Why Did The Turtle Cross The Road?

Posted on June 27, 2014 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (1)

    I'm taking a writing topic break to talk about one of my favorite summer time critters. No, not the shirtless construction guys ..................                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Ah, here we are, at the end of June. Now every time I’m on the road, my heart will be in overdrive right through until September.

However, you should know that I’m rather fond of my own skin. In fact, I’m a card carrying coward when it comes to physical danger. But every year, from June through September, I’m risking life and limb for a bunch of critters who don’t give, pardon my language, a rat’s ass about me.No, it’s not the school holidays – my days of stretched nerves with four kids running wild are over now.

If you’re a country person, you’ll know it’s turtle time. And that means stopping on all sorts of highways and byways to help a turtle cross the road safely. It’s important that you take them in the direction they’re going, otherwise they’ll turn right around and be back on the road. Most of them will be quite passive, some will wriggle and hiss, others will pee on you (it’s not actually pee, it’s part of the turtle ‘get-your-hands-off-me you-brute’ strategy. But it smells bad, anyway.)

It’s not just country areas, either. Some turtles are sophisticated city dwellers- but not sophisticated enough to manage crossing the roads. Read the story of a turtle that got high profile help in crossing the busy downtown streets of Winnipeg. To quote that old Red Rose tea ad, only in Canada, eh?

Of course, in the height of summer there are lots of busy highways and country roads, and stopping isn’t always that safe. I’m lucky that my DH is a wizard at the quick u-turn and screech back to help a turtle before it gets whacked by an oncoming car. Sometimes it is just a matter of stopping, leaping out and grabbing an unsuspecting turtle and whipping them across to safety on the other side. Other times, it’s blocking the lane with emergency flashers going, and me standing out waving at traffic to stop (and hoping they take me seriously) while he bravely tackles a large, grumpy snapper.

Sometimes we’re too late. Yep, I’m that woman crying her eyes out on the side of the road over the cracked and bleeding body of a turtle. No, I’m not really weird. Also I’m not alone – the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre has a list of over 100 volunteers who act as taxi drivers in relays to get injured turtles from far flung areas in to the Centre in Peterborough.

I love these little critters, from the tiny ones through to the great big, mean as a rattlesnake snappers. That’s me in the pic, with a super-hero of turtle lovers, Kate. Kate is one of the wonderful people who care for injured turtles at the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, Peterborough, Ontario. Believe me, I’ve seen their work and they have performed what I’d call miracles of healing on these hard shelled creatures.  That’s a problem turtles have – they’re seen as hard shelled but those carapaces aren’t strong enough to withstand even a glancing blow from a 3000 pound plus vehicle, let alone a direct hit or being run over. It can be hard to avoid a turtle meandering across the road, although I think some are following the same evolutionary trail as hedgehogs in Europe – they try to run when they hear a car bearing down on them!

One heartbreaking note is that some brainless weirdos - thankfully few - think it’s actually fun to run right over them deliberately. Sure, it’s not always easy to avoid them and you can’t risk an accident or endangering the lives of people. But turtles are quite old – some species at least 20 years - before they can procreate, so we need them to survive. At the other end of the scale, there are turtles that live to be very old and deserve a chance to enjoy their retirement.

There are many turtle species now on the endangered or watch list – you can read lots about turtles here on the KTTC website. Turtles are also suffering from climate change – extremes of weather can affect the gender of the new babies that are hatching, which means a shortage of guys or gals for the next generation. It also affects their habitat, with wetlands drying up – or being drained for building purposes.

Oh, and that question: Why did the turtle cross the road? The oldest of good reasons – love! They come up out of their ponds and swampy areas looking for a mate, and to find gravel or sandy spots to lay their eggs.


Why I Hate Perfect People (in Books)

Posted on March 10, 2014 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)


Maybe it’s the bitch in me, but I hate reading books where the hero and heroine are perfectly good and the villain is completely bad to the bone. In fact, there seems to be a positive epidemic of this going on at the moment – maybe it’s in reaction to the stroppy heroines of chick-lit, maybe it’s because the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket and people are searching for absolutes.

