Saturday, February 28, 2015

When it Comes to Music, Canadians Rock! by @KarynGerrard #OCanada

Let me reach back in the cobwebs of my mind to locate the memory of my very first rock concert.

April Wine in 1976. I still have the ticket stub, it cost 5.50.

Who is April Wine? Canadian rock, and how cool they started in my home province of Nova Scotia! See APRIL WINE here

So, There they were at the Halifax Forum. Smoke fills the air and 2 huge train signals rise up on either side of the stage. And the place goes nuts.

Their first hit was in 1971 and they are STILL touring! Listen to the song below.  I still have the album, though it is scratched all to hell. :)

 I've seen other Canadian acts through the years. The Stampeders. Prism. Trooper. Corey Hart, to name a few. In 2009 my hubs indulged me and brought along his earplugs and we saw Nickelback in Winnipeg. Also in Winnipeg two years later, we saw Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings.

Nickelback are much maligned, but they are a mega success worldwide. And I love the way they rock the house, they do put on a hell of a show. Now the hubs really loved the Bachman/Cummings concert.

Both these guys got their start in Winnipeg when they formed The Guess Who. Huge hits in the late sixties, early seventies. The group split, Cummings went solo and had a string of hits, and Bachman formed BTO, Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Both the hubs and I were on our feet pumping our fists in the air singing "Takin' Care of Business" with Randy and Burton.

This is the soundtrack of my youth, and at the forefront—Canadian Rock. Now, radio stations here in Canada are required to have a certain amount of Canadian content, which is restrictive in one way, but I think it's cool in another. Gave us a lot of exposure to some great home-grown talent. Outside of comedy, music is one of Canada's best entertainment exports.

Canadian movies and TV are hit and miss (mostly miss) But music? We rock.  Take a look at some of the acts:

60's-70's: Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, The Guess Who, The Band, Lighthouse, A Foot in Coldwater, April Wine, The Stampeders, Trooper, Five Man Electrical Band, Chilliwack, The Poppy Family, Terry Jacks, Andy Kim, Rush, Prism, Nick Gilder, Ian Thomas, Max Webster, Murray McLaughlin, Bruce Cockburn, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and many others.

80's-now: Loverboy, Saga, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, Bryan Adams, Gowan, Corey Hart, Aldo Nova, Triumph, Glass Tiger, Honeymoon Suite, Frozen Ghost, Platinum Blonde, Helix, Toronto, Harlequin, Doug and the Slugs, Jeff Healey Band, Alanna Myles, Kim Mitchell, Streetheart, 54-40, The Tea Party, Matthew Good Band, The Tragically Hip, Crash Test Dummies, Blue Rodeo, Barenaked Ladies, Theory of a Deadman, Three Days Grace, Nickelback, Great Big Sea, Finger Eleven, Avril Lavigne, Alannis Moiresette, The Veer Union, Our Lady Peace, My Darkest Days, Monster Truck and so many others.

Rock on Canada! Like Canadian rock? Share your favs!

Neil Young: Still Rockin' in The Free World~

My own rock star book!

HEART OF ROCK by Karyn Gerrard
  • File Size: 344 KB
  • Print Length: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Decadent Publishing Company, LLC (July 9, 2013)

Irishman Brogan Byrne is at the pinnacle of 1974 rock-music success. Handsome, charismatic, with a three-octave voice, you’d think he had it all. But Byrne sinks to new depths of depravity with women, liquor, and drugs.

Carly Montgomery is an ambitious record executive offered an opportunity to be manager for the last leg of Byrne's tour. Though she’s detached and tough as nails, Carly’s cool facade comes under attack. Somehow Byrne manages to slip by her frosty defenses.

Brogan, for his part, is broken inside. A past memory weighs on his soul, affecting his actions. Is Carly the one woman to help him forget his guilt and heal his heart of rock?

