Butterboxes and ARCs

Back in the  early 90’s Bette Cahill broke the story of the Butterbox Babies. Until that time it had been a well-kept secret. While people nearby knew of The Ideal Maternity Home, many of them had no idea of the atrocities that were taking place there.

It was while I was writing FLYING WITH A BROKEN WING, the story of a visually impaired girl who is determined to find her mother, that I realized she was, in fact, a survivor of the Ideal Maternity Home. While this fact is revealed in CAMMIE TAKES FLIGHT, we still do not discover who Cammie’s mother is or the circumstance surrounding her birth.

But all that will be revealed in April when my upcoming book hits the bookshelves. I hope readers will continue the journey with Cammie as we go back in time to when Cammie was born. While the book will answer many questions for readers, it’s important to know that THE FAMILY WAY is also what we call a stand alone novel, meaning that you don’t have to have read the first two novels in order for this one to make sense. It can be read on its own.

I want to give a shout-out to Sue Slade manager of the Dartmouth Book Exchange for sending along this photo. In case you are wondering, that is a butterbox in the background, similar to the ones that came from the LaHave Creamery and served as small coffins for the newborns that died at the home.

Thanks, Sue.

The Christmas Miracle

I’m so very happy to say that two days before Christmas high speed internet came to the Best household. As Cammie might say, “A real Christmas miracle through and through.”

Lines were being run late in the fall and everyone in our little Nova Scotia community were anxiously awaiting the day when they were ready to start installing it into people’s houses. Seriously, I used to think this day would never come.

Many people don’t realize that high speed internet just isn’t a thing for a lot of people in rural areas—still, even now, in 2021. They assume that everyone has it and that’s just not the case. I can’t tell you how many opportunities I’ve had to miss out on, or how difficult it’s been for me as a writer to do research. Or the time, my internet screwed up and I ended up spamming my editor by sending out the same manuscript to her no less that seventeen times. Good thing I figured out that something wasn’t right and disconnected! Yup, I kid you not–seventeen times! 

But no more. All that has changed because of the Christmas miracle of 2020 and it’s as if a light has suddenly been lit and I can see what’s going on in the rest of the world. 

For now that’s my news, and for me, it’s pretty big. I’m hoping to be able to give some updates soon about my upcoming books for 2021. But right now I must head out, I have a date with Google. 😉

So Long, Farewell 2020

Many people have expressed how anxious they are to see an end to 2020, and I can’t really blame them. This year has certainly challenged us in so many ways. I could list them all, but that would be depressing. We’ve lived the challenging parts once, no need to keep rubbing salt in the wound.

BUT 2020 has also allowed us to turn inward and appreciate the people in our lives and a host of little things that we had perhaps been taking for granted. We started baking and working on projects we’d been putting off, going for walks and rediscovering what it was like to have a phone conversation with someone you haven’t seen for awhile. It gave us the opportunity to show gratitude and kindness and understanding. It forced us to spend more time with the people closest to us, to nurture our relationships and to appreciate nature. 

For this author, 2020 saw the release of, not only my fourth novel, but my first novel for adults. It had been a dream of mine for many, many years, one that seemed so very impossible the first time I decided that writing was something I needed to do.

I was thrilled to see my book make several CBC lists and also the Globe and Mail’s list of Hottest Summer Releases. That was an absolute thrill.

I thank all of you for the support you’ve shown me over the years, and during this year especially. I am so very grateful for so many of you who shared my newly published book on Social Media, and to those who wrote reviews and rated it. 

While 2020 didn’t allow for book launches and readings the way we would have normally seen, I did hold my NO-LAUNCH-BOOK-LAUNCH  here on my blog in July. Thanks to so many of you for dropping by and for supporting this local author. 

2020 also saw me retiring from my day job and spending more time at the keyboard. In early 2020, I was deep in the edits to my next middle grade novel, The Family Way, that will be published in April 2021. As I’ve mentioned previously, it’s the prequel to the Cammie novels and I’m so excited to introduce readers to Tulia May Thompson and Finny Paul, the main characters of the book.

