Monday, August 22, 2016

When Words Collide 2016: Happy Readers, Happy Writers

Celebrating with my editor Adrienne Kerr.
When Words Collide, Calgary
I’m still glowing from the the sixth annual When Words Collide! It’s a festival/conference for readers, writers, editors, agents and publishers, of all genres, fiction or non-fiction . . . basically if you’re involved with the written word, come play here for three days of awesome!

This is my fifth year participating, my fourth year on the board of directors, and a staple of my summer writing geek-on. What I love about this conference is not only the calibre of panelists and special guests, but the sense of community and seriously relaxed, happy vibe. This is a place to find your writer or reader tribe, learn, share and be inspired!

I met my incredibly talented editor, Adrienne Kerr, at WWC a few years ago. She listened (and heard) what I wanted to do with Kiss Me in the Rain and helped get me there. It released August 2! I’m still giddy. Just in case you are wondering how to kick your manuscript up a notch...or ten, I can’t say enough amazing things about this editor! And she likes scotch like me!

YA Author Suzi Vadori
When Words Collide, Calgary
For me, conferences are more fun when you have a roommate to share it with. A few years ago when I went to the Surrey International Writers’ conference, the fabulous Victoria Smith took me under her wing. What a difference that made! If you are considering going to a conference, maybe see if a friend wants to come, too. My long-time WWC “roomie” is Suzy Vadori. She writes YA and was nominated for an Aurora Award straight out the gate for her debut novel The Fountain! And she loves the tradition of the late-night fort building as much as I do. This was the third year of the fort-building shenanigans . . . shout out to all who played at 2am!

The panels, workshops and presentations, gosh, where do I start?? All of it was awesome, all of it! Maybe pictures are the best way to show? I had such a great time at #wwcyyc16. Thank you to all the old friends, and new. Happy Reading, Happy Writing, and see you all next year!


With fellow Eco-writer Nina Munteanu!
When Words Collide, Calgary
Author S. G. Wong and I giggling way too much!
When Words Collide, Calgary

All smiles in the fort!
When Words Collide, Calgary

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Memorable Border Crossings: "Welcome Home"

I love traveling as much as I love writing. This is my second post in my Memorable Border Crossings and it feeds in a personal way to my new release, Kiss Me in the Rain, the first of the Tanner Family Series. The series tackles environmental, social and economical issues, but the backbone of the series is the familial dynamic of adult siblings and their divorced parents. I know not everyone has positive border crossings, but this memory shares a happy moment during a rather awkward family time.

Coming Back into the U.S.A: Semester in Scotland
When I was 18 years old I received a brochure from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire’s International Office declaring I could study abroad. I was eighteen and it was a full two weeks before I even stepped foot in any of my freshman lecture halls or classrooms. Back then, still a couple years before I would meet my now, and very much a planner, husband, I didn’t do organized.  But this, something I would have to apply a whole year in advance for, called me like a very loud, very specific bull horn. Sarah, Study Abroad!

I applied for a program in Scotland, got accepted, and waited not-so-patiently to zip off to the land of castles, kilts, scotch, really cool accents and rugby. During that year my parents also happened to start the very long, rather painful process of divorcing.
Did I mention rugby? Turns out contact sports are really good at letting go of bottled up tension. Which I found out during my AMAZING semester in that incredibly welcoming, happy, beautiful country. I was having an epic experience, in between emails and phone calls from the dividing home front.

When my semester was over and my nineteen year old self flew back home, I walked out of the tunnel from the plane and headed down the windowed corridor to customs. On the other side of those floor-to-ceiling windows was my mom and my sister . . . and a few paces away my dad and his girlfriend. I know both my parents were just really excited I was home, but, well. . . awkward!

What does this have to do with border guards? As I walked down that corridor and I saw my two rides waiting to pick me up and dreading the first of what would be many perceived “who do you chose” scenarios, I walked into U.S. Customs. I have never wanted to wait so long in a line in my life. Or hang out with people with badges and guns. But all too soon it was my turn.

The border guard had no idea the family drama I would be stepping into in just a few moments, but he looked at me, handed me back my passport, and said, “Welcome home.”
I stared at him a moment, and realized he meant it.

“Thanks.” I said, feeling fortified by the kind, no-strings-attached words of a stranger. I borrowed some of his strength, hoped the jet lag didn’t make me ask my family the obvious, and went to see who I was catching a ride with. And have always remembered that small kindness that meant more to me than that border guard would ever know.

That having been said, I have heard those two magic words, Welcome Home,  almost every time since. Still, it's pretty cool. Thanks Mr. Nice Border Guard Guy.

Happy Trails . . .

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Book Release Day: Kiss Me in the Rain

Book Release Day
It's a happy day, and not just because I paddled around Bala Park Island today. After what turned out to be an extraordinary journey, my book Kiss Me in the Rain released today!
Hang on, I'm still letting that sink in.
I learned so much and worked with incredibly talented people. Shout out of thanks and awesome to my editor Adrienne Kerr, as well as to the Alberta Romance Writers' Association and my amazing cover designer Tufted Sky Cover Designs.
It's a happy day, indeed!

In the dense spruce forests of Northern Alberta, an environmentalist and an archeologist are about to uncover the wrongs of the past and the pleasures of the here and now.

