Emergency Book Signing–Sometimes You Have to Go That Extra Mile or Thirty

Yes, I did say emergency book signing! Sounds strange, I know, but life is filled with strange and unusually things. Some days even the smallest thing can miraculously turn into an emergency especially when there’s a book involved.

Sometimes the really cool things about being an author are the strange things that can happen on an ordinary day. Monday was such a day, ordinary and plain as white bread, not even toasted and buttered. But then I checked the messages on my phone when I got home from work. There was one from the local bookstore. (Bear in mind when I say “local” I mean it’s still about a 45 minute drive from where I am.) The owner said the most bazaar thing had just happened. A customer came in and bought the last copy of “Flying With a Broken Wing,” and the very next customer in line wanted that same book. She was calling to ask if I had books on hand and if it was possible to make some arrangements to get them. Apparently, the customer was quite disappointed to learn that the last copy ( a signed on at that) had just sold as she’d wanted it to take it to her daughter in Ontario— her daughter, as it turns out, was someone I had gone to school with. Now, there’s a bit more to this as it just so happens that this very same lady taught one of my daughters, actually shared a birthday with her, and always gave my daughter a birthday card all the while she was in elementary school. Nice, huh? I always thought so.

So here was the dilemma, the lady would really like signed copies of both my books but was leaving for Ontario in a few days. This meant the books wouldn’t arrive from the publisher, certainly not in time for me to come out and sign them, before she left. The bookstore owner suggested that I mail out the copies. I explained that I was 20 minutes from a post office and I work through the day. I chewed the situation over the next day at work and decided I’d take a drive out. The bookstore owner was going to buy my copies and keep the ones she had on order for her store. So that’s what I did. I made a quick trip out and delivered the books inscribed with a little message.

Now I know some people might think that it was silly of me to go out of my way to make sure this person got signed copies. She would have taken the books anyway (her husband was going to meet her in Ontario a few days later and the copies would be in from the publisher by that time), but sometimes you’ve just got to do what feels right and this felt like the right thing.

Have you ever noticed that Karma has a way of coming back, sometimes years later, and often in a good way? Many times, it’s those little things that make up for the disappointments we feel along the way. Having people specifically ask for my book, and to have it signed, is really an amazing thing. In the grand scheme of things, I believe all those little things add up to a great deal, at least in this author’s life!

Has anything small made your day recently? I love it when you share your stories.

10 Things You Should Never Say to an Author

I’ve been an author for more years that I have admitted to. For a long time no one knew my secret. I was published and still no one knew. Did I say no one? I mean very few. I didn’t mind that. Knowing my work was published was enough for this gal. Life was good; simple and good.

But then the book.

You know the one— Bitter, Sweet. My secret was finally out. There was no going back.
Now, with two novels under my belt I’ve gained a little wisdom. Not only have I spoken to a lot of other authors, but I’ve made a few observations along the way. People often say some far out there things to authors without even being aware of it. Sometimes things come out of their mouths before they can stop themselves. One thing I’ve discovered along the way is there are things that are best not said to an author whether you’re meeting an author for the first time or if they happen to be in your circle of friends. Etiquette, my peeps. Sometimes we all need to show a little etiquette. That said, I wanted to have a little fun with this. A good sense of humour goes a long ways, not only in the publishing business, but with life in general.

So, for fun, I’ve listed some actual things that have been said to authors I’ve met in my journey, a sharing of stories if you will. And since words never come out sounding quite the way they were intended— I know that. You know that. Even the neighbour’s cat knows that—- I’ve also listed what you probably meant to say. We authors are an understanding bunch, always willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes you’re nervous when meeting an author and that clever first line you took a whole five seconds coming up with doesn’t come out sounding so clever. So here goes.

