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A Sea for Summer

I’m excited to release my latest novel, A Sea for Summer. This contemporary romance takes place on Vancouver Island at Summer Landing (a fictional retreat center). When I first imagined the premise, I wanted to write a novel that focused on friendship and a later in life relationship. In Peter and Claire’s love story, I wanted to recognize the work it takes to reach twenty-some years of marriage. I hope I’ve accomplished this.

My first review says that my novel may encourage readers to do more work in their own relationships, and I hope that’s true. Love isn’t possible without building bridges and meeting in the middle. I want to be a more inspirational author and bring joy to other people’s lives. There’s more stories to come in my new series, Places in the Heart. Fingers crossed—I can complete the next novel prior to Thanksgiving.

“…the author sets the perfect beachside scene for redemption, recognizable conflict, and thought-provoking conversations that may encourage readers to do more work on their own close relationships.”

Self-Publishing Review

A Sea for Summer is book one in the series: Places in the Heart. Book two is tentatively titled A Farm for Fall. This second chance story will focus on Anne.

Read the blurb or purchase the novel here:

Read an Excerpt Here:

I also want to take this moment to thank you for your support. I know you have many incredible book reading options. If you choose to read A Sea for Summer, I thank you!

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Magic Happens When Words Collide

I appreciate the written statement ‘When Words Collide.’ It juxtaposes an immediate impression on the listener of molecules clamoring together to form a new compound. ‘Mark Leslie Lebfebre of Kobo Reading Life’ neologized the quote at a recent readers’ and writers’ festival in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (WWC, When Words Collide). I love quotes for the immediacy they offer to their audience, so I especially enjoyed this one.

Magic happens: When Words Collide.

I write fantasy; as well as contemporary and historical romantic fiction. When my words collide, creating fictional accounts of characters in action, I hope my stories torture the root of something clever.  Conceivably, the brilliance that an imaginative mind might coerce onto the written page.

I’m taken back to my fantasy series where I portrayed the subject matter of my first book, The Scarlett Mark, a MedEvil Romantasy. I thought the spelling of the new word clever. Now, I’m not so sure… but after two books published in this series, I don’t believe the word can be changed. (I can almost hear C.C. Humphreys enunciating the strangeness of the MedEvil word, his expression bewildered, perhaps stressing the e-vowel before delivering the final ⏤vil.) He has a talent for acting, but I digress.

The festival will prevail in my memory as one to cherish. I loved racing to various sessions, between the tower and the atrium building (insert sigh), among readers and writers. As an author, there’s something empowering about walking amongst creative individuals, so for those that have not experienced “When Words Collide, a festival for readers and writers,” I recommend that you attend next year.

Advice from Key-Note Speakers Include:

  1. I attended an all-day master class with C.C. Humphreys. His key advice was to: ‘keep the reader reading.’ Through his teachings/technique, and the numerous workshops offered, I gained invaluable knowledge and best practices, which may assist in keeping my reader’s reading. Plus, and this a shameless plug for Mr. Humphreys… I am dying to read: Vlad: The Last Confession. The printed edition, gorgeously bound in ebony with a scarlet embellished paper-edge, is not available in Canada. Why? I might need to take a trip to an exotic country to find this beautiful and likely scary book! Transylvania, perhaps?
  2. Guy Gavriel Kay shared an opinion about social media, entering into a more earnest dialogue with festival attendees to have balance in their marketing live’s. This wouldn’t only apply to writers. I appreciated it when he said:

Sometimes, the changes in society carry a stealth element…”

So true! Authors⏤traditionally or independently published⏤know that social-media marketing has become an ever-increasing burden, regardless of platform, which can stealthily rob words from a written-page, potentially a written-work. A novel! I believe true fans want the written word. Namely books. True reading-fans won’t be disappointed by one less tweet or post on social media if it means that their favorite author will deliver their reading pleasure. (I’m thinking of George R.R. Martin, my favorite author. Be kind, have faith, the long winter will eventually come to an end, and oh how beautiful, when that spring finally blossoms.)

