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...