Friday, December 15, 2006


For those of you who don't think I'm a total Grinch stay with me on this one, because today we're going to talk about totally useless gifts. And maybe, some gifts you might want to go with that are "untraditional". Here's some gifts I think are absurd at best, and "whacko" at worst:

1) PJ's for women that sport Tweetie Bird, Winnie the Pooh, Tinkerbell, Kelloggs Apple Jacks, or Thumper. Or any other Disney creature. Mickey Mouse a few years ago was bad we're supposed to entice our man with the message that we're entering our second childhood with Tweetie Bird? Puleeze...*he'll* be the one getting a headache...

2) Slippers. For anyone in your family. At any age, even if it's Great-great Aunt Elspeth in the Nursing Home. She's lived that long, she deserves a pound of Kickass Donkey Coffee and lunch out with you at her favourite restaurant. Be kind.

3) A curling iron, blow dryer, iron, toaster, toaster oven, kettle that turns itself off, coffeemaker for 24, foot sauna, make-up mirror with three light display, or electric ladies razor set. Am I getting my point across here?

4)Camping gear, air hockey games for the family room, drum sets, trampoline, and a portable ice making machine.

5) A cell phone for your elderly mother because you worry about her highway driving - but you don't buy her the monthly service. Now, that's just miserly! And why does she need a cell phone that takes pictures anyway?

6) Any robotic dog, cat, puppy, etc. that does anything, anything at all. Do - not - buy - it. You - will - lose - your - mind.

7) A "2 chicken/rooster", "2 rabbits", "2 goats", "cow", or "donkey" out of the World Vision catalogue. We support 2 World Vision children and 1 Compassion child, have for years. We believe strongly in this program. But please don't send your money there and call it a gift to me. It's a gift to them. And I appreciate you supporting them. Tell you what, I'll send them 2 goats, and still take you out for Christmas lunch, ok?

Cool Christmas Gifts:

1) The iRobot Roomba robot vac. If you want to give your wife an appliance, this one'll light up her eyes! It won't bother you to run it around a few rooms either.

2) For him: the sexiest lingerie you can find with the biggest red bow on top. Why buy him tools? He doesn't use them anyway. THIS he can use! And don't stop there, adult shops have feathers, love dust, and games for even the most shy among us.

3) Microsoft Webcam with Live call button. Better than any beauty appliance you were thinking of getting her.

4) Not just for your techno-teens, the nexXtech 512MB MP3 Player that fits in the palm of your hand; comes in black, orange and lime green (my personal favourite). And for teen stocking stuffers, JVC has Gumy headphones in black, silver, lime, and orange to match for only $15.

5) So your husband won't yell at you on your next vacation trip - a no-subscription-fees GPS Garmin in-car unit, loaded with Canada and US maps. Full colour, and anti-glare for easy reading. How cool is that?

6)Anything out of the Zeke's or People's Jewellers Catalogue. Diamond's truly are a girl's best friend. My husband bought me a ruby and diamond ring to celebrate the year 2000 and I haven't taken it off since.

7) Old, old, photographs of past family members, letters, or diaries. War medals, scrapbooks, etc. that you don't know what to do with and want a home for - because I'm a writer and I'll do the research to put it all together into a family history. What a wonderful present that would be!

8) A magazine subscription to Writer's Digest, The Atlantic, Time, Macleans, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Ellery Queen, The Beaver, Creative Memories Scrapbooker. I'd remember you every time it came in the mail.

9) A home-made book of coupons with all my favourite activities on them, that you HATE to do; eg. "one day at your favourite craft fair with $50 to spend", "one day at the local dog show", "one day Christmas shopping without whining", "good for one foot massage", "good for winning one argument", etc. Get creative people, you can make it last all year and be giving each other a coupon a week!

Happy weekend Christmas shopping!

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Tis the Season to be giving - as the last 11 days of shopping fall upon us it's time to be thinking of the "what", the "how", and "how much" is in our budget for our loved ones this year. I've only just begun to shop for my family. This year I'm trying to NOT do all of the things that I've come to hate over the years, in the matter of getting gifts. Here's what I mean:

1) No, I'm NOT giving you a gift receipt so you can exchange it for something you'll like better for the same amount of money. THIS is what I spent my time thinking about, deciding on, schlepping the malls for, and THIS is what I decided you'd love. SO, I hope you love it. Merry Christmas!

2) No, I'm NOT giving your adorable 12 yr-old-who's-an-incredibly-off-the-charts-genius a $100 present when I can't afford to give my own 14 yr-old a $100 present. She'll have to be grateful for what she gets from me in the family gift exchange.

3) No, I'm NOT giving your wonderful ..... (fill in the blanks) child a $50 gift certificate to ...... (fill in the blanks) because he prefers to pick out his own gifts. When I was 15, I learned that it was important to appreciate what others gave me when I opened a present and to thank them for it...maybe it would be nice if you gave your son the same learning experience. I'm just saying?

4) PLEASE don't ask my for my "Christmas Wish List" again this year. I know you won't buy anything on it, and I'll just be disappointed. I know I'll love whatever you give me, so let's not play the charade, ok?

5) When I tell you I'm a size large in sweaters, tops, cardigans, tank tops, loungewear, PJ's, camisoles, pants, etc. that means a size LARGE. Buying me a size medium, or god forbid, a size XL is only going to make me cry Christmas morning when I pull out that gorgeous cashmere sweater that I can't return because you bought it in New York last July.

6) When I tell you my taste in clothes lean towards Old Navy and Marks Work Wearhouse for "everyday", please don't buy me stuff from Holt Renfrew or Harringtons to "brighten up" my look. The only one who'll see it is my dog who lies beside my desk while I write in my basement.

7) PLEASE do not give my special needs daughter any more colouring/sticker books/markers/glitter pens/or feather craft kits. She's into make-up, nailpolish, boys, and MuchMusic videos now, and while that may offend you (lol) she's "delayed", not dead.

8) The same goes for my special needs son. He doesn't need anymore Bionicle sets, Legos, wooden boats, or SpongeBob stuff. If it's not Spiderman or some other Superhero, it'd better be something to do with XBox. And oh yes, he'll beat you, no matter what game it is. :)

9) PLEASE do not REGIFT me with any of your leftover gifts. If you want to find a home for something - give it to Goodwill, a homeless person, or the nearest Women's Shelter. There's nothing more uncouth, rude, or disgusting than receiving a Christmas gift from someone who says, "I got this from so-and-so and it didn't suit me so I thought of YOU. Merry Christmas!"

I know that many of you just haven't had the courage to say these things. Now I have! This is just Part One of some Christmas Trend Observations...tune in tomorrow for Part Two.

And any of you out there who are guilty of visiting these sins on your family, think again! You are not a popular person at Christmas time!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Thriller Writer

I've discovered a new thriller writer - TED DEKKER - and he's the kind of writer that is so GREAT you want to get to his entire backlist and read everything the guy has ever written. I just finished THR3E which has just been made into a movie and is coming out in January. I won't give you any spoilers! The problem with the book is that once you've read it, you can't see the movie, although I suppose it would be interesting to see how they manage to pull it off.

DEKKER was raised in Indonesia and now resides in the States. He can be found at TED DEKKER He has a Blog on site, and videos to go with his books, although I found the quality of them was sporadic. He deals with the themes of extreme good and evil. I'm reading his SAINT right how, which deals with kidnapping, brainwashing, and assassins.

Take a look at his site. I highly recommend it. Think I'll link up to him as well. Not everyone gets a movie made from their book and I think that's worth supporting.

The Search for Laura Gainey

By now you'll all have heard of the weekend long search for LAURA GAINEY, who was swept overboard by a "rogue wave" in high seas off the coast of Cape Cod Saturday night. She was sailing on the PICTON CASTLE, a tall ship - a clipper ship - down to the Caribbean for the Christmas holidays, with a full crew. She wasn't wearing a life jacket, nor was she lashed to any of the masts during the gale, which would seem to be the first of common sense safety measures in a harsh sea storm. Tall ships, like cruise ships, can't turn on a dime and return to pick up a "man overboard". The crew heard her scream for help as she went overboard, and immediately threw life jackets, life preservers, and markers into the sea.

