All posts by Melanie

It’s Teddy Bear Day! Hip Hip Hooray!

Teddy Bear Day
Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Teddy Bear Day!

Hooray for Teddy Bear Day! Do you have a favourite stuffed animal, whether it be a bear,  a dog, a moose, a beaver, or a raven?

I happen to have all of the above along with a beaver,  two foxes, a couple of tigers, polar bears, a seal, and the list goes on. I even have a hippopotamus.

teddy bear day

This cute guy is actually an eyeglass holder. You put your glasses in his mouth to store them. It’s all nice and soft in there like the cloths you clean your glasses with so no scratches.

The largest of my stuffed friends stands about 6′ tall. Definitely taller than I am, but that would be hard because I’m short. Now that’s what I call a teddy bear.

Teddy Bears Around the World

In this year of coronavirus, teddy bears have been getting up to all sorts. The Coronabears in Largs, Scotland have their own
Facebook page. My big guy is about the same size as Hope and Sunshine but he’s dark brown.

Holly Saunders, also from Scotland, had her teddy bears doing all kinds of fun things, too. Their most recent appearance on Facebook was to remind everyone to wear their masks when inside stores and other confined public places.

The Scots have quite the imaginations when it comes to their teddy bears and bringing smiles to people’s faces during these uncertain times. Another woman, Elaine, has a Facebook page called It’s A Bear’s Life.

What fun!

And this family of bears is my favourite of all (after my personal collection, of course).  These guys hang out in La Fudgerie’s Boutique on 16 rue du Cul-de-Sac in the Petit Champlain District of Old Quebec City. The biggest is almost twice the size of my huge bear.
The one wearing the apron and the sign telling you not to touch the bears, would be about the same size as mine, mabye a bit smaller.

teddy bear day

So no matter how you celebrate Teddy Bear Day, just remember our stuffed friends. If you don’t have any now that you’re grown up think back to when you were small and what your favourite stuffed animal was.

Hooray for Read a Book Day! #amreading #amwriting

Hooray for Read a Book Day!

Hooray for Read a Book day! Here in North America, it’s our Labour Day weekend, so we can extend our “bookish” holiday into another full day of reading enjoyment.

Hooray for Read a Book Day!
Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

What’s your preferred medium for reading? Are you a fan of ebooks or do you prefer print, either paperback or hardcover?

And then there are genres? Which do you like to read? Crime? Thrillers? Horror? Romance? Historical? Or a blend of all of the above.

I’m lucky in that being an author, I’ve met authors from other countries around the world – England, Scotland, Australia, France, the US, and back here at home in Canada.

I write in a number of genres, but my favourite is romance. You can see my books here. To find out more about any particular title, click on the cover and you’ll be taken to the book’s page where you’ll be provided with the description and buy links should you be so inclined to purchase.

possibly a title or two you might be interested in?

My brand “where fact and fiction meet” stems from the fact I take real events and spin fictional stories around them, changing place and characters’ names to protect the ‘guilty.’ 😉

Now before you think this blog post is all about me, I’m going to introduce you to two authors you might not have heard of before.

I’ll start with Chris Longmuir. Chris and I first met virtually in early 2001 when she contacted me asking permission to use a photograph. We met in person later that same year and see each other as often as possible.

Another is Wendy H. Jones. I’ve not known Wendy as long, but she Chris and I make up the Princesses of Pandemonium. While their books are crime – gritty, humourous or historical – we have a great time when we get together.

Here we are outside the Old Town Jail in Stirling, Scotland.

And inside one of the cells.

I hope you enjoy Read a Book day, and maybe even discover some new-to-you authors.

National Book Lovers Day

Think this girl will get through that stack of books today?

 

 

National Dog Day – a day for our canine companions

National Dog Day

How will you and your canine companion celebrate National Dog Day? Did you even know there was such an occasion?

National Dog Day
Image by grafikacesky from Pixabay

Over the years, we’ve had many dogs. And every single one who crossed over the rainbow bridge broke my heart more than the one before.

These are the last two dogs who shared their lives with us.

National Dog Day

This fine looking dog was Jingles. He was a cross between a Corgi and a German Shepherd. And like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, he had bounce. He could jump straight up from all fours and still propel himself forward. And in the photo above, is the way he liked to sit in my lap.

