Author, Author

It never fails to amaze me how two people can go to the same event and have totally different experiences. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, in fact, I think it’s good!. Seeing life from different perspectives gives us a broader picture over all. Sunday was this year’s annual Word on the Street, and what a beautiful day we had! When I read Diane Tibert’s blog post about her experience that day it was totally different from mine. She wrote about the sights she saw on the waterfront and her experience with some of the booksellers  and authors of the day. My time was spent sitting in on author readings, for me, a super big treat. I was in heaven.

I was excited to learn that Halifax author, Elaine McCluskey, was to read from her book of short stories. Elaine’s name I was well familiar with since our work has appeared in the same literary magazines over the years. Here she is reading from her latest book of short stories, “Valerie the Great.” It was an exceptional reading. Not only do I love her subtle humour, but her hair’s something else too. I’m a little jealous to tell the truth.

A real treat it was to hear Binnie Brennan read from her short story collection, “A Certain Grace.” Although I’d heard of Binnie, I wasn’t familiar with her work at all. I can tell you now, both authors are superb short story writers. Their work is well worth reading. Hmm, and just when we writers are being told that short story collections are harder to market! I love knowing these two women have collections out there. I guess the short story isn’t dead yet.

I stopped by the Nimbus table to have a look. Did you really think I wouldn’t? Come on– Nimbus is my publisher and a gal’s got to know where her loyality lies.  Lots of new and exciting titles. Some I’ve read, others are on my BTR list.

I sat in on a reading by Lisa Harrington. Lisa’s new YA novel, “Live to Tell,” is psychological  thriller and the reviews I’ve read have been great. This is a book I’m looking forward to reading.

 Cynthia d’Entrement read from her book “Oak Island Revenge.” If you remember I went to Cynthia’s book launch back in May.I met Cynthia and Lisa back in 2008 at the launch of “A Maritime Christmas,” the  anthology published by Nimbus that year. We’ve kept in touch –Facebook is a wonderful thing–which is kind of nice. It’s always good to see a familiar face at these festivals, and you never know who you’ll end up befriending one day.  :)

Gary Blackwood read from his book, “The Imposter.” I quite enjoyed Gary’s story about how it took twenty years for this book to find a home. It sounded a bit complicated, and sometimes it’s just the way things work out. A lesson to be learned perhaps is that a book may be accepted for publication, but sometimes things are just out of our control. Sometimes the planets just don’t align properly. I’m sure after a wait like that publication is very sweet indeed.

Allison Maher entertained us with a reading from her book, “Time Flies When You’re Chasing Spies.” Allison has more energy in her baby finger than the rest of us have in our entire bodies. No exaggeration. If you want to be totally entertained do take time to drop in on Allison when she’s doing a reading. Allison’s book launch is coming up on the Saturday and I’ve been invited to go. Truth is, you don’t need an invitation to attend a book launch, they’re most always open to the public—the more the merrier.  You never have to worry about being turned away.

So there you have my account of WOTS 2012. I wish I could have stayed longer, but my chauffeur had to get a little shut eye before work later that night.

Oh, and as for what I did with the copy of my book that I snapped up from the library sale last Saturday, I found a school library I plan to donate it to, and that feels right.  :)

Books, Books & More Books

When my daughter phoned to say the local library was having a book sale on Saturday my little heart went pitter-pat. As the previous year, books went for 5 bucks a bag– all you can stog. (Ah, the word “stog”. Isn’t it a dandy word? I think I discussed the word “stog” once before on this blog.) Used book sales are kind of like an all you can eat buffet for book-lovers. Don’t you think?

So while I was looking through the titles my hand stopped suddenly when I spied a copy of Bitter, Sweet. Talk about a surreal moment. I mean, I expected one day to come across a copy of my own book at one of these sales, but when it’s there on the table the reality of it kind of hits you.

A friend asked if I signed the book but I can tell you right now, that thought never crossed my mind. I was too busy stogging books into my bag, I guess. So here’s the silly part, I grabbed up my book and stogged it in the bag too. I mean, it was my book. Not taking it felt wrong in a twisted sort of authorish way. But have no fear; it’s not going to sit on my bookshelf. I’ll have you know I’m not THAT lame!  I’m actually planning to give it away, which is silly in itself because someone was bound to take it home. Yet I didn’t want to stalk my book to find out who.

