A Late Crafty Wednesday

Sorry the past couple of Wednesdays have been rather busy with various life stuff. Last week, I was expecting my sister-in-law to come over for some crafting and needed to clean up the house and make sure my craft room was in order so we could both work in it. It was great having the space to share it with her! Today, I was chasing all over the city to find a particular shower gift for my niece from her gift registry. I still couldn’t find what I wanted, so I hope she will like what I got, anyway. When I got home, I started working on her card. Then, there was dinner to make, dishes to wash, yadda, yadda, yadda…

masculine Hooray

Anyway, I thought I would start with this masculine card, 5-1/2″ x 5-1/2″, using brown card stock. I added a strip of multi-coloured paper measuring 5″ x 3″ and a 2″ strip of star-patterned paper that was 5″ in length. I added a 3″ square of brown paper stamped with a handwriting stamp. I cut out a 2-1/2″ orange circle using a punch and stamped small stars around the outer edge in red ink. The label was cut with the Cuttlebug and the ‘Fanciful Labels’ die cutter. Before removing it from the die-cutter, I sponged brown ink over the exposed embossing design to bring up the pattern and stamped ‘Hip hip HOORAY …’ using Close To My Heart’s Birthday Greetings set. I added a tiny star brad to the label. Then, I cut out strips of a circle patterned paper and a 5-1/2″ piece of brown & white striped ribbon. I taped the 3″ & 2″ patterned papers together with cellophane tape on the back. I attached the handwriting paper in the centre of that and wrapped the ribbon over the seam, attaching it with a strip of Sookwang. I also used Sookwang to attach the patterned papers to the base card. I added the circle with pop-up squares, then placed the label over the circle using a glue runner, as well as the circle strips in the upper left hand corner.


The second card is much more feminine. I started with cream-coloured card stock for the base, 5-1/2 x 8-1/2″ folded in half. I added a patterned piece of paper with calendar markings and cut it 1/2″ smaller than the card base. I cut 3 rectangles of different patterned paper measuring 3″ x 1-1/4″, placing them 1/2″ apart. To the yellow rectangle I added three plastic flowers, attaching them with small star brads. To the green rectangle I wrapped a piece of green embroidery thread, strung with 3 flower beads and attached it with Glue Dots. To the brown striped paper I added 3 brass brads. Over that, I added the corset, stamped with a stamp from Stampin’ Up‘s ‘Rue des Fleurs’ set, and a piece of sheet music, punched with a corner punch to get the ‘bites’ all around it.

I still have quite a few cards to finish by the August long weekend, which is when we will be having our family gathering. From June to September, we have 24 birthdays and 6 anniversaries, just on Hubby’s side of the family. That doesn’t include the shower card I need for Sunday and those friends and family on my side who are celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. So, if I don’t get a chance to do another Crafty Wednesday next week, I hope you’ll understand why I didn’t have time. 🙂


Sunday Review – Jan Andrews

storytellers - cupids_brigus - 77

Good morning, dear Readers!

Today, I’d like to introduce to you, Jan Andrews, a well-known Canadian author who has penned many children’s books (Ella: An Elephant–Un ElephantVery Last First Time, Out of Everywhere, The Auction, Twelve Days of Summer, Stories at the Door, Rude Stories, When Apples Grew Noses and White Horses Flew: Tales of Ti-Jean), as well as a Dear Canada story called Winter of Peril: Newfoundland Diary of Sophie Loveridge, and she has, most recently, published The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley. (If you haven’t read my review of it, yet, you can find it here). In addition to the written word, Jan is also a storyteller, sharing stories in the most original way much like our earliest ancestors did around a campfire. She is a fascinating, adventurous woman with a sense of humour, as you will see. Please give her a warm welcome!

Hi, Jan! Thank-you for joining us today!

That’s a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

To begin, would you please tell my readers a little about yourself?

I was born in 1942 and came to Canada from the UK in 1963. I went first to Saskatoon and that was a major culture shock. Nonetheless, I knew I didn’t want to go back to Britain. I wanted to make Canada my home. I’ve done that – completely and utterly. 