Warning: Light Bondage

Praise for HEART OF ROCK: Karyn Gerrard has a very strong writing voice. She paints a realistic picture of life as a rock star of the seventies and adds some fascinating secondary characters. She also touches on some more sensitive aspects caused by a life of extreme excess. Karyn does not shy away from telling it like it is and does so with skill and sensitivity.

Overall, the path Carly and Brogan travel that leads them through their love story is full of bumps and potholes culminating in a passionate romance. Heart of Rock is vivid, raw and gut-wrenching. A definite must-read! And I must add I LOVED the title - very fitting. ~Amazon review


Karyn lives in a small town in the western corner of Ontario, Canada. She whiles away her spare time writing and reading romance while drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea. Tortured heroes are a must. A multi-published author with a few bestsellers under her belt, Karyn loves to write in different genres and time periods, though historicals and contemporaries are her favorite.

As long as she can avoid being hit by a runaway moose in her wilderness paradise she assumes everything is golden.

Karyn’s been happily married for a long time to her own hero. His encouragement keeps her moving forward.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cold enough for ya? by Kayleigh Malcom

Talking about the weather in Canada is a national past time. If it's not the frigid windchills of the Winter, than it's the humidity of the Summer.

There's jokes about it... We have two seasons here in Southern Ontario....winter and construction.

It can also be the focus of competition across the country. Remember when the Mayor of Toronto called in  the Military to help dig out the city after a snowfall that people in Alberta get on a regular basis.

This year is was cold enough that Niagara Falls froze over! Well froze over as much as it can. When you have one great lake emptying into another great lake there is enough water pressure to ensure that it's not completely solid, the water is still flowing under all that ice. Makes for beautiful pictures when the coloured lights come on at night.
(image via Elvir k / used under Flickr Creative Commons)

I've always maintained the rule that you can only bitch about the cold or the heat. Not both. Personally, I don't say a single negative thing about the heat and humidity. That way I can moan and complain all winter long and winter is soooooo long.

The only redeeming feature of this bone chilling part of the year is the liquid gold we are able to create. Oh, yeah! I'm talking IceWine. :)

Photo from
If you've never heard of it before, it's a unique wine created in cold climates. Personally I think the Niagara region is the best. (completely admitting that I might be bias here. lol)

Grapes are allowed to hang on the vine long after traditional harvest times, allowed to freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw, freeze and when the temperature drops to -8 and the grapes have reached the perfect balance of acid and sugar they are harvested. Gathered by hand, at night and then the rock hard little pellets are crushed allowing a thick rich concentrated syrup to escape. A 375ml bottle of icewine requires ten times the amount of grapes required to make a 750ml bottle or regular wine. That means it carries a hefty price tag but a little goes a long way.

Photo from
There are two main varieties that are used to make white. Vidal (my personal favourite) which is vibrant and lively. Riesling which is elegant and subtle. Common flavours you find in ice wine are ripe peaches, apricots, lychee and honeycomb.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are becoming more common and have all the flavours of the whites with an added note of berries and sometimes rhubarb.

Curling up in front of a fire, (or a video of one on the tv) with someone you care about, a bottle of icewine, some chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, and some strong cheese and you have the start to a decadent evening. How decadent depends on you ;)

 But, not even Icewine could redeem the horrendous weather we've been pelted with and when the lock froze on my husband's car for the third time he announced that it was time for a vacation. We're headed to a grown-ups only vacation in Mexico. I can't wait to get a new sugar skull to add to my collection!

If you could go anywhere to escape where would it be? (Dream vacations are limited only by your imagination...don't be trapped by reality) 

Write your dream vacation in the comments below.

When I get home, I'll draw one lucky winner from the comments and send them a surprise I'll bring back from my trip. 

