The Calgary Stampede might be The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, but the Stampede circuit has historic roots that stretch across the Province of Alberta. When I began researching my novel, The Half Mile of Baby Blue, I acknowledged that if my Western family were to race their chuckwagon, desiring to save their ranch and also pay tribute to their grandfather’s legacy, they’d not only have to train hard, they’d also have to start the season at the Grande Prairie Stompede.
According to the World Professional Chuckwagon Association, the first race of the season circles the barrels on the half mile of Hell at the Grande Prairie Stompede. This is where my fictional Wheeler family first takes to the track, driving the chuckwagon and thoroughbred horses to the starting line, risking family history to repeat itself.
In my fictional story, Cole Wheeler was the driver on the first race day. His sisters Kit and Samantha join him as outriders. They face a difficult challenge. The sport is favored with professional drivers and outriders, men more experienced and knowledgable about the sport then this fictional ranch family. Accidents happen. But like Eddie the Eagle or the Jamaican Bobsled team, a family, and female heroines will assume the risks.
I questioned why the sport is dominated with male hero’s. A woman has never competed at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, but the real world is changing and it’s pretty exciting that on May 30th, 2018, one of Cole Wheeler’s competitors would have been a woman, Rilee Letendre, a real Woman of Stampede. She finished 11th place overall for a second year in a row, proving that a woman does have the strength to drive thoroughbreds on the half mile of Hell and pursue her chuckwagon goals. Read more about Rilee Letendre here.
The race continues after the Grande Prairie Stompede, and professional drivers, outriders, helpers and their families travel across Alberta and Saskatchewan most of the summer to venues in Saskatoon, Medicine Hat, High River, and the Ponoka Stampede, all these races taking place prior to the Calgary Stampede.
Fans of the sport have many opportunities to watch their favorite professional chuckwagon champions all across the province. Makes me want to experience not only the smaller exhibitions but also the beautiful Province of Alberta.
This summer, experience the Stampede circuit and Travel Alberta.
The Half Mile of Baby Blue and The Women of Stampede Romance novels are available at Chapters / Indigo and other digital e-tailers.
My Monday motivation comes from the childhood story: The Little Engine that Could. I’m caught between a rock and a hard place, an uncomfortable squeezing pressure where I know I need to write (the Odin Saga, a MedEvil Romantasy, set in the kingdom of Velez) but my motivation rests on the railroad track, staring straight ahead, scrutinizing the line, wondering if a heart has the strength to start the engine. I’m a storyteller. My job is to scribe words. All I need to do is press the ignition and start the engine, and I say to myself…
I think I can. I think I can… Go the distance?
I’ve been suffering from burnout. I knew I was encountering fatigue prior to the completion of the Women of Stampede series novels. When my mind couldn’t fall asleep at night and in the morning a body couldn’t get out of bed. In an attempt to return to a more balanced mind, I’ve been resting or trying to rest. But a gentle tug of will, a whisper in the wind, grasps me and leads me toward the ignition switch… Does this make any sense?
I’m sitting on the track. I’m gathering strength, preparing to start the writing engine.
I think I can. I think I can.
Write. One word at a time, returning to the Kingdom of Velez.
Sluggish words. They’re weeds that creep into my writing unnoticed. The little beasts who choke beautiful plants and slow the pace of my sentences.
I’m revising my manuscript, The Half Mile of Baby Blue. I’ve been meticulously searching for something that can’t be named, a thing that doesn’t show the reader almost anything. Sluggish words taking up space and slowing the pace of my novel. They find their way into my work and it’s up to me to reword, refashion, or delete them. This is why an author should revisit and revise their story. No different than a gardener should weed.
Up, down, out, back.
Kit looked up. Gabe sat down. Dot went out to dinner. Bennet sat back down on his chair.
I review approximately thirty words prior to final editing. I want to ensure that the manuscript has been polished. For the reader…
A reader may not know why their eyes are tiring, why they can’t finish the book. My job as a writer is to ‘keep the reader reading,’ which is why I edit and trim redundant words.
Do I enjoy revising? I like it as much as I ‘love’ the weeds growing in my garden, but it’s necessary to fashion my story into a work of art. So… I do it!
If you find any redundant words in The Half Mile of Baby Blue, please don’t tell me. 🙂
I’m so excited to reveal the cover of my next novel, The Half Mile of Baby Blue, which is the second book in the Women of Stampede series. The first draft is finished, so the book is set to release on time at the end of May. Good news for my readers! The story description follows:
No family can conceal its past forever. When forgotten findings inside a suitcase reveal a stampede legacy, a new generation risks history repeating itself…
After Kit Wheeler learns her family’s ranch has been threatened with foreclosure, she puts her former project manager skills to work to initiate a plan. Secrets are revealed, altering her objective and inspiring a wagon race laden with family conflict. To triumph, she requires a strategy. Her genius sister stages an auction and an attractive businessman scores the winning bid.
