Friday, October 29, 2010

Guest blogging

with Natalie Damschroder later today over at her Indulge Yourself blog. Check it out :)

I hate Halloween BTW.  The excitement and sugar drive my kids to within an inch of a mental institute (or maybe I'm the one in need of a wrap-around jacket). Seriously--it is insane.  And to top it off we have classroom parties, a piano recital, a birthday party and then trick-or-treating.  That doesn't include the usual weekend activities.  Do you love it or hate it? 

Strangely enough SEA OF SUSPICION is set around Halloween and features pumpkins--which reminds me of another thing I still haven't got around to yet.  Buying pumpkins.

Is it too early for gin?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Covert Christmas

Look what just arrived?  A novella SAVING CHRISTMAS by one of my favourite authors (Loreth Anne White). The other two aren't bad either. 
Knowing Loreth this won't be your average 'Christmas' Story!

Monday, October 25, 2010

O Canada

Last Tuesday, 19th October 2010 was a very important date in the Anderson household.  It started normally enough.  We got up around 7 a.m. and ran around the house getting the kids ready for school.  DH worked from home and we both did as much work as possible to make up for taking the rest of the day off.  At noon we dropped everything, dressed up, grabbed kids and headed downtown.

We had a hot date at Government House.
That's the Manitoba Legislature building just behind Government House, with 'Golden Boy' prancing in the sunshine.
This is the home of the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, The Honourable Philip S. Lee, and Her Honour, Anita Lee (his wife). It is also the place where, once a year, they conduct the ceremony to become Canadian Citizens.  We hadn't realised we were getting the star treatment.  We actually thought that everyone taking the oath did this (insert big laugh because the pomp and ceremony really was awesome).  But most people take the oath at the CN Rail terminal (another lovely building).

So we park, worried about being towed because--dude--this is the home of the Lieutenant Governor and are you sure we're in the right place?

We were.

We immediately bumped into the biggest Mountie I've ever seen (6' 6" I reckon) in full red serge uniform.  Awesome.

Then we went inside and presented our old Landed Immigrants cards and got to sign the Guest Book. Even the kids signed and their writing is probably better than ours (yes, we are doctors, LOL).

When everything was ready we were formally announced and introduced to the receiving line of the Lieutenant Governor, his wife, and the Honourable Judge Macky who was presiding over the ceremony.  Our son said his full name--all four names--in a very loud and clear whisper that you could hear in the ballroom (apparently). Once we were all settled in our seats we had a couple of speeches about what it means to join the Canadian family, and quickly got onto the Oath of Citizenship. 


I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful
and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada,
Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully
observe the laws of Canada
and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.

Considering the Queen is the same Queen I grew up with, I didn't have any issues with the oath.  There were about thirty-five people at the ceremony from 17 different countries.  I got a tear in my eye thinking about all the stories and journeys people had taken to get into that room. It's humbling.  
Our journey is nothing spectacular.  We spent 3 years in Ontario in the 90s as post-docs at the University of Waterloo.  It was fun but DH's dad wasn't well and we decided to head back to Scotland where DH took up a post-doc with his old Ph.D. supervisor.  That's when I started writing and we started a family.  After 6 years DH was looking for a lectureship and nothing was coming up in the UK.  He spotted an ad for a lecturer in comparative physiology (his thing) at the University of Manitoba.  We knew two things about Manitoba.  1) People in Ontario looked down their noses at the lousy winters and horrendous bugs, 2) We had a two friends there.  

Looking back it is a strange thing to decide to up-roots with two babies.  But because we'd already done it before, the fact we had kids and dogs didn't seem like a big deal, plus we'd been back and forth to Australia a few times for DH's work and a ten hour flight didn't seem that far anymore.  So he applied and got the job and less than 6 months after we'd seen the ad we'd bought our home in Winnipeg.  

In another weird coincidence the two people who came to help us celebrate our oath were people I'd first met in St. Andrews.  I met Ted when I was a lowly Ph.D. student and he was a visiting professor on sabbatical (he fixed my bike puncture, which he's forgotten, but I'll never forget :).  In an even stranger twist of fate, the two friends of ours from Waterloo who now lived in Winnipeg were also close friends with Ted and his wife Deanna.  Proving the world really is a small place.  

