Friday, August 16, 2019

Dog Days of Summer

I'm so grateful this summer that I've had lots of time to write and edit! Some days in the coffee shops, some days up at the lake...

My latest work in progress, Written in Stone, is nearly ready. I'm in the editing stage right now and will give it one more good read before I send it off to a publisher in September. This one will be my first novel set in Canada on the shores of Georgian Bay. Fingers crossed it does well. I'm loving this book!

I'm working behind the scenes on a newsletter which will appear this fall.
I'll also be on a Mystery Panel at Orangeville Public Library on September 28 with 5 amazing ladies from the Crime Writers of Canada. It'll be a great time!

In the meantime, I'm working all next weekend at an incredible performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at Island Lake. I won't get a lot done writing wise, but it'll be fun to hang out with co-workers at a nice venue. Outside under the sun!

After the long weekend, I'm back to full time at my day job, but the writing never ends!
Watch for not only a new Gilda book in 2020, but a few novellas and anthologies.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!



Thursday, August 1, 2019

A New Box Set and an Upcoming Event!

Happy August!

        I hope you've all had time to enjoy the wonderful weather and take a break from the ordinary. I was lucky enough to get to go away for a week and enjoy the shores of Lake Huron, some beautiful sunsets and the company of my wonderful other half. I also spent time writing while he fished and puttered around on the property.

Book #9:  I’m in the process of renaming and revising my Thistlewood Mystery. Why? Because I’m planning to publish it with my Canadian publisher and want to find a Canadian location! All of my books to date have been set in the U.S. which was supposedly an easier sell. While that may be true, I’ve decided to take a sharp turn North and am looking for a similar location to the one I wrote about A.J. Cadell for her new mysteries. This one will be released in early 2020!

Book #10:  This one has a name, Dead Without Shame. Yup, Gilda Wright is back for Book 4! This time, she is grading for her Brown Belt in karate, finding the killer of a store clerk at Happy Harvey’s Hangover Hut, and figuring out ways to avoid her mother who has come to visit thanks to her fairy godfather Gary del Garda.

Novellas in the works! Another work in progress, I am puttering with the idea of self-publishing a series of novellas featuring a character I introduced in an anthology no longer available, Cozy Christmas Capers. Audra Clemmings will return to print soon as well. Stay tuned!!

I also have some great news!  The first three books in my Wild Blue Mysteries is now a BOX SET!  Woohoo!  You can purchase it through this link!

Packham is like some small town time hadn’t only forgotten but skirted around on tiptoes.
It’s also where Danny Walker got his start.
The same place he’s being dragged back to along with a reluctant Leo Blue, his partner at
the Wild Blue Detective Agency.

Packham is home to a bookstore lady on the run from the mob,
a mystery writer determined to get herself killed,
and a sexy baker with a secret life she would rather forget.
All three women are enough to keep Danny and Leo on their toes
—and on the verge of nervous breakdowns.

So what will the rest of summer bring?

For me:

·       Doing some crazy decluttering.

·       Getting my youngest off to college.

·       Finishing A.J.’s novel to send off to my publisher.

·       Writing both Gilda’s story and Audra’s novellas.

·       Getting organized both at work and at home for fall, which will be very busy!
·       Advertising a new event…. A Mystery Panel coming this September!

Have an amazing day!


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Round Robin Blog Fest June 2019

Welcome back to another episode of the Round Robin Blog Fest! Pour a cuppa coffee, sit back and check out what all of our amazing authors have to say. This month's question posed by our illustrious leader is:

"Has an event in your life, or one of someone you know, or one covered in the news, ever worked its way into one of your stories?"

Definitely! As a writer, I'm not unaffected by the world around me or the things that happen in the media. I love the phrase "truth is stranger than fiction." Many times writers may take ideas and events from reality and put them into their stories. Some of these may even be called unbelievable by editors even though the writer may have actually lived through them or know someone who did. I have a few of those stories, but haven't found the right book idea for them just yet.

