Endless Possibilities

A post over on Becky Levine’s blog yesterday titled, This Year’s Xmas Present, where she writes about a Christmas gift she received from her son, served as a great reminder to me that the world is filled with endless possibilities. Some days we need these reminders more than others.

With the New Year coming I like the idea that there are 365 days of possibilities just waiting to happen. I love it when something suddenly shows up in our lives to surprise and delight us, something that comes to us right out of the blue without expectation. If we can imagine it, then it has the potential to show up in our lives. I really like that thought.

Last year I made a list of New Year’s Intentions rather than resolutions. Resolutions are notorious for being broken shortly after they’ve been made. It’s as if we’re trying to bully ourselves into doing something or else.

Early in the New Year I intend to go back over my list, check off the intentions that became reality for me, and see which one I want to add to my list for the coming year. Not only do I use my list to dream big, but I always make sure to add smaller things as well. That way when I reflect back over the past year I find myself inspired by all that has come into my life. I am able to look at this list of intentions with gratitude for all that is, rather than reflecting upon what might be lacking. My system might not be perfect but it works for me.

As we head into a New Year may you be open to allowing a steady stream of endless possibilities into your life.

Happy New Year!

Book Give Away

Just a quick post to mention that there are links on Helene Boudreau’s blog today giving us all a chance to win her brand new YA novel, Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toes Rings.

Remember back in July when I blogged about meeting Helene at her book signing for Keep Out! in my post: Three is the Lucky Number? Well, Helene has another book out that seems to be making quite a splash and so far as I’m concerned it couldn’t happen to a nicer person!

I know you’re thinking, but I never win anything, right? I thought the same thing until I won two books by entering a contest earlier this year.

So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to Helene’s blog and start clicking those links—Here’s your chance.

Stormy Weather

No snow for Christmas this year in Nova Scotia, and yet it didn’t make it feel any less like Christmas. My children were all able to make it home because of the good travelling conditions, and we’re having a glorious week so far with Miss Charlotte and Mel.

When I was growing up, no snow for Christmas would have been totally unheard of. I can’t seem to recall a single Christmas when weren’t buried in tons of snow.

But, as you can see, here it is three days later and it’s a totally different story. Oh we’ve got snow all right. No worries about that. The older I become the less fond I am of snow. I’ll agree it’s pretty to look at, and I’ll even admit there’s something appealing about sitting inside the house while a snowstorm is raging outside. There is this feeling of closeness that makes me feel safe and content. It’s a great time to curl up with a book or work on a story. I find storms—snow, rain, and wind— to be rather inspiring. The thought of people travelling out on the snowy, icy roads is the real reason why I don’t like the snow.

As I watch the snow still accumulating outside, I realize how anxious I am to get back to reading and writing in the New Year. I have some books to read by some friends I met online this year. One is a suspense thriller by Joylene Butler (Mum is reading it right now and she’s been raving about it!) another is a MG by Darlene Foster, a fellow contributor to the Country Roads Anthology. I’m sure I’ll be mentioning these books on my blog later in January.

The receipt of a gift certificate for the local bookstore will ensure that I’ll be making a book purchase sometime very soon in the New Year. Any suggestions of what book I should buy?

So while there’s nothing I can do about the winter weather outside, there’s plenty I can do to enjoy these cold, dark days of winter.

Anything exciting on your to be read list for the New Year?

Merry Christmas

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.

—–EDITH WHARTON

May you spread light to all you encounter this holiday season.

To my family and all my friends — “real” and cyber— have a wonderfully, joy-filled Christmas.

Memory Makers

I love sending out Christmas cards every year. More than sending them out, I love it when they arrive in the mailbox. With anticipation I open them, savouring the little messages the sender has written inside.

Several years back, I began saving the cards, placing them inside the Christmas box when we dismantle the tree, and I’ve been saving them ever since. Off they go for another year to the attic, forgotten until next year rolls around. When it comes time to decorate the tree, I take out the cards and read the little messages inside. Today, I came across a card that an elderly friend had sent me several years back. Sadly, she’s no longer with us, but her little message still warmed my heart and brought the memories of her warmth and kindness back to me.

Today I received a card from Pam Chamberlain, the editor of the Country Roads Anthology. Along with her thanks for my participation in the anthology, there was a little note letting all the contributors know that Nimbus has plans of printing more copies of the anthology when April rolls around. Yay Pam!

Next year when I take my cards out of the Christmas box I’ll come across Pam’s card and the memory of the time spent working on the anthology with her will become another fond memory for me to look back on.

Pam has now started a site of her own, and is preparing to put together another anthology. You can find her here.

Congrats Pam, not only has your hard work been instrumental in your success, but your talent, kindness and determination to keep going. Best of luck with your next project. You can be sure that I’ll be thinking of you each Christmas when I take out my collection of cards.

Those Tiny Details

Each year my mum hosts a family potluck at her home before Christmas. So far the weather has always cooperated and she’s never had to cancel. We have lots of great food and plenty of laughter. This weekend was no exception. There were twenty-one of us there, and in Mum’s small house it made for a LOT of people.