When Amadora wins a trip to a Mexican resort, she contacts Madame Eve’s 1Night Stand service to live out a one-time fantasy—a night with two hot men.
Undercover DEA agents Jason and Angus have been playing it fast and loose with each other. The sex is good, but Jason blames himself for his wife’s death during a stakeout and refuses to weigh his heart down with any more guilt. Angus hasn’t told Jason how much he cares about him for fear of being pushed away.
Meeting Amy forces them both to reevaluate their relationship and consider more than one night as a threesome. When her life is threatened, can the three of them accept the risk to their hearts and take a chance on the love they all crave?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Winter Getaways

There comes a time each winter when even the most cheerful winter-loving Canadian gets done with the snow, the grey skies and the shoveling. A winter getaway - or escape! - seems like just the thing.

Some go south. If you're not beach-people - and I'm not - this option might not work for you.

Some choose unlikely destinations. This is more my style. My favorite February destination is Scotland. I've gone there twice in the winter. There's the benefit of few tourists and the chance to see the area as locals do. I love having historic sites all to myself. The days are quite short in Scotland at this time of year (surprisingly so) and the air can be chilly, but there are plenty of cozy pubs and restaurants. The light is great for photography. One time that I was in Edinburgh in February, they had an early spring and the daffodils were in bloom. It was beautiful.

Of course, the benefit of travel is that it can be both rejuvenating and inspiring. It was on my first February trip to Edinburgh that I was inspired by a location to write a new medieval romance.

On that trip that I visited Tantallon castle, which is on the east coast of Scotland, not that far from Edinburgh. I actually visited a number of castles on that trip - it was exciting to be able to walk through so many medieval structures and I took hundreds of pictures. We arrived at Tantallon sunset, just as it was closing for the day.

This trip was sufficiently long ago that my pictures were taken on film. (Remember film?) I scanned them to digitize them, but that was sufficiently long ago that pictures were converted to teeny tiny jpegs of less than 20K. So, they're small pix, but I think they're still pretty.

This is Tantallon. In the distance, in the first and second shots, you can see Bass Rock, which is a rocky island in the North Sea. Isn't the light magnificent?

Tantallon so captured my imagination that it ultimately inspired a series of Scottish medieval romances, published under my pseudonym Claire Delacroix. The first book was The Rogue, set at a fictional estate called Ravensmuir, my fictional version of Tantallon. This book grew into a trilogy called The Rogues of Ravensmuir, which then spawned a spin-off series called The Jewels of Kinfairlie. That series featured the first three of eight siblings, and their stories continued with The True Love Brides. As of now, there are ten linked medieval Scottish romances that were sparked by this one visit to a ruined keep! (And more to come. I have one brother left...)

Why am I telling you about this? Today's post is an invitation to do some armchair traveling with me. (That's the third and by far the easiest choice for a winter getaway.) Leave winter behind and come to medieval Scotland - come to Ravensmuir!

Kinfairlie Knights is a new digital bundle going on sale tomorrow. It  includes three of these ten books. Each one is the first medieval Scottish romance in its respective series, and the entire bundle is priced at just 99 cents for its release. The bundle is available for pre-order today, or you can wait until tomorrow and download it right away.

If you're curious about Tantallon, you can read about it as my inspiration in an older post on my blog, right here. 

Comment on this post for a chance to win a signed trade paperback copy of one of the three titles included in this boxed set - winner's choice! What's your favorite winter getaway? Why?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Canadian Spelling Foibles

Blog Post by: Kali Willows

Canadian Spelling Foibles

I’ve been writing since I was a kid in Canada. Since the beginning of grade school, we learned our nouns, verbs, adverbs, spelling, grammar, and so forth, according to the school curriculum and trusted we were taught everything we needed to know for appropriate literacy. Having a dramatic flair in my story and poetry writing, I suppose it was the natural course for me to eventually pursue the written word in a more dedicated way.

Something I took for granted was in general, how great I was at spelling. Now, being proficient on the laptop and more dependent of spell check and auto correct as the years go by, it never occurred to me, that my mastery of the English language would pose such complications when pursuing my passion!

As an employee with the social service sector in Canada for twenty seven years, report writing, computer proficiency and so forth, these skills became notable assets. The further I delve into the world of literacy and publishing, the harder I fall, with the impending realization how Un-Canadian focused the romance/fiction literacy market really can be.

