#throwbackthursday – How I refused to give up on Charlotte Dodd

It’s Throwback Thursday!!

The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd released January 2016; the prequel, The Missing Files of Charlotte Dodd came out last November.

Like the pretty new covers? Thanks Sue Traynor!

 

 

 

 

 

And now it’s time for the sequel – The Best Worst First Date Ever!

Pre-sale begins tomorrow!! Until then, here’s a guest post from back in 2016, from my blog tour for The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd!

How I refused to give up on the character of Charlotte Dodd.

One of the spots on my blog tour with CLP Blog Tours was Connect with Click Lit Club. Here’s the guest post featured on the site.

I really think I’d like to be a superhero.

holly kerr1Or maybe a secret agent. Nothing too dangerous of course. I am a forty-something mother and I like to think my kids still need me around! But have you ever wondered … wanted … fantasized a bit about having a little more excitement in your life? A little danger? Have you thought about what it would be like to jump out of a plane onto the roof of a building, sneak in, have to fight your way through the bad guys with such awesome moves that you manage this with your hair still in place and not a bruise on your body to rescue your man or someone equally deserving?

I have to admit, I have had such daydreams.

The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd

Original cover

And that’s why I wrote The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd.

I’m not a violent person in any means. I’m an average, baseball mom of three. I’m an author. And one of the more enjoyable aspects of being a writer is that you get to imagine your characters (yourself!) in all sorts of situations.

Creating Charlotte Dodd

I first came up with the idea for The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd years ago. I had finished writing my first novel (then titled Baby! Baby? Baby?!, now Unexpecting), a chick lit novel about a woman who wants to have a baby, and was debating what my next book would be. At this time, I had been quite taken with the Jennifer Garner show Alias. Watching the show – along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, another of my favourites – really strengthened my little secret agent/super hero fantasy. I loved the idea of a strong, confident, independent woman being able to take control of any situation.

There were a few moments in those two television shows that inspired The Secret Life of Charlotte Dodd. Sydney Bristow sucking the air from a submerged car tire keep from drowning. A car doing a 360 turn during a car chase. And Buffy’s signature fight move – rolling back onto the shoulders and flipping to her feet. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to do things like that?

And that’s when I came up with the character of Charlotte Dodd. She was part Sydney Bristow, part Buffy with a little Jason Bourne thrown in.

She would be an agent with a super-secret government organization. She was recruited at a very young age and from a family of spies. Her grandfather was the co-creator of the National Intelligence and Information Agency, a super secret government organization that catapulted Canada to the forefront of worldwide espionage. (I know, I know – Canada? Fiction, remember?!)

I came up with other characters – Charlotte’s brothers and their roles in the NIIA, fellow agents Benjy and Payton. I came up with a bit of a love triangle with Ham and Luke. I devised the fight scene where she first meets Benjy, who reminded Charlotte of Neil Patrick Harris. You can tell how long ago I first came up with the story because the early reversions mention Neil Patrick Harris’ childhood character, Doogie Howser!
And that’s where the story stalled. But never forgotten, never far from my thoughts. I had all these characters – I had Charlotte – and they needed something to do.

Charlotte Dodd – Vampire Hunter?

Over the years, Charlotte has stayed with me but the story has gone through a lot of changes. I wrote at least five versions of Charlotte, trunking each one. Charlotte lost her memory, got it back. One memorable version had Charlotte as part vampire, which made her an excellent vampire hunter!

And then last year, after my third book was published – Absinthe Doesn’t Make the Heart Grow Fonder – I pulled Charlotte out again. I had found critique partners and I needed to give them something to critique! This time, Charlotte was still a spy but had no memory of her time as a secret agent. I took few parts of my original story and started again.

I think this is the best revision of Charlotte I could have come up with. She’s a character that I fell in love with, one who wouldn’t leave me alone. It’s been over ten years since I first came up with the idea of Charlotte and so finally publishing the story was a very happy moment. It was great to finally finish what I started so long ago, and let my daydreams of the life of a secret agent run wild!

But Charlotte wasn’t enough for me. I’m ready for my next mission. I’m working on a sequel!

For the full post, check out Connect with Chick Lit Club

 

ThrowBack Thursday! Dragon Under the Mountain

throwback badgeLet’s blast to the past for Throwback Thursday!

Welcome this week’s edition of the Throwback Thursday Link Party!

Unfortunately, this will be the last week that I’m involved for a while, as I’m taking a break for the A to Z Challenge (which starts tomorrow!!). But don’t worry! The link-up will still continue; you can find it at one of the other co-hosts’ blogs, listed below!

If you are interested in co-hosting in future weeks, please contact Denise, Jayhawk Mommy, via email.

What makes this link up different from all the rest?

