Sunday, 2 December 2012


Someone recently asked about my favourite Christmas memory ever - and to keep it under 100 words - and it got me thinking. I love the season and with so many memories to choose from it was a tough slog through my memory-bank. 

There are the standard memories that stand out from a child’s point of view, like the time when I was five and woke up to my very own Barbie camper van, or the following year when I woke up to find my very own Barbie House - to this day I have no idea where my parents found it because it wasn't your standard house, it was a mansion. It was not in any catalogue I had seen, and I was up on my Barbie gear so I knew Santa thought I was special.

As lovely as those are, it was neither.

My favourite Christmas memory would have to be when I was at school in England, in 1992. I can't believe it was 20 years ago now. I had never celebrated Christmas in England before, but it felt like I was home because of my mother’s two sisters, and my cousins. My other cousins from New Zealand, whom I happened to have spent Christmas with in their home country in 1988, were also in England at the time (my mother had three sisters and two brothers, all spread out around the globe) so we were quite a large group that year. I remember looking about the sitting room at one point during the holidays, surrounded by my mother's family - my family - wondering if I would ever get to spend Christmas with all of them again. It was a very special time, and I knew then, in those hours, how exceptionally rare that moment was, and I cherished it, placing it into a corner of my mind forever as a pivotal moment in my life.
You need to understand my mother’s family – they hail from Liverpool and as everyone knows, Liverpulian’s have a wickedly dry sense of humour. We were not short of laughs at any point over the holidays, we had fun. I did miss my parents, brothers and my father's side of the family that I grew up with in Canada, but knew I would have many Christmases ahead with them, so I wasn’t too torn up about missing Christmas at home. I went back to school on the 2nd of January, happy and content, and full of great memories of a wonderful Christmas - this is one of my favourite Christmas memories.

Fast forward 19 years to last Christmas. I went back to England, but not for the Holidays. My mother’s youngest sister had been sick. She left us all behind on the 14th of December, and we buried her on the 23rd. And as I looked about the sitting room on Christmas Day, it was clear to myself and others someone was missing. But before the melancholy struck we pulled out some pictures – and there they were – the memories of a Christmas that felt like yesterday. That joyous Christmas when we were all together, when we were all happy, and when we were all healthy and walking somewhere upon this earth.

When I think of my happiest Christmas memory I think of Christmas 1992. It is always the one that comes to mind. And it will live in my memory forever.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

HALLOWEEN BLOG HOP with Still Moments Publishing....

Recently I was asked by Still Moments Publishing to come up with a scary Halloween story so I gave it some thought. It is meant to be a true story if at all possible so when I was having tea with my friend Bernadette one afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I asked her if she had any scary stories I might be able to pilfer.

I picked a good day to go pilfering.

No sooner had I asked the question than we heard footsteps in her hallway, but seeing as we were the only two home at the time, naturally our ears pricked up.

You have to understand, Bernadette’s house it is well over 7,500 square feet and one-hundred and five years old and there is a lot of wood – wood floors, wood paneling, wooden shaker roof at one time – so one would expect things to go creak in the night, and the day as chance would have it.

On this particular day just before we sat down, we had been searching the house high and low for her son’s blue and green striped blanket. We tore the playroom apart and looked in all the usual nooks and crannies, and we even looked in his sister’s easy-bake oven in case he decided to make, blanquette de veau, but we found nothing. We went on to search the rest of the house, but it was gone. Dash (name changed to protect the innocent) would be dashed when he came home from pre-school to find his blanket still MIA.

Bernadette and I reconvened at her kitchen table to re-trace Dash’s steps in the last forty-eight hours when, as I was brining my teacup to my lips we heard the above noted, creak-creak-creak-pad-pad-pad. The mysterious footsteps had walked down the hall and gone up the stairs and I could now hear them travel across the floor above my head as they went into Michael’s room.

“Is Rico home?”
“No,” said Bernadette. “He’s out of town at a conference.”
“No,” she said again. “The Nanny is sick today which is why Dash is at pre-school.”
“Michael and Wendy?” (Bernadette has two stepchildren)
“No, they are with their mum this week.”