Why, after being published for almost a decade has this become so pronounced for me, you may ask? After taking the plunge and self-publishing for the first time in recent weeks, I came across several potential “typos” in my print copy proof that made me pause and re-evaluate my so-called knowledge.

Being with American publishers for ten years, I’ve relied heavily on the skills and craftsmanship of my content and line editors, to catch any foibles of my Canadian education, and converting my manuscripts into perfection for the romance and fiction world. It wasn’t until I became fully responsible for the quality of my own project being put out there, that this reality came crashing down.

I’m sure many readers have come across the hybrid books by renown authors across the world that have demonstrated this very point. It’s the entire English speaking literary community that this quandary impacts, including America, Canada and Britain.

In my search for hard-fast rules, I came across a wonderful resource.

 Culips is based in Montreal, Canada and so we follow Canadian spelling rules.

Differences between Canadian and American spelling
Did you know that there are some differences in spelling between America, Canada and Britain? They are small differences that do not affect the pronunciation. Here is a list of the differences in spelling common words and the general rules to follow.

Canadian (and British)


–RE Ending
–ER Ending
–OUR Ending
–OR Ending
colour/favour/behaviour/ neighbour /honour/humour
L is doubled in –ED or –ING form
L is not doubled in –ED or –ING form

Differences between Canadian and British spelling

In some cases the Z is replaced with an S in British spelling. This is often the case when the S/Z follows an I or Y, like in the examples below.
Canadian (and American)
(and all variations of these word)
(and all variations of these words)
Short for mother with O
Short for mother with U


Once I had a chart to reference, I didn’t feel so bad about the frequent confusion that befuddles me in the late night rounds of edits with an antiquated word program!

Canadian living, at it’s best.


Just a quick little ditty about the book that spurned this rant, 
I am so pleased to share my very first, self-published, completely Canadian release,

As Angels Weep - Supernatural Penance

Available in eBook and Paperback Now!

“It’s not the time we have in life. It’s what we do with it & the impact we have on others.

That is our true legacy.”

                                                                                                Kali Willows

What Critics are saying

as angels weep-supernatural penance - "Tumultuous, passionate & exhilarating." - Author, Kacey Hammell

"As Angels Weep charms its reader with a tarnished hero they come to cheer for. His tumultuous journey is thrilling & exciting." - Author, Kacey Hammell


A smooth talker with the ladies, Luther Evans has all the right moves and all the wrong motives. Swindling wealthy women and making shady business deals, he strings along his girlfriend with promises of commitment and a flashy diamond engagement ring, despite his playboy antics. Karma cashes in when he gets an outrageous wakeup call from a messenger of death. Soon after, he’s plagued by a bizarre string of deadly accidents he narrowly escapes until the final incident. His narcissistic ways must suddenly change—when he dies! Faced with the prospect of spiritual exile, our hero finds himself on an urgent mission to save his soul.

Matched with his ethereal guide, Gabrielle, a disinclined archangel who is a bit of a prankster, Luther faces temptation and obstacles no mere mortal can overcome. On this perilous journey for his pursuit of salvation, she tries to teach him the value of humanity. Will Luther strike out and lose his soul on the road to redemption? Can Gabrielle save him from eternal damnation despite the forces that try to stop them?


Penance was inconsequential to me once upon a time. For the first time in my life, it means everything. My soul depends on it. For years, I swindled wealthy women, made shady business deals that caused harm to others. In just seven days, I face spiritual exile. Doomed to purgatory for my past deeds and failure to live my humanity. My one chance at salvation? I have one assignment to complete, with rules, very strict rules, and unspeakable consequences if I fail. Whoever said good guys finish last was sadly mistaken. I'd never been a good guy. Now, I have to be one if I want redemption.


