As the Pumpkin Grows

There has been a new development in the ongoing saga of Laura and the Giant Pumpkin that I haven’t yet revealed. Perhaps you recall that a few weeks back I mentioned that our pumpkin seemed to have stalled. Turns out I was right. Upon further investigation we discovered that our precious pumpkin had met an untimely demise. It died and we didn’t know. We didn’t even get to say goodbye as it slowly began to rot. I know, I know… poor Pumpky.

But…

New life sprung up out of the ashes..or the vines as the case might be. Much to our surprise, a second pumpkin began to grow, and we watched while it grew in excess of the first one. This was one of the clues that there was something amiss with the first one. Sadly, Pumpky ended up in the compost heap. It was all we could do.

So…

We started again and here we are. Already bigger and better than our first. Last weekend the son used his formula to calculate the weight and told us it was around 90 lbs. It would, of course, be heavier by now. I know his urban pumpkin is bigger but, chin up, we’ll persevere.

While we long ago accepted that we’re not going to end up with a thousand pound pumpkin, (Good Lord what would be do if that happened?) this has been a learning experience for us and, who knows, maybe one day…..

Hmm…I wonder how the son’s urban pumpkin is doing.  Perhaps he’ll send a photo  for me to share..

Next weekend is Halifax Word on the Street at the Halifax Central Library on Spring Garden Road; Sept 16th to be exact. Here’s the schedule. I’ll be reading from Cammie Takes Flight at 10:00 in the BMO Community Room. If you’re in the city that weekend and would like to visit the new library, it would be wonderful to look out and see a familiar face. I’ll also be signing at the Nimbus Publishing table, although I’m waiting for confirmation on a time. Less than a week. Time is closing in.

              Urban Pumpkin Update:

Since the son just sent a photo of his urban pumpkin the other night, I’m going to tack it onto the end of this post. The estimated weight is 177 lbs. He says it’s three weeks ahead of where his pumpkin was last year this time.

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September Update

And so begins a busy September both personally and professionally; not that busy is a bad thing. It certainly keeps the boredom away. Summer seemed to fly by. It feels as though July just started and here we are at the first weekend of September. It’s nice to have a long weekend and I’m hoping to get caught up on a few projects that I’ve been working on.

I’m still trying to squeeze time into my days for writing. It’s kind of important to me. Lately, there hasn’t been much time to write and I’ve been feeling a little down because of it. I need to keep reminding myself that this will change soon. Things will slow down to an acceptable pace. It always does.

September brings with it several family birthdays, my own included. Family is the most important and we always enjoy spending time with the kids and grand kids. The twins are turning two this year. Where did the time go?

Next Saturday , Sept. 9th I’m off the Blueberry Festival at the Parkdale/ Maplewood Museum. I’ll be set up with books for the day. It’s always a fun time and I look forward to it every year. It’s about a six hour day so I’m usually pretty wiped out by the end of it.

Halifax Word on the Street is on the 16th this year at the Halifax Central Library. I’ll be reading from Cammie Takes Flight at 10 am in the BMO Community Room and doing a book signing as well.

Sunday the 17th is the big celebration here in East Dalhousie for our 200th year. I’ll be taking part in the outdoor church service by reading a bit of history that I’m in the process of writing NOW. I’m still working on this but hoping to get it completed this long weekend.

On the 23rd I’m at the Rural Roots Market at the Ross Farm Museum again from 10-2 with author friend Jan Coates. It’s their big Pumpkin Harvest weekend so it’s sure to be busy.

The 29th will see me heading down to St. John New Brunswick to take part in the FogLit Festival. I’ll be at East Point Indigo on Sept. 30th from 10:30-12:00 for a reading.

So this is what awaits me during September. That and the fact that I work a full time job as well. But being busy isn’t a bad thing. Let’s not forget the giant pumpkin we’re tending to this year. I’m hoping to have some update on that in awhile so check back!

Mutant Messages From Down in the Pumpkin Patch

We’ve been watching the growth of this strange looking vine in the pumpkin patch for a couple of weeks now. At first it just seemed as though it was a double vine. Unusual, but other than that maybe nothing significant in the way of pumpkin vines go. But then things began to manifest themselves into a kind of weird mutant type vine, maybe even alien. And I’ve lost sleep looking down from my bedroom window into the pumpkin patch for some sort of alien, mutant invasion from outer space–just in case! Okay, that part’s a joke. I’m not really losing sleep. But I’m a fiction writer and prone to exaggerating on paper or in this case, computer.

The son did a little investigating on this, says it might be what’s called, “ribbon vine.” Not a good thing he says. I asked what that meant and he repeated, “Not a good thing.”  So, we shall see what “not a good thing” looks like in the weeks ahead. I’ll keep you posted. This thing is just weird.

The Urban Pumpkin

So, here a photo of the son’s urban pumpkin just to show you the competition is real and ongoing. He’s a competitive guy, this son of mine. I noticed it from the time he was quite small. Believe me, these things don’t go away on their own. They only grow and grow like –like a giant pumpkin.

 

 

He sent me this photo to gloat just a little  show me. About ninety pound, he says. He’s got some formula for determining the weight  (top secret so far as I can tell since he hasn’t once shared this tidbit with dear old Mum.) Now, I’m all for a friendly completion but I’ve been a little suspicious about things ever since he came out to visit the other weekend. He spent some time at my pumpkin patch, granted his dad was with him the whole time but, as the son well knows, Dad can be distracted quite easily—a quick, “Look at that!” will often do it. So, ever since that weekend I’ve had a sense that my pumpkin has stalled. Now, I don’t have any real proof , just a “lukewarm speculation ,” as Cammie would say. And now, for two weekends in a row the son has come out from the city to inspect our patch. (Tell me that doesn’t seem a tiny bit suspicious!)  If he makes another trip this weekend I’m going to be on high alert. He’s not getting out of my sight. Now I don’t want to use the word sabotage, but… Let’s just say I’ll be watching him like a hawk. No getting distracted by hugs and kisses from the grandkids, neither.

So in lieu of this new development, I’ll delay posting a photo of the country pumpkin. It’s time to regroup, maybe come up with a plan of my own. I might just have to make a trip in to visit this urban pumpkin.

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.

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