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Publication News – “Worlds Away”

Hello and good day!

I wrote a few weeks ago about a new book I’d completed, titled “Worlds Away.” It is now available for purchase in its entirety on Amazon, in all markets. It’s available as an ebook, and for the first time with any of my books, in a paperback option as well. Click links for the Amazon pages.

I hope you enjoy it if you read it, and if you do, please, PLEASE, leave a review and rating. It’s all I’ve got to generate interest in the book if someone new is browsing my work.

As well, I’ve entered the book in something called the Storyteller Contest. It’s run through the Amazon UK Store specifically, but it’s open to entrants from all over the world, so long as they publish their work in the UK store/market, which I have done, and usually do. 🙂 I’ve been reading up on the rules and how the judging will be working, and a large part of how they narrow the field is through the reader reviews, download counts, and purchases. So, if ever you’ve wondered how to support me beyond just buying the book and giving it 5 stars (:P), here it is. The grand prize, not that I’m holding my breath or anything, is a substantial amount of money. It would certainly go a long way towards making it easier for me to devote more time to my writing, which means more of the books and stories you love. Or at least, I hope you love them. Why else would you be here? 😉

In any case, another book published, another one I’d love to hear your feedback on, and always more in the works.

Worlds Away, by Tamara Clarke

“She’s been on the run for years, never staying in one place too long. She thinks she’s safe, until the day a Raven and a Wolf show themselves. Then she’s running headlong back into the world she once knew, where things aren’t what they seem, not anymore. Politics and magic collide and she’s in danger from the moment she steps foot in the Autumn Kingdom. Her every breath is a violation of the world’s laws and she knows it, but she soon finds out that there’s so much more at stake.

Kingdoms will clash, and corrupt, evil magic will show its face. Somehow she has to find a way to save them all, without losing herself to the fire in her veins.”

As always, take care and happy reading!

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My NaNo Adventure

As you may or may not know, (or care) I participated in NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) this year. I’d never had the time or drive to do it before, and I didn’t know if I could face the challenge. But this year, November approached and I had no plan, I wasn’t traveling, and I didn’t have any more part-time jobs, so I decided there were no more excuses.

For those who are unaware, NaNoWriMo is a month-long novel writing challenge. The goal is to reach Novemeber 30th with a novel of at least 50,000 words. Does that sound easy? Then you’ve never tried. It boils down to approximately 1667 words a day. Give just one day a try and then let me know how easy you think it is.

I’ve wanted to do NaNo for some time. Mostly, just to see if I could, but also, for the challenge. Not because it’s some kind of competition – at least, not against others. It’s more of a personal challenge, in the way the you really only play golf against yourself. Sure, others around you are whacking balls, but you have only yourself to face when you’re out there with the club in your hand. As with writing something for NaNo, there was no one helping or hindering me. Only me and my computer. I mostly wanted to know if I could work on a deadline, so to speak. I’ve always only written on my own schedule, published at my own pace, since I have no one to answer to, and no one is paying me an advance to write something by some obligatory date in the future. I’ve always wondered if I could do it, write on a timeline, with a schedule, in order to meet a deadline.

I work full-time, and I’ve been attempting to get into a regular 5-days a week gym schedule – I prefer to go to the gym at 5:30 a.m., which means I’m exhausted every evening. Add to this the attempt to write 1667 words a day… well, I’m sure you can imagine the challenge. I could have scrapped the gym for the month so I wouldn’t have felt so tired each evening, but I didn’t think I could consider it a success if I had to do that. I wanted to see if I could do this within my life as it is now. I could have also pounded out 10,000 words each weekend instead of worrying about the daily totals, but 10,000 words, even over two days, is again, far more challenging than it seems. As well, I couldn’t just scrap my social life for an entire month. I’d had plans made with my parents, friends, and a certain Naughty and Nice Taboo show downtown one Friday night, all of which I wanted to fit the writing around. All of this I wanted to do, to see if I could find a balance or routine of some kind, because all I really want to do is be a writer.