Right now I live down the end of a road on a lake about 50 minutes drive from Ottawa. I’m stunned by the beauty of the place — all day and every day. I never take it for granted. The same goes for my partner, Jennifer Cayley. Coming home is always sweet, sweet, sweet.

I’m eternally too busy as the pair of us are prone to altogether too many “good ideas.” The latest is a small company called 2 Women Productions, dedicated to getting storytelling for adults more out there in the world. You can check it out at http://www.2wp.ca.

A majority of my readers consist of writers who are looking for that big break. How difficult was it for you to get your first book published?

The first one just sort of happened. It was in 1972 and you have to remember there were very few Canadian children’s books being published back then. I had a story I sent to Tundra Books. Tundra was a very new publishing house and May Cutler was very much in charge. They had plans for a series of what they called “mini-books for mini-hands.” Material for three books had been collected and the search was on for a fourth. Ella, An Elephant–Un Elephant was it. It seems to me the paperback version sold for 69 cents and the hardcover for $1.95. 

I don’t know that I’ve ever actually had what you’d call “a big break” although Very Last First Time, which came out in 1985, really did make an impact and is now considered an on-going classic. Mostly though I simply keep chugging along. My books have been shortlisted for most of the big awards, including the GGs (Governor General Awards) but that’s never guaranteed acceptance for the next submission. I have a number of manuscripts sitting in my files for which I’d love to find a home.

One of the problems is that I’m a tremendously slow writer so there are often substantial gaps between one book and the next. I’ve also produced books for all ages so it’s hard to keep readers on the edge of their seats looking for the next book out.

silver birch_2

Accepting the Silver Birch Express Award, 2012

Success comes in such strange ways too. I was flabbergasted that When Apples Grew Noses and White Horses Flew: Tales of Ti-Jean was even nominated for the Silver Birch Express Award in 2012. It never entered my head that a folktale collection could actually win!

Added to all this is the fact that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the world of arts administration. Jennifer and I founded an arts education organization called MASC for having artists go into schools. This work led to the founding of a Young Authors and Illustrators Conference. Both MASC and the conference are still running although we’re no longer involved. I was the first president of Storytellers of Canada-Conteurs du Canada and ran its StorySave project for the recording of elder storytellers through the production of six CD sets. I produced a series of epic tellings every winter for thirteen years and this led to a number of complete tellings of such works as The Iliad and The Odyssey. I directed Ottawa Storytellers concert series at the Fourth Stage of the National Arts Centre – this for six years, also. It’s been fascinating and exciting but has, of course, taken up a considerable amount of my time.

I can imagine! 🙂

Once you’ve been past president of Storytellers of Canada you get inducted into the Loyal Order of Silly Old Persons (which I’m proud to say I instituted) - Jan

Once you’ve been past president of Storytellers of Canada you get inducted into the Loyal Order of Silly Old Persons (which I’m proud to say I instituted) – Jan

(Thanks for the giggle, Jan!)

How does the process of storytelling differ from writing?

Storytelling is much more fluid. With the traditional folktales I learn what’s happening in the story and tell out of its images. There are constant surprises, growing out of the interaction between teller and listeners. I don’t change the main events, of course, but the story does come out of my mouth somewhat differently each time. As a writer, I’m very precise. That’s why I’m so slow. The story seems to rise up out of the words. There are no really “rough drafts.” Tons will get altered/re-shaped/discarded but it still has to “feel right” with each go through.

That seems like a good way to work out any kinks in a story. 🙂

You’ve had several children’s books published. What was it like working with illustrators? Did the publisher assign them to you or did you get to choose your own? 

