The First Day

Why, the first day of spring that is. Sun is shining here in Nova Scotia and the temperature this morning is rising quickly. But there have been signs of spring here before the official arrival of spring. Crocuses are blooming, we have taken notice of crows pairing up, the sighting of robins and maple trees with sap kettles hanging from them. I have yet to see any pussy willows but I’m willing to bet there are out there. An elderly aunt of mine informed us earlier today when you see your first robin, you’re supposed to make a wish. It’s the first time I’d heard that!

Spring brings hope, hope for warmer temperatures and sunnier times ahead. But March can also be fickle, teasing us into thinking that spring weather is here to stay and then suddenly, it’s back to wind and snow and cold. But the cold and snow never last long and that is the wonderful part of it all.

I have been working on a manuscript this winter, that is getting closer to completion with each passing day. It is a good thing, as I have some other projects that are vying for my attention and it is been a bit tempting by times to ditched the one I’m presently working on just to write a few paragraphs. However, I know better than to give into temptation. A few paragraphs can lead into a few pages and then a few chapters. But I am determined not to give in to temptation. Those other projects will have to simmer along as I continue to practise patience in this matter. I can still allow the story to flow through my mind, as I consider my characters and the possible twists and turns in the plotline. That’s it for today!

Happy first day of spring to the readers out there. What signs means “spring is here” to you?

Daylight Saving Time

Yes, it’s “Saving” and not “Savings” time and it is sometimes mistakenly written. Google tells me that it was first introduced in Canada in 1918 to increase production for the First World War and each year there seems to be a dialogue around whether or not we should keep it or get rid of it. Personally, I have a feeling they’ll be debating this very thing for many more years to come and I get a little tired of hearing it be discussed. We keep hearing how the “spring ahead” has many health repercussions and yet that doesn’t seem to be a good enough reason to get rid of it.

I’ve got to be honest. I was happy with the slow increase of our daylight hours and it seemed a gentle reminder that spring was on the way. It felt good. What doesn’t feel good is this sudden ripping away of an hour to my morning routine. Not just morning, as I had trouble falling asleep last night as well. Today, I’m feeling like a nap would be welcomed at any time. My problem being, I don’t have time for one and it would no doubt throw me off once again. Sometimes you just can’t seem to win. I can remember as a school kid, being totally wiped out for a few days every spring and it was a miserable feeling.

Seriously, I could care less if we’re on Daylight or Standard time. Just pick one and leave there. The argument is Daylight Saving gives us more daylight hours in the evening, assuming, I guess, that people want to work until, what, ten o’clock in the evening, instead of getting an early start to the day? Sorry for being a teeny bit sarcastic here.

I’ll try to get myself back on a schedule that will work as well as the one I was on before that might “spring ahead” disrupted the balance I’d settled into.

So, is this whole “spring ahead” thing inconvenient and brutal? Heck yes. Necessary? Hmmmm. What do you all think?

Do you mind the time change each spring or do you just jump seamlessly into the change?

The Great Horned Owl

I’ve been walking for over three months–through cold and wind, rain and snow without missing a day. The one day when the temperature dipped down into bitter frigid temperatures, I headed upstairs to my treadmill. Adding movement into my day is just one of the things I’ve decided was important to me because for sometime now I’ve told myself it wasn’t. I was wrong.

The wonderful thing about walking is that it allows us the solitude and peace that many of us crave but are struggle to find on a regular basis. Nature is always ready for us whenever we choose to join her. Walking an hour a day has been challenging during this time, but I no longer make excuses for not doing it, but rather look for ways to fit it into my day and make it a priority. So far, I have remained successful!

Winter here in Nova Scotia has taken a long time to find us and there were times when many of us thought it might not show up at all. The lake remained open well into the last week in January, even then there was not much ice to speak of and many days the ground was bare. But now the snow is finally here and I have chosen to embrace it as I trudge through the many trails on our property. It’s been quite lovely and these months have gone by quickly as I look for signs of wildlife, sing a little, write a little (in my head) and think.

And then one day, this great horned owl was watching me from it’s perch on the branch of a spruce tree. For a time it sat quietly looking down at me and I was able to snap a few photos with my phone but eventually it decided it was time to go.