Still, I could have made this a little easier on myself, instead of deciding three days out to participate, with no story outline, notes, beyond a broad idea/vision in my head, in a genre I’ve never attempted before and using a POV I’m not entirely comfortable with. I hit the ground running, so to speak, and didn’t look back. I couldn’t! Didn’t have time. There was barely time to take notes on my own story, never mind go back to fix things that started to go wrong with my story. It was awful. I’d reach one part, realize I’d contradicted myself, and I’d have to plow through. Having only a few hours each night and only four weekends to work with, there was no time to make the story good… Well. No time to make the story perfect.

I am tempted to make the story available on here so you can see for yourselves what I managed to get done in 30 very short days. And I thought you could all be my beta readers, but everything in me is saying “FIX IT. Fix it all. Make it not stupid. Oh, God, it’s total crap. What were you thinking? No one is going to like it. Don’t let anyone see it.”

Yeah. All that and more. The entire time I was writing it. But I just kept writing. (…sing-song like a certain blue fish in a certain animated movie… “Just keep writing, just keep writing…”) and somehow reached 50107 words. So that was the first goal accomplished.

The second is that I do want to finish this story. It was an idea I’d had and sketched out a few points prior to starting it, and I still have a picture in my mind of how I want it to go. In my efforts to ‘just keep writing’, some of my original plot points have been pushed aside, or obliterated. I have so much to go back and fix before I can think of continuing with it. I have major continuity issues, problems with flow and exposition, and moments that drag on, with none of the action I think it might need to make readers want to keep reading it.

And there you have it. A glimpse inside my writer’s mind. My conclusions after completing the challenge – a day early, mind you! – are that I am capable of writing to a deadline, that I would probably do better given a bit more time to fix issues as I go, and that I could still have a life while maxing out my writing time. Will I do it again? Yes. I think so, perhaps with just a bit more prep before November 1st.

Anyway, stay tuned. I may still post the mess that I wrote this year, for your perusal and you can tell me if the errors are worth fixing or if the whole thing should never see the light of day. 🙂

In other news, it’s been snowing all weekend, which is perfect, since I’m exhausted following the challenge and I’m into doing some writing at my more normal, relaxed pace.

As always, take care and happy reading.

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Follow The Rules

I’ve been thinking a lot about the rules lately. Not laws. 😉 The rules when it comes to what I write. You might be thinking, what rules? There are no rules, beyond basic grammar, spelling and punctuation. Except there are.

In the genres I write, contemporary and suspenseful romance, the rules are pretty basic. They’re the same as the real world. I don’t deal in magic, portals to other dimensions, space travel, or supernatural creatures. People don’t fly, murder is wrong, and no man or woman is perfect. Sounds simple enough, right? I used to think so, but lately, I’ve been thinking that I’ve got a set of rules that I write within.

Let me explain a bit more.

In a fantasy novel, for example, the rules are different. There might be magic, wizards, flying people, and werewolves, etc, right? But they follow rules, or canon, set out by the author. They might be: magic is good, but can be used by bad people. People can fly, but it requires a certain spell, or they’re not able to fly beyond our own atmosphere. Werewolves exist, but only at the full moon, or maybe they can shapeshift on their own schedule. It all depends on the novel, or the world that the author has created. Once they’ve established that world, the rules are set. If a werewolf can only change at the full moon, then that is the rule. If people can fly without a magic spell, then they don’t need to cast a spell before jumping off the Eiffel Tower. They can’t break the rules. They can’t, in the penultimate chapter, suddenly have a werewolf change at the new moon. It would be against the rules. Do you understand?

When it comes to my own work, you still wouldn’t think the rules are all that restrictive. And they’re really not, but I do have them. I didn’t start out telling myself that I have to follow them, or that I can never change them. Each of my hockey-romance books are stand-alone and could each presumably come with a new set of rules if I wanted.

The TAITS series of adventure/mystery, they on the other hand, do have to follow the rules I’ve created. The technology they use is advanced, but it’s not omnipotent. They take care of foreign threats in far-off places, but they can still diffuse situations they come across at home. The characters are faster, smarter, and more resourceful than the average person, which means they can move faster, or handle more firepower than most people. There are a few other minor details that you probably never gave a second thought to while reading them, or that I even considered while writing them. All together, it makes up a sort of playbook that I have to reference whenever I write something new.

