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...

Friday, March 22, 2019

Round Robin Blog Fest March 2019

Welcome back for another Round Robin Blog Fest!
I'm so happy to have copies of my two newest books now in hand!

It's been a long month for me after having arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in my knee at the end of February. After two and a half weeks off work, I'm back on my feet and returned to work this week. Tired and recovering from a cold, I'm ready for a good weekend off. But first....

The question posed for this month's Round Robin Blog Fest is:   How do you self-edit your books before submitting or publishing?

The past few years, I've learned a great deal from my agent, my publishers, and my writing group when it comes to editing. I've learned to more or less edit as I go, but usually don't do a solid edit of my own work until I finish at least half a rough draft. From that point, I print a hard copy, edit the first half, then move on to write or fill in the missing pieces of the second half and keep the flow going along smoothly.

Over all, I tend to write in chunks when I get the time and weave those chunks together later. One of the things I have to watch out for is changing tenses. Where some books I write in Third Person, the one I'm currently working on is in First Person.

My biggest quirks I need to watch out for when I edit, aside from the tenses, is to keep my writing active rather than passive, and not to repeat words.

Once I get the whole book together, I give it one last edit and run spellcheck to catch those silly things I may have missed. Then it's off to my agent and/or publisher. Generally, I'll get more edits back from them to tweak the things I missed. Usually, they involve commas because it seems no two editors can agree where the commas should go! Some use the Oxford commas, some despise them.

Be sure to drop by and check out what my fellow authors have to say about their editing styles!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Today's the Day!

Three hours from now I will be at the hospital, walking into ambulatory care for my surgery. No food or drink since midnight so I'm getting hungry, but I'm distracting myself with writing and tidying up before my mom comes on Friday. Like the surgeon told me when we first met, "It's not cancer."

If you have no idea what arthroscopic surgery is--and I certainly didn't before the past two months!--I found a couple of great videos. No blood or gore, just computer generated images. If you surf around on YouTube, you can find many versions. This one, from WebMD, is my favorite:

As for me today, I'm getting the house ready for my return and know my cats know something is up since they just won't leave me alone lately! They'll be happy to have me  home for the next two weeks.

Once surgery is over today, I see food in my future.
Definitely coffee and a bottle or two of water!
And I'll get to hang out with my sweetie for a couple days. Someone has to make sure I stay out of trouble!

While I'm recovering, I'll be working on my newest book. And putting my feet up.
Looking forward to both!

I'll let you know how it all goes...

Monday, February 25, 2019

Two Days to Go!

Only TWO days left until my arthroscopic knee surgery!

I lay awake last night wondering how my surgery will go, how I will sleep during recovery, if I'll have a lot more pain compared to know...
In the end, I went to sleep looking forward to being able to walk around the lake with my honey again and doing crazy things like biking and skating. Crazy because I haven't been able to do either in years! I was completely thrilled to be able to ride a bike in July with my brother, sister in law and youngest son. Twenty-five kilometers along an old train track in Kelowna. What a rush!

This, and Advil, have been my best friends for the past seven months. I know I'll need it for a while during recovery, but will be more than happy to retire it! 

I've heard wonderful things about the surgeon as well as the surgery which also gives me added confidence. An added benefit is that part of my recovery time will be spent with my mom catering to my every whim. Ha! Kidding!! But I will be happy to have her here to help me while Marcel is at work and my son is at school.

Soon I'll be able to get back on my feet and lose some of the weight that has piled on over the past few months. Number one, from not being as active as before, and Number two, from having a sweet boyfriend who is a terrific cook! How can I say no to such good food?

Off to work for two more days....

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Round Robin Blog Fest Feb 16 2019

With a snow storm outside and my knee limiting my physical activities, what a better time to jump in and rejoin the Blog Fest with a new post. That and I get to share some great news! I have a new book released as of February 14th!

Glitter Bay Mystery Series

Book 1:  All That Sparkles

What do a trunk full of vintage clothes, a handsome land developer, and a fifty year old diamond heist have in common? Laken Miller receives a trunk full of expensive vintage clothing and a stack of newspaper clippings about a fifty-year old diamond heist. Now all she has to do is figure out who murdered Tilly San Vicente before the killer silences her as well.

