Why Magic? Why Not?

 

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So I wrote the three spicy novellas of The Yacht Club and each one has what I call a hint of magic. I don’t want to give too much away about the characters, but each of my three leading ladies has a special gift (although Pax would argue about the gift part). But why magic?

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So now I’m sitting here trying to answer that question and wondering why I thought a blog post about it was a good idea. The corny answer to the question would be that it was just the way the stories arrived out of the depths of my crazy imagination. Often it feels like I have no say in the matter, the characters are the ones calling the shots and this time they showed up, bringing the magic with them. A more cynical answer would be that after writing Daisy’s story and wanting the next story to tie into the same theme, I took the easy route. I needed Kimi to be able to do some physically difficult things and be able to break into a house without getting caught so I used magic as my deus ex machina.

But there is more to it than that. Let’s face it, most romance (the kind in books) is fantasy. At one time, it was all dashing heros and swooning heroines, but these days the heroines can be just as daring. Whatever the case, we read it to escape, to be entertained, and in some cases to forget, at least for a little while. So why can’t romance have magic too? Let’s face it, having the ability to read minds is just as believable as a gorgeous billionaire coming to sweep me off my feet.

I’m not saying that someone has told me romance can’t have magic, I’m just trying, perhaps badly, to tell you why The Yacht Club does. But honestly, it really is because that’s just the way the characters showed up. It started with Daisy and her magic tattoo. Then came Kimi, and as I said, she needed a little extra help to get her where I needed her to be, so why not give her the gift to open locks? Finally there was Pax. Poor Pax, she has it the worst, but she is also making the most of her bad situation because I don’t write about wimps.

I could have titled this post “Why Romance?” but I’ve explained my choice to write romance before and as to why I choose to read it, well the answer is really right there – it’s my choice. For a great article about romance and reading whatever the hell you want, check out this post by Smart Bitches Trashy Books (as you can tell by the name, there’s a bit of a language warning so if you have an issue with swearing the article might not be your thing).

The Yacht Club releases April 25th

Want to know more? Preorder your copy of The Yacht Club and learn how three women find their hot and steamy happily-ever-afters.

 Kobo   Amazon  Barnes&Noble   iTunes

Tsundoku

No, you don’t have to say “Bless you” or “Gesundheit!” I didn’t just sneeze. I’m not sick. I’m just a book-a-holic, or as I prefer, a bibliophile. Turns out the Japanese, being the civilized people that they are, actually have a word for it: Tsundoku, the act of stockpiling more books than can be consumed. Read the full article here.

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Vimy Ridge

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Exactly one hundred years ago today at 5:30am on a Easter Monday the assault on Vimy Ridge in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France began as the Canadian Corps faced the the German Sixth Army. The battle, which took place from April 9 to 12, 1917, was part of the opening phase of the Britsh-led Battle of Arras, a diversionary attack for the French Nivelle Offensive.

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The objective of the Canadian Corps was to take control of the German-held high ground along an escarpment at the northernmost end of the Arras Offensive. This would ensure that the southern ranks could advance without being fired on by Germans at their flank. Besides being an important victory for allied forces, it is also seen by many as Canada’s coming of age.

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You can’t grow up in Canada without knowing at least something about Vimy Ridge. As a kid I spent many hours skating in the Vimy Arena, one of many community buildings, parks, etc. across the country named in commemoration of this historic event.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge marked the first time all four Canadian divisions, made up of troops drawn from all parts of the country, fought as a cohesive formation and as a result of their range of technical and tactical innovations, very powerful artillery preparation and meticulous planning, the Canadians demonstrated they were a valuable force on the Western Front and masters of offensive warfare. The victory did not come without great cost. More than ten thousand Canadians were injured and 3,598 gave their lives on the ridge.

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After Vimy, the Canadian Corps went from one success to another, their record winning Canada a separate signature on the Versailles Peace Treaty, a significant moment in the young country’s history. While Vimy is not generally considered the greatest achievement of the Canadian Corps in strategic importance or results obtained, the image of national unity and achievement gave the battle importance for Canada. For many, Canada’s national identity and nationhood were born out of the battle at Vimy Ridge.

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So today I take a minute to reflect on the sacrifices made by my fellow Canadians both then and now, sacrifices made to help bring peace to the world. Something I think we could all use a little more of in the world today.

Let us never forget.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Top of the morning to you and a Happy St. Paddy’s Day. A few years ago I was lucky enough to do a whirlwind road trip around the beautiful country of Ireland and I thought I would share some pictures with you to celebrate the day.

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As you can see, we covered a lot of ground, sticking mainly to the coast roads. While I’m not as well-travelled as I would like, I have seen a lot of countryside, including a lot of Canada (some of the most beautiful scenery around), but nothing beats this road trip. (Click on the pictures below to see a larger view)

We started and finished in Dublin where there is plenty to see and do. Next we headed south to Cork and its surrounds including Cobh and Kinsale. If you ever get to Kinsale, I’d highly recommend stopping by Jim Edwards for a bite to eat and don’t forget to order the Banoffee pie for dessert (OMG it is to die for).

From Cork we continued to follow the coast and after a few false starts found our way to Mizen Head, the southernmost (and I’d hazard to say windiest) point in Ireland. The Ring of Kerry led us into Killarney and then it was on to the sandy beaches and stellar seafood chowder of Dingle (one of my favourite stops).