It all comes back to Mark Leslie Lefebre’s quote and a recent writing festival, “Magic Happens When Words Collide.” He’s right! A boon for readers and writers as flashes of insight encourage readers to read and writers to write. I extend my thanks to When Words Collide, the board, and the many festival volunteers. I had a fabulous experience! My knowledge enriched, my mind aches from the learning… and yes, I’ll be back next year!

Now with a flash of my magic wand… I write!


Two year’s later, I’m about to attend the festival for the third time. WWC meant so much to me, I joined the Board of Directors in the finance portfolio. This year, I’m also participating as a moderator on the panel: Everything you always wanted to know about romance, but were afraid to ask. Join me, Sunday at 2 pm. See you there!

 

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Basic Sentence Structure

Subject + Action = Object of sentence.

When I enrolled for a preliminary course for my Freelance editing certificate, one of the first principles of language that my professor taught the class was this: the subject of a sentence, followed by action, equals the object of the sentence, and when written in this style the reader will always understand the sentence’s meaning. The writing convention shouldn’t have surprised me, but it was an aha… moment. To this day, if I stumble over my words or another author’s words, I ensure the sentence follows this basic structure.

I became a Reedsy Discovery Reviewer recently, and I was reminded about this writing style when an author didn’t follow the rule, leaving me confused in regards to the sentence’s meaning. While a novice writer may not comprehend basic sentence structure and the importance of word placement, at some point, they must learn their craft prior to publishing to ensure their readers understand the meaning of their sentences.

Let’s say a sentence is written as: “At every desk worked people.”

This sentence indicates that the desk is working, not the people, which is incorrect. Stylistically, the idea of people working at their desks would be better understood if written as: “People worked at every desk.”

This basic sentence structure is effective, which is why I wanted to share this simple structure with you. Subject + Action = Object (or meaning) of sentence.

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A Bramble House Christmas

A Bramble House Christmas

By C.J. Carmichael

A review by Shelley Kassian

Author C.J. Carmichael warms the hearts of her readers in this cozy, holiday romance novel, A Bramble House Christmas. This yuletide exultation takes a mother and son to Marietta, Montana; a reassuring place where goodwill, a family mystery, and an unlikely hero bids Willa and her son Scout a chance at future happiness. The novel was made into a Hallmark Channel Original TV Movie in November 2017, and this author was fortunate to have been invited to the viewing celebration. A Bramble House Christmas brings tidings of comfort and joy to Carmichael’s readers, and the sweet narrative will keep you smiling long after the story ends.

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Christmas in Silver Creek

Christmas in Silver Creek

by Katie O’Connor

A Book Review by Shelley Kassian

Author Katie O’Connor gifts her readers with an early Christmas present in this contemporary romance novel, Christmas in Silver Creek. The heartwarming story shares homecoming and holiday reverie as Hailey and Jesse refurbish the store, Two Angels Gifts, which subsequently not only brings a couple together, but also ‘builds’ a promising new future for their family. Christmas in Silver Creek decorates the season with tender emotion, promising tidings of comfort and joy for O’Connor’s readers.


Shelley Kassian writes lively and fun romance in intriguing settings and is currently writing A Sea for Summer, which is book one of her new series, Places in the Heart.

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Auschwitz-Birkenau

“Ladies and gentlemen, come this way,” said the tour guide.

It’s been eight months since I experienced the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and former Nazi German concentration camp, and though time has passed, I can’t escape the tone of the tour guide’s voice, nor his respectful inflection of Ladies and Gentlemen, any more than I can escape the images of the innocent who have been imprinted in my mind. Images of deportees; men, women and children, standing on a railway platform in Auschwitz II-Birkenau, waiting for their fates to be decided, to learn whether they would live or die. They didn’t know they would die. Many deportees were murdered soon after the following photo was taken.

A moment before selection. Deported Jews from Hungary have been divided into two columns, with women and children standing on the left and men on the right. The main guardhouse is in the background. The women’s barracks on the right. (Photo credit Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum)

After the liberation of Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp, Lili Jacob, a Jew from Slovakia, found an album known as the Auschwitz Album or the Lili Jacob Album, which contained almost two hundred photographs (Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum). The above photo forms a part of this collection.

