Pumpkin Update

Our lives have changed since we became the growers of a giant pumpkin. Just the other day I found myself hurrying down to the pumpkin patch just to have a little peek. I checked it again when I got home–just to see. It’s an endless task, this checking to see how much the pumpkin grew while you were away. Any number of things could go wrong in our absense. My stepfather’s pumpkins fell prey to groundhogs one year. Mind you, they weren’t giant pumpkins, but our pumpkin hasn’t actually reached “giant status” yet. There could be some greedy groundhog roaming the property just waiting to sink its teeth in. I mean, really, who knew a groundhog would eat a pumpkin?

We’ve been getting plenty of rain lately and I would think that’s a good thing, but is there such a thing as too much rain? Oh the questions are endless.

So there’s our baby nestled among the vines and leaves. It’s gone past last week’s basket ball. I think it’s got a pretty good start. And keep your fingers crossed that we don’t get any early frosts.

Laura & the Giant Pumpkin

Okay, giant might be a strong word to use here in the title. Presently, the pumpkin is about the size of a basketball as you can see from this photo. So why a giant pumpkin? They’re actually from seed from the word famous Howard Dill Pumpkins.

Summer here in Nova Scotia is about all about growing things. Well almost. It’s also about swatting mosquitoes and black flies and chasing those annoying dog flies around. I won’t  even mention ticks because right there is another blog post for another time. Believe me. If you live in rural Nova Scotia you know what I’m talking about.

There’s never been a time when I didn’t have a vegetable garden, but this is the first time we’ve attempted a giant pumpkin. Last year, my son grew one in his back yard in Lower Sackville that reached over two hundred pounds. Not bad when you think that he started his plants late and grew them in a planter box. This year he’s vowing to grow a ginormous one and guess what? The contest is now on. Will a rural pumpkin beat out an urban one? I’m not sure. These things are complicated. Used to be you put seeds in the ground and waited for them to come up and keep the weeds pulled. But gardening has suddenly changed now that we’re tending a giant pumpkin. There was the pollination process (covering up blossoms and spreading the pollen) special fertilizers, watering. Now I’m told we need to get it an umbrella so it won’t get sunburned.  Won’t get sunburned! Anyway, for the next few months it’s our baby, to have and to hold–luckily no diapers to change, although for some reason that wouldn’t surprise me.

Kind of thinking I’ll post a pic every so often to keep you updated. We shall see if time allows.

Do any of you grow a garden? If you have any more tips for growing a giant pumpkin please leave them in the comment section. I’m really hoping to win this contest!

Following the Footsteps of Amanda by Darlene Foster

Today, it is my pleasure to welcome author Darlene Foster to my blog. Several years back, Darlene and I were published in the Country Roads anthology together. Ever since that time we’ve been following each other on social media. Darlene is a wonderful supporter to other authors and an all round terrific author and person and I’m thrilled to have her as a guest on my blog.

Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world and meeting interesting people. It’s no surprise that she’s now an award-winning author of the exciting Amanda Travels series featuring spunky 12 year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Readers of all ages enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca, in Spain with her husband and entertaining dog, Dot. She was encouraged by her parents to follow her dreams, and believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true.

To learn more about Darlene and her writing check out Darlene Foster’s Blog.

The wonderful thing about being a writer is that you can create any character, place and situation you want. You are totally in control. Well almost, your character takes over from time to time.

As writers, it’s hard to know why or how we create the characters we do. They seem to pop into our heads and won´t go away. The main character of my children’s travel adventure books is Amanda Ross, a young girl whose love for travel takes her around the world to many interesting places where she meets intriguing people, learns about the culture and always has an adventure. I would have loved to be able to travel all over the world when I was a young person. So perhaps Amanda is the girl I would have liked to be.

Even though I didn’t get to travel as a young person, I have since explored much of this amazing planet as an adult. Every time I visit anew place, I feel like a child experiencing something awesome. I like to incorporate those thoughts and feelings into my character. So far my books feature places I have visited and found amazing. Amanda (and I) have been to the United Arab Emirates, Spain, England, Alberta, Germany, Austria and Hungary. In book six, available soon, Amanda visits New Mexico, a fascinating and enchanting state. I am currently working on Amanda in Holland, an amazing place I visited last year.

Amanda comes with me everywhere I go now. I am constantly thinking about what she would like about the place and the adventures she could have. I take lots of pictures and keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas. I have even been heard to say in my out loud voice, “Wouldn´t Amanda just love this place!”

I have so many more ideas of places for Amanda to visit so I can’t see the series ending soon. Amanda will always be the main character. Her British friend Leah will be in most of the books, although she is not in Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind. Other characters have been introduced who may show up in future books. I would like to keep Amanda as a tween, as that is the age I like writing for, although she does mature somewhat as she travels and learns more about the world and herself.
The question is, is Amanda following me in my travels or am I following her?