I’m not sure when it occurred to me that I’ve been writing everything I do within a set of rules. I suppose it’s been on my mind in the last couple months since I’ve posted the last two stories on Lit, “Cold as Ice” and “Reflections on Ice.” I enjoyed writing both of those, for different reasons, and to me, they ended on satisfactory notes. The majority of feedback I received was positive, but there were several people who commented that I’d ended the stories without a marriage, or even a hint of a proposal. This isn’t the first time I’ve had that sort of response, and I suppose it’s because I rarely end my stories with marriage or a proposal. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but in my mind, I cannot suddenly have my characters go from the first tentative confessions of love to all-out marriage and commitment at the end of my stories.

I write contemporary romance, which, to me, means they’re modern interpretations of love and romance, within the societal norms I’m used to in the Western world. Meaning, people don’t meet and get married after dating for a month or two. They don’t even get engaged. Not typically, anyway. I’m sure everyone out there has some story of love-at-first-sight or meant-to-be about real, live people they know, but whatever the case may be, that is not typical. That is a very small percentage of people who experience those things, and in my opinion, having those situations in my stories would not make sense.

There have been three stories in my catalogue of work where the characters have come together in marriage or engagement by the end. In those stories, that step in their relationship made sense. They’d been together for some time, and they’d spoken of marriage or a life together. It wasn’t just a grand finale chapter or epilogue I tacked on the end to bring some kind of final conclusion to the story.

In my other works, the characters have only known each other for a very short amount of time. (Kaitlyn and Alex dated for about two months, Mina and Drew, the same, Dylan and Cassia dated a grand total of two and a half weeks before the end) To me, it would be disingenuous to have them end in marriage mere weeks after they got together in the beginning. It may not have started out as a rule in my head, but it has come to be something I do follow, in my efforts to keep my stories as “real” as possible. Yes, yes, I know. I write fiction, and really, my hockey-romance stories could arguably be classified as pure fantasy, but I still try to have realistic characters, dealing with realistic issues in a realistic world, our world.

Maybe I don’t like the stereotypical happily ever after scenario because I don’t want to see my stories ending at all. Maybe I like to keep them open-ended for future sequels. 🙂 I know I like revisiting characters in later stories, weaving friendships throughout and updating on characters from old stories – in a more realistic timeline.

I’m not suggesting my rules are the same for all romance, contemporary or otherwise. They’re just what I find myself working with, or having had worked with all along. Any set of stories, romance, fantasy, or otherwise, does fall within a set of rules. You may not know it, may never be able to pick them out after having read them, but they’re there. I know occasionally I read something and find myself detaching a bit from the story, and it can sometimes be because the author has strayed from their own canon.

I read a truly awful hockey-romance themed ebook a few weeks ago. The story was all over the place, the characters went from being jerks to whiners and back again repeatedly, and there was a sad lack of research when it came to hockey facts, which annoyed me to no end. How hard is it to Google even the most basic hockey facts? Altogether, along with poor editing, I couldn’t get into it at all. It felt like the writer put down whatever they felt like in the moment, without a thought for previous actions or timelines. I can suspend my disbelief for just about any kind of story – I mean, look at what I write! – but this was too much. It’s just an example, of my own opinion, of how a story loses so much when an author isn’t consistent at all. Can you think of anything you’ve read recently that sounds similar?

I’m currently working on something brand new, in a new genre for me. It’s a fantasy story, and I’m making the rules up as I go, but writing notes as I go along as well. I’m sure I’ll contradict myself at some point – hence, the notes – but that’s why there’s the editing process. I hope the end product will be faithful to the world I’ve created and that I won’t have readers poking hole after hole in my efforts. It’s definitely got some plot points that will require firm guidelines. It’s not something I’ve spent a lot of time on before – well, not since I was a kid – but I’m excited to be working on something new and exciting anyway.

The rules are there for a reason. Then again, many of you are probably thinking, rules are meant to be broken. Maybe, maybe not. When it comes to my own writing, I’ll always be working on the things I need to, in order to improve and continue to deliver something I love, in the hopes you might love it as well. 🙂

Take care, and happy reading!

