Monday, 30 June 2014

Canada Day IS Family Day…

Canada Day officially kicks off holiday season for me here in the northern hemisphere. Kids have big smiles on their faces, and adults are gearing up for family getaways. Some families head for their cottages or vacation homes while others prefer to pack up the trailer or tent and venture into Provincial or State Parks armed with bug spray and bathing suits. Still others choose a stay-cation, opting to stay at home, hang by the pool, or go on day trips with their loved ones. Whatever method of holiday people decide on, the anticipation of being with family for one or two weeks is well worth the wait!

Since this will be our last summer at our lake home (cue the tears), we’re having a big family gathering to say good-bye and celebrate all the good times we’ve had here. I’m expecting a good size crowd, and have plenty of food on the menu. One such appetizer I’ll be preparing—Family Fiesta Dip—is popular at any summer bash, especially when family and friends drop by. So, juice up your taste buds and dive into my easy to make spicy dip at your pleasure.

What you Need:

250g package of cream cheese (soft)
1 tbsp. margarine
½ cup of mayonnaise
1 small jar of salsa (vegetable chunk style)
1 medium red pepper, finely chopped
1 medium green pepper, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I prefer the nacho or tex-mex brand)
1 bag of Tortilla chips

What you Do:

MIX cream cheese, margarine, mayonnaise until smooth. Spread in a medium-sized dish with edges to prevent spill over.

COVER with salsa – not too much so it’s not runny.

LAYER as follows: chopped red pepper, chopped green pepper, chopped tomato, chopped green onions, and then top with shredded cheese.

Keep refrigerated before serving. Serve with Tortilla chips (and napkins).

Family Fiesta Dip

 While you’re waiting for the Family Fiesta Dip to set, why not kick back on the beach or wherever you’ll be during your holidays and take a trip back into time with my Last Timekeepers MG/YA time travel series? Safe travels, everyone!

Monday, 23 June 2014

6 Things I’ve learned when doing a Book Signing…

I finally had my first book signing! Cue the Snoopy dance music. It was arranged through a high school friend of mine who connected with me via Facebook. This event was part of a United Way fundraiser to raise awareness for literacy and included a used book sale. Before my book signing took place, I queried a few good author friends about what their experiences were like at their signings. I got a lot of feedback and great advice. One author suggested I wear loud, colorful clothing or a clown’s wig to draw attention to myself and stand out. Given the type of event I was invited to, I so HAPPY that I didn’t purchase Bozo’s wig. Here’s what I learned:

Thing #1 – Make sure you know what type of audience will be attending your book signing. I was anticipating that there would be some children present. Um…no kids in sight. Unless you count a few rambunctious adults happy to get out of work for a while! If I’d known there’d be no kids, I would have had different treats available at my table—something more adult friendly instead of red licorice and gummy fish. I’m willing to bet Jello shots would have gone over well and netted me more book sales!

Thing #2 – Stand in front of your table, not behind it. Go meet and greet people—that’s the reason you’re there in the first place! Get up front and show off your wares. As I mentioned, I had candy available (sometimes that can work like a fisherman’s net) and used a pair of tongs to serve passers-by. I asked them politely if they wanted a piece of candy, and they either nodded and stopped, or shook their heads, thanked me, and moved on. Now had there been kids there, I’m sure I would have been mobbed!

Thing #3 – Engage with everyone who stops by your table. Smile and talk up your books. I started off by telling potential buyers about the premise of my MG/YA time travel series and that I wrote a prequel too. I also mentioned that both books could be read out of order. Not everyone will be interested, but I did manage to sell ten books in three hours.

Thing #4 – Have freebies available for people to take with them. I have trading cards with my book cover on the front, and the blurb and my website link on the back. I also had postcards done up by my publishing company, Musa Publishing with other YA book covers printed on them. All these giveaways were autographed as a keepsake of the event. Plus, potential readers could check out my books when they felt they had more time.

Thing #5 – With table banners coming in at about $120 and up, I decided to go another route. I printed off my two book covers (plus the cover of my free short story available on my website), made copies of them, and placed the book covers in plastic sheet protectors. Then, at the book signing I taped my book covers to the table provided for me. My covers are eye-catching, so if you have many books to choose from, print out the most vibrant covers to display. It’s an inexpensive way to get your books and your name out into the public.