1. I thought you’d be taller. No kidding. I thought I’d be taller, too. But hey, my mum and dad were short, and you know what they say— genetics can be a bitch. Ooops. Did I just say that? Here’s the scoop. It’s difficult to determine how tall someone is by looking at their author photo. In fact, it’s down right impossible unless you’ve got a crystal ball.
What you probably meant to say was:
I’m so glad to meet you. Your books are wonderful!
2. I have to say I liked your other book better. Have to say? You really have to say that? Okay, so authors are keen at reading between the lines. I mean, lines are our specialty. So what you’re really telling me is, what, you didn’t like the book? Not only that, you felt I needed to know this for some reason? But of course you didn’t mean that at all, did you?. We authors can jump to all sorts of conclusions. Our egos are fragile. We often think the worse, and you would never, ever want to shatter an author’s oh- so- fragile-ego. Of course not!
What you probably meant to say was:
I have to say your first/second/third/fourth book was my favourite!
3. Can I get your book from the bookmobile? In author language this translates into I’m too cheap to buy your book.
What you probably meant to say was: I sure hope your book will be available at the libraries and bookmobiles, too! You’ll pick up a lot of readers that way.
4. Can you sign this copy for me? I just got it at a yard sale. It was a real steal for a buck. There’s nothing wrong with getting a deal on a book. I do that myself whenever possible. Not sure I’d announce to the author at a book signing that I just bought his book for a dollar. Sometimes you just have to keep those sweet deals to yourself.
What you probably meant to say was: I’d love to have this book autographed.
5. I just entered a giveaway for your book, but if I win I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. Really? You’re worried that if you actually won a free, probably autographed book, you don’t know anyone you could give it too? I assume that’s because you already have your own copy, right? But really, no one person on planet earth would want my book. Not a friend or family member, your doctor’s secretary, the mailman, some bum on the street?
What you probably meant to say was: Even though I have my own copy, I wanted to show my support so I entered the giveaway. I know someone who would love a signed copy!
6. I tried to think of someone I could buy a copy of your book for, but I didn’t know anyone who would want it, and I was too mean to spend the money on myself. Yeah, kind of sad. You don’t think you’re worth 12 bucks, the price of my book. That really makes me sad.
What you probably meant to say was: My friends and family all have a copy of your book!
7. How many copies has your book sold? Authors don’t like talking about book sales unless they have bragging rights that would knock your socks off a chimpanzee and, believe me, most of us don’t. Everyone wants to believe that you’re making millions on that book because we all know that authors are all filthy rich. Right? Wrong.
What you probably meant to say was: I hope your book sells a million copies!
8. Ive written a novel. Can you take a look at it? Sorry, but darn near everyone has written a novel at one time or other. If we authors read them all, well…what do you think?
What you probably meant to say was: It’s wonderful to meet a fellow writer.
9. No one wants the novel I’ve written. I’m just not famous enough. Why don’t you rewrite the story? You can have all the royalties. I’d just like to see it published. I can’t speak for all authors, but usually we like to come up with our own ideas. It can be a sticky situations with copyright laws, etc. Not to mention the story that you’re passionate about might not hold that same appeal for someone else.
What you probably meant to say was: I’m in awe of someone who can get their novel published. Good for you!
10. They say everyone has one story in them. Yes, that’s what they do say, and that might very well be true. But you’ve got to ask yourself is it a story anyone else would want to read? Be honest. If it’s an epic tale about your first trip to the farmer’s market or the summer you learned to knit, you probably won’t have a very big readership for that one story of yours.
What you probably meant to say was: Congratulations. Getting published is no easy feat. May all good things come your way.

So there you have it. Ten things not to say to an author, and just in case you find yourself ready to make a faux pas you now know what to say in its place. I hope you had fun reading along.

Have you ever said something to an author you hadn’t intended to? If you’re an author has someone ever said something to you that could have been misunderstood? Perhaps you can think of something you should never say to an author. Please share if you do!

The Reader Behind That Review You Hated

My last post was about the author behind the book you hated, but in order to make this issue a bit balanced, I decided to write a post about the reviewer. When a bad review comes along, authors probably don’t stop to think about the person who actually took the time to put that review out there and what their purpose was in writing a bad review.

Right now, I’ll tell you that I don’t rate or review books and I’m sure some of you may think I have no business writing a post about the reviewer. Luckily, this is my blog so what I say goes!

Sometimes, I’m completely confused about some of the reviews I’ve read online, especially those reviews for some of the books I absolutely loved. Is that the same book I read? Nope…couldn’t possible be. But it is!  People see things in totally different ways. Just as all writers bring something different to the page so do all readers.

