New Year’s Intentions

I’ve always loved the thought of a brand new year, like a sparkling white field of snow spread before me, unmarred; perfect and new. I wait for it with anticipation. I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions. Our resolutions tend to fall to the wayside a few weeks into January. We promise ourselves we’ll loose weight, start an exercise regime or give up bad habits. We undertake to be less judgemental of others, have more patience, be more loving, all with a strong resolve that this is the way we will better our lives. And we do mean it…Damn it!

So I scrapped the idea of a New Year’s resolution many years ago.

Instead, on New Year”s Eve I create of list of intentions for the coming year. I prefer the word intentions instead of dreams because dreams sometimes have a way of eluding us, something that we hope for but can never attain whereas intentions seem very plausible; something that we intend to do or accomplish. If we intend it we CAN make it happen and why not?

This past year has been an amazing year for me. What once occupied a space on my list of intentions has become reality, sometimes surpassing even my own expectations. My first novel was published, I participated at Word on the Street, attended book signings, and met so many, many wonderful people, hopefully learned a bit about the publishing industry and so much more. It’s been a year of much joy and happiness. It’s been a year for family and friends.  A year when perfect strangers have bestowed acts of kindness upon me that will never be forgotten.

I haven’t yet sat down to write my list but I know that number one will be.

I intend to always give thanks for all the remarkable blessings in my life!

So, Happy New Year to you all! Thank you all for your support and your over all remarkableness…May your intentions become reality….


As we head into 2010 what are your intentions for this brand new year?


The Locust Tree

Far off in the distance a tree stood out in the open. A handful of its orange leaves waved at us across the gap and I told Mama I had never seen such a strange sight as autumn leaves in the summertime.

“The world is filled with many strange things. So many that you couldn’t count them all even if you wanted to. But its not the knowing of everything there is in the world so much as it is the imagining of everything there could be,” said Mama. I wasn’t sure I knew what she meant but her words seemed to bring me comfort.

Bitter, Sweet

By the roadside in East Dalhousie, a locust tree stands rooted deep into the ground. A spring breeze scatters its scent into the air leaving behind a thin, sweet trail. I resist the urge to run my fingers across its textured bark. Forty-nine years and I have yet to feel it beneath my fingertips. I don’t know why that it.

Kitchen knives and pieces of broken glass were tied around the trunk of that locust tree to protect it from feasting porcupines that frequented its branches at night. What a strange sight it seemed to me as a child.

Despite the owner’s fear the locust tree flourishes today, bigger and greener than ever before having outlived the owner who is no longer around to protect it. Written words are like that locust tree—- rooted deeply and continuing on long after we are gone.

Are You Young at Heart?

Is this something I can read, too?

You’d be surprised how many adults have asked me that very question in reference to my book. I like to smile and tell them, “Only if you’re over twelve.” And hey I’m going to be honest here—– most of the adults I know are over twelve—- at least in terms of chronological age. But how many adults are still young at heart? All of them…at least that’s my hope.

I guess the thing about young adult novels is the fact that a lot of adults actually do read them as well. I’ve had university professors tell me they read young adult fiction, teachers, seniors and people from basically every walk of life.

So here’s the good news, people….You don’t have to be a young adult to read and enjoy young adult fiction!! All you need is a love of reading and a willingness to read stories that involve young people. There is some pretty terrific young adult fiction being produced every year. Two of my favourite authors of young adult fiction are Barbara Haworth-Attard and Carol Matas. I haven’t read all of their work but what I have read I have enjoyed immensely.

If you like to read but don’t have a lot of time then perhaps Y/A fiction is for you. Some of us just can’t seem to tackle a five hundred page novel. It just seems to be too daunting a task and if you’re not an avid reader I’m sure the mere thought of starting can be a bit overwhelming.

What I’ve been finding is that many people have bought  Bitter, Sweet simply because I wrote it. Some of them scarcely read for enjoyment at all, so when they tell me they’ve read my book I really do feel quite honoured to think they would give up their time to enter my make-believe world. I happen to think it’s quite possibly the most supportive thing anyone could do. Our time is precious. One lady stopped me in the mall one day to thank me for writing the book. Talk about a humbling experience!!

Not only are people telling me that they’re buying the book for their kids/grandchildren but for themselves, their parents and their grandparents, as well. So are you young at heart? Do you find yourself reaching for a young adult novel when you have a few moments to spare? If you’ve never read a young adult novel perhaps it is time. You might be quite surprised. You might actually enjoy it!

Buying Local

While putting some final touches on my Christmas shopping yesterday, I ended up wandering around the mall finally making my way to the bookstore. (Okay, so my first stop was the bookstore…I’m a book addict. I can’t help myself.) As luck would have it I found a book by one of my favourite authors and figured it was a well deserved Christmas present.

