Favourite Books

Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Burns. This book is so charming, we still quote from it although I read it years ago. Grampa owns a hardware store in town and his son works for him. Gramma won’t let him keep moonshine in the house, so every morning Grampa goes to his son’s house, into the closet and takes a whopping big drink of the gutrot he keeps there. Then he stamps his foot to allow it to go down. His 14 year old grandson’s favourite expression is, ‘Boy howdy, Grampa.’ It is a very sweet story.

To All Appearances a Lady, by Marilyn Bowering of Victoria, British Columbia. A very charming but sad story of whites and Chinese in western Canada in the 1850’s, with the opium trade and head tax. The story travels forward to the grandson in the Canadian Navy and back to the adventures of the past.

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. I read this book while still in high school. Because it is such a tome, it took a while to read. My mother complained that I was cranky the whole time I was reading it and was relieved when I was finished. But then my sister started it. Same scenario, a cranky read. Great book, a classic.

The Pale Horseman, by Bernard Cornwell. When I started this book I didn’t know the author Cornwell, but said to my husband, you are going to love this book. I discovered it was the third in a series and quickly got the first two. Great series. That got me onto the Richard Sharpe books by the same author and I read about nine of them before I moved on.

Open Season, by Linda Howard. I have read most of Linda Howard’s books but this one stands out along with Son of the Morning. Open Season has a wonderful tongue in cheek effect even while the bad guys murder a fellow right in front of Daisy, who has set out to find herself a mate, urged on by hormones. Son of the Morning, is much more gritty with a young woman running desperately for her life. She ends up doing some time travel, which is not typical Howard, but in its own way it is just as compelling as the first book. Both great books.

Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson. I didn’t read fantasy until my son urged me repeatedly to read this book. When I finished it was I was so impressed that I continued on to read much more of this author. But this is definitely the best. It is not a small tome, but a few years later I was compelled to read it again, it had left such an impression. The young man at the heart of the story comes from a long line of mathematicians. He says about himself that he wasn’t as smart as his forefathers who were code breakers during the Second World War, so he became an engineer. The descriptions of these guys are hilarious, quirky, nerdy. Great fun.

A Son of the Fur Trade, the Memoirs of Johnny Grant. This is a book edited by Gerhard J Ens from the journals of a man who lived in the 1800’s in what is now Canada and the States. Grant called himself a half breed, his mother a native Indian, his father a Hudson’s Bay factor from Quebec. One of several children, he refused to cooperate with the attempts at education that his family made, and soon went his own way. He did business in Utah and Montana, travelled by horseback all over the central plains, was in Manitoba when Louis Riel conducted his uprising. In fact, Riel locked him up in case he tried to interfere. I found this book while doing family genealogy research and found it not just fascinating but a valuable source of information of the times.

Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follet. I had already read many Follet books when I came across this one. By far his best novel, this book captured my attention. The characters are wonderful, compelling and highly motivated. It is a story of the church, the crown and corruption, all worked around the construction of the wonderful stone cathedrals in England and France. Truly a fine work.

The Holy Bible. I never tire of the wisdom and guidance to be found inside this book of books. Even when I am too tired to read much, a few lines, a paragraph are often sufficient.

What are some of your favourite books? Why did they make that list?

Writing Contests – a headache?

I just received the results for my book entry by email from a romance writer’s contest that shall remain nameless. I wanted to share the feedback on my work, because I am still scratching my head over it. I have found over time that people either really like my writing or they definitely don’t. So with that as a preamble, here are the results. Total score is out of 100 points.