Bernadette was looking heavenward with me. She too appeared to be listening to where the footsteps were going to go next. Then the door slammed.

We looked at each other and I raised a questioning eyebrow.

“Well if no one is home, who was that?”
“Our ghost,” she replied as calmly as if she had just said it was one of the children.
“You have a ghost? Since when?”
“Probably since we moved in.”
“Do I know about this?” I asked, thinking I may have tuned out on a prior conversation we may have had.
“No, probably not. We have only recently acknowledged the fact that it lives with us.”

I was not really surprised at this news. I had often wondered about Bernadette’s house but how do you ask a friend without raising an alarm, ‘have you noticed anything unusual going bump in the night since you’ve moved in?’ The movie, The Walls Have Eyes comes to mind when I walk into Bernadette’s house, but not in the scary, horror movie way that Hollywood likes to portray. Bernadette’s ghost seems to be rather friendly and it clearly has a sense of humour – or a sense of ‘I feel like annoying you, so I am going to hide your shoes on you…wait, maybe I will only hide one of your shoes…!’ and my favourite on this particular day, ‘I really want to make that little boy cry, so I am going to hide his blanket! Ha Ha! Made you cry and made you two go on a fruitless quest!!’

So this is what we talked about for the next half hour. Bernadette told me about all the things the ghost would hide from shoes, to clothing, to homework. Yes, even the children’s homework is not off limits for this ghost. The ghost even hides diapers and this lead to us discussing an incident that happened not long after they moved in.

When Dash was about one, Bernadette and I could hear her husband Rico upstairs asking us where we had put the diapers. We had been to Costco and we dumped the box in the middle of Dash’s room. When we stomped up three flights of stairs to point out the obvious, we noticed the box was gone. The odd thing was, no one had been upstairs.

I will never forget Bernadette’s astonishment when she said, “I swear, they were right there. We just went to Costco, how on earth could such a massive box of diapers just disappear into thin air?”

At the time we hadn’t thought anything of it. I assumed Dash had probably slid them off somewhere, perhaps pushed them into the closet while he was hanging on to them as he tried to stand. It never occurred to me that a one year old child would not have the body mass or muscle to move such a heavy object. Seeing, as the box was nowhere to be found, Rico was sent on a diaper run to London Drugs, along with instructions to bring home some chocolate. When Rico returned he handed us our oversized Cadbury bar and went back upstairs to change Dash only to return a short time later shaking his head at us. He smiled and said:

“You two are unbelievable. You could have just asked me to go out on a chocolate run, you didn’t have to disguise it as a diaper run.”

We looked at him as if he had two heads. “Huh?” we asked in unison. 

Rico informed us the big box of diapers that had disappeared, was now sitting in the middle of the carpet in the middle of the room – right where we had said we left it. He laughed at us and made some noise about women and chocolate and how ‘they will do anything for it’. He seriously thought we were messing with him back then.

Fast-forward a few years to a couple of weeks ago and the case of the missing blanket. It was the first time we discussed Bernadette’s ghost, and after re-visiting the diaper story and a few more strange happenings, I agreed. It was the only explanation for all of the odd things that disappeared in the house, only to magically reappear again a few days later.

“Well then,” I said. “Now that I know you have a ghost, I’ll get your blanket back.”
“Really?” Bernadette asked hopefully. “How?”
“I’ll show you.” I took a sip of my tea and looked up to the ceiling to where the ghost had just passed by and said, “Hello? Hi. Yes, you, ghosty-ghost. We really need to get that blanket back so if you wouldn’t mind putting it back where you found it, we would really appreciate it.”  I looked at Bernadette and nodded. “There you go.”
There I go what? Where is it?”
“I don’t know, but I am sure it is exactly where Dash said he left it.”
“He said he left it in the easy-bake oven, but we checked there - twice. You even had a look in there as well.”
“We’ll just have to see if it resurfaces then. Have you never just asked the ghost for the things it takes?”
“This will be a real test of faith then, won’t it? And you’ll know if your ghost is helpful.”
Bernadette was now looking at me like I had two heads. I just smiled and kept sipping my tea.