So to sum it all up, so long 2020, I’m ready to release you into the Universe and invite 2021 to visit for the next twelve months. My hope is that 2021 will be a gentler lady than her predecessor. But, in the words of Tulia May Thompson, “….life doesn’t offer guarantees.”  

I’ll leave 2020 with this song from the Sound of Music and welcome 2021 with open arms. Happy New Year to you all!

 

Special Delivery, Unveiled.

Days before Christmas I mentioned  here on my blog that Miss Charlotte had received a special delivery from my awesome publisher, complete with a special note. I was feeling a little down that she wouldn’t be able to come to our home for Christmas this year, something she’d been doing for the past ten years. So, it was such a wonder gesture on my publisher’s part.

 

Needless to say, she was one happy girl. Miss Charlotte likes the cover as it is but it has yet to be finalized at this time, so we may see some changes when the book actually comes out.

What’s the book about? Well, for those of you who are familiar with the Cammie series, this book is the prequel to those.  Readers will finally find out who Cammie’s mother is.  Much of the book is set at the Ideal Maternity Home in East Chester, the infamous home of the Butterbox Babies. Here’s the back cover blurb.

Set in 1930 and based on true events, this middle-grade novel explores family secrets, set at the Ideal Maternity Home.

Tulia May lives in rural Nova Scotia with her mother, who works in the laundry of the nearby Ideal Maternity Home. It’s a place where unwed mothers can discreetly give birth, a place where adoptions by rich Americans can be quickly arranged. Tulia doesn’t think about the workings of the home much; mostly she hates being roped in to helping scrub the endless diapers. Her friend Finny Paul has suspicions that the home is holding sinister secrets — the worst being that unadoptable babies are being buried in butterboxes — but Tulia thinks he’s being ridiculous. When Tulia’s sister Becky ends up in the home, Tulia truly starts to consider Finny’s concerns. And when she and Finny discover what’s really going on there, she knows she has to act quickly to keep Becky’s baby safe.

Based on the true story of the Ideal Maternity Home, and its tragic Butterbox Babies, The Family Way is a thoughtful and engaging exploration of family and of Nova Scotia’s history. A stand-alone middle-grade novel, it also serves as a prequel to the critically acclaimed Cammie novels, Flying With a Broken Wing

Release date for The Family Way is April 2021. That’s only four months  from now. I’m so looking forward to sharing the rest of Cammie’s story with you all. In the mean time, I’ll be hard at work on the edits for my next novel, A Sure Cure for Witchcraft.

Special Delivery

Have I said how much I love my publisher? It is true. Here is just a small example as to why.

Awhile back, my awesome publisher sent out a special delivery package to my granddaughter who is in another province and won’t be able to make it to Nova Scotia for Christmas this year. It will be the first time in ten years that we won’t get to see her. 

The outside packaging was a little beat up when it arrived in the mailbox, but the wrapped item inside made the trip quite nicely.

So many times, it is the small things that end up meaning so very much. This special delivery went above and beyond. Thank you Kate, and everyone at Nimbus Publishing!

So, what’s inside you might ask? I can’t answer that before Christmas, wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, you know.  You’ll have to check back in with me after Christmas to find out. But in the meanwhile you’re welcome to guess.

Hoping you all have a happy and safe holiday. 

 

The Art of Listening

In this world there are talkers and there are listeners. Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to appreciate some of the listeners in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a writer. I understand the importance of words. But sometimes it is much more important to be the listener and not the talker; to hear the words of another, not just speak them.

Listening is a gift that not everyone seems capable of giving. It is not as easy as it sounds. If you are not by nature a listener or a good listener, perhaps it is time you tried. You might be surprised what you can learn about the people in your life.

So I want to say thank you to the people in my life who take the time to listen.