After the ceremony the Lieutenant Governor laid on a delicious buffet of cheese and crackers and handmade sweets.  My son ate so many he got pretty hyper so we decided we'd better head.  On our way out we got our chance to chat to Philip Lee.  He's a really nice man who also came to Canada on a British passport in the 1960s.  His passport was from Hong Kong and he was very amused that when he arrived he could vote but other Canadians of Asian origin could not.  That has thankfully changed.  We started talking about Wayne Rooney and soccer while I tried to mentally keep our son away from the 5' Crystal Jardiniere.  My psychic powers failed and I had to go over and snap him out of his sugar fugue state and threaten removal of DS privileges which finally did the trick.  
I looked up what he was playing with...

Crystal Jardiniere - Donated to Government House in 1992 by Miss Phyllis Miller (and two grandsons - Gordon and Douglass Miller) of Vancouver, B.C., in memory of her parents and their grandparents, Jabez and Mary Miller. Jabez Miller came to Winnipeg in 1882 with D. R. Dingwall, founder of Dingwall Jewellers. The company later amalgamated with Birks. The jardiniere was cut by the Gundy Clapperton Company of Toronto sometime between 1905 and 1920, and was presented to Mr. Miller on his 40th anniversary with the company. 

So, thankfully when we left it was still standing. Honest Gov'nr. 

Canadians are all very excited on our behalf.  People keep coming over and congratulating us.  It is a big deal. But it was an easy decision to make. We don't give up our British Citizenship so we are fortunate enough to claim the UK and Canada as our nations.  It's a nice feeling, like having a wonderful massive security blanket.  DH can get a Canadian passport so hopefully he isn't always picked on when going to the US (it doesn't help he has no fingerprints and that Irish accent).

A large slice of our hearts belong to the UK but Canada is such a special place, the people as warm and friendly as the winters are cold and brutal.  After 6 years we feel very much part of the community.  I'm looking forward to fulfilling my oath and watching my kids grow up to be Canucks.    

Thanks, Canada!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mary O'Gara--creativity and spiritual life coach

 A couple of years ago I contacted a fellow writer from my writers' Chapter (KISS OF DEATH) to do some in depth research into what it was like to be psychic.  I had decided to write about a woman who heard voices in her head and Mary O'Gara taught a workshop called 'Creating Psychic Characters.' After taking the course, Mary spent several long phone calls answering my questions and recommending various books to read for research.  She also gave me a reading based on my astrology chart which was pretty cool :) She very generously agreed to join me and answer a few of my questions on my blog today.

Toni:  One of the hardest things I experienced writing this book was having a character experience things she couldn't explain (because she doesn't understand what's happening to her). As a psychic was there a time you felt the same mixture of fear and confusion or have you always been at peace with that aspect of your life?

Mary:   I’ve always been at peace with my psychic abilities, loved them, in fact.  For me, the conflicts have been with understanding people who don’t use their gifts.   My parents did warn me not to talk about them outside the family—but nothing prepared me for college and close relationships with wonderful people who didn’t use their gifts.   Lots of conflict there, for which I now take responsibility—but I acted pretty badly at time because it was SO frustrating.  I hated wasting hours, for example, on homecoming designs that were obviously (to me) losers.   Fortunately for me, I majored in journalism, where psychic abilities were valued as “a nose for news.”   Later, I lived on the Navajo reservation where the entire culture valued psychic communication and used it routinely; there it was called “the Navajo grapevine” and everyone trusted it.
I used my gifts for myself and my own work until I was 38.   And then beginning my practice as an astrologer and professional psychic made me learn to develop my skills and work with them and trust them even when I didn’t have personal feedback.   That took a lot of work and practice.  Now I encountered religious prejudice, but not within the circle of people I loved.   Any conflicts today are likely to be with people who think I can read their minds, people who have secrets they don’t want me to know.   And it doesn’t matter how often I tell them that mind reading is not one of my gifts.

Toni:  Could you explain the difference between being psychic and being a medium? Is it common to be both?

Mary: It’s a lot like writing, Toni.  The capacity for language and the four psychic senses are part of our basic human equipment that everyone has.   Any woman who knows when her children are in need of a mother knows what I’m talking about.   Being a medium is like being a writer; it takes interest and focus and training and a lot of practice to be a good writer or a good medium. 