Mostly the publisher has chosen the illustrator, mostly I’ve had different illustrators for each new book. The thing you have to know is that it’s the illustrator’s job to take the words you’ve written and create the images out of their own response and vision; it is not the illustrator’s job to ask you what you want. You’re a team, each one of you doing what’s yours to do. Respect is crucial. Mostly picture books work through making the text as tight as possible. I sometimes make cuts when the illustrations are done because if something’s in the pictures it doesn’t need to be in the words. I’ve had wonderful illustrators. Their work has often revealed new levels of meaning and emotion to me. Each and every time the collaboration has led to the eventual production of a book that is far greater than the sum of its respective parts. 


Nice! 🙂

Now, on to your most recent work, The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley – what inspired you to write about a foster child who doesn’t speak?

Who knows exactly where what comes from? It’s often very much a mystery to me. I did have three teenage foster kids in my life when my own kids were teenagers. I learned a lot from them and did, I think, gain some insight into their ways and needs. One of the things I realized was that each of these young women had developed some technique which was utterly crucial to her own survival but would also prove a significant block if it couldn’t be let go of when the time came.

I really can’t remember when I decided that Kyle would be silent. I do remember being absolutely amazed when he started painting. I hadn’t expected that at all. I’m hugely admiring of him — of his resiliency and strength. I believe very strongly that we, all of us, have within us whatever it is we need to manage. I believe too we always have choices as to how we will respond and act. Those themes inform all of my work both as writer and storyteller. Whatever I’m producing, they’re always at the heart. I’m sure readers will be able to see the effect that has on Silent Summer.

I started writing the book in 2007 so you can see what I mean by slow. Inevitably, there were times when I thought I should quit but I was always so attached to this kid. There’s a scene in the book where his current foster parent speaks of all she likes about him. I love those things as well. And there’s so much more she doesn’t know about – how through thick and thin he’s stuck to a sense of how he should be in the world, he’s made a commitment. Always and always, Kyle called me back.

There is, of course, also the crow that sounds like a chicken. How delicious is that?

That part was wonderful and I truly believe it’s possible! I have a cat who sometimes ‘twitters’ like a bird! I think it’s a ploy to lure the birds closer. 🙂

What was the most challenging part of writing Kyle’s story?

Finding the voice. I knew everything had to come through Kyle’s perception. This had its own innate challenges – especially as Kyle doesn’t speak till almost the end of the book AND he has a couple of voices in his head as a kind of backdrop to events. One voice belongs to his father – the ultimate put-down creep; the other to a strange sort of personage who appears to him as “an imaginary figment” but who functions as supporter and guide.

I developed a kind of stream of consciousness approach but there was always something missing. Heavens be praised for Anita Daher, my outstanding Great Plains editor. She suggested I try first person present. The results were immediate. Everything was freer, more immediate and alive.

I love Anita! She certainly has a way of helping us dig deeper to make our stories the best they can be. 🙂

Was the publishing/editing process different this time, writing for Young Adults rather than children?

Editing is editing. It’s there to bring out the best in any given work. No matter the genre, the good editor is the one who asks the right questions; notes the weaknesses; celebrates the strengths; respects the author’s vision and abilities; is clear about what he/she thinks. I’ve worked with outstanding exponents of the art/profession and I’m hugely grateful for that. (I should mention that I’ve had great publishers too!)

Are there any media sites you’d like to share?

http://www.janandrews.ca my website

http://www.jansstorytellingclub.wordpress.ca recordings I make of traditional folktales.

http://www.2wp.ca/jans-blogassorted thoughts on literature and life




Having made the list, I should note that my website needs updating and contributions to both my written and audio blogs have been lagging of late. That’s because I’ve been wrestling with cancer and the resulting chemo. I was, in fact, in the middle to the huge re-write of Silent Summer occasioned by the change in voice when I got the diagnosis. Great Plains was wondrously supportive through this, relaxing all deadlines and letting me soldier on as best I could. I lost lots of energy but am recovering that nicely and am definitely planning to do what’s necessary to catch up on what needs doing in the media line. 

I was sorry to learn about your illness, but I’m so glad you’re feeling better. 🙂


Do you have any parting words or advice for my readers?

