Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Blanche Macdonald - Ninon Parent, For the Strong Minded, Theatrical Soul

Runway Images by Peter Jensen Photography
Illustrations by Ninon Parent

Neon Dreams 2016 show recap - http://bit.ly/2gp70mi

I was honoured to be at the most recent Blanche Macdonald grad show to see the newest group of Fashion Design students offer their amazing grad collections. As always, I left the event inspired.

Design students may not have the experience and technical skills that come from working a long time in the fashion industry, but they bring fresh ideas to the table that offer a small window into where things may head in the future.

Each season I pick a few students to offer a solo article on and I try to offer a wide range of aesthetics and styles.  Choosing who to feature all starts with a look at their portfolios. I want these to be strong representations of their work overall as well as offer good illustrations. Strong illustrations offer me an idea of the designers potential as an artist.

Next I watch the runway show closely. As someone who sewed professionally for five years, I don't want to see puckered seams or odd threads hanging. I look for proportions that are flattering and interesting ideas. In the end, fashion is very subjective, so I look for what catches my eye.

Ninon Parent is heavily influenced by her work in circus costuming, so she brought some truly unique ideas to the runway. In the evening show, we only saw two of her three looks. Fortunately, photographer Peter Jensen shot both, so I was able to get all the images. Enjoy!

- - - -
First Look

Where were you born, where did you grow up?

I am born in Rouyn-Noranda in Quebec, it is located about 30 min of the Ontario border. and 5 hours up from Ottawa. I grew up in Cloutier in an small village in Abitibi-Temiscamingue with the family of my grandmother. D'Alembert and other small villages on the other side of Rouyn-Noranda, is where I lived from my teen years to adulthood.

What you like when you were young?

At Cloutier, playing out side with all the kids around was my favourite thing to do. In winter we would build fortresses out of snow. Summer was to play alien invasion. When we moved to D'Alembert, I found new interests and things to do like helping my friend to take care of her chores on their little farm - feeding and cleaning the rabbits , goats, sheep and chickens, helping to clean their piece of land of dead wood, and storing the bales of grass for the animal. My other friend had ponies so we did horseback riding together. We would also go walking for hours in the wood, go swimming and go skiing.

















What were your interests in High School?

School was very hard for me academically. In high school I began dancing with PRELV from Lynn Vaillancourt, something I continued to do for the next 8 years. I also played volley ball.  I found I was very good at sport and art which helped me get through school and boosted my confidence.

Looking back, can you remember any signs that you would end up in fashion? A personal story would be great here.

Second Look
  • At 9 years of age I ask my mom how to use the sewing machine to make a pair of pants for my barbie. I designed, cut and sewed them myself. I made the pattern by laying Barbie on a piece of clothing and tracing around the doll..
  • At 12 years, I made a pair of bouffant clown pants for my friend Rene for his clown bit in the year and school show.
  • For about 6 months I made all kind of hands marionettes, sewing the wool hair and painting the face with Artex paint. I begin to make paper pattern to refined them.
  • At 14 years I modified one of my body suits for my costume for my big dance exam. Years later in the 1980's, I saw that same kind of modification in body suit design.

  • At 15 years, our dance teacher told us that we need to come up with our own skirt for the end year show. After telling us for months, three weeks before the performance we still had no skirts. I said I will make a sample. I did a wrap skirt with a very wavy band. She gave my sample to a mom to use as model to make the 12 other skirts.
Talk about when and how you decided to study fashion design. Was you family supportive?

I suffered a knee injury doing a stunt an couldn't work. WorkSafeBC sent me back to school to study accounting. I lasted one month and left, but I had to propose another program I wanted to study. My sister in law Helen put the seed in my head about fashion design. I researched all the schools in town and then gave my list to WorkSafeBC.

Why did you choose to study at Blanche Macdonald?

WorkSafeBC accepted the program because it was a one year program and there was enough money left in my rehabilitation to pay the tuition fee.


Talk about your time studying Fashion Design. What was hard for you, what was easy for you? Are there any high, low or funny moments you can share?

The hardest was the memorization of all the fashion terms, the fashion designer names and all the writing. Those of us who are english as a second language had a much harder time in school. The sewing class was the only class that I could do all the exercises in the amount of time that was specified.