We used to own a small 22' Tanzer sailboat. We both took sailing lessons, although mine consisted of a day long seminar so that I knew enough to tack back and forth and steer it so that I wouldn't perish on our open lake back home in Ontario. Even with such a small sail boat, it's impossible to turn around quickly to save anyone who's gone overboard. We worried so much about our children that we ended up getting babysitters when we went sailing, as we couldn't afford another $1000.00 for a back railing, and the kids didn't enjoy the heeling of the boat anyway. To go back to get someone who's fallen overboard, a sailboat would have to tack back and forth about four times to "come around", IF the winds were good, and I'd imagine it would take a good half hour to an hour for the person to be treading water to get rescued. If they were lucky, another boat would get to them faster. When I took rescue swimming in police college, we had to swim 2 miles in a front crawl, and tread water for 15 minutes. I remember how exhausting it was.

I can't help but think that Laura Gainey has died doing what she loved. Why her Captain didn't follow obvious safety measures is a question that someone will no doubt investigate. In a news report this morning he was asked "why" none of them were wearing life jackets in the middle of the storm. He answered, "well, the railings are tall enough that no one usually goes over." Oh really?I don't think "usually" is going to satisfy a grieving Mr. Gainey and his other three children, who've already lost a wife and mother to brain cancer. I know that if I were Mr. Gainey, I'd be suing that Captain and his boat company with the help of a good lawyer. Merry Christmas to you, sir!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Today I posted under the comments section for Monday December 4th over at Romance Worth Killing For for on the subject of spousal support for our writing. It's the subject of the article I've been writing for Romance Writers Report. ROMANCE WORTH KILLING FOR is a three person blog, with one of the three being Joan Swan, my critique partner. I highly recommend popping over there to see what the ladies are up to. Plus, my comments there are riffing right off the article.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


As this is our first winter in Saskatchewan we're having some adjustments to it. For instance, the sun doesn't come up till nearly 8:30 a.m. Today, it was -18 degrees with a windchill of -33C. If we were still in Ontario, this would've been called a "snow day" and I'd have had the kids under my feet all day. They don't let the kids stand out at bus stops in this kind of cold, and the bus companies won't run their buses for fear they'll damage their engines. Ha!

Here on the Prairies, you drive your kids to the bus stop (okay, I was the only mom to do so, because I'm a suck) in the dark, and wait in a warm truck till the bus comes. Most of the teen boys had no boots or hats on, even with the wind blowing that -33 degrees around. The kids were standing in the bus shelter, although a few stood outside to line up to be the first on the bus. As soon as it rounded the street corner, my two kids jumped out of the truck and raced over the snow bank to get in line.

A friend told me that the schools out here only close in winter if it's a) -40 degrees or b) if it's blowing snow over the highway so it's a white-out, or it's a howling blizzard. Last winter the kids only had 2 "snow days". No wonder the pioneers on the Prairies were such hardy stock. They had to be! I can't imagine surviving these temperatures in a sod shack, no better than a lean-to, with my cow in the living room.

Take that - you teenage posers for "Canadian Idiot" by Weird Al Yankovic! :) He's obviously never felt REAL cold before! (and we have elk up here as well as moose, Al, just so you know...)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Having Some Fun Today

I came across these two links and thought I'd share the laughs.

The first one is from YouTube. Search for "Canadian Idiot" and you'll get Weird Al Yankovic's song sung to the tune by Green Day. It's a hilarious parody that even mentions my home province of Saskatchewan. And while it's making some people angry on an eloop for the Globe and Mail newspaper, I think it's one of Weird Al's better songs in a long time. Glad to share with my American friends and family!

Try Oddities for a story about two Boise, Idaho ice rink employees who drove their Zambonis to Burger King for a late night snack. One has to wonder...

Sunday, November 12, 2006


I wanted to share two pictures from Camp Julien in Kabul, Afghanistan from their Remembrance Day Ceremony held November 11th.

LGeneral Rick Hillier, Commander of the Army was there to lead the ceremony and spoke of the 42 soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan since 2004.

On Saturday, November 11th, during Coaches Corner of the NHL Hockey Game, they played a musical tribute behind the pictures, names, and places of the 41 men and 1 woman who had died in combat. Don Cherry is an outspoken supporter of our Canadian military.

We attended our Remembrance Day ceremony in the local Civic Centre which was standing room only. I was surprised at the number of local people who took their children up and had wreaths to lay at the memorial cenotaph.

I realize this is a writing blog, and I've been absent for 10 days while my dh had my laptop. I just wanted to pause, before I get back to my writing, to remember those 42 courageous Canadians who gave their lives for doing what they believed in. God bless them.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

PISCES ~ Feb.20 - March 21

I'm taking a page from Toni Anderson's blog today and running my daily horoscope, which is hitting my life so bang on it's scary...

Normal People Scare Me is the title of a documentary movie about high-functioning autistic people. It might also serve well as the title of your life story's current chapter. Ordinary everyday reality is your greatest enemy right now. It threatens to ensnare you in a numbing trance at the exact moment when you need to saunter off into the unknown. Habit and routine are exerting a seductive pressure that could distract you from the fascinating tests you really need to embrace. The ironic fact of the matter is that at least for the moment, you should be wary of your longing for security.

And who thought computers could just be random? Ha! What did I say yesterday about needing to put-butt-in-chair? I then emailed a gal pal to say that I wished I could just have a humdrum routine to get me through this stressful time. Well, if even a computer-generated horoscope is warning me against laziness, I'd better work through the hard time by throwing myself up against the wall of the pit and start climbing out of it! Shake it off and keep on going, as it were.

Thanks for posting that on your blog, Toni! I posted mine to remember to keep my eye on that end goal, as well as getting my family through this current phase. This too will pass. In the meantime, no moaning about security or being lazy!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


A few days ago I was moaning about my book BA and deciding to take up my new WIP and get on with something new. Then I got my partial back from an agent. She had agreed to crit it as part of a Retreat. She didn't ask to see more, but she rated all the important stuff (to me, anyway) such as dialogue, pacing, characters, plot ("original") as "strong" and my writing as "vivid, strong - I loved it!". She loved it! And here I was thinking of trashing the whole thing!

There's my heroine up there. My bad guys are going to be beside her too, because I don't think Blogger will put them below my text. Bikers are bad guys, in fiction and in real life. Some time I'll write up some of my biker stories from my cop days. Right now, I have to do the mom thing and go make supper.

But, I'm delirious! She loved it! Even though this is a stressful time for my family - I should be brushing up on my spelling mistakes and sticking my butt in the chair to get this thing overhauled. And then I think I'll send it off to her again and see what she thinks of my reshaped plot. Music to my ears! She loved it. I think I'll tack that critique on the wall for those days when the snow and sleet are closing in. :-) And how was your Halloween?

Monday, October 30, 2006


Now I know tomorrow is the big NIGHT for witches and goblins and all things that give fright....sorry, I couldn't resist :)...but after spending two weeks of TV time at night cutting 100 white ghosts out of foam for craft necklaces and a month of planning our local Halloween party for this past weekend, I just had to blog about this cool "holiday".

I found a website that's both fun and laughable at the same time. Try out and you're in for a real treat with a few tricks thrown in. Katrina advertises spells for "Returning Your Lover/Spouse Even if They've Taken Up With Someone Else", "Your SoulMate", "Winning the Lottery", "Custom Spell" - her most expensive one at $99.00 - oh yes, you have to pay for these, but if you buy two spells on the same day she'll throw in a love spell for free! A spell for "Your Job", "Losing Weight", "Falling in Love", and they're all on sale because it's Halloween.

She'll cast your spell within 2-3 days of receiving your payment by VISA, MC, or PayPal, or you can send cheque or Money Order. Most spells will take effect within 60 days, and this is because a spell must enter your spirit and meld within you to begin to work. EXCEPT for the spell which provides instant protection from BAD KHARMA and Negative Energy. Then you get your money's worth right away.

It's a great site for having a laugh and wondering just how much money she makes from this enterprise - enough I guess if she takes VISA, MC, and PayPal. It's sad that so many are vulnerable to believing in this kind of "supernatural" effect on their lives that they'll shell out $39.99 to $99.99 for it - but on the other hand, she does have a disclaimer on her site that it's for entertainment purposes only. At least she's making a clean living and not wallowing around on a bed taking off her clothes for $39.99.

Who knows? Maybe she really can cast a spell removing BAD KHARMA? It could be the plot of a good story - anyone want to give it a try in the comments section? :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What the H...???

After working so hard to try and get my head back into my MS and do rewrites, edits, etc. it just doesn't seem to be working. Maybe other writers can salvage their WIPs, but this one just doesn't seem to be doing it for me. Maybe it's just too stressful a time in my life right now, maybe the premise really isn't what I thought it was; the characters are great but I haven't given them the right story. I don't know.