So here’s the plan:  I’ll go off in search of someone to give the book to, someone deserving, someone kind, and trustworthy…Perhaps I shall scour the land for said person, over mountains and dry deserts.

Okay, so that’s way over the top and totally ridiculous, but sometimes ridiculous is kind of fun. Seriously, when the time is right, I’ll know exactly who to give the book to, unless one of you have a suggestion.

So the really big news on Saturday was meeting author Lesley Crewe at Coles in the Bridgewater Mall. Lesley was there to sign copies of her new book, “Kin” and I wanted to pick up a copy for my mum, who is a big fan, and meet Lesley. Lesley is a Nimbus author, like me, so that in itself gave us mutual ground, but she’s so down to earth and friendly we had no problem chatting it up. Best of all she made me laugh. I could have stalked spent the whole afternoon with her—that’s if she would have let me.  LOL!

So I’m an author groupie. I’ve met my share of authors over the years since my book came out. I can honestly say I’ve never met an author I didn’t like. It’s a strange business I find myself  part of, and as different as our lives are, all writers share our love for the written word. Through the writing journey I’m on I’ve met some truly wonderful people, some whom I consider close friends.

This weekend was all about writers and books. Sunday, was the annual Word on the Street event in Halifax, and I was glad to have made it in. I’ll be posting about it next time and sharing a few photos.

Do you go to book signing events or writing festivals in your area? Have you met an author who left a lasting impression?

Sea Beyond

Imagine my surprise at finding this tree carving on a drive through Chester, Nova Scotia. It was in front of the post office, a tree that obviously needed to be removed, yet ended up being a wonderful wood carving by Adam Connolly and The Second Life For Trees program.  I did a little snooping on the Internet and discovered that this program “comes from Adam Connolly’s vision of providing historical trees with a second life.” I thought wow! What a great idea. Rather than cutting down these historic trees they’re turned into works of art. You can check out Adam’s site and learn more about the program Here..

I’m continually awed by the many talented people in our area, and not just those with talent but those who have a vision. I’ve often grieved the sight of century old trees being removed. This is a wonderful alternative.

Lots of creatures from the sea in this sculture. It took quite awhile to take it all in. I love the wood grains.

I can’t begin to imagine the hours of planning and work that went into this. Can you?

So many different angles and shots to get. My camera really doesn’t do the sculpture justice.

The star fish is my favourite, although they’re all pretty amazing.

Have you come across any similiar sculptures that turn an existing part of nature into something beautiful and lasting?

Why I Ditched the Author

Some of you may have already noticed I ditched the “Author” off my blog. Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped writing– goodness no. As I live and breathe I’d never be able to do that. When you’re a writer, writing is part of your life—a BIG part. Big to the point where we sometimes bore our non-writing friends to tears. (Sorry about that guys!)  Even when we can’t make time to write, or don’t feel inspired to write, we are writers and the truth is, if you’re not a writer yourself, you probably don’t find that stuff interesting to read about. I’m also not sure if non-writers understand how much time we writers spend in our heads, having conversations with our characters, (as we work through believable dialogue) thinking about our characters, or working through plot ideas. Yup, and just when you thought that stunned look I sometimes sport is natural, admit it!

What I found with attaching the “author” to my blog, I felt a certain obligation to blog about writing, and I don’t want to do that all the time. I’m no one to be giving writing advice because, contrary to what some of you think, I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. I write. I put down words. I read them back. I listen. If a sentence doesn’t sound right, I keep working at it until it does. I don’t consider myself an expert, nor do I want to.  So, while writing is a big part of my life, there are other things going on in the world, things I’m also interested in. This doesn’t mean I won’t have an occasional writing post thrown into the mix. Writing is a big part of who I am, remember? Who knows, I may write about writing more that I plan, but I’m not trying to turn this blog into a place for writers to come looking for writing advice. Of course I’ll still blog about any publication news, especially with the impending release of my next YA novel! Can’t forget that..

Anyway, that’s the big news here. I’m going to blog about anything that interests me at the moment. I hope you’ll stick around.

At the moment I found a carving in to be interesting. Here’s a sneak peek. I’ll be blogging about exactly where I found this carving and reveal who the artist is next time.  Isn’t it lovely?

Hey Cats, Some Happening Tips For Writing Historic Fiction

Hey all you cool cats out there in blogland, can you dig the idea of a blogpost that goes back in time? Sure you can. …Late sixties maybe even seventies. I mean, I’m more into the seventies myself. Mini shirts, maxi dresses, peace signs as big as your head–they were the in thing when I was a chick in high school.