Simple. This link party is not about dropping a bunch of links and moving on. No, this is about sharing posts from our blogs that are at least 30 days old. You can shine it up so it sparkles again or just leave it as it is. You might want to include an update at the end or not. It’s all up to you. As long as the post was written and published a month ago, add it to the link up. Then, read and share some love to the other posts in the link up.

When is it?

Well, every Thursday, duh! The link up runs from Wednesday night through Sunday.

The Rules

There is only one rule: the post you add must be at least 30 days old. The older, the better.

That said, we’d love it if you visited other posts on the link up and share some love

And, if you wish to follow your hosts, grab the badge and add it to your post or sidebar, we’d give you extra kudos and love you lots! However, it is not required that you do so.

Hosted by:

Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy

Part-Time Monster

The Qwiet Muse

StL Motherhood

#Lifewithboys

I’ll finish out March with a throwback Thursday but I’ll take a break for April because NaNoWriMo is one!  But it’s fun digging posts out from the archives so I’ll be back!! This one isn’t so old – only back in January.

New Release – The Dragon Under the Mountain

I have pretty amazing kids.

I’m sure everyone says that, but I really do.

I would say they are my biggest fans (and the feeling is mutual of course) They love the fact that I write books. When I first got published, one of their first requests was for me to write a book for them. We even went so far to come up with an idea. My three kids and two of their friends came up with the idea of kids left alone in Wonderland amusement park after it closes.

That was about two years ago. This year for NaNoWriMo, I decided to write the story for them as a Christmas present. Not only did I finish it in time fro Christmas, I got a proof copy printed for them so they could unwrap it under the tree. We read it together, made some changes and now it’s time for The Dragon Under the Mountain, starring my three kids(different names of course!), to go public.

Dragon_print

available as ebook and in print from Amazon now, other retailers soon

When Emma, Matt and Macy, and their friends Kass and Dash decide to stay at Wonderland amusement park after dark, they know it’s going to get them into a heap of trouble with their parents. But they have so much fun running around the park in the dark – playing games, avoiding the guards and running away from Canadian geese.
It’s not until they find their way into the Mountain that the adventure really begins…

I put off writing this because I didn’t think I could write for kids. But once I got into it, I had so much fun that guess what the kids are getting next Christmas? Sequel, anyone!?

Update: I LOVED writing this for my kids and I’m having so much fun coming up with ideas for the sequels. Plus, I get to visit schools to talk to kids about it, and about writing. So. Much. Fun!!!!

Throwback Thursday – Happy Easter!!

throwback badgeThrowback Thursday Post

Part-time Monster is co-hosting a Throwback Thursday Link Party where you can link up and share older posts from your blog. The rule is that it has to be 30 days old – you can shine it up a bit or put an update on the end – link it, read some other posts on the link and share some love!

Along with Part-Time Monster, the other co-hosts are:

Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy

The Qwiet Muse

Throwback Thursday – Happy Easter!

I first wrote this for my church newsletter back in 2012; it first showed up on my blog in 2014 and then again in 2015 for Blogging A-Z Challenge. But it seemed right to repost yet only because it’s Easter this weekend!

 The History of Easter Traditions

happy easterAs far as I can tell, there’s nothing in the Bible about the Easter Bunny, fluffy yellow chicks or coloured eggs. I’m sure a die-hard chocoholic might be able to ascertain a passage or two about the relevance of chocolate, but perhaps not why it is an Easter tradition. Why then did such secular symbols as the Easter bunny and coloured eggs become so ingrained in society? How did they become so representative of the holiday that celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Evidence of Easter celebrations have been found as far back as the time of the barbarians, when pagan worship was common and widespread. The tribes of the ancient Saxons, in Northern Europe, celebrated the spring season with festivals commemorating the goddess of spring and fertility, Eastra (or Eastre, Eostre). Sacrifices were made in her honour at the time of the vernal equinox and as bizarre as these ceremonies might seem to us today, at the time they were especially important to children. It’s believed Eastra amused the children by transforming her pet bird into a rabbit, which laid brightly coloured eggs, which were then given to the children. So how did these pagan traditions become part of such a spiritual holiday? The Saxons were one of the last of the barbarian tribes to be converted to Christianity. Saxon religious practices were closely related to Saxon political practices; in fact their pagan beliefs were tied to every part of the culture. These tribes had long resisted being incorporated into the Frankish kingdom, which covered most of Europe in the 700s and 800s. The tribes were eventually conquered by Charlemagne who ruled most of Europe, which opened the way for missionaries’ attempt to convert the Saxon tribes to Christianity. As in other parts of the world, spreading the word of the Lord proved difficult and dangerous. Charlemagne had banned the Saxon’s native Germanic paganism under threat of death, but missionaries allowed the Saxons to continue to celebrate with their pagan feasts, albeit in a much more Christian manner, to save lives. Since the festival of Eastre took place at the same time of years as the observance of the resurrection of Christ, it eventually became more of a Christian observance as the barbarian tribes were converted. As well, the spelling of Eastre also changed to Easter and took on a more Christian significance.

