The New Conflict Thesaurus Silver Edition Writing Guide Is Here!

I always get a bit excited when a book I’m waiting for releases, so it’s great to finally share that The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggle (Vol. 2) is now out!

This SILVER EDITION is the twin of the GOLD EDITION, and continues to explore all the ways we can better leverage the conflict in our story.

If you are new to these “thesaurus” books, each one is part writing guide, part brainstorming tool.

The first part of this book dives into how conflict powers your plot and is the golden threat that weaves your inner and outer stories together. It also digs into how to craft great villain clashes, character agency, how to maximize tension, what goes into a satisfying story climax, and more.

The second part of the guide is a mother lode of conflict scenarios (115 to be exact) built to get your imagination thrumming with ideas. You must see it to believe it.

I’m part of Angela & Becca’s Street Team, and I have news:

Writers Helping Writers is hosting a Writing Contest!

A book about conflict needs a FIGHT CLUB Story Contest, right? Exactly! So if you want to show Angela & Becca how good your conflict-writing skills are, check out this contest and see what you can win.



Angela and Becca are also hosting a must-enter giveaway. They’ve filled a vault full of their favorite writing books and are giving away some digital 5-packs, winner’s choice!

So much fun. Make sure to head over and enter, and good luck!

Magic, The Paranormal

The Magic of Sensory Memory

This month I’ve been thinking about – and experiencing – the magic of sensory memory. Have you ever smelled something that reminds you strongly of a particular memory, or perhaps a person? Maybe tasted something that reminds you vividly of an experience?

I referenced the idea of this in my book Must Love Death, and I have been experiencing it like crazy with the scent of a particular face cleanser. It reminds me of my paternal grandmother, but the strangest part is: I don’t know why! Even so, the scent of it brings me back to summers at her house, the sound of foghorns and the beauty of British Columbia with incredible intensity. Have you ever had that happen?

I’ve had it happen more often with sensory memory when I relate it to something that I’m aware of. For instance, in Must Love Death, I reference both of my grandmothers. The scent of cinnamon gum always reminds me of my paternal grandmother and at least this time I know why. She always had some one her, and seemed to always have some in her purse too. I have an old wallet of hers and to this day, it still smells of cinnamon gum. I like to open it sometimes just to remember her laugh.

For my other grandmother, the sensory memory is more related to taste. Whenever I have anything related to rhubarb, fresh raspberries, and especially Angel food cake which was one of her favourite things to make, I can’t help but think of her. I have a special rhubarb tea that I always save for the days when I just really want to feel her. Oddly enough, I was never able to share it with her, so I wonder if she would have liked it. She was sure to always have a pot of tea ready, and usually some treats too whenever anybody came by.

Have you ever had that experience? The magic of being reminded of someone who maybe is no longer with us, but who in that moment, as we experience that sense and that memory that’s associated with it, it’s almost like we feel their presence too? I’d love to hear your story if you have one.:)

Otherwise, I hope you have a wonderful July, and here’s to always being able to find the magic in the ordinary world.

News and author-stuff, Writing

The Agony of “Almost There”

You know when you stand at the base of something big, and you’re prepared to start, like a trek up your own personal mountain? You probably prepared to get there. You’ve done the work ahead of time. And there’s a certain energy and excitement about getting started.

Nothing like the agony of when you were almost to the top, mental and physical muscles screaming. Exhaustion weighing you down. So, so close. But you’re not quite done.

That’s about where I am right now.  Actually, I’m there pretty much on two different books. Both the miniature nonfiction book, and a new Shades book (Shade to Measure.) Both of them have taken far, far longer than expected. The miniature book I expected would take longer, since there’s a huge learning curve with it. But the fiction one… This book has definitely been a challenge.

So there you are… That “almost there” point. It was the same when I was so close to publication or when you can see the finish line… but you don’t think you can run those last few steps. I think the “almost there” point is so much harder than most other parts of any challenge because you can see how close you are to finishing! You can practically taste it. And yet…

And yet…

You are definitely not yet done. And you certainly don’t have the same enthusiasm and energy you had when you first started the project. Instead, you just soldier, trying to focus on the top, trying to focus on that final step. And I think you end up getting back into the whole “one step at a time“ because it’s the only way you can keep moving forward. It is agony.  You know that there will be satisfaction at the end… You just aren’t there yet.

But remember: you’re also not alone. I’m certain that I’m not alone in feeling that the “almost there” agony is far worse than most other steps. There are also many “almost there” points in most projects and careers. Because there’s always something ahead, some new peak, some new goal to reach for and conquer.