One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say. - Bryant H. McGill

Merry Bookmas to Me

I have no illusions that Christmas is going to be like every other year. In fact, I’m positive. How can it be? We’re in the midst of a pandemic. My family will not be able to come because of the restrictions that I don’t expect to be lifted in time to save Christmas. However, we’re making plans to celebrate later when it is safe for everyone. Disappointing? Absolutely. But we’ve all lived through disappointments. I refused to say that Christmas will be ruined. When we are able get together again the important part will be the actual getting together. That can happen anytime and we don’t need Christmas to do that.

So this Christmas, I decided to pick up some books to celebrate. I mean, if you can’t be with family, then spend your time reading. Right?

Here are some books I’m very anxious to get to, and to top it all off they’re from local Maritime authors. WALLS OF THE CAVE as been our for awhile now, but it’s one you shouldn’t miss. I’ve had BRIGHTEN THE CORNER WHERE YOU ARE for a few weeks now and I just picked up BOY WITH A PROBLEM yesterday when I was in town. I’ll be reading them over the Christmas break.I’m sure I don’t have to remind any of you that buying local books, helps to support our local authors. And don’t forget our local books stores while you’re at it. Whenever possible support them as well. I know plenty of people pre-order books through Amazon, but did you know you can also do the same at your local Indie bookstore? Just saying.

And to satisfy my “young at heart side” THE HERMIT by Jan Coates and THE RISE AND FALL OF DEREK COWELL by Valerie Sherrard: two great novels for kids. I’ve already read the HERMIT (loved it) and am part way through THE RISE AND FALL OF DEREK CROWELL (loving it!)

These are just five books that have been taking up place in the Best household recently; five out of all the wonderful local Maritime books that are out there just waiting to find readers.

I’m not sure what your Christmas is shaping up to look like this year, but I hope you’ll consider giving either yourself, or someone on your gift list, a book from a local author. And because I’m always happy to promote other authors, please feel free to leave any book recommendations in the comment section of this blog. If you’re an author, feel free to give your own book a shout-out. We’d love to hear about your book.

The Family Way

Just a quick blog post to bring everyone up to speed about my next book.. Yes, there’s soon to be a next!

The title of the new book is The Family Way and is due to be published in April 2021.

The ARCs have been sent off to the printer awhile ago. We still have to finalize the cover for the actual book but there’s still plenty of time for that. If you remember, ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) are sent out early to reviewers and book sellers in advance of the actually book. To, hopefully, get people excited about the book before it actually comes out.

The Family Way is what we call a stand-alone middle-grade novel, but is also the prequel to my other two Cammie novels, Flying with a Broken Wing and Cammie Takes Flight. What that means is that you don’t have to have read the other two novels in order for this one to make sense. Thus the term—stand alone. The book is set at the infamous Ideal Maternity Home in East Chester in 1939, the year Cammie was born. If you’ve heard anything about The Butterbox Babies, this is where that true life story actually happened.

Here’s the back cover copy and will give you a bit of an idea what the book is about.:

Set in 1930 and based on true events, this middle-grade novel explores family secrets, set at the Ideal Maternity Home.

Tulia May lives in rural Nova Scotia with her mother, who works in the laundry of the nearby Ideal Maternity Home. It’s a place where unwed mothers can discreetly give birth, a place where adoptions by rich Americans can be quickly arranged. Tulia doesn’t think about the workings of the home much; mostly she hates being roped in to helping scrub the endless diapers. Her friend Finny Paul has suspicions that the home is holding sinister secrets—the worst being that unadoptable babies are being buried in butterboxes—but Tulia thinks he’s being ridiculous. When Tulia’s sister Becky ends up in the home, Tulia truly starts to consider Finny’s concerns. And when she and Finny discover what’s really going on there, she knows she has to act quickly to keep Becky’s baby safe.

