Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Christmas in the old west

Brenda Sinclair
Today I am pleased to welcome historical romance author, Brenda Sinclair. Western romances are a special genre and Brenda writes stories that entertain us in the old west style. The folks in Spirit Creek have charmed us in the first four of the "NO" books. Join them all for a Christmas in the western world of the past in this new story: No Peace.
Thank you for allowing me to join you today. I am having so much fun writing the Spirit Creek Series, and I’m delighted to share some of my musings about it.

Did you have all the plots roughed out or thought about in advance? Or do you do them one at a time as you go?

The title, No More, has never changed since the first draft over ten years ago, but the plot-line evolved over time and several scenes were cut. Of course being of the opinion that this ‘brilliant writing’ *wink, wink* couldn’t be lost forever, I toyed with the idea of writing a trilogy. And some of the rejected scenes went into book two. Then the trilogy morphed into a six book series when plot-line ideas wouldn’t stop popping into my head! I suppose that’s a good thing. I prepare a detailed plot summary (yes, I’m a plotter) of each book before I start writing. And I write down ideas for scenes as they occur to me, but plot-line changes are constantly evolving even as I write.

How do you keep all your recurring characters straight?
That is no small feat when you’re keeping track of an entire town’s population! Mind you, several recurring characters appear in every book. But new citizens have arrived and a few births and deaths have occurred. A huge poster board occupies an office wall with color-coded Post-its covering every square inch. Blue means a deceased citizen, yellow is for children and pink is adults currently alive. I love writing about so many unique citizens, and I’ve had reviewers mention they enjoyed having the characters from an earlier story appear again in future books.

What do you like best about this current release, No Peace?
One of the male characters in No Ties, a strong alpha type, needed his own story. Blake Connors is the hero in No Peace. The best part about this novella is the fact it ties up (no pun intended) a few lose ends from No Ties. With Blake’s life in chaos, he is torn between proposing to the love of his life, Gertie the hotel waitress, and just leaving town. Also, readers can expect an update on some of the citizens featured in the first four books.

What can you tell us about the books in your Spirit Creek Series?
How often have we heard the old saying Variety is the spice of life? Too frequently to count, right? We all enjoy variety in our leisure activities, in our hobbies, in the movies we watch and, of course, in the books we read. When I plotted the Spirit Creek Series, I kept this concept of ‘variety’ in mind. But, sorry, no vampires. Just sheriffs, schoolmarms, outlaws, ranchers, bank robbers and the like.

Book One, No More, finds a recent widow and a wealthy ranch involved in a marriage of convenience to provide their children with two parents. Of course, their secret feelings for each other get in the way, along with a number of other problems facing their blended family.

Book Two, No Time, has lots of plot twists and romance. Ellie Thomas is a schoolmarm who considers the town’s lawyer simply a friend who stands by her when she needs help. But Robert has loved her from afar for years, and he hopes to win her heart.

Book Three, No Chance, was written for readers who enjoy a few steamy scenes in a romance story, so beware if you’re not a fan of a ‘hot’ read. Chance Maxwell and Sadie Peterman heat up the pages and each other while Sadie learns harsh life lessons.

Book Four, No Ties, is another sweet romance between Sheriff Ernest Jones and schoolteacher, Ivy Paterson who told a little white lie years ago, shortly after arriving in Spirit Creek. When she recognizes a stranger in town, she realizes her fib is coming back to bite her in the bustle.

Book Five, No Way, involves a troubled widow who arrives in Spirit Creek by mistake.
Book Six, No Hope, features an abducted schoolteacher. Both of these will be released in 2015.

All of the books in the Spirit Creek Series and the Christmas novella are available on Amazon at

Thank you so much for letting me join you today! Happy reading!




Saturday, November 15, 2014

What do Captain D.L. Creaser and John Lennon have in common?

Nova Scotia's South Shore Sailors

Riverport was settled in 1604. Rum runners, caves and sailing men make a potent mix. For generations the men of Riverport and Rosebay went to sea.

The harbour of Ritcey Cove is free from shoals, and marine craft are safe from every wind. It is considered one of the finest harbors in North America. Sailors and fishermen have tied their vessels to the wharf there for centuries. Even a generation before mine, boys went to sea as cabin boys at the age of thirteen, sailing on ships powered only by sails. The runs often went to Spain for salt.

