Author Photo–The Moment of Truth

As many of you know, I’m not a big fan of having my photo taken. Well, as long as I don’t ever have to look at the end result, you can snap all the photos you want.  ;) Being an author, sometimes you just have to do things that need to be done without whining or bellyaching, having your photo out there for the world to see is one of them.

Since it’s been three years since Bitter, Sweet came out, I decided it was time to have a bright shiny new author photo for my next book. I’ve narrowed my choices down to a few, and nearly drove my poor daughter crazy in the process. Now it’s time for your opinion. Which picture do you think I should use for the author photo for my next book? I’ll be sure to share the results with you before I send it off to my publisher. And here’s hoping I have this pole set up correctly. It’s the first time I’ve used one. I want to thank you in advance!!

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Photo #4

The Idea of Christmas

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that? ~~Bob Hope

I have to say those are mighty wise words. We go out of our way at Christmas time to spread  joy and love, and to perform acts of kindness. At this time of the year we make that extra effort, but who knows, maybe one day these things will flow effortlessly. Maybe one day, as Bob pointed out, we won’t just wait for Christmas. What a lovely world it would be. Don’t you agree?

I’ll leave you with a wintery photo I snapped the other day. A day later the rain took most of the snow away. It’s been a few years since we’ve had a white Christmas and today, the flurries are flying and the ground is back to being white again. It’ll be interesting to see what Christmas day will bring in regards to the weather.

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My wish for all is for you to enjoy this time regardless of what holiday you celebrate. May you find joy, peace and laughter in the year ahead.

The Apocalypse is coming. The Apocalypse is coming!

I wonder how many end of the world blog posts went up this past week? Maybe some of you even wrote one. I actually thought about writing one myself, one night while I was trying to shut my head off from the edits I was doing. I got thinking about what I’d want to leave behind for some other civilization to find in the case of my demise if I decided to write uch a post. Well, actually, the demise of the entire planet (unless you have a bunker some place to wait it out , but personally, I didn’t see any on sale and something just told me they’d be too pricey for me to afford.) So while I was thinking about all this, the thoughts of a time capsule started to sound interesting. What would I place in one? What would leave behind a lasting impression should the world come to an end? What things would tell the story of me and my contribution to the world? That’s when I had to remind myself of how unimportant my life would be should the end actually come. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing I could put in a time capsule that would wow some alien from another planet. And really do I care what some alien thinks? I don’t think so.

So, while I wasn’t having much luck settling down for the night, my mind then envisioned someone riding through the streets crying, “The Apocalypse is coming, the Apocalypse is coming!“ (Can you tell I write historic fiction?) That’s when I had to giggle. But hey, imagine if these doomsday predictions had come many years ago, before the invention of tv or the Internet. Who would warn the masses to prepare for the end? I mean, think of poor old Paul Revere when he made his historic ride, warning that the British were coming. If he could have posted that on Facebook it would have saved a lot of time and effort on his part, not to mention his poor horse. And tweeting?  Let’s not even go there. Call me physic but I predict that warning would probably have gone viral. I mean, the British were coming. That was serious business back then.

So, December 21 came and went. I spent the day shopping. There were so many people out like it was their last day on earth. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that!)

The end of the world predictions will be forgotten for the time being—at least until the next time. My daughter mentioned she’d read that a specific time had even been chosen—7:11 am.. And here’s the kicker—After my restless  I-cant-shut-my-head-off-after-spending-the-evening-on-edits night, when I woke in the morning and looked at the clock. Do you know what time it was? Yup, you guess it: 7:11. Wow my subconscious must really be something. Here’s hoping it helps me out the next time I’m stuck on a storyline.

So, how did you spend your end of the world day? Anything exciting happen other than the world not coming to an end? Do you have any doomsday jokes you’re just dying to share? I’d sure like to read them.