A friend of mine told me she had a difficult time with my last book because she grew up in a home where alcohol was a really big issue and, like the protagonist, Cammie, she didn’t know who her father was. I totally understood why she might find, “Flying with a Broken Wing” a difficult read. Cammie’s aunt Millie is a bootlegger, after all, but I never would have thought of this book as being “difficult” for anyone to read. Many people have found it funny, in fact.  Still, her comment opened my eyes a little bit to the experience that each reader brings to a book. There could be many reasons why someone disliked a book or even wrote a bad review that might not have a thing to do with the story or the writing itself. Perhaps there was something in the book that reminded them of a bad experience they had or one of the characters reminded them of someone who made their lives miserable and they just couldn’t get past that.

We can’t know what all makes up that reader’s life experience, who they are and where they’ve been. Did they grow up in a loving household? Maybe they’re unwell or feeling unloved or lonely. There are so many factors that could go into this. Perhaps the only way they have of expressing their negative feelings is to lash out in words. Perhaps again, they feel an obligation to warn other readers that they’re about to waste their valuable time reading that 500 page book that they determined was gibberish.

One thing I have come to understand about this world I live in and my experience in it, my opinion, and my expression of that opinion, is only important to me (and perhaps the sacred few who value what that opinion might be.) I have lived long enough to know that, while opinions are sometimes important, many times they really are not. What I like or what I don’t like makes absolutely no difference in the big scheme of things. We won’t all like the same book, any more than we’ll all like the same clothes or food or cars or people. Thank goodness!

I’m all for responsible reviews where a reviewer is able to give their opinion about a book, maybe even point out some obvious flaws if they feel so inclined, hopefully in a constructive way. It’s important. Diversity makes this world a better place to live.

Any writer will agree that expressing yourself through words is important. We were born to communicate, but communicating in a responsible way only makes you look classy and maybe earns you some respect along the way if you care about those things. Truthfully, those things aren’t important to everyone. I know that.

I love what author Sue Harrison had to say about my last post. If a novel is too horrible, I simply don’t review it. Why break somebody’s heart because of my (perhaps erroneous) opinion!?!”   Smart lady!

Have you ever given consideration to the reader behind the review? Has your own life experiences ever influenced your reading experience when it came to a certain book? Have you ever wondered about the reader behind that bad review?

The Author Behind That Book You Hate

As young reader I can’t recall ever reading a book and thinking it was horrible. I was much more accepting, much more willing to read a book with open eyes, not critically looking and examining what I believed to be faults in the story or the writing. I just read for the love of reading. I accepted the story for what it was. But then, that’s the beauty of youth, the way we keep our minds and hearts open, and simply allow stories to entertain us without judgment or malice. Weren’t we just the cutest things back then?

Today, it doesn’t seem to be that way. People are reading and reviewing and rating (they have every right to of course) but a part of me can’t help but wonder what happened to plain old reading for enjoyment. Why does everything have to be rated and what it the purpose behind these ratings? Some argue that it helps them decide if they want to read a book, but with so many varying opinions how could you possibly decide if a book is beautifully written or not and worth your time? If twenty people rave on about a book, there are bound to be some who absolutely hate it. Guaranteed.

Having your work out there to be scrutinized by others isn’t the easiest thing in the world, people. Ask any author. But it’s part of the territory, like it or lump it. We write the best story we can and, God willing, we might be able to share it with others. But there’s always going to be someone who won’t care about the work you put into it or what it means to the author to be able to express themselves with the written word. I’m not sure there is any other craft out there that comes under fire the way writing does. People can get nasty. I’ve seen it, myself, in the reviews of some of my favourite books and I wonder what would cause another person to write such nastiness. I’m all for honest reviews. If someone didn’t like a book they didn’t like it.

Behind every book, good or bad, there is a person. Someone who put their heart and soul into the story they want to tell. Hopefully, people will one day read it. And when/if they do, they’ll form opinions. They’ll either like it or they won’t. One thing I know for sure is, we won’t like every book we read, no more than everyone will like the book we write. It’s a fact of life. But being an author, I try to be as objective as I can and while I won’t like every book I read, I certainly respect the writer for creating it. Many, many hours goes into the writing of a book. We write and then we rewrite. Then rewrite some more. It’s a craft worthy of respect.