I feel like the picture: upside down in a plane and looking at the ground! What to do next? I have a file full of ideas...time to pick another one. Time to try out that new book I have by Karen Weisner, "How To Plot Your Book In Thirty Days". Well, I've always been part plotter/part pantser. Maybe this will help whip something into shape for me. It can't hurt to start with fresh material.

She recommends making a soundtrack for your book. I've always had a SONG that fit my WIPs, but haven't made a soundtrack, mainly because I don't have a CD burner. This is a very cool idea, however, and thank you Karen for suggesting it in your book. She says to play it while writing, doing chores, in your car, etc. That it will sink into your conciousness and help you brainstorm through plot points and issues in your WIP.

I played Nickelback's SILVER SIDE UP for a novel that was trashed by a big NY house, till I thought I'd wear the CD out. So I realize this does work. It helped me find the motivation and angst in my heroine so well, and other songs on it pertained to the hero.

Not one to give up, I'm off to review my file and pull out the best idea/premise that tickles my fancy at the moment.

QUESTION: How many of you use a song, CD, or soundtrack as background to unconciously influence you to work on your WIPs?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Friday, October 20, 2006


The following is an online course to be given by a good friend of mine, Margie Lawson. I've already taken it, and it's excellent! You will be so glad you've taken it, as your WIP will jump to life. She uses real book examples, with authors permission, gives homework for your own WIP, and is hands-on. Make November the month to wrap up the final rewrites on your WIP with Margie's course below:


INSTRUCTOR: Margie Lawson, M.S.
November 1-30, 2006
Cutoff date to receive registration and payment: October 30.
Workshop Registration: $25.00 U.S.D.

Empowering Characters' Emotions:

If you want to enhance characters' emotions, learn the nuances of body language and edit for emotion, this is the workshop for you. The following topics will be addressed:

The full range of nonverbal communication: Kinesics, Haptics, Proxemics, Facial expressions, Paralanguage . . .
Proprioceptive stimuli, Involuntary physical responses
Ideomotoric shifts
Mirroring, Communication Accommodation
Levels of intimacy, Love signals
Nonverbal gender differences
Emotional authenticity
In-trancing the Reader
The EDITS System
Basic, complex, empowered, and super empowered passages
Backstory management
Writing fresh . . .
Projecting Emotion for a Non-POV character
Carrying a Nonverbal Image Forward
Objective Constructs

Margie Lawson holds a Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology with a two-year concentration beyond her master's degree, specializing in psychiatric counseling and nonverbal communication. Her resume includes college professor, clinical trainer, sex therapist, Director of an Impotence Clinic, hypnotherapist and keynote speaker.

Margie merges her two worlds, psychology and writing, by analyzing writing craft as well as the psyche of the writer. She developed new psychologically-anchored editing systems and techniques which hook the reader viscerally. A frequent speaker at writing conferences, Margie also presents 1) Empowering Characters' Emotions, 2) Deep Editing: Rhetorical Devices, The EDITS System and More, and 3) Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors in high-energy one and two-day workshops to writing organizations nationally.

To register for the November course, go to OR email accepts personal checks or money orders (US FUNDS ONLY!).
Please make checks payable to:
Mary O'Gara -and mail to-
1208 San Pedro NE, #188
Albuquerque, NM 87110
Electronic Payments accepted via Paypal.
After logging on to paypal, Email electronic payments to:

Lectures from Margie's courses are also available as Lecture Packets through PayPal. Check her web site for more information, or, e-mail

Monday, October 16, 2006


Sorry for the delay in presenting Part Two. Here is the end of the Story.


A third man rushed forward in the firelight, tackled them and threw them to the floor. "This here be Ruby, ya morons. Ya don't never touch her!"

They were younger men then she had thought. She switched the purse to her left hand, leaving her right hand freer for her boot stiletto. In her haste, she'd forgotten to be safe.

"How is Jazz?" she murmured to the giant who'd saved her.
"Not good. He's real sick, Ruby." The man's eyelids were heavily creased from too much booze and hard living. "I don't think he'll last out the week. He won't let us take him to one of them clinics."

Jazz was a tough, street-smart kid she'd met two years ago. She'd found him on Garland St. one summer dawn with the breeze blowing in off the harbor. He'd been counting his money after spending a night turning tricks for old men in luxury cars.

Now he was dying of AIDS and choking on his own mucus. Ruby held on to the arm of the man who'd saved her from the punks.

"Does he still know who you are?"
"Most times." He hesitated. "Not always, Ruby."

The man led the way through a maze of blankets, boxes, the side of an open van, fires in barrels, and coughing, fighting people.

The young teen lay in a cocoon of threadbare blankets near the north end of the warehouse. It was actually just two sides of a box, and the older man had tried to position it to keep out the wind. The boy's face was gray, a toque over his head, and he was wrapped in several layers of Salvation Army suit jackets. Ruby put down her purse and began chafing his hands.

"Jazz? Can you hear me?"

His eyelids flickered and a tiny bit of drool dripped out of his mouth.

"Could you leave us alone, Frank? Thank you for what you did back there."
"Sure, Ruby." Frank backed away and sauntered off towards a big barrel fire near the center of the warehouse.
"Jazz." She leaned near the boys' ear. "Jazz, wake up. I have fruitcake for you, and brandy."

There was a dirty mug with some water in it. She filled it with a finger full of brandy. Lifting Jazz's head, she poured the tiniest sip in and watched his throat convulse. She talked gently of what a wonderful Christmas they'd have when he woke up, the presents gaily wrapped under the tree, his warm bed upstairs in her house, and the perky dog that would greet him Christmas morning.

Suddenly, his eyes flew open and his hands grabbed her wrist.
"Ruby, is it really you?"
"Yes, Jazz. It's ok, hon, everythings ok."

He took a few more swallows of the brandy and water and then sank back on the backpack he was using as a pillow. He began a paroxysm of coughing and spat up bloody phlegm.

"I brought you a Christmas gift, just like you wanted, Jazz, but I don't know if you should have it."
"You know how much I want this, Ruby. Exactly how I want this."

Her hands shook a little as she took the cigar out of her purse. She unwrapped the fruitcake and broke off little pieces of it. Then she held up his head, cradling his lice-ridden hair to her chest, and hand fed him tiny pieces of Raoul's finest fruitcake. Once in awhile she'd give him a sip of brandy and water. It took him nearly an hour, but he finished all three pieces.

"Just like my gramma used to make." His voice was weak and tired. "I want my cigar now."

Ruby reached under his blankets until she found his lighter and a pack of cigarettes with only three smokes left. She sucked on the cigar until it lit, and watched the spirals of smoke float towards the high ceiling. Then she helped him sit up again, and held the cigar to his lips.

He puffed and the sweet, powerful cigar smoke filled the small space like incense.
"I'd like to go to Christmas Mass, wouldn't you, Ruby?"
"Been a long time since I was at Mass, Christmas or otherwise. Don't talk now."

Jazz reached for the cigar again, watched the red tip burning in the semi-darkness.
"I want you to hold my hand when you do it."
"You gotta do it, Ruby...its gotta be tonight." He stared upwards for a few minutes, as if listening.
"They say 'yes'." He turned to look at her. "Can I see your 'ruby'?"
"You can see anything, if you give up this fool plan!" She pulled up her red sweater and pulled down her skirt. The ruby was a quarter carat and winked from a 14k hoop through her navel. Jazz touched it with awe.

"You're the real thing, Ruby Westlake. I won't ever forget what you done for me these last few months."
"Now. I want you to do it now."

He took a long puff on the cigar, another one, and then another one before he started to gag and choke. He handed it off to Ruby, who ground it out on the concrete beside his nest of blankets. She poured another sip of brandy and water into him when he'd stopped coughing.

"Sure you don't want the rest of this mickey?"
"Naw, give it to Frank for Christmas. I want to do it now."

He fixed his murky blue-eyed gaze on her and held out his filthy hand.
"You're the real thing, Ruby. And I thank you."

She took his right hand with her left hand. Tears smeared her heavy mascara as she sat beside him and drew her boot stiletto out of its hidden sheath. Ruby leaned over his gaunt face - what was he - sixteen, seventeen? She bent closer and closer until their breath mingled together. Her tears wet his cheeks. His eyes were closed, his hand tight in hers. She could taste fruitcake and cigar smoke on his lips.