No, you don’t have to be smoking any grass to go back into the past. No time machine is necessary. Imagination’s where it’s happening. I mean words are, groovy, cool and hip, so get with it. Put your brain to use, dudes. Close your eyes and dream, cause dreaming’s outta sight!

Now you all know I’m into the historic fiction scene– writing and reading it—and part of writing historic fiction is using the lingo of the day to make the story as authentic as you can make it.  I mean, it’s got to be happening or your reader’s just not going to buy it. They won’t learn to trust you as an author and what that means in the long run is you won’t make any bread off your story. That’s just not groovy. A writer without sales is like, well, a writer without an audience.

So I was hunting around the Internet for some slang words from the sixties and seventies. You just never know when I might set a story in that time period. The lingo was far out back then, don’t you think?

So here are some cool tips when writing historic fiction that I hope you can dig.

1.The important thing to remember while writing historic fiction is to do your research. You don’t want to confuse readers. Having a  real-life character from the eighties show up in your 1970’s novel is just not cool or vice versa.

2.Make sure you set your novel at an exact time and place. Bitter, Sweet was set in 1948, not the 1940’s; Dalhousie, not Nova Scotia. All those cool cats out there reading your book want a specific date and place so don’t generalize.

3.Make sure you read lots of historic fiction to get in the groove. This goes for any genre you’re planning to write in. The more you read in that genre, the more familiar you will feel when writing it.

4.Keep in mind the dudes you’re writing about have attitudes, quirks, beliefs, and knowledge of the period they’re living in. Adding some of the lingo from that time can also take the reader back to that time and place.

5. Always remember characters in historic fiction are individuals with their own personal story, they’re not just part of historic events that took place in the past. A story might be set during wartime, but you need to make that character real with good and bad qualities, worries, unique problems and even secrets. Hey man, dude’s gotta have a secret or two , right?

So while I’m musing over some of the far out lingo from back in the cool seventies, I hope you’ll find these cool tips boss. And if you can think of any other cool tips, we could really dig you sharing them with the rest of us cats!

Did You Buy My Book?

For any author who has only recently published a book there’s that awkwardness in the beginning as we wait to see if our family and friends are actually going to buy our book. I mean, it’s out there, we have friends and family, so…..shouldn’t they buy our book? How’s an author to make a living if we can’t expect all our family and friends to support us? So come on, people, we authors want you all to pony up the dough for our books, right?

Wrong.

Realistically, not everyone we know has money in their budget to buy books. Hey, I’ve been there myself, with a mortgage to pay and three kids living at home. It’s not always easy to find the extra cash for such indulgences, let alone go spending it on ourselves instead of the kids. Sometimes a person’s financial situation has them in a headlock and they just can’t squeeze that piggy bank any harder.

But where there’s a will there’s a way. Maybe you don’t have the money to purchase books at this time, but you most surely can put in a request to the library, and sign that book out. Big deal you might be saying! How’s that supposed to help an author in any way?

Don’t forget, not only are you showing your support by reading our work but, authors do make royalties on library sales. It adds up. Putting in a request at a library for a book can prompt them to add it to their shelves. Making sure our books are stocked in as many libraries as possible is a good thing. But there’s more.

Have you heard of the Public Lending Rights? No. I bet many of the authors out there have.

Now I’m not sure if there’s an equivalent to this in the US so I can only speak to what applies here in Canada. If there are any US authors reading this perhaps you know.

Traditionally published authors can register their news titles with the PLR, and each year, I believe it’s eight, libraries are randomly checked for your titles. If it’s found in any of these libraries the author receives a payment. So if it’s found in all eight libraries, then the author receives 8X, seven libraries it’s 7X…and so on. The more libraries a book is in the larger the payment for the author. If it’s in all eight libraries, that adds up to a nice little bundle especially if an author has more than one title. Now, I know it’s not all about the money, but realistically, authors have to make a living too.

As the old saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, well there’s more than one way to help support an author without actually buying their book.

I can tell you right now, that for any author, we’re tickled pink to have others reading our work. Whether it’s a library rental or a purchase from a book store, we love to share what we’ve written with others.

Have you ever felt guilty about signing a book out from the library instead of purchasing it? Have you ever thought of putting in a request for a friend’s book so the library would get it in?