Is this night ever gonna end?
“Sooner than you think,” a woman’s whisper filled his ear.
Luther spun, but the hallway was empty. Great, he could add a little auditory hallucination to top the evening off. The phone buzzed in his hand again.
Sorry, buddy, Beth’s home so you can’t come here tonight. Jazz told her everything. She’s pissed off. You should stay at the Plaza. Let me know when you get there, I’ll pop over.
“Perfect,” he grumbled.
No way would he go back to the house tonight, not while she packed to leave. He didn’t want to deal with the aftermath. Getting out of pinches was his forte, not facing them.
To go to his father’s was out of the question. Even if Jasmine hadn’t already told him everything, the need to explain why he had to crash overnight held no appeal and no reprieve for Luther.
Marvin was right. The Plaza seemed like the only viable solution.
Sure, I’ll head there. Should be a half hour or so. Gonna have a bite to eat and hit the sack. I’m wiped out. Luther finished the text then tucked his phone into his coat and took his keys out. He pressed the elevator button with a heavy sigh.
The clanking metal door dragged open with an irksome ding. Empty. At least he didn’t have to paint on a smile. He inched into the grimy box and pressed P5. A bed was all he needed tonight, and no people to mingle with. The door scraped along the frame as it closed then got stuck only six inches before shutting.
Gimme a break.” He shoved his hand through to push it open. Immovable, the cold metal resisted. Anger flooded him, and he kicked the door while wrestling it back and forth, trying to get it to move. Without warning, the elevator door slammed shut. He yanked his hand back in the nick of time, saving his fingers from getting crushed. Luther’s chest pounded, and a rush of sweat covered his forehead.
That was close.” A sharp jolt shook the elevator. Rattling sounded overhead, like a loose cable. The air grew thick. He couldn’t breathe. Am I about to meet my maker? He snagged at the collar of his shirt then clicked the button again and again for the main floor, but the death trap door didn’t budge. He stilled, terrified to shift in case something broke in the dilapidated wreck.
The quiet besieged him and rang in his ears. He waited, his pulse raced, his heartbeat thrummed behind his ears.
Luther sidestepped slowly to the console. He pushed the open button once again. It still didn’t work. “I can’t believe this,” he hissed. Pins and needles filled his toes, traveling up his legs, followed by a prickling along his skin.
Desperation mounted and he pressed every button on the board, hoping something would free him. Then, a grinding sound, followed by the sudden plummeting, and his stomach bottomed out with the weightlessness.
No! The elevator plunged downward. Images flashed through his mind and words filled his head: If you wrong another person, you will die.
Is my nightmare crossing into reality?
With a frightful jerk, the elevator stopped and the door slid open. Stunned, he fixed his stare at the number P5, glowing above him. Luther bolted out of the elevator, and the door eased closed behind him with the tactless chime sounding again.
Speechless, even in his own mind, he fumbled with his keys and pressed the alarm button, triggering piercing chirps and flashing lights down at the end of the row. The commotion revealed his car in the sea of metal and wheels. Clicking the alarm off, he walked down the concrete path to the respite of his trusty BMW.
The sudden screech of tires ricocheted throughout the lot. It grew louder and closer as he walked the length of the parking garage. Luther spied the fast approaching car and jumped out of the path of the oncoming vehicle. The car full of teens sped away, with only the bass of blaring music sounding with rhythmic thuds, muffled by the closed windows.
Great. On top of the rest of the night, I’m paranoid, too. Weariness washed over him. He reached his silver car and climbed in.




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Happy Reading!!!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Have a Great Family Day Canada!!

For many of us in most parts of Canada, today is Family Day and the majority of the country has today off. It is proclaimed a day to spend with family, having the time off to be together and hold family close.

We wish everyone a wonderful -- and hopefully warm -- Family Day. May you all enjoy the extra day off and time with your families.

It's all about board games here in the Hammell Home, so wish me luck. My youngest is fearless and his genius mind works on strategies that are sometimes surprising. I don't expect any trophies in my future.

All the best to my fellow Canadians. And to our friends all around the world -- have a fantastic day too.