My Gilda Wright Mysteries has some basis in fact. I trained in karate for several years while I worked at a martial arts school. While nobody died on my watch, writing those books was a good way to learn more about the martial arts and vent without hurting anyone! I received my blue belt in goju-ryu karate before I had to quit for various reasons, but all three of my sons are black belts. My oldest son has a fascination with swords and Japanese sword fighting just like one of my main characters. In fact, my son was part of my inspiration for Kane Garrick. Long hair and all!

I started to write The Mystery Lady (Wild Blue Mysteries) with someone else I knew in mind and putting myself in her shoes. Writing Lucy Stephens became even more difficult when I ended up going through my own separation and had to find a way to juggle three kids, a full-time job, and a writing career. It was one of those situations where writing the book helped me to deal with things in the moment.

In my newest book, All That Sparkles, Laken Miller has separated from her husband, a B-list movie star, and has dealt with a major health crisis. Her whole life has fallen apart and she has to use her resources to start over after her career as a model came to an end after her diagnosis. She needs to reinvent herself so she focuses her energy, fashion sense, and connections in the industry to help with her sister's vintage clothing boutique. She also ends up juggling her busy days at the store with taking care of a puppy she finds and helping to find a murderer when a woman drops dead in front of her in Vintage Sage. Then, of course, there's a couple of handsome men in the picture...

Okay, so I've never been a model except when my friend took my headshots, but I can totally relate to the health crisis. I've had auto-immune issues for years and know exactly what it's like to have no energy and want to crawl into a cave both because of an illness and because of a rough break up.

Thanks for reading. I'm glad to have you join us! Click on the names below to see what the others have to say:

Connie Vines 
Victoria Chatham 
Skye Taylor 

Judith Copek 
Dr. Bob Rich 
Beverley Bateman 
Margaret Fieland
Anne Stenhouse  

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Facing an Empty Nest and (Hopefully) and end to Tests

Summer is taking a long time to arrive here. It's been cool and damp all spring with only the odd day of sunshine.

In the midst of finishing my draft of Book #9 and the start of summer vacation, my youngest son graduates from high school. It's been just he and I for the past three years since his older brother moved out and went to college. His oldest brother has lived 4 hours away for several years now. They have all become amazing young men and I'm excited to see what life holds in store for them.

So now, as I told a friend today, it will just be me and two cats. Apparently, I'm not officially a crazy cat lady until I have three cats, so I'm holding off on making that leap. I'm not ready for three fur babies just yet.

What I do have, are my books, my ideas for building my writing career and filling a few shelves with my own novels. I also have a great partner who encourages me every step of the way and attends a lot of writing events with me. I'm even getting him to take pictures now and then!

I still work full-time, which once my house is empty will get me out and around people. Meeting people and walking around town always inspires me. I've ended up with some great pictures and a whole shelf full of ideas to work on.

Over the next week, I have a series of medical tests to go through. Pulmonary assessments, endoscopy, colonoscopy, then... Life will change regardless of the outcome. Gluten and dairy-free will become a way of life - no cheating or I'll be sick all over again. I've decided I kind of like being able to walk and am tired of the stairs being a challenge everyday. I also like being able to breathe without puffers and not feel sick to my stomach or have swollen joints all the time.

So that's it.
This summer, my health comes first.
As well as getting my son ready for college...
Plus spending time with my honey...
And a thorough edit of Book 9...
Maybe even writing a new book...
It's going to be a good summer!

In other news:
I'm looking forward to building my writing career as well as adding some guest spots to my blog and finding some awesome writers for you to read. Watch for that this fall!

In the meantime, I'll pop on here from time to time and give you a taste of what's to come.
I'll also have to find a way to incorporate this cute little chair into everything
Gotta love garage sales!

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Round Robin Blog Fest April 27 2019

Round Robin Blog Fest April 27

I'm off and running today. Going to check out the college my youngest will attend this fall. Hopefully, I'll catch up with everyone soon! 