Thank you so much Laura for having me and Amanda as a guest on your blog. I’m so glad we met all those years ago in the same anthology and have followed each other’s writing career.

Check out these links to order Darlene’s latest book: Amanda in New Mexico.

Amazon.com   Amazon.ca  Kobo  Chapters/Indigo  Also, if you’re like me and don’t order online, you can order through your local independent bookstore. That’s what I do!

If anyone is interested in doing a review on Amanda in New Mexico, e-copies are available on NetGalley –Here

Writing Local

We hear a lot these days about supporting all things local and I have to say I’m a big supporter of that idea. And I even try to support local authors because, being an author, I know how difficult it can sometimes be to get any attention for our books.

Being a writer, “supporting local” has another meaning for me. When I set my first novel Bitter, Sweet here in my own little community it was important to me to set a book locally to let readers know that books don’t always have to have some exotic setting, that sometimes our own backyard can be the perfect backdrop for the right story. I’ve continued to use local name places in my books and some of the local “lingo.” My latest book, Cammie Takes Flight is set, for the most part, at the Halifax School for the Blind and uses other local name places. There also a connection to the Ideal Maternity Home in East Chester which was shrouded in controversy and it’s alleged that babies at the home were neglected and even starved to death. I found that to be quite disturbing  yet it’ also a piece of our history here in Nova Scotia. And, like all things that happened in the past, it isn’t going away.

Most people in Nova Scotia are familiar with the Ideal Maternity Home that was in operation more than half a century ago. While it might not ring a bell for everyone, the story of the Butterbox Babies usually does. I’ve read quite a few articles and books on the subject while writing Cammie Takes Flight and I’m not at all sure I’ve put the subject to rest. New articles keep cropping up. Here’s one from last December. What went on at the home was tragic and, as you can see from the article, is still very much an issue today for many of the survivors who are still looking to find their roots.

Some people will admit to not liking history but I’ve always been a big fan. The past has always seemed relevant to me, a piece of who were are. Perhaps there are things to be learned from looking at the past, trying to understand what life was once like and, hopefully, doing better in the future.

So, for now, I’ll continue my writing journey by doing what I’ve pretty much done right from the start—writing stories set in Nova Scotia with local characters that, hopefully, the rest of the world can relate to. Who knows, maybe years down the road, someone will pick up one of my books and they’ll get a small glimpse of the past and maybe, just maybe, that small glimpse will open up a whole new world for them. My backyard might very well be an exotic setting for them.

 

There’s an awesome review of HERE of Cammie Takes Flight on Reading With a Pencil. It’s always a thrill when someone you don’t know has wonderful things to say about your book,

Author Darlene Foster will be a guest on my blog next time. Darlene’s got a new book about to be launched in September. I hope you’ll drop in for a visit.

Where Evil Dwells

Just a quick post; I promise.

Some of you may remember from way back that I mentioned that I have a story forthcoming in an anthology edited by Vernon Oickle—or maybe it slipped your mind. That’s Okay. Plenty of things seem to be slipping my mind the busier I get.

But here, for your viewing pleasure is a look at the cover for this brand-spanking new anthology about to hit the bookshelves early this fall. It’s such a pleasure to be a part of this book and have my work published alongside such great local writers. I really like the cover.  Makes me wonder what he’s walking into…The story I submitted is perhaps a bit different from what some of you are used to seeing from me. And many people forget that once upon a time I wrote adult fiction.

So far as my Cammie books go, I’ve a few book signings coming up. Bridgewater Coles on Saturday July 15th 1-3 and I’ll be at the Rural Roots Market at the Ross Farm on July 30th from 10-2 along with my author friend Jan Coates. We’ll both be reading from our books as well.

So, there you have it, a quick post. Hopefully, my next post will be a bit longer with a little more content. I really just wanted to show off this gorgeous new book cover.

Book Launch: A Behind the Scenes Look.

The other week as I was going through some book launch photos, I found a few that made me giggle just a little. Most of these were candid shots taken by the lovely Dawn Alexander my official photographer for the day. Dawn showed up the night before while were setting up for the big day and she stayed pretty close by all through launch day. Now that’s dedication!

So, just for fun, I thought I’d post some of the behind the scene photos no one ever gets to see.

Setting up for the launch the night before was great fun. Of course it helps to have a few silly friends to take charge.  I’ll be the first to admit that decorating is not my forte. I’m more about the written word. Therefore, the decorating I leave to those more qualified.