From Dingle we hit the road and headed to Galway and then on to Mulranny and the 42kms of biking/hiking trails that make up the Great Western Greenway. The walled city of Londonderry took us out of Ireland and into the U.K. and Northern Ireland. Rich in a history both ancient and modern, Derry, as it is also called, was the scene of many civil uprisings associated with the IRA and the Troubles.

From Derry, we headed back to the coast and some of the most spectacular vistas I have ever seen along the Causeway and Ocean roads that lead to and from the Giant’s Causeway.

Highlights in Belfast included seeing the murals dedicated to the Troubles as well as the huge Titanic museum (definitely worth a look).

Our final stop before heading back to Dublin was Newgrange and the 5200 year old (that’s older that Stonehenge and the pyramids) passage tomb.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane. Now hoist a green beer and dish yourself up another bowl of Irish Stew and have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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Starships & Sorcery

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Are you from the Greater Toronto Area? Then why not join in the fun and check out the Starships & Sorcery Sci-Fi/Fantasy Festival at the Oshawa Public Library?  They have a variety of events scheduled from now until October 25th, including a photo op with the TARDIS, a Star Wars party, Harry Potter crafts and Star Trek trivia night.  There is also the opportunity to meet several talented writers in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres including me!

I will be at the Oshawa Public Library, Northview Branch on October 22 at 2pm. Join me as I answer your questions and read from the Harry Russo Diaries. I’ll also be signing copies of Harry’s books. I hope to see you there!

The Tragically Hip

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I’m feeling a little sad today.  If you’re a Canadian over the age of 35, you’ll probably understand why.  If you’re not, well let me explain.

Last night, an iconic Canadian band bid the country farewell in a live concert in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario.  The show was broadcast across the nation and played on screens big and small from St.John’s to Victoria.  They even had a special screening down in Rio for the Olympic athletes.  In a way that is usually reserved for gold medal hockey games, the country stood still for a few hours and came together to celebrate something uniquely Canadian – The Tragically Hip.

The Hip, as they are often lovingly called, consisting of members lead singer Gord Downie, guitarist Paul Langlois, guitarist Rob Baker, bassist Gord Sinclair, and drummer Johnny Fay have been rocking their way into the hearts of Canadians since 1984. They’ve released 14 studio albums, two live albums, 1 EP, and 54 singles. Nine of their albums have reached No. 1 in Canada. They have received numerous Canadian Music awards, including 14 Juno Awards.  Remarkably, despite being superstars here at home, they never achieved the same fame internationally, but maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s one of the things that make them so special to Canadians.  They are truly ours and we didn’t have to share them with anyone else.

With a new album just released, you would think it would be a strange time for a farewell tour, but the reason is significant and, dare I say it, tragic.  Gord Downie has cancer – a terminal brain tumor – and is dying. Cancer sucks, what can you do? Instead of packing it in, The Hip packed the trucks and the bluesy-rock band whose lyrics often portray long-forgotten moments from Canada’s history or familiar scenes of Canadian life, hit the road for one last tour.

At times triumphant, others raw and emotional, Gord Downie and the band cranked out almost three hours of classic Canadian rock, songs that have been a huge part of the soundtrack of my life. I know I’m not the only one.  As I sat dazzled in front of the TV often snivelling quietly (so as not to alarm my son who just wouldn’t understand) I saw others in the crowd, men and women alike, that were just as teary as I was and I wondered at the courage it must take to get up on that stage over and over again across the country singing songs for possibly the last time.

As he belted out the final encore, Ahead by a Century, I couldn’t imagine what was going through Downie’s mind. Sorrow? Fury? Gratitude? All of the above? While I will never know, I hope that he was also thinking about how the entire country was bidding him a fond farewell and thanking him for being a part of their lives.

 

I found this article (What the World Can Learn From Canada)after I had already posted.  It says it better than I did.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – pt4

Writing!

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Yes, that’s right.  I’m working on Harry’s next adventure.  I can’t give you many details right now, but I’m loving how it is coming together.  Harry is so much fun to write.

I’ve actually decided on both the title and the tagline for the new book, but if you want to be one of the first to know, you’ll just have to join my mailing list.  As an added bonus, I’m just 25 names short of the first 100 new subscribers so that means I’ll be making the draw to pick the random winner of a $25 gift card very soon.*

So, what are you waiting for? Join my mailing list by clicking HERE and be the first to get all the news.

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*For every 100 new members, I’m giving away a $25 gift certificate. Winners will be randomly picked from ALL names on the list (so if you have already signed up, you’re automatically entered) and once you join, you will be eligible for every subsequent draw.

 

How I Spent My Summer Vacation – pt3

The RCMP Musical Ride

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August 2nd was my birthday and I spent most of the day relaxing at the cottage with a good book (The Drafter by Kim Harrison – I’d highly recommend it, but don’t expect it to be anything like her Hollows series). We also took the whole family to see the RCMP Musical Ride.

The RCMP Musical Ride consists of 32 riders who execute a variety of cavalry drills choreographed to music. The Ride tours throughout Canada and internationally between May and October performing at approximately 40 venues each year.

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A spectacle known around the world, the RCMP Musical Ride has played an important role in the RCMP since 1873.

I posted a short video clip on my Instagram page. Check it out here.