Keeping Dreams Alive

When a friend of mine became a grandmother she loved to tell stories to her grandchildren. In fact she even she tape-recorded some of them. Her family thought she should try and have her work published. With a bit of encouragement, she wrote a few of her stories down. Another friend offered to type them up since she didn’t own a typewriter. While she admitted that she loved creating stories, and dared to dream of being a published author one day, over time she managed to convince herself that it wasn’t worth her time trying.

Let’s face it, not all of us were encouraged to express ourselves creatively when we were growing up. If we spent too much time writing or painting it took time away from something “more important.” Pursuing the arts was, considered by some, to be self-indulgent. After all it’s not something necessary for our survival and realistic people measure the world in practicalities.

Some might say:

It’s just a passing fancy,

a notion that holds no substance,

a complete and utter waste of our precious time.

Those are the ideas that often hold us back, that squash our dreams before we are able to get them off the ground.

We allow our fears to prevent us from even trying.

—I’m not good enough. I’m too old.

I know that my friend would have found rejection very difficult. And let’s face it, as writers, we’re all going have our share of rejections. But I’m convinced that it’s better to suffer the disappointment of rejection than to spend our days thinking about the “if onlys”.

We won’t always succeed at everything we do. But if we try enough things we’ll eventually succeed at something. It might take a bit of time to find out what that something is, but the yearning to try can eat away at us if we give up before we ever have the courage to get started.

Although publication was a dream my friend had for herself, she lacked both confidence and courage. Still, she rarely missed an opportunity to encourage me. I’ve always been grateful for her little notes of encouragement, in her faith in me to one day have a published book, faith that I did not always have in myself.

A few years back my friend passed away.

How I wish she’d had the courage to pursue her dream.

The “Bitter, Sweet” Give Away!!!

Hooray for March! I love the month of March. March is filled with promise.

The air has that spring-like quality to it, and it won’t be long before the crocuses are poking their way out through the ground. Nothing says spring is here than the sight of crocuses.

SO to celebrate spring and the release of Bitter, Sweet in the US this month, (that’s right! Bitter, Sweet will soon be available in the US at the end of March! Pretty exciting. Don’t your think?) I’ve decided to give away an autographed copy of my novel. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post between now and March 31st. And to prove that I’m more sweet than bitter (I know, that was a truly bad one.) if you’re one of those folks who are simply too shy to leave a comment for everyone to see (I know who you all are. I have the emails to prove it), just click on the “contact me” tab, send along your name and I’ll enter you into the draw, as well. See, I really am sweet.

On April 1st if I draw your name I’ll be in touch to get your mailing info if I don’t already have it!

Pretty darn easy!

PS:

If you want to make this fun, you could use Bitter, Sweet in your comment or simply Bitter or Sweet because I’m not fussy! Just so you know though, it won’t increase your chances of winning but it might make for some entertaining comments for the rest of us.

Keep Out!—-New Book by Hélène Boudreau

Apparently the newest way for an author to promote his/her book is through a book trailer. I’ll admit I’ve heard of them but never actually watched one until this evening.

For anyone interested in seeing a book trailer, slip on over to Hélène Boudreau’s blog to get a look at the trailer she put together for Keep Out! her illustrated early chapter book ( ages 6-9)  due to be released this April from Nimbus Publishing. It is the first book in the Red Dune Adventure series.

While you’re there you’ll get to know a bit more about Hélène and her work.

Hélène’s middle reader, Acadian Star, 2008 (Nimbus Publishing) has been nominated for the 2010 Hackmatack Award. She is also the author of several non –fiction books and has a tween novel titled, “Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings” due to be released in the fall. But you’ll see all that when you visit her site.

Congrats, Hélène, to all your success. You’ve earned it!

What To Do With Those Pointless Scenes

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. ——–Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I have to admit I really do believe in the above words. Mind you, I might not always like admitting that everything in life has a purpose especially those times when I’m not so happy with the way things are going. Still, I try and concentrate on the end result during those times and not necessarily the process. As humans we’re like that. When things are going along smoothly we’re on top of the world, life couldn’t get much better. We’re brimming with happiness, smiling at the world, and spinning on our toes while doing so.

For a writer, it’s much like finding just the right story line, the proper voice, and off we go making words, sentences and paragraphs, spinning our magnificent tales for the whole world to read. When words are flowing, nothing could be better.

But then we bump up against something we hadn’t anticipated and the words rapidly grow stale, our sudden burst of happiness falls flat. We wake up one morning only to discover that wonderful plot line isn’t nearly as wonderful as we initially thought.

Not surprisingly, the moment life becomes uncomfortable we’re complaining and griping. Okay, just so you know, I do my share of griping and complaining. I won’t pretend I don’t. Just because you don’t hear me doesn’t mean I don’t have my moments. Just ask my husband. Hmmm…. on second thought, maybe not.

Eventually we get tired of hearing ourselves complain. Complaining is a useless commodity. Not to mention that those around us start tearing off in the opposite direction the moment they see us coming. (And who can blame them. Right?)

So we can either fix what’s not working or cut it loose from our lives.

