Saturday, July 31, 2010

STORM WARNING finally done--Grad student puffin ecologist meets hardass DEA agent. :)

Last night at about 11pm I finished my Copy Edits for STORM WARNING and today after a couple of minor exchanges with my wonderful editor, Deb Nemeth, it is finally finished! 


What a journey this book has been. I started writing it, must be five/six years ago.  An early draft landed me an agent and we worked on the manuscript back and forth for two years until she was satisfied. Unfortunately, it was obvious by that time that our styles didn't mesh and we amicably parted company.  After I sold SEA OF SUSPICION to Carina Press my editor asked to see STORM WARNING which is set in the same locale as SEA OF SUSPICION (east coast of Scotland).  Carina Press offered me a second contract.  This was awesome news, but as I read through the manuscript I realized just how much of the original story I'd cut/mangled to please my agent.  I'd taken some of the best scenes (IMO) and bled them dry of any zap. It took a couple of revision suggestions from my editor and some solid editing time to reinsert some of the missing zap and figure out how to make the story stronger and better.  I think we got there. Whoot!!!

I grew up on tales of Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart with all their secret coves and windblown clifftops.  I wanted to use that sort of setting for a contemporary romance about a bird behaviorist (Thank YOU, Dr Jones!) and a DEA agent (the modern day antithesis of drug smugglers). Throw in a ghost story, childhood anx, hydrophobia (fear of water, not rabies, :)), and mix it all up with the process of two people falling in love. 

The story is set in Cellardyke & Anstruther where we revisited this spring.  I thought I'd share some snaps (old and new) that relate to the story. 

The harbor
Steps down to the beach (where we used to walk the dogs)
This is where the story opens...a rockpool on the beach
All along the beach are these doors in the seawall.  Women used to hang their washing on the beach (still do in places).
This is the inner harbor in Anstruther.  My hero takes a dive off this pier and he can't swim...
This world class chippy has a spot in the story--hmmm, now I'm hungry for fish n' chips :)

And the Anstruther lifeboat also features in the story. Sorry I can't go into more would ruin the story. And one of my favorite things about the story is the Isle of May where Sorcha Logan does her research...except my photos of that are all locked up on my external eGo portable hard drive that Windows 7 refuses to recognize (help!!!).  They are also on my website.

And I can't write this post without including the man who inspired the hero...really, I can't :) Eric :)

Monday, July 26, 2010


Last Friday we visited the Winnipeg Animal Service compound in the North End of the city. I'd seen two puppies online and wanted to have a look at them. A friend came too.  When we arrived the puppies I'd seen had already been adopted. We walked around the older dogs but it was heartbreaking. We wanted a puppy rather than an adult because we wanted a dog that will grow with our kids. Anyway, it was a bust and I felt awful not chosing one of those poor dogs left at the shelter. Fom that experience I thought it would take us some time to find a pup to adopt but the next day we visited the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter and they had 7 pups. We chose a beautiful mutt with 2 white socks and took him home with us.  ARGH!!  Terrifying really, but he's good and funny and happy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blogging and a sad farewell

I've been a bit slow blogging this week.  I do have a post over at Shelley Munro's blog all about marine biology and how it links in with my writing. It's fun and you can win a copy of SEA OF SUSPICION. I have a lot of Gatty people wondering if it is so-and-so in the book.  It isn't :) I swear.

Truth be told I'm having a sad time this last week. My best friend from school's sister died (Stella Oliver/McClennon) and her funeral service is today. She was young and beautiful, sophistcated and gorgeous. She died too young and left too many grieving hearts behind. I wish I had a picture to share, but I don't, and that makes me sad.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Getting back to normal

The last two weeks have been the busiest I can remember--they've also been some of the saddest with almost everyone I know losing someone to cancer or tragedy. Reminds me to appreciate what I have, to take the time to enjoy the moment.

On a positive note I completed edits on STORM WARNING while emptying suitcases and unpacking the spare room where we put all our personal stuff when we had someone in the house. I mowed the meadow (can you see the wild rabbit?) actually I'd already mowed it once in that photo (it was a nightmare, so please think happy grass thoughts b/c it isn't looking great)
and I cleared the one main flowerbed and planted a few window boxes and pots...nothing to what we usually do but enough to satisfy my need for color.  I think the lack of color in the ice-drenched landscape, is what makes winter so long for me.
We need all the trees pruned (I've had two men comment on my 'beautiful elms' this week :), some taken down, the deck and fence pulled down and rebuilt, etc etc.  So much work to do (so much money! I'm considering selling a kidney).