And now back to the Blog Fest question of the month:  
Love, sex, and relationships are part of many books. What seems acceptable, what do you think current readers want, and what (for you) is going to far?

I think readers read such a wide variety of genres, heat levels, and deviant types of books that there really is no longer unacceptable materials - depending on your target market. Something like Fifty-Shades of Gray began as Twilight fan fiction. A book for teens and young adults. In fact, I know many people who write erotica and sell very well.

When it comes to my books, however, I prefer to keep the heat at a low simmer which seems to go better with cozy mysteries. Probably the steamiest novel I've written was The Bakery Lady that sees Leo Blue run into a woman he can't resist, Christina Davidson:
     Christina folded her arms across her chest. “Are you here to buy something or just stand here and psychoanalyze me to death?”
    “I’ll take a dozen ├ęclairs and a half dozen cookies.” He straightened up. “All I’m saying is that every other shop in town is all decked out for the holidays and you don’t have so much as a candy cane or the radio on, which I know you have since Clancy turned the music on yesterday.”
    “And?” She walked into the warmth of the back room, trying to pretend he wasn’t there. The smell of his cologne mingled with the fresh baking as she opened the oven door. “I think you should go now.”
    “And I think you need to show a little Christmas spirit.” Leo followed, pausing to hold his hands in front of the open oven door and bask in the warmth. He wore a leather bomber jacket and a cheery red scarf which clashed with his spiked red hair, but he didn’t seem to care. “By the way, I still want cookies and dozen ├ęclairs.”
    While Clancy had mentioned Leo was a boxer and martial artist, she hadn’t realized that meant he enjoyed picking fights outside the ring with five-foot-nothing women covered in enriched white flour. She nudged him out of the way, put several trays of raw cookie dough into the oven then shut the door before Leo could get too comfortable. “So I’m not into Christmas. Big deal. Not everyone in the world is, you know.”
    “You used to be. Clancy told me so.”

I have read books with far more heat than that, but I'm not so sure I could write one without copious amounts of wine to loosen my inhibitions! Let alone what my mother would say! Lol! My ears are red just thinking about it!

For me personally, when it comes to books, and even to movies, I find the innuendo is far sexier than the in-your-face descriptions. I like a little bit of sexual tension between my characters, both in books I write and the ones I read. A little bit of heat from a furtive look, a touch of skin, a lingering kiss... Is it hot in here?

Now that you've heard from me, let's see what the other writers think:

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Count Down is ON!

Two Weeks to Go!

I've had issues with my right knee since I twisted it several years ago. It was a struggle and took a lot of doctor appointments to start getting "back on my feet," but I did it. Last July while on holidays with my brother and his wife, we did some hiking, rode mountain bikes (on an flat course) which was something I never thought I'd be able to do again!

Then came a walk up the hill and along the smooth, fresh asphalt. One moment of inattention and I fell straight down on to my knee cap. At least I left my mark at my brother's new house...

A lot of blood and a very angry wound later, and I was back to limping. Yippee.
I figured it was just a flesh wound and slowed down a little but kept on walking. I even went on dates and a few days after my injury, I met a man who loved to be outdoors and as active as me. M and I kept on hiking and ate at some great restaurants.

Eventually, I realized my knee wasn't healing properly.
Off to the doctor who carefully examined it. When she turned it slightly, I nearly leaped off the table. Her diagnosis was immediate:  Torn meniscus. 
My next step: MRI, possibly surgery.

Yikes!!  So off I went. My MRI was December 23 and my doctor called me in person on December 27 to ask if I would give her permission to send me to the Orthopedic Surgeon. I didn't even hesitate. Yes, some things can be healed more naturally, and I had tried over the past 6 months. Surgery was the only way I am going to get back on my feet.

I saw the Surgeon January 21 and was immediately scheduled for surgery Feb 27 with Pre-Op tomorrow, Feb 13. 
It took a few days for that to sink in! Everything had happened so fast from the MRI to now. 
While the flesh wound has healed to a large purple scar, the inside needs a little bit of help to get cleaned up. The Surgeon will do arthroscopic surgery to dig in and clean up the tear as well as some damaged cartilage. I've booked a couple weeks off work to heal and even have my mom coming to help as well as my son and my honey, M, who has been an amazing support! 

I'm so looking forward to taking care of my injury and healing.
I'll keep you all posted!