I Just Can’t Like You Anymore

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of problems liking people, which is new for me since I generally get along well with others. Here’s the scoop. I’ll start with Facebook. I love Facebook, don’t get me wrong, but this past while I’ve noticed, I no sooner “like” something then I notice that “like” has been taken away, disappeared into the great wide world of the Internet. Zappo! Poof! I don’t think it’s just me and my slow connection since others seem to agree with, but not everyone. Some say it hasn’t been a problem for them. And it’s not just the likeability thing. I’m sometimes told I can’t comment or else the comment I make disappears too. Well, okay, I’ll accept that, but when I want to comment on my own status it’s a bit annoying to be told I’m not allowed to.

Is it fair to knock these free services? I’m not sure. Do we have a right to certain expectations? I kind of think so since the whole idea is for us to interact with one another. Free or not, it’s difficult not to find yourself grumbling a time or two when these things mess up so frequently.

Since were on the subject of likes:

Now onto WordPress. I love the “like “ button we now have, because let’s face it sometimes we just don’t have time to think up a comment or sometimes we just have nothing to add, but still want to say, “Hey, I liked your post!” It’s a support thing and it’s great. However, most of the time my “like” button won’t load. This, I’m fairly sure is because of my connection and not a whole lot I can do about it. Every now and then I’m surprised when everything loads properly. So, it’s not that I don’t “like” you all anymore. Really it’s not you…it’s me.

The last of the proofreading for my book was done over the long weekend. I swear no matter how many times something is proofread, by yourself and others, those nasty little typos are bound to appear from out of nowhere. It’s seems inevitable. Yet we all hope. My editor says it’s impossible to catch them all. It’s soon off to the printers! I’ve been in touch with the Publicist from Nimbus and we’ve discussed launch dates although at this point it’s a bit tricky since there’s always the chance that things will get tied up at the printers. Can’t have a launch if the books have been delayed, right? For now, I have a tentative date since I needed to book the community centre ahead of time. No official announcement yet.  It’s all moving straight ahead.

Today Miss Charlotte comes to visit and we’re pretty excited. She hasn’t been down since Christmas. Hopefully, she’ll find lots to do and the weather will be great.

So, that’s my bit of news for the week. What are you all up to this week? Are any of you are having a problem “liking” people?

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!

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?

Starr Dobson Struck

Every Maritimer should recognize the name Starr Dobson. If you don’t you must be living in complete isolation. For those of you not from the Maritime area, Starr is the co-host of Live at Five, a suppertime news show which highlights people and stories from the Maritime region.

In case any of you are wondering about the title of this post, I wasn’t actually struck by Starr Dobson when we met last Sunday, of course not, silly! In fact, she couldn’t have been any more gracious when I caught up with her at Dempsey Corner Orchard Farm  near Aylesford, Nova Scotia.

We were greeted at the door by two rather rambunctious goats. Quite fitting since  Starr was there to sign copies of her picture book, newly published by Nimbus Publishing, titled My Goat Gertrude.

About an hour into the book signing, Starr read her book to a group of children who sat listening to her every word. She captivated them all, and no wonder. Nothing like having a local celebrity in your midst with a great book. I’ve never seen so many children quite that quiet.  The moment I heard about Starr’s book, and that she was going to be handy my neck of the woods, I knew I had to get a copy for Miss Charlotte. It was no surprise to learn that Starr is just as friendly in person as what we see on Live at Five every evening. In fact, she is so down to earth you almost feel as though she’s a member of the family.

The lovely illustrations for the book were created by Dayle Dodwell who lives in Bedford, Nova Scotia. You can visit her at dayledodwellsillustration.blogspot.com. This is the very first children’s book that Dayle has illustrated. I’d say she did a number one job! There are more illustrations on her site. I encourage you to pop over and have a peek.

Have I mentioned the scrapbook I’m going to put together for Miss Charlotte with pictures of her Nanny Bee with children’s writers from the area? (I’m hoping she’ll think it’s pretty cool when she’s old enough to read these authors’ books for herself.) Well I mentioned it to Starr who immediately told me I didn’t look old enough to be a grandmother.  I’m thinking now I should have bought a few more books for that remark!! I mentioned to my daughter how tall Starr is to which she quickly came back with, “No, you’re just short.” So here’s a photo of Starr scrunching down to make me look taller. I actually think it was just so my husband could fit us both into the same shot. By the look on my face, I’d say I’m the one who looks a little star struck!