Based on the true story of the Ideal Maternity Home, and its tragic Butterbox Babies, The Family Way is a thoughtful and engaging exploration of family and of Nova Scotia’s history. A stand-alone middle-grade novel, it also serves as a prequel to the critically acclaimed Cammie novels, Flying With a Broken Wing and Cammie Takes Flight.

When I have a finalized cover, I will share it here on my blog.  In the meantime, edits for yet another middle-grade book A Sure Cure for Witchcraft  will be getting underway in the next month or so. I actually started that book many years ago and have worked on it  off and on since then, trying to get it to a place where I’m satisfied with the end result.  I’m so happy that it is now going to be published in fall 2021. The story is set in Germany in the mid-1700’s and at the time when Foreign Protestants were immigrating to this country. It was actually where my ancestors on both sides of my mother’s family came from, so this book is especially important to me.

So that’s sort of it for now. I hope you’re finding some positive things in your life these days. It has been difficult for so many of us with the pandemic on, but despite the pandemic, life still goes on. That means we have to learn to adapt, to search for the joy in our lives, no matter how difficult that joy may be to find.

Have a wonderful November.

 

Finding Gratitude

Here we are into Thanksgiving weekend during a pandemic that has left some of us wondering what we have in our lives to be thankful for. Sometimes, when things around us seem bleak it’s difficult to see that silver lining. There’s been a lot of talk about silver linings these past months and it’s a good thing. Hope is the very thing that keeps us going, day in and day out, even when some of those times seem nearly hopeless. Silver linings are all around us, but we need to pay attention and keep our eyes open at all times.

FYI: If you’re interested in reading stories of gratitude, why not check out Janice Landry’s book: Silver Linings: Stories of Gratitude, Resiliency and Growth Through Adversity 

What I began to notice, when the lockdown started was that many people were finding their way to my blog and I started to get hits every day, and continue to get hits, on the Thanksgiving Day post I wrote last year– Another Day to be Thankful.  And, to me, that says something positive about us as humans.

People want to feel hope. It’s a natural thing, even when despair creeps in from time to time. I’m sure we have all been discouraged, especially these past months. I know I have, but I have learned that no one can pick me up out of that despair but me. It comes from within, not from an outside source. We are all a WIP, a term we writers use meaning “a work in progress” but, so too, is it true when it comes to our lives. People who have overcome adversity did not do it through lack of hope. That would be impossible.

I’m encouraged by so many of the uplifting post I see on social media these days. Many people are working hard to help themselves and others through these challenging times. I keep reminding myself that if someone turns their own despair and hopeless outward they are going to seem quite crabby and discontent. They are the ones who are posting much of the negativity we see out there. BUT we have a choice to see the lightness or the darkness in any situation. It is all in how we choose to look at things. We have that power within us to turn things around. We just do.

I’ll leave you with this thanksgiving quote. Have a Happy COVID Thanksgiving Day to my Canadian friends :

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

 

 

Interview with Melanie Mosher

It is my pleasure to welcome Melanie Mosher to my blog to talk about her middle grade novel, Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye.  Not only is the book available in print and ebook, but it is now available in audio. Pretty exciting! Melanie grew up in Amherst, Nova Scotia, and won an essay contest in grade two, sparking her imagination and beginning a lifelong love of stories. Fire Pie Trout received honorable mention in the Atlantic Writing Competition and later became her first published picture book. Melanie now lives in Gaetz Brook and continues to make up stories to share with her granddaughter, Emma.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing journey and when you first
knew that you were a writer?

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of writing for as long as I can remember. In grade two I won an essay writing contest and that gave me the encouragement to continue. I grew up in a house filled with books, so making up stories of my own seemed like the obvious thing to do. I remember imagining someone holding one of my books and reading it before they went to sleep.

Tell us about your book. What is A Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye about?

This is a story of loss. Ten-year-old Laney has lost her younger sister in a tragic accident and the reader witnesses her grieving. Laney feels guilty about her part in her sister’s death and cannot talk about it. The reader also sees the rest of her family struggle, each in their own way. There are other characters who have experienced different types of loss.

