, part character study… humorous and exciting all at the same time. Check them out. But in my opinion, Dog’s Run is his masterpiece (so far). A beautifully crafted story that you won’t soon forget. Check out the Amazon blurb HERE. You won’t be sorry.

Since I was writing historical romance this past year, I felt compelled to read a few historical romance authors. Here are two I enjoyed:

Jo Beverley’s The Company of Rogues Series.
Christie Caldwell’s Heart of a Duke Series. HERE’s the link to Book 1:

In contemporary romance, I enjoyed Catherine Bybee’s Not Quite Series

Bryce Courtenay is my all-time favourite author. My granddaughter turned me on to him some years ago with The Power of One. If I was marooned on a desert island and could only take two books, they would be:  Four Fires, and  Whitethorn.

I discovered Billy Kring somewhere around the middle of the year and quickly gobbled up his books. I like his Ronny Baca mysteries, but for a gritty, honest look at the life of a border patrol agent (which Kring has been), take a look at his Hunter Kincaid books.  I recommend you start with Quick. 

On the recommendation of a friend, I discovered Wayne Stinnett. His Fallen Palm is Book One in the Jesse McDermitt series. I ran through them quickly and await the next in the series.

And, along with many others, I read Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. I’m not sure what it was about this book, but I found it fascinating.

And lastly, I haven’t read this one yet, but I already know I’ll enjoy it. I Must Say, by Martin Short. If I get a chance, I’ll post a review.

Happy Reading in 2015!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Restless Hearts is Now #FREE Everywhere

Amazon has just price-matched Book One in my Gold Rush Romances series. As of now, Amazon hasn't extended the FREE to the UK or Canada, but I'm working on that!  Here's the description:
   Boston, 1849. Denied her dream of attending medical school, Sarah Howard is desperate to leave Boston far behind. Determined to prove that she can make it on her own, she poses as a married woman and boards a schooner bound for San Francisco.
   Stuck working in his family’s merchant bank, Jamie Thompson eagerly accepts the challenge of setting up a branch in San Francisco. He’s been restless for some time now, and barely escaped the clutches of the woman determined to marry him.

   The attraction between Sarah and Jamie is instant and powerful, yet each has something to prove, if only to themselves. Will their single-minded determination derail a blossoming romance?

...and here are the links to all of the stores where you can pick it up for free. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Three has just gone live!

Marriage by Mistake is Book Three in my Gold Rush Romances series. Like the others, it is a stand-alone story, featuring Nalani Hoapili, a Hawaiian girl who's being forced into marriage. As with my other series (The Women of Independence), the characters overlap, which offers continuity in the reading experience. These stories contain historical references, but are at heart romances.

If you haven't read a historical romance before, I encourage you to try Book One - Restless Hearts. It's free at B&N, iTunes, Kobo and Scribd, and hopefully will soon be free at Amazon as well. Enjoy!

Links for Marriage by Mistake:

Links for Restless Hearts:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Really? I didn't know that...

I thought I'd pass this on. It came from one of my Ontario cousins who always finds the most interesting things...

Where did "Piss Poor" come from? Interesting Story.
They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot. And then once it was full it was taken and sold to the tannery...
If you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor". But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot...  They "didn't have a pot to piss in" and were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature Isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500's:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all, the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.
Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.
Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings Could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.
That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.
Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." 

The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery In the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, It would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way.
Hence: a threshold.

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.
Hence the rhyme:  "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special.
When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off.
It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon."
They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, And guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.
Hence the custom; "holding a wake."

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people.
So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be, "saved by the bell" or was "considered a dead ringer." ... And that's the truth.

Now, whoever said history was boring!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bring It On!

I'm a procrastinator. I admit it. But today I finally got my snow tires put on. We usually have a bit of snow by now, but hey! I'm not complaining. At least I'm ready.

I've been watching winter creep up for several weeks now. The Loons on the lake are in their winter colours. I saw a pair of loons the other day - don't usually see them paired up at this time of year, but I confess I got a warm and fuzzy feeling seeing them together. They'd work apart, then swim back together and have a chat, then swim off and go fishing again. Nice.

The coots are also swimming in rafts now. At least that's what my Dad used to call it when they bunched up in the winter time. It's a good way to describe them, as they swim so closely that seen from a distance it looks like a solid piece of black. Saw two big groups last week - about 300 and 400 would be my best estimate. It's hard to tell with that many moving birds.

But give me a break! Christmas stuff in the stores already? I should be used to it by now, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

I've been busy finishing Book Three in the Gold Rush Romance series. It's a fun one as well. I'll post here when I have it ready. I read John Grisham's new book last week and enjoyed it. Right now I'm reading a Scottish romance. Who doesn't love those brawny Scots? Next, I think I'll tackle Michael Connelly's new Harry Bosch. Connelly has created a believable character in 'ol Harry...

Back to work. See you soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

This One Will Leave You Smiling

I debated about publishing this little short story on Amazon, but it's so sweet and satisfying I couldn't resist. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Here it comes...

... the blog about being thankful. A reminder to all of my non-Canadian friends: it's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.
   First of all, I'm thankful to be living in Canada. We're not perfect by any means, but we're known as being steadfast friends, both personally and internationally. In my opinion, that counts for a lot.
   I'm thankful for my family. When I first married into such a large family I thought I'd never be able to keep them all straight. And I was right, but I enjoy seeing what they're up to on facebook, and in the occasional phone call. On 'my' side of the family, my father was one of six brothers. Almost all of them settled in the Niagara peninsula of Ontario, and that's where my cousins live now. I don't see them often enough, but they're great people. I had an interesting experience last summer when my sister and I visited. "The girls" were meeting in a restaurant, and when I heard the server mention Mrs. Angle, I looked around for my mother. She was referring to the wife of one of my male cousins of course, but it startled me, and reminded me that many other people still use the name I grew up with. And the men on that side of the family ... let's just say they all inherited the handsome genes, not to mention charm. They're something else.
   I'm thankful for my writing. Call me boring, but I enjoy the research before every book. There's always something to look up. I've learned a lot of interesting facts since I started. Especially recently, while writing a historical romance series.
   I'm thankful for my eyesight. I just finished cataract surgery on both eyes. Perhaps I should rephrase that: the doctor finished the surgery... I just lay there. I'm an avid bird-watcher, and having 20-20 vision again is more than I could have hoped for. But I have it, nonetheless.
   I had intended to write a commercial-free post, but I don't want to leave out the readers who have enjoyed my books. Just yesterday one of my books hit one hundred five-star reviews. What a gift! I appreciate every review on every book, but a milestone like that makes me want to keep writing. It also makes me want to get better with every book. So thank you.
   Now it's time to get back to Book Three in the Gold Rush series. These books don't write themselves, unfortunately...