I can’t go through life as the dog with no name. Once upon a time, there was a horse with no name, but that was a song.
But first, let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m a male and about a year old. I’m about to become an Emotional Support Dog for Gareth Young, a former soldier who has PTSD, in Melanie’s current novel. It Happened at Percé Rock.
Here’s some of Gareth’s story and the root of his PTSD. He and his best friend since like forever, Normand Levesque, enlisted in the Canadian military and assigned to the Vandoos. They were deployed to Afghanistan, where Normand was killed when a roadside bomb exploded and destroyed their armoured vehicle. Gareth took quite a bit of shrapnel in his right arm from the shoulder to his hand, so he has the physical and the emotional scars. Normand didn’t have a mark on him.
Lately, things have been getting much worse for Gareth. Medication, counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy aren’t working. That’s when he psychiatrist suggested an Emotional Support Dog. It took some persuading on the doctor’s part, but eventually, Gareth went along with the idea, and I’m thrilled he chose me. I’ve been working with Gareth for a while now, getting to know him, his needs and his triggers.
So you see, I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Anyway, if you think you’ve got the perfect name for me, please leave it in the comments. I’d love to hear your suggestions. I can’t be forever known as Dog.
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.
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.
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.
Think this girl will get through that stack of books today?
How will you and your canine companion celebrate National Dog Day? Did you even know there was such an occasion?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Frankfurt’s Champion Beauregard, aka Buddy, the Dachshund, stars in the third book, which I’m currently writing, It Happened at Percé Rock.
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.
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.
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 Pastis 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.
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.
I’m thrilled to be selected for a Sunshine Blogger award by fellow author, Jo Lambert.
This Award allows bloggers to celebrate other bloggers who are creative and bring positivity to the blogging community.
Part One of the challenge is to answer the questions Jo has sent me.
Part Two is to nominate a further 11 bloggers and send them my own set of 11 questions. My questions for them are at the end of this post.
Jo’s questions for me
What makes me happy?
I love curling up with a blanket and a book on a cold day. Add a mug of hot chocolate, and it’s absolute heaven.
What is my favourite holiday destination, and why?
Scotland hands down, but with my many trips to Vieux Québec, it’s running a close second.
If I could ask one question of a historical figure, who would I choose, and what would that question be?
Bram Stoker. Finally, put it to rest was it Cruden Bay or Whitby that inspired him to write Dracula. Both places claim it was them. I prefer to think it’s Cruden Bay and the ruins of Slains Castle on the north-east coast of Scotland.
Sweet or savoury – what’s my favourite dish?
Savoury, definitely. I don’t eat a lot of sweets. Anything Indian as long as it’s not too spicy, or a Sunday roast with all the trimmings works for me.
If I could live anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?
Somewhere in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, close to where my father was born. I was twelve when he died and, at that age, not interested in my roots. When I got old enough to embrace my heritage, I regretted not doing it sooner.
What is my favourite colour?
Blue, although if you looked at the history of the colour of cars I’ve owned over the years, you would think red. Blue in all of its shades is my favourite of all. It reminds me of clear skies, the rivers and oceans and being outdoors.
What is my all-time favourite movie, and why?
The Guns of Navarone. Yup, a war movie. I think it’s because my Dad served in WWII, and I love to read books set in that era.
How would I prefer to spend your weekend? Trekking in the Brecon Beacons or a relaxing spa break?
Trekking. If I’m wandering about in the Brecon Beacons, I’m not far from Scotland, where I can do more hillwalking.
If I could go back in time, would I have chosen a different career, and if so, what would that be?
I think it would still be something in the financial field, although after having done payroll for over thirty years, I’m not sure what area. Maybe something completely different so I wouldn’t have “auditors” periodically. 😉
Are you happy with the name your parents gave you? If not, what would you have chosen?
I got my name from my mother’s favourite character in the movie Gone with the Wind. Back when I was born, there weren’t many girls around with that name. I think that’s cool. My father wanted to name me Heather, but I’ve never seen myself as a Heather. So at the end of the day, I’m Melanie Heather Ann Robertson (happily married to a King) and love it.
Who is my favourite actor/actress, and why?