I wanted to write about my experience when I returned to my home in Canada. Initially, I couldn’t write about what I had seen. I wanted to talk about my impressions to friends and colleagues, but I remained mostly silent. It’s a difficult subject, but today, 75 years after Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated, it’s time for conversation and for humanity to remember the atrocities committed here.

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Entrance gate to concentration camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim, Poland. Famous sign ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’

A sombre feeling grips you while passing through the entrance gate in Auschwitz. I could have been experiencing a normal community, a community where people like you and I live. But in this place humans didn’t live comfortably. Initially a quarantine center, a death camp existed here with inhumane conditions. The chimneys are silent now, smoke and ash does not rise into the sky. Yet, the stench of death lingers. I sense it. The tour guide reminds our group that we could be walking on lingering ash. Evil doings whisper at Auschwitz, of genocide; starvation, slave labor, torture, medical experimentation, selection and extermination. The death camp survives as a memorial, a cemetery, a place of remembrance and contemplation, and the museum holds the evidence of crimes committed here.

The evidence is overwhelming. Out of respect for the victims, images of ‘the room of hair’ were not permitted, though this evidence is viewable on the museum’s website. If I close my eyes, I can visualize the massive collection of human hair, cut from murdered deportees heads after death. The image imprinted in my mind brings me to tears, still.

Ladies and gentlemen, come this way… Leave your belongings here and we’ll take care of them for you.”

Tour group experiencing Auschwitz and evidence of genicide. Photo Credit Shelley Kassian.

Auschwitz gives the impression of a normal community until you realize the prisoners were forced to live here against their will. And while a few did escape, those left behind suffered severe punishments, which encouraged other victims to remain obedient to their SS Guards.

Barbed wire fencing separating Women and Men’s quarters: Photo Credit Shelley Kassian.
Electrified Fencing: Photo Credit Shelley Kassian.
Auschwitz Guard Tower. Photo Credit Shelley Kassian.
Auschwitz Guard Tower: Photo Credit Shelley Kassian.

Many victims were murdered the same day they arrived, especially if they were considered unfit to work. The elderly. The disabled. Children.

Ladies and gentlemen, come this way… Leave your belongings here and we’ll take care of them for you. Don’t forget where you placed them…”

My tour group passing through a Gas Chamber and Crematorium. Finger nail scratches scour the walls where holocaust victims were exterminated. Photo Credit Shelley Kassian.

Auschwitz II-Birkenau

When construction began in 1941, Auschwitz II-Birkenau was supposed to be a camp for 125 thousand prisoners of war, but it also served as the center for Jewish extermination. The majority—probably about 90%—of the victims of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp died in Birkenau. Approximately one million people. The majority, more than nine out of every ten, were Jewish. A large proportion of the more than 70 thousand Poles who died or were killed in the Auschwitz complex perished in Birkenau. So did approximately 20 thousand Roma and Sinti, in addition to Soviet POWs and prisoners of other nationalities (Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum).

The Railway Track at Auschwitz II-Birkenau: Photo Credit Shelley Kassian.

Walking beside the railway line overwhelmed me. My feet ground against the stones, an iron trail and walkway where deportees were forced to walk more than 75 years ago. The surrounding area is vast, quiet, no birdsong brightens the air, and many of the buildings are gone. Yet, the image of Jews arriving from Hungary, a country where my father’s family emigrated from, makes connections in my mind.

Ladies and gentlemen, Nazi officers committed these atrocities. Like you, they or their descendants could be walking among us now.”

Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army on January 27th, 1945.

I’ll never understand how humans can commit heinous crimes. On the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Ladies and Gentlemen, I leave you with this important message:


References

Historical facts were confirmed through Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum’s website. If you are interested in learning more about the holocaust or the Auschwitz concentration camps, this is a good resource.

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Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines, a community in San Diego, California, breathed new life into a husband and wife’s travel adventures. We recently experienced a fabulous hotel, a world class golf course, and amazing beaches where we left our footprints in the sand. What more could an author ask for? Torrey Pines delivered it all.