Although Mum looks forward to the potluck each year, it also ends up being very stressful for her. I have yet to figure out why she allows worry to overshadow what should be an enjoyable occasion. She worries that there won’t be enough food to go around or that someone will notice that her floor needs to be swept (even though she will sweep them several times that day) or heaven forbid, she might have forgotten something crucial, like napkins, and we might have to improvise and use paper towel. She wants everything to be perfect.

Here I am with Mum, my sisters, and brother. You have no idea how difficult it was to get a few family photos. We just couldn't seem to stop laughing.

Too many times we allow ourselves to get caught up in the unimportant details in life as we struggle to make everything perfect. I question whether the perfect moments in life are the ones that are finely orchestrated by us, contrived down to the tiniest detail, or do they happen spontaneously without an ounce of anticipation? Do those details we feel the need to control really make a difference so long as we reach the desired outcome? Are there times when we get so caught up in the details that we end up ruining our chances of reaching a certain goal because of our preconceived notion of how thing should unfold? I guess what I’m trying to say is, does it really matter which path we choose so long are we find the way home?

Writing can be like that, too. Sometimes I get caught up in the finer details of a story that I overlook the fact that the story I’m working is not progressing.Even though I may have a clear idea of what will take place, in my efforts to get the wording just so, I stay stuck on the same few chapters. I’m working to overcome this, settling my mind on the end result, working to get that first draft complete. Later, I can go back and polish to my heart’s content, decide what scenes need to stay and which ones need to go but before I can do that I need that story— beginning, middle, end.

I’m hoping that one day my mum will come to realize that it won’t be those tiny details that we’ll remember in years to come, it will be the laughter and the fun, those spontaneous moments that she had no part in planning. Those will be the memories that we will savour and remember in years to come.

Those Gold Star Days

Are you having a gold star day?

Remember back in grade school how wonderful it felt when the teacher affixed a gold star to the top of your work? It meant you’d done a terrific job, you answered all the questions right, you were number one, and you had something to show for all your hard work.

Back then, that gold star no doubt put a smile on your face and sent a warm fuzzy feeling coursing through your bones. You probably haven’t thought about those little gold stars in a long, long time, have you?

I can’t help thinking how delightful it would be if an editor stuck a gold star on my manuscript, sent it back and said, “You did a terrific job. We want to publish your book. You’re number one!” Even if they were unable to publish it, having that gold star would at least bring a smile to my face. They truly liked my work!

I wouldn’t mind having a box of gold stars for myself. If I had some I’d stick one to the calendar page each time I had a gold star day. That way, when I’m down and feeling sorry for myself, I could look back at all the gold stars I’d collected along the way and still feel that sense of accomplishment. I sound pretty confident, pretty sure that there would be plenty of stars, don’t I?

It’s not that there are so many outstanding, wonderful moments of accomplishment in my life. In fact, I do lead a pretty simplified life by some standards. I usually tell people I’m about as ordinary as they come, and I mean it. But do you know what? When I’m paying attention to life, and looking for the good, rarely a day goes by when something doesn’t come onto my radar, something that gives me that same warm feeling I’d get when the teacher was giving out gold stars.

It would be easy for me to say that my gold star day would be when I get a phone call telling me my latest manuscript has been accepted for publication, or that I’d just landed my dream job, maybe even won the new home from the latest QE11 lottery. Well, sure all those things would definitely win me a gold star. But does it have to be that big? That exciting? I mean how many times in my life will I receive a welcomed call from an editor? Win big on the lottery? Find my dream job?

But you know what? I don’t want to have to wait for just those moments to get my gold star. And who ever said we only deserve gold stars for something REALLY big. Perhaps we spend so much time looking for those huge big gold star days that we forget that there are a lot of smaller moments of gold in our lives. What about the kind words we send to a friend who needs cheering? The smile we flash a total stranger who is looking hurried and frustrated? Those moments when we are on the receiving end of someone else’s kind deed?

If you’ve had a gold star day recently I’d like to hear about it, big or small, put a smile on my face…Earn you own gold star!

Support the Locals

I like browsing the bookstores, especially this time of the year. It’s only natural, I suppose, something that most writers like to do in their spare time. I mean, you have to get out there, see what’s been published. Right?

This time of the year there are people buying books who don’t buy at any other time of the year. I remember this time last year when my book was newly out, I walked into one bookstore that was buzzing with shoppers. I’d been there a few weeks earlier for a book signing and so the staff knew me. When they spotted me amongst the shoppers, they asked if I would sign another batch of books that had just arrived, then placed a “signed by author” sticker on the cover.

Local books were stacked up everywhere, and waiting to be placed on the shelves. I’d never seen that particular store quite that busy.

Of course every store has their own way of displaying books, with different categories—Health and Fitness, Biographies, Children’s, Local, etc. It makes sense. You want a certain type of book you know what section to head in.