Hard at work. Recreating the book cover was a little tricky since the vision of it only existed in Bonnie’s creative mind prior to setting up. Judi made all the silhouettes. It was a pretty cool idea. Wish I could take the credit but, as I said, I’m more about the words.

The end result kind of speaks for itself. I loved it. So did everyone at the launch. I warned you that I have some talented friends. They added all the extras they knew would make me happy: dark chocolate, Mars, beautiful white roses and my books. The tea pot of flowers was a Mother’s Day gift from my daughter.

There’s always someone in charge of the ironing. All those little details count. Thanks Barbie.

The look on my face suggests surprise, doesn’t it? You’s almost think I was expecting something to jump out of the box when, in fact, I knew there was a cake inside courtesy of the Monday Craft ladies. Seriously, they went above and beyond to make the day special. These ladies know how to show some author love. I don’t know what I’d do without the help and support from my friends and community.

And here’s a much better view. Just so you know it did make it out of the box It was delicious!

Launch Day: I could have told Bonnie it was a little late to be playing shy. Dodging the photographer isn’t as easy as it might seem when you get to be our age. Dawn was relentless in her mission to gets photos, but Bonnie using me as a human shield just doesn’t cut it! Oh Bonnie, oh Bonnie, when will you learn?

When the Nimbus publicist, Jeff Arbeau showed up, author friend Jan Coates offered to help him sell books. I love this photo taken when our MLA Leo Glavine showed up. Now there’s the look of a woman who can hardly wait to get her hands on some money. The next photo in the series (that I decided not to post) shows Jan actually prying the money out of his hands.. Okay, I’m just kidding about that! Seriously, Jeff said Jan was a huge big help!

There you have it, just a few of the candid shots from the launch of “Cammie Takes Flight.” Life is not just about the perfect moments that get capture on camera, it’s more about the moments that go unseen, but it’s all those silly, imperfect moments that create the best memories.

Dandelions, book signings and childhood memories

While walking outside with my granddaughter recently, she looked at the dandelions growing behind the house and said, “Some people think dandelions are weeds, but I think they’re flowers.”

Okay, so I had to agree with her. I happen to think of them as flowers as well.

Of course her statement reminded me that life really is just a matter of perception, that there isn’t always a right or wrong to things, and that the perfection we often strive to find only exists in our own minds. The answer lies in the way we’ve been conditioned to think and be.

I was also reminded that day of what it’s like to see the world through the eyes of a child, something we lose through the process of living. Can you imagine a world where everyone sees a dandelion as a flower instead of a weed? We certainly wouldn’t be striving so hard to have them removed. I know people who put a great deal of effort into removing dandelions from their property, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in that especially if that’s something important to you.  Of course, the magic of it all is that in a few short weeks they leave all on their own with no assistance from us—just saying

I love the story my sister used to tell about “blow flowers.” When her daughter was young she was fascinated by the fluffy white dandelion heads that had gone to seed and she called them “blow flowers.” At the time I thought: leave it to a child to see the beauty in something that’s at the end of its life cycle.  I remember picking those dead dandelions as a child, blowing on them, and watching the seeds fly through the air. Such a simple thing and yet it was fun. I suppose those same white heads would make most adults cringe as they imagine their lush green lawns becoming a field of yellow the coming year. However, my granddaughter would be delighted!

Yesterday, I was off to Coles in the Bridgewater mall for a book signing. It was part of the Canada 150 celebration that Coles and Chapters had set up with various authors coming in at one hour intervals. As I’ve said in the past, for me, it’s never about the amount of books bought or sold but the conversation with those who drop by. I had some really great conversations, found out some news, shared some laughs and sold some books. Author  Syr Ruus  dropped by to lend her support too, so that was an added bonus. Have I mentioned that Syr’s memoir will be published next year?

I’ll also be at the Inside Story in Greenwood on the 24th. I’m quite pleased to be going there. The very first book signing I ever attended was at the Inside Story. Allison Maher was signing copies of I, the Spy. I was quite nervous meeting her and remembering being  a bit in awe that she’d had a book published. I’d been published in various literary magazines at that point but had my sights on one day having a book published as well. Of course I had yet to write that book. She encouraged me to keep writing, and reminded me that dreams do come true. She was so right.  A few years later Hadley Dyer was signing copies of Johnny Kellock Died Today  and when I head she’d gone to the same High School I did I knew I had to go meet her. Still didn’t have a book of my own published.  Loved her book, BTW and we’ve kept in contact since. She’s been very supportive of my writing and that means so very much. I’ve also gone to the Inside Story to hear Sheree Fitch read from her first adult novel, Kiss the Joy as it Flies . My first novel , Bitter, Sweet had been accepted for publication and Sheree was absolutely wonderful. So, as you can see, it’s a real thrill for me to actually be going there this time to sign copies of my own book. I do love signings, you really never know who you’re going to meet or what great conversations you’ll end up having. And, if you’re lucky, the cherry on top of it all could be a few book sales.