At some point spring will arrive in Southern Ontario. Just when we think it's sprung, we get hit with snow and/or freezing rain. Suitable since this month's Round Robin Blog is:

Does the season every play a part in your setting? How do you think seasons affect setting and plot either physically or metaphorically? 

Yes, the seasons have definitely played a part in a few of my novels. I think, metaphorically, the seasons evoke different emotions in readers. Spring is about rebirth, new life, and growth. Summer always feels more laid back and we all look forward to trips to the beach, camping, and a change of scenery. Fall is about back to school, chillier days, ripened fruit and getting ready for winter hibernation. Winter...who in their right mind wants to be outside when they can curl up in front of a crackling fire reading? Lol! But that makes for a dull book.

I have set a couple of my novels in the late fall/winter months. The Bakery Lady is set at Christmas and emotes thoughts of family and tradition:

   The snow crunched beneath her feet on the sidewalk that led to Main Street. When she rounded the corner, she paused, dazzled by the lights and the carolers who wove between the throng of window shoppers and children.

   “Merry Christmas.” A small, stooped man patted her arm. Father Sam. The former priest had retired from the church long before Christina had left Packham. There were many euphemisms used, but the basic story was he talked to a plastic statue that resided on his lawn year round.
   “Merry Christmas,” she said, more out of respect than anything.
   “Hope you’ve been a good girl this year.” His blue eyes crinkled as he smiled. “I’ll bet Santa has a great surprise in store for you.”
   What was she supposed to say? Sorry Father, I’ve had some personal problems and I need a do-over this year.
   “I’m so sorry about your mom, my dear.” He took her hand, his fingers icy and red. “She was a true gift from God. I miss her smile and her hot cross buns.”
   “Thank you.” Christina grasped his fingers then gasped. “Where are you gloves, Father? You’re freezing.”
   He blinked. “Oh, somewhere. Probably at home.”
   She pulled her gloves from her pocket and slid them onto his hands. “Take mine. I’m still warm from being in the bakery all day anyway.”
   Father Sam stared, first at her then down at the gloves. “Bless you, my dear. You have always had a good heart, just like your mother, bless her precious soul. I promise I will get these back to you very soon.”
   “No rush. Just stay warm.” Christina walked away, her heart heavy.

The Painted Lady is set in the spring for a couple of reasons. Mostly because, it follows The Bakery Lady as Christina Davidson grows and begins a new life that isn't without its rainy days. Secondly, she has a secret that 

The month of April came in like a lamb, mild and warm, and by mid-month she already had a light tan to show for it. She spent several days scrubbing every inch of Daisy’s Bakery until everything shone. Her mom, who’d died of cancer in September, would have been proud. Of the bakery, anyway. For now, Christina was stuck in Packham running the bakery and taking care of her dad. So much for her dream of running off to paint.

Salo had offered her that opportunity. She could travel the world with him and paint in cities she’d only dreamed of and visit galleries she could only explore via the Internet. They already had a past together, was a future so hard to imagine?

My latest series will also begin with Book 1 taking place in late November into early December. AJ Cadell is discovering secrets about family - isn't that what the holidays are all about? Family, I mean! The first two books will take place before, then during Christmas while she learns more and more about the secrets in her past. 

And now my dear friends, please check out what my fellow writers have to say...

And check out my latest novel - All That Sparkles

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Olivia Swift - Blooms, Bones and Stones Cozy Mysteries

A Blooms, Bones and Stones Cozy Mystery Boxed Set Books 1 to 6 by [Swift, Olivia]

Looking for some great spring reads?

Six Cozy Mysteries by author Olivia Swift

In ‘The Secret of Chestnut Hall’ meet garden restorer Jasmine Summer as she and her friends unravel the secret behind a mysterious find in the gardens of Chestnut Hall. The following books feature her interesting and very different friends. 