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Winter and Hockey

Today is Hockey Day in Canada. Not exactly a national holiday but a day that always brings a smile to my face. Every Canadian hockey team is seeing action today, starting with Calgary vs. Winnipeg, which starts in about an hour. I may watch some of it, but my family is coming over and we’re going to be outside, enjoying the mid-winter reprieve from the bitter cold we’ve had lately. At the moment, I have a coffee in my hand, and a blanket over my legs, and I started to think about the romance of winter. And hockey. 😉

Of course, you know one of my major themes is hockey romance, as in, ordinary women meeting and falling in love with professional hockey players. Sports-themed romance in general is nothing new. There are thousands of stories out there about football players, baseball players, basketball, rugby, soccer (or football again, for my readers outside of North America.) and even golf, tennis, and other pros that I just can’t think of right now. Hockey alone has more than I could ever read. Not all of them good, necessarily, but they are plentiful.

What is it about hockey that’s so amazing? I know why I love it. Part of it is ingrained from birth, I’m sure. I did live in Edmonton for several years growing up, during the time of the Oilers’ greatest years, pre- and post-Gretzky. It’s fun being in a hockey city, seeing jerseys in bars and pubs on game nights, being able to go to games (wish I could go to more… any time someone wants to gift me with tickets, or take me to a game, I’m all for it!) but outside of all that, what is it about the game itself?

It’s rules are fairly simple: put more pucks in the net than your opponent. Sounds easy, right? Now do it while balancing on razor-sharp skates, using a stick to guide the puck, while still watching out for and dodging defencemen, then shoot the puck past a goalie into a net 6′ wide by 4′ tall. Piece of cake, right? Oh, also there’s basically no out of bounds, so except for penalties or off-side calls, play doesn’t stop, so you get short breaks between each 45-second (sometimes longer) shift and still have to be faster, stronger, and have a better shot than the other guys. No problem.

I learned to skate at a very young age, and while it is like riding a bike, in that you never forget how, I certainly never had the skills or talent to do more than skate laps around a rink. So I’m amazed every time I watch a game. They are so fast, all of them. Their stamina is impressive, and having the hockey sense to pass a puck, accept a pass, or keep moving forward with the opponents breathing down your neck, it’s all so incredible to me. I feel the same about a lot of sports and athletes. They all make it look so easy, don’t they? It’s just something they do, like I breathe, or write.

And of course, what’s not to love about the season? There’s nothing like that first wide-spread snowfall, when the snow covers everything and after the sun goes down, the air takes on this sort of soft, pink hue, and the world is hushed. Winter was made for introverts and homebodies, like myself. Winter means it’s OK to bundle up in a dozen blankets and stay in by the fire with a good book and a cup of tea. Now, add in a hockey game with your favorite team. I love it! You have no idea how many stories I’ve written or plotted or edited while watching hockey. Or maybe you do. 😉 It must be pretty obvious with the subject matter I write.

I don’t know if I’m expressing myself very well. I’m not going to lie and say I love winter all day, every day. The days when I have to shovel two feet of snow from my front and back walks, I don’t love. I don’t like having to start my car twenty minutes before I can leave work because it’s so bloody cold, the car just won’t run, and I certainly don’t enjoy spending an extra half hour or more on my morning or afternoon commutes because the roads are in such rough shape. But those few days in the winter, when I’m not working, when I’m watching the snow fall, while warm inside with a cup of coffee, and I can watch a good hockey game, those days, I love. And to me, that’s romantic.

Take care, and happy reading!

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New Year, Nothing New

Here we are. It’s 2018. And I’ve accomplished nothing so far. To be fair, I was travelling until four days ago, and this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and read or relax since then. November and December were crazy as well, so all together, I haven’t had much downtime since before Halloween. That’s OK though. I’ve been squeezing in a lot of writing, or planning numerous stories, even with my busy schedule. Even made some awesome notes and headway in a couple of brand new projects. They’re not quite ready for sharing yet, but I may post a ‘sneak peek’ in the coming days. I’ll keep you posted, as always.