Basically, a psychic sees and understands things that happen in the physical world; we just span time and space to get information from the past, the present or other locations.   Being comfortable with non-physical senses does make it easier to work as a medium.  A true medium, like Esther Hicks gives control of her body to the spirit from the other side, preferably a high spiritual being or group of beings like Esther’s Abraham.  I don’t do that at all.  I do occasional medium work, asking someone from the other side to come to me with information someone needs, but that’s probably less than once a year after the decades of my work.   On a routine basis, I see or hear spirit guides or family members from the other side who have volunteered information or come to visit. I also help spirits who didn’t pass to the other side after death complete their transition and move on.  

Toni:  Can these psychic powers be inherited? Did you inherit yours from a known family member?

Mary: Well, there you’ve got me.  I’m an hereditary witch, descended from three people who were executed for witchcraft in Connecticut in the 1600s (and from another who was tried and released), but I truly believe the abilities are there for everyone.   Maybe it’s like other talents–genes may make a gift more powerful or families may provide acceptance and role modeling.  Or, in some families, the fact that the gifts are forbidden makes them as attractive as chocolate to children.

One of my mentors, Edwin Steinbrecher, believed that a supportive family member made it much easier for a child to retain the abilities we’re born with.   Psychic abilities are probably a large part of the creativity that lets babies learn so much during the first months and years of life–and then we suppress them just as the children are starting school.  

I was fortunate to be the daughter of a lawyer who used his own gifts routinely as part of his professional work.  Dad was my first teacher and I spent a lot of time working in his office and learning to use my own skills there.   We did simple things: Shake a client’s hand and tell Dad whether I believed the client could be trusted to be truthful; look for a book in the law library by looking for light around it or for a page in the book by feeling my way “down” to the right page; holding soil in my hand and feeling what it needed.

Toni:  Is there a relationship between people being psychic and those who practise 'witchcraft'?

Mary: I think psychic abilities are considered normal and valuable in the wiccan communities, which makes their practice easier.  I’m not a member of a coven, but I have friends who are, and their training certainly encourages the use of psychic or intuitive abilities.   But so do many other religious traditions.   Churches that discourage some abilities may value other–ban tarot but encourage hands-on healing, for example.   And my own New Thought Christian tradition is very accepting of psychic gifts.  Other groups encourage communication with angels, which is just another form of intuitive work.

Toni:  Do you believe in Spirit Guides?

Mary: I do.   I don’t always listen, but that’s just me being creative and undisciplined.   Guides are simply people on the other side whose own spiritual development includes helping us.   Some of the greatest insights in my life have come from my guides, and I’d be very lonely without them.  Spirit guides don’t replace faith in God/Goddess; in fact, then intensify it.

Toni:  What is the most powerful psychic experience you've ever experienced?

Mary: That’s hard because I’ve been blessed with a lot of help from the other side.   But one was the time of my mother’s death.   The night before she died, I felt “someone” moving down the hall toward my office and looked up to see a man I recognized as her grandfather (dead decades before I was born).  The next night, as she was dying quietly and peacefully, I saw her family come to meet her, including her father (who also died decades before I was born), her uncle who was my surrogate grandfather, and my own father.   The only one missing was her brother–and the next day his children confirmed that their own mother was seriously ill and he was probably with her.

At the other extreme, I once shook hands with my then-husband’s new employer and knew he was an embezzler.  My spouse was NOT interested in that information, but at least the man’s arrest wasn’t a complete surprise for us.  My present husband’s family remembers that I stumbled on a family secret in his father’s astrological chart when I first knew the family–maybe not the best introduction, but they had fair warning when I joined the family.

Toni:  You teach 'Creating Psychic Characters' workshops. What else do you teach and where can we find out more about you?

Mary: My next workshop, in December, is quick and easy ways to use metaphysical tools for strategic planning for the new year.  I’ll be offering that through Writers Online Classes,    All of my workshops for next year, and the free teleconference calls schedule for the rest of this year, are at my own site,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Days Are Just Packed...

It might seem quiet around here but life is hectic.  I'm closing in on the end of this work I'm doing for DH's department (please be done :)), today we take the Oath of Citizenship and become a family of Canadians (my last day as a pure Brit LOL), and tomorrow I have a guest interviewee on my blog.

Mary O'Gara is the psychic I consulted while writing STORM WARNING.  I hope you join us for that. 