Laney’s family spends the summer at their cottage on the Northumberland Strait, and here they begin to heal. The story is also one of friendship, hope, and resilience. It’s not all sad. There are bonfires with marshmallows and ghost stories, walks on the beach to find shells and sea glass, hide ‘n’ seek games to play, and plenty of kool-aid and watermelon.

 Why was it important that you write this book?

In 1976, my younger sister was killed in an accident and my family was devastated. My parents, so engulfed in their own grief, were unsure of how to help my siblings and I cope. We fumbled through and life went on.

Today, things have improved. There are grief counsellors in schools and an awareness that people may need help in navigating their emotions.

I wrote this story to offer comfort to a young reader who has suffered a loss or to encourage empathy for those who are near. And to show that talking is always better than not talking.

You mentioned in the acknowledgements that your book went through many drafts and started out as a short story in 1998. What kept you going back to the story and were there times when you felt like giving
up?

I put the story aside many times, but it always lured me back. This happens with my writing. I can write a draft and put it away thinking it’s not good enough. Over time, the idea comes back to me and I pull the story out and reread it. If the idea still appeals to me, I proceed with the next draft.

The original version of A Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye, entitled The Diving Stand, was about 1200 words. It explored Laney’s fear of jumping off the platform into the deep water, a tangible fear with a possible physical solution—jumping. As time passed, I realized Laney had another fear, one that was less tangible and harder to deal with, the loss of her sister and discussing her guilt with her mother.

Do you have any words of encouragement for other writers out there
who have yet to see publication?

Tenacity!

Like any skill, writing is a craft that improves over time. Send your work out, but don’t be discouraged by rejection. Every writer gets rejected and it stings. Be willing to brush yourself off and try again. Either by reworking the same story, or creating a new one, or both. Believe it is possible!

Are you working on anything at the moment? If so, can you share it with us?

I usually have more than one thing on the go at a time. When one project isn’t working or needs to rest, I change to the next one. As long as I’m writing in some capacity, I feel like I’m moving forward.

I’m working on an early chapter book about a young boy who loves school but finds himself suspended after a bad decision that was made for a good reason. I’ve never written a male protagonist before, but this character arrived in my brain and had a story to tell.

I also have another picture book in the works, three freelance articles for magazines, and an adult non-fiction book that explores my journey with depression.

As you can see, they vary greatly. For me, it seems to help my creativity if I shift between genres and projects.

Thank you, Melanie for sharing a bit about your writing world with us. Congratulations of the publication of another book! I wish you all the best.

 

What’s it about: Every summer, Laney’s family visits their cottage on Tidnish Beach. Summertime on Nova Scotia’s north shore is slow and sweet: there are long days in the water until fingers turn pruney, bottomless glasses of cherry Kool-Aid, and bonfires with the other families summering along the shore. But this year the baking heat and bright red sand provide cold comfort. This year Laney’s little sister, Jenny, is gone.

Ten-year-old Laney grapples with the loss. She carries immense, secret guilt that she can only work out by writing letters to her sister. Laney’s mother won’t even say Jenny’s name, so writing quickly becomes Laney’s coping mechanism, to the detriment of her social skills. She avoids the other kids until she makes a new friend—one who doesn’t look at her with pity.

It’s a tough lesson for a preteen, but Laney must learn to acknowledge her grief in order to overcome it. When a situation arises and Laney needs to help her new friend, she finally understands that even though she will miss Jenny forever, she can find happiness again. A tender meditation on life and loss through the lens of a childhood summer, A Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye will fill readers with warmth and spark important conversations.

 

Melanie’s book is available in print, as an ebook and in audio.

You can find out more about Melanie through the Nimbus Publishing website HERE

Melanie’s book is available through Nimbus Publishing.

                                                          Amazon

                                                          Chapters/Indigo

And don’t forget your local book seller!

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