Doing the cartwheel during the fashion show was the most fun I had during the program. All my energy was put in studying. It was great, but not for relaxing. One thing for sure - I can understand English much better now.

Third Look
What was the inspiration for your grad collection? Share anything you'd like readers to know?

Sky Rise and Big Trees

Describe your collection – title, customer, day-evening-sportswear-separates-casual-highend glamour-stage costuming-punk?

These are individually crafted pieces designed for the strong minded, theatrical soul.

What is the palette? What fabrics did you use?

Brown, beige, blue, green are my palette. Stretchy lace for the cat suits. Whole yarn for the dreadlocks of the first look. False fur, wood, vinyl, and slinkies wrapped with wool for the second look. Dupion imitation and banana leaves sheet for the 3 look.

Do you have a favourite look?

I truly don't have a favourite look. I love the wavy movement and the colour of my first look.
All the different element of the second look make it a very joy full piece. The slinkys add so much movement and the hood gives texture. The third look with the high collar over the face and the cut out have an almost regal Egyptian look.

I've been doing fashion design with out realizing it since I
began doing circus with my husband. This picture is me making
a costume for my husband
What do you think you can bring to the fashion world that is new?

I don't know. I thought that every thing as been invented and I managed to put slinkies wrapped with wool in to my design, which haven't been seen before.

Where do you go from here – are you going to work for others for awhile, launch your own line, take a break and travel?


I would love to work for NASA developing clothing that has multiple uses, but before doing anything I need to rest. I'm going to Japan with my friend in February. My intention was to go to work for the movie industry once I had my diploma, but first I need a break.

Links - 

Circus Company Website - www.undergroundcircus.ca
Underground Circus FB - www.facebook.com/pg/tuc.undergroundcircus/
Underground Circus Instagram - @undergroundcircus
Underground Circus Twitter - @TheUGCircus
Personal FB - www.facebook.com/ninon.parent.5

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For more information on the fashion design program at Blanche Macdonald, please visit their website at http://www.blanchemacdonald.com/fashion/.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Disruption by Chuck Barrett

Jake and Francesca find themselves in a high-voltage race to stop these cyber terrorists from unleashing destruction against their sworn mortal enemy.

Synopsis -

There are two types of people: those who have been hacked and know it, and those who have been hacked and don’t know it.

Former Naval Intelligence Officer turned secret operative Jake Pendleton finds himself in a pulse-pounding race to stop a cyber-terrorist from releasing a string of the most heinous cyber-crimes the world has ever seen. Crimes that could render the world’s advanced technology useless.

Jake teams with his partner, Francesca Catanzaro, to track down their only lead, a white-hat hacker in Italy known only as The Jew. A man who might hold the key to stop a group of black-hat hackers from causing worldwide chaos—tag named Disruption.

After a search of the hacker’s flat in Rome turns up empty, Jake and Francesca follow the clues—a trail of dead bodies that leads them across Europe. Along the way, Jake discovers a possible link between recent hacks and a Malaysian airliner that mysteriously disappeared.

In the final adrenaline-charged moments before Disruption, Jake and Francesca find themselves in a high-voltage race to stop these cyber terrorists from unleashing destruction against their sworn mortal enemy.

Review - 

Disruption is the eighth book by author Chuck Barrett. It is a mystery/thriller/suspense. The premise is one that has great relevance in today's world - the threat that cyber terrorists could hack into important computer systems and shut the world down. Literally. Globally we have become dependent on computers and the internet to function in almost every area of life.  Can you imagine if not a single computer worked - retail, personal, government, defense, etc.?

Secret operatives Jake Pendleton and Francesca Catanzaro are both strong, intelligent and lethal. As a team, they pose a serious threats to an enemy and the private company they work for backs them with state of the art systems. Their mission is to discover the true nature of a growing terrorist threat and disarm it before implementation. This leads them an international search, racing against an ever looming deadline. The terrorist are ruthless in their pursuit of victory, right down to some very disturbing torture sessions.