So just to say, hope you are well, and...

for taking us on :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

SEA OF SUSPICION an audiobook

I'm thrilled to annouce that SEA OF SUSPICION narrated by Chloe Campbell is now available to download from

I am ridiculously excited.  Again :)


Review of ebook:
"Deeply atmospheric and filled with twists and turns, Sea of Suspicion kept me flying eagerly through the pages. Just when I thought I'd figured things out, the author would switch them up on me. That quality, plus the steamy chemistry between the lead characters, drew me further and further into the book."
All About Romance.  Read whole review here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some picture locations for STORM WARNING.

This is the rock pool where Sorcha finds the body...and these are the rocks she has to clamber across to try to rescue him.
Here's the award-winning, world famous chippy that features in the story. See all those people digging into their chips!

This is Anstruther harbor where Sorcha moors her boat and Ben gets a nasty surprise.
The Isle of May where Sorcha studies her puffins...and Ben battles his hydrophobia.
This was our house in Anstruther, where in STORM WARNING Sorcha's aunt, uncle and cousin now live.

Below is the cool tranquil harbor of Cellardyke--one of the most gorgeous spots on earth.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I have two books on the Carina Widget :)  Yes, I have a small and easily pleased little mind.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Release Day is here!!!

And's the day!

STORM WARNING is released from Carina Press and all ebook stores.

Sorcha Logan is looking for peace.

Recently returned to her hometown on Scotland’s craggy coast, Sorcha wants to tame the spirits that made her flee. When she finds a corpse in the surf, however, she can’t suppress the memory of discovering her father’s body. Nor can she suppress the ghosts that haunt her—or the town’s conviction that she’s dangerous, and a witch.

Ben Foley is looking for a killer.

An American DEA agent, Ben is in town to investigate the suspicious death of his partner. He’s sure that Sorcha knows more than she’s letting on—but the more time he spends with the sexy suspect, the less he can fight their illicit attraction. And the less certain he is she’s involved with a drug cartel.

But can Ben protect Sorcha from being set up? Or worse—killed?

Why all the Eric Bana pictures?  Well (why not?), I based my character Ben Foley on Eric Bana and it might be my last chance to admire Eric without DH getting suspicious :)

The story is essentially a romance and an old-fashioned ghost story, entwined with modern-day drug running along the misty shores of Anstruther, Fife, Scotland.

I hope you like it :)

STORM WARNING available today from Carina Press,, and all good ebook stores.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sharing the most amazing photograph...

Here is my brother-in-law, Ian Anderson, at the base of Victoria Falls in his kayak.  Isn't this beautiful?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

I'm thankful for my husband, my son, my daughter, my huge and wonderful extended family, my friends, our health, my life experiences, my memory, my sense of humor and humanity, my integrity, my joy in the world and my sad days. My education. My countries (Britain and Canada). My husband's job, my book releases, my editor, my publishers, my home, my worldly possessions, my down jacket and snow boots in winter, my bank manager who loves to lend me money.  I'm thankful for the memories of the best dog ever and all the other animal companions who've graced my life.

Lots to be thankful for--how about you?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

OUT OF GRIEF--SINGING by Charlene Diehl

I went to a book signing tonight by a longtime friend.

The first time I met Charlene she was the Head of the English Department at the University of Waterloo and I was a post-doc in Biology. I happened to work with her then-husband, Bill.  My hubby and Bill bonded and became fast friends and we began invading their lives for dinner and BBQs. When Charlene's third pregnancy ended happily with the birth of a beautiful, healthy son, we were at the hospital with flowers and cards wishing them well. 

I knew Charlene had suffered a miscarriage and then lost a newborn baby following pre-eclampsia. She almost died too. And I knew it must have been a terrible experience--a heart battering experience--but I never really knew. Charlene put a brave face on her desolation. It's been 15 years since Charlene suffered that tragedy and it's taken most of that time for her to come to terms with the grief and guilt and joy of that stolen miracle. And this book, written with a poet's love of language, a writer's eye for detail and a mother's passion, is the story of that journey. With so many pregnancies ending in sadness rather than joy this is a story for all those who've lost someone they love.  But knowing the vibrant and sparkling personality that Charlene Diehl is I have a hard time believing you would read this book and come away feeling miserable. Charlene is life and true happiness--perhaps as only someone who has experienced real tragedy can be. 

In another twist of fate we all ended up living in Winnipeg. Not only that, but our daughters are best friends. Life is full of circles. This one is beautiful.

