Back from the Beach

Last weekend, I attended the Novelists’ Ink conference, which was held in St. Pete’s Beach in Florida. As well as the conference being fun and informative—and a chance to see good friends—there was The Beach!

I walked the beach every day and here are some of my pix. We had truly gorgeous weather, over 80 degrees every day with clear skies. I walked mostly in the mornings. First off, the beach itself. This is looking north from the hotel:

©Deborah A. CookeThen there were the birds. I love the pelicans, which are quite common in this area. ©Deborah A. Cooke These are seagulls but this variety are a little smaller than the more common ones. They hang out together and have jazzy little black caps:©Deborah A. CookeHere’s a sand piper. There were two different kinds that I noticed – this is the taller kind.©Deborah A. CookeHere’s the smaller sandpiper. They were a bit fluffier.©Deborah A. CookeHere’s a heron with a more common seagull looking on. When I first saw this one, he was fishing up a storm, so busily snatching at little fishes in this pond that he blurred in every picture. He’s eaten his fill now and is heading out.©Deborah A. CookeAt the north end of the beach, there’s this rock pier where people fish – and of course, the birds that like to eat fish hang out in the vicinity, just in case. There are at least three kinds of herons in this shot, including a great blue heron to the very far right (who blends in very well.) If you go back to the first picture, you can just barely see this rock pier at the end of the beach.©Deborah A. CookeHere’s a shot of a large white heron. The two on the left are smaller, like the one I showed above.©Deborah A. CookeOf course, there are also shells on St. Pete Beach, given that it’s on the gulf side. I picked up a fighting conch shell and it vibrated like a cell phone. I thought maybe the conch was still alive and, since they’re poisonous, left it alone. Farther down the beach, I met a woman who knew the real answer: there was a crab inside. Here’s the crab she found, taking a peek at the world: ©Deborah A. Cooke And here’s the crab I found further on, having a bolder look. He might have a neighbour in the next shell, too. The fighting conch shells with barnacles tend to have been abandoned by the conches and taken on by the crabs.©Deborah A. CookeI brought home a few shells, too, but not any crabs!

Border Brotherhood on Sale Today!

Today’s the day that Border Brotherhood, the boxed set including medieval romances by Kathryn Le Veque, Suzan Tisdale and me, goes on sale.

Border Brotherhood: Medieval Heroes of England and ScotlandDid you get your copy yet? Find more details and buy links on the book’s detail page, right here.

The Artist’s Way – Week Two

I’m late with this post this weekend, but I have an excuse. (Ha!) Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. Like so many other Canucks, we celebrated early, then had leftovers for the rest of the weekend. That’s one difference I’ve noticed between US and Cdn Thanksgivings, other than the different dates – Americans are more intent on celebrating on the exact day, while we gather sometime on that particular weekend. Many of us save the actual holiday (Monday) for travelling.

So, are you doing TAW with me? Getting those morning pages done? I find the morning pages quite easy to do and to remember to do. I also find them very effective. They’re a great way to get the clutter out of my mind. I never think there’s that much of it in there until I do pages – and discover just how much more prolific and effective I can be in my day once that clutter is gone.

The weekly artist dates are tougher for me. I wriggle out of that commitment in all of the ways documented in the book as excuses – I say I don’t have time, or I nest the artist’s date together with something else (even call the other errand an artist’s date), or I take someone else along. Meeting a friend for lunch is good, but not an artist’s date! I know all that, and I know how effective the artist date can be, but still I wriggle. My goal this week is to have a real artist date.

How about you? Any challenges, realizations or breakthroughs?

A Shawlette

This is a small shawl that I just finished. It was all together in a kit that I bought from one of the vendors at the Knitters’ Fair in September, and so pretty that I had to cast on right away (even though I had lots of things on the needles to finish). The pattern is French Cancan, and the yarn is Zen Yarn Garden‘s Serenity DK. Wow, what a scrumptuous, squishy yarn! It’s a merino and cashmere blend, and the colour is simply gorgeous.

Here’s the finished shawl, although I haven’t blocked it.

French Cancan shawl knit by Deborah Cooke

I don’t really like blocking garter stitch, but prefer to let it do its own thing. The braid doesn’t really need blocking as the points already sit out nicely, so I’ll probably leave it be.

French cancan shawl, detail, knit by Deborah Cooke

It has a lovely crescent shape and drapes nicely over the shoulders. It takes 2 skeins – one for the garter stitch body and one for the border. I was (of course) worried about running out for the border, but I had some of the second skein left over. The finished shawl is smaller than I’d hoped, more of a scarf than a shawlette. This is funny because I saw a sample when I bought the kit, so my expectations should have been in line with reality. OTOH I’ll probably wear it more than I would have worn a shawl, because it’s just the right size for wrapping around my neck under a winter coat. I suspect I’ll be making another of these – I quite liked the pattern, and the edging pattern was easy to memorize – and maybe I’ll make a larger one.

What do you think?

A New Scottish Medieval Romance Boxed Set

Highland Heroes, a digital boxed set of Scottish medieval romances by Claire Delacroix

Given the success of our multi-author boxed set, Border Brotherhood, I thought I’d pull together another boxed set of my own Scottish medieval romances.

Be swept away by the romance and enchantment of the Scottish Highlands!

Three complete medieval Scottish romances from New York Times’ Bestselling Author Claire Delacroix. In The Beauty, part of Claire’s Bride Quest II trilogy, a maiden pledged to the convent heals the heart of a crusading knight returned home to find his legacy stolen. In The Rose Red Bride, part of Claire’s Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy, a damsel seeking adventure and romance is abducted, but only she can see the valor her captor would hide from the world. In The Warrior, part of Claire’s Rogues of Ravensmuir trilogy, a daughter considered undesirable is chosen by a dangerous knight of dark repute to be his bride, only to be haunted by dreams of their shared past.

Three wounded champions, each more honorable than he believes, each destined to be healed by a lady who steals his shielded heart.

Highland Heroes will go on sale November 24, and is available for pre-order at Amazon and KOBO. It will be available at Apple for pre-order soon, too. The pre-order is discounted for this one, so don’t miss the special price!

Audio Review for The Rogue

Here’s a wonderful audio review for The Rogue. Not only did Eileen love the book and the audio production, but she wrote a thorough review AND pulled together some details about the narrator, Ashley Klanac, and yours truly, too.

You can read it right here.