We went on to chat about other things, forgetting about the ghost for a while, but then it came time for me to leave. But before I went I said to Bernadette, “Let’s just go have one more look in the playroom.”

So we went downstairs to the playroom, and knelt down in front of the easy-bake oven. I looked at Bernadette, she looked at me, and I told her she could do the honors. She leaned in, grasped the handle and opened the door. The two of us nearly jumped out of our skin and we actually screamed but then started to laugh. There it was. Dash’s blue and green striped, chenille blanket, tucked away in the easy-bake oven as if it had been there the whole time.

“Seriously!” cried Bernadette. “What the #&%!? I swear, it was not in there! And I looked three times!”
“I know, I was there, I saw you,” I confirmed. “But this proves all you have to do is ask next time something goes missing – and ye-shall-receive.”
“I can’t believe it….”
“Neither can I, but there it is.”
“That is just crazy,” Bernadette said as she pulled the blanket out.
“Yup,” I agreed. “And kind of creepy, but also kind of cool.”


AND - Still Moments is giving away three grand prizes.  Just leave a comment below and you'll be entered into a drawing for a beautiful handmade piece of jewellery and one of the books published by Still Moments.  Three lucky winners will be selected from ALL the comments left on ALL the blogs in the hop. Please be sure to leave your email address in your comment below, so we will know how to contact you if you win! And have a look at the other participants in Still Moments Halloween Blog Hop listed below:

October 22, 2012
Terri Rochenski -
Jennifer Eaton -
Ceri Hebert -

October 23, 2012
Liv Rancourt -
Denise Moncrief -
Dani-Lyn Alexander -

October 24, 2012
Mackenzie Crowne -
Maggie Devine -
Liberty Blake -

October 25, 2012
Darlene Henderson -
Em Epe -
Clara Waibel -

Thanks for stopping by.



Thursday, 18 October 2012

OH THE AGONY OF EDITS: My poor aching hands - and my manuscript was finished

TOP 28 Finalist in


I guess the truth is, I never thought I would make the cut, and to say it was a bit of a shock is an understatement. 

I practically fell out of my chair on Monday morning when I opened my e-mail and saw a message with Congratulations in the subject line.

My first thought was, wow, I won a free book! ha ha. So I opened the e-mail and much to my delight and surprise, there it was. My first official contest letter telling me congratulations and that I had made the cut! It even had and official, Dear Carolyn, (oops, so much for the pseudonym - and I thought I was being so mysterious) letter, which made it even more personal. The letter went on to say, Francesca My Love had been selected as one of the top 28 finalists in the So You Think You Can Write contest for 2012.

That is about as far as I got when I picked up the phone in one hand and tweeted/texted/e-mailed in the other. I still don't think I have read the whole letter because every time I pick it up my eyes only manage to get as far at the first sentence - which I have memorised now. 

October 15 will never be quite the same for me again. There are times in all of our lives when things happen and somehow the dates get seared upon your soul. October 15 will be added to the handful of dates that already reside there.

Fast-Forward Four Days:
Today, after four days of madly editing my manuscript I sent my baby off into cyberspace with a tear in my eye and a song in my hear....and an hour to spare. I thought I was alone in taking it out to the eleventh hour, but according to a few of my fellow top 28er's who are Tweeting away, I am in good company. One of them only left herself 8 minutes! Another in the crew wrote 25,000 words in the last 48 hours - well done Bridgette!! So I am sure that it is not only my hands that are achy today. And having had to edit 85,000 words in three days was certainly a test of my endurance.