  • Being a writer isn’t easy. There’s a level of risk involved in everything you do. You have to live with that.
  • Know that the book you’re creating is way more important than you are. Do whatever it takes to make that book as good as it can be.
  • Have a certain amount of faith in yourself, the universe, the world around you but not so much it makes you self-satisfied.

Great words of wisdom, Jan – and speaking of risk, look at you rock climbing! I am very impressed! 🙂

Thanks you so much for joining us, today, Jan. It’s been such a pleasure. 🙂

Thanks to readers everywhere. As you can see above, I’m on Goodreads and would love to know what you think about Silent Summer or any of my other books.

I hope my followers will check out your books and give you glowing reviews! 🙂

Friday Review – The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley by Jan Andrews


The Silent Summer of Kyle McGinley is the latest book from Jan Andrews, published by Great Plains Publications. It’s also one of her first Young Adult stories, and I think she’s done a marvelous job. Jan managed to get into the mindset of a child who has been abused and abandoned. Kyle’s trust issues are front and foremost, with good reason. He has never had anyone in his life he could rely on, until the Jones-Wardmans welcomed him into their home.

Having 3 foster kids in our family, I can certainly sympathize and understand some of the things Kyle was feeling. Although our nieces & nephew came into the family as babies and have grown up with all of us, we love them as if they had been born into the family. That being said, I doubt it would have been as easy for them if they had arrived as teenagers. These three were lucky enough to have stability, a home that has been the only foster placement they’ve had, unlike students I’ve known who were not so lucky.

Silent Summer explores the life of one such child who was bounced around from one place to the other since his father abandoned him at the age of eight. Now, as a teenager off to another foster home, he has decided that not speaking is his only way of controlling the situation in which he finds himself. Kyle steels himself against disappointment. He does not dare to hope that Scott and Jill, as they ask to be called, could possibly want him around forever. He questions their motives in his mind but does not have the courage to voice his reservations and ask why they really agreed to take him.

Despite his silence, he communicates to his foster parents through mime. The reader, however, is privy to Kyle’s thoughts and those of his imaginary figments – his father’s voice berating him and a new character that is more analytical and sympathetic, created to help him through this latest transition. Slowly, Kyle begins to adjust to his new life in the country with a dog, a cat, a herd of cows and an injured crow. The crow becomes a parody of Kyle’s life; abandoned, injured, and afraid. His new foster placement also allows him freedom to explore his creativity. Then, someone threatens to disrupt the peace he’d begun to feel – his father.

I thought this was a wonderful story. I sympathized with Kyle for reasons I mentioned above, but also because Jan was so meticulous about her character’s voice. It shines through, loud and clear, despite the absence of words to those around him. As an educator, I feel it would be a great addition to any classroom library, opening up the issue of fostering to a class – discussing good &/or bad experiences, changes that should be made to the current foster care system, and creating sympathy and understanding for those who have been through it. It’s also a terrific story for anyone who just wants to read about a teen trying to cope with a lousy life. You can follow his hopes and dreams, his anxieties and reservations. 🙂


Book Blurb (Great Plains Publications):

When no one listens, what’s the point of talking?

Kyle McGinley doesn’t say a word. Fed up with being shuttled from one foster care home to another, he has stopped speaking.  But at the home of Scott and Jill Wardman, with the help of a crow, a swamp, and an excess of black paint, he begins to think that maybe, just maybe, life could be better.

As long as his frigging dad doesn’t mess things up.

About Jan Andrews:
Four time finalist for the Governor General Literary Award, Jan Andrews is an internationally celebrated storyteller and author to more than a dozen books. 

Friday Reviews

While I do have several books I want to personally review, I am waiting on the interviews that go along with them, so I hope you will be patient until I get everything sorted out. In the meantime, there are others who have been reviewing books so I thought I’d share their links. You might want to add some of them to your summer reading list. 🙂

The first is Jennifer M. Eaton’s review of Surrender by Aimee Lane. I love her cookie ratings.