This collection of cozy mysteries includes books one to six in the Blooms, Bones, and Stones series. If you like cozy mysteries with interesting characters, unexpected turns, magical moments and sweet romances, then this is the Cozy Mystery series for you!

FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Included Books

Each book in the series is a stand-alone story, but your enjoyment of each story will be increased if you read them all. 

The Secret of Chestnut Hall - Jasmine (Jazz) Summer takes on a contract to restore an intriguing old garden for her client Evan Sutherland. Evan, a famous mountaineer, is trying to leave behind a shattered life and an ex-wife that almost ruined him. Chestnut Hall, Evan’s house and garden, has a mysterious past that intrigues the pair, but leads them into situations that they would never have dreamed about …and into unforeseen dangers. 

The Secret of the Jewel Shop - What do lavender, stones, and spirits have in common? You’ll need to read this love story within a love story to find out! Carly James dream of opening a jewelry shop is fast becoming a reality. The building’s history intrigues Carly, especially when she senses a spirit presence. Dex arrives on the scene for his brother Evan’s wedding. He’s recently been through a rough patch, however he’s starting fresh. Dex agrees to temporarily help Carly out in the store. He’s logical and serious by nature and skeptical about her crystal readings. Can two opposites really attract or will a schoolboy stalker cause a tragedy?

Almost Picture Perfect - Miller Hollenbeck hates her job. In her spare time, she loves to upcycle furniture. Miller Hollenbeck dropped the screw she was about to tighten with her electric drill and it slipped to the floor. The door dropped away from her hand and fell over onto her shoulder. She swore loudly and expressively and pushed the door to one side as she retrieved the escapee screw. Meet Jules Callander, a successful photographer who is impressed with Miller’s work. What can happen when two redheads collide?

The Secret of the Quilt - When Kim Summers begins to restore an ancient quilt; strange things start to happen. Kim’s dream is to turn her little garden shop into a large garden center, complete with a crafting and quilter’s area. With help from her long-time friend, Rob Manners, it’s quickly becoming a reality. Rob has carried a torch for Kim since he was ten years old. Is Kim brave enough to risk losing her best friend for love? Rob is not about to give up when Kim needs him the most. As they unravel the secrets of the quilt, with the help of their friends, perhaps there will be a message for Kim and Rob. 

The Secret of the Pendant - When Corby Santana receives an unexpected inheritance from her great uncle, she learns that he has left her a house along with a very unique turquoise and silver pendant. For Corby, it seems like a piece of good news, but she's not sure, especially when the will states she needs to wear the pendant when she visits the house. What secrets do the house and the pendant hold in store for Corby and her friends?

The Secret of the Stones - Katarina Jones’ sensible exterior and strong practical streak often masks her real feelings. Ben Carruthers is terrified to ask Kat out but when he buys a piece of land, and enlists Kat’s help with his vision, it gives him the opportunity to spend some time with her. When Ben has a load of landscaping rocks delivered, Kat seemingly has a sixth sense about some of the stones. Will danger draw them together or pull them apart, especially when Kat has trouble acknowledging that she has a sixth sense?


Olivia Swift loves writing cozy mysteries! Her stories are inspired by her varied interests…gardening, spirits, crystals and so much more. Of course, there must be a romance or two in her books and a happily-ever-after ending! 
Growing up in a small English village, Olivia is only too familiar with the various characters that make up a community. There is always an event, drama, or mystery amongst the village folk. 
Only a few years ago, Olivia and her husband chose to take an early retirement and moved to the Aquitaine region of France. There, in her sun-filled study, she is able to sit and write her books. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the window overlooks her lovely French country garden.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The WHO, What, Where, When, Why and How of Writing - Part 1

I first posted this on April 3, 2019 on my publisher Books We Love's Blog but I was too busy to share. Hopefully, you all enjoy!