I Heard the Word, and it was on the Street

Word on the Street was held on the Halifax waterfront this year. It’s the annual celebration of book and magazine publishers, authors, anything to do with the written word. Two years ago I read from my manuscript as my book wasn ‘t yet back from the printers. This year I went to be part of the audience, brought along my camera and enjoyed the day as a spectator. Okay, so I hung out around the young adult stage for much of the time we were there. It only seemed natural. Plus, I was hoping to get some photos with some of my favourite YA authors.  I’m putting together a scrapbook, one that I hope Miss Charlotte will adore when she is old enough to be reading these authors for herself. Hopefully, she’ll be impressed to see that her Nanny Bee actually met these incredible authors for real.

We arrived in time to hear Jan Coates read from, “A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk.”  I’m not sure why I didn’t make Jan pose for a picture with me. Maybe it was because she was in a hurry to get over to the Woozles booth to sign books. As many times as what Jan and I have had coffee together it makes me wonder why there isn’t one single shot of the two of us together. Why is that Jan?

 

 

 

We checked out the various publishers who were set up. Got a few pictures of the books on Nimbus Publishing’s table.

Look, there’s JoAnn Yhard’s books Lost on Brier Island and The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines. Sorry that I missed JoAnn’s reading, I blame the chauffeur, although I can’t complain because he does a darn good job of driving the old folks around the city. Thanks, Matt!  Not to worry, we took him to have his photo snapped with Theodore Tugboat. It was all good.

When I asked for a photo with Sheree Fitch, she pulled out her glasses from her big Mary Poppin-sized bag and asked me to put them on. Well, you don’t say no to Sheree Fitch.

What do you think? Do I look any taller in these?  Hmmm, I’m kind of wondering now what all she keeps in that purple bag of hers.

So listen up, I learned a valuable lesson while talking to Sheree yesterday. Never, ever tell an author, such as Sheree Fitch, that you loved her book. You’ll be sure to get a somewhat polite but confused response when they ask you “which book?”  Duh! Like Sheree’s been published a gazillion times and I have read a number of her books, but I don’t think she’s yet mastered mind reading. Always remember to mention what book you’re talking about. It just makes it  SO much easer for the author.

We listened while Sheree, Jill MacLean ad Don Aker read from their books and answered the audience’s questions.

I chatted with Jill MacLean later. I met Jill last year at at the book launch for author Cynthia D’entrement’s book  Unlocked . Jill even wrote me a lovely note  last year to congratulate me on Bitter, Sweet’s nomination for the Bilson Award. So it’s obvious that I could have used Sheree’s glasses this time too., or would you believe I was sitting down for this shot?

 

 

 

I was excited to meet Valeria Sherrard. Valerie’s latest book, The Glory Wind, won the Ann Conner Brimer award this year. Yay Valerie!  I’m SO looking forward to reading it. It was remarkable to watch as Valerie answered questions from young readers. Seems to me, those young readers had some well thought out questions. Glad it was Valerie on the hot-seat and not me.

I ran into Syr Ruus yesterday as well. She was off to sign copies of her book, Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart. Okay, so Syr scrunched down a bit for this photo to make me appear a bit taller. How’s that for friendship, I ask?

Before heading back out of the big city, we listened to Steve Vernon read from his YA novel, Sinking Deeper.        Having already read the book, I knew what to expect. My son did not. I do believe by some of the chuckles he quite enjoyed Steve’s sense of humour, and his lively writing which comes out quite nicely in this book.  Steve’s a great story-teller and very entertaining. A real pro.                                                                                                                                                                                

So, I think I covered just about everything. Of course, there is so much more to Word on the Street than what I covered, but I can’t be in every place at once . If you have never gone it’s well worth going to. We have some truly remarkable and talented authors in our area.

Guest Blogger–Darlene Foster

For a bit of a change I’ve invited Darlene Foster to do a guest post on my blog, and she graciously accepted my invitation. Darlene and I were both contributors to The Country Roads Anthology (Nimbus Publishing) and became acquainted through facebook. In my opinion, the friendships I have formed with some of the contributors has been one of the greatest things to come out of this anthology. I hope most of them would also agree.