Gently, she kissed him with the soft whisper of a first lover. Her stiletto out now, she gathered all her strength and plunged it into the right side of his neck, hitting the carotid artery dead on. Jazz's body contorted and she felt hot spurts of blood hit her neck, hair, and chest. She held his hand and the kiss, until the bucking of his body stopped. When she sat up Jazz's eyes were staring at the ceiling with a rapturous look on his face. She reached over and closed them.

Ruby wiped the blade of her stiletto clean, then the handle, with the top blanket. She folded his hands together, and put the mickey beside his pallet. She wiped off the blood on her mouth with the napkin from the floor.

Strong arms jerked her upwards and her feet left the ground.
"Hey Al, isn't it nice when you catch'em in the act like this!"
The uniformed cop set her down with a bone-crunching thud and shook her by the shoulders so hard her wig nearly fell off.

"What are ya, Vampirilla, or are ya going to tell us you just like to steal from the dead?"

Ruby kneed him in the crotch as hard as she could, planted an elbow in his face, and gave his partner a roundhouse kick to the head. A crowd of derelicts and winos had gathered, armed with bricks and planks of wood. The partner was still face down on the concrete, and Ruby had her stilleto up against the first cop's neck, her lips to his ear.

"First of all, you morons, I'm on the job. Badge #501. Second of all, you're about to blow three years of cover. Now get out of here, rookie, before these people give you the beating you deserve."
"Where's your badge?" He squeaked out.
"You'll have to check my crotchless panties. Call Sargeant Hubbard."

She pricked his neck just a little with the stiletto. Al was starting to moan a little on the floor. "Get your partner out of here."

A monotone of "Ru-by, Ru-by, Ru-by" chanting was starting, as she let the cop stand up straight and then pick his cap up off the floor. He radioed for a Sargeant and an ambulance for the body lying in the blankets. Ruby began walking through the crowd.

"Hey, you..." The cop yelled after her.
She waved, but didn't turn around.

********Copyright Laurie J. Wood 2004************************************************

Someday soon, I'm going to write a prequel to this story about Cst. Ruby Westlake, about how she got so far off her moral compass as a cop. Hope you enjoyed it!

Thursday, October 12, 2006


This short story was published in FUTURES MYSTERIOUS PRESENTS DIME, edited by Babs Lakey, Quiet Storm Publishing, Martinsburg, WV, ISBN 0-9749608-6-1, 2004. Author, Laurie Wood.

Part One:

Ruby Westlake still had the goods for a whore nearing thirty-five. She yanked up her leather miniskirt that had twisted sideways on her thin hips, and rearranged her fake red cashmere sweater cut down-to-there so that more of the gold glitter showed on her boobs. She shoved the sweater nearly off her shoulder under her white rabbit fur jacket that just barely touched her tiny waist. Fluffing her blonde wig with her long ruby-red nails in the reflection of a car window gave her a glow of satisfaction.

She looked good and she knew it. Who cared about her birthday on Boxing Day? Tonight was Christmas Eve and she was still only thirty-four, lookin' twenty-eight. Hardly a wrinkle, firm boobs, legs that went on forever in these boots over her knees, and a tight ass to match. Too bad it was so cold; the john's wouldn't find the ruby in her belly-button right off.

Leeza was already warmin' their corner on Warner and Lightguard Streets. It was near the harbor and just south of the respectable part of downtown. Still, there was an all night diner "The Amazon", with a neon red Parrot hanging out front, where the girls hung for coffee and just to get out of the cold. Raoul was a good guy, even if his tattoos were scary. His neck was surrounded in a tattoo of flames, parrots and vines ran up both arms, and his chest and back were covered in Peruvian fire gods.

Leeza blew into her hands, plumes of frosted air in a swirl around her cinnamon face.

"Oh man, ah cain't believe y'all got that mini skirt on girl, yor gonna freeze yor ass off! Y'all never gonna last all night out heah!"

"I don't need all night. Just need till one, maybe two, in the morning. Gotta run for some cigs. You want anything?"

Leeza shook her head no and stamped her feet. Her cheap plastic high-heeled boots slid in the slush. She wore a leather motorcycle jacket over a neon green slit skirt with a leopard print top, draped low in front to her nipples. Huge African hoops swung from her ears and her lips were painted a vivid blood red.

"Y'all got any gloves, girl?" she asked, as Ruby came back and lit up.

"Go get warm. Raoul's put on a Christmas feast for anyone droppin' by. Egg nog, fruitcake, turkey'n everything. Go on, you can turn tricks later." Fiery ash flicked off Ruby's cigarette.

Still blowing on her hands, Leeza nodded. She grabbed the long door handle to "The Amazon", and Ruby watched the chewed up plastic wreath swing back and forth as other street people crowded out the door. Sated on turkey, and Raoul's bootleg brandy, two men went east on Lightguard St. singing Christmas carols and trying to hold each other up. Ruby took one last drag of her cigarette and considered her options.

One car slowed down to take a look at her, and she waved him off. The Giant Tiger Store was still open down the block. She took a few steps forward and tapped one perfect nail against her teeth, right hand cocked on her hip. Leeza was still inside. Ruby ran across Warner St. all the way to Giant Tiger. All she had with her was a black purse that was empty except for a small roll of dollar bills and a thin stiletto. The other stiletto she carried in a special holder in her right boot.

Once inside, she walked carefully up and down the aisles, keeping her eyes out for other shoppers. The clerks were bored and there was hardly anyone in the store. Ruby knew she needed a special gift for tonight, two if she could manage it. She sidled into Ladies Wear and over towards Accessories. The purse was on backwards and she pushed a pair of ladies winter gloves into it.

Brown leather with a soft lining. The clerks were still talking to each other as Ruby walked out and crossed the street to "The Amazon".

It was a relief to get out of the cold. She grabbed a mug of brandy-laced eggnog as the tray went by, and raised it with a smile of thanks at Raoul. Red and green Christmas lights rimmed the long counter where platters of turkey and fruitcake were laid out. Raoul's patrons were a mixture of drunken steet people who would leave here for their grates and cardboard boxes, punked up teens who might find a bed at a shelter if they were lucky, and whores who worked the six blocks surrounding his diner. Someone was singing "Silent Night" and crying in the back corner booth.

"Raoul!" Ruby grabbed his bulky sleeve as he tried to get all 250 lbs. of himself behind his counter. "Can I buy a fifth of brandy from you?" She fished a twenty-dollar bill out of the waistband of her skirt.

"Hey doll, it's Christmas!" His meaty hand slapped her on the shoulder. "And isn't it your birthday soon?" He reached under the counter and tipped a mickey of Napoleon brandy at her.

"Got any more of those really great Cuban cigars, too?" She had to yell in his ear to be heard over the din.

"You don't smoke cigars!" He yelled back.

"It's for a friend! A Christmas gift!"

"Ok, for that I'll take five bucks."

Ruby handed him a frayed five-dollar bill. She tucked the precious cigar into her purse, along with the fifth of brandy. "All right if I take some fruitcake with me?"

"Help yourself! And come back in...don't stay out there all night, ya hear me?"

"Don't worry!"

Ruby stuffed three pieces of fruitcake wrapped in a napkin into her purse. She couldn't close it and it banged against her hip. She found Leeza sitting with a bunch of whores from Fairmont and Leeds Ave.

"Here honey." She held the gloves in her hand. "Merry Christmas, it's just a little something."

"Oh man, I din' get you anythin', girl!"

Ruby hugged her around the shoulders. "You never mind, just stay out of trouble, ok? I'll be gone for awhile, so stay warm until I'm back."

"Where you..."

Ruby was already out the door, and the red neon light from the Parrot drenched her rabbit fur jacket in a bloody red hue.

Two blocks west the harbor turned into warehouses and alleys. Squatters lived there and built their fires, hung their blankets and dragged in cardboard boxes from the delivery trucks. Ruby scrambled over the snowbanks in her high heels, grabbing at icy chunks to steady her, while holding on to the precious cargo in her purse with the other.

She entered a low car park and went around to the back, through a dingy alley that smelt of rotting meat and urine, and then into the back of a warehouse. The door squealed and two men jumped out of the shadows, lunging at her.

****End of Part One*****To Be Continued**********************************************
Copyright Laurie J. Wood*************************************************************

Thursday, October 05, 2006

You Should Be a Film Writer
You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!
What Type of Writer Should You Be?