Disruption also follows personal threads as we are slowly given insight into the lead characters - Jake and Francesca. They may be lethal operatives, but behind their tough veneer beats the hearts of fallible human beings.  The question arises, will their personal difficulties prove too much of a distraction? Then there is the white hacker who has hidden clues in the programming that, if found in time, could disrupt the terrorists' plan. Can he survive the extreme torture sessions without giving out important codes the terrorist need to activate their cyber attack, at least long enough for those clues to be discovered?

The world's future hangs in the balance.

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Audible

Meet the author:

Check out at great behind the scenes interview HERE!

Chuck Barrett is the bestselling author of the Award-Winning Jake Pendleton series—Breach of Power, The Toymaker, and The Savannah Project, as well as his latest award-winning blockbuster, BLOWN, the first book in his new Gregg Kaplan series.

In addition to writing thrillers, Barrett speaks and conducts workshops at book festivals, book clubs, reading groups, writers conferences, and writers groups. Some of his topics include Nuts & Bolts of Self-Publishing based on his book—Publishing Unchained: An Off-Beat Guide To Independent Publishing—as well as, Blueprint for a Successful Book Launch, Getting from ‘Idea’ to ‘Finished Manuscript,’ Mysteries & Thrillers: Fact or Fiction, and Adding the “What if” in Storytelling.

Barrett is a graduate of Auburn University and a retired air traffic controller. He also holds a Commercial Pilot Certificate, Flight Instructor Certificate, and a Dive Master rating. He enjoys fly fishing, hiking, and most things outdoors. He and his wife, Debi currently reside in Colorado.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook



Interview with Chuck Barrett, Author of Disruption

























Please share a bit about your journey to becoming a writer/published author/Not everyone has a mid-life crisis, but I did. At 41, I found myself divorced with three young children, a 50/50 joint custody, and a full time job…a logistical nightmare since my employer, the federal government, really didn't care about my problems, only whether I showed up for work or not. Like most people who find themselves thrust into these situations, I struggled.

One day, while talking to a friend about all the things I felt about my new found life as a single father, I was asked if there was anything I had ever wanted to do but never had the time (or inclination) to do. As a fanatic about thrillers, whether reading or movie going, I replied, "I think I'd like to write a book." My friend had made me see what I couldn’t' see myself.

That was 1998. It took twelve years and several rewrites (5), critique groups, and writing conferences, along with a 6 or 7-year respite from writing, before my first book, The Savannah Project, was published.

With 8 books behind you, where do you find the inspiration for new story lines? For the characters you create?
Some story lines develop without much thought; they just seem to find themselves along the way…or find me. The first book was easy; I already knew what I wanted to write about…it was learning the craft that took so long. The second, not so much. I met a man on vacation in Utah who became the impetus for the next book…and his character has carried through to my latest, DISRUPTION, which came out October 25, 2016. But he is not the protagonist, he's the protagonist's boss. This real life character has found his way into three thrillers of mine so far. Other ideas come from news articles, current events…it's just a matter of paying attention to what's going on around the world…or around my world.
For me, characters seem to come easy. Certainly easier than story lines. Fleshing out a character before writing is important. I didn't have a good handle on how important that concept was until just a few years ago. Once you know what motivates a character, it's much easier to put yourself in their shoes when you write.

Your books are labeled as mystery, suspense, tehno thrillers and political. What kind of research is involved in creating a believable story line in these genres?              
Review - HERE
                                                                                                                                          
Can I get away with just saying extensive? Yeah, I thought not. I have a notebook full of research material for each book. Whether I's settings, technology, historical information, character descriptions, … the list goes on. And I still print it out and keep it handy so I can flip through pages as I need to while writing. Google Earth and Google maps are critical tools for every author. We can't always go to every setting, so we need a way to be accurate about settings without actually visiting sometimes. Street views allows us to view the setting as if we were actually standing in the middle of the street. In a sense, we are. With DISRUPTION, I had to delve deeper into political motivations for cyber-warfare and explore several scenarios with different countries in order to present the most interesting one to the reader. All Plausible. All have happened or could easily happen any day. And all, scary as hell.


Have any experiences from your time as an air traffic controller ever worked their way into one of your story lines?

Funny this question should arise. Having been in the aviation industry since 1978, I felt an obligation with my first book, The Savannah Project, to include an aviation theme. Not only did I include some experiences from my time as an air traffic controller, but as a pilot as well. Since the story basically starts with an airplane crash, I incorporated it from a controller's perspective, since I already had roughly 25 years' experience as a controller. Tidbits from many of my coworkers found their way into the characters in the book. Some flattering, some not so much. 

