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Family dynamics and Baby Blue

In my recent title: The Half Mile of Baby Blue, family dynamics contribute to the overall conflict that frustrates one of my favorite characters, Dot Wheeler, the matriarch and grandmother of the story.

Albeit, The Half Mile of Baby of Baby Blue is only a book, but when I speak of family dynamics, I utilize my own personal experiences to bring this story’s conflict alive.

The writing God’s do say, ‘write what you know,’ so why not draw from healthy and unhealthy resources from an author’s past.

When I talk about my recent release with readers, I speak of the distance or half mile a family must travel if they want to save their ranch from foreclosure. Dot Wheeler is seventy seven years old. She’s not interested in running races. Neither would she willingly place burdens on her family. Like anyone who is content in their home, she doesn’t want to lose the homestead where she has lived for over fifty years, but she’s willing to sacrifice physical possessions for the sake of her family. She’s made sacrifices, before…

Dot Wheeler has kept secrets from her family and sometimes secrets don’t stay hidden. Enter the discovery of a baby blue chuckwagon, and then photographs and letters unearthed inside an old suitcase, which reveal a Stampede heritage. The race is soon on to not only pay tribute to a chuckwagon legacy, but also to save the ranch. Still, a grandmother doesn’t want past hurts to repeat and she knows if her grandchildren take Baby Blue back to the circuit, history could spark new fears.

That’s conflict. The crux and risk in the story. When one woman is able to say goodbye to the past but not the emotional scars she still carries. And three determined grandchildren with destinies of their own, can’t fear the past when they have no knowledge of it. But once they do understand their legacy, like the turtle that rushes to the ocean, the young will assume the risks and run the half mile of Hell. To their grandmother’s chagrin.

Family dynamics, chemistry, the conflict and muscle that welcomes into the story the possibility of success, the fear of failure, and relationship surprises, too.

The Wheelers have a distance or half mile to run in order to save their ranch from foreclosure, and Kit Wheeler, one of the Wheeler grandchildren, just might discover a new appreciation for her family as she accepts the reins of responsibility, and a love interest too.

I believe this novel is my best to date. I hope you enjoy it.


The Half Mile of Baby Blue was written to celebrate: The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, The Calgary Stampede. Print copies are available at Chapters and Indigo locations in Calgary, Alberta, and digital editions are available through all your favorite e-tailers.

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A story lies between us

A story lies between book two and book three. The premise has been waiting to be revealed since I published The Ebony Queen, Book 2 of the Odin Saga, on June 29th, 2016.

This is the saga that brought me back to my writing career. I often describe the first two books in this fantasy series as dark, a world unlike me, unlike what I usually write, however, the seeds of my MedEvil Romantasy are rooting again and I find the characters emerging, whispering, making their presence known.

I see red. I’ve always seen RED while crafting this story. I was hoping the next book would bring hope. The world is white and there’s a drop of blood on the ground. RED.

I love talking about my stories and I had the recent opportunity to share this series with a child psychologist. I’m laughing right now. Picture this: A man who loves to read. An author who loves to write. I could have been lying on a lounge chair, telling him that I’m afraid to go back to the Kingdom of Velez. And the reader, advising the author, to visit the world for brief moments to write the story.

Someone’s reading this right now and screaming. “OMG, it’s not real!”

Let me tell you a tale. The saga is real to me. There’s a story that lies between book two and book three. Amira is staring at me, talking to me, and she wants the author to write. I have no idea what’s going to happen. But here I go…

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Sluggish Words

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. 🙂

#MondayMotivation #Revisions

 

 

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The Half Mile of Baby Blue: Cover Reveal

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.

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You can make it Happen.

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.

#MondayMotivation

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One must have a Flower

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.

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A Heart across the Ocean

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!

 

 

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The Women of Stampede Series

Saddle up for the ride! The Women of Stampede will lasso your hearts!

Yahoo! Today is the day seven authors announce the Women of Stampede series. I’ve been dreaming about this day as Katie O’Connor (an author in the series) and myself, have been planning this reveal for months.

Calgary, Red Deer, and Edmonton authors have teamed up to create seven contemporary romance novels loosely themed around The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth… the Calgary Stampede.

?w=400″ alt=”ShelleyKassian_CoverReveal_TheHalfMileOfBabyBlue” width=”200″ height=”300″ />Among our heroes and heroines, you’ll fall in love with innkeepers, country singers, rodeo stars, barrel racers, chuckwagon drivers, trick riders, Russian Cossack riders, western-wear designers and bareback riders. And we can’t forget our oil executives, corporate planners, mechanics, nursing students and executive chefs.

We have broken hearts, broken bodies, and broken spirits to mend, along with downed fences and shattered relationships. Big city lights. Small town nights. And a fabulous blend of city dwellers and country folk for your reading pleasure.