While this was a rare sighting for me, I have also been pleased to come across chickadees, woodpecker and nuthatches in my daily jaunts.

Now that we are into the first week of March, hopefully spring weather is not far away. But whatever comes up, we’ll accept it because really that’s all we can do.

Here’s hoping you have a happy March.

The Lost Art of Letter-writing

The other day, I received a hand-written letter in the mail and what a treasure it was, quite literally. I found it in a hidden compartment (how mysterious) in a home made card sent by a friend.

I found the letter later as I was going through all the treasures inside the card. As you can see in the photos there were a number of positive noted enclosed that I absolutely loved. Each one serves as a small gift of it’s own.

I thought about how long it had been since I had written to someone, other than a quick note sprawled in a Christmas card (but I hardly think that counts.) I couldn’t remember when last I sent sent one. As a child I wrote to a pen pal in the US for many years. We started writing when we were eleven, stayed in contact for many years, but lost contact years after we were both married with families. I suppose we were both busy raising children and working. Then one day, I took a chance and sent a letter to her old address and low and behold, she received it! These days we are Facebook friends and message occasionally. Not bad for a 50 year time span.

The talented friend who sent me this card has been doing this faithfully during the pandemic and beyond and it’s always a highlight to my day when one arrives. Most do not contain letters, but there are always positive messages and there have been times when a certain message came at exactly the right time. I am so grateful to this friend for her thoughtfulness.

In my latest book, This is it, Lark Harnish, Lark sends letters home to her family and receives some as well. Of course, back in 1919, when this book is sent, it was really the only way to stay in contact with someone from afar–no phones, no Internet. How did they do it? The interesting thing about the word “afar”, when used back then, for it does have the same meaning now. Today, we would not think that Lark had moved very far from home to work for the McMaster family, but back then, it was. Many places in rural Nova Scotia were quite isolated.

Back then, the world was a much bigger place and we live in a world that is quickly shrinking. I do miss receiving letters in the mail. There is something precious about holding that envelope in your hands and realizing the time involved in it’s arrival. Emails are nice, and certainly quick, but I think we’ve lost something along the way and that makes me a little sad.

Do you still send hand-written letter? I’d love to hear about it if you do.

World Read Aloud Day

Being on break from social media, I wasn’t aware that today is World Read Aloud Day. But then, a message came to me from The Author Fairy (a.k.a Sue Slade) that the awesome folks at The Dartmouth Book Exchange had chosen, This is it, Lark Harnish to celebrate for World Read Aloud Day and I was sent the link of the lovely Amy McIsaac reading from my book!

If you’re interested in hearing Amy read a snippet from the book, I’ve included the link HERE.

The first World Read Aloud Day was back in 2010 and “celebrates the power of reading aloud to create community, amplify stories, and advocate for literacy as a foundational human right.” Since its beginning, it has grown into a global movement of over 170 countries. How awesome is that?

I hope you were able to celebrate World Read Aloud Day, and if this is the first time you’re hearing of it, you might want to check out the link I provided above.

Happy World Read Aloud Day!

Facebook Hiatus

I’m soon heading into the first month of my Facebook hiatus and decided to let you all know how it’s been going. I am still on messenger, as I mentioned I would be, since I do want to stay in touch with family members and friends. (I’m not becoming a hermit. Please don’t worry!) And of course, I welcome any messages at this time, especially if there’s something you feel I just need to know!

So, how has the month been, you might ask?

Truthfully, it felt a bit strange in the beginning but the longer I’m away, I find I think about it less and less.

An added bonus is that I’m not being bombarded with Facebook ads filling my newsfeed and I’m not seeing the negativity that is out there. For the time being, I’m kind of in my own little world and I find it quite pleasant.

I do miss some of the silliness and I do know there are some awesome posts I’m not seeing. But for the moment, that is kind of balancing out for me. I’m looking for more peace in my life and it seems to be working!

I thought I’d spend hours writing during this time, but I’m surprised by how little time I’m presently putting into my creative work. However, that is not a bad thing. Honest.