You Are a Black and White Cookie
You're often conflicted in life, and you feel pulled in two opposite directions.When you're good, you're sweet as sugar. And when you're bad, you're wicked!
What Kind of Cookie Are You?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Can anyone tell me what is going on in these last two weeks? Three school shootings in the US and one horrible one in Canada as well, on September 14th. I took some hits for blogging about Lukas Rossi winning his first spot that day for rock band Supernova - by email, not that anyone left comments here on the blog. That was the day of our terrible Dawson College shooting in Montreal by Killveer Gill, who loaded himself up with a shotgun, a restricted weapon which he'd obtained legally up here in Canada, and then enjoyed himself killing one 18 yrs old girl and wounding about six or more women and himself before the police got to him and shot him. During the autopsy it was determined that it was his own shot which ultimately killed him, although the police had certainly rained fire down on him.

Now, this one room school house in Lancaster, PA has been defiled by a 32yr old truck driver with a 20 yr old grudge against something regarding a school girl when he was 12. And it just now explodes? He orders all the boys and male teacher out of the school, brings in 600 rounds of ammunition, two assault weapons, ties the girls up at the ankles with wire and plastic ties, and then shoots them execution style. And as soon as the police surround him, like the coward, but no doubt mentally ill person he is, he offs himself inside with little girls screaming and crying all around him.

I left comments in a discussion online with the Globe and Mail newspaper. They took a poll as to whether the media should play such stories as they unfold, when they are such obvious copy cats, omit some details, or downplay them. I wrote in that a) I believed that CTVNewsNet and CNN didn't have to rebroadcast the crime every 15 minutes until society was saturated with it, as it becomes addictive to time bombs such as this man, and in their minds, it makes it "ok" to repeat the offense. I truly believe that it's like watching a violent video game over and over. And b) I felt that the focus should be on the families who've been left behind, and on the victims themselves, not glorifying the killers, as was done here in Canada with Killveer Gill - countless images of him from his Blog, excerpts from his Blog, etc. It was really quite disgusting. And it was CTVNewsNet that put that out there. Nothing on the 18 yrs old he killed until her funeral.

The Amish community according to the media are coping as well as can be expected with this tragedy. They are a people of strength, faith in God, and pull together in times of disaster. I was heartened to hear on the news that the hospital had received phone calls and emails from local churches asking how they could help - either with meals for those sitting at the hospital, or transportation back and forth from their town to the hospital as these are Old Order Amish and do not use cars. The Amish and Mennonites are well known to turn up at local disaster sites to help with the victims of tornadoes and floods. It was so good to see "outsiders" offering to help them in their time of extreme need.

Yesterday, after the shooting, I was in WalMart with my children and our local Hutterites (cousins to the Amish) were in from their settlement to shop. They all wear the same clothes, headwear, and the boys and men all dress in black. Their women look so serene - I would love to have some of that serenity in my busy life! We live in a small town, and they are close by; I couldn't imagine such a terrible thing happening here. And yet, this too is rural prairie - they only have two vehicles in their entire community, and one school.

Our high school has video cameras in all corners of all floors, and yet there is no mandate to sign in at the office or report in anywhere. Students roam freely and so do adults - no visitors passes clipped to their shirts in evidence. All the doors are unlocked. It makes me shiver.

We write about crime, evil, psychopaths, serial killers, murder, rape, what makes criminals do what they do. But reality is far worse than what we write. These madmen take away our innocence, and they slaughter our innocent ones.

Friday, September 29, 2006


I read part of this story in yesterday's Globe and Mail, but it's been in most national US newspapers and likely on TV as well. It's the story of Anthony Stockelman, who raped and murdered 10 yr old Katie Collman in January 2005 and is now serving a life sentence in Indiana. He was "mysteriously" tattooed on his forehead by inmates with the words "KATIES revenge". This while he was in protective custody. I have to smile...sorry, but I know how jails and prisons work. Some guard had to have left his cell door open, and his back turned, for enough time to elapse for that to happen. I tried to upload the picture of his sorry looking face, but couldn't, so you'll have to imagine a shaggy-haired, cold-eyed young man with capital letters KATIES and in smaller letter "revenge" in black ink covering his entire forehead.

I googled farther into the story and found a website called Katie's Playground which was started by her parents, her school, and classmates on August 3, 2005. It's 8,000+ square feet, and the students made a list of everything they dreamed of having in a playground. The design was done by an architectural firm Leathers and Associates. It was all put together by volunteer labour, with volunteer day care provided. Amazing! A list of the play equipment and the cost of each piece was put up on a website page, and gradually things were bought and paid for.

The playground hosts events that are listed on the site. There are directions to the Playground. It's become a living memorial in a small town. A memorial to a little girl who didn't return from her short walk to the dollar store one January day over a year ago.

This is why I can never write about children or abducted children in my books. As a parent, I can think of nothing worse. I praise and admire the Collman's for their brilliant idea to make this playground as a testimony to their beautiful little girl. (An apartment building that housed a meth lab was torn down to make the space - all the more fitting to put up a children's playground)

As for tattooing Stockelman - he's lucky that's all they did to him. Anybody who checks in here even once a month knows I put out our Amber Alert for the little guy who was abducted in a small town in Saskatchewan. The pervert was caught, the two boys saved, and all of this could've been avoided if the police force out east had been on the ball enough to put it on CPIC that he was at large again. I think we need to do more than let communities know we have sexual offenders/child molesters living amongst us. Tattooing their forearms seems like a good idea to me - we could all see it - even tattooing their knuckles would save many children who could recognize it and run and scream away from them. If I sound like a neo-Nazi, well, sorry, but I was a cop, remember? :) I've dealt with several sexually assaulted children and you never forget - and regardless of what my PhD SIL believes, bless her, I don't believe the perps can ever be cured.

So let's tattoo them where it shows. Let's protect our children with such stringent laws that eventually there will be no more Katie Collmans, or Cynthia Luengs abducted and murdered.

And grace to Katie's parents, who must look at that playground some days with a heavy heart, but who have shown great courage during the worst year of their lives. Now some strangers they've never met have sealed their tormenter with "the mark of Cain" and he'll never be able to rest if and when he does get parole. Justice has been served.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Blogger's working for me again - it seems to have gotten rid of its bugs! I found the perfect visual for my heroine in my current WIP that I'm reworking. I sent this link to my good friend Toni Anderson (see link to her blog at right) yesterday. I play this video at the start of my writing day to get me inspired. Makes that rewriting go faster. :)

Go to and click on "Maneater" by Nelly Furtado (another international star who's a Canadian export, lol). It's at the top of the Top 100 Video List. Imagine that's my dark-haired, beautiful, undercover cop in her gritty, crime-filled world. :) Sometimes pictures do it for you and sometimes a video can help too.

My kids think that watching this on my full computer screen is pretty neat. It sounds alot better on the home theatre though. :)

Have a great writing weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I'm currently taking Margie Lawson's online course called "Deep EDITS" - which she humourously calls "a graduate course in rewriting". If you want to check out her website at you'll find all of her courses listed and when you can get in on them.

It's completely turned my editing/rewriting world upside down. I can't believe what I didn't know before about writing, and I mean that sincerely. (and btw, my Blogger hasn't recovered from it's scheduled outage at 4 p.m. yesterday - my dashboard has disappeared!)

Anyway, I've learned such big words as:

CONDUPLICATIO: it means to use a key word in your previous sentence to start off your next sentence.
ONOMATOPOEIA: it means to use words that gives you the sound you want. Eg. roar, growl, whimper, whoosh.
ANADIPLOSIS: it means to repeat the last word of your sentence at the beginning of your next sentence.
EPISTROPHE: it means to repeat the last word OR final phrase (three or four) words or phrases in a row.

Maybe you readers out there are all English majors and are way ahead of me! I'm sure any editors reading this are all familiar with these techiniques, if not their names. :) But each of Margie's lectures have been a cornocopio of discovery for me, and although the course has slowed down my writing this week, I know it'll pay big dividends for the future.

I highly recommend any of her courses. Check out her website. You won't be sorry!

And yes, I've rewritten my BA heroine back to a cop, from an investigative reporter. She just told me too, and I had to pay attention to my character. Somehow, they always know what's best.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I can't help but brag here - Canadian talent has taken over Rockstar's reality show two years in a row now!! It seems that Canadian music talent (Nickelback, Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion - well, ok, you can have *her*!) is one of our greatest exports. First, J.D. last year won with INXS and has done a fantastic round the world trip.

This summer, it's been all about Lukas, our "little punk" from Toronto, Ontario. I used to live an hour north of Toronto until March of this year, and I couldn't be prouder of this little guy who up until last night, was a waiter at Hooter's and rocked in bars in the rattier areas of Toronto. He admitted on the show that one of his "originals" was written for his mom - "Headspin", and he played it once with the house band and once again unplugged. If he keeps writing songs like that, he'll be the one taking Supernova to the top, not Tommy Lee's drums.