Anyway, that’s about where I am right now.

What do you think? Do you think it’s easier to start a project, with the whole thing laying out in front of you? Or when you’re that close to the end?

As always, I love hearing from you. And I’m always cheering for you too. 🙂

Magic, Miniatures, News and author-stuff

Some March Magic

One of the ways that I find joy – and the magic I wanted to share this month – is in my craft room. Specifically with my miniatures. I love miniatures – looking at them, making them, dreaming of new ones, talking too much about them… I work in two scales. 1/12 scale, which means every 1″ in the dollhouse = 1 foot in the “real” world. And in 1/4 scale, where every 1/4″ = 1 foot, making the projects a whole lot smaller. I discovered 3D design about two years ago, and I enjoy using that and basically whatever I have at hand to create my minis. Recently I’ve started what I’ve only belatedly realized is a small town. Not exactly sure how big it will get, but it is fun getting to create little shops and imagine the unusual people and creatures who might be living there. If you’re interested, I’m happy to share more photos as I continue progress and eventually get more of my minis up on a section of my website as well.

Where do you find your joy and magic these days? Or any suggestions for my mini-town? I’m sharing photos of what will be the green grocers (La Bonne Pomme) attached to the post office, and I already have the building started for the Toy Store.

My laughs this month have come from and with my mom and my aunt. My mom and I go at least once a week into the city to visit my aunt. My aunt is a Craft Goddess (seriously…very deserving of the capitalization.) My mom and I – and most people – see something one day and think, gee, that’d be fun to make someday. My aunt, meanwhile, has gone home and already made three! And probably fine-tuned her design. Since all of us have crafting in common, we decided on our visits to start playing with crepe paper flowers, following various YouTube videos. Well, halfway through the visit, my aunt basically had hers done. I was done one of my two flowers…and my poor mom was still just cutting hers out! Mom and I joked that we’d bring wine next time, a lot of wine, to slow my aunt down…and then send her in the kitchen so we could pull our completed project out of our bags so we’d have some chance of keeping up. 😉 We were all laughing so hard – and have to say, that definitely slowed my aunt down so I could catch up. 😉

Anyway, before I go, I have one more thing to tell you about. I have another giveaway opportunity to share with you.

If you love fairy tales like I do, enter to win this ultimate prize pack. Follow some amazing authors across the web and enter to win Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen, A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair, Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, and House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland, plus a double-sided Circe bookmark, a Medusa enamel pin, Raven book sleeve, Atlantis candle, and an Athena laptop sticker! Click this link to enter. https://clcannon.net/2022/02/16/mythsandlegends 

I loved Norse Mythology so much, I have it both as audiobook and paperback. So good, and a fun read too. Plus, here’s your chance to discover some great new-to-you authors. Total win. 🙂

That’s it for me this month. As always, I love hearing from you, so just reply to this email if you have anything to say. Otherwise, wishing you a great month ahead, and always the ability to find the joy and magic in your life.


February Magic!

You know what I find magical? Birthdays! My Dad always gave me grief as a kid for decorating for my birthday about a month ahead, LOL! While I don’t enjoy them quite as much now (they’re just not as fun as a grown up!) we have an almost double-birthday this month. My eldest daughter and my dad’s birthdays are just four days apart (my daughter was supposed to have been born on his birthday…but apparently she had her own ideas.) I find it fascinating some of the similarities between them as Aquarius babies. Do you think the day that you’re born is part of what determines who and what you’ll be?

Years ago, by chance, my husband and I came upon this book, The Element Encyclopedia of Birthdays. Looking up the birthdays of those we knew, we were rather surprised to find some of the personality similarities in those we knew listed according to their birthday! I think my husband was the most surprised, since he’s definitely a skeptic when it comes to things like horoscopes and predictions.

Each of the birthdays is also given a name, a greatest challenge, a dark side and what that person is at their best. Mine is “the birthday of expectation” and even I was surprised and laughed a little to find that my greatest challenge is listed as “knowing how to relax.” Why is this amusing? Because I forgot about the reminder – but definitely didn’t forget that it’s still a challenge, LOL! There are a lot of other elements though that definitely fit who I am.

What about you? Do you think that the day you’re born has any influence on your personality or who you are?

News and author-stuff, Writing

Finding Joy Amidst the January Blahs

We are well into the January and mid-winter “Blechs,” aren’t we?