I love Maureen O’Hara. I should say loved since she passed away in 2015. The characters she played were larger than life, spunky, yet could be tender and loving. My two favourite movies she starred in are The Quiet Man and McLintock!
There are my eleven questions answered, now to move on to the next part.
Coming to a computer near you in 2020. Look at all those smiling faces. And why are they smiling? They’ve received their first Melanie Robertson-King newsletter. I’ve taken the plunge and started building my mailing list.
I know pop-ups are aggravating, but you have to admit they get your attention. That being said, should you wish to subscribe to my quarterly (maybe not even that frequently – perhaps a tad more) newsletter, all you have to do is fill out the form and click subscribe.
Rest assured all data collected complies with FTC and GDPR regulations. I requested your name, only because when the email goes out, yours will be personalized to you. It’s all done in the background by MailChimp, who I decided to use for this.
I can’t even guarantee if I go to MailChimp, I can even see who has subscribed. It’s all a mystery to me. I’m sure when I get more acquainted with the application, I’ll discover more things I can do to make your reading pleasurable.
When will the first newsletter come out? I’ve not decided that yet. To accommodate a quarterly communiqué, I’ll have to get busy with the first issue. I’ll definitely have one in early December for winter and the festive season. Maybe add one in March for spring, June for summer and September for autumn.
That sounds like a reasonable schedule to me. What do you think? Too many? Not enough? As it is, I’ll probably find it difficult to come up with enough fodder for one newsletter a year, let alone four! 😉
After a lengthy silence, Melissa, the main character in the third “It Happened” book decided she would speak to me again. She never said why, but I assume it’s because her book got shuffled from number 2 in the series to number 3. I started to hear voices about 3:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day. She shared a lot of interesting stuff, some of which was quite heartbreaking. But, I can’t tell you any more than that because that would create a spoiler, and we don’t want that now do we?
What I can tell you is Melissa is Roger Scott’s youngest sibling. Remember Roger from It Happened on Dufferin Terrace? Well, this is his baby sister’s book.
I can also tell you the location I’m using. This “It Happened” book will be set in the village of Percé, on the Gaspé Peninsula of the province of Québec.
Just off the shore is the famous Percé Rock which is where the “it happened” moment will take place.
At low tide, you can walk out to the rock, but you have to pay attention or you could find yourself trapped by the incoming tide.
But that’s enough about this book. I hope I’ve tempted you with these snippets of information.
Want to start at the beginning of the series? Here’s what the first book is about.
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.
Here you have it, ladies and gents. The opening scene to Book Two in the It Happened series – It Happened in Gastown. Somewhat darker than the first in the series, but I promise along with the heavy stuff there will be sweet romance.
Out on routine patrol, Constables Hilary Dunbar and her partner Nik Kalivas drove north on Cambie Street towards the Gastown Steam Clock. As they passed the end of Blood Alley, she shouted, “Back up. Something’s down there.”
“Your imagination getting the better of you again?” He teased, but pulled over to the curb and slowly reversed until they blocked the mouth of the narrow passage. Originally the lane was called Trounce Alley. Some maps still referred to the laneway as that. Others labelled the back street Blood Alley. Given the appearance, Hilary thought the latter was more appropriate.
Window down, she trained the beam from the powerful spotlight mounted on the cruiser’s mirror into the alleyway. “See, beyond those dumpsters.”
“Likely just garbage.”
“Wait here; I’m going to take a closer look.”
Before exiting the car, she plucked a pair of nitrile gloves and the naloxone kit from the glove compartment. Once out, she shoved them in the pockets of her trousers. With the fingertips of her right brushing her gun holster and gripping the barrel of the torch in her left, she sidled towards the object. Graffiti tags covered the walls of the buildings as well as the wooden hydro poles. The further into the confined space she crept, the hairs on the nape of her neck bristled beneath the bun in which she styled her black hair. Whatever was down there, it wasn’t rubbish as Nik said. The pong of stale urine made her eyes water.
Past the second dumpster, the body of a young man leaned against the wall. Dishevelled and filthy, his body odour was strong enough to make the foulest of skunk spray seem mild. At first glance, he appeared dead. His skin had a bluish tinge, and weeping sores dotted his face. Dark circles surrounded his eyes. Inching forward, Hilary squatted beside him. A blood-filled syringe protruded from his left arm. Flashlight held under her chin; she donned the synthetic rubber gloves she brought with her and felt his neck for a pulse. The rhythmic pulse beneath her fingertips was barely discernible.