Part of My “Someday” List

I keep a mental list of things I’d like to do one day, and places I’d like to see. It’s my “someday” list, and it keeps growing, sometimes serving only to remind me that “someday” doesn’t always come along.

A trip to Peggys Cove has been on my someday list for some time. So a few weeks back we took a drive out to the coast. I had only seen the famous lighthouse in photos. Seemed a bit silly since we’re only about an hour’s drive away.

A friend of mine mentioned that the lighthouse is in the midst of getting fresh coat of paint and it was pretty evident the day we went. Still, it was a beautiful day with sunshine, warm temperatures and light winds.

Plenty of rocks as you can see.

We also stopped off to see the monument for Swissair Flight 111. It’s located at The Whalesback, a peninsula not far from Peggys Cove. September 2 marked the 14th Anniversary of the Swissair crash.

There have been two memorials erected to commemorate those who died when the aircraft crash into St. Margarets Bay. The crash site is roughly halfway between the Whalesback Memorial and another memorial at Bayswater, Nova Scotia. The memorial at Bayswater lists all the victims by name.

The monument reads: “In memory of the 229 men, women and children aboard Swissair Flight 111 who perished off these shores September 2nd, 1998. They have been joined to the sea, and the sky. May they rest in peace.”

BTW the baby stroller belongs to Miss Charlotte, just in case you’re wondering.

I looked up some information about the monument and what it represents because I really didn’t know. Apparently, the site of the crash and the two monuments form a triangle. The three notches on the monument at Whalesback represent the numerals 111. The sight line from the three grooves in the stone points to the crash site; while the markings on the facing stone point to the memorial at Bayswater. I’ve been to the memorial at Bayswater a few years ago. That one contains the names of the 229 passengers and crew of flight 111. The facing stone points to the crash site.

The place where the monument sits is an area of rocks and low shrubs over-looking the Altantic Ocean. In the far distance the lighthouse at Peggys Cove can be seen. I think about the 229 people who crashed into the ocean 14 years ago, who have been joined to the sea and the sky, and whisper a silent prayer. May they rest peacefully.

Giving Back

I believe in giving back.

Giving back doesn’t have to require a huge big effort on our part. I’ve volunteered my time to worthwhile causes since I can remember. I know, I know, it’s time consuming. Many of us are already juggling family, jobs and life in general. We don’t have hours to spend knee-deep in volunteer work, nor do we feel we can give up our precious “free time” in service to others when our own families should occupy that prestigious spot in our lives.

But giving back does not have to be all consuming. It can be as simple as offering someone words of encouragement, making them smile when they’re feeling down, helping them view life from a totally different angle, bringing hope into their lives when it is absent or just doing something nice without expecting some payback. What I’ve come to see it that, so many times when we do something expecting nothing in return, wonderful things naturally come our way.

This summer I had the opportunity to do something unique, something that required a few moments of my time and cost me a trip to the post office, two bucks worth of postage, and a couple of years worth of hair. Yes, I did say hair!

In May, my second daughter bought me a coupon to have my hair cut at a salon. I’d been nattering about getting my haircut for months but taking the time to make an appointment in town, and then actually going, just kept getting put off. (Writers do lead such busy lives you know.) So, smart daughter that I have, she knew a haircut wasn’t going to happen unless she took matters into her own hands. One way or another that ponytail had to go. The thing about long hair is we don’t realize how long it is until one day we wake up and it’s just in the way. And really, a ponytail is designed to trick us into thinking our hair isn’t all that long.

Now right from the start, I couldn’t imagine having all that hair cut and simply throwing it away. My kids will tell you; hardly anything gets thrown out in this house. I knew there were places willing to take my hair. I just had to find out where. A little digging around the Internet, and I found a place that uses donated hair to make wigs for cancer patients. Seemed like a very worthwhile cause. So I did up my braids and mailed them off one Saturday.

Like I said, giving back doesn’t always require a great deal of our time, just a little thought and some willingness on our part to make the effort.  Not to mention I got a nifty new haircut in the bargain. And who knows, perhaps I’ll write about a character one day doing the exact thing.

What small ways do you have of giving back?