The worse thing about being home? Turning at phantom noises. Reaching out to stroke a dog who isn't there. Opening the back door at night to let the dogs out. Looking for the bowl to put the scraps. Watching for my shadow.
Benn's such a hard act to follow.  The best dog ever. We all still cry and it's been 6 months--silly, and yet a tribute to such a dear, wonderful friend.
On the positive pet side we have two new additions to the family...Cliv and Jade, Leopard Geckos.  Very sweet pets actually.
So it's been a busy month--didn't even mention homeschooling, sorting photos from trip, setting up old computer for kids (in progress), shopping, cooking, plumbing, cleaning, catching up with friends.  Wow--did I say busy? Crazy is more like!

Next week I'm hoping to start writing again. That ache is clawing at me now.

How's your July so far?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Unveiling my new cover for STORM WARNING

Finally I can share the new cover for STORM WARNING due out with Carina Press later this year. I'm curious what this cover says to you? My daughter nailed it in one which amazed me :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010


I'm sitting here listening to Kix Brooks do the country music countdown and feel all the old threads of my life wrap around me with comfort and familiarity.  People keep asking me if we are settling back down to our Manitoba life but it seems like a weird question.  You don't need to settle into home, you just get there and even though we're surrounded by boxes and mess, it feels perfect. But coming home brings all the old worries to the fore again--living in an older house in this mammoth climate is always a challenge.  The garden, the trees, the car, the roof, the pipes, the windows, they all need constant attention.  The mosquitoes turn a day in the shade into a hypodermic picnic. It's wonderful to be back, but it's work :)  Thankfully I'm not afraid of work, although I would love to have just one day where I stretched out and let go of all lifes' worries. 

I guess I need to learn the art of zen, or win the lottery.  I'm curious--is it the homeowner thing that makes us always worry? Would we all be happier just renting???

Friday, July 09, 2010

Carina Press... BETRAYED by Claire Robyns

Today--in a special author interview--I have fellow Brit Claire Robyns talking about her Carina Press release, BETRAYED. We both have stories set in Scotland, but Claire's is a gritty historical :)


Thanks for having me over, Toni. I’ve been loving your travelling posts and hope you’re super inspired now to write your next book!

I’m really excited to share a little about Betrayed, my medieval Scottish romance released from Carina Press. This is my debut book, so treble that release week jitters.

Two Feuding Families
Amber Jardin has no taste for the bitter feud started before her father’s banishment. But now that he’s passed, she’s had to return to Scotland and his barbaric people. After her bloodthirsty uncle kidnaps one of the family’s rivals, Amber is in turn captured by Krayne Johnstone, the enemy laird. Despite their enmity, their attraction is immediate—and unfortunate, as Amber has sworn to escape.

One Lusty Temptation

Krayne is amazed at the wildcat’s repeated attempts to flee. He should steel himself against her beguiling ways—yet with time, he is driven more witless with lust. When the ransom exchange fails and Krayne is left with Amber, he finds he cannot tolerate the thought of her with another man—and she cannot tolerate the thought of returning to her uncle’s home.

Will passion and love win out over mistrust and betrayal in time to prevent an all-out war?

You can read an excerpt at

I don’t have a fascinating job like, say, being a marine biologist J  I’m a software developer and have to save all my inspiration for the deep night once the kids are in bed and hubbie’s parked in front of a good dvd. Writing historical romance is a far cry from my high tech day world and I love immersing myself in the days of yonder.

Scotland has always fascinated me, now and then. Some places are so remote and rustic, it’s easy to imagine away the modern world and conjure up some hot lads in kilts!

Betrayed is not a sweet romance. Life in medieval Scotland was filled with strife, feuds, raiding, bloodshed and war. I like to believe that in between all of that, couples still managed to overcome all obstacles and fall in love. But I didn’t give Amber and Krayne an easy time of it, both these characters are flawed and I don’t always approve of their actions, but they are real people driven by vengeance, honour and desperation in barbaric times.

Oh, and there’s lots of fun too! I had the greatest time researching what those wayward Scots got up to.