The second, if you have a passion for zombies, is a review by Derek Newman-Stilles (Speculating Canada) of Zombie Versus Fairy Featuring Albinos by James Marshall. He speculates that the story shows how “our society [has] become like zombies, not questioning, not changing, following outdated patterns, and mindlessly destroying”.

If you like poetry, here are a couple of links to sites where new works of poetry are being discussed:

Julie Catherine has a poetry collection, Poems of Living, Loving & Lore and a few more poems to share.

Christy Burmingham has just produced her collection of inspiring poems, Pathways to Illumination.

To round out the selections, Cheri Champagne has just published, Love and Deceit, the third of the Mason Sibling series of Regency Romances. These aren’t your usual period romances, with simpering leads fawning over men they can’t possess. Cheri has strong female characters who are embroiled in mystery, intrigue and high adventure, as well as antics in the bedroom!

If you’ve ever contemplated life, death and its mysteries, Evelyn Woodward’s story I Am the Gatekeeper presents a different perspective on the world around us. Evelyn also has a chilling mystery, Caught In The Web.

Finally, Cas Courcelle has her engrossing adventure, Down Dark Deep, on Kindle. It draws you in and captures you with suspense!

Do YOU have any good books you’d like to share? 🙂

Crafty Wednesday

Welcome to my first real Crafty Wednesday post in quite some time. After finally getting my creative spaces rearranged and set up the way I want, I now have time to get down to the business of actually writing and creating. 

You may recall that, back in April, I participated in a Creative Gathering – a two-day event where a whole crowd of avid scrapbook enthusiasts get together and craft. I finally got around to taking pictures of the cards I made there and processing them so I can now share them with you.

yellow with squares

square yellow


The first couple of cards were made for one of their challenges where they provide a sketch of how the page or card should look, but it’s up to the creator to decide what materials they will use. As you can see by the similarities, we were to use 9 squares with ribbon to separate them and an embellishment on the right-hand side. These cards are a great way to get rid of those small paper bits you might have leftover from another project. The base card was made from yellow card stock measuring 4-1/4″ x 9″, folded in half. Each small square measures 1-1/4″ square and was punched with Stampin’ Up‘s ‘Postage Stamp’ punch. One could easily just use a cutter to get the appropriate size square. For the center of the flower on the left, I used a green brad. On the right, I used a self-adhesive ‘gem’. Both flowers were stuck to the cards with Glue Dots.

pink polka dots

orange HB











These next two cards have similarities as well, although they look quite different. The sketch for this one required a contrasting rectangle with a ribbon of some kind down the middle. The sentiment needed to be nearly centered on the card with embellishments above and below it, along with a bow near the bottom.

I used a base card of 8-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ folded in half. The center rectangle measured 3-3/4″ x 4-3/4″. The Happy Birthdays were embossed using a Versa Mark sticky pad and black heat-activated embossing powder. I used two different stamps for it, one for the outer label and one for the words, which I cut from different paper and attached to the label with a glue runner. I used actual ribbon on the pink card for the central line, while I used Washi Tape (thin, self-adhesive ribbon) for the orange card. The bows were made with real ribbon and attached with Glue Dots.

I think that’s it, for today. I’ll share more with you next week. 🙂

Sunday Interview – Kourtney Heintz

This week, I’d like to introduce to you one determined young lady. She’s been all over the web with a blog tour to promote her first book, so I’m glad she had time to squeeze us into her busy schedule. Kourtney responded to my call for interviewees a few months ago and while I was looking into her story and checking out some of the other blogs she’s been on, I was fascinated by her story. She has come up with some of the most interesting characters and unique plot line that I’m sure you will be as intrigued as me.


Have you ever thought it would be fun to read people’s minds? Kourtney explores this in her story The Six Train to Wisconsin. As it turns out, telepathy isn’t all fun and games! Please give Kourtney a great, big HELLO! 🙂

Hi, Kourtney! Welcome to my blog!

Hi Susan! Thanks for having me here as a guest!

Writers can be divided into several categories: pantsers, plotters and those who do a little of both. What do you consider yourself to be and why?