To find out more about Darlene and the Amanda Series you can visit Darlene on her Blog Or her website.

Where does a writer get ideas?

It’s hard to say where the germ of an idea for a book comes from, but I like to think for me, it started way back when I was a kid growing up on a ranch in southern Alberta. I was bored and lonely and would dream of visiting amazing places I read about in books and learned about at school. I would often day-dream I was travelling the world and having amazing adventures. Many years later, when I had the opportunity to visit a friend working in the United Arab Emirates, I jumped at the chance. I had such a good time I felt compelled to share it with the world. I started to write a nonfiction account of my trip but it didn’t quite capture what I felt and experienced. During my visit, I remembered my friend commenting that my excitement reminded her of a twelve-year old. So, I started to write from the point of view of a twelve-year old. Then I decided it needed some adventure and Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask slowly took shape.

A few years later my in-laws retired from England to Spain which gave good reason to visit and explore that country. I found it also quite amazing so decided my young heroine should have an adventure there as well. From that experience, Amanda in Spain-The Girl in The Painting was born. I collected materiel over three visits. Writing the second book gave me a chance to develop the characters and the friendship of Amanda and Leah, while describing the locations and points of interest.

Followers of the Amanda books kept asking, “Where will Amanda go next?” That told me I had to keep going. I had been to visit England a number of times since that’s my husband’s home country, so it made sense that Amanda would go there next. Right now I am having a lot of fun writing Amanda in England-The Missing Novel as I now know my characters quite well. I have introduced some interesting extras including a big old Maine Coon cat named Rupert, who lives in a book store.
Where will Amanda go after England? I haven’t decided yet, but one thing is for certain, Amanda doesn’t get to go anywhere I haven’t been! This may be motivation to visit another cool place on this amazing planet we live on.

So from dreams of travelling all those years ago, to having the opportunity to travel as an adult, some stories have been generated for other kids who may dream of travelling to intriguing places or just want to learn more about them from the vantage point of a twelve-year old.

Where did the idea for your first book come from?

Buy Book or Buy Nook

All this talk about ebooks these days leaves me thinking I just “don’t know much.”

I recently learned from author, Linda Cassidy Lewis, that a Nook is a Barnes and Nobleereader. If you haven’t checked out Linda’s blog yet you should. Linda is the midst of preparing her novel, The Brevity of Roses for publication. She’s one of many authors these days who are choosing to go Indie. It’s been interesting following her journey.

Now that I’ve been newly educated I learned, just this morning, from my publisher that Bitter, Sweet is now available as an ebook. Talk about timing! At the moment it’s only available on the Barnes and Noble site, but it will also be available for a Kobo soon. I’ve been told it’s a bit of a complicated process.

I’ve included the link here if you care to check it out.

It’s all very new for Nimbus and they’ve only just begun to prepare their backlist. Hmm. I know this is the way the publishing industry is headed, but I can’t help but hold onto the hope that our paper version of books will not disappear off the face of the planet one day. Call me old-fashioned, but I can’t see myself using an ereader anytime soon. Still, if I’ve learned anything in fifty years it’s to never say never. I would imagine that publishing companies have to keep up with the times. It’s an interesting world we live in.

How do you all feel about ereaders? Do you own one, plan to own one, or plan never to own one?

Plants for Atlantic Gardens

My dreams are filled with lavender, hydrangea and magnolia, bright colours and sweet fragrance, but can I, I wonder, turn my dreams into reality?

Plants For Atlantic Gardens is a brand-new book out from Nimbus Publishing, written by gardening guru, Jodi Delong.

If you’re looking for the perfect gardening book, for either yourself or the gardener in your life, this book is it. Not only is it filled with beautiful colour photos (200 to be exact), but there is plenty of information for overcoming the challenges of gardening in the Atlantic area. (If you live on the east coast you all know what I mean about challenges.) The book highlights 100 of the best species for planting in Atlantic Canada and includes a hardiness zone and helpful tips on a variety of gardening topics.