Savannah McIntyre is estranged from her family, haunted by the destruction that her father's development business has visited upon the landscape that she loves. So when a family wedding calls her home, the hope of reconnecting with her dad surfaces, putting her directly in the path of Gabe Tanner, an archeologist on her father's payroll.
Gabe is estranged from his own father, and in him Savannah senses a man of immense compassion with a deep connection to the land. Navigating their mutual attraction on a remote and dangerous archaeological survey proves difficult, given their differences in ideology, but Savannah and Gabe are about to find out that love can thrive in any landscape.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

And so it starts...Summer, Calgary Stampede and Book Release count-down

Summer is fun. I tend to go mach ten to soak up every drop of summer fun that I possibly can. Still, I try to be organized, plan ahead, you know, facilitate the order so as to not get pulled under by the happy chaos. I'll let you know if that works out one of these days. :) I'm in the thick of pre-book launch madness (and it is glorious madness!!), but we took a pause break this morning to go to the Calgary Stampede Parade. Here is a wee pause break for you to check out some of the pics!

Couldn't help but feel those same emotions of gratitude and awe when this group walked past...the compassion and support and community strength during the Fort McMurray wildfires of 2016 will stay with us all a very long time.

Seriously, this dude is riding a bull. Full disclosure, I didn't check if it was a bull or steer.

The Calgary Stampede Show Riders = more horses for me to gawk at!

I took the pic of the banner as these kids were from a high school in Wisconsin, but man, they rocked it!
Sorry I didn't snap a mid-action pic!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Canada Day: Border Crossings, the first one

Happy Canada Day! This particular time, as in today through the Fourth is always a reflective time for me. I immigrated up seventeen years ago. Man, where did the time go? I love it up here, but also love where I came from. But instead of getting all mushy about the awesomeness of people and countries and landscapes, this will be the first of a handful of stories sharing my escapades crossing our beautiful shared border. Some are funny, some more serious, but all pay homage to the border guards keeping us all safe. Thank you for your service!

My first time crossing the border was eighteen years ago. I was coming up for an archaeology field school in Manitoba. One of my geography profs at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire asked what I was doing for the summer. Actually, I had been eying up a geology field school in Colorado but he vigorously shook his head. “No, no, no. You want to go to Canada.”
“I do?”
“Yes, for an archaeology field school. Six weeks living in a tent, digging and drinking beer with Canadians.”
That sounds about right for a twenty year old who likes travel, the outdoors, history and apparently beer, and looking for something cool to do that summer.

A couple weeks before I was scheduled to leave my prof asked if I minded if another of his students caught a ride with me. Sounded like splitting gas money. Back then I am sheepish to admit the shared expense was a bigger plus than the obvious environmental considerations of carpooling across several states and up into another country. I pay more attention to that sort of thing now. But I digress.

The other student was a forty-five year old ex-biker with long straggly hair and tattoos. I didn’t think much of the what or why of his appearance, but I’ll admit I took inventory of the situation. My spidy sense wasn’t freaking out and my prof obviously gave him the thumbs up as a safe traveling companion. Canadian Border Security did not.

Neither one of us had traveled to Manitoba before and we didn’t have the handy maps apps of today, let alone smart phones, that conveniently provide ETAs. We rolled into a 24-hour border crossing around 11pm and that’s when we were taken to separate rooms. I don’t know what his room looked like, mine just looked like a typical office with a big ‘ol desk and a nice border guard asking me repeatedly if I was there on my own accord, that I hadn’t been coerced, that I was okay. Safe. I showed him my paperwork from Brandon University, beaming at the upcoming adventure of learning how to do field archaeology. I didn’t clue in right away to what he was afraid was happening.

Maybe now’s a good time to mention that when I was twenty years old I looked twelve and probably looked just as naive. It was late at night, I was crossing the border, and with a man that looked significantly older than me and like he had lived at least part of his life on a rather rough side.

We were there for a few hours and kept apart. That was fine, I hadn’t ever crossed the Canadian border, for all I knew this was standard procedure. When we were allowed in and driving away my fellow student asked with snap, “Why didn’t they check you through interpol, too?”
“Because I look twelve and he thought you kidnapped me or worse.”
“Oh. Still isn’t fair.”
“No. He was trying to keep me safe.”
My travel companion was irate at being assumed super naughty, but seemed somewhat  mollified when I explained the questions they had asked me.

I don’t know what it is like to be routinely grilled by those in law enforcement positions, but I also am grateful for those border guards. They were just trying to keep a young woman safe. And the experience gave my fellow “mature student” plenty to laugh about later as he shared it around the campfire during that field school.

This summer, may your border crossings be safe, prompt and lead to incredible adventures. Happy traveling!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring Equinox 2016: Balance...and maybe that tipping point

Happy Spring Equinox. This is the day of balance, equal day, equal night, but also that pause before the tipping point into the growth and bloom of full-on spring. So to celebrate this celestial sweetness, I want to honour balance, but also how that prepares us for growth.

Great, what does that look like? What is balance? Well if you’re like me, there will be some things you just naturally know how to ride the wave and keep your balance, and others you get tossed around trying to stay up and it’s exhausting, not fluid or particularly graceful, and sometimes involves abysmal failure. Ug.

Loaded Potential
As I write this I wonder if we can look at where we do rock the balance and see if we can give ourselves pointers for the other stuff. For instance, physically, I have pretty good balance. My body pays attention to itself and can stay in a place of equilibrium . . . Damn, I never stopped to actually think about that before. Equilibrium. How do I achieve equilibrium in the areas of my life that are not in balance? Work/Life balance, my crazy long to-do list, how do I take a play out of my body balance book?

Small tweaks. Exaggerated movements just won’t work, at least for me they don’t. Apply enough pressure to create that positive, desired change, but not so much as to keep me still off balance just simply in the other direction.

What else . . . oh yeah, just decide to. If I channeled all the energy I spend ignoring or worrying about my to-do list and just hammered it out instead, that thing wouldn’t get out of control in the first place. I know, easier said then done, but this is a day of celestial balance, then tipping into growth. Let’s rock the balance and set up for beautiful growth.

Happy Spring.