Honestly, I never used to think about the author behind the book until I became an author myself. I never wondered who they were or what kind of life they had. I only ever thought of them as an author, as if writing was their entire life. Of course, today, an author bio is on the back of books and we can get a small glimpse of who that person behind the book is. But that doesn’t tell a complete story. No bio I’ve read has ever told me that an author is trustworthy, honest or loyal. Or that they’re warm or caring and have a heart as big as the outdoors. I’ve not read a bio that told me how the author worked at perfecting his/her craft, working through the pain of rejection to produce something they truly believe in. Nor would you read in an author bio that someone’s nasty review was so hurtful that the author never wrote that second or third book because they stopped after number one. Nope, you won’t find any of those things in a bio. Although I’m not sure many people would even be interested in any of that and I’m sorry for sounding a little bit cynical at the moment

So while I don’t expect you all to love every book you read maybe you might stop for a moment and consider the author behind that book you either loved or hated.

 

Have you ever given any thought to the author behind the book you loved or  hate? Do you consider the idea that the reviews you write might be read by the author? Would you care?

What’s the Book About?

One of the toughest questions for any author to answer is , “What’ your book about?” Whenever that question gets asked we struggle to sum up our writing in a few words. Don’t ask me why. We’re used to writing synposes for our books so you’d think we’d be able to rattle off a brief summary as soon as that question is asked.

So, what’s “Flying with a Broken Wing” about? I’ll let the Nimbus fall catalogue tell you. (I’m on page 20 BTW.) Sorry, the qualityof the photo isn’t so good, but it’s better than a finger in the eye as they say.

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So there you have it. A quick peek into my book and what it’s about. Guess it’s  happening after all! Yippee!

Rug Hooker Extraordinaire

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The lampshades below were also hooked by Syr!

I’m always amazed at those people who have more than one exceptional talent. Maybe that’s because I don’t venture very far from writing myself, and I forget that many others do. While I’ve known author, Syr Ruus (Love Songs of Emmanuel Taggart) for several years now, I’ve only recently discovered her talent for rug hooking. Imagine my delight when I discovered that she was having a show of her hooked rugs!

Yesterday, we drove to Petite Reviere to attend Syr’s opening at the River House Gallery. We were totally amazed by Syr’s work. Here are a few snaps I took to share with my blog readers.

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Syr’s work will be on display at the River House Gallery during the month of April. If you get a chance , I suggest you drop in and take a look at the work from this local artist. There are many more rugs on display for your enjoyment. There are also copies of her book, “Love Songs of Emmanuel Taggart” for sale at the gallery if you’re interested in supporting a local author. You can check out Syr’s Facebook page as well to learn more about this talented writer/rug hooker.

Syr Ruus, Author

DSC03498  Congratulations, Syr, on the success of your rug hooking exhibition. We had a lovely time!

Finally, A Little Book News

Comparing your first born to your second child is sometimes a bit difficult not to do. When that second little one comes along we start right away by comparing their sleeping patterns. At least I know I did. Often times your first-born is more advanced when it comes to language because they have more of your undivided attention. But that doesn’t mean your second child is any less special. All children bring their own special gifts to the planet. It is what makes all of us unique. The fact that we sometimes compare the development of our children doesn’t make it right, but it doesn’t make it any less so.

I know, what does this have to do with my upcoming book? Nothing. Well, maybe something. Maybe just the fact that it’s difficult not to compare my first book to this next one, and even the whole process of publishing. For instance, Bitter, Sweet was relatively short even though, during the editing process, 5,000 words were added to the story. My upcoming book is a tad too long which means I have to make cuts this time. When my editor told me I had to add 5,000 words to Bitter, Sweet I cringed. I thought it was nearly impossible. However, editors don’t get to be editors by not knowing their stuff. Caitlin made suggestions as to where scenes could be added and slowly but surely the word count came up to where it needed to be. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d originally thought.

But cuts feel like, I don’t know, like an amputation of sorts. I’m mulling the idea of getting rid of a few very minor characters as well as a few small scenes. Writers often refer to it as “Killing off your darlings.” Might sound a bit extreme, but this late in the game it does feel extreme. I blame myself for being too wordy during the first edits. (I had an inkling this might be the case.) But laying blame doesn’t change what is. I still need to decide what can go and what can stay. Luckily, I’m not talking about 5,000 words this time, but still….

