Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Rules for November by @elle_rush #footballrules #Christmas #recipe #freebook

My dad had one football rule when I was growing up. It had nothing to do with watching the game uninterrupted. Nothing about cheering for Saskatchewan (I'm from Manitoba - it was a thing even back in the olden days). It was only one rule:

No Christmas decorations could go up before the Grey Cup. (That's the equivalent of the Super Bowl, for those of you outside of Canada.)

Snow in Manitoba starts after Hallowe'en which, using little kid logic, meant that Santa was coming soon! I didn't realize the Grey Cup is always played on the last weekend of November. Which meant I had to wait a whole 'nother month!

But now I have my own house, so I get to make the rules.

Sadly, this habit is ingrained, so the tree doesn't go up till the first weekend in December. However, it's November now and other stuff is sneaking into various rooms. There's a candy cane coffee mug in the cupboard, Christmas music on my computer, and holiday-themed books everywhere. (We won't even mention what my DVR looks like. Let's just say I should buy stock in Lifetime, W, and Hallmark channels.)

To prime the Christmas pump, I have a free gift for you to help get you in the mood. I am one of several romance authors who are participating in 12 Dates for Christmas to get your holiday season off to a good start. We have put together a free cookbook (download it here) with over a dozen family favourite recipes for the holidays. Each of the recipes was inspired by a Christmas romance, and the recipe book has sneak peeks at all of these books in case you need something to read while you are waiting by the oven for a batch of cookies to come out of the oven.

And because you can't have too much Christmas, we also put together a Facebook group where we are posting recipe, crafts, holiday disasters, and all sorts of fun stuff. (Be warned, I've got some horrible Christmas jokes coming up. I can't help myself.) Please join us for all things Christmas.


Since Christmas is my favourite holiday, I decided I needed to write a romance series about it. So I did. Welcome to North Pole Unlimited! I'm launching the series this year with two novellas. Some of you may remember Decker and Joy from last year's Crazy Cat Lady anthology. It's been revamped, and now it's available for only $0.99! (Book 2 is coming out next month.)

Available at Amazon - iBooks - Kobo - Barnes and Noble

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Retreat! What I learned while on a writing retreat in Whistler, BC

Our Condo at Whistler had a lovely view

I had an opportunity to head into the gorgeous mountains of western Canada in late October with three friends and fellow Canadian writers: Zoe York, Elle Rush, and Sadie Haller. We hugged, laughed, and wrote our way through the days, and before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye already.

I learned a few things while I was gone, and I thought I’d share some of them with you.

Top Ten things I learned while on a writing retreat in 

Whistler, BC

10) I’m not the only writer who runs on caffeine, but one cannot write without muse fuel of many other kinds. (we hit Costco on our way out of town.)

This is what muse fuel looks like - note all the various types of caffeine present

9) Whistler Fashion Tip: No matter how cold it gets, you can still wear a mini dress and heels at night, so long as you wear a toque, too. (observed numerous times while walking to and from the main village for dinner.)

8) Whistler is full of Canadian beauty, Australian employees, and bears. 

7) People from Ontario and Winnipeg can't tell the difference between fog and clouds. When you point out the difference, they'll create the hashtag #mountainsarehigh and post about it on Facebook

Yep, mountains are high. And that's not fog, Zoe...

6) Romance writers cry. Over the course of our stay, every single one of us ended up tearing up over one of our scenes.

5) It takes 3 writers to make one pitcher of blood orange cosmos. (and one to take a picture.)

Mixology is a group activity

4) Sharing a condo with people from other time zones makes for early mornings for the west coasters, and very late nights for those from farther east. (but it was totally worth it.)

3) Writers will travel long distances to sit together at a table in total silence, listening to music on noise-canceling headphones, and write "all the words."

And apparently, we all write on mac airs....

2) You can open a wine bottle with a knife if there’s no corkscrew handy

1) The clerk will be very confused if you go to sign in at the front desk and have to ask your friends “So, what the hell are your real names?”

It was an amazing, wonderful, and very productive week. I can't wait to do it again. 

Bonus picture:  I snapped this one on the ferry to Vancouver. What a view!  

And one of the actual view

Friday, November 3, 2017

Loving Stories and Love Stories with @NathanBurgoine

While the Husky loves the ever-cooling weather, his intrepid thrice-daily-walker (a.k.a. me) is less thrilled. I struggle with the season of wet (followed by the season of snow and ice), though he certainly helps. It's hard to begrudge the frost-covered leaves when it makes the husky run in circles of abject delight.
See? He loves it.

Me, on the other hand? I want to run and fetch a blanket, some white hot chocolate, and sit down with some short stories or novellas. Happy ones.