Many of the bookstores I’ve been to display my book in the local section. There seems to be quite a number of people who like to support local authors. Many of them buy all their books in that section especially during the Christmas season. I think it also says something for the bookstore. It lets the local writing community know that they are supportive of our local talents.

One day last week, while out with a few friends shopping I mentioned that the particular bookstore in the mall we were in displayed my book in the teen section and how I felt it was lost among some of those huge sellers that are on the market now.

Why wasn’t it in the local section, we wondered?

You’ve gotta love friends who take it upon themselves to find out the why. So while they marched into the bookstore and asked, I hid waited at a safe distance for them outside one of the other shops. They were gone for what seemed like a very long time.

The answer they were given was that this particular store only displays non-fiction books in their local section.

What!!!!

My friends were not giving up easily.

So why is *******’s book in that section— it’s fiction? (The lone fiction title there I might add. Could be it was put there by mistake.)

The worker finally bowed out, saying that she works in stationary….I guess some questions defy answers.

Now, while I understand that each storeowner has a right to display books where they wish, I question the choice of this particular bookseller to omit fiction from their local section. Not everyone looking to buy local, steers away from fiction. In fact, it might encourage those looking for local books to buy some of the great fiction that’s being published in our region.

Ah well, I appreciated the effort my friends made. I certainly wouldn’t have had the nerve to ask this myself. On the other hand, I’d speak up quick enough about some one else’s book. It feels different when it’s your own. At least, it does for me. Guess I’m just not a pushy broad.

This leads me to ask several questions:

Are you one of those book buyers who like to support local authors? Do you like to see fiction and non-fiction displayed side by side in the local section?

For any of the authors out there:

Have you ever entered a bookstore and asked to see where your book is displayed? Would you let the bookstore know if you thought it should be displayed in the local section? Or do you even think it matters what section you book is displayed in?

Pirate Daze

My husband and I drove though the little town of Mahone Bay this past summer only to find ourselves knee deep in pirates.

There were pirates everywhere.

The streets were swarming with them. Folks were parked on both sides of the main road. Music was blaring, pirates shouting out as we passed. Should we see what all the fuss was about? But where to park? Parking was impossible.

“Do you want to stop?”

“No way!”

We kept on driving, crawling our way through town. I was a bit timid, a bit overwhelmed. I had my camera.I snapped a few photos.

It was Pirate Days.

I hadn’t planned on being involved in a drive by pirate shooting.

Then, earlier this fall, we took a trip to Oak Island. Now, for anyone who doesn’t know about the whole Oak Island thing, let’s just say that if there’s treasure really buried out there, it’s probably buried for good.

We took the tour. Didn’t see any pirates or treasure, but at least I can say I was there. If you ask me we were a few hundred years too late.

Personally, I’ve got nothing against Pirates. I love Johnny Depp“Pirates of the Caribbean.” I even liked Captain Hook in Disney’s Peter Pan. I mean, what a character.

But, not all my encounters with pirates have been positive. I’ve been known to read the occasional book with pirates in them. I read one this summer. I have to admit, I didn’t get it. I felt a bit dumb. It wasn’t pretty.

So despite a few unfavourable experiences with a pirate, I sent for blogger friend, Dave Ebright’s book, “Bad Latitude.” Dave’s a great guy and I believe in supporting “good people.”

Guess what? I read it, and I got it!! I didn’t feel the least bit dumb.

Bad Latitude was written with boys in mind, but there is no reason why girls wouldn’t read this, as well. This book even won second place in the Royal Palm Literary Award for YA Fiction. Way to go Dave!

It’s filled with plenty of action, a bit of history from the St. Augustine area (that’s in Florida) and well, you know how I like history. There are some nasty dead pirates, a boy named Jack, and even a treasure if you’re into finding treasure. Who doesn’t like treasure?

I’ve got to say, Dave, you really had me going with that ending. I felt it all, sad, mad, glad, confused and finally relieved. But now there’s another one looming in the distance, a sequel titled, “Reckless Endeavour.” I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long for this one.

You can find Dave over at Jax Pops right here. and he’s just started a new blog Jack Rackham Adventures. Click here to take a gander.

Congrats, Dave and all the best with your next book!

Imagine

Thirty years ago today I awoke to the news that John Lennon had been shot. It was literally the first thing I heard when the clock radio went off that morning. It’s something I’ll never forget.

It has always amazed me, this thought that life goes on while we sleep, that people are born, get sick, and even die, without the rest of us knowing until the next day dawns, how the world continues without us being aware. How can that be? That we can sleep and dream while other people are in the midst of some devastating event. That a man could be gunned down– a man who stood for peace.

Thirty years ago today, my first daughter was born. Another brand-new life into the world. Tiny arms and tiny legs, a thick mass of dark hair, eyes clinched tightly as she came screaming into the world. How could the time have passed by so quickly?

Thirty years ago today when I awoke to the news that John Lennon had been shot, my world stopped for a fraction of a moment then continued on. It had to.

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