And in the photo below, this handsome boy was Jake. Both dogs lived with us at the same time. Ear infections plagued this poor boy from the time he was a small puppy. He broke the blood vessels in the flap of his ears on more than one occasion, too—a costly trip to the vet.

National Dog Day

Jingles and Jake both loved lettuce. If I was preparing a salad, I had both dogs, one on either side of me waiting their turn. So it was a leaf for one, a leaf for the other and finally a leaf for the salad.

The year we planted lettuce, Jake stomped into the garden and ate it. A fence blocked off the entire garden, but he found a way through and munched more.

Jingles disappeared one night and never returned. To this day, we have no idea where he went. Off to die? Perhaps.

Jake, we ended up having to put him down. He was old and had difficulty walking. He fell frequently, and when he did, he lost control of his bowels. It was no life for him, so we made the decision.

Did you know that in each book in my It Happened series, a dog plays a role? A matchmaker, if you will.

Tori, the black lab pictured below stars in the first book of the series, It Happened on Dufferin Terrace.

 

 

Tori

 

Xena, the German Shepherd, didn’t have the right stuff to become a police dog with the Vancouver Police Department in It Happened in Gastown.

National Dog Day
Xena

Frankfurt’s Champion Beauregard, aka Buddy, the Dachshund, stars in the third book, which I’m currently writing, It Happened at Percé Rock.

National Dog Day
Buddy – Image by mystic_oneness0 from Pixabay

The plan is to have six books in the series, featuring the Scott and Layne families. For everyone to tell their how they met – how “It Happened”, I need that many books.

Wolfgang, the Great Dane, will star in It Happened at Lake Louise. I’m thinking of the Fort Mac wildfires as the backstory and how pets were rescued from people’s homes and taken out of the danger zone and reunited with their humans later.

I’m torn between having a Corgi or a Whippet in It Happened at Niagara Falls. Thankfully, this book is further down the pipeline, so I’ll have plenty of time to make my final decision.

A stuffed Scottie dog will star in the last book of the series, It Happened ?? I’ve not decided on a location for it yet.

This wee guy will be sitting on the empty seat beside Amy Scott either on the train or bus or some method of public transit. A young man will ask if he can sit there, and she agrees, not paying much attention to him. He picks up the stuffed toy and reads the tag and pronounces the name on it as Sea-u-mus. She looks at him and rolls her eyes and tells him it’s pronounced Shaymus.

I hope you’ll take a look at my books starring dogs. Roxanne St. Claire also has a couple of dog series in the works – The Dogfather series and The Dogmothers. Check them out, too.

Box Set Blurb – How do you write yours?

Creating an enticing back cover blurb is difficult enough, but when you’re trying to come up with a box set blurb for the first time, it’s even harder.

With Amazon, you want to be able to pack as much of a punch in as possible before the reader has to click on the “read more” link.

box set blurbs

I’ve wanted to sell A Shadow in the Past and Shadows From Her Past together as a box set in ebook format for quite some time. Anyone who has seen me at various events knows I sell the paperbacks together at a reduced price. When you’re talking face to face with folks, it’s easier to convey the subject matter without going into a lot of detail and postcards and other promotional material on hand also helps.

But in the big, bad online world, you don’t have that personal touch.  You’ve got to get your blurb, single title or box set right or people aren’t going to see your product … and then there are the dreaded keywords. That could be another post on its own.

This is what I’ve come up with so far for my box set blurb.

Past and present collide in the Sarah Shand time travel romance series – a dual-timeline romance set in contemporary and Victorian-era Scotland.

Book 1:  When Sarah Shand plunges back in time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past.

When she realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?

Book 2: When Sarah Shand finds herself back in the 21st century, the people and the life she knew in the Victorian era are Shadows From Her Past.

This year, the winter solstice and lunar eclipse occur on the same day. Will a trip to one of Aberdeenshire’s stone circles, located on the family farm, during this combination of events create the magic Sarah needs to return to 1886 and her family there? Or, will she remain in the present and make a life with David, himself a descendant of the man she fell in love with in the past?

A Shadow in the Past brought a unique new voice to time travel.

A charming time-slip love story with vivid description and authenticity throughout!

Shadows From Her Past is a wonderful story of love and life, both modern and in the past.

Melanie Robertson-King has a special touch when creating her characters. The author weaves a mystery, a romance, and a family that you hope will find happiness in their lives.

box set blurbs

I’m not completely happy with what I’ve written thus far, so I’d appreciate any suggestions you might have.  Please leave your ideas in the comments.