Gabe Bradshaw first glimpses Kit through the pages of the morning newspaper. Drawn to her evocative portrait and baby-blue eyes, the President of TarSan Oil proposes a strategy to champion her acquaintance. His motives might seem suspicious, but Kit understands his gameplay.
What distance will a family go to save their ranch? What risks will a man and woman take to reach the finish line? The only question remaining is, will they secure the Half Mile of Baby Blue?
The Half Mile of Baby Blue releases in digital and print edition on May 31st, 2018.
I watched an Oprah Winfrey Masterclass this past weekend featuring Stevie Nicks. It’s interesting to glimpse a side of someone’s life, seeing their success story and the struggles that come with fame. I applaud her for having the courage to speak her truth.
We all face difficulties while climbing the ladder to success, whether in our personal or professional live’s. I’ve faced many struggles. I’ve struggled just finishing the Half Mile of Baby Blue, but I knew I could do it with time, determination, and perhaps a little faith, too. The message?
Believe. You can make it happen.
It’s all possible if you have the ‘will’ to try.
An author must have a little flower for days when the sun is shining but the snow still lies cold on the ground. A scent of spring, a pink petal to encourage sentiment, while pondering when spring might finally dawn. It’s National Flower Day. I should be working, but I’m taking a mental health moment to dream of warmer weather by visiting my local garden centre.
Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. Hans Christian Anderson.
An author doesn’t just sit at her computer writing. Well, admittedly, I’ve been writing a lot lately. So much so, my eyes are burning as I lay down these words. But it’s a healthy choice to take a break from the manuscript to write about flowers, while dreaming of the next story seeds to plant.
I’m a lover of Plumeria plants. From the first time I glimpsed their petals and breathed their perfume in Hawaii, I’ve loved them. I planted seeds two years ago, and have six plants in my house. I nurture them and dream of the day when they’ll be large enough to bloom flowers. One day…
It’s National Flower Day. I’m visiting the garden centre and dreaming of days to come.
A Heart across the Ocean was officially released on February 6, 2018. I wish to acknowledge and thank my beta readers, authors Brenda Sinclair and Katie O’Connor, for reading my novel prior to publication.
This is what they had to say about my latest release:
“Shake hands with a bit of Canadian history as Ms. Kassian takes her readers along on Madeleine’s gruelling ocean crossing to New France where Madeleine is expected to marry a total stranger. Shocking secrets and ulterior motives abound in this historical tale of a dangerous new land where death awaits the unwary. But amid the uncertainty and fears, finding love is always a possibility.”
Brenda Sinclair, author of the contemporary Carsen Family Trilogy: Tangled Heartstrings, Tangled Memories, and Tangled Intentions.
“A Heart Across the Ocean is a trip through time to a rougher place where different rules prevail. A ruined woman, an obedient soldier and an unlikely union in the wilds of Canada’s past, this story pulls on your heartstrings and takes you on an deep emotional journey.”
Katie O’Connor, author of the contemporary Heart’s Haven series, Building Trust, Running Home, and Saving Grace.
The description of my fifth novel, a historical romance set in New France
Fate cannot escape its guilty charge. Should the truth be discovered, the night watchman could detain Madeleine Bourbonnais once more…
A ward of King Louis XIV, Madeleine escapes from a Parisian hospital by accepting the king’s dowry, which frees her to immigrate to New France and secure a husband. Given her past and her condition, she’s an unlikely candidate for the filles du Roiinitiative, but when she arrives in the new world, she ashamedly accepts the admiration of a brave officer, hoping this handsome man could be the remedy for her misfortune.
A Captain in the Carignan-Saliere’s Regiment and a second son, Julian Benoit would never inherit the family estate, so he travelled to New France to serve and protect the French colony from Iroquois conflicts. When his commanding officer forces the statute of marriage, he complies with the edict, succumbing to a pretty mademoiselle, but he’s ill-equipped for her hidden truth.
Will Madeleine accept the challenges waiting to be borne in the new world? Can Julian recognize that this is the woman he’s been waiting for, and take her deeper into his heart and the demanding life of the Canadian wilderness, or annul their marriage and send her back to France, gambling the lives of all involved?
A Heart across the Ocean is a warm historical romance set in New France during 1666. The novel was written in tribute to Canada’s 150th birthday. It celebrates the arrival of the King’s daughter’s (filles du Roi), who travelled to the French colony to marry. Release date February 6, 2018.
Read an excerpt of Chapter One, here.
Purchase the novel, A Heart across the Ocean, click here.
It was a pleasure to write A Heart across the Ocean and I hope you enjoy it!
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:
- 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?
- 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!