Best of all, hearts are swelling with love, looking for Mr. or Miss Right and a happily ever after ending. Seven fabulous books from seven fabulous authors featuring a loosely connected theme – The Calgary Stampede.

A website is coming soon. For now, follow the authors on Facebook at: Women of Stampede Romance Novels.

Releasing June 2018.

Katie O’Connor and Shelley Kassian would like to thank Win Day, author of On a Whim and Treasure in the Library, for her contributions. Win was supposed to write a book in this series but life commitments got in the way. Perhaps someday, our readers might encourage Win Day to write her Stampede story.

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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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An introduction to my latest Release

A Sacrifice for Love was written years ago when I was a member of a Protestant congregation. I don’t remember the exact reason that the story premise took hold, but the seeds must have been weed-like as I laid down nearly 100,000 words.

The story relates the fictional telling of a priest falling in love during a period of religious conflict, a time when Father Martin Luther challenged principles of the Roman Catholic Church, such as indulgences. In the ensuing years, he was instrumental in writing a German translation of the Bible, and ultimately the birth of the Lutheran religion. This was the perfect period to set my story.

I had taken an avid interest in the clergy, in particular, priests not being able to marry, especially given that prior to the year AD 1139, priests were able to marry and many had wives and families.

I’m sure there are many reasons why the celibate rule became clerical law. Although in the 2017 year, it’s surprising to me that the rule still exists, forcing priests to choose between their vocation and the love of a partner. Some priests have left the church for this reason.

I felt that spirituality had to form a part of the written work of this book. I’ve tried to temper the religious oratory as while I once wrote inspirational romance, that’s not my focus now. Not wanting this story to become a sermon, I revised the text to keep the focus on the romance. Oh my goodness, I feel like I had to cut the weeds to permit the flowers to shine through!

I don’t mean to offend anyone with a faith background. I hope if you choose to read this book, you’ll see Mathias as I do: a hero compelled to the ministry, who offers his compassion and service for the betterment of the community. Why shouldn’t he find the love of a good woman, too?

Mathias and Sophia’s story is worthy of being told, and in fairness to my characters, their love story has been collecting dust since 1994! Not fair to keep a story under my bed for so long!

A Sacrifice for Love is on sale for the next few days, so it’s a great time to purchase my fourth novel. It’s available exclusively at Amazon (The US only).

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A letter from a Friend

I received an email from a colleague of my husband’s, who has become a dedicated reader of my novels. He shared his opinion of my novel, A Sacrifice for Love, which is available exclusively on Amazon.  His review touched me so I’m sharing it with you.

We just got back from a great time in France and Belgium. I read “A Sacrifice for Love” on the way over and you did it again. I did notice that you referred to Jesus as Jesu and assume that was on purpose. The story was well told and, as usual, your prose was spot on. The priest practicing what he heard in confession was an interesting tact. The story is probably an expression of what celibate men go through since priests are were not allowed to marry and you told it wonderfully. As I read your books, I am impressed the way you leave early on hints and the fact that you do not add a lot of “fill” only putting down what is relevant to the story. I forward your books to my reader relatives and to date all have enjoyed your books. We are all waiting for the next installment of the Odin series. Let me know when your next book is available.

I thank Pat for being my champion reader and for believing in my writing. They say it only takes one person’s support to encourage success. In part, it’s this man who keeps me writing!

For readers waiting for my next book, I’m hoping the first draft of Madeleine’s story will be finished by the end of summer. I plan to write the next installment of The Odin Saga come September, and as a little teaser… The high priestess/mage will figure prominently!

 

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The dreaded Colonoscopy

I had a colonoscopy recently. Who wants to hear about this medical procedure? Probably no one, right? Right. So… I’ve written this blog for anyone having the procedure, letting patient’s know what to expect, hoping my medical journey can help others.

A colonoscopy can save lives by screening for colon cancer. It may have saved my life. Read on to discover why.

At my yearly medical appointment, my GP shared that I was of that age where screening for cancer of the colon was important. I remember not being overly impressed, immediately thinking of my personals. But my doctor filled out the necessary paperwork, telling me not to worry, it might take two years for the appointment to come. Oh joy, six months later…

Preliminary Appointment

My journey begins with a preliminary appointment to explain such things as the reasons for having a colonoscopy, the diet prior to the procedure, the prep the day before, and finally the day of the colonoscopy. If you’re not scared away at this point, you’ll discuss any medical concerns with a nurse, and then you’ll book the procedure.