I’m fortunate to have visited many pleasurable destinations in the United States while traveling with my husband, the President of Kassian Dyck and Associates, but I will return to the community of Torrey Pines, and likely accompanied by my family. Living in different places in the world, we’re always searching for new destinations to meet up, places such as Torrey Pines.

Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines

It’s been my experience that my vacation needs are best met when I stay at the best hotels. The Hilton La Jolla at Torrey Pines had comfortable accommodations, pleasant staff, an expansive breakfast buffet with vegan and vegetarian options, and an amazing pool area. Much thanks to the hotel’s front desk clerk who upgraded our room, giving my husband and I a view of the pool area, which offered an incredible view of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and the Pacific Ocean in the background.

Being part of the Hilton Honors loyalty program has earned my husband and I such benefits before, which is why we usually choose the Hilton hotel brand.

Torrey Pines Golf Course

Neither my husband or I golf, but Torrey Pines Golf Course might have inspired us to start. The course overlooks the ocean and backs onto the Hilton hotel property. We visited the pro shop and purchased golf shirts for our son-in-law’s, who love the sport of golf, which was an exciting gift for them when we arrived home.

The Farmer’s Insurance Open, a professional tournament on the PGA tour, was about to start. Taking place January 23rd to 26th, the course was being prepared during our stay. The Hilton hotel was also preparing for celebrity golfers before we left. Can you imagine golfing at a course where Tiger Woods, Rory McIlRoy and the best golfers in the world have golfed? We will return for sure.

Torrey Pines Golf Course: Photo Credit Shelley Kassian

Torrey Pines State Beach

I love the ocean. Torrey Pines State Beach was the perfect place to experience the vibe of the sea. I wasn’t alone while walking along the shoreline. My husband accompanied me. He patiently strolled beside me and held my hand while I searched for pebbles, shells and sea glass, both of us listening to the swell of the ocean. A king tide had passed across the shoreline the night before, so the sand was absolutely incredible. Almost a mirror of the sky.

Torrey Pines State Beach: Photo Credit Shelley Kassian
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Torrey Pines State Beach: Photo Credit Shelley Kassian

Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines

Life should be enjoyed and a favorite moment of mine was shared with my husband. Wine and cheese at Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. My hubby knows how to please his wife.

Where will your next vacation take place? I recommend Torrey Pines.


It occurred to me while writing at the hotel that Torrey Pines would be the perfect name for a character. Hmm… that story must wait for another time.


Shelley Kassian is the author of several novels including The Women of Stampede novel, The Half Mile of Baby Blue. She’s currently writing her next fantasy novel, The Forgotten God, Book three in A Reign of Blood and Magic, which will release in the latter part of 2020.

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The Secret to Joy

I watched ‘The Secret’ last night, a documentary that is currently playing on Netflix. If you have not read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne or watched the documentary, there’s a message in the book that seems so simple to me.

You get what you put into life. If you want joy, exude joy, but if you focus on worries, you exude worries.

Shelley Kassian

I WANT TO FEEL JOY!

2019 is almost gone. It’s December, the most wonderful time of the year, and I’m aware my written words have been lacking (worries). I passed the 30,000 word mark in my medieval saga recently, and in reaching this milestone, I felt like I’d jumped over a hurdle. I was exhausted. I focused on the exhaustion. I equated the effort to breathlessness after climbing the highest mountain. I sat on the plateau knowing I needed at least 30,000 more words (more worries). I couldn’t visualize where I wanted to travel next, which is a barrier to completing my work in progress. Huh!

I didn’t celebrate reaching my milestone. I didn’t sit at the top of a mountain with my arms outstretched, enjoying the work, feeling the joy, the success, that I had created far more than 30,000 words. A story is taking shape! My words bring characters to life. This is a fabulous effort. After watching The Secret, I realized I’ve been analyzing my writing goals in the wrong way.

An author blessed with imagination should not only focus on the work in progress, but also visualize the success of their finished book. Imagine it in your mind and hold it in your hands.