Work on the fall Nimbus catalogue is about to start. That means I’ll soon have a cover for my book. Contrary to what many people think, I’m not responsible for coming up with a cover, and thank goodness for that! You really wouldn’t want to see what I’d come up with. This doesn’t mean I won’t have any input. Once they come up with a cover, it’ll be sent my way for approval. If I hate it they’ll keep working at it. The day Caitlin sent me the cover for Bitter, Sweet I was afraid to open the file, wondering what I’d do if I absolutely hated it. Luckily, that wasn’t a problem. I loved it right away. I can’t imagine it being any different.

As for the title.

The title of “Bitter, Sweet,” was originally, “Bittersweet.” I remember when the comma was suggested. I immediately thought it looked weird. The concern with the title was there were so many other books on the market with bittersweet in them, and they wanted this one to stand out. They also thought the comma gave the book a more literary feel. The comma certainly seemed to do that. I mulled the idea over for a few days and then decided that the compromise didn’t feel that horrible, and really wasn’t all that different from the original. Of course, now I couldn’t imagine the title without a comma.

So what about the title of this book? During discussions with my editor, we’ve decided to make a slight adjustment to the title. Instead of “To Fly With a Broken Wing,” We’ve decided to change it to “Flying With a Broken Wing.” Just a small change, but I’d originally titled it, “Fly With a Broken Wing,” until it was pointed out that images of “a fly” were difficult to get past. Hadn’t thought of that when I originally titled it. Now it makes me giggle.

So yes, the book is making progress. We’re working toward publication. I know it feels really slow, and a lot of people have been telling me they’re getting anxious. I’m sure you can appreciate how I feel being the author and all. But patience is something all writers learn. In fact, it’s a must. As soon as I have a cover I’ll post.

So I’m off now to start making some cuts. Wish me luck!

Who Are You Sleeping With?

DSC03197I posted this pic on Facebook some weeks ago. It’s actually a plaque I got for Christmas this year and thought it was kind of neat. But the truth comes out when I say I can’t remember ever taking a book to bed with me. While, I sometimes stay up late to read I don’t do it from beneath the covers. Not even once!

I know a lot of people read in bed almost every night. It’s part of their bedtime ritual. After a long day it’s a great way for them to unwind as they curl up in bed with one of their favourite authors. For some, it’s the only quiet time in the day when they can enter an imaginary world and become a part of it. And we all know how important it is to lose ourselves into the world of imagination, right?

These days I tend to read while using the treadmill. In fact, some days it’s the only time I find to read.(Ah the busy, busy life of an author!) Let’s face it, a treadmill can be pretty darn boring, aimlessly walking until you work up a sweat with no true destination in mind, not even a change in scenery. So, I decided to combine the two. I thought, why not?  I’ve got such a list of books waiting for me I try to cram in reading time anywhere I can.

I’m also one of those lucky people who can read while driving in a car and not lose their lunch in the process. FYI, I’m not the one doing the driving. (Wouldn’t want to scare any of you readers out there. ) Living 45 minutes out of town does sometimes have its advantages, and on shopping day I can squeeze in some reading as well. I’m also known to take reading material with me to work, and read on breaks or at lunch time. Hey, who says you can’t find time to read?

Reading is important to writers. It’s not an option, it’s a must. I know many people don’t get that, and that’s alright. I’ve been accused by some of  “always” reading or writing, like it’s a bad thing. But the truth is, if you’re serious about being a writer, you’ve also got to read. Writers are often inspired by reading the words of others. I can’t begin to say how many times a particular book has inspired me with my own writing even if that book doesn’t resemble what I’m writing at all. It’s kind of a strange and wonderfully weird thing that happens to many writers when we read a book we really love. It makes us want to rush out and write our own story. We are sometimes struck by a moment of clarity that brings everything into focus for us, and we have other writers to thank for that.

Okay, so I got a little side-tracked from my original post. I was talking about reading in bed, which I mentioned I don’t do. But how many of you read in bed— once in awhile, never, or almost always?

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?

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?

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