The same is true for those ineffective storylines, those once glorious magnificent scenes, those delightful words that initially made our heads spin—(who knew we were that clever?) If it’s just not working, those sentences, paragraphs, pages, need to be chopped either by you or by your editor. Ouch!

And guess what? No amount of griping and complaining over those cut scenes will make it feel any less painful.

I often need to remind myself that everything in life has a purpose, the same way that every scene in a novel must have a purpose, a reason for it being there in the first place.

Today, I am considering the purpose of some earlier scenes I have written and yes, I’m prepared to have them removed if need be. I’ll rearrange my character’s life and start all over if I must. My character has a strong voice; she’ll let me know what needs to be said, what parts of her story need to be written. It might take me awhile to sift through her life but I’ll eventually weed out any of those unnecessary scenes. I’ll make it to the heart of the story.

If only real life were that simple.

So, here are some really tough questions. If you could, would you rewrite you own life’s story? Would you cut out the pointless scenes? add a few extra scenes? Or, do you accept what Elisabeth Krubler-Ross had to say, that everything in life has a purpose?

The New Nimbus Anthology

The new cover for the upcoming Nimbus anthology, Country Roads: Memoirs from Rural Canada has been finalized. So as promised, I’m letting you all have a gander–or should I say chicken?

The anthology includes pieces from over thirty different contributors, including yours truly, and was edited by Pam Chamberlain.

Just so you know, it will be available this coming May. That’s only two months from now!  Pretty cool!

By the way, if you want to see the various stages the book cover went through, and exactly what goes into such a decision, just click on the Nimbus link. While you’re there you can also enter to win a copy of Atlantic Canada’s Top 100 Books. Good luck!!

In Search of the Gap

Have you been into “the gap” lately?

Nope, I’m not talking about the clothing company. I’m talking about “the gap”— the space between our thoughts.

Sounds a bit complicated, doesn’t it? The space between our thoughts? Imagine that!

We all have chatter in our heads. Don’t try to deny it. We talk to ourselves, to the person who ticked us off two days ago, heck we even have conversations with people we haven’t seen in years— you know, the ones who did us some injustice, or else behaved in a way that was totally annoying and frustrating and WRONG. We go back and have imaginary conversations with them because you never know, we might just find those magical words that will set everything right again. Sound familiar? A bit silly when I put it that way but isn’t that exactly what we do sometimes?

I just found out that the average person has 60,000 thoughts in one day (Gee, I wonder how they go about measuring this?) With that many thoughts rolling around our minds, you can be sure we’re thinking many of the same thoughts over and over, much of it quite negative. Our minds are indeed very busy.

Recently, I picked up a copy of Wayne Dyer’s book on meditation called, “Getting into the Gap.”

This morning I listened to the CD, eyes closed, and peacefully followed along. Even then, I couldn’t seem to keep the thoughts from sifting through. I’ll admit, it was my first time with the CD and I didn’t expect it to be a breeze. I’ve tried meditation in the past but with out much success. My thoughts would drift off and I’d forget for the moment what I was attempting. I usually ended up bored and thinking about the ton of work I had to do that wasn’t getting done. But darn it all, meditation is good for us. It helps reduce stress and fatigue; helps with memory, some people even use it as a form of healing. Now that I think about it, mediation is one of those things I’ve never heard anything negative about. It’s all good!

Wayne Dyer says that within the space where we have no thoughts all creativity takes place. Good news for this writer! I’m all for tapping into my creativity, hauling it out of those empty spaces and getting it down on paper. Sounds SO easy.

Now that I have my trusty CD to walk me through it, I’m hopeful that I’ll be making it into “the gap” on a regular basis. It doesn’t take that long and I figure the least I can do is spare myself fifteen minutes a day. Not sure how long it will take me to catch on but I’m sure going to work at it.

I’m wondering now, how many of you meditate, or have tried it in the past? I’d like to hear your experience. Do you think it encourages creativity and if it did would you be willing to give it a try?

From Fact into Fiction

In 2005 I wrote a short history of the Anglican Church here in East Dalhousie for our 100th Anniversary celebration. Little did I know, at the time, I’d be using that very same history when it came time to write a book. Once I realized that Bitter, Sweet would be set in East Dalhousie, I simply couldn’t resist.

So if you have read the book and was wondering, the original frame for the church really did blow down in a windstorm, and was then torn down by a bunch of drunken lumbermen. (Gosh, I love that part. So colourful, don’t you think?)

To show how determined the folks in Dalhousie were, and how passionately they felt about erecting this church, it took them nearly forty years to complete, with some major setbacks. I’m not altogether sure you’d see that determination today but maybe the folks back then were used to working hard and staying true to what they believed in.

Today I was thinking about how we often encounter setbacks in life. We set our goals, stay determined and yet everything does not always unfold in a timely manner. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps the journey is more important than the actually goals we set.

When I think about St. Cyprian’s I don’t just see a white building. It is so much more than that. It is the people who worked hand in hand to complete the church, all of those who came before me and those who will come after. History is like that. It tells us who we are and where we came from. It helps us to decide what is important in life, not by keeping us stuck in the past, but by giving us a sense of belonging.

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