Shelley Kassian

If you’re not an author, what does success look like to you? This is what joy feels like at the top of a mountain:

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Happy female hiker, traveller, feeling, elation, joy, success, or other positive mood or feeling of wellbeing. She is high on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Jamison Valley in the Blue Mountains of Australia with Mount Solitary in shade and far in the distance are King Tablelands.

I WANT TO EXUDE JOY!

The Secret states that a person must “ask, believe, receive.” This message is written on The Secret website. I didn’t even know there was a website until today. Their mission statement is to bring joy to billions.

My takeaway? I’ve asked for joy. I believe each written word will bring me joy. What will I receive? A finished book that will give me and others joy. I hope. 🙂 What’s your secret and what does joy mean to you?

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Opal Writers’ Magazine features Shelley Kassian

I am thrilled to announce that I will be a featured author in Opal Writers’ Magazine’s July/August edition. I’m so grateful to have been chosen, as the July issue will arrive prior to the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, The Calgary Stampede.

The magazine will include the novel that celebrates The Calgary Stampede, The Half Mile of Baby Blue, which I wrote as part of the Women of Stampede series.

Opal Writers’ Magazine is a Calgary based magazine for authors and writers. Within its pages readers discover articles on writing craft and short fiction pieces. It’s a bi-monthly magazine, available by subscription or single copies.

To learn more about the novel, The Half Mile of Baby Blue, click here.

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Kind heart. Brave mind. Fierce spirit!

No matter the social media platforms used, messages bombard. What’s real? What’s fake? Who knows for sure. Humanity’s messages are increasing at a dramatic and noisy pace, with every writer behind the words hoping to reach an audience, whether the words/video attract a customer, communicate with a friend, or in my case—reach a reader. Everyone is trying to initiate a conversation.

Kind heart. Brave mind. Fierce spirit.

I love quotes: Kind heart, brave mind, fierce spirit! I read this message somewhere this past week. I don’t remember where the quote originated from, maybe I scrolled past it on Facebook, but these keywords could assist my personal and professional goals. Maybe your goals, too. A kind heart in the ways I communicate with readers. A bravery, in that I’m not afraid to entertain new ideas. A fierceness, in the way I protect myself from adversity and the words I bring into my storytelling world.

Bravery plus fierceness equals risk. To go to the places—in storytelling and life—where I might not be comfortable. However, to be successful every goal-motivated person needs to assert a certain degree of risk.

In my opinion, the writers behind your screen are often shy solitary creatures. Authors hovering inside our hobby holes, crafting stories and hoping readers will find us. Perhaps, having a kind heart isn’t enough to win the world. Like Rocky Balboa, more often than not, a writer does have to get in the ring and fight. Grant me the courage this week to lose my shy tendencies and… get in the ring; to be kind, be brave and be fierce!

#MondayMotivation #BeKind. #BeBrave #BeFierce

 

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The Walmart Launch Sale

Make your greatest escape for $4.99 or less! KOBO and Walmart have launched Walmart eBooks. I’m excited to share that six of my novels have been included in a month-long promotion (US only), which runs from August 22nd, to September 18th, 2018.

If you have not read my books, this is a fantastic opportunity to try my novels. I have given the books an excellent discount, from 50% to 75% OFF. Please note this offer is exclusive to KOBO and Walmart.

If you want to read excerpts or reviews prior to purchasing, check out my book page here.

If you’re ready to buy, the links are included in the captions below:

Fantasy

The Odin Saga

“Rich prose and intriguing characters make for an engaging story.” –– A.M. Westerling

“Kassian takes us into a dark world of myth and magic. Her images are dark and evocative and at times entirely too realistic.” –– Katie O’Connor

Contemporary Romance

“Kassian offers a lively and fun romance with an auspicious setting.”⏤ The BookLife Prize in Fiction.

Historical Romance

“A truly unexpected storyline that captures you from the very beginning.” –– R, Goodreads reviewer

 

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Career burnout: you can do anything, but not everything!