Thanks!

 

August 13 is left handers day! #lefthanders #southpaw

left handers

I’m happy to say that I’m one of the ‘elite’ left handers of the world. Yup, I’m a leftie and proud of it.

This year, left handers day snuck up on me so I didn’t have a great deal of time to put together a new post, so I resurrected a previous one and updated it.

Authors who are left-handed include Hans Christian Anderson who was most famous for his fairy tales, Compton MacKenzie who brought us Whisky Galore and Monarch of the Glen, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, H.G. Wells and me *apologizing for being cheeky*.

Okay, I might not be in the same league as these aforementioned writers, but still, I’m an author of nine books and a number of magazine articles.

left handers

I hear you saying, there are only seven books there and two have the same title. Well, there’s a reason for that. I don’t have my two children’s books in the stack, nor do I have my collection of short stories there.  And, I wasn’t bright enough to retain a single copy of the first edition of my debut novel, A Shadow in the Past. All of my books are here on this page, except for the first edition of my debut novel.

Other famous left handers

Did you know that Drew Carey, Howie Mandel, Don Rickles, and Jerry Seinfield are among the list of left-handed comedians?

And then there are the less savoury elements of society – the criminals. Billy the Kid, The Boston Strangler, Jack the Ripper, John Dillinger to name a few.

See, there’s good and bad in all of us. #lefties happen to get a bad rap because it used to be thought that being left-handed was a sign of the devil – it was evil.

How many left handers out there were forced to change from your left to your right hand by your teachers or even your parents?

Feel free to leave a comment with your left handers experiences.

 

It’s National Book Lovers Day!

Today is National Book Lovers Day!

National Book Lovers Day
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

How will you celebrate, participate?

This year on National Book Lovers Day, I currently have two books on the go – one fiction, one non. Thunder Bay by Douglas Skelton is a crime novel set in Scotland.

The non-fiction is Marketing Matters by Wendy H Jones. Right now, I need all the help I can get in this department.

In addition to reading, I’m also working on Book 3 in my It Happened series set in the village of Percé on the Gaspé Peninsula of the province of Quebec.

Since the COVID-19 lockdown, I’ve struggled with writing, but my reading has flourished. According to my 2020 Goodreads challenge, I’m nine books ahead of schedule. That should give you an idea of how I’ve been spending much of my spare time.

Some of these books were already on my TBR (to be read) list having languished on my shelves or Kindle for some time. Others were new purchases that I just “had” to get. Still, others were review copies.

What to read?

There are many genres out there to choose from – crime, romance, erotica, YA, memoirs, creative non-fiction, and the list goes on.

All these main genres have a multitude of sub-genres as well, so there is something out there for everyone’s taste in reading.

I write romance, primarily, although YESTERDAY TODAY ALWAYS has a psychological thriller element included. It’s probably my darkest work yet. I remember when I was having the computer read it back to me, my husband entered my ‘writing cave’, and the particular segment scared him. I guess I nailed the creepy, unnerving bit.

You can check out all my books on the novels page on my website. Perhaps, you’ll find a little something to your liking.

What format do you prefer to read?

Are you a hardcover fan? Paperback (trade size or mass market)? E-book (kindle, kobo, nook, or other)? Or do you read from a combination of all of the above?

Leave a comment staying what your favourite genre and format is. I’d love to hear your thoughts and preferences.

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

I’m thrilled to be part of this reveal, but before I show you the beautiful cover for The Women of Chateau Lafayette, I’d like to share this …

Q&A WITH STEPHANIE DRAY

What made you fall in love with Adrienne Lafayette and why do you think readers will fall for her as you did?

Thanks to a popular musical, the Marquis de Lafayette is known to a new generation as “America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman”–and there’s good reason for that. He’s easily the most lovable of our Founding Fathers, and his wife, whom he called his dear heart, is just as lovable if not more so. Adrienne was our French Founding Mother, so right up my alley as a heroine, but at first I worried she was too sweet, devoted, and forgiving. In short, too gentle for a novel. Little did I realize that more than any other historical heroine I’ve ever written, Adrienne fought and sacrificed for her principles, courageously threw herself into danger, confronted tyrants, and endured trials that would have broken lesser mortals. She truly humbles me, and when I talk about the Lafayette legacy, I think of it as every bit as much hers as it is his.