Ideally, I’d like to write every day, but I’ve changed my routine to include some other activities that I feel are equally important to me, and it’s leaving me less time in my day for writing. I do expect that to change going forward as I’m often struck by a strong urge to create, that could strike at any time. Inspiration is like that for me and while I did set a daily writing goal last summer and stuck with it until I’d completed the first draft to a novel, I haven’t yet revisited said novel. I want to give myself a good long break from that first draft until I’m ready to tackle revisions. Coming back to a story with fresh eyes often lends itself to some pleasant surprises along the way? Did I really write that? Yes, sometimes we writers surprise even ourselves.

So, with one month into my self-imposed hiatus, I’m in no hurry to return. I have no idea when that will change as I continue to follow the ebb and flow of life. I’m busy learning how to settle into the changes that have come my way over the past few years. It hasn’t always been easy but I’m getting there slowly.

In my last post I wrote about a writer evolving over the course of time, in much the same way that we change and evolve on a personal level.

I think of these days, for me, as a personal evolution and I expect there will be others periods of evolution along the way.

So, the break has been good but I’ll be back at some point. Hopefully, I will be welcomed back into the Facebook community with open arms, but for now, I’m enjoying this hiatus.

Have you ever taken an extended break from social media? I’d like to hear how the experience was for you?

The Evolution of a Writer

Life is constantly evolving. Things change and morph as time goes by. That’s nothing new. Few people would argue that we are living at a time in history where the planet seems to be evolving on so many different levels and at a speed we’ve never experienced before. The Internet has played a huge role in that. Suddenly, thoughts and ideas can be shared in seconds, instead of what once took days or even weeks. Does anyone write letters these days or does it take too much time for them to arrive?

As a writer of historical fiction, I find myself even more aware of how much faster life is then in years gone by.

I was thinking, the other day, how just as writers evolve, we are all constantly evolving on a personal level as well. The person we were a decade ago, for instance, is not the same person we are today. It doesn’t mean we changed dramatically, although that change could be dramatic. Sometimes change happens so slowly we’re not aware of it until we have reason to reflect back and think “Hmm, I never would have done this or that a few years ago.” I’m sure we’ve all experienced these moments.

A writer evolves as well. It’s made clear in the stories we write and themes we choose to tackle. Over time our style evolves as we work toward finding our true voice. Sometimes, in the beginning, self-consciousness can prevent us from exploring a certain theme or character, stifling our creative flow. We’re not sure what others will think. and so we might shrink into the background, opting for a safer route, the one most expected of us.

There are also those critics out there who’s opinions might matter much more to us than they should. Writer or not–we all have these critics in our lives who never seem to tire of trying to force us into following the path they’ve deemed more appropriate. They are the people who often think they know what’s best for others.

There is also our own “inner critic” who has absolutely no problem crushing our dreams and demanding we be more realistic.

Me? A Writer? Who would read something I wrote? Who would pay money to read something that came from my imagination?

Sound familiar?

Putting work out there for others to scrutinize can be scary, no doubt about it.

For a writer, the stories we create are often very personal for many different reasons. But I would argue that we are the only ones who can write these particular stories because we view life from our own unique perspective and wouldn’t it be a shame if we gave that all up because of own fear? There is nothing more satisfying for a writer than having someone connect with one of our stories. Or maybe we shed a different light on a particular subject for someone or maybe even give them a new concept to consider.

So, if you’re a writer and if you choose to look at life as a means of evolution, perhaps you’ll be more gentle with yourself and come to the understanding that just as life continues to evolve, all writers evolve. This means, your writing will change, as will the themes and the complexity of your characters. And perhaps as your writing evolves you will learn to trust in the knowledge that you’re included in that evolution and simply allow your creativity to flow.

Maybe what you write won’t find a publisher immediately, maybe it never will. But f you stick with it, your writing will evolve over time and you’ll eventually find a place where you are comfortable with the act of creation.

Personal Pride in the Act of Creation

Most of us are creative in one form or another, whether we admit it openly to the world or keep it to ourselves. In fact, it is in our nature to be creative. It is how we’ve evolved to where we are today in terms of technology.

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I was a closet writer for many years who then turned into a closet author. Yes, even after I was published only a small circle of people in my life knew about it. For me, it felt like a private thing and I was happy to feel that pride and keep it to myself. Believe me, for a writer, when an email or letters arrives saying, We want to publish your work, there is no better feeling of accomplishment. Means all our hard work is paying off and for some of us, that can literally mean years of sending out manuscripts and collecting rejections.