How do your organize your time when working on a new book? Research? Working on Manuscript? Pre-marketing?
For the most part, when an idea comes to me, I start researching a little at a time until the full premise comes to me. When I have enough to start writing, I typically write non-stop until I'm finished. I don't have a set-in-stone schedule and I don't write every day. When I am in the writing mode, I do have somewhat of a schedule…I answer emails and spend a little time on social media first thing in the morning-then I write the rest of the day with a break for lunch. After the first draft is completed, I put the manuscript away for a minimum of two weeks. After my brain has purged some of the writing mode clutter, I pick it back up and start self-edits. Typically, two times through the entire manuscript, front to back, before I let anyone read it. First crack at it goes to my wife, who always does an outstanding and thorough edit…including fact-checking. (She also makes sure I don't embarrass myself by writing something outlandish. It happens on occasion.) After I've cleaned it up from her edits, I sent it out to my tried and true beta readers.

I give myself quite a long lead time from completed/finished product to release date. That way I have plenty of time from premarketing and advance reviews. It also gives Audible plenty of time to get the audiobook produced by the release day. My usual lead time is between five and six months prior to release date. Seems like a long time, but I get a lot accomplished during that time, including a good jump start on the next book.




As an author - what do you enjoy most about writing process? What feels like a chore?

I am what many call a pantser. I know the beginning, the end, and roughly how I want the story to go before I begin writing. Then I let the story just unfold as I write. This part is fun and exciting. Most times what happens is as much of a surprise to me as it will be to the reader.

The worst part, by far, of the entire process is editing. Worst for me, anyway. I do know some authors who like editing—I think they're sadists.

Any advice for young authors wanting to write books in this genre?
I'm always excited when young writers jump into the thriller genre. My advice is simple -
  • Be creative.
  • Be bold.
  • Don't get discouraged.
  • And don't quit.
You also offer tips on self-publishing through both workshops and your book - Publishing Unchained: An Off-Beat Guide To Independent Publishing. What is your number one tip?For those who want to jump into the self-publishing role, my #1 piece of advice is to separate your author self from your publisher self. The process MUST be looked at from different perspectives, and some of which are contrary to the best interests of the other. For instance, as a publisher, you must be critical about the product you are about to release to the industry. If the author (yourself) has done a good enough job, DON'T PUBLISH THE BOOK! If you do, it will forever look badly against you as a publisher and an author. In every way, the product you put out as a publisher must look, read, and feel just like that NY Times bestseller sitting next to it on a shelf.

Optional - anything new in the works you'd like to share with readers?

As of this writing, my latest, DISRUPTION, and the fourth in the Jake Pendleton series has just been released. Because of the overwhelming positive response to BLOWN, the first Gregg Kaplan series book, I will be dedicating the next two books to this series. My work-in-progress is the second Kaplan story. I have already started this story, but took a short respite to release DISRUPTION. (In reality, the weather has been unusually warm and pleasant in Northern Colorado this Fall, so I've been taking advantage of it by spending a lot of time outdoors.)

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook


Holt Renfrew for the Holidays!

 I was honoured a few weeks ago to be invited by Carla Stef - Marketing Manager Holt Renfrew Vancouver - to a holiday media event held in the Vancouver store's brand new Holts Café.

I love this store, had the privilege of interviewing Stef a few years ago and am a huge fan of their H Project Shop where I've made several purchases. I jumped at the chance to check in and see the new space.

It was a relaxed, low-key evening for media to check out the cafe and hear about what's new at Holt Renfrew. The cafe's distinctly West Coast interior was designed by internationally acclaimed Canadian design group Yabu Pushelberg. Fabulous bites - both sweet and savoury - were offered throughout the evening created by the cafe's executive chef. Standout for me was the chocolate dessert cone sprinkled in edible gold. I have included a copy of the current menu below, but be sure to check before you come as it might have changed.