Whatever is causing this need for perfectly identifiable goodies and baddies, I wish it would stop before I find myself throwing yet another book across the room in disgust. This is a very bad practice, especially for someone reading on her tablet….We all have little (or big) flaws. When I come across a heroine who is so lovely she never thinks a mean thought, never challenges anyone else, never has a bad hair day, never is without a winsome smile and a plate of homemade cookies, well – immediate turn off.                 


Heroes written to be so, well, heroic – no thanks. Those big, strong, silent types, wonderfully patient and indulgent to the heroine, selfless, manly, broad chested, and completely fart-free – I ask you, who could possibly stay in love with  Mr. Perfect?                                

Then there are the totally mean, verging on positively psycho villains. Most of whose behaviour is clinically psychotic. No matter what you might think from television, there aren’t that many nutzoids running around – the highest figure is probably one in a hundred. Not every fictional villain can be one. And all this with no hint as to why they behave this way. Believe it or not, even psychopaths can demonstrate a reason for the terrible things they do. At least in their way of thinking, their actions are rational, even if the rest of the ‘normal’ world thinks them total fruitloops. Usually, too, there is something in their backgrounds that triggers the behavior, whatever side of the nature/nurture debate you might be on. It would be nice if this was hinted at in the stories.

You see, these characters are just not real. Sure, we want larger than life characters in our novels, but they also need to be people we can identify with. People we can understand. People who don’t make us feel so inferior because we do have bad hair days, don’t bake cookies and sometimes cuss a little…

I spent years covering the criminal courts and the crime beat as a journalist, and then worked as a counsellor, so I say this with some measure of authority: The truth is no-one is all bad or all good. So why should we write about perfect people?

Please, please can we have heroes and heroines with flaws? Villains with a touch of humanity? I’m not asking for every story to be as boring as the real life we’re often reading to escape from, but give me real characters, people I can like or at least understand why I hate them.

Okay, putting away my soapbox now. Thanks for listening!


My Valentine's Gift to You - Marrying Money Free on Kindle!

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)






Yes, it’s true! – My Valentine’s gift to you, my dear Readers: A free download of Marrying Money: Lady Diana’s Story, on Kindle!

Marrying Money is a romantic comedy set in England and Ireland, starring Lady Diana Ashburnham, a down-on-her-heels aristocrat who needs to find a rich husband to save her 500 year old estate from being sold to the highest bidder. And she’s heard that Ireland’s awash in wealthy bachelors who’d love an English title, so…..

  Here’s the blurb:

Diana, Lady Ashburnham, needs to find a rich husband, and fast.

She's the last of an aristocratic line stretching back 500 years, and she's broke. The family fortunes have been eaten up by the crumbling mansion and impoverished estate. Not wanting to be known as the 'Ashburnham Who Lost The Lot', she refuses to sell off heirloom jewellery or let the estate be auctioned off to a millionaire or heavy metal rock star.

That's when Diana has her Great Idea – she'll follow a new take on the way her ancestors raised money – by marrying money!

So Diana corals her best friend, commoner Sally Barnes, into joining her on a trip to Ireland to try to net a – preferably titled – millionaire. After all, with the Celtic Tiger economic boom, Ireland is supposed to be awash with wealthy guys. As she tells Sally, Ashburnham ancestors plundered Ireland with Cromwell, so why shouldn’t Diana do a bit of plundering there herself?

Sally, very much a common commoner from a council house, reluctantly agrees to the trip.

They hook up with Diana's very pretentious but untitled cousin, Mairead, who married money herself – a wealthy 'paper products' entrepreneur. His line of work has led to many rude family jokes, but Diana has to admit that Mairead had landed herself in the lap of luxury with her marriage choices.

It looks like Diana isn’t going to be so lucky. Not only do the very valuable Ashburnham Emeralds disappear at the Galway Races, where Sally, not Diana, is chosen the winner of the Ladies' Day Prize, but there seems a huge shortage of titled wealthy young men who would be willing to fork out the millions required to keep Alexandria House, the Ashburnham estate, and Diana all in the style to which they want to become accustomed.......