For me, the journey of publication is one that continually fills me with personal pride which was why I didn’t feel the need to shout it from the rooftops each time I had a new short story published. It was enough for me to know that someone deemed my work worthy of publication. Super cool.

Of course, it was easier to keep a low profile in the years before my first book hit the bookshelves. Literary magazines are often read by a select few and available only through subscription, meaning you find very few in bookstores. But once a publisher puts your book out there, an author is expected to promote that book. When all is said and done, publishing companies expect to make money or else they wouldn’t be in the business of producing books. Like it or not, that means the author, doing what they can to promote that book.

I sometimes wonder when others see the efforts put forth by authors when it comes to promotion if they understand fully that we’re not tooting our own horn and saying “look at me” but rather “Here is my book that I’m so proud of.” We refer to them as our baby because we were responsible for it’s creation. So, for an author, it’s really not a “look at me” moment but more of a “I’m so proud of this book” moment. I’ve heard authors says they’d do just about anything when it came to their book, in the same way we would do for our child. It’s important to understand that an author is proud of their published book. It is a really huge big accomplishment!

Personal pride, in anything we play a part in creating keeps the creativity flowing and when creativity is flowing many wonderful things come about as a result.

What creative project are you working on at the moment?

Kicking off the New Year

The new year has always filled me with hope, from the time I was young. I’m not sure why. Turning a calendar page seems like a simple act. We do it twelve times a year. But starting out with a whole new calendar feels special.

I know not everyone shares this feeling with me and it will certainly be lost to those of us in the future who have no use for such things as calendars or even wrist watches, for that matter—things that keep track of time. Personally, I’d be lost without a watch on my wrist. I’ve always worn one. And as well, I’m sure I will always have a calendar in my house.

I picked up a monthly planner for 2023 the other day while in town and I’ve been jotting down little things, like the weather and temperature. It’s been fun and will hopefully, give me something to look back on and compare when another year rolls around.

So far, the weather here in Nova Scotia has been exceptional with temperatures mostly above freezing. We’ve leaves on the ground instead of snow. That changed today, however, as we’re experiencing some ice pellets and a bit of snow. While the ground is now white, there really isn’t much at all. I am not complaining. The weather will be what it is regardless. And with so many places in Canada and the US being bogged down with snow at the moment, I consider us lucky.

I’ve been spending some time writing, as was the plan, and trying to settle into one story to work on. I think I mentioned earlier that I have several on the go at the moment. When the story finally speaks to me, I will know which one to dedicate my time to.

Edits for my next book will get underway sometime this year. I have no idea when. It’ll be interesting to see how this one is received as it is very different from all my others. The young protagonist, a boy, is fourteen and this book has a contemporary setting.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been taking those baby steps I mentioned in a previous post, taking some time for myself each day in a number of little ways that might seem insignificant to others but kind of important to me. Part of this is being consistent, not skipping a day because I run out of time, but making these little things a priority. Carving out, even small amounts of time for ourselves each day can be very challenging but not impossible.

So, this is me kicking off the New Year in fine fashion. I’m filled with optimism and hope and back to singing every day. 🙂 While a song makes no promises, (as I once wrote in a short story) it can sure help keep your spirits up.

I hope your New Year is starting off on a good foot as well. Here’s hoping 2023 turns into a much nicer year than we’ve experienced for awhile.

Farewell and Happy New Year

I am going away…

where you won’t see me.

No big deal, really. I’m not leaving town.

I’m just taking a break from Facebook and Twitter for awhile. I’m not sure for how long. I guess I’ll figure that out along the way.

And that is good news! I’ve several writing projects I want to concentrate on and I need don’t need the added distract– as entertaining as what social media can sometimes be. Along with writing, there are also a few other places where I’d like to focus my attention as well. I will still sign into messenger from time to time, checking email, answering my phone and actually speaking to people I know when I meet up with them!

I’m actually a bit excited about taking this little break and hoping to see what all I’ll accomplish during that time.

So I’m wishing you all a safe and prosperous new year and I’ll catch up with you a bit later in the year. I intend to keep updating my blog from time to time and you can even subscribe and receive an email notification whenever I write a new post if you’d like, or just pop onto my blog from time to time—or not.

In the words of C.S. Lewis—You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

Happy New Year!

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