He also chose to sing Coldplay's "Fix You", for his broken relationship with his dad. He said he hoped that if his dad was anywhere, watching the show he'd realize that he wanted to fix his relationship with him. Lukas belted out a fabulous rendition of "Fix You", and if you'd caught that prior quote from him, it made it all the more haunting.

Here's to you, Lukas Rossi - for proving that even the little guy from "the Great North's New York" as the Rolling Stone's like to call Toronto, can pull it off for us, two years in a row. :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

CALLING ALL WRITERS: "The Arms That Hold Us Up"

I'm writing an article called 'The Arms That Hold Us Up' for the March 2007 issue of Romance Writers Report. This is the monthly magazine put out to members of ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA. The article is about an aspect of writer's lives that isn't often talked about - managing to keep on writing when your spouse/significant other/or family members don't support your writing or writing career. This may be because of your current family situation: young children, finances, unemployment, a jealous spouse, aging parents who need you, or a spouse or family who think that you've "tried so long, why don't you just give up?" It can be many, many reasons. This can often apply to published writers as well as unpublished writers.

If you are interested in answering my short questionnaire about this subject, please contact me at I'd like to get any anecdotes you may have, your strategies for coping, how you've negotiated writing time with your spouse/family. How have you kept on writing in spite of any adverse areas in your life? What does writing mean to you when you have negative people in your life? You can remain anonymous, or sign a consent to be named with your quotes.

Thank you for your interest in this questionnaire!"

Monday, September 11, 2006


Words can't say what the heart remembers.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Argh! In the intense stress of getting two kids back to school, and having my dh undergo more test flights....I MISSED sending in my registration for the Labour Day Weekend's 3-DAY NOVEL CONTEST!!!! I truly meant to send in the $50 registration fee and try my hand at pouring out the first draft for COLD JUSTICE over these three days. Outline notes are allowed in the rules, and as I have those, I figured I was all set. :-( Observe my unhappy face.

However, my soul-mate was unhappy enough that I spent 3.5 hrs in my dusty basement office pounding away on the keyboard, and missed the fact that it was 7 p.m. AND, hadn't started supper yet, thereby putting back the time for hairwashing and showers for above two kids. Which meant that we couldn't watch our movie of the weekend. So unhappy, that after he bar bq-ed the burgers, we yelled back and forth, as husbands and wives are wont to do, he couldn't eat supper. (I'm a mean witch when I point out that my writing time is just as important as reading in the backyard, and we both wear watches). Sigh, guess I never would've made it through three days of uninterrupted writing time to make it to the end of a novel anyway. What a waste of $50 that would've been.

At least the kids got showered and had their hair washed. I mean, being a wife and mom means you have to keep your priorities straight. It's not like being a dad. (sarcasm alert) Maybe next Labour Day Weekend - or maybe some other weekend I can just do it myself for the fun of it.

Are there any more inflated egos on the planet than writers and pilots? I think not. :-( Observe my unhappy face.

45/85,000 pages of rewritten (completely) work on BLACK ANGEL

P.S. I now have two wonderful critique partners. The excitement is back and having a deadline is making everything easier. I'm also taking Margie Lawson's "Deep EDITING" course this month. If you're interested in some really intensive online workshops, check out .

Monday, August 28, 2006


My love of crime, suspense, and thriller novels comes comes from my past career - nearly a whole lifetime ago - of being a police officer. My favourite themes are redemption, and justice, and my favourite characters are anti-heroes, crusaders, and the flawed/broken/demented.

The cops portrayed on Law & Order, and the old show "Homicide: Life on the Streets" are excellent character profiles of "real" cops. Fontana is my favourite cop on L&O right now, as I knew several "older" cops like him - although not as elegantly dressed in my smaller city - who operated in much the same ways, with the same attitudes and ethics. Unfortunately, I've never met an Assistant Crown Attorney (our version of an Assistant DA) quite like McCoy. But if you're looking for good cops to emulate for character realism, Fontana on L&O, Vincent D'Onofrio on L&O: Criminal Intent, and Mariska Hargitay on L&O: Special Victims Unit, are quite true to life. Fontana is a great "street" cop, D'Onofrio portrays the cerebral cop who uses intuition and education to pick apart a case, and Mariska plays an intuitive, sensitive, but spit-in-your-eye, female cop with baggage who does her job as an equal.

My favourite themes as I said are redemption and justice, because who doesn't need that in their life at some point? Every person I arrested needed it: that second chance to do it over, or not do it, to get back that moment before they got in that car, broke into that building, slashed their wife, left their apartment for two days with the baby in the crib....

Some cops didn't care about the victims, and most didn't care about the criminals. Most criminals are not as smart as they are in the movies, even if they're "career" criminals. They're creatures of habit and that's why they're easy to profile. They're usually grouped into a) opportunists, b) habitual, and they are usually the products of "institutions" such as the foster care/juvenile system, or are sociopathic and living in a family situation, thus the "good boy from such a good family" line. Any cop who "cared" was shamed by their peers into being thought of as a "social worker with a gun". (male or female)

Most cops after they've been on the job 3-4 years see themselves as dealing with the lower echelons of society, if not "hauling garbage". Novels which deal with cops as heros do alot to embrace the ideal of the cop as guardian of society - of being more than just the person who deals with all of the horrible things that normal people do not see and do not want to see - novels with cops as heros are redemptive in themselves.

Writing crime/suspense/thriller novels is giving the public a little glimpse into a world they know is out there, but don't want to get too close to in real life. It's challenging work and invigorating at the same time. The truth is that cops are the guardians of our society - witness this one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the lawlessness that took place when one third of their police force quit en masse - and as I now have the time to write I enjoy putting to paper the real world that I know is out show the public something they don't know about, and tell stories that are fictional while being real life at the same time.

I used to come home off nights and tell my fiance after a short-handed nightshift that if the public really knew what went on all night, they'd never be able to fall asleep!

Monday, August 21, 2006


In spite of having family here from Ontario, I have been working on my article, trying to layer my characters in BLACK ANGEL and in between loads of laundry and cooking meals, have been thinking about redoing the entire first third of the book.

And I was searching my hard drive for a story that I wanted to post here, but it's on another computer and I don't have it saved to disc. I may have to retype the hard copy, but I'd like to post it just so you, faithful readers of my musings, can see that I really do write in between politics, recipes, and child care! It's my published story from my Anthology and I'd like to share it as I have the rights back now.

Two weeks and school is back in. My kids are literally counting down the days. They're bored stiff and at least the excitement of a family visit has brought them back to life. Once they're back in school I'm going to try and work on both BA and COLD JUSTICE at the same time. See if I can do one on one day, and the other story on the next day.

I thought you might enjoy a typical Saskatchewan sunset.

Friday, August 11, 2006


If you'll check out the link on the right for THE WRITE MINDED BLOG, you'll see what I meant in my post yesterday. These girls really know how to pour on the promotional sauce. They're romance writers but I think we can all take a "page from their book" (cliche alert) and at least see how this thing works for them.

First, they're throwing a two week "Blog Party". They're giving away 5 of their books every day, and at the end of two weeks they're having a draw for the GRAND PRIZE WINNER - who - drum roll please, will receive ***every single*** copy of their combined books published in 2007. Sort of like joining the Book of the Month Club. They're also giving the GPW a gift basket right away for instant gratification.

At the same time during the two weeks, they're having two author guest bloggers, and (and this is what I think is where they're going to get people flocking to read daily) each of them are having interviews with their publishers on the Blog. Every time a person shows up to read, they comment and get their name thrown in the hat for a daily giveaway and the GPW.

Whichever of the ladies, or whoever in their Publicity department came up with this idea, is a genius. They obviously have their publishers behind them, to have them guest blogging too. As I also belong to Romance Writers of America, I'll be over there commenting away, hoping to win a free book, at least once! :)

See what I meant about not being afraid to give away those books? It works, and they already had 22 comments within the a.m. of posting it just on the Kiss of Death writing loop. I encourage you to pop over there to take a look at the Blog. The contest starts on Monday the 14th. Perhaps your wife would like to read something by these ladies. :)

And for those of you on the Killer Year Blog, getting your publishers on there for a week or so would be very interesting for the rest of us....hint, hint.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Well, I've posted about this on a link or two, and it's for an article I'm doing ("The Arms That Hold You Up") on how our spouses/significant others support us in our writing. I'm excited about it. I've done up a quick 3 page questionnaire (double-spaced and lots of room for your comments) that I can email to you if you'd like to participate in my research. You don't have to be quoted in the article by name if you don't want your spouse to know what you really think of them since your last editor's lunch. I want to find out the real nitty-gritty that goes on behind closed doors. Something behind the romance writers websites that gush about "my loving supportive husband, two children, and our golden retriever Ned." And I even have a golden retriever.