There was a brief talk by Alexandra Weston, Director Brand and Creative Strategy, Holt Renfrew - where she shared a bit about Holt's direction and some of the things she was most excited about.  Then there was time to peruse several tables chock full of smaller gift items, each with it's own focus. As I am a fan of the company's H Project Shop, that was my first stop.  I have to admit, just a couple days ago I headed back to the store to snag both a woven clutch and an amazing coffee table book of traditional Peruvian fashion images.

H project gift ideas! All from South America!




We ended the evening with a swag bag featuring several items I had seen including a candle that was Vancouver specific with each offering a scent in honour of a local neighborhood and a beautiful scarf by Obakki.  The evening from start to finish was lovely and a fabulous chance to catch up with many industry friends as well as see what was new in this amazing store.

Check out those Vancouver Neighborhood candles on the left!

Do you still have some last minute shopping to do? Then I suggest you head downtown today. While there be sure to check out the H Project shop on the second floor and the gift gallery on the walkway on that same floor. Both have tons of ideas that are sure to delight!





Holt Renfrew Vancouver is located at 737 Dunsmuir St. Holiday stores hours are in effect with lots of open times to accommodate your schedule - Monday to Saturday 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM and Sunday 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM.
















And while you're there picking up those last minute items, be sure and take a break and have a bite at the Holts Café! I am looking forward to sampling several unique items on their menu!























Snapped this image of the H Project shop while I was there picking up my latest additions. It really is a must see!


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Easy One-Dish Chicken, Asparagus, Pesto, Tomato and Cheese


I have to admit I've seen this combination with and without the Asparagus several times. Sometimes it's all wrapped in parchment paper. Others time it's just layered in a 9 x 13 pan.  I needed a quick and easy dish for Sunday dinner and a movie night as we were going out to the theatre mid-afternoon, so decided to give it a go.

As I wanted an all in one meal for four, I chose to layer and cook it on a cookie sheet.  If you don't want to ruin the finish on your baking sheet, line it with either parchment paper or aluminum foil. Then spray with Pam or oil so nothing sticks.

This was quick and easy and had lots of flavour. The combinations of vegetables and seasonings you can explore with this technique are endless, so be sure and throw caution to the wind and be brave. You may invent your family's next favourite dish.  One of my sons is picky about his vegetables. He won't each broccoli and cauliflower, but likes asparagus - go figure. So that's the direction I took.  I think homemade pesto is better, but had no time to make it. Store bought filled in just fine. I also loved the fact you could adjust this to serve any number of people. I could have done 3, 5 or 6 with little effort.



Easy One-Dish Chicken, Asparagus, Pesto, Tomato and Cheese
4 Servings

4              Four Large Free Range Chicken Breasts
2              Bunches Fresh Asparagus
1              Jar pre-made pesto or one recipe of homemade pesto
1-2          Tomatoes, depending on the size, thinly sliced
Grated or Sliced Cheese - your favourite kind 
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare asparagus by breaking off tough lower stems, washing and drying.  Spread evenly on a prepared baking sheet (line with foil or parchment, then spray or oil to prevent sticking).  Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place the 4 chicken breasts on top of the asparagus and spread each with a layer of pesto (I like a thick layer, but up to you). Place thinly sliced tomatoes on top, salt and pepper to taste, then cover with aluminum foil.  Bake until chicken is done. This will vary depending on the size of the chicken breast, but around 40-45 minutes on the average.

Uncover and top with your favourite cheese. I have seen some recipes use Mozzarella and other options, but I prefer Asiago as it paired well with the pesto.  Pop back in the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt.  Serve with your favourite green salad and warm bread. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Interview with Ginny Fite, Author of No Good Deed Left Undone

Can you share a little bit about your road to first becoming a journalist and from there to becoming a published author?

Long ago, before personal computers and the Internet, I began writing feature stories for our neighborhood newsletter. Out of the blue, I got a telephone call from the editor of an actual newspaper who was looking for exactly the kind of story I was writing.

It took one second to decide to freelance for the paper. That job let me into many people’s lives, from new businesses and offices of politicians, to backstage at theaters, to stockcar races, and even to musicians like Roberta Flack and Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Writing stories for newspapers and magazines, and later websites, honed some of the skills a novelist needs.

I learned how to write to a prompt as vague as, “Go get that story about the library.” Deadlines schooled me in discipline. Column-inch space taught me about a reader’s attention span. Taking notes during an interview made me notice the patterns in how people speak. Being edited showed me any sentence can be cut in the service of the story.