easter bunnyThe Easter Bunny

Based on these ancient pagan celebrations, it’s not too far-fetched to have rabbits who laid coloured eggs become one of Easter’s most enduring secular symbols. The rabbit, or hare, is seen as the goddess of spring’s symbol because of the animals’ outstanding reproduction rate. Baby bunnies and chicks were also Eastra’s special animals because they represented new life and fertility. The first recorded legend of the Easter bunny appeared in the 1500s and seemed to originated in Germany. Another story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published in 1680, which led to the practice of makings nests – or baskets – for the eggs soon followed. These traditions were brought to America by German immigrants settling in Pennsylvania Dutch country in the 1700s. The arrival of the ‘Oschter Haws’ was a highlight of the year for children, second only to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve and like that venerable gift-giver, Oschter Haws would come to lay a basket of eggs only for good boys and girls. As the tradition of the Easter bunny spread throughout America, more elaborately decorated baskets were used and candy or treats were often substituted for eggs.

fancy eggsEaster Eggs

Ancient cultures, like the Saxons, viewed eggs as a symbol new life and fertility and used them during their spring festivals. In Medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent and eggs laid during that time were often boiled to preserve them. They became a mainstay of the Easter meal and a prized gift for children. Eggs were often wrapped in gold leaf or, if you were a peasant, colored brightly by boiling them with the leaves or petals of certain flowers. Christians in the Middle East and Greece painted eggs red to symbolize the blood of Christ. In Armenia, hollow eggs were decorated with pictures of Christ and the Virgin Mary and hung on trees. Germans also hung hollow eggs and gave green eggs as gifts. The colouring of Easter eggs became an art form, emerging in first in Eastern Europe. Pysanky eggs were created by carefully applying wax in patterns. The egg was then dyed, wax reapplied in spots to preserve the colour and boiled again in other shade, resulted in an elaborately patterned egg. Eggs were also part of Easter games. As well as the Easter Bunny, parents would hide eggs for the children, using their decorated baskets to collect them. Children would also roll eggs down hills, the most famous of these games being on the White House lawn every year. These days, children hunt coloured eggs and put them in Easter baskets along with the modern version of Easter eggs – those made of chocolate.

While I’m still searching for any references to chocolate in the Bible, my questions aboutchocolate why symbols of such a spiritual holiday include a bunny and eggs have been answered for the most part. It’s interesting to discover how some traditions and customs develop and remain constant even as society is ever-changing. From the stick wielding barbarian tribes of the past to the techno- savvy iPad aficionados of today, everyone seems to love a cute little bunny with his nest of coloured eggs!

Throw- back Thursday – Books and Wine, Two of my favourite things!

throwback badgeThrow-back Thursday Post

Part-time Monster is co-hosting a Throwback Thursday Link Party where you can link up and share older posts from your blog. The rule is that it has to be 30 days old – you can shine it up a bit or put an update on the end – link it, read some other posts on the link and share some love!

Along with Part-Time Monster, the other co-hosts are:

Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy

The Qwiet Muse

read-books-and-drink-wineI’m having fun dipping into the far depths of my blog to find these posts! Since it was National Wine Day a few weeks ago, I thought this one would be fun to repost!

 Books and Wine

books and wine

I was tidying up my basement last week.  How is that exciting, you ask?  Well, my basement is where I keep my bookshelves, and also my wine.  These are two of my favourite things, so I got to thinking – has anyone ever tried to compare the two?
Looking at my T-be-read pile, I seem to have to a wide, variety of taste in books from Nora Roberts to Stephen King, Ami MacKay to Nelson DeMille.  When I looked at the smooth bottles resting on their racks, I noticed I have accumulated a diverse selection of wine as well.  What do I like best?  Well, that depends on my mood, where I’m reading and what I’ve read before.  Same as the kind of wine I like to drink.

Consider historical fiction, one of my favourite genres to read.  I’ve always been a history buff, and it’s either go back to school and get a graduate degree in the subject (which unless I want to teach, not sure I’m ever going to use) or read historical fiction to get my fix.  For me, reading about Tudor England or the life of Marie Antoinette is like a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.  I’ve heard good things about the bio of Cleopatra in my pile, so let’s hope that’s like a smooth, full-bodied Amarone for me to enjoy.

I used to read a lot of romance novels when I was younger and I still have a few of them in my collection.  They were easy to read, quick to get through.  I call this my white zinfandel phase.  Sugary sweet and easy to drink – just like the latest Nora Roberts or Danielle Steele.  Actually, I will still pick up a Nora Roberts novel now and again, so we’ll say she’s like a Pinot Grigio – light and refreshing and great for summer.