Great question! I actually devoted an entire guest post to it. I’m a plantser and you can find out why at: http://petedenton.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/guest-post-plantser-the-hybrid-model/

‘Plantser’ – I love that term! 🙂

Writers often have favourite times at which they write. What does your writing schedule look like?

To start my day, I check email, Facebook, my blog comments, and Twitter. I have a to-do list next to my laptop (I write it at midnight the night before) and that pretty much lays out my day. Except for the email or phone call that might change the course of things.

When I’m drafting, it’s 1000 words a day for 5 days a week. There is no set time of day that I prefer to draft at. Can be afternoon or evening. When I’m revising, it’s a certain number of chapters or pages to be worked on. When I’m promoting, it’s contacting venues, responding to requests for information, and social media.

I work until most of the list is completed, exhaustion sets in, or it’s bedtime. Most days are 8-10 hours of work. Around the book launch, they went a lot longer.

That’s a longer work schedule than most people with ‘day jobs’! 

Beta readers, critique partners, writing groups and feedback from rejection letters all give writers insight into how to improve their writing. What have you most relied on to help you perfect your own writing?

I think it’s important to try them all. It’s the only way you can learn what works best for you. I’ve received feedback from all these methods with my YA manuscript. That’s where I tried everything out.

As for what I relied on most, it’s differed for each manuscript. For Six Train, it was feedback from rejection letters, charity auctions, and beta readers that really shaped the novel. For my YA novel, it was my critique partner, Kat Bender, and agent rejection letters.

What is some advice you could give other authors who want to self-publish or take the indie route? 

Make sure you are ready to make the time and monetary commitment.

You have to be your own publishing house, your own marketing team, and your own assistant. You have to manage the entire publication process from editing to layout to cover design. Even if you hire freelancers, you are the final check on everything. You have to create a marketing plan. You have to set up signings and blog tour events. It’s all on your shoulders.


You definitely have to have confidence in your work and determination, in order to make it all work!

Since I’ve been married, I’ve had an aversion to romance novels, but your story, The Six Train to Wisconsin has really intrigued me. What makes its romance different than most other romances out there?

I wrote this story for women who don’t like traditional romances. They want a love story that fits their lifestyle. They don’t believe in happily ever after. They do believe in the peaks and valleys that come with any relationship. And they like reading about the journey of love and don’t think of it as a destination. 

Your stories seem to be mostly character-driven. I think that’s why I really like speculative fiction. Please tell us how you develop your characters? Are they based on people you know?

I take the emotions or situations I’ve experienced and filter them into my fiction. My characters are completely fictional. I might steal some aspects from my real life, but they get blended together to form each character. I once had a boss who talked in percentages. I thought that was the perfect quirk for Oliver and incorporated that into his character.

I develop my characters over time. I do something I call storystorming to bring them to life before I start writing. Then I deepen them as I go.

Your description of how you ‘storystorm’ was fascinating. I find a do a version of this, but not always in the beginning. (Click on the red highlighted word above to read all about how Kourtney ‘storystorms’) Thanks for sharing that bit of insight, Kourtney! 🙂

Varying points of view in a story can be complicated. I have one on the back burner that I’m still struggling with in this regard. How did you solve the problem of your two characters’ perspectives in The Six Train To Wisconsin? 

I actually intended to write the whole story from the husband’s perspective. Then the story took a turn that required the wife’s POV half way through. Then another turn where it alternated POV to the end. That was my original version.

Agents told me it was unsellable and I had to alternate the POV from the start. So I went back and did massive revisions. By that time, I’d already spent a couple years with the story and I knew my characters so well, it was a challenge but one I was up to.

I’m not sure how people start out alternating point of view from the get-go. It’s hard enough to develop one voice at a time, let alone two simultaneously.