So, email me at and I'll send you a copy that you can email me back anonymously, or print out a hard copy and sign it so I can quote you and fax it back to me. The questionnaire explains all. :)

Speaking of websites, I don't have one yet and all the writing gurus I've been reading lately say that even unpubs like me (who keep sending partials out to agents) need one. NEED ONE!
So, I've been whipping around websites the last few days and trying to write things down that I'd like to have on mine, and things I DON'T want to have on mine. Most of my friends waited till they sold before they put one up, so they at least had a book cover and an excerpt for people to read.

I did see one unpub's site that was pages long, quite the take off on Suz Brockmann's Troubleshooters series (helloooo, she did it first!), with pages and pages of the MS up there as excerpts. Everything I've ever read in book or magazine tells you this is a big NO NO. It's already published if you do that - now if she gets a contract for that series she'll have lots of fun rewriting all those chapters.

My website will never have: pictures of my family, my dog, my cats, my quilts, my countries flag, my dh's classic car collection, or my son's patriotic history project. Enough said.

Another irritating point on websites....IF you're going to have a contest, make it for something worth having! Especially if you're expecting people to take time to read through an entire excerpt for it. And THEN, don't say "only shipping in the US" on the page where you enter. How cheap is that? Am I going to buy that writers' books???

And I know this is a promotional thing, and I haven't completely decided on it myself, but those writer's who combine a contest entry with "this entry automatically adds you to my email list/newsletter etc. etc." I think are also cheap, cheap, cheap. Isn't there a better way to put out an email/newsletter list? The only way I'd automatically add myself to someone's email list is if the contest was for a) a new book, b) piece of jewellery, c) some symbol from the book, d) perfume/gift basket etc.

That's going back to my first point re contests - why are writers so bloody cheap? I have a dear writer friend, and I love her to bits, but her accountant told her to *never* give away a book because it was coming out of her bottom line. To this day she's never given away a book. It's ridiculous. How can you build a fan base, without passing out the occasional freebie in a contest?

By b) above, I mean a replica of jewellery that plays a part in the plot of the book, by c) I mean something similar, say Nordic runes, or a rosary, or tarot cards. I had b) bought for my first book, which never sold, but I had a lot of fun wearing that necklace around. And if the book HAD sold, it would've looked stunning on fake velvet in a frame at a booksigning. With contest entries going into a box.....and yeah, I guess I'd be putting them on an email list.... :)

The other thing I noticed is that just about everything's been done already in the crime/suspense/mystery website field. I'll need to hire someone really crafty to make something original enough to satisfy my vision when the time comes. I have my colour scheme in mind, and thankfully, no one else seems to have it yet although I realize I can't have seen every website out there! But it's going to be hard with all the spooky, glittery, bombshell heroine-gun-toting, templates out there already.

Enough about that. All of you who've already taken the website plunge are lucky to have all that behind you! My adventure is just beginning and hopefully this year into 2007 will be my year to see something happen over my keyboard.

And if you disagree with me over writer contests, please say so. I don't think it's as big a crime/suspense thing as it is a romance writer thing. Is this a way crime writers should promote their books? Should we have contests for handcuff earrings, sterling silver charms of revolvers? (sorry, I know we can't get Glocks, but a gun is a gun) With more women writing crime/suspense/romantic suspense, and more women reading it, maybe it's not a bad idea.

Ladies? Any thoughts?

And don't forget to email me for that questionnaire if you're interested in participating in my article. :)

Friday, August 04, 2006


Mel, Mel, Mel, what happened to you? Why did you have to ruin your fantastic image, your reputation as a superb actor/writer/director, by shooting your anti-semitic mouth off to your Jewish arresting officer?

You weren't even that drunk. Blowing .120 mgs by most police officer's standards, is a "low blow", we used to call it, back when I was a cop. We all vied for arresting "real drunks" who blew over .200 and up. I once arrested a guy who blew over .300, who should've been dead, not driving a car. What by all you hold Holy, were you thinking???

My friend Jason Pinter doesn't think you're going to recover from this public disgrace. He cites the example of Tom Cruise, who didn't survive his very public and stupid TV conversation by saying that there's no such thing as mental illness. But your anti-Semitic remarks at a time when Isreal is fighting for it's very life as a nation - taking on Hezbollah in a David and Goliath war while the whole world watches, wrings their hands, and prays for peace - reveals a man whose private side is lacking in sensitivity at best, and is racist at worst.

Mel, I'm one of your biggest fans. I'm a big supporter of the fact that celebrities are allowed to have their private lives, that they're human and are apt to make mistakes, and am proud that you immediately publically apologized and acknowleged that you've struggled with alcohol for years. I hope you apologized in person to your arresting officer too. Maybe the DA will send you for some "sensitivity" training, or make you do some community service at a Jewish school with kids who need help reading. Who knows?

When I lived in Ontario, we always knew when your families plane landed in Muskoka for your "cottage" vacation. Your marriage is one of the longest standing in Hollywood. You took your whole family to Scotland for the two years it took to film Braveheart. I'll bet you wish you could take those words back with everything you've got.

Now I'm going to play Devil's Advocate.

Will this kill Mel's new movie? Only if the media lets it. Only if people self-righteously say, "I'VE never said a bad word about black people, gay people, Jewish people, disabled people, homeless people, Asian people, Polish people, Hispanic people, French people, the far-Christian right people, the pro-life people, the anti-abortion people, the Catholics, the mentally ill, the mentally retarded, and people dying of AIDS." So, I'M not going to see Gibson's new movie because it'll leave a bad, anti-Semitic taste in my mouth.

Well, if you've NEVER said anything against any of THOSE people, then you can quite reasonably look down your nose at Mel Gibson, trash his new movie and the rest of his career, and get on with your life feeling pretty pleased with yourself. That's why Mel made "The Passion of The Christ", after all. Because he wanted to send out the message that he who sins has to cast the first stone.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


1. Do you attend a writer's conference to:
a) learn writing craft?
b) network
c) just pitch to an editor/agent?
d) use it as a tax write-off
e) meet all your cyber friends in person?

2) Do you attend a writer's conference within:
a) 50 miles of your home
b) 100-150 miles of your home
c) 200-300 miles of your home
d) only in your own State or Province
e) you'd fly anywhere to get to your favourite Conference

3) Do you believe that writers conferences are essential to keep your writers "tool kit" sharp - one can always learn something, even from other professionals?

4) Do you believe that writers conferences are just for smoozing, drinking, and a cherry at
end of a great publishing year?

5) Is it one of your ambitions to get on an author panel or do a workshop at a conference?

6) Is it part of your marketing plan to do a booksigning at a major conference this year?

7) Is it part of your "writing plan" to pitch to the editor/agent of your choice this year? Have you done so?

8) Do you go to at least ONE conference a year - or do you wait until a conference like RWA Nationals or Bouchercon comes close to where you live and go when it's least expensive?

9) If you could pick only ONE conference to go to - which would it be, and why?

10) Which was the most profitable conference you've been to and why?

Thanks for your input!

Monday, July 31, 2006


I have no idea why my Blog won't upload pictures anymore - but the important thing is that you visit to see all of the pictures and information on the Sunday July 30th abduction of ZACHARY MILLER from Whitewood, Saskatchewan.

PLEASE visit this website and take down the information for this little 10 year old boy who is in danger from this 35 yr old pedophile. If this is the only good my Blog does for anyone, it will be worth it! ZACHARY needs our help and prayers. I only wish my Blog was working for a picture of him: he's 4'6" tall, white/blonde hair, slim build.

I'll be visiting Blogger Help to see if I can get my Image Maker restored. Thanks for checking the link.

EDIT: I have no idea why that link won't work, or why I can't upload Zachary's picture. My Images just isn't moving whenever I go to upload a pic so I'll have to present my problem to Blogger. I'll check for another link today. Sorry folks!

Friday, July 28, 2006


This week has been my very own "Summer Holiday". Both our kids have been gone since Sunday to a local camp - it's the first time they've both been gone this long overnight and so far away, so it's been a new emotional experience for all of us. It's a regular camp and they generously provided one-on-one staff for each of the kids at no extra charge. I (being a slightly nervous mom) have phoned down twice to see how they've been making out.