Out of Grief, Singing is an achingly beautiful account of how a woman comes to terms with the loss of her newborn. After a bewildering series of rapid diagnoses and emergency interventions, Charlene’s daughter Chloe is born. But her too-brief life is spent in the neonatal intensive care unit, and her mother, leveled by an epidural anaesthetic procedure gone wrong, can barely make it to her daughter's side. In the months following Chloe’s death, more medical crises make it nearly impossible to even begin the grieving process, let alone return to any semblance of a normal life. But return she does, along a path that is both arduous and rich. With a poet's ear for language, Charlene Diehl shares her discovery of joy amidst a devastating loss.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Writers' Police Academy

So what else did I do at Writers Police Academy?

 I went to a seminars--lots of them.

Why People Kill by Bill Lanning.  First off they totally underestimated how many writers would be attending this one and we had to switch locations to a bigger lecture theatre. Human beings are fascinated by murder and death. I was expecting a talk about the motives--gain, revenge, elimination, jealousy, conviction, lust for killing. Instead we got an insight into the belief that under the right circumstances everyone is capable of murder--something I believe--and to some people it is just a job.  We saw a series of photographs of the Mexican drug cartels getting rid of a body.  The guy doing the deed was smiling for the camera over the most gruesome scene imaginable--truth is much scarier than fiction.

That afternoon we went to an Autopsy seminar by Jonathon Hayes, a Senior Medical Examiner in the Manhattan office, an author, food and music critic.
Selfishly, I was pleased not to be the only Brit in the room.  In Canada my accent blends in, but in North Carolina it stuck out like the proverbial sore digit. Jonathon was an excellent speaker though he refused to tell a room of 100 writers how to commit the perfect murder.  I guess we'll just have to read his books :)  I was impressed by Dr. Hayes's respect for the people who come into his office, both the living and the dead. 

That evening Lee Lofland gave a presentation called A Wilted Rose: The Tina Mott Story.  A heartbreaking true story about the murder of a young woman who never caught a break, who seemed to attract bad luck no matter how hard she tried to do the right thing.  Moving and sad.

On Saturday I went to:
Crash Investigation, by Eric Holloman--OMG the training involved, the physics!!
Tools of the Trade, Susan Powell--a talk about firearms identification by this tiny woman with a big gun.
Profiling Serial Offenders, Richard Helms (another author)--who gave an interesting talk on the differences between Inductive versus Deductive criminal profiling.
Police Equipment, Richard Brewer.  We basically went through the 500kg of kit police 'ossifers' wear on their belt.  I loved this guy :)

After that we had another lecture by Jonathon Hayes on how they identify victims. Later we had the banquet where I sat next to the nicest people, and Jeffery Deaver gave a self-depreciating and inspiring speech with his 3 rules for writers...
Write what you love to read
Never give up--rejection goes with the territory
and something else...LOL--I've forgotten the third.  Shoot me now.
I bought his newest book and Jeff (Jeff--like I know the man :) wrote a humorous inscription for DH who's a big fan.  Oh, how we laughed :)

So that's a quick overview of how I spent most of my time and I'll write one more post about FATS training. TBA.

Monday, October 04, 2010

SEA OF SUSPICION is going audio

I heard last week that chose SEA OF SUSPICION for production as an audiobook.  I'm so excited but know nothing else yet.  I haven't heard it and I'm very curious as to how they handle multiple accents etc. 

My weekend was annoying and frustrating (on top of being glorious and productive).  I've been trying to make a photobook of our 6 month sabbatical and noticed Clarke Color (recommended by my friend Meretta) had a 50% of offer that ends tomorrow. I must have put in 10 hours trying to squeeze 6 months of adventure into those pages.  And it looks fabulous but I'm still only on the Normandy Beaches and haven't touched England, Scotland or Canada's west coast yet.  Sigh.  So tonnes done but really irritated I'm not going to get it done in time for the 50% off.  However, maybe it'll be done in time for the next 50% offer. LOL. 

Apart from that I wrote, weeded the garden, sanded and painted window frames, did the laundry and ate.  We watched THE GOONIES with daughter's sleepover friends, DH & I watched the original CAPE FEAR with Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum (both actors are brilliant) and caught our family favourite THE AMAZING RACE last night. 

Should have been blogging about the Writers' Police Academy and setting up promo for STORM WARNING which is released next week but I spent the time uploading photographs.  I messed up my 'realistic expectation mindset' and ended up frustrated.  You'd think by now I'd know better, huh?

How was your weekend?