It sure is! Glad you managed to work out the kinks. 🙂

One last question, please tell us about your ‘warrior lapdog, Emerson’. I’m sure the dog-lovers out there would love to ‘meet’ him. 🙂


Emerson is my bubby–my baby boy and my puppy. He’s half Shih-tzu, half Lhasa Apso, and looks like an Ewok. The Shih-tzu in him is the lapdog that lays in my lap for hours while I type. The Lhasa Apso is the guard dog who sleeps facing my door to protect me. His cuddling got me over many rejections.

He’s adorable! I love Ewoks! 🙂

Where in cyberspace can my readers connect with you? 

They can find me here:

Website: http://kourtneyheintz.com

Blog: http://kourtneyheintz.wordpress.com

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/kourtneyheintzwriter

Twitter: http://twitter.com/KourHei

Thanks for dropping by and talking to us, today, Kourtney. Best of luck with the rest of your blog tour and book sales. Oh, and congratulations on being a semifinalist for Amazon’s 2012 Breakthrough Novel Award! 🙂

I hope you, my readers, will check out the blog posts Kourtney mentioned above, as well as the social media sites so you can keep apprised of her successes – and definitely check out her book! 🙂

 Six Train to Wisconsin – book blurb:

Sometimes saving the person you love can cost you everything. 

There is one person that ties Oliver Richter to this world: his wife Kai. For Kai, Oliver is the keeper of her secrets.

When her telepathy spirals out of control and inundates her mind with the thoughts and emotions of everyone within a half-mile radius, the life they built together in Manhattan is threatened. 

To save her, Oliver brings her to the hometown he abandoned—Butternut, Wisconsin—where the secrets of his past remain buried. But the past has a way of refusing to stay dead. Can Kai save Oliver before his secrets claim their future?

Kourtney’s Bio on Amazon:

Kourtney Heintz writes emotionally evocative speculative fiction that captures the deepest truths of being human. For her characters, love is a journey never a destination.

She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, her supportive parents and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working in financial services provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amuck at night, imagining a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide.

Her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin, was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist.

Buy Links:

Paperback available from:


Barnes and Noble 

Ebook available from:


Barnes and Noble





Foodie Post # 2 – Chez Sophie

A couple of months ago, my friend and I decided to try out a restaurant close to our Tai Chi class, Chez Sophie at 248 avenue de la Cathédrale. This small neighbourhood restaurant was one I’d been to on occasion because my in-laws lived nearby. Chez Sophie is known for their pizza, but also their French cuisine.


I was quite surprised by their decor when I walked in the door. It’s changed a lot since the last time I was there. Above you’ll see a shot of the take-out window.



By the door was a cabinet with assorted jewelry items and at the back were the menu boards with the daily specials. My friend and I sat along the window side which gave a view of the quiet Avenue de la Cathédrale.

The menu is written both in English & in French. It is, after all, situated in the heart of Winnipeg’s French neighbourhood of St. Boniface. To begin with, the waitress brought us water, but not in the usual sort of jug. The water was in a wine bottle painted a beautiful egg-shell blue – very pretty.


I decided to try one of their Bistro Meals, which includes soup, salad and bread. The soup of the day was Cream of Sweet Potato. It came on a board with a small loaf of bread on the side and a pat of butter.


I wasn’t sure I would like it, but found it to be absolutely scrumptious!  For the main dish, I chose the ‘croque monsieur du jambon’. It was basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich but the cheese was grilled on the outside of the bread and the middle was filled with a delicious béchamel sauce (a roux of butter & flour cooked in milk).


The salad that came with it was very flavourful, with garden fresh vegetables and a homemade Balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the side – or to be more precise, in the centre!


My friend chose the Quiche of the Day, bacon & mushroom.


The portions were not too large, like in some restaurants where they are super-sized. They were absolutely perfect, leaving us room for dessert. We each chose the light and creamy Chocolate Mousse.

I took a quick peek at their dinner menu, which contained such selections as Salmon in cream sauce, Beef Bourguinon, Veal Cutlet, an assortment of pastas, as well as pizza. I think I will have to return in the evening with Hubby and try one of those enticing meals!