I think this year it’s feeling worse for probably almost all of us since there’s the usual dull-dark of January – especially if, like me, you live in the northern hemisphere with snow and generally less light and sun at this time of year – but this year brings us still more special stresses, doesn’t it? With Omnicron and the news, etc, etc.

It’s started to feel like there’s a lot of “etc, etc” isn’t there? As in, just when we start to feel more positive about things, there’s something else. Granted, I think the media generally latches onto that “something else” as newsworthy, so perhaps it gets more attention, but nonetheless… there it is.

I hope whatever you’re doing, you’re doing something that’s helping you find some joy and light in these dark days. You deserve it.

Me? I’ve been writing, or in some cases, writing about writing. 😉 I’ve been working on Shade to Measure, the second full-length Shades of Beckwell book. This one is about Ash and Jessie, princes and female-owned-and-led construction firms. And, as I’ve recently discovered, music and sound. I often wish that I’d figure out some of these strange extra details BEFORE finding myself well into the book and sometimes a bit lost… but sometimes the draft just doesn’t work out that way.

I’ve also been crafting, mostly making miniatures still for my craft of choice. After finishing Santa’s House in December, I’ve been working on a grocer’s and connected post office, all still in quarter scale. I’ve decided to start making what will amount to a little town, which I think is kind of the direction I’ve been thinking since the start – as in, all of these buildings / structures while not obviously connected, are part of the same magical world. Kind of like my writing is, I suppose. It’s been interesting, and I’m getting a little closer every day to more assembly.

Next up (and a 3D file from a company called Infinite Dimensions) is a full, five story medieval hotel! I’ve been drooling over that building for awhile, and while some people might say 3D printing is cheating, I’d compare it more to getting a kit. Yes, the walls and floors are attached, and each floor is broken into 4 pieces. It still needs to be prepared with sanding / primer, etc before it’s painted and then fully decorated and furnished. That’s how most 3D printed objects are, both the ones you purchase and the ones I design: while yes, the 3D printer helps manufacture the actual object, it’s just another tool that helps bring it into being – BUT the work isn’t just done at that point. I adore my little 3D printer and I’ve come to enjoy learning 3D design too (on a simplistic scale at this point, but still.) It feels a bit like something between sculpting and drawing, so I really enjoy it. Therefore, I’m a bit defensive when it comes to anyone calling it “cheating” or “simplistic.” I challenge them to actually try to do all of those things and experience what it’s actually like. But, I’ll get off my soapbox before I really get into it. 🙂

The other light I’ve been finding in the dark is reading.

I read a great book called The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig. Officially classified as horror, it’s twisty, mysterious, at times creepy…but ends on such a hopeful, optimistic note, that in itself was quite a feat. Plus, this is the first book I’ve really felt sucked into for a long time, so if you have a chance to read it, I highly recommend you give it a try. The paperback edition is on its way (I read the big old hardcover that I was lucky enough to get for Christmas.) 🙂

Anyway, that’s pretty much been the sum of my January. Writing, reading, and crafting are my light in the dark. I hope you’ve been able to find light and hope for you, too.

Take care, and as always, I wish you the joy and ability to find the magic in our everyday world.

Sincerely, Shelly

News and author-stuff, Writing

We made it!

Well, we made it to December and the end of the year – hooray!! While this year may not have had quite the sticker-shock that 2020 did, I still wouldn’t give it a five star rating, would you? Sometimes that’s made it a lot harder to see the magic and humor in our world. But it’s still there, whether we’re able to see it or not.

And now here we are, barrelling into the holiday season (which I always picture somewhat like a trip in a barrel down Niagra Falls. Just me? 😉 ) Now that I have kids, I find this month more stressful than ever, what with the school’s never-ending list of “fun activities for parents to discover 15 minutes before the bus arrives.” 😉 But I also do it to myself, applying pressure to somehow keep a work and production schedule as though this were just any other month that didn’t include extra social activities, baking, everything-else-ing. And honestly, I love the holidays. It was one of my grandma’s favorite holidays too, and that’s where the magic is.

When I bring out all the Christmas decorations that seem to accumulate with a life of their own, I don’t just see the little shiny red ornament. I remember that red apple the year Grandma decorated her whole tree exclusively in them. I remember the excitement of Christmas when I was a kid, whether that was the weeks leading up to it – yes, probably enjoying those school activities. Or, eating waxy cheap advent calendar chocolates that tasted extra good with each growing number. I hold onto the wonder and memories of Christmas Eve, out with my family and visiting my great-aunt, often with both sides of the family there, a crazy fun evening of food and laughter and drinks. Every ornament, every holiday brings back those ghosts of the past, hanging around and over us for better or for worse. There’s something magical in those echoes of past laughter and memories, as though they’re all gathered around us, helping us celebrate the current holiday simultaneous with the past.