I am not kidding myself, thinking what I sent in is perfect. I am sure I missed a lot of 'things', in fact I know I missed a lot of things. I am sure when my manuscript is read many will find some major errors and a lot of what our primary school teachers used to refer to as, 'stupid mistakes'.  Let's look at that term - stupid mistakes.....Hmmm, here are some of the really choice ones I caught myself in:

grown vs. groan - I mean seriously, how did I get that one wrong? I blame the automatic spell check/change thingy my computer has built into it.

breeches vs. breaches - one is pants which I wear when I ride horses, and one is what the orcas do out here on the west in, when I am riding by the ocean on a horse wearing my breeches and see a pod of orca's swimming by, breaching and frolicking about in the water.... 

definately - defiantly -  definitely  - why can I never spell this word? definitely.

See, I clearly know what I am talking about on all counts so is it the spell check? Is it the "I am sooooo tired...." excuse? Am I just plain lazy? Or am I thinking faster than I can type?

I also had a slip of the hand at 2 AM Thursday morning. I did a search for the word "led" because for some reason my spell check (pesky spell check excuse again) changed my 'lead' to led.  So, in my infinite wisdom, I decided to change all "led"s to "lead"......and I was meant to go, one by one, but I accidentally clicked the wrong little box - I really should have put on my glasses, it was late after all. You can guess what happened next. My computer went ahead and did its thing, and when it finished, a little box flashed up on the screen, proudly announcing, "Number of words automatically changed - 700" I looked at it with blurry eyes and thought, '...hmmm, 700 words. Wait, 700 words? 700 word!!! OMG, WHAT DOES IT MEAN, 700 WORDS??!!! THERE SHOULD ONLY BE 20 OF THEM!!!' And as an FYI to all of you, the UNDO command does not work in this situation. Flip, this was a disaster.....

fled became flead
ledge became leadge
pledge became pleadge 

....and all I could think was, HOLY S#@T!!! Did that just happen? OMG! NOOOOOOOO! IT'S 2 IN THE MORNING, I AM TIRED, I NEED SLEEP!!!

Yup, I only had 12 hours left and I needed some sleep so I went to bed and got up at 5 AM to fix it. Which is why, I know there are going to be some major faux pas in there and I began to wonder if I had just shot my own dream out of the air. I will almost guarantee that if I open any page on my manuscript right now, I will be able to find something wrong. Hey, just for giggles, let's try it!

I've just opened my manuscript to page 237 (and you will be able to check this when it gets posted on-line shortly).....I'll be back after I read it.....stay tuned...

Okay, so maybe page 237 is not a good example, but I am sure there are major errors in there somewhere - I still can't find the 'pleadge', and I'm not talking about the wood polish. So, if any of you find something that 'screams' at you, feel free to let me know. Fresh eyes are much better than those that have fallen upon the 83,326 words numerous times. I was up to 86,978 at one point, but I do have a tendency to ramble so slashed and burned as much as I could. 

And finally, the last dismal thought as I am running through Francesca My Love one last time, the inevitable questions arise - is my pacing right? Do I have enough conflict? Do I have enough happy? Is this masterpiece actually interesting enough that someone might just want to buy it? Or am I flattering myself? Naaaaa, it's all good, I think...

I turned back to the SYTYCW site and had a look at the residual tweets that were still chirping around. I feel anxiety for those TWEETING who are still waiting to hear back, hoping for a call, because if I know anything, I know all about rejection, my heart goes out to them. My only advice, 'keep going' because eventually you will get somewhere. And rejection gets easier the more you experience it. I of all people know this, and I promise you, it hurts a lot less as you go along. It is also good because then people tell you what your problem is (manuscript not you personally) and you can choose to learn from the critiques, or fob them off as, 'they have no idea of what they are talking about'. And remember, you are both right.

That's it. So with two really sore hands (and forearms) from all the typing I did in the last four days, I am off to bed. A BIG THANK YOU to Harlequin for running this contest and providing me with this opportunity. It feels good. Real good.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

My manuscript, Francesca My Love lands in the TOP 28 out of over 700 entries in Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write Contest


Out of almost 800 entries, my manuscript "Francesca My Love" was selected to be one of the 28 finalists in HARLEQUIN's So You Think You Can Write Contest 2012.  