Five Steps to Combating Blogging Withdrawal

You all know I took a breather from blogging over the summer. But I’m back, happy to say I enjoyed the much needed time away to pursue my writing (and who knows, maybe you all needed a break from me, too.) Doing so was a difficult decision. I thought about it for weeks. It’s like walking away from your friends and saying, “I’m not going to play for awhile.” So I checked in on you all from time to time. Sometimes you knew, other times you didn’t.

There’s this fear, for some of us, that if we take a break from blogging we’ll lose those faithful followers, the ones we can always count on to check in on us, maybe even send a “pity” comment our way when they see the comments on our posts are as scarce as hen’s teeth. So I took a chance that some of you would still be here when I got back, but it didn’t make the break any easier.

Blogging can be an addiction. Immersing ourselves with so much social media, only to see it all go down the drain once we take a break, can be life changing. I’ve had time to ponder this notion as I worked on my own addiction, and I’ve come up with some steps to help those of you thinking of making a break for it.

Five Steps to Combating Blogging Withdrawal:

1. Admit what you’re experiencing is blogging withdrawal. That’s a toughie, isn’t it? No one wants to admit to an addiction, least of all the addicted, nor do they want to admit to the symptoms of withdrawal. I mean withdrawal means there’s an addiction in the first place. We make up excuses as to why we’re constantly checking our blog stats—(Just being nosey. I’m interested in numbers. It’s important to see how many people are reading what I write. I need to know how popular I’m becoming.) We create new posts just for the sake of having more numbers at the end of the month. Hmmm…Let’s see, if I post four times a week, instead of two, I’ll have twice the numbers, right? Forget the fact that two of those posts left my readers thinking—what the heck was that?

2. Understand what you are getting into. The decision to quit must be made by you and you alone. Quitting to please your kids, your parents, your significant other, or for the sake of your job, just won’t cut it. The decision to stop using blogging as a means of escape from the real world and real world problems– either cold turkey or slowly weaning yourself away from it– will likely depend upon how long you’ve been addicted. I quit cold turkey. It was rough, but necessary. Life without blogging may be unthinkable for some of you. It was for me. When you live, eat and breathe blogging, withdrawal can be painful. I suggest you cut off contact with other bloggers and especially those who are supplying you with the means to blog, even putting blogging ideas in you head until you can resist the temptation. Be honest. Only you can answer that one.

3. Plan a visit to the pharmacy. You are going to want to have some of the following on hand to make your detoxification from blogging more comfortable.
· Acetaminophen will come in handy for those body aches. You know rocking back and forth while in the fetal position is hard on the joints, especially for those of us crawling up there in years.
· A good supply of Kleenex. You’re bound to have those times when someone will say something that reminds you of the fact that you’re no longer blogging. You could also try sedatives for those sleepless nights, maybe even a good antihistamine to help with the runny nose and teary eyes. A good sedative also may help combat some of the anxiety you’re going to be feeling.
· On your way to pay for these things swing by the bookstand and buy yourself a good pocket novel. Reading will help distract you and give you something to think about when those withdrawal symptoms persist.

4. Prepare for the mental withdrawal. Don’t kid yourself, are we ever prepared mentally? Although the withdrawal is NOT life threatening, it will impair your judgment, your ability to think clearly, reason and rationalize. Imagine no more comments to reply to, no more stats to check on, no more pictures to post, no more ideas to come up with, and here’s a biggie—no more blog awards to accept. You may have very unpleasant thoughts at this point. Don’t be surprised. You could even become resentful of all those happy bloggers out there with stats through the roof, so damn popular they put Justin Bieber to shame. Because of these other effects, withdrawal does increase your risk for dangerous and self-destructive behaviours including facebooking and tweeting. You may even start your own facebook page. It’s not blogging, but there’ll still be comments to check and respond to. So be careful. You could simply be switching one addiction for another.

5. Spend time away from the computer altogether. Try some other activities like dancing, hiking, or reading. Let’s face it, as convenient and as necessary as computers are to our daily lives, we can do without them. I know that’s true because I have friends who don’t even own a computer, my own mother, God bless her, whose fingers have never touched a keyboard. Imagine, if there are folks out there who’ve never heard of blogging, let alone read a blog post or even wrote one, we know it’s possible. It CAN be done. I repeat : It CAN be done.

So there you have it, 5 steps to combating blogging withdrawal. For any blogging addicts out there, I hope you found this information useful.

Do you ever feel as though you are addicted to blogging? How about stats checking? Do you know any blogging addicts? If so, were they able to kick the habit?

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