A Christmas State of Mind

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. ~~Calvin Coolidge

Our tree has finally been brought in and decorated so it feels a bit more Christmasy at out house.  You might even say I’m in a Christmas state of mind.  Coupled with the fact that we’re getting our first *real* snow of the season, it seems like a day to take it easy and relax and enjoy the season.  What gets done gets done, and what doesn’t well…

I’ve got a few more little things to pick up plus grocery shopping before the “big” day. We’d planned to go shopping today,  but with the snow we’ll stay were where are. Tomorrow will be a better day for travel.

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The edits on my novel are on schedule to be finished before Christmas. Since they’re not due until January, I’ll give it another read through before then. It’s always best to have a bit of a break before reading it through a final time. But this is the place where I’ll have to resist the urge to keep fiddling with the sentences. It’s difficult to let that story go. There always seems to be something we can see that needs to be changed, whether real or imagined.

It turns out this wintery day will be a good day to tie up some loose ends while I’m in this Christmas state of mind.

How about you, are you in a Christmas state of mind? Are you all ready for the “big” day? What things put you in the Christmas spirit?

Busy, Busy Beaver

On the property across from ours, the beavers have been extremely busy as you can see from the photo. It’s rather amazing to know that these small creatures aren’t afraid to tackle something so large. This urge to chop down trees is something that comes natural to them. Funny, how they don’t shy away from such a big undertaking. We see plenty of evidence of the beaver’s work, but we’ve never caught them in the act. I think much of their work is done at night.

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Writing a novel is also a big undertaking. One that writers enter into willingly, regardless of the work involved. Rarely can an author say they whipped a novel up in a matter of a few weeks or months…(Yes, I know, some can, but many can’t.) For many authors it may take many months, maybe even years until their book is ready to be read by an editor. But once a book has been accepted for publication it doesn’t mean a writer can sit back and wait for those royalties to start rolling in. For those not involved in the industry, it’s difficult to understand what takes so long for a book to come out. I hear from people all the time, anxiously wondering why, if I’m working on edits for the book now, it isn’t coming out until next fall.

The whole idea behind the edits is to help make that story shine as much as possible. A writer often becomes immune to seeing the flaws in our stories and it takes another set of eyes to point out the imperfections and make suggestions as to how the story can be improved. We all want that book to be the best it can be, right?

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So this is where I am at the moment. No, I don’t mean I’m cutting down trees….The edits are going well and I’m pleased with how the story is evolving even further. It’s always exciting to discover something new in your work, something you overlooked while you were getting the story down the first time around. Did I say the first time? I guess I should say the first several drafts.

Christmas might be creeping up on me, but I’m very hopeful that I’ll have the manuscript sent back before then. What is it about Christmas that makes us want to accomplish certain goals? I can remember, as a child, that rooms were painted before Christmas or new flooring laid.—always before Christmas, regardless of how close to the big day that it happened. So long as it was done by then everyone was happy. Anyway, I’ll use Christmas as a deadline to have this round of edits completed. I’m pretty sure that I won’t get a whole lot of writing done once a certain little someone arrives anyway.

How about you, is there anything you’d like to accomplish before Christmas comes?

The Son’s Annual Christmas List

It’s that time of year again when I start racking my brain to come up with the perfect Christmas gift. Does that “perfect gift” even exist? Who’s to say? As many of you will remember, about this time of the year, and after much prodding, my son sends along his annual list. Remember the 50 pound bag of Yukon Gold potatoes he claimed to want last year? Along with several other far-out-there gift suggestions that were totally silly and obscure—Two five gallon plastic buckets? Yup, that was on his list..( I think that’s the bachelor’s equivalent to kitchen chairs.) Yeah, that’s my boy.