My DD has been horseback riding every day, around the paddock and being led by a staff member. On Tuesday she was trotting, and had her arms out horizontally because she "loved the feel of it", according to the camp director. On Wednesday, she rode bareback, because the other teens were doing it, even though she was scared to do it - she did it. Now, that's my DD for you. :) She's scared of needles, doctors, hospitals - but not of anything else. If someone's doing it, she will do it too. She's always been my little "Xena" - does anyone remember that TV show with Lucy Lawless? DD wore that Halloween costume for three years. My DS was down at the stables every day too, but the camp director couldn't tell me if he'd been riding or not. He has been breakdancing at their evening concerts, and both have enjoyed the campfires before bedtime.

And for my holiday, I've been writing the finishing touches on my new WIP's partial - now called COLD JUSTICE. I've also decided to rework my last MS, called BLACK ANGEL and put to use the rejection letter from the editor who *nearly* bought it, and see if I can place it elsewhere. When you have the house to yourself, it's amazing how much thinking you can get done! The time has flown by and now I have to pick the kids up tonight at the camps' Family BarBQ.

I've also enjoyed reading "The Devil Wears Prada" over the course of the week. Hilarious. I can't wait to see the movie, which I'm sure won't be as good as the book, as Anne Hathaway has been panned. With my DH working till 9 p.m. every night this week, it's been wonderful to have the house to myself to read, read, read.

It's not a glamourous vacation, but it's been fun discovering agent/editor blogs, writing when I want and actually getting words down on paper, and brainstorming with my long distance critique partner Robie Madison. Her new book Love Partner came out last week; if you feel like something futuristic in erotica check out her link at the right.

Here's to a week off, any way you can get it! :)

Friday, July 21, 2006


I've skipped a week or two of recipes for backyard summer sipping - or computer sipping, if that's where you'd rather meet your Muse and tell her to hurry up and get something done!

I've fallen in love with Lipton's Green Tea in the can, so I'm sharing two of their Cocktail recipes that you may have already seen in their advertising literature. If not, this is a great way to zip up your Green Tea for company or for yourself when you need a breezer on a hot day.

The Lipton Tea Cosmo
1/4 cup Lipton Green Tea with Citrus
2 tbsp vodka
1 tbsp orange liqueur
1 tbsp fresh lime juice (the bottled stuff works just as well!)
1 tbsp cranberry juice cocktail
Place all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, then strain into a well-chilled martini glass. (Or a normal tumbler, lol, we're not all 007 are we?) Garnish, if desired with a slice of lime. Serves 1.

The Lipton Green Tea Mojito
Juice of half a lime
6 large mint leaves
1/3 cup Lipton Green Tea with Citrus
2 tbsp white rum (or to taste)
Pour the lime juice into a highball glass. Add the mint and crush with a spoon. Fill the glass with ice and add the tea and rum. Stir well and garnish with a mint leaf, if desired.
(you may want to finely chop your mint leaves, puree them, experiment a little to make this more palatable. Crushing the leaves lets out the flavour, but isn't too great in the drink.)

Hope everyone has a great summer weekend. I'm off with my migraine to get groceries and clean house for our 10 dinner guests this evening. No rum cocktails for me tonight! And good luck with getting those pages done. Now that I've managed to create a "fictional" city, town, and reservation for my settings, my WIP is coming along much better. Soon I'll be able to post page progress like Toni Anderson does. =)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A Mystery

Curtis Allan Dagenais appeared in North Batteford, Saskatchewan this morning for a bail hearing. He turned himself in at his home of Spiritwood's RCMP Detachment after being at large for 12 days. He's been charged with murder for the deaths of Cst. Robin Cameron and Cst. Marc Bourdages, and attempted murder for the other nameless officer who backed them up.

When the judge asked him if he understood the charges he answered "no". When she read them out again, he answered "yeah". It took barely five minutes to remand him and whisk him back to a solitary cell to await his next court date. He's a chip off the old block of his father, Arthur Dagenais, who's charged with "obstructing justice". He refused to leave the area the RCMP were searching for his son - the police got a court order to get him out of the area. Arthur's court date is Dec. 5th and he'll be in custody till then.

Both father and son allegedly hate police and have had numerous run-ins with them all of their lives. Both have police records for charges of assault - the father for domestic violence, and the son for assaulting a highway traffic officer. Curtis has had five violent charges against him, and was nearly named a "dangerous offender" by a whisker except that he hasn't done enough jail time to be considered a "dangerous offender".

There were interviews done by The Globe and Mail, Canada's national Newspaper, calling for stricter sentences from judges in handing out even the minimum sentences allowed for assault. While Canada has been much stricter on domestic violence in past years, simple assault is usually passed over with probation and a fine for a first offense, and perhaps a short 30 days and higher fine for a second offence.

I believe I said in another post that criminals are "career" in their behaviour, they are very often narcisstic in personality, not just sociopathic, and aggressive towards those in authority. Paranoid and often loners, they are often unstable mentally which leads them to substance abuse which leads to more crime.

What caused Dagenais to turn himself in, instead of committing suicide as the killer of four Mounties did last March, will be interesting to find out. It's a mystery right now, but points to a self-involved, narcisstic personality disorder. Narcissists don't kill themselves. The world revolves around them. He won't feel any remorse - no doubt he's still thinking he can get his father to change his mind about his will and deeding half of his farm to his mother - after all, that's what started his murderous rampage in the first place.

No doubt his mother Elsie, and sister Grace, are very glad that both husband/father and son/brother are in jail for what will be a number of months.

And if the judges who had had Dagenais in their courtrooms five times previously had been a bit bolder in their sentencing - had paid attention to him, he wouldn't have been out on July 7th in Spiritwood to kill Cst. Cameron and Cst. Bourdages. He would have been behind bars indefinitely as a dangerous offender, a menace to society, and safe in his cell - never to hurt his family or community again.

If you want to know how this ties in with writing - other than my being an ex-police officer - I say take a look at a real killer and follow the story of how this all unfolds.

EDIT: despite my attempts to include a photo of Dagenais in this post, neither would upload properly. Either there's a problem with Blogger or the pictures were protected for copyright, although I have used copyrighted pictures before and given them the proper credit. So I'm sorry that you couldn't have seen his face - it might have inspired some of you for a character sketch.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


On July 7th, RCMP Cst.'s Robin Cameron, above, and Marc Bourdages, responded to a familiar house across from their RCMP Detachment for another domestic call. It was fine summer evening in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan. The town troublemaker had just found out that his mother was going to inherit half of his father's farm, which he had thought he was going to inherit in full. He and his sister, Grace, were going at it full tilt in the house and Grace was trying to protect her divorced mom from her brother.

The domestic resulted in an armed Curtis Dagenais leading these two officers on a 27 km chase into a swampy, brush-filled area. A third officer pursued them as back-up. The chase ended, so the RCMP say, at 9:15 p.m. with both officers shot in the head, the back-up officer returning fire with Dagenais, and Dagenais making it away into the woods - woods that he apparently knows better than his own living room. He was well-known in town for his hatred of authority, particularly police.

This past weekend, both officers succumbed to their injuries. Cst. Bourdages leaves behind a nine-month-old son, and a widow who is also a Cst. in that Detachment. Spiritwood is a small farming community north of Saskatoon. Cst. Cameron was a single mother of an eleven year old daughter. Her father and uncle are both RCMP officers as well.

In Canada, we tend to recognize our police deaths with large funerals in the same way that we do our fallen soldiers. The shock we feel at their deaths is in large part because of our strict gun control. Also, when they fall in the line of duty in such small towns it seems surreal that the officer you see everyday in the same coffee shop - off duty in the same grocery store, should suddenly be taken from you by the same freak you've known since high school. It doesn't seem right, it's not fair, and nothing can bring them back. Sudden death, graphic death, in real life leaves deep, ravaging holes in the fabric of a community. And it takes time to mourn the dead.

Our RCMP are a Canadian icon. They are seen as the elite among our police forces, although every man and woman who wears any police uniform does the same job, day in and day out.

Curtis Dagenais is wanted on a Canada Wide Warrant. His father thinks he's committed suicide. I think perhaps that's true because no picture has been shown of him on any news station despite of talk of the warrant. If I find a picture of him I'll post it here on my blog.

Robin and Marc, thank you for all the good you've done, for the respected officers you've been, and for the wonderful memories you have given your children. You leave a great legacy.