Check it out and get your free download from February 14 to February 17 at:

UK - " target="_blank">

USA - " target="_blank">

Germany - " target="_blank">

Australia -" target="_blank">

Canada -" target="_blank">                                                

Or Read the first chapter here!

Thank you! Enjoy Lady Diana's husband hunting, and Happy Valentine's Day!


Add Photos to Your Freelance Articles & Ramp Up Your Acceptance Rates?And Profits

Posted on February 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Even the greenest freelancer knows that they should follow the publishers' guidelines to stand a chance of having work accepted. So, because many publications state they will use their own photographic contacts to illustrate an article if they decide to purchase, many writers don't send photos with their work.


That's a mistake.


The old adage that 'A picture is worth a thousand words' holds very true in the case of space conscious print media. Photos are important, but must be of the best quality, serve to illustrate a point in the article and attract a reader's attention, and must be used sparingly because they add to production costs and take valuable space. But if you are submitting a text piece that has photo potential, don’t hesitate to send some good shots along with the copy.


There are two reasons for this: 1) your pictures will add an extra dimension to your writing, enabling the editor to visualize your subject more clearly, and 2) The reason magazines and newspapers send out their own photographic staff, or hire professional photographic stringers, is that they need quality, professional pictures. No family snapshot type deals; your editor is looking for clear, well focused, well-thought out scenes that will complement the written article. You have the advantage of knowing your story and subject matter, so if you can provide top-quality photographs to go with your work, why should the editor look elsewhere?


The Road to Hell...

Posted on December 31, 2013 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.


At least, that’s what my Welsh Grannie used to say. She didn’t add that the same road is also the one that leads to failure, guilt, stress, anxiety attacks and self-loathing. Or, depending on your personality,loathing others who you are sure stood in the way of your achieving success with your good intentions.


Any excuse will do! But eventually you have to own your own failure, and it hurts...

.This is really the time of year when we should take this lesson to heart. For ‘good intentions’ read ‘resolutions’. I’m not even going to tell you the percentage of people who actually make something of their resolutions, it would just depress you.

Read the rest of this blog on my new blog site at: Romance Can Be Murder Blog


Stuck for ideas for the Writer on Your Christmas List?

Posted on December 12, 2013 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Have a writer on your Christmas gift list? Stuck for ideas? That’s not surprising, considering you’re dealing with a person who can have anything he or she wants – in their imagination, of course 

But buying for writer friends or family needn’t be a chore. And it needn’t be expensive, either. Of course, the latest word processing programmes, computer technology, a library full of books or a year’s rental on a retreat to a villa in France, would all be welcome gifts. Bear in mind that the latter could be very pricey indeed, because most of us writers are broke much of the time so you’d definitely have to throw in air fare and stock the place with food.

But for more realistic purposes, here are a few writer pleasing ideas.

1) Fancy pens, pencils, cute notebooks, or other desktop gadgets. Sure, we know we’re in the age of high tech, but there’s nothing like the allure of a clean, virginal page or a fancy new gel pen.


2) A really good diary with at least a page per day for notes. Or more than a page, to help keep track of word counts, deadlines, book signings, talk events, submission dates, etc.


3) The online version of The Writer’s Market or Artists' amd Writers' Yearbook.


4) The online version of Writer’s Digest


5) A comfy cushion for the desk chair – you’d be amazed just how numb one’s posterior can get after a few hours of typing madly, butt in chair….


6) One of those little desk puzzles, to give the brain a break from words. Careful with the choice, though – nothing too difficult. Writers are all too familiar with failure and not being able to succeed with the Rubik’s Cube, for example, can begin a slow slide into depression as easily as any rejection letter.


7) A pair of those woolly fingerless gloves, for typing when the power is out – or has been cut off – and there’s no heat.


8) Woolly socks with tops that will fit over flannel pajama bottoms.(See #7)


9) Flannel pajama bottoms.(See #7)


10) A gift card for Starbucks or Tim Horton’s, so that your writer won’t get black looks from the baristas after sitting in the warm café for hours, typing without buying…..