I think he secretly takes pleasure in these lists he compiles. And it’s never just a list. The introduction is usually longer than the list itself.  Take a gander of this year’s meanderings…

“Well, well, well. Once again the time has come for me to pass along my cerebral wisdom and inform you of the things that currently tickle my fancy. You may be surprised to find that this list is neither written in stone nor a list of requirements, but rather a list of suggestions and ideas. Though I have come to a point in my life where I can buy the things I want and need, I realize that you may wish to experience the thrill of giving gifts to your only son and favourite child. So finally, the moment we have all been waiting for, the list of lists! “ 

Oh yeah, that was just the introduction.Favourite child? Pfff…My kids all claim to hold that title…Honestly, there are only 11 items on his list and nothing terrible pricey. But I’ve got to tell you right now that item 11 sure made up for the other ten. I won’t go through the entire list, but will hit some of the highlights for you…Let’s just say item eleven was quite a shocker for this mum.

But before I get to item eleven, let’s look at Item three—- Uncle Ben’s brown rice…a must for any Christmas stocking. Right? I’m assuming he wants a 50 pound bag if one is available…

Item four—horn snuff (Okay kid, that’s horn sniff, not horn snuff. There’s a big difference.) I know, likely some of you are wondering what a horn snuff/horn sniff is. It’s a long story that I’ll condense and share with you:

Nephew, one morning this fall: Hey, Uncle Brian, I have that hornet’s nest to show you. (Okay this nest was huge and growing near the ground.)

Uncle Brian: Horn sniff? What’s a horn sniff?

This is where my daughter and I lost it. Horn sniff? I mean really. Since my nephew is a hunter, hubby claimed he thought it was some new-fangled gadget designed to bait up deer…Horn sniff—Whatever you say, dear…..

*Just an observation here, but maybe Uncle Brian could use a hearing aid this year for Christmas. Needless to say this infamous “horn sniff” made it into a good many of the “Best” conversations this fall. And just when the joke started fading from our minds. Bam! It ends up as an item on the list. Might have known this son of mine would resurrect it at the eleventh hour, just in time for Christmas. Seriously, the other items were practical. Ah a son who is gentle on his old mum’s pocketbook. I could get used to having him around again if he did dishes or swept an occasional floor, maybe paid a bill or two.

Okay, so are you ready for item 11? I’ll present it to you exactly the way it came to me..

Eleven: some nice blue baby clothes and accessories; you know, the typical stuff.

After I picked myself up off the floor, I fired back a quick email. Okay, the email was sent over dial-up…The “fired back” part of this story didn’t happen quite that quickly, but you get my drift.

“’Eleven: some nice blue baby clothes and accessories; you know, the typical stuff.’  Wft is that?” (Excuse my Internet lingo people, but this was serious stuff and not of the horn snuff variety… SERIOUS SNUFF… make that STUFF.)

I waited by my computer for a response. Maybe I rocked back and forth while waiting..I can’t remember. Finally a reply came in.

Here’s what I got back.

“Oh, hahaha don’t get excited, that should read some cleaning clothes and accessories.”

Right…I can see how an English Major could make that mistake…. Well anyone with some basic understanding of the English language really…

That’s it, this kid is getting potatoes for Christmas!

Anyway, I hope you had a little chuckle over my son’s twisted sense of funny when it comes to compiling Christmas lists. He can’t help it. He comes by it honestly.

Do you ask the people in your life to give you gift suggestions or do you just instinctively know what to buy.. And most importantly will you be gifting any horn snuffs, I mean horn sniffs this year?

Let the Edits Begin

Seems as though the things we often expect to happen a certain way end up going off in a totally different direction altogether. Life is funny that way. This month I thought I’d have time to devote to my new writing project, but low and behold I received an email from my editor at Nimbus Publishing. It is time to start editing my new YA novel, “To Fly With a Broken Wing.”  Yippee!!

“If you could have the edits done by January that would be great,” she said.

“No problem,” I replied.