So, as I come to end of these ramblings I find myself curious to know:  do you consider a dandelion to be a flower or a weed, and have you ever gone to a book signing before? If so do you remember the first one? Did it leave you with any lasting impressions?

Coming Back Down to Earth

Launch day has come and gone. I was so pleased to see so many of my friends, family, and even people I didn’t know, come out to support me. It’s very heart-warming to know that others are interested in what I’m writing, and really, launch day wouldn’t be at all possible if it wasn’t for the help of everyone around me. I have a lot of awesome friends! It really does feel like “our” book launch, not just mine. Everything was perfect that day, even the weather that had been really miserable up until then, co-operated. Writing is such a solitary thing, what can amount to years of work eventually ends up in a book, and then all of a sudden it’s out there for everyone to see. Some people will like what you’ve written and others won’t. It’s just the way it is. Either way, some will have an opinion.

The week after the launch was super busy with Miss Charlotte coming to visit for four days. We got in a trip to the Ross Farm and the Parkdale/Maplewood Museum. Both were big hits with her. I got back to work on Thursday and then went to the Atlantic Book Awards at the Halifax Central Library with author Jan Coates. Jan’s wonderful book Sky Pig won the Lillian Shepherd Award for excellence in illustration which is given to an illustrator “residing in or from Atlantic Canada, or who has illustrated a book written by an Atlantic Canadian or a book that is set in the region.” Ontario artist, Suzanne Del Rizzo, brought Jan’s words to life. I think it would be terribly exciting for an artist to be presented with such a brilliant story to illustrate. It must truly be a gift to both the writer and the artist.

I am so looking forward to getting back to writing. I feel as though it’s been forever since I sat down at the computer to hunt and peck my way around the keyboard. I’m expecting there will be some signings coming up in the near future, already there’s talk about my going to Bridgewater if things can be worked out—a special signing for Canada 150.

So life is slowly returning to normal. The big book birthday party is over. Cammie has officially earned her wings, she’s ready to fly, and I’ve got to admit it feels pretty darn good.

Shameless Self Promotion

With a little more than two weeks until the official launching of my new book, Rosie’s getting excited. Can’t you just tell by the look on her face that she’s dying to know what happens to Cammie and Evelyn?

Just a reminder that I’ll be at the LaHave River Books on Saturday from 2-3 for Authors for Indies Day and the Family Connects Expo at the World Trade and Convention Centre on Sunday at 3:30. Pop in and say hello if you’re in the area.

Busy, Busy April

Lots of things happening in April for me. With Cammie Takes Flight due to be released the last of the month I’m getting just a pinch excited. It’s always exciting when you bring a new book into the world.

Yesterday, I visited with the students at Via Vita Academy in Sackville to talk a little about writing and publishing. They had some great questions for me and I had a lot of fun.

I’ll also mention that there’s a giveaway taking place right now on Good Reads for  Cammie Takes Flight. Head on over and enter. You could win one of three copies if you’re lucky. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/230730-cammie-takes-flight . Hey, I’d be entering if it wasn’t my book. I mean who doesn’t want to win a book, right?

Of course there’s Easter coming up this month as well, not to mention Miss Charlotte’s birthday happens to fall on Easter Sunday this year. Seven years old—now how did that happen so quickly?

I’ve also been invited by the Annapolis Friends of the Library in Annapolis Royal to take part in a fundraiser on the 22nd in the former Annapolis Royal Regional Academy.

Saturday the 29th I’ll be at the LaHave River Books taking part in Author for Indies along with my friend Syr Ruus, Shelagh Meagher and Laurie Lacey will also be there. If you’re in the area that day drop in and say hello. I’ll be there from 1-2. There might even be some copies of my new book floating around that day.

On the 30th is the Family Connects Expo at the World Trade & Convention Centre in Halifax and I’ll be signing copies of my new book. I love meeting new people and having a chance to chat. Signing books is kind of cool, too.

The official book launch is scheduled for the 13th of May at 2:00 and if you’re in the area you might want to drop by to meet Prime Minister  Trudeau or the Queen. (That’s me still dreaming big.) And while that’s not an April event I’ll mention it anyway. Preparations are already underway and I feel so fortunate to have so many people offering to help out. Seriously, East Dalhousie is the best place to have a book launch. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive community.

So there you have it, a rundown of my busy April and then I mustn’t forget my regular Monday-Friday job on top of all that, plus the novel I’m working on in my spare time. But there’s nothing wrong with busy. Keeps me out of trouble.

FYI I’m still continuing to dream big. I hope you are too.

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