Readers taught me that we are in this enterprise of storytelling together.

I zigzagged between journalism and public relations for years. Three novels moldered in my drawer before I thought I had a story a stranger might read. The biggest hurdle, however, was querying an agent about the first Sam Lagarde mystery, Cromwell’s Folly.

Heart-in-mouth, it turns out, is a description of an actual physical state. My agent made the rest happen.

Your books cover a wide range of genres - murder/mystery, contemporary fiction, self-help and poetry. Do you have a favourite genre you like to write for?

Review HERE!
I like to keep myself open to every kind of writing because that’s where the joy is—in putting down one word after the other, whether it’s a poem, short story, or novel-length fiction. It’s like writing music. Composers write songs, dances, etudes, sonatas, quartets, and symphonies. Sometimes they improvise. Each form allows me to play with one or more melodies and themes.

When I was young, I expected that I would write lyrical literary novels. No one was more surprised than I when Detective Sam Lagarde showed up and started telling me about a gruesome murder.

On the other hand, I’m an avid watcher of the British mysteries we get on public television. For years I’ve inhaled everything from “Miss Marple” to “Hinterland.” So perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised when a flawed, eccentric snoop showed up and started pestering me with his observations and insights.

When writing fiction, where do you find inspiration for your story lines? For the characters you create?

My mind is a very strange place to be. Ideas, images, lines, and characters pop up out of nowhere the way they do in a dream. It’s as if all these years, everyone has been putting stuff away in large chests in the attic and now that I’ve walked up the stairs, opened the door and unlocked the chests, I’ve found a treasure waiting for me. I’m very grateful for this, and more than a little superstitious about talking about it.

What do you like most about writing? What do you like the least?

I love seeing scenes unfold in my mind. I love putting one word after another to describe those scenes. I’m sure there’s an endorphin rush when I get a sentence right. I relish the complex puzzle of knitting together the plot. I enjoy the research to find the one fact that makes a scene ring true.

What do I like the least? Somewhere around the fourth revision, I hate the book. I want to throw it at the wall, burn it, and stuff it into the trash.

But I understand from Winston Churchill that this is normal. “Writing a book is an adventure,” he said. “To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”

That says it all.

When working on a new book, how do you organize your time (research, writing, marketing, etc.)?

When I start a new book, I’m mostly daydreaming—thinking about the idea or a question, like what if you discovered your mother was not your mother? I test the idea to see if it has legs or is only an interesting question.



Characters show up and I start to take notes. Their names change. Their motivations change. They go from having gray to brown eyes. Hair color and features morph. I watch them and see what they’re wearing, how they talk. Their flaws and peculiar genius are revealed. It’s like having invisible friends I can invite to tea and interview.

I see a place in my mind, a setting and I begin to research places that might be like that one. If the setting is local, as with the Lagarde mysteries, I drive around until something catches my eye.

A general scope of the plot develops in my mind and when it gets too detailed for me to remember, I sketch out where I think the story will go. It often doesn’t go where I think it will, however. And I give myself permission to change everything.

I write every day and I do the other tasks required to put a book out into the world but I don’t portion my time for any of it. For me, this is an organic process and I just go with the flow. I enjoy readings, writing guest blogs, answering questions from readers, and doing interviews. But I’m happiest doing the writing, completely alone with the voices in my head.

What is your favourite way to relax and get away from it all?

I paint and draw. I take a class where for three hours, that’s all I do. It cleans my mind. I also read voraciously. A book is as good as a box of chocolates. And I watch TV mysteries.

Please share a favourite writing quote.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” –Toni Morrison

Anything new in the works you would like to promote?

I’m polishing the third Sam Lagarde mystery. This one is titled Lying, Cheating & Occasionally Murder.