Four days Before

Four days before the colonoscopy, you’ll begin a low-fiber diet. This was no great difficulty. The purpose is to eat foods that will not bulk or linger inside the colon as some foods, such as seeds or nuts, can get trapped in the lining of the colon making it more difficult for the doctor to see any issues. Among other things, the doctor is searching for polyps, small growths that can lead to cancer, so removing these little demons is important. Eating a low-fiber diet was the easy part. I’ve included the following image, borrowed from www.YouandColonoscopy.com.

Colonoscopy pic

Colonoscopy Prep

Preparation for the colonoscopy begins the day before the procedure with a light breakfast. I had a plain bagel and yogurt without fruit.

  • OK to drink? Fluids such as Gatorade or Powerade, coconut water, apple juice, white grape juice, white cranberry juice, Kool-Aid, Iced Tea, Lemonade, Ginger Ale, 7-Up, Sprite, Jell-O, Popsicles, Tea and Coffee, and clear broths.
  • Avoid fluids red in color (can stain the colon), pulp, juice with pulp (pulp can coat or hide inside the colon), orange juice, milk or milk substitutes (dairy can coat the colon).

This was a tough day. My advice? Drink fluids you really enjoy. Buy a Slurpee! Don’t worry about the sugar content as you’ll need this energy. I drank a combination of water, white grape juice, clear broths, and Ginger Ale. Ginger Ale was my friend. This fluid got me through! I wish I’d had the Slurpee!

At 8:00 pm, the worst began. I drank eight, 8-ounce glasses of Colyte through a straw. You really want the straw to avoid liquid contact with your tongue. Within two hours, I drank the liquid, but by the last glass, I barely tolerated the taste. My son had warned me that the ‘taste’ was horrible. The first glass wasn’t terrible, but after consuming eight glasses, I was really aware that something chemical was entering my stomach. The purpose? The Colyte assists in drawing liquid into the colon, permitting the body to flush waste from the colon. This is an important factor so the colon’s lining will be clean. Stay at home. Within an hour or so, you’ll be in the bathroom frequently. You might also feel cold from drinking so much liquid. Wrap up in a blanket. Have a bath. Stay warm.

Day of Colonoscopy

My appointment time was at 1:00 pm. Five hours before the procedure, I had to drink eight more glasses of Colyte. Ugg… I awoke with a headache. I tolerated the first glass, but as I didn’t feel well, I had a few sips of Gatorade. This might have been a fatal mistake. (If I was ever to do this again, I wouldn’t drink any other fluids while drinking the Colyte.) Because… fifteen minutes later, I drank my second glass of Colyte. After which, I immediately vomited. I took Gravol to try to calm my stomach before attempting the third glass. Didn’t work, lost that too. I called the CCS Centre for help and they recommended trying the oral purgative PICO-SALAX. Long story short, didn’t go well. Laying in bed, I really worried that I’d not be able to have the colonoscopy, after all the Colyte hell! But if you can get through the first eight glasses, you should be okay to have the procedure because what I didn’t know is that the doctor can flush ‘light matter’ from the colon while he/she is working. So if this happens to you, don’t fret. You’re likely able to proceed with the colonoscopy.

The Colonoscopy

It’s what I’d been dreading for weeks. Don’t worry, it’s not so bad. Accept the sedation. It assisted in calming my anxiety and likely pain levels too. You might experience cramping as your colon is filled with air, or as the camera travels through the colon. I felt some discomfort, but honestly, I became more drawn to the television capturing the visual drama of my colon. (Oh my God) I felt some pinching as the doc removed ‘four polyps!’

The purpose of having a colonoscopy is to check for such things as inflammation, ulcers, or to remove polyps found in the lining of the colon. Polyps can live harmlessly inside the colon, but they can also become cancerous, turning into tumors. Removing them removes the possibility of coping with a worse issue⏤colon cancer⏤so for me… very worth the procedure. It was over in about twenty minutes.

After the Procedure

After the procedure, go home and rest. You might be sore. Not down there exactly, but beneath your ribcage where your colon lies. If needed, Tylenol is an acceptable drug for pain relief. My son overdosed me with two 500 mg pills. (LOL) I had a fabulous sleep and didn’t suffer any lasting effects! I say this with humor as he really meant to take care of his mom. And the best news, you can begin a regular diet again. Having had a stressful day, I ate lightly, but I enjoyed the treats my son gave me after. Red Licorice and chocolate. (My son has ulcerative colitis and has had his colon removed, so he really understands issues and procedures involving the colon.)

The take-Away

I’m glad I had the procedure. I know my colon is healthier, having had four polyps removed. What more can be said? Sometimes to have a healthier life one must brave unpleasant medical procedures. Would I have it again? “Colyte,” Shelley says with a grimace, “probably.” This elixir was the worst part for me. Knowing my colon is free of polyps that could potentially cause cancer will help me sleep easier at night.

Now, I think I’ll get back to doing what I do best, writing books!

 

 

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