No problem! Oh right, there’s this thing called Christmas coming up this month. I forgot all about Christmas mere seconds before I fired off the email. *gulp*

Okay it’s really not THAT bad. My editor is understanding and did add that if I needed more time it was fine, just to let her know. And truthfully, edits seem a bit overwhelming at first until you actually start addressing each comment and suggestion as you go. Personally, I’m just happy to be working on it and gearing up for the book’s release next fall. The exciting part is, the book is making progress. Edits have begun and, Christmas or not, I’ll get the work done. Authors are funny that way.

But it hasn’t been all work. I’ve been balancing things out as I go. A little shopping, a little gift wrapping, a lot of editing, a little decorating. If I play my cards right I’ll even get to watch an episode of “Grimm” this evening.

DSC02991A big thrill this week was meeting up with Donna Morrisey at a book signing. Donna’s new book is “The Deception of Livvy Higgs.” If you remember, I mentioned in an earlier post that she was on my list of authors to meet. Little did I know at the time our meeting would happen so soon. Yes, life certainly does throw in a surprise or two. This month has been busy with lots of authors doing book signings and I’m heading out again for one tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll either post about it on Facebook or my blog.

I’ve also had a disappointment this week. I’d been planning for months to get high speed Internet service, but it just wasn’t to be. I know this is difficult for many of you to understand, but here in rural Nova Scotia we don’t necessarily have the option for High Speed and that sucks. One company put up towers and many people can receive a wireless signal, but I happen to live in an area where too many trees are blocking that signal. I’ve got to say, dial-up makes life very challenging, and many times I have problems with pages loading, especially those blogs that have lots of photos posted on them. Then again, it can sometimes be impossible to comment when it does load. But I’m dealing with this challenge the best way I can. Some things are out of my control. I sometimes think the thought of something better makes us less tolerant for what we have. So perhaps now, I’ll accept what is and feel grateful to have Internet service at all.

Anyway, despite Christmas and the edits for my novel, I’m hoping to be around Blogland a bit more this winter. I have a lot to catch up on.

Has life given you any unexpected surprises lately?

Pit Pony

nov Dec 2012 674When I learned that Joyce Barkhouse’s wonderful novel, “Pit Pony,” had been made into a picture book, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy for Miss Charlotte. But then, when I discovered Janet Barkhouse (who co-authored the book with her mother, Joyce) was going to read from the book at the Biscuit Eater in Mahone Bay, I knew Miss Charlotte would be getting a signed copy for Christmas. While Miss Charlotte might be a bit young to fully appreciate the significance her very own author-signed booked, I’m sure in a few years she will really treasure it. I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to have the opportunity to meet so many talented local authors in my journey. And did I mention I’m collecting photos for a scrapbook I hope to share with Miss Charlotte one day?

I’ve got to tell you all, this book is a total delight. Janet did a wonderful job of condensing the text from the original noval to fit a picture book format, and Sydney Smith’s illustrations are simply gorgeous. Janet said her mother didn’t get to see the picture book, (she passed away last February), but she knows she would be very pleased with the finished product.

While Janet and I live in the general vicinity, and have attended several of the same events, we’d never been introduced. So I was most excited and pleased to meet her. She’s a delight. (Oh, and did I mention that Margaret Atwood is her cousin? Yup that’s right..Kind of cool I’d say.)Not only that, her mother, Joyce, received the Order of Canada back in 2009. You can read about it here if you’d like. A very talented family.

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Janet read, please, please go. Seriously, I could have listened to her all afternoon.

Janet Barkhouse

Just a thought as you search about for that perfect Christmas gift this year, why not consider the gift of a book? I’m sure many of you already have.

Father Christmas Festival

nov Dec 2012 642Today, we headed to Mahone Bay for a book signing. It just so happened, the Father Christmas Festival was on. I took a few photos and wanted to share.

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I hope you enjoyed this peek at the  Father Christmas Festival. I’ll be blogging about the book  signing we attended next time I post. I’m excited to tell you all about Janet Barkhouse’s picture book, “ Pit Pony.” Drop in and find out all about it.

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