Thing #6 – After my book signing which ran from 11 am to 2 pm, and the oh-so-long drive home, I made
sure that I emailed my hosts immediately to thank them for inviting me to attend their event. Being thankful and having a positive attitude will go far, not only with the people who invite you to book signing events, but to potential readers. They’ll feel your sincerity, whether you realize it or not.

Thank you for reading my blog. Have you ever attended or been asked to do a book signing? If so, please comment and share your experiences. Love to hear from you! Cheers!

Help yourself to a treat...

Monday, 16 June 2014

9 Ways to Achieve Your Goals on the Road Less Traveled…

Achievement in any field requires effort and sacrifice. You need to act in a manner that will allow your goal to become reality. If you want to be an Olympic medalist, a bestselling author, or a great actor it requires hard work and dedication. Every achievement in life comes with its own price tag. Here are nine guidelines for those on the journey toward achieving their dreams:

Write down what you want to achieve: Be clear and concise on what it is that you want in life. You can’t commit to memory what you don’t remember. Put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard, but get your dreams and goals out of your head.

Make preparations: Know where you’re going, make a plan and work your plan.

Act deliberately: Do it NOW! Taking decisive actions instill a sense of purpose and confidence.

Get others involved: No one is a self-made person. Life is teamwork. Find your team. All achievement requires the help of other people.

Expect failure: Bummer, but true. Failure is a necessary ingredient of success. There can be no success without some failure.

Keep your focus: Don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Stay focused on your written goals.

Examine your journey: What’s working, you keep, and what’s not working, you toss out. Make sure you insert some new directions. Review your goals often, this way you’ll see how far you’ve come!

Take a reward: Give yourself an occasional ‘high five’ for a job well done. Treat yourself to something special. Be refreshed and encouraged by your progress.

Be true to yourself: Never compromise your integrity and moral character. It’s not worth it! Achievement is gained when we are seen as a person who can be trusted and relied upon. Be that person!

Thank you for reading my blog. If you have time, please comment and share what you are doing in your life that will help you to achieve your goals and dreams. Love to hear your comments! Cheers!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Introducing YA Author Kai Strand's Super Villian Academy Series...

Good or bad? Hero verses villain? These are age old questions. Can you choose what side to fight on? Or are you born with a certain proclivity toward good or bad? In POLAR OPPOSITES, the second book in my Super Villain Academy series, I question that very thing.


“So what are your specialties?” Set asked Sandra.
“What do you mean?” She scrunched her brow, but a blush bloomed as Set’s eyes scanned what he could see of her. Thankfully, most of her was hidden under the table between them.
“If this turns into an extraction, it’s best to know what our team’s strengths are,” Set said.
Source glared across the table, dark red blotches colored his cheeks. “She slices and dices and julienne fries with her lasers. Great defensive moves in flight.”
“That’s right, you fly,” Set said with a half smile.
Sandra jutted her chin in his direction. “What’s your thing?”
“Weather,” Jeff and Source said in unison.
“Whether what?” Sandra asked, looking between her brother and her boyfriend.
“My namesake, Set, was the God of Storms,” Set drawled.
“Oh, that kind of weather,” Sandra said. Pointing between Jeff and Source, she asked, “Why don’t you ask these guys what their strengths are?”
Set chuckled. “I went to school with them. I know their… um… strengths.”
Jeff shifted in his seat, stuffing his hands under his legs before they combusted or wrapped around Set’s throat. He saw another smile touch Whisper’s lips, and knew she was dialed in on their conversation, or at least his portion of it.
“I’ve discovered quite a few new powers since converting to hero,” Source said with wounded pride.
“You converted?” Set asked.
“Well, she stole me out of SVA before the balancing, so I had to choose it or chance losing her.” Source wrapped his hand around Sandra’s and bumped her shoulder with his. “Turns out I can tap far more abilities when fighting on the side of good.”
Set narrowed his eyes. “I didn’t realize supers could convert.”
“Well, it stands to reason,” Source said. “Really, all our abilities are either mental, physical, or elemental. They don’t know if we are bad or good, do they? It is our environment that leads us down a specific path. I have a theory…”
“Source,” Sandra interrupted.
“Well, this is relevant,” Source said.
“She’s right, dude,” Jeff said. “No one would understand your theory even if we let you share it. Shouldn’t we come up with some sort of battle plan?”
“But…” Source said.
Not seeming to hear him, Set talked right over Source’s protests. “It’s hard to have a battle plan when you don’t know where you’ll be fighting, or who you’ll be fighting.”
“Or if you’ll be fighting,’ Jeff finished.