Walking tends to make my creative brain ramble with ideas I generally forget fifteen minutes later, especially when I get caught in the rain and have to hustle. But this concept for a series of blogs stuck. When we think of the five Ws, we immediately think journalism. In this case, however, I’m applying it to writing.
Who – as in Who are YOU as a writer?
What – for What do you want to write?
Where – location, location, location.
Why – what drives you?
When – what the best time to write?
Over the next few months, I’d like to expand on those ideas because those are the questions I see a great deal on social media questions and answer pages for writers, new and experienced. We all have this curiosity about other writers as well as our own creativity and what makes us tick.
So let’s start with the WHO.

Who am I?
When I was a kid, my dream was to be on the Oprah show. To get there, I planned to become one of two things:  An actor or a writer. Fast forward a few years later (Ha!). Oprah’s show is over. I am not an actor, but I work for a live-stage theatre.
And I am a writer.
I’m not famous. I may never be, but I’m doing what I love to do even if I’m not able to do it full time just yet.

How long have you been a writer?
This question comes up a lot on forums. For me, I started storytelling when I was little, before I could write. Then learned how to put those stories onto paper so others could read them.
I’ve stuck my passion in a drawer for years to satisfy someone who called it a waste of time, then dragged it back out when I had kids and never looked back.

Are you one of those people who has always loved books and capable of survival if locked in alone in a library for a long weekend?
With a stash of water and food, I’d be in Heaven! Not that all writers would survive without full access to computers or paper to work on!

Have you always had an itch to write the next great novel or do you dream of being wealthy and famous beyond words?
In all honesty, it’s not easy. Those writers like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, and the like, they’ve had their share of rejections and have had to work hard to get to where they are. All writers do.
Most will never get that kind of attention or notoriety...

Can you type?
That one may seem silly on the surface, but these days all books are submitted via email to agents and publishers. No one will accept a handwritten stack of loose leaf papers.

Do you LOVE to write?
I’ve been told to get a real job many times. That’s never stopped me from writing. Even John Grisham wrote between court cases.
I write between my full time job, raising my kids, and trying to lead a normal life. I write because I have a passion for words, books, for creating stories that no one has ever heard before.
Writing, for some of us, is like a disease that wakes us in the wee hours of the morning. Or distracts us in a board meeting or while on long walks.
We can’t live our lives without a pen in hand or a computer screen beckoning.

Do you have a thick skin?
People can be mean. They criticize and condemn even if they’ve never actually read a word we’ve written. They tell us our dreams are silly and not worth the paper they’re written on.
If you are open to constructive criticism, there are many people out there who will genuinely be able to help you improve your skills.
Listening and learning only help us grow.

Do you have a sense of curiosity in how you see the world around you?
Perhaps another silly question, but it’s how we see the world that makes us writers. We question. We experiment. We have a curiosity about “What if” which is what compels us to create.
Our stories may be based on world events, life events, anything that strikes a chord deep within and makes us wonder what might have been.

Are you addicted to collecting pens, paper, and sticky notes?
Yes, some people prefer paperless, but a lot of writers I know live for the smell of freshly printed books, colorful notebooks, and multi-colour pens which we carry in every pocket and bag we own.
A writer without a pen is like a smoker without a lighter.

One last question for you before I’m off to work on my own book… Are you willing to put in the work?
Writing is indeed work. You need to do research, create a rough draft, edit that rough draft, submit to editors, agents and publishers, do more edits, cry a little, do even more edits.
Then the work begins. No one will market your book for you. You must spend time telling the world what a brilliant person you are and how you’ve written a great story.
You have to organize and do book signings, attend writing events, take workshops to develop your skills, attend more events, do interviews both online and in your community, join writing groups and online groups…

The list never ends. There are so many ways to reach your audience.
The short of it is, you cannot just write a book then sit back and let it take on the world.
The world will never know it exists without a little help from its creator.

Diane Bator
Author of Wild Blue Mysteries; Gilda Wright Mysteries and Glitter Bay Mysteries
Mom of 3 boys and 2 cats and a mouse we can't find...