How long did it take you to write this book? Did the story evolve as you researched, or did you always know you wanted to take on the lives of these particular women?

I was always interested in Lafayette–an interest that grew as Laura Kamoie and I co-authored America’s First Daughter and My Dear Hamilton. I think I had the germ of the idea for a Lafayette novel at least seven years ago, but I had other projects in the way. And I was always in search of an angle that would be fresh and unique. That came to me when I discovered that Lafayette’s castle in Auvergne, which had been purchased and renovated by Americans, served to shelter Jewish children from the Nazis. Knowing how deeply the Lafayettes both felt about religious freedom, I knew this would have pleased them, and it touched me. I was then determined to know which Americans had purchased the chateau, and when I found out, yet another glorious chapter in the Lafayette legacy was born. That’s when the story took shape for me about one special place on this earth where, generation after generation, faith has been kept with principles of liberty and humanity. I find that very inspirational, now more than ever.

The book is centered around Lafayette’s castle, the Château de Chavaniac, and the pivotal role it played during three of history’s darkest hours—the French Revolution and both World Wars. If you could have dinner with any three people (dead or alive) at Chavaniac, who would you choose and why?

Believe it or not, this is actually a difficult choice because so many incredible men and women passed through those doors. I’d have to start with the Lafayettes–though I hope they would not serve me pigeons, which were a favorite at their wedding banquet. To join us for dinner, I’d choose the colorful stage-star of the Belle Epoque, Beatrice Chanler, because she was a force of nature without whom Chavaniac might not still be standing. Actress, artist, philanthropist, decorated war-relief worker and so-called Queen of the Social Register, she was as mysterious as she was wonderful, and even after all the startling discoveries I made researching her larger-than-life existence, I have a million questions about the early life she tried so hard to hide. I can’t wait for readers to meet her!

ABOUT THE BOOK

An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy in three of humanity’s darkest hours.

Most castles are protected by powerful men. This one by women…

A founding mother…

1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband’s political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must choose to renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

A daring visionary…

1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Astor Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing–not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France and delivering war-relief over dangerous seas, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what’s right.

A reluctant resistor…

1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan’s self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.

Intricately woven and beautifully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we find from standing together in honor of those who came before us.

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! I give you the cover…

The Women of Chateau Lafayette

You can pre-order at https://bit.ly/3iLkURa

Add The Women of Chateau Lafayette to your Goodreads list here.

Sign up for Stephanie’s newsletter here.

You can enter for a chance to win an advanced digital review copy of the book here: https://bit.ly/SDCoverSweeps. (NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. US Residents, 18+. Ends 7/19. See official rules at the official website.)

 

June 26, 2020 ~ Take Your Dog to Work Day!

If it’s June 26, 2020, it must take your dog to work day!

Under ‘normal’ circumstances on a Friday, I would be working from home.  Since we went under lock-down in my area in late March, things have been far from the norm.

This year the last Friday in June, which falls on June 26, I’ve booked the day off as a vacation day (I have my doubts I’ll use all of my allotted vacation time before the end of the year). However; I’ll still be working in a sense.

This afternoon, I’m doing a reading from one of my adult (not that kind of adult material for you people with dirty minds – and even if it were, I would choose a PG13 rated passage) novels for Seniors Centre Without Walls. Best of all, the only requirement is I have a phone. A conference call is the order of the day. I like that even better.

So what does this have to do with taking your dog to work today? Well, nothing really, except I am taking my sweet Buddy with me when I do the reading. He can sit in my lap whilst I read and answer questions. At least I hope there are questions from the virtual audience.

Here’s my sweet boy. He travels well – doesn’t trash hotel rooms, bark a lot or have accidents indoors – home or away. This picture was taken at St. Hubert in Quebec City.

On days I’m working from home, he’s usually in the kitchen with me. Sometimes he wears my phone headset but as cute as he is, he’s rubbish at taking my calls.

My Buddy even has his own book. Well, in that I wrote it and he and his four fantastic furry friends star in it.

Here he is on a work at home day.

June 26

 

And the survey says …

The big day has finally arrived. It’s time to find out what the survey says.
survey

Which of my books received an award in the 2020 Author Shout Reader Ready awards?