11) Probably the very best gift for a writer costs nothing: Time. Yes, time to write without interruption is such a gift! Be a friend. Don’t take offence when your writer buddy rolls her eyes at your suggestion that the two of you go out, when you know she’s on deadline. Offer to take the kids for a couple of hours, cook a meal, pick up groceries, dry cleaning, kids from school. Don’t talk for hours on the phone. Listen when she needs a sounding board, otherwise give her some space.


Trust me, she or he will eventually emerge from the writing cave, eager and ready for human interaction again……once the writing is done. Until the next book, of course….

If you have a great, original, or amusing idea for a gift for the writer in your life, please share!




Overwhelmed By Indie Publishing? Wise Words....

Posted on December 9, 2013 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Overwhelmed by trying to publish your books independently? Me, too. And I suspect many others, as well. There are so many avenues to do this, so much you have to remember, do’s and don’ts and musts and mustn’ts, a writer could easy lose her mind.

So many of books on Indie publishing give the same advice, pretty much “follow my suggestions and the cash will come pouring in’. So you do. You follow them (even though you maybe need a publishing degree before you can actually figure out how to do that) and then eagerly watch your Amazon rankings.

Which may go okay at first. But soon it becomes like watching paint dry – you’re pretty sure something must be happening, but darned if you can see it.

The most often stated advice is: ‘Write a Good Book.’ Which is very true. But often this comes from people who were smart enough to get in on the ground floor of the Indie publishing ebook goldrush. They put out a good book, and people found it easily because it was, well, a new idea. An ebook (possibly with print to follow) at a great price and not handled by the weighty publishing companies.

That was a few years ago. Now the digital world is crammed with books; some terrific, some not so much. Anyone could put out a book, and some of them maybe shouldn’t have. Some readers at one point veered away from Indie published ebooks altogether after being disappointed in a couple of purchases.

I think that’s changed a good bit now; there are wonderful books out there and the prices of Indie published eBooks generally compare very favorably with the high rates asked by traditional publishers who are now dipping their toes in the ebook stream. So much so that several well-known traditionally published authors are trying out the Indie route for themselves.

I’m published by The Wild Rose Press, and would always speak very highly of them. But I wrote a book for writers, Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book, taken from years of teaching creative writing. I loved this book, and Indie publishing seemed a great way to go with it. The book did well for the most part, both print and ebook.

Next came The No Sex Clause, a book I wrote for fun (and it still makes me laugh) about a former High school bullying victim, now a famous writer (no, it’s not autobiographical!) who hires a companion to accompany her to a dreaded high school reunion, falls in love with him, and finds herself running home to the foster parents she hasn’t seen in years. Anna Findlay is forced to re-evaluate her childhood experiences and her own life, proving that Christmas – and falling in love – can work miracles.

The No Sex Clause did really well for a while. I offered it for free and the sales continued after the free time was up. Plus it got reviews. I have considered using the word ‘sex’ in all my titles!

Then another publisher I was with, who will be nameless, finally gave up her stranglehold on three novels she had of mine after a short fight. So there I was, three books that I really believed in and no home for them. Most publishers aren’t keen on looking at previously published books. It seemed logical to Indie publish them, too. And that’s where overwhelmed came in.

Naked Writing had been straightforward, my market was writers who wanted to either start or improve their books. But novels? Winters & Somers (Irish romantic mystery/comedy) Judgement By Fire (Canadian romantic suspense) are out there already, with Marrying Money (romantic comedy) soon to come.Suddenly, life seemed to get complicated as I hit a steep learning curve.  And I’m learning more – sometimes painfully - every day. Here are Wise Words that I didn’t know when I started to publish Independently:

• Wise Words: Know Your Market

• Write a Book you love

• Dream up a short, catchy title that says something about your book

• Use all the tools Kindle can offer, even though it means signing up exclusivity for 90 days for your ebook.

• If you do a print version, shout it from the rooftops! Make sure it appears on at least the major outlets, like Amazon, Smashwords, etc.

• Get a really good cover that speaks to your target reader.

• Price it properly – you’ll probably have to fiddle around with pricing until you hit on the one that readers seem to find most attractive for your book.