In addition to their neighbourhood restaurant, they have recently opened ‘la Crêperie du pont’, a small booth on the Esplanade Riel, the pedestrian part of the Provencher Bridge, where one can order crêpes, pancakes and waffles that can be topped with such delights as sugar, chocolate, jam, maple syrup, & honey.

Also, as I drove along the Provencher Bridge the other day, I noticed that the Salisbury House sign has been replaced by one that says Chez Sophie, so I imagine that, soon, we will be able to enjoy their wonderful meals while absorbing the fabulous river view atop the Esplanade Riel, in addition to their neighbourhood restaurant. I can’t wait to try it out! 🙂

So, if you ever find yourself in the heart of the prairies (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) drop in and experience the fabulous meals at Chez Sophie! 🙂

Crafty Wednesday – reno update

Sorry this post is so late in the day. I was still trying to get things put in their places. Then I had to take pictures and process them so they wouldn’t be too big to insert in to the post. There is still a bit of organizing to do, but most things have a home, now.

desk & hutch on right

We’ll start with the craft room, since this is Crafty Wednesday, after all. Last weekend, Hubby and Son helped me move the furniture, which was no easy task! Since we couldn’t afford to buy new furniture, we simply re-used what we already had. Unfortunately, the bigger pieces are particle board and a second-hand set, at that – and they were heavy! They were so heavy, in fact, that when we tried to drag the long table along the carpet, both ends broke away from the top and Hubby had to add strips of wood to re-attach them. Once the long desk was sturdy, again, we were able to move it from the end wall, to the side wall beside the desk, giving me some lovely wall space.

table left side

hutch left side

We moved the other long table to the opposite side. With the hutches atop the long tables, I have lots of shelf space. Add to that the under-table drawer units, small bins and a roll-away paper holder, I managed to give all my craft supplies a home.

ribbon storagemore wall storage

I love my new wall storage spaces, although I think I need to get more hooks for ribbon storage and maybe a couple of shelves &/or bins to put more paper, etc. on the right hand wall.

beside door

The corner by the door where the tall bookshelf used to be is much more open now, with room for my laminator and comb binder, as well as the tall drawer set where I store buttons, Christmas stamps and extra embellishments.

Since I already showed you my new desk in my office space, I’ll show you the shelves we put up along the opposite wall above the low file cabinets.

dresser with 3D puzzlesStarting by the window, there’s the dresser with some of my 3D puzzles. Above it, on the top shelves are all the fantasy-themed ornaments my family has given me over the years. The green globe was one my dad used as a kid. It’s interesting to look at the African continent to see some sections labelled as ‘unexplored’. In addition to the fantasy stuff, I am also fascinated by the Asian cultures. The Chinese couple shown here are from my grandparents. I always loved to see them on their shelves when I went to visit and I’m happy to showcase them on my own shelves, now. Next to them is an eagle in flight, and my two book characters, Owl & Bear, in stuffed form.

shelves above dresser

In the middle section, you’ll notice a stack of binders. They contain all the stories, novel-length and shorts, that I’ve created over the past almost 20 years or so. Some are finished, others still need endings. The picture in the middle was painted by a friend’s dad just for me because he knew how much I liked the look of old buildings. Sadly, he has passed away, so we won’t be able to enjoy any more of his wonderful creations. The Polar Bears stand on crystal shards that light up.

Owl & Bear

The shelves closest to the door hold a more modern version of the world, although it’s still about 20 years old. It was a globe we got for the kids, when they were small. On the shelf below it, you’ll notice a copy of Spirit Quest, with Withershins peeking out from behind it. To the right of my books are books on how to write mysteries. To the left are all my resources when I want to include some French in my stories.

Well, I think that’s about it for the reno, except for drapes in the office (they’re on back-order). I still have some things left over that need to be sorted and filed, but eventually, everything will be organized – I hope! Thanks for dropping by to see what changes we’ve made. Maybe these photos will help inspire you when you want to renovate your craft or office space. 🙂