I think this reaction to the cooling weather mostly came from working retail for a couple of decades. The tilt of our lovely planet's axis means that pretty soon, those of us in Ottawa will be waking up in the dark, and coming home from work in the dark (though, this weekend, we get some light back in the morning for a while, at the price of early evening sunsets). Heading to a retail job in the dark, returning in the dark, and not seeing the sun until a day off? Doesn't breed love for late fall nor winter's approach.

It may sound silly, but November and December are months where my reading habits completely change. For one, I re-read things I've loved. I need to dive into waters I've already explored, and swim along with the current knowing it's going to take me somewhere nice, or just get back out of the water when I'm ready, since I already know how it ends.

On the re-read side of things, a few books of the season: A Coventry Christmas by Becky Cochrane is a book a re-read every year at some point in November, and it starts my "find the joy of the season" quest. Similarly, no December is complete without a re-read of A Christmas Carol. And it's not always about the holidays. I often dive back into the early Harry Potter books.

For another, I read shorter things almost exclusively. The same way the sun seems to fade, so goes my ability to hold attention on a longer story. I need my jolt of happy endings to come faster.

Enter short stories and novellas.

I'll re-listen to Blame it on the Mistletoe by Eli Easton (usually while baking cookies), and page my way through The Firflake by Anthony Cardno. I'm looking forward to revisiting A Little Queermas Carol by Sassafras Lowrey, too, which I discovered last year. I'll re-listen to I Heard Him Exclaim, by Z. A. Maxfield, too (usually while walking the dog). Basically, all the happy holiday stories I can find? Gimme.

I dig out my Year's Best collections, be they science fiction, romance, mystery, or otherwise, and stack them beside the bed, often reading a story a night. I find my magazines, too, and load my e-reader with short fiction and novellas I've picked up throughout the year.

Heavy on the holiday romances, of course.

Between the dog's joy in the snow, and all these small tales of happy loves, (and ginger cookies and white hot chocolate and a lot of commiseration with my husband, who feels the same way and generally adds video games to his list of coping mechanisms), I get through the dark months.

As a writer, I hadn't done a holiday romance story before. Mostly that came from working retail (I swear there's little to top that in sapping a person's love of the holidays), but since I stopped, a few ideas circled in my brain, and eventually, I sat down and wrote one. It wasn't on contract, and it wasn't for a specific call, and when it was done I realized I didn't have the slightest idea where I could give it a home.

Happily, NineStar Press was willing. So this year? This year one of those holiday novellas out there, hopefully adding a bit of light to the dark for readers like me? One of them is mine.


At nineteen, Nick is alone for the holidays and facing reality: this is how it will be from now on. Refusing to give up completely, Nick buys a Christmas tree, and then realizes he has no ornaments. A bare tree and an empty apartment aren’t a great start, but a visit from his friend Haruto is just the ticket to get him through this first, worst, Christmas. A box of candy canes and a hastily folded paper crane might not be the best ornaments, but it’s a place to start.
A year later, Nick has realized he’s not the only one with nowhere to go, and he hosts his first “Christmas for the Misfit Toys.” Haruto brings Nick an ornament for Nick’s tree, and a tradition—and a new family—is born.
As years go by, Nick, Haruto, and their friends face love, betrayal, life, and death. Every ornament on Nick’s tree is another year, another story, and another chance at the one thing Nick has wanted since the start: someone who’d share more than the holidays with him.
Handmade Holidays is available for pre-order at NineStar Press.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

50k or Bust: #NaNoWriMo2017 #AmWriting @LDBlakeley

It's that time of year again!

Do you NaNo? I have a few times, but have only managed to do it successfully once. I've decided to give it a whirl again this year since my writing schedule somehow magically aligned with NaNoWriMo. There was no scurrying around trying to come up with a story idea. And because I'm writing the third book in a series, banging out character sketches and plotting storyline didn't make me want to pull out my hair. Much.

I'm so organized I could cry.

Actually, I'm pretty sure I just jinxed myself by putting all that out into the universe. That's how that works, right?

In any event, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for the unindoctrinated) kicks off today. And while 50,000 words in one month may sound somewhat daunting, it's not so bad if you break it down into daily chunks. 50,000 words in 30 days? Yikes. But 1,667 words in one day? A bit less nail bitey.

SO not my desk. It's far too neat, and the size of that coffee is laughable.

I know a lot of full-time writers can hit this word count goal in their sleep. But for someone like me (quite possibly the slowest writer in all of Canada; most definitely the slowest one in the Greater Toronto Area) I can drag 50,000 words into months and months of writing, no matter how inspired I'm feeling. So for me, NaNoWriMo is the perfect virtual cheerleader.