That’s the kind of magic I want to bring my girls every holiday season. That’s why I’ll plan our advent calendar full of activities like decorating stockings for the new kitties, or going out to see the lights, or wrapping gifts. These are the memories that I hope bring them that sense of magic and wonder in the years to come, maybe many years from now, as they still do for me.

Of course, the holidays can also bring back the not-so-good memories too. The stress, the anxiety, the depression that many fall into, some of it having to do with the holidays, some of it with the ending of the year. Which is why I think being able to see that humor and magic becomes both harder and more essential. I have two things for you that I hope might help.

First, an early gift for you! Here’s a printable adult coloring book (click here to download yours) that I made with images and quotes related to Shade for Love. If you color any of them, please share – I’d love to see them! I also hope that in even a small way, they give you that moment of quiet and peace you deserve.

I’m also sharing a picture of our own personal “tree-cat” in hopes he offers you a smile. Cats and decorations can be a fairly catastophic combo, can’t they? This year I suspected that would be the case, especially with three kittens, so I stuck strictly with plastic ornaments. I hadn’t expected that a) one of the kittens would literally knock the ornaments out of my hands and off the branch as I tried to hang it, LOL! or b) that another of the kittens would attempt to curl up and sleep IN the tree. That’s Loki, and yes, he is VERY aptly named. 😉 If the tree goes down, you know who’s name I’m probably shouting. 😉

Anyway, as we end this year, I just wanted to thank you so much for joining me here. I wish you and yours all the best this holiday season, whichever holidays you may celebrate, and here’s to a very wonderful year ahead in 2022! See you then.

News and author-stuff, Writing

Can you believe it’s November??

Can you believe that it’s almost December? I’m having a hard time even considering it – or that the year is almost over. Yet on Monday we received a big reminder of what time of year it is: SNOW! And yes, it deserves excess capitals because there was a lot of it!

For the most part, I confess I’m not the biggest fan of the white stuff. But there is something magic about it, especially that hushed quiet of the first real snowstorm of the year, as everything is blanketed in white, tucked in until, in many cases, spring arrives.

I’m trying to focus on the magic part of it, and not the having to drive in it part (although did that yesterday too – whoo-boy, that wasn’t fun!) I’m trying to see it the way my girls do, so excited that today was the first Snow Day of the year since buses were cancelled. Or maybe to look at it with wonder the way that our young kittens, who’ve never seen a winter before, look in wonder at the white fluffiness coming down from the sky. I wonder what they see – or what they think it is.

Maybe that’s where the magic of it lies. In looking at it with different eyes that are less jaded by having driven or been stuck in it one too many times. Instead, seeing it as this magical unknown delight, like a kitten or very young child would. Or like my girls are looking it: all about the possibility of getting out and playing in it. Maybe for most of our experiences that’s where the magic is.

What do you think?

Other than (occasionally) staring out the window at the snow, I’ve been working on book two in the Shades series, Shade to Measure. So I’ve been thinking about sirens, and gender-reversal fun, and a women-owned-and-run construction company. Fortunately, my husband has been in construction for some time now, so I have a ready source of information should I need it. 🙂

I’ve also been getting ready for the holidays, which seem to be sneaking up quicker than anything, and this year I’d like to just enjoy it instead of only seeing the stressful part. There’s so much holiday magic too, with memories and gatherings and rituals… but I think I’ll save that for next month’s post.

And if you’re looking for a book set during the winter to shiver along with (the furnace never seems to kick in enough when temperatures are still supposedly “mild” in fall / shoulder seasons!), check out Must Love Death. I know, it sounds kind of dark – and parts of it definitely are – but it is at its core hopeful and full of both love and loss, since I was experiencing them both while writing it. There’s also plenty of humor, as this Death has an attitude and isn’t afraid to use it. 😉

As always, I love hearing from you – please comment or drop me a message. 🙂 Until next time, may your toes stay warm, and may you too be able to find the magic in your everyday world.

News and author-stuff, Writing

Welcome Shade for Love!