When it comes to murder, even brilliant scientists aren’t immune. The night Harold Munson is shot dead in his car on a dark road, Detective Sam Lagarde immediately suspects the man’s brainiac wife. When the next body drops, all signs point to her, but Lagarde doggedly follows the clues until he has his own Eureka moment.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  


No Good Deed Left Undone by Ginny Fite

“He had an itchy feeling, something he had seen 
that his memory had recorded but that he wasn’t 
paying attention to…”

Synopsis -

When a man has everything, he can afford to be generous. Lawyer, philanderer, and horseman Grant Wodehouse is generous to a fault—until he’s stabbed to death with a pitchfork in his barn. The killer could be anyone—his lover’s husband, his troubled son, the homeless guy he lets sleep in his barn, his unscrupulous partner or even his wife.

​Methodical Detective Sam Lagarde doesn’t miss a clue as he questions an ever-growing list of suspects, only to discover the killer has been hiding in plain sight the entire time. Always one step behind the killer, finally Lagarde’s only recourse is one he never wanted to take

Review -

No Good Deed Left Undone is the sixth book by author Ginny Fite and her second murder mystery. The story is set in rural America and the murder victim is a strange character. He is married, but a serious philanderer. Yet few of the females he has bedded think badly of him. He is also known for being generous financially with many, from those he has affairs with to the homeless.

Not all is rosy. Someone decides to run him through with a pitchfork, pinning him to a wall in the barn.  Slowly  a suspect list grows. There is an angry ex-wife, a difficult son, women he jilted and possibly a woman's husband.  While Detective Sam Lagarde and Sergeant Lawrence Black methodically pursue the killer, a second and more violent murder occurs.

The story is told from the viewpoint of several different characters, giving insight to what transpired from a wide range of angles.  And the story line runs in parallel threads - one in the past leading up to the murder and one in the present from the murder forward. Fite blends all these elements seamlessly into one cohesive story that comes together in the last chapter.

A great read.

Buy the Book:  Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author -

Read a great behind the scenes interview HERE!

Ginny Fite is an award-winning journalist who has covered crime, politics, government, healthcare, art and all things human. She's been a spokesperson for a governor and a member of Congress, a few colleges and universities, and a robotics R&D company. She earned degrees from Rutgers University and Johns Hopkins University and studied at the School for Women Healers and the Maryland Poetry Therapy Institute. No Good Deed, published by Black Opal Books in 2015, is her second Sam Lagarde mystery/thriller set in Charles Town, West Virginia.


Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Blanche Macdonald Grad Fashion Show - Neon Dreams 2016

Runway images by Peter Jensen Photography

November 30th, Blanche Macdonald held their annual fashion design grad show at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Called Neon Dreams 2016, the school offered a larger show of 41 students in the afternoon and an edited highlights show featuring 25 students in the evening. Each grad showcased two looks from their collection.

My first Blanche show was in November 2007 and I haven't missed one since. In fact, I never miss a student grad show if possible. These students are in their infancy in the industry, but offer a glimpse into where fashion is headed.  After watching the great looks featured on the runway this evening, I can assure you, the future of fashion is in good hands.

Before every show, Blanche Macdonald offers a chance to view the student portfolios, something I ALWAYS make time for. In addition to seeing how professional their book is, I look closely for those with strong illustrations. As they are just starting out on this career, I feel strong illustrations gives me a glimpse into their creative potential. The lobby area is also set up for guests to mix, mingle and enjoy a drink or bite from a wide selection of tasty offerings.  There are always many industry professionals, friends and former students to catch up with during this time.


When the doors open, there was a rush as everyone tried to snag that perfect view. No worries, The runway was high enough for everyone to see easily no matter where they sat. An additional bonus for VIP's attending was the fabulous gift bag waiting at their seat.

Our emcee this evening was the lovely Jaylene McRae. She has hosted several of these grad shows and always does a wonderful job.  The models sported unusual make-up.  There were bright colours eye colours topped with gloss and strong lips including a bright turquoise. The looks were created by key makeup artist and @BlancheWorld graduate Kelseyanna (@kelseyannaf) who is repped by NOBASURA.  This was perfectly complimented by a lovely side pony from key hairstylist BMC Hair instructor Lisa Callender (@lady_callender)!

With 25 collections being featured, you would expect the show to feel long. Instead the time flew by and we were left wanting more. What stood out for me was the diverse variety of aesthetics. This group of new designers offered a bit of something for everyone.