• If you do print and ebook, look into programs such as Kindle Selects Price Match – your readers who buy the print version can get the ebook version either for free or at a lower sale price.

• Don’t be afraid to experiment with pricing changes, sales locations, marketing strategies.

• Make sure you read the small print.

And if you’re looking for books to read that will help you, here are some I recommend:

Blog It! By Molly Greene

2,000 to 10,000 by Rachel Aaron

• No Rules, Just Write! by C.J. Lyons (Not sure if still available, but any of her writing books will work!)

How I made over $42,000 In One Month Selling My Kindle Books by Cheryl Kaye Tardiff

We Are Not Alone by Kristen Lamb (hard to get)

Do you have favorite books that have helped you with your publishing ventures? Please comment and share!


A Writer's Prayer At Christmas

Posted on December 4, 2013 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)


DEAR GOD, Jehovah, Allah, Goddess - sorry, I know You have many names and it’s my journalistic soul that wants to cover as many of them as I know. Forgive me if I get it wrong – I’m rushing the research a bit here. I do appreciate Your taking the time to listen, as You have done so many times in the past. You must be extra busy with deadlines at this time of the year, because fires, floods, famines, storms, droughts, wars and general stupidity do not stop even in this holy season. With all that going on, I hope You can also find the time to celebrate with us the joy and peace that belong to this Holy Festival.

There have been so many times when You have pulled this tattered manuscript of my life out of the heavenly slush pile, and even when Your reply has been a gentle rejection note, there is always been encouragement to go on using the talents You have loaned to me. You have forgiven the times I have been grouchy on life’s deadlines, when I failed to appreciate the wonder of the opportunities in new contracts You have offered, and the many times I have ignored Your submission requirements in hopes that You would see past my mistakes into the willing prose of my heart.

Having said all of that, I feel selfish even asking for more, but here goes:

1) It’s a bit of a cliché, but I would join with so many, many others to ask You to give Mankind – and I say MANkind because the male of the species seems to be more inclined to conflict than we females, but maybe I’m biased – if You would just give them all a bit of a shake and tell them it’s time to make peace not war.

2) Please ignore the mean things I said about the intellectual abilities of publishers or agents who rejected my work – I know what they said had merit and I didn’t really want You to strike them. Honest.

3) There are so many of Your people in need, hungry, homeless, afraid, in pain. Maybe You could inspire those of us who have so much to heed Your teachings and work towards a more equitable society. Perhaps You could even slip a little extra blessings into the Christmas stockings of those who have been courageous enough to stand up for what is right.

4) Please forgive the times I’ve cursed at my computer; the technology You have given us is truly a blessing and it was just the heat of the moment. I didn’t mean a word of it. Really.

5) Of course, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t invest this prayer with a little personal self-interest. First, I want to thank You for all the people who have bought my books – the nice reviews always feel like a warm GodBreeze to my soul.

6) Then maybe You could run to a dollop of forgiveness for all the times I left undone the things I ought to have done, and done those things I ought not to have done? Let’s not get into specifics now, eh? That would be a bit embarrassing and take up too much of Your time. We both know what they were. However, if You could see Your way to nudging me to become a better person, and a better writer, and maybe, just maybe, a bit of help in getting through the edits for the next book, I would be very grateful.

I can’t promise that I won’t screw up some more, but Dear Lord, I’m trying to be better.

Thank You. Amen.


Cover Reveal: Marrying Money!

Posted on November 18, 2013 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Just love this gorgeous cover by Ramona Lockwood for Marrying Money - Lady Diana's Story - the first in the Marrying Money series and about to be released in a couple of days in ebook form. You can read the first chapter for free uner the First Chapters tag above at  

Cover Reveal: The No Sex Clause!

Posted on November 11, 2013 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

COVER REVEAL: My Christmas time romantic comedy, The No Sex Clause, is coming out in print soon and I wanted to share the very drool-worthy cover created for the book by Erin Dameron- ill. The book is already available on Kindle but, dinosaur that I am, there's nothing quite like holding a brand new printed book in your hands, is there? Especially with such a gorgeous cover model; :-)