Working with Carina Press has been wonderful, I couldn’t have dreamt up a better publisher if I’d plotted my publication story myself. I’ve always wanted to be published by Harlequin, and this might be a back door I’ve slipped through but it feels like a double-vaulted front door to me J I’ve read quite a few of the launch books (including Sea of  Suspicion) and I’m totally loving the quality and variety. Carina Press has quickly become my number one place to browse when I’m in the mood for a new book to read.

Well, thanks for listening to me ramble on about this and that, not sure I actually said much that made sense, but I sure had fun!


Thanks for being here, Claire.   Software developer sounds pretty cool too.  At least you don't smell like a fish :)

You can visit with Claire on her

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hero pictures--STORM WARNING

Sorry I'm not around much this week. Forget unpacking, I'm editing STORM WARNING, my second title with Carina Press.  I have the most amazing cover that I'm not sure I can share yet which features the heroine.  And for old times sake here are a couple of hero pictures I used for inspiration...sigh.

Eric, Eric, Eric, what am I going to do when I have no excuse to stare at your picture??? :)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

2000 miles from sea to prairie.

Phew.  I feel like I completed a personal marathon in the past week.  And, just in case I didn't have enough anx at the thought of the enormous drive without my husband (but with the kids) the car stared playing up 2 hours into the journey home.  2 hours into a 7 day drive!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Nightmare. 
Despite 3 different garages checking it out, no one has figured out the problem yet.  Thankfully the coughing and shuddering stopped in the middle for couple of days.  Naturally the rumbles resumed on the last day with the finish-line in sight.  The only good thing about the dodgy car was the decision to buy a cell phone which my daughter is thrilled about because she now thinks we've made it into the 21st Century as a family :)

On the plus side I caught up with my friend Loreth Anne White in Whistler and met her family (including the 4 legged members). Next day we drove to Vancouver Aquarium which was just so fantastic.
They also have dolphins and sea otters and do a tremendous amount of research and rescue work.
Monday morning it was time to say goodbye to hubby and pick up my retired schoolteacher friend who'd very kindly offered to drive back with me after visiting her relos.  I couldn't have done it without her.  While I was nauseous at the thought of traveling so far with a car that was being  temperamental (but no one could find out what was wrong) she was totally at ease and relaxed about the whole adventure.  I think the difference between English and Canadian came out big time and she is so much cooler than I am.  When I grow up I want to be Deanna!! Despite 3 hours of stops at garages and the ubiquitous McDonald's we got all the way to Golden through some amazingly beautiful mountain passes.  It even snowed despite the 16C air temps.  And the traffic was so light and carefree throughout the whole journey--like we were in a bubble of good road trip vibes.  The kids were incredible and we rewarded them (and us) with a detour to the badlands and a stop at the world famous Royal Tyrell Museum.
We stayed overnight in Drumheller which was a cute place for kids with giant models of dinosaurs everywhere and hoodoos just down the road...
Next day we went to the childhood farm of Deanna's husband who grew up on an old Mennonite farm where his parents spoke German.
 ('49 Dodge)

The town was in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan. The rain and sun have created a surprising and welcome surplus of grass...
 unfortunately there's also a plague of mosquitoes (rivals Winnipeg) so we walked fast to go see old tippee rings on the hills and rare petroglyphs.
Strange to think that First Nation people walked those hills so many years ago, following the bison herds in the summer.  The hospitality was amazing and it was interesting to see this rural side of the prairies. My daughter found kittens and we were lucky to escape catless. 

On the last day we did a 10 hour drive via Regina and the car started playing up about 300 km from home. We ignored it and got back by 8 pm.  *insert massive smile*

So I've had 2 nights in my own bed--yippee!!  The house was in pretty good shape, but a couple of issues that need to be dealt with after the renter--like muddy dog paw prints on the furniture, and the storm door keeps sticking, and the guttering isn't draining properly and the lawn wasn't mowed so it was about 3 foot tall when we got back complete with Peter Rabbit.  There are weeds everywhere and I'm going to cheat and buy weedkiller b/c I don't have time to pull it all by hand.  I did go buy some flowers today.  Finally. I've been itching to plant things since spring sprung.

Not a bad return really.  Despite the awful humidex of 40C and huge thunder storms, oh, and tornado watch as of now. Kids were amazing on the trip.  Not so great at unpacking because they are constantly distracted by old toys :)

DH is back tomorrow!!!!

I'm proud to have completed the drive but I'm in no rush to go anywhere else for the summer.  Got to knuckle down to edits :)

What's the biggest trip you've ever made?