I found this super fast teaser video on Blanche's Facebook page. It was accompanied by a promise of more videos to come, so be sure to follow their page and check regularly for new postings - https://www.facebook.com/blanchemacdonaldcentre/

As I want to offer my congratulations to each and every student, I decided to include one image from each collections.  I also want to acknowledge this year's award winners

Overall Achievement - Kirsten Ley
Overall Achievement Runner Up - Isabella Stewart
Achievement in Pattern Making - Phebe Menard
Achievement in vvGarment Construction - Josephine Mante
Achievement in Illustration - Natalia Pavanelli
Portfolio Presentation - Natalia Pavanelli
Deisgn - Julian LeClerc
Textile Innovation - Ninon Parent
Eco Design - Gala Peters

= = = =

Spencer Criddle, Andromeda Nelson, Eden Chan, Haley Oh & Mandy Wu


Jontay Kahm, Julian LeClerc, Marcus Quon, Phebe Menard & Gala Peters


Victoria San Gabriel, Ashley Christian, Sheila Young, Lukas Daase & Jordyn Heck


Isabelle Stewart, Kennedy Felt, Josephine Mante, Caitlyn Sio & Graham Hood


Natalia Pavanelli, Maryam Asgari, Ninon Parent, Iman Hassan & Kirsten Ley


For more information
on the fashion programs offered at Blanche Macdonald, go to http://www.blanchemacdonald.com/fashion/

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bloodmoon - Book 3 in the Bloodmark Saga Trilogy by Aurora Whittet

Review of Bloodmark (book 1) - Here!
Review of Bloodrealm (book 2) - Here!

Synopsis

Just months shy of her claiming at Carrowmore and fulfilling a centuries-old prophecy, werewolf Ashling Boru has stepped into her role as the Crimson Queen. She finally has the support of her pack and her love for Grey is stronger than ever.

But it's not easy being queen. Ashling's guardian, Baran, has been captured by the Dvergars, a family of evil wolves who will stop at nothing to possess Ashling's power and destroy everything--and everyone--she loves. Ashling must unite the clans and build an army to stand against the Dvergars before it's too late. Unfortunately, the Dvergars also have armies of the darkest creatures the world has ever known.

Shadows loom, growing ever larger as generations of pack secrets begin to unfold. Ashling's people, the humans they protect, and Old Mother Earth herself all hang in the balance of Ashling's choices. Will Ashling have to forsake her true love to save the world? And will she have the strength to do it? Bloodmoon is the thrilling conclusion to the Bloodmark Saga.

Review - 

Bloodmoon in book 3 in the Bloodmark Saga Trilogy.

At the end of book 2, Werewolf Ashling Boru's beloved protector, Baran, had been captured and left behind in the Bloodrealms where he would be tortured and killed. She was determined to save him, but no one could come up with a plan with even a hope of success. The knowledge of what he must be going through weighed heavily.

Also, her 18th birthday was drawing near, a time of the Bloodmoon were she had to accept a suitor and fulfill the prophecy of uniting the packs and leading them into a new era of peace.  There are many werewolves with evil intentions who want to claim Ashling's power to use for their own purposes.

At the Bloodmoon, the Triple Goddess - the Mother, the Maiden (Ashling) and the Crone - must come together and stand witness at the sacred site. Here, as the moon turns blood red, Ashling must declare the suitor she accepts that will join her in bringing a new area of peace with humans and werewolves, reconnecting all with Old Mother.  If she chooses wrong, evil will reign supreme. The question Ashling has to answer is if Grey is the werewolf foretold in the prophecy who would be at her side. If not, would she be able to give up her true love to save the world

First,  Ashling must find the Mother and the Crone. Who are they and how can she reach them?  And at the same time she must find a way to rescue Baran from the Bloodrealm. Time is running out and the answers are proving illusive.

​Buy the book: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble



Meet the Author 

Great behind the scenes author interview - HERE!

Aurora Whittet started out as a wild red-haired girl in Minnesota dreaming up stories for her friends to read. Mama’s Knight: A Cancer Story of Love is just the latest in a string of acclaimed works. Her first official writing endeavor became The Bloodmark Saga, featuring a werewolf princess-turned-ruler who falls in love with a human boy. Her first novel in the Bloodmark Saga, Bloodmark, came out in 2013, followed by Bloodrealms in 2014 and the final book Bloodmoon in 2016.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

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