Those boys grew into first class sailors and many served in the Merchant Marine during WW11. My children's grandfather was among those ranks and his achievements illustrate the fortitude of those sea going men.

CREASER, Douglas Lealand, Second Officer - Member - Order of the British Empire (MBE) - CN Steamship Colborne -Awarded as per Canada Gazette of 16 June 1945 and London Gazette of 14 June 1945. Home: Rosebay, Luneburg County, Nova Scotia. See also Douglas Gordon Dauphinee.

"Together with Mr. D.G. Dauphinee, Third Officer, manned and fired the two machine guns in the bridgenests, against two formation of Japanese aircraft which rained bombs around the ship, destroying the lighters. The Colborne sustained fifty holes from shell fragments and was making water in No. 3 Hold."
The S.S. Colborne (Canadian National Steamships was attacked by Japanese aircraft, on 11 December 1944, at anchor in Penang. She was holed 50 times but got away with a valuable rubber cargo.

His wife remembered hearing an announcement by the infamous Toyko Rose that he and all his shipmates were lost at sea. It was weeks before she knew the truth. They were all safe. Family legend also notes that he swam through seas covered in burning oil to take the rope for a buoy chair to a floundering ship. He saw the entire crew to safety before he left the burning vessel. He never mentioned it. The story came from his shipmates.

Even in non-war years, it was a tough life with often eleven months between visits home.
Later in life he was one of the few captains qualified to handle a full masted sailing ship. Family rumor has it he was asked to captain the Bounty replica for the movie but declined.

The Griffin
After years as an officer on the Lady Boats for Canada's West Indian sailing fleet, he worked in the Canadian Coast Guard captaining the buoy ships. As Captain of both the original Griffin and the new one built in the 1960's he served along the Saint Lawrence River for years. In the end was the most senior captain in Canada.

Is it any wonder I am drawn to this location and its people for my reading and to populate my Caleb Cove Mystery Books. What location are you drawn to because of its history? 


And if you weren't sure. Both John Lennon and Douglas L. Creaser were awarded the MBE.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

4 ‘How-to’ writing books that work

How-to books I recommend

Over the years I have read close to 200 How-to books for writers. They taught me much about the craft and business of writing. I keep several favorites on my shelf and, when stuck in my writing, I go to them for inspiration. Browsing through the various topics, I invariably find an idea that un-sticks my writing. Most times a snippet in a book will launch me back into the story on supercharged roller skates. Here are four that work for me.

This book by Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick takes the reader through the elements of a traditional mystery. Using well-known books as examples, they lay-out the scenes required to build the story, include clues and maximize touchstone elements. Along they way the plot a new mystery to show how it can be done. The premise is to write your book on the week-ends and to finish in a year. Of course, you can speed up your process by writing every day. Highly recommended for new mystery writers and as a refresher or “un-sticker” for more experience writers.

 a novel writer’s system for building a complete and cohesive manuscript

I’d recommend this for more experienced writers. Ms Wiesner’s instructions walk the reader through the process of creating a premise, characters, setting and plot, pulling it all together for a comprehensive (bad) first draft. Actually, I found that my first draft was much closer to anything else I’d done as a first. Brainstorming methods and worksheets are included. Additional material includes instructions on correcting a work in progress and on career planning for writers. Although you might not use everything she offers, this book provides an excellent map for navigating your story.

 Self-Editing For Fiction Writers – How to Edit Yourself into Print, Renni Browne and Dave King

This much recommended book explains common craft items from Show and Tell right through to Voice. Multiple examples help the reader understand and “see” what they mean. Highly recommended for writers of all levels of expertise. Each section contains checklists to apply to your manuscript. Exercises and answers are also included for those who want some hands-on practice with feedback.

 Mind Map Handbook– the ultimate thinking tool by Tony Buzan

No writing how-to list is complete without a tool to help us capture the chaotic but useful snippets floating around in our writer’s brain. Mind Maps are one of a writer’s useful tools. Page 43 of this handbook lists the components of a novel and proceeds to explain how to put a picture of your story on one page. Diagrams, exercises and explanations enhance the learning experience. Using mind maps can help you organize everything from daily schedules to an epic novel. Recommended for writers (and others) who think in a non-linear fashion. This process is particularly useful for those who do not plan or outline but have an overview of their story in mind.

What writing how-to books are on your shelf? Please share.