Does anyone out there do New Year’s resolutions? I don’t. They’re never a good idea, in my opinion. It might be something you can stick with, but in general, New Year’s resolutions just don’t work. I remember when I was going to the gym regularly – ah, I miss it so much. Also miss weighing less…  – every January, there’d be this massive uptick in attendance. It would last for a good month, then by February, they’d start dropping like flies, until we were back to the ‘usual’ crowd. It may have been that they switched to different times (I used to go at opening every morning, 5:30 a.m., it was the best, most productive time for me) but my guess is most people just didn’t last. And that’s OK too. I couldn’t continue going to the gym because of the cost. I’ve been seriously thinking about carving out space in my budget for it though, because I loved going. I don’t think I’d classify that as a resolution though.

If anything, my resolutions are the same as always. Save more money, don’t sweat the small stuff, and write more. Always write more.

And on that note, I’m going to get to it. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and that you’re not letting the winter blues get you down. For my part, I’ll be so happy when the daylight starts to stretch again. 🙂

Until next time, take care and happy reading!

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Vacation Days

Hello. It’s been a while, and I have been busy. I’ve been writing, reading a lot, working even more, and wishing I could win the lottery somehow, just so I could write all the time. 🙂 Alas, bills…

In other news, I just got back from a wonderful vacation, to Havana, Cuba. I’ve shared some pictures, if you’d care to look, and rest assured, I wasn’t a total sloth on the trip. I did write some, and have an entire story plotted out in my mind now, all thanks to the wonderful sights, food, drinks and people that I met while I was there. No, I’m not telling you anything, except that it’ll be a story in a certain spy-adventure-romance story that I write. 😉

Not much else to report. I have also finished a new Ice story, and I will be posting it up on Lit soon. I’ve attached a preview in the Sneak Peeks section. Be sure to check it out, and check back for updates on any other news.

I wish I had something more interesting to share, something about writing, or my struggles with writing, or even anything good I’ve written or experienced lately. Other than vacation – which was incredible, let me tell you! – my life isn’t terribly exciting these days. I’m just trying to work and save and pay some bills. You know, life. UGH.

Rest assured, I’m still hard at work on my next writing project. Sometimes it’s hockey-romance, sometimes it’s my adventures, and sometimes it’s something else entirely. I’ve had a few other files on the go lately that are totally different from other things I’ve done. They’re not ready for sharing but writing them has been fun and new.

So that’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Please check out my pictures below. My holiday was wonderful, and exotic and everything I saw and tasted was brand new, and I loved every minute of it. Even when I fell down and hurt my foot, which led to a lot of swelling and limping for the next several days. 🙂

As always, take care, and happy reading!

 

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Farewell to Summer

As the seasons change, and the nights grow longer, I can feel the change in the air. It’s getting cooler, it feels sharper when I step outside. I won’t be able to get away with my light jacket for much longer. We’ve been very lucky since September to have very little bad weather. Sure, the nights are cold and the temperatures just don’t get as high, but it’s been a really beautiful autumn. And now, with winter and snow on its way, I’d like to take a moment to share some of my warm summer and fall days with you.

I mentioned before how I worked part time this summer again, at the golf course I’ve worked at previously. It’s a beautiful course, with incredible views and this season was unbelieveable as far as the weather went. I think it only rained twice out of all the weekends I worked, and it wasn’t until September that we had some crazy inclement days. Forgive the quality of the photos. I took them on my cell phone and they don’t always come out as well as I hope.

Here’s the view from a tee from some time in August, I believe.

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Another from sometime in July or August.

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Here’s a couple from a rather misty morning. I think it was either early in the season (May) or possibly late in August. 🙂

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Deer!

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And these are my favourites, from my last weekend working. It was beautiful, sunny, and the changing colours are apparent. (No, we don’t get the beautiful maple reds and deep maroons. Mostly it’s yellow and some orange, but still pretty, IMO.)

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Of course, I did mention there was some crazy weather early in September. In fact, the next one was from the Labour Day weekend. Yep. It’s snow! LOL, rest assured, it’s no longer there and we’re back to waiting for the real snow to arrive.

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Anyway, I hope you like these. I enjoyed my time there, even though it was hard work. Now, I can move on and look forward to the coming winter, with all the soft blankets, wam tea and cozy afternoons of reading and writing.

Take care, and happy reading.

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