Judge no. 1 –

Overall, your story has potential, I can envision the journey your hero is going to take, but I’m not certain of your heroine, and there is some revision neededTOTAL SCORE: 56

Judge no. 2 –

Wow – an excellent fight sequence. Very good. This entry is almost at Very Good. It just needs to show the suspense/mystery sooner in the book. The descriptions and world-building were very good. Dialogue between the secondary characters at the work-yard was excellentTOTAL SCORE: 89

 Judge no. 3

Great job!(said 3 times) I really feel I know what’s driving the hero and heroine. Wonderful job with the balance of dialogue and the follow works great. Great job on showing the different personalities of the back ground players. Found them likeable and have a feeling the hero and heroine are going to be fun to read.Very Good! I would like to read more of this story. TOTAL SCORE: 98

 Now, what should I take from this? Well, first of all, out comes the grain of salt. I think it proves my point – the reader either really likes my work, or they don’t. I think the second point would be, two out of three isn’t bad. Two of the judges liked what they saw.

Perhaps I’ll just hang my hopes on what Judge no 3 had to say and keep writing. What do you think?


Cover release

An exciting new romantic suspense by Sylvie Grayson –

Cover release

Cover release

Soon to be released, check out the back blurb…..

Be careful what you go after…

Katy Dalton worked hard to finish college, holding down two jobs, and she saved money. Then she gave the money to her friend when he convinced her to invest it with a local business. But her job disappeared and she needs her money back fast, the money her friend Bruno has already loaned to Rome Trucking.

When Katy insists he return her money, Bruno stops answering his phone and bad things start to happen.

Brett Rome has a career in hockey and the last thing he wants to do is leave a promising opportunity as coach to return home and run his father’s trucking company. But Paddy is sick, can’t handle the day-to-day business, and Brett has to come home.

What he discovers is not the picture of a successful business that he remembers, but one that is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. To add to the chaos, a young woman walks in demanding her money, the money his father borrowed from her.

He hires her. Then bad things start to happen.

Can Brett put this broken picture back together, and is Katy part of the problem or the solution?

A thrilling roller coaster of a story…

Sylvie Grayson has found her niche, you’ll love this book…


Editing your writing

Is editing your own work all that difficult? I think it is. Once I’ve finished writing a piece and gone over it four or five times, my eye starts to skip even obvious errors. I’ve been working on an MS where an auto correct function took most contractions and spelled them with a quotation mark instead of an apostrophe – i.e. don”t instead of don’t.

For some reason, once that occurred the spell check wouldn’t pick them up. So I went through the piece manually changing them. Then I sent the pages to my pad to read it again and discovered I’d missed a bunch. See? It’s not that easy to do your own editing.

I’ve tried to work out a system once a piece is finished –

  • Run spell check
  • Run list of overused words
  • Read through on computer and edit
  • Send to pad to read and make notes of obvious errors
  • Final read through
  • I consider reading it out loud, printing it and reading it on paper
  • Then I start looking for other eyes on the MS because I’m bound to have missed something.

Joan DeMartin wrote a good piece on Lipsticking website about self editing. You can read it here –


How do you edit? All suggestions welcome!

The Beauty of the East Kootenays

East Kootenay region of British Columbia is a magical place. We’ve just returned from there, exhausted and happy to have time with our daughter and grandsons who met us near Invermere along the Windermere Lake. The weather was fabulous, hot and dry, and we swam every day.

What struck me was how many cars were on the road from all over Canada and the United States. This is a very safe part of the world. We travel at our leisure, take time in the summer to visit and vacation. There were license plates from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, from Washington, Montana and Idaho. We saw California plates, some from Ontario and Quebec.

The roads are windy, mostly in very good condition, with a few spots under construction. The scenery is fabulous. Coming from the west coast rain forest, I am always fascinated by the mountain hemlocks with their short branches and upright bearing, backed by the sheer rock and high snowy peaks of the Rockies. They pack themselves in close to each other and take up such a small circumference compared to the Douglas and grand firs of the coast.

But back to the issue of safety. Would you take a car and drive the hills of Pakistan for a vacation? Or rent a boat and take your family tubing on a lake in eastern Ukraine? Pack your tent and go camping in the wilds of Ecuador without a guide? We are blessed to live here. I don’t take it for granted.