I also used to read quite a bit of chick-lit.  My first novel, Baby! Baby? Baby?! is chick-lit and while I love it with all my heart, I know it’s not for everyone. Kind of like a bottle of Gewurztraminer, or a sweet Riesling.  The new Emily Giffen I’m reading now – I’ll compare that to an off-dry Ontario Riesling – not as sweet and with a little more body.

I’m reading more and more women’s fiction these days; not surprising since Coming Home is women’s fiction! And like my taste in books, my taste in wine has evolved too.  I’ll reach for a glass of New Zealand Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc or a Bonterra Chardonnay along with my women’s fiction novel now.  Another genre of go-to books; same for the wine.

I also like Young Adult novels these days.  They are easy to read and entertaining – sort of like a bottle of Beaujolais; it’s not always a great wine but you can always get it down.

My pile of thrillers, suspense and Star Wars sci-fi?  Let’s put that in the Argentinean Malbec or an ItalianValpolicella – always a good choice for me but not for everyday and not for everyone.

Also, I don’t drink a great deal of shiraz.  It’s too full-bodied for me – sort of like how I tend to stay away from serious literary fiction, especially the kind where the protagonist has insurmountable issues and the book never ends well for them.  Too heavy for me, unless it comes highly recommended!

I’ll finish with what I consider the perfection comparison – sparkling wine and erotica.  You can get some cheap stuff where the bubbles don’t amount to much, but you can also get a champagne-style read – when it’s good, it’s really good!

What do you think?  Do you favourite reads have a favourite drink to go along with them?well red

Throw-back Thursday Post – Editing Ecstasy

Throwback Thursday Link PartyThrow-back Thursday Post

Part-time Monster is co-hosting a Throwback Thursday Link Party where you can link up and share older posts from your blog. The rule is that it has to be 30 days old – you can shine it up a bit or put an update on the end – link it, read some other posts on the link and share some love!

Along with Part-Time Monster, our other co-hosts are:

Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy

The Qwiet Muse

I dug deep into the achieves of 2014 for this post on editing because I’m in the thick of it right now! I still feel the same way about it!

Editing Ecstasy!!!

edit1Actually it’s not but I needed a catchy title.

And I’m not really into the ‘editing’ aspect of my new book – it’s more like revisions, because I’m the only one going through it.  But then editing will come, and really soon.

I’m on the home stretch of my new book  – Absinthe Doesn’t make the Heart Grow Fonder.  It’s about 4 women who are out celebrating the 40th birthday of Josie.  It’s a fun evening for the girls – meeting famous hockey players, running from security guards, getting picked up by men, woman and almost by the police while urinating in an alley- until the secrets start to spew out.  Is Josie’s husband really cheating on her?  Why did Lana leave her husband?  Who was Meredith’s client she had to fight off and what is going on in Poppy’s marriage?

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, the end of the tunnel being where Absinthe gets sent off to my editor for her to work her magic.  Until then, I’m revising.  I’m taking chunks of my book, my work – my blood, sweat and tears, and deleting it.  All gone into the trash bin in the hard drive.

This isn’t my first book, so I’ve done this before but I’ve never talked about it.  When I told hubby I cut over 3000 words the other day, he was horrified.

scissorsCan’t you keep it?  Save it in another file?

No.  It was bad.  Wasn’t good stuff.

‘But can’t you use it for something else?’

No.  It’s slash and burn time.  When I wrote my first draft, I shoved everything I could into it, including a description of the kitchen sink.  You want to fill pages, you want to get your word count up.  You might have a need for a description of a stranger’s dimples and what the protagonist wants to do to them.

Or you might not.

The writer is the first line of defence for a bad book.  If you wrote it, and it doesn’t interest you, or it bores you or you think it’s meaningless and irrelevant, it’s got to go, no matter how hard you worked on the scene.  It’s better to cut it yourself rather be told by a editor or a beta reader that the scene has got to go!

It doesn’t make it any easier.

Joe M I’ve been hovering between 75- 80 000 words for the last 2 weeks, mainly because I’m cutting chunks out and then furiously rewriting other sections to make them flow and blend together.  I need to make it clearer, more concise.  Tighter, like a taunt tummy.  Mine is still showing some serious pouch.

Editing – or revising – as I should really call it, is fun and satisfying in a cleaning-your-house-when-it’s-a-disaster sort of feeling.  It’s a pain to do and pretty exhausting, but your left with an uber-tidy place, reeking of Mr Clean or your eco-friendly vinegar solution.  You also don’t want to let your kids in the house after you’re done because they’ll mess it up.

I’m sure I’m not going to want to let anyone touch my book once I’m done this set of revisions.  Maybe it won’t be going to the editors next week after all!

edit 3Wish me luck!