Earlier today, a friend and I were literally gushing over this book. Isn’t that right, Torry? It really has to be seen to be fully appreciated. This book is not only for all the Atlantic Canadian Gardeners out there but for those of us who one day plan to make our dream garden a reality. (That means me too!)

You all know Jodi, sure you do! Jodi is the gardening editor for Saltscapes Magazine and she writes gardening columns for the Sunday Herald and The Atlantic Co-operator. Check out her BLOG for beautiful photos and information on all sorts of flowering plants and shrubs. Jodi was inspired to create this photo of herself when she got to see one of the rarest of native wildflowers, the plymouth gentian, growing down in Yarmouth county. She mentioned that it was one of the highlights of her life and so she created a double exposure in Picasa. The following quote, which I absolutely love, expresses Jodi’s thoughts about the photo.
“It makes the plant more important than me, and that’s how I feel about what I do–if it encourages others to garden, to protect pollinators, to beautify the world around me, I’m happy.”

Now there’s a lady who loves her plants.

You can order your very own copy at Amazon.ca or Amazon.com And you know there will be plenty of copies in the local bookstores.

Before I forget to mention it, book launches for Plants for Atlantic Gardens will be on Saturday February 26th, 2:00-4:00 pm at The Telegraph Tea Room, Melvern Square, in the Annapolis Valley, and the Woodlawn Public Library in Dartmouth on March 10th at 7.pm. A whole list of signing dates can be found here on Jodi’s blog.

Congratulations, Jodi, on the publication of this lovely, lovely book!

Witchcraft

Just in time for Halloween, too! Here’s a look at the cover of Clary Croft’s new book, out from Nimbus this October. Clary Croft is a folklorist, writer, and entertainer. He is the author of several books, including Helen Creighton: Canada’s First Lady of Folklore, A Maritimer’s Miscellany, and Celebrate: The History and Folklore of Holidays in Nova Scotia. Clary lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Okay, so I totally got the bio from the Nimbus fall catalogue, but at least now ya know a bit about him.

Thursday night we attended a reading and talk by Clary at the Desbrisay Museum in Bridgewater. I was so taken by his speaking abilities that I even emailed my editor at Nimbus to say so. Seems like a silly thing to have done now, but I’ve got to say the man gives a good talk. He’s got a pretty good sense of humour, too. When asked if he learned any spells while researching this book, his answer was, “If I did do you think I’d still be bald headed?”

I’ve been interested in the topic of Witchcraft for a long time now. Lunenburg County is filled with stories of people who believed in witchcraft and I’m not talking about centuries ago, either. My grandmother actually believed that one of her neighbours was a witch, and would make my mum and her siblings wear dogwood crossed pinned to their undershirts whenever they had to walk past this woman’s house. To say this peaked my interest is an understatement. I only wish now my grandmother was alive so that I could ask her a few questions about some of her beliefs. But it seems these opportunities often slip through our fingertips, and far too often it is too late. Of course, to get this out of my system I did write an novel on the subject. So yes, you could say I was pretty excited to hear Clary speak the other night.

Witchcraft is in stores now and also available at Amazon.ca.

Gone Fishing!

Fishing at West Lahave

So while I was off fishing with my family in West Lahave there was a little bit of a stir going on unbeknownst to me. My daughter called my cell phone to say congratulations. “Bitter, Sweet” has been shortlisted for the Geoffery Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.

Word from the publisher is that it’s quite a honour.  Hey, I’d say!!

So do you think I am excited?

Excited doesn’t even begin to describe what I’m feeling.

Here’s part of the official word, straight from the Canadian Children’s Book Centre:

GEOFFREY BILSON AWARD FOR HISTORICAL FICTION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE ($5,000)

Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund

Bitter, Sweet
Written by Laura Best (Springfield, NS)
Nimbus Publishing
for ages 10 and up

“A beautifully crafted novel set in 1948 in Nova Scotia told by Pru, a young girl trying to keep her siblings together after their father abandons them and their mother dies… Best has masterfully created a sense of time and place… The characters are thoughtfully developed and their relationships to each other skillfully described.”

I’ve been nominated along with some pretty cool writers : John Wilson , Barbara Haworth-Attard, Shane Peacock , and Nancy Hartry.

Here’s my son’s girlfriend catching her very first fish ever.. I kind of know how she  feels.

Guess I should go fishing more often!!

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