I knew I was in career burnout months ago. The signs were obvious but I chose to ignore the symptoms. I was tired. Insomnia began. I couldn’t fall asleep at night or I woke up far too early in the morning hours. Writing became a chore instead of a love of storytelling. I ‘hated it’ when my friends/family/colleagues asked me or invited me to be a part of anything. Except for my critique partner, I stopped seeing my friends. I posted less on social media. I sunk deeper into my work; writing/editing/formatting for up to twelve hours a day. I’ve worked this hard before, so I should have know better.

My saddest moment came recently when my daughter told me she’d never heard her author mother speak so darkly about her writing. Her statement made me think. I need to get back on track, with my health and my writing. What’s obvious to me now is that no matter who we are or which career we’ve chosen to be a part of…

We can do anything, but not everything.

As I move forward to write my next novel, it’s my goal to identify the stressors, reroute negative thinking, and adopt a more balanced life. I just told a colleague that I need a business plan. Hell, I need a wellness strategy to recharge the well of creativity and dispel the anxiety.

How do I plan to recharge? I’ll start by reading, listening to music, taking walks–breaks–visiting my favorite theme park and relocating to my cottage for a few days. Just the thought of my cottage, I breathe deeper and immediately relax. I’m most excited about joining my readers, and reading. I struggle reading while I’m writing, so I’m really looking forward to delving into a great book.

I leave you with this thought: We can do anything, but not everything. For me, step one to becoming healthier is acknowledging and accepting my boundaries. I’m human. I’m not a robot. I’ll write between the limits of allotted time.

#MotivationMonday

 

 

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Behind the scenes at The Calgary Stampede Parade

The Calgary Stampede Parade Committee receives a high five and an expression of gratitude from this author and her colleagues. On Thursday, July 5th, one day prior to the Calgary Stampede Parade, seven local ‘Women of Stampede’ authors saddled up for the ride, having been invited to the Participants BBQ and Parade Day breakfast.

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From left to right: C.G. Furst, Maeve Buchanan, Shelley Kassian, Katie O’Connor, Nicole Roy, Alyssa Linn Palmer, and Brenda Sinclair.

The BBQ and breakfast is a happening place. The atmosphere is rife with excitement and entertainment; you can feel the vibe thrumming in the air as parade participants begin to arrive. All afternoon, trucks and trailers continually roll into Fort Calgary, parking along the fence line beside the Bow River. I watched in amazement as horses were unloaded, enjoying the presence of equines nickering and riders trotting along a ready made pathway, and one leader among the crowd who directed the drivers where to park all while riding his russet mare.

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I’ve attended the Calgary Stampede for years, and I’ve always appreciated how the city celebrates a Western-themed event each year. It’s the direct reason I was inspired to write a contemporary romance novel, loosely based on the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, though I never imagined that a series project, which I oversaw with Katie O’Connor, might lead to this behind the scenes glimpse of the Calgary Stampede parade. I didn’t expect to be treated like a VIP. Standing in a long line of parade attendees, a volunteer noticed my badge and with a smile, escorted me to the VIP line. It felt great to be given such respect and care.

My most amazing moment of day one arrived when I met Kelly Sutherland. Oh my… I felt blessed and honored when he purchased my novel, The Half Mile of Baby Blue, plus the other six novels in the series. My fictional family discover a chuckwagon legacy, which sends them back to the race track, trying to achieve a win on the half mile of Hell. Kelly wanted to know if I’d based my characters on any drivers he might know. I assured him my story is purely fictional! Definitely a fan girl moment!

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The greatest champion in chuckwagon racing history, Kelly Sutherland, and Shelley Kassian

The Women of Stampede authors arrived at Fort Calgary early on day two. The sun was just beginning to rise. Pancakes and sausages were already cooking on the grill and parade participants lined up early to eat. Six am! Approximately 600 volunteers work behind the scenes to feed and care for the parade participants. They were fantastic ambassadors for the Calgary Stampede. I extend my thanks to them! The food was delicious! 🙂

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Like everything in life, good occasions must come to an end. I wish to thank the Calgary Stampede Parade Committee for inviting the Women of Stampede to their event and for treating us like royalty. I imagine, every guest might have felt that way!


 

The Half Mile of Baby Blue, A Women of Stampede romance novel, is available for purchase at Chapters, Indigo, and all places where digital books are sold.

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