Yay! I can finally say that the Shades are really out in the world. 🙂


This series has been a long time coming. If you’ve been around for awhile, you might have seen promises of the Shades of Beckwell back in 2019. Which was when it would have appeared, except… life. I am definitely a “planner” – I love checking off boxes and scheduling things. But with a combination of factors, 2019  – and the of course, 2020 as many people experienced – became swallowed by a void of “well that didn’t go to plan!”

Here, long at last, we have Shade for Love. Plus, since I felt I owed readers for having to wait for so long, two novellas as well! That’s the plan for this series, to alternate longer books – like Shade for Love – with shorter pieces, like Alchemy and Trolled. It means you get more content more frequently, and I’ve found that I love the variety of getting to play with these shorter stories. Plus, more stories! The shorter pieces focus (so far at least) on characters that might be a bit outside the central story line, kind of a “what else is happening while the world is ending?” kind of pieces, and some alternative perspectives. It also allows me to flesh out and play in the world of Beckwell, and I hope you enjoy them as well.

Click here to find the buy links for Shade for Love.

Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? You can sign up here. That’s how you get a hold of Alchemy. 🙂

Did you know that I also love hearing from readers? You can always reach me here, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the books, the characters – and maybe who you think MUST get their own story. Trust me, there are lots in the works!

Thank you for celebrating with me today. Here’s the full cover for Shade for Love, and I look forward to touching base with you here again soon. Until then, wishing you a wonderful week and the ability to find the everyday magic in your world.

Sincerely, Shelly

News and author-stuff, Writing

The Shades Series is finally here!

With the release of the novella Trolled today, the Shades of Beckwell series has finally entered the world!

Just why is this so exciting you ask? Well (and here, picturing me looking a bit sheepish), the series was supposed to come out back in 2019. But, for lots of reasons (among them burnout) that didn’t happen. Then there was those little speed bumps otherwise known as the pandemic and 2020… (insert *eyeroll*)

BUT, we are finally there!

Where did this idea come from?

I always knew that the magical town of Beckwell was bigger than what I could explore in just the Sisters series. The Seniors Center in particular became a place that amused me and many readers.

Then three things in particular happened that created THIS series.

First: at an author reading for my very first published book, Must Love Plague, there was a lovely gentleman who I don’t think had intended to be there for the reading at the library… but since there was an event and a small audience, felt almost obligated to attend (he said he’d give the book that he then also bought, sweet man, to his daughter.) But he also said something about how he’d seen someone and commented to his wife “look at that guy. He’s just so old.” And his wife reminded him they were pretty much the same age, and he’d thought how strange it is to look in the mirror one day and realize you’re not as young as you feel anymore… yet you’re still you.

Second: when visiting my great-uncle in Minnedosa, Manitoba (that’s two provinces east here in Canada), he took us to meet his men’s supper club, the AOTS, a church group who did good things for their community, like hold pancake breakfasts, support activities at the local school. Women were rarely allowed at these dinners, where they’d take turns cooking the dinner and cleaning up, then enjoy the evening together, teasing each other and making comments as only a group of friends who’ve known and cared for each other for a long way can. Most of them were retired, but still very active in caring for their community.

And finally, then I lost my own beloved grandfather, a man who I saw at least once a week every week, pretty much all my life. Grandpa was a man with a twinkle in his eye when he’d tell a story that inevitably had a joke or a twist. He was always there to play, actively be part of our lives, even getting down on the ground to play with my own children, no matter how difficult it was for him to do so. He’d hold the baby dolls, listen to the stories, let my youngest hold his hand to make sure she didn’t fall. There is rarely a day that I don’t miss him.

And from all of this, the Shades were born.

I wanted to ask the question: what does it mean to age, especially when so often, as we get older somehow it’s like we’re no longer the same capable people we always were? When our bodies can betray us… yet our minds and our soul are still fully present, want to still be the same person we’ve always been?

I wanted to recreate those friendships and bonds, that gentle teasing between men who have known each other so long, they’ve been through good times and bad. But they are still there for each other, still determined to make a difference.

And I wanted to honor Grandpa. A man with a twinkle in his eye, a plan, and sometimes a plot. 🙂 Who never let his age stop him from helping in ways he felt necessary, who was sometimes frustrated by the limitations age attempted to place on him… but who loved well and loved hard, and always made a difference.

I hope you enjoy this series and this world as much as I have returning to it.

And I hope I always portray the men who make up my Shades with the dignity and love that inspired them.

Thanks for reading, please do tell me who inspires you to make a difference, and as always, I hope you find the magic in your day today.