Was it It Happened on Dufferin Terrace?

survey

Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle…

Toronto business consultant, Serenity Layne, knew the only person she could depend on was herself. Busy with her career, she has no time for other pursuits and life’s intangibles

Widowed for three years, Roger Scott, a data security specialist in Quebec City, is a single parent to his ten-year-old son, Adam.

On a day out on the Plains of Abraham with their black Labrador Retriever, Roger’s cell phone rings incessantly. Adam has played matchmaker and put his father’s profile on a number of online dating sites.

The week before Christmas, Serenity is heading up a series of meetings after a six-month study of the Canadian retail chain, jonathans. After an unpleasant encounter with one of the store managers, she escapes from the boardroom of the Château Frontenac Hotel, only to be bowled over by Roger and Adam’s dog.

Guilty over the accident, Roger invites Serenity out for a drink by way of apology. Over the course of the week, and spending time together, feelings long dormant for Roger are re-awakened. At the same time, emotions foreign to Serenity fill her with contentment and happiness.

Will the couple get their happily ever after?

Or was it It Happened in Gastown?

survey

Trainspotting meets Hot Pursuit

Hilary Dunbar is a uniformed constable with the Vancouver Police with an agenda to rid the streets of drugs, especially the bad ones the notorious dealer, Carlos Navarra, is trafficking.

Heroin addict, Erik Layne, has lived on the streets of Gastown for as long as he can remember, having left home and Toronto as a rebellious teenage addict. His and Hilary’s paths cross when she finds him unconscious in an alley after injecting a batch of the contaminated drug. He must fight for his life to keep from dying, not only from the tainted smack but also from the man who provided it.

A domestic disturbance call goes wrong, and Hilary suffers life-changing injuries as a result. As luck would have it, she and Erik are hospitalized in the same ward at Vancouver General Hospital. When she sinks into a deep depression, it’s he who pulls her out of her doldrums.

But will Hilary’s obsession with bringing down Navarra and others like him destroy their relationship and, more importantly, jeopardize their lives?

Or did they both receive an award?

Drum roll, please …

Image by succo from Pixabay

 

And the survey says!!!

I received the ‘official notification’ at 11:11 a.m. Of course, the 15th would fall on a day that I’m working in the office rather than from home. When I’m at home, I don’t have to maintain a sense of decorum like I do at work.

Well, without further ado, let me shout it from the rooftops that both It Happened on Dufferin Terrace and It Happened in Gastown won the “Recommended Read” award for 2020!

Whoop!!!

While this isn’t my official badge yet, I did take the liberty of using my handy-dandy snipping tool and extract it from the header of all the badges in a previous blog post.

Yippie!!! I’m happy dancing in my chair and shouting (under my breath) from the rooftops!

 

It’s almost time for the Author Shout Reader Ready winners to be announced!

June 15th is only a few short days away. It’s almost time for the announcement of the 2020 Author Shout Reader Ready Awards.

I’m both excited and nervous. The two books I entered have made it this far. Will they have what it takes to be a winner? I sure hope so.

Both books were fun to write. Old Quebec City, where It Happened on Dufferin Terrace is set, is one of my favourite cities in Canada to visit and until this year, have done so regularly. I’m not sure if a visit this coming November will happen or not. It will be a waiting game, thanks to COVID-19.

time

Ah, the majestic Hotel Chateau Frontenac. It’s such an impressive structure any time, but especially when viewed from across the river. The huge castle-like building stands guard over the city from atop the cliff.

Remember the movie Miracle on 34th street, where Doris had lost faith in the world and brought her daughter up, not believing in fantasies? That’s where I got the inspiration for my character, Serenity.

Roger, a widowed father with a precocious son, came to me through the film Sleepless in Seattle.

The other book, It Happened in Gastown, set in one of the older neighbourhoods of Vancouver, in particular, was researched thanks to Google maps. I did cross an item off my bucket list when I went there in 2019 to ensure what I had written was accurate. Four days on the train to the fair city, four days there and four back.

time

Google is a fantastic resource, but you don’t get the full effect looking at a city virtually. I’m glad I went. I loved the train trip (a bonus). As far as neighbourhoods go, I was spot on. 🙂

The steam clock on Water Street in Gastown, Vancouver was the impetus for the second book in the series. I first saw it on info breaks on Knowledge Network between programs and watching the CBC television series, DaVinci’s Inquest.

Stay tuned. As soon as the results are received, I’ll be shouting from the rooftops, or sobbing in a corner. Let’s hope I’m shouting.