The naloxone. The kit had been made available to officers who wanted it. Nik was against carrying the opioid blocker in the cruiser, but Hilary persuaded him. Now was the time to use it. She took the package out of her other trouser pocket, peeled it open and placed the nozzle in the victim’s left nostril and pressed the plunger.
She keyed the mic on her handset and started to speak. “Constable Dunbar.” As if on cue the nearby Steam Clock began whistling. No sense in trying to outperform the thing. Wait until it finished its proclamation of the top of the hour. Soon relative quiet returned and Hilary tried again. “Constable Dunbar. Badge 8652. I need an ambulance at Blood Alley and Cambie Street. Suspected drug overdose. Have administered four milligrams of Narcan nasal spray. No response as of yet.”
By now, Nik had the cruiser’s roof lights on. Blue, red and white alternating then running from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side of the vehicle.
The wail of the siren grew louder. In minutes, paramedics jumped out and trundled a stretcher and medical equipment to the stricken person.
Hilary stood back, letting them do their jobs. “I gave him Narcan,” she said, handing the spent plastic bottle to one of them.
“He’s alive … just. You found him in time. We’ve bagged the needle so they can run tests on it at the hospital. Figure out what he shot into his veins.”
We started with two travelling companions – Buddy the Dachshund and Seaumus the Scottish Terrier. I know that’s not the traditional spelling for Seaumus, but there is a reason for that which I will reveal at a later date (and in another book).
While it’s not the book I planned on releasing by the end of the year, this one spoke to me on our recent trip to Vancouver and back on VIA Rail’s Canadian. Four days and four nights on the train in each direction.
Here are the boys looking out the window in the dome car on our way to Vancouver.
It wasn’t until the return trip that we added to our little “family.” The first addition was Butterscotch the moose. She’s VIA’s little travel buddy. One of the employees on the train had one with her in the Park car, and I fell in love with it. Suffice it to say; it wasn’t long until the golden-brown moose became one of us.
At our stop in Jasper, we picked up two more ‘kids.’ This time bears joined the group. Jasper (aptly named considering where we picked him up), the black bear, and Banff the brown one who is quite likely a grizzly bear, given his colour.
All five are in the window of the Park car watching the world go by.
One morning when we returned to our cabin after breakfast, as usual, the bed was put away, and the room back in its ‘daytime’ configuration, and all five of the ‘kiddies’ were arranged on the sofa.
This note from Hollie, in our Prestige Travel Journal, was on our coffee table.
It was late when we arrived in Edmonton, like about four hours late. We put the kids to bed and got off the train for a breath of fresh air long enough to take this picture of them looking out the window. I think they’re looking worried, especially Buddy.
We left them on their own again one more time when we arrived in Saskatoon.
Overall, they behaved well, although Hollie had to put Jasper and Banff on a time-out once.
A children’s picture book was never in the plan when we first booked the train trip earlier this year. Even on the way to Vancouver, it never crossed my mind. I planned to work on my novella, the second book in the ‘It Happened’ series set in the Gastown neighbourhood of Vancouver.
At some point on the way home, the light went on, and in the space of one afternoon, I had the children’s book plotted and partially written. That, in itself, was quite the feat as we were hurtling across the prairies at breakneck speed at the time. Wendy H. Jones, I salute you for being able to write on the train. I could tune out the people around me, but trying to type and keep my MacBook Air from escaping from me was easier said than done.
If all goes to plan, by the end of this year, yes 2019, I’ll have an illustrated children’s book featuring the five stuffed animals which came home from Vancouver with me on the train. I’ve contracted the gal who is going to do the artwork for me through Fiverr. Her name is Aria Jones. I’m impressed with her work. I know the size and format I want for the print version, so it’s a matter of adding the illustrations and finding a printer. I know, sometimes that’ s easier said than done.
The plan for this year also includes having Book Two of the It Happened series published. That means, head down, bum in chair, and fingers burning up the keyboard.
My Scottish roots and writing by Melanie Robertson-King