I like dropping by Twitter or Instagram (provided, of course, I don't get sucked into a day-long scroll) for a bit of a check-in with other participants. Knowing so many others are in the same boat can sometimes give me that extra bit of oomph I need to push past a scene or chapter.

I'm a 2017 NaNoWriMo Participant!

If you'd like to join in the fun, head on over to and sign up. And if you'd like to add me as a writing buddy – you can find me HERE. I'd love the company!

With that said, I have a word count to meet. See you in 30 days!

Happy writing,

Monday, October 23, 2017

A Good Man. Canadian romance by @LeoRosanna.

I've been fortunate in being able to set a number of my romances in Canada, but in many of those cases, they've been set in fictional communities, like my Gemini Island. It's been a while since I've set a novel in my hometown of Toronto.

In my upcoming romance A Good Man, Handymen 1, all the action takes place in some recognizable Toronto locations. 

Why Toronto? Why not?
We have some very sexy men.

I'm excited to bring you one of mine. Michael Zorn is not only a proud Torontonian (he can recite the tragic history of the murder that took place at the Toronto Islands lighthouse), he's a talented contractor. He and his brothers Eli and Nick also happen to be the hosts of a popular Canadian DIY show called Handymen.

His adventures are going to take him all over our fair city. Much of the story takes place in an old house in Little Italy, right at the corner of College and Beatrice Streets. This is the house the Handymen are renovating for guest Emily Daniels (who happens to be the heroine.)

Oh. Did I mention Emily is engaged?

Did I also mention Michael is fighting some terrible emotional demons?
Double snap.

Not only will these characters explore Little Italy, they will visit places in the established west end neighbourhood of The Kingsway, as well as the aforementioned Toronto Islands.

It was a blast using my hometown in this romantic story. In a way, A Good Man is my love letter to Toronto and some of my old haunts.

I hope you'll love it!

A Good Man will be released by Limitless Publishing Nov. 21, with ebook preorders around Nov. 11.

Want more details? Feel free to sign up for my newsletter for all the latest on this sexy new series.
Rosanna's newsletter:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hometown Pride by @elle_rush

I have been to New York City. (Well, I've been to Manhattan and done a bus tour of the island). I have been to Los Angeles (and done a bus tour of some of the sites). (Bus tours are awesome, by the way, for seeing a lot of a city in a short time period.) The little time I've spent in those cities have given me the smallest sliver of recognition when I read a book set in one of these locations.

And, have you noticed, a huge majority of books are set there? (And TV shows. Almost all the TV shows.) It's almost as if stories don't happen beyond the city limits of a major American metropolis.

That is one of the reasons I decided to set my River City Heroes series in Winnipeg, my hometown. Winnipeg isn't teeming with millions of people; there are about seven hundred thousand. It also has a small-town mentality. You don't need six degrees of separation to find somebody who knows your friend. Two should do. Our neighbourhoods are pretty distinct, which takes local flavour to a whole new level. And we have four seasons, which is a nice opportunity to write, rather than sunshine and good weather 365 days a year.

I also get to use Canadian spellings. Long live the "U" in colour, neighbour, and the like!

Winnipeg has the reputation for being the coldest city in the world; I know this. "Winterpeg". "Winnipeg - come for the culture. Stay because your car won't start." "Winnipeg and the four seasons: winter, still winter, almost winter, and construction."  And then there are the mosquito jokes. But I love my hometown dearly and I'm glad for the chance to show it off.

I just released the third book in my River City Heroes series, which wraps up the Calendar Killer trilogy. From East Kildonan to St. Norbert, my characters cover the city, trying to stop a madman's murder spree.

I hope you check it out.

f Constable Brendan Booker wants his temporary assignment to the Homicide Division to become permanent, he needs to up his game. He knows he can play a bigger role in catching the Calendar Killer, but it would be easier to approach his inspector if he weren’t sleeping with the man’s daughter.

Rookie EMT Audrey Holland is tired of having to prove herself: to her new teammates, to her empty-nester father, and to her new boyfriend. The sooner they all learn she can take care of herself, the sooner she can do her part in taking care of her city.

With the net closing on Winnipeg’s most prolific murderer, the killer grows more desperate and unpredictable. Neither of them can afford any distractions, or they risk letting the Calendar Killer take them both out in his final blaze of glory.


Google Play: 

The iBooks link is taking forever but you will be able to find it there eventually - I promise!

Capture is Book 3 of the Calendar Killer trilogy. The romance is stand-alone but the series is best read in order.
Book 1: Pursuit
Book 2: Entrap