I just wanted to take the time to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who supported me with votes, the passing on of my link and some really kind word and comments. 

As well, thank you for allowing me to e-mail each and every one of you who were on my list, I think you are all absolutely brilliant and I know I got into the top 28 because of you.

As an FYI - in the next step, the Harlequin/Mills & Boon editors will be reading all 28 manuscripts and on/around November 5th, they will contact the top 3 finalists who will move on to a second round of public voting - I will let you know if it comes to that.

They will also be featuring my 'entire' manuscript (I think it will be on in its entirety) on the site during their review phase if you'd like to have a look. BUT, please note, it is a rough draft and edited to the best of my abilities. I have 4 days to try to tweeze out any pacing issues, grammatical errors, spelling errors, etc. so don't hold it against me when you find's going to be really difficult to get through 85,000 words with a fine tooth come - let me tell you.

Once again, you can't begin to know what your support has meant to me during this process.


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

HARLEQUIN "So You Think You Can Write" Contest UPDATE (ONLY 3 MORE DAYS):

HARLEQUIN "So You Think You Can Write" Contest UPDATE:

As I sit here and make the mad dash to the finish line, begging everyone I know for a vote or 12 per day (one vote per device per day - Andrea & Brett have 12 in their home) I wonder about how many votes I actually have.... To my knowledge, there is no tally board nor do they inform us when all is said and done.
So, with that in mind, if you are reading this, please hit the link below and vote today! They are taking three wild card entries, but I was also informed via TWITTER they are keeping their eyes open for others that they will be contacting at a later date.
Fingers crossed...

Francesca My Love
Harlequin® Historical (Mills & Boon Historical Romance)

Friday, 5 October 2012


HARLEQUIN "So You Think You Can Write" Contest UPDATE:

Francesca My Love

Harlequin® Historical (Mills & Boon Historical Romance)

Hello Friends,

Thanks for the support thus far. I am not sure how many votes I have behind the scenes but according you all of you, I think it is growing. 

The FB LIKES on the Harlequin website is also growing - I truly appreciate the support you are giving me in this contest, and I promise, it is only for 6 more days. SO.....

If you could please keep voting for my entry once per day per device that would be great. They do impose an exact 24 hour time period on each IP Address if you are wondering why you could see the big red button yesterday and not today.

AND - Please press the LIKE button for FB via the 'so you think you can write...' website too. I can gather some extra votes there as well.

And please feel free to Re-TWEET on TWITTER if you TWEET - there is also a button on the Harlequin site to do this. I can be found at @Maggie_Devine_ on TWITTER.

Thanks everyone.

Now I must run as I am in the middle of editing my manuscript - which is finished - in case I make it into the top 25...


Saturday, 29 September 2012



Submit Your First Chapter and 100-Word Pitch


Francesca My Love

Harlequin® Historical (Mills & Boon Historical Romance)

The interesting thing about this contest is that I does not allow you to use your PSEUDONYM, so, above you will notice the name of the story I wrote and its genre. I was up until three-forty AM this morning because it was getting close to the wire and I wasn't sure which time zone they were working with. I am sure if I had dug around I could have found it but here we are - I am officially submitted. 

This manuscript is completed but it does need some serious editing - that is the next step in the process. I have until October 21st to review and revise so I am anticipating a very busy few weeks.

Please see below for the link that will get you to the contest site, and if you could please vote for my story, I need to be in the top 25 to get this manuscript in front of Harlequin. Voting starts on October 2nd and runs until the 11th and you are allowed one vote daily.

Last year I didn't do so well because I had no idea I was meant to be "SELF-PROMOTING".  So, If you could please LIKE me via the above noted link on FaceBook while we wait for the POLLS TO OPEN, that would be great.

This manuscript I have submitted in set in Regency England so it is a HISTORICAL ROMANCE.

Thanks in advance for your help in the self-promotion of this manuscript, I really appreciate it.