NOW: play along. I’m surveying readers to find out Hero or Villain?

Your turn. Take the survey!

Visit my YouTube channel to see other Supers on the Streets videos. Share your favorites.
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Polar Opposites: Super Villain Academy, Book 2 available now

The supers are balanced. All’s well in the super world. Right? When dogs drag Oceanus away, Jeff learns the supers are so balanced, they no longer care to get involved. The only one who seems to care is Oci’s ex-villain, ex-boyfriend, Set. With Jeff’s own powers unbalanced and spiraling out of control, he wonders if they will find Oci before he looses control completely, and if they’ll find her alive.

Add on Goodreads 

Need to catch up? Here is where you can pick up your copy of King of Bad: Super Villain Academy, Book 1

About the author:

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website,

Monday, 9 June 2014

Feeling Down? Try Thinking UP with these 9 Guidelines for Successful Living…

How do you want to be remembered at the end of your journey? If you’re like me, most of us hope for a successful life and to have made an impact on those around us. To have no regrets, to make a difference, and wipe our karma slate clean. Some manage to do this, while others fall terribly short. To achieve the success you’re looking for, here are some simple—dare I say UPSTANDING— guidelines you can put into practice every day:

Wake UP to the OPPORTUNITIES and pleasures that life offers you. Always seek out the silver lining that forms around the clouds of your life. Every situation has the potential to add something to your life if you’re brave enough to seek it out.

Dress UP your face with a SMILE. It’s the best exchange of positive energy around! A smile will allow others to be welcomed into your life. So go on and get cracking!

Button UP your mouth. There is a reason why you’ve been given two ears and one mouth. We’re meant to LISTEN more than we speak.

Stand UP for what you BELIEVE in. Be a person of principles and live them. Don’t let others control how you act or what you believe. Be true to yourself. A person of principle will always have more long term impact and a positive influence.

Look UP and set your sights HIGHER. Never be content to wallow in mediocrity. People who set a higher standard of excellence also experience a heightened sense of being alive.

Reach UP and strive for higher goals and bigger DREAMS. Your dreams and goals will provide you with a passion and the motivation to excel.

Lift UP and ENCOURAGE others by helping them feel CONFIDENT in themselves. A positive word or kind act to someone down in the dumps could uplift them immediately. Remember that real success comes with the help of others.

Give it UP and leave the past behind. The past is not the FUTURE unless you make it so. Stop being afraid of failure, or making a mistake, or of what others may, or may not think. Life is way too short for that. We cannot live in the past, we must always be moving ahead.

Gear UP and get excited! Be ENTHUSIASTIC! People love to be around those who show excitement for life. Besides, I believe it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who once said, “Nothing great is ever achieved without enthusiasm.” True that, Ralph!

I hope these guidelines will SERVE you well. Thank you for reading my blog. If you have time, please leave a comment and share what you do to keep UP. Cheers!

Monday, 2 June 2014

4 Tips for Overcoming Procrastination…

Have a Deadline. You knew this was coming. You’ve been dreading it. Deadlines seem to put the fire under your butt. For me, every time I sit down, I try to write at least a thousand words in 3-4 hours. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I go over the scenes I’ve written and tweak them before writing any fresh stuff. The result is a more polished first draft. I know there’s loads of work to still be done, but setting this word count within a time frame helps me make my deadline to produce a book worth sharing with the world.

Remember to reward yourself. This is so important! We all need pats on the back, a fist bump or high five. Take yours. Give yourself something you’ve been promising yourself. It doesn’t have to be big. Just put yourself in the spotlight and enjoy your ‘me’ time.

Refuse to rationalize or make excuses. Take the ‘just do it’ approach. The ‘If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me’ mentality. Go to your plan. You have a plan, right? If not, create one. Follow it, check off what you’ve done, delegate where needed, and remember to breathe. Like the Boy Scout motto, ‘Be prepared’ and you have nothing to worry about.

Accept 100% responsibility. This is a no-brainer. You and you alone are responsible for your actions (or non-actions) so don’t go blaming the social media or your partner or watching the season finale of your favorite show (guilty) for taking you away from your task. Take the high road and carve out the time needed to get the job done.