Category Archives: Stories

Seven Things: Work, Writing & Research

I received this award from Janice Horton author of Bagpipes & Bullshot and coming later in 2011, Reaching for the Stars. As it goes, I now have to share seven things about me that you might or might not already know.

1. My first job after graduating from secondary school was as a keypunch operator at a local pharmaceutical company. After that job, I worked at various other local companies mostly in the data entry field. I returned to school when my children were small and got a degree in computer programming. For the past almost 24 years, I’ve worked for the same company in a variety of positions and sometimes more than one at the same time. Now it’s just one – payroll.

2. Before I began primary school, we lived in a winterized cottage along the St Lawrence River. I remember sitting in our yard facing the river, waiting for the Royal yacht Britannia to sail past, Union Jack flag in hand ready to wave when it did. I can’t remember if it was on the same Royal visit, but I remember coming in to town and seeing the Queen’s limo.





The streets were lined with crowds and I was on my father’s shoulders and I asked “When’s Santa Claus coming?” That was my first experience with the Royal Family.

3. My father was British Home Child who was raised at The Orphan Homes of Scotland west of Glasgow. He came to Canada in 1930. I was always fascinated with his history and vowed that the first year I had three week’s vacation, I would go to Scotland to see where he was born and where he was raised. I made that first trip (by myself) in 1993 and have never looked back. I fell in love with the country immediately and knew that was where I would set my novels – especially after discovering a spooky old ruined mansion near my father’s birthplace.

4. Living an ocean apart from where I’ve set my novels has proved to be a challenge. Thankfully, I’ve got good friends and family in Scotland who have answered what they might think are some pretty daft questions by times. I’ve taken loads of photographs on my trips abroad so I can refer back to them when need be. Being a member of the Aberdeen & North East Scotland Family History Society has helped immensely, too. It’s truly amazing how helpful people are when you tell them you’re writing a novel and need help with…

5. My second encounter with the Royal Family came in 1999, when I had the honour of meeting Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne at Quarriers Village (formerly The Orphan Homes of Scotland). The invitation was originally extended on April 1st so I immediately thought it was a prank and someone was yanking my chain but it was legitimate.

6. I use real places and events in my writing. My third (as yet uncompleted) manuscript is based around a helicopter ditching in the North Sea and another I’ve got the concept (TV guide blurb, if you prefer) only done is set in Lincolnshire after the Market Rasen earthquake.

7. I bought my husband and I two small (miniscule) plots of land from Lochaber Highland Estates so we can call ourselves Laird and Lady as we are Scottish land owners.

And now to pass the torch on to seven more versatile bloggers…

Dorothy Bush
Brenda Visser’s The Write Way
Maggie Jagger’s Books and life, historical, paranormal, real
Coreene Smith’s E.C. Ramblings
Brenda Hammond’s What Flutters By
Linda Poitevin’s Angels Gather Here

and lastly

Catherine Durnford-Wang’s Observations of a Baby Boomer


Death Ship – yesterday’s reading

Fully charged Sony reader in my purse and Death Ship downloaded to it, I was ready for some lunch time reading yesterday. I admit for a brief moment I wondered if it was something best not read whilst eating but it was too late. I was already hooked!

Now, I’m counting the days until The Figurehead becomes available. The first chapter teaser drew me into the story immediately.


This week’s writing

I’ve not posted anything since I wrote about the writing workshop. Since then, I’ve been busy writing whilst managing to avoid my manuscript. I’ve got three short stories completed – one of which I mailed off today to the Writers’ Union of Canada’s Writing for Children contest, one possibly will be an entry for the Scene of the Crime Festival’s annual contest, and the third just to increase my inventory of stories since you never know when you might need one for something.

Yesterday, and the day before, I worked on a re-write of a short story I did a number of years ago called Dracula’s Castle.

Only today did I open my two manuscript files. This morning it was formatting only to eliminate “Tabs”. If there are any left in either file, then they are hiding well and truly deeply. After coming home from mailing my contest entry, I actually opened the first file and found the revisions I made after attending Brian Henry’s Writing for Children & Young Adult workshop and have them (and a few more) incorporated into Chapter 1.



You pick up a book on the shelves of your local bookstore. Why? There could be a number of reasons behind it. The cover art, the author name or… drum roll, please – the TITLE. Stop and think of the way the book was placed on the shelf. Did you see the entire cover or just the spine? If it was just the spine, I’m willing to bet it was the title that jumped out at you and cried “Pick me! Pick me!”

Coming up with a title for my fiction pieces drives me to distraction. A magic wand or some sort of incantation would be wonderful for conjuring up a title… Hocus Pocus and poof! When the smoke clears, the title is there.

And after you’ve agonized over your title and think you’ve finally hit paydirt with it, there’s still no guarantee your publisher will fall in love with it like you did. Chances are, it will be changed. Why? Maybe they don’t find it catchy enough. Maybe there’s another book out there with a very similar title. They know the markets and what they’re talking about.

So we will continue to agonize, scratch our heads, compile long lists to choose from, enlist the help of others and just maybe, we’ll come up with a winner.



No Manuscript Work Tonight

My after work activities didn’t go the way I’d planned. I thought leave work, call for petrol and come home. Nope. Add in stop by the lawyer’s office to sign still more papers. Streets in town were and likely still are CRAP! Ice at every intersection and lucky me, I got stuck behind someone who couldn’t get up the CN overpass. At least I was able to get around him but even with winter tyres, it was interesting. Well after 5:00 by the time I got home.

At least, I got my entries and my cover letters for the Writers’ Union Postcard contest printed. So now just some labels, write a cheque to cover the entry fee for the three of them and they’ll be ready to send off.

Every now and then life gets in the way of the best intentions. Will still try to get something done on/for my manuscript before I call it an evening but I’m thinking tonight is going to end up being more of a planning/plotting session than actual writing. But that still counts doesn’t it?

The Writers’ Union of Canada – Postcard Contest

I’ve taken the plunge before and entered this contest. Trust me, coming up with a story that has a beginning, middle and end in only 250 words is not easy.

This year I’ve got three of my short pieces (all of which are exactly 250 words in length) at the top of the heap of possible entries. I’m leaning towards putting in all three but I might narrow it down to one.

Whatever I decide to do, I’ve got to get a move on. The deadline for it is February 14, 2011. Egads! That’s next Monday!

Here’s the link to the Writers’ Union of Canada website.

And no I’m not telling what I’m entering… at least not until after the winners are announced and maybe not then even.

Writing Date Results

This afternoon couldn’t have worked out better! It turned out so well, we’re planning on getting together again next month. Okay, we visited, we wrote, visited some more, watched the traffic coming to a standstill on the motorway outside the mall window and wrote some more.

Our local group comes up with a 250 word prompt for each monthly meeting. The other two gals worked on theirs while I worked on a scene in my novel.

None of us knew how the afternoon would turn out but in the end, all three of us were extremely pleased with the results.

Here we are at the food court.

Writing Date

Looking forward to Sunday afternoon when my laptop and I will be meeting two other gals for a few hours for a “writing” date. Never done this before. Don’t know what to expect. Might spend the entire time chewing the fat and brainstorming and in the end get very little writing done… still, if it gets the ideas percolating it won’t be a wasted afternoon.