So as I was browsing around, I noticed a table out front with a sign suggesting a variety of local books. Of course, Bitter, Sweet was among them. The table was filled with books!

Since local is definitely in, I suppose it’s a great way to promote our local talent and why not.

I’m not sure if I’m overly sensitive now that my own book is out but there seems to be a healthy selection of local books this fall. (By local I’m referring to authors from the South Shore of the province.) I don’t recall seeing this type of promotion other years. It may have been there and I just didn’t see it.

So to Coles in the Bridgewater Mall, I salute your promotion of our local talent. For anyone in the area make sure you check it out. I think you’ll be just as delighted as I over the variety of titles.

“Bitter, Sweet” in the Chronicle Herald

Jeffery Simpson of the Chronicle Herald did an email interview with me last week about my book for the book section  of the Sunday paper. It can be found by clicking on the link.

Thanks Jeffery!

The question of self publishing

Earlier this week I met a gentleman and his wife at a luncheon in New Minas. He was both charming and articulate. The conversation eventually turned to writing. He’d published a book! Having retired from farming a few years back, he told me he needed something to do and it turns out that something was novel writing. Like me, he also had a great show of support from the community when he had his book launch. I guess that goes to show that rural Nova Scotia is VERY supportive of its own.

Over the course of our conversation he mentioned that his wife always carries three copies of the book with her wherever they go. And since I’m a push over for local authors I ended up buying one. I don’t expect I’ll get around to reading it until this winter as I have a lot of books on my TBR list. Before the luncheon was over I believe all three copies were sold. I laughed and told his wife she’d have to get a larger purse.

So the author’s name is Glenn Ells, from Sheffield Mills, a self-proclaimed “old coot.” Yes folks, that’s what it actually says on the back of his book!! Since March I believe, he told me he’s sold 1200 copies of the book—a  feat he is more than proud of. This is with no advertising, just word of mouth. I do believe he had someone from the local paper write a review of it, however. He told me his wife has sold 800 copies out of her purse alone.

The name of the book is “Starting Over.” It’s set in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley in 1760 and is based on the Planter years between the expulsion of the Acadians and the influx of Loyalists following the American Revolution. That’s about all I know except someone at the luncheon mentioned that it was a love story….What do you know? I guess even “old coots” can write about romance.

After meeting Glenn I started to wonder how many people out there are self publishing. My guess is it’s a fairly substantial number. It’s not something I’ve ever considered for myself for a number of reasons but I’m sure for someone like Glenn this has been a very rewarding experience. I’m wondering how many people out there have given thought to self publishing and just what your ideas on the subject is.

One thing that can’t be denied is the fact that Glenn is having one heck of a great time promoting his own book and meeting new and interesting people. I wish him all the best.

If all else fails I can always sell lemonade..

I know what!!! You should open a lemonade stand and then give away a copy of your book with each glass of lemonade you sell!…..My 6 year old niece’s eyes are wide with enthusiasm as she shares her idea with me the day I was at Coles in the Halifax Shopping centre.  Hmmm… Maybe she’s got something going there. After all she’s a pretty smart cookie. Little Molly hasn’t got any suggestions for me. She’s only four and likes to giggle. She stares at me with her big brown eyes. I notice a giggle behind those eyes just waiting to jump out at the slightest provocation. There’s a lady hovering around my table, feigning interest in the book, my guess she’s really listening in on my conversation with Miss Emma. Yup, she’s smiling…..she’s heard it all. I can see the utter delight in her eyes. She’d like to hear more.

You really gotta love the honesty of a six year old, not to mention the ingenuity. I mean, I never would have thought to set up a lemonade stand….Never!   What would I call it? Perhaps the “Bitter, Sweet Lemonade Stand.” Kind of has a ring to it. Don’t you think? Although I’m not sure it would sound so appealing to anyone actually wanting a tall glass of lemonade. But what the heck, sometimes you have to go out on a limb.

So I’m thinking maybe I can talk Miss Emma into having a photo snapped with me while I’m sitting there waiting for the next person to come along wanting a signed copy of “Bitter, Sweet.”  No such luck! She wants a dollar for that privilege she tells me. Sheesh! I guess having an aunt with a published book isn’t near as exciting as you might imagine, at least to a six year old… I hope Santa realized that day what an honour was bestowed upon him when Miss Emma let him have his picture taken with her…

It was all good in the end. My two nieces returned later in the day after their visit with Santa. A bag was opened and a Mars bar was being waved in front of me. Yup…..another successful book signing…Halifax Coles, you did me well!

The small things really do count

Maggie is just starting to write stories. She told me she’s written one about an alien and one about a bunny. She even wrote one about a princess. There’s nothing like a good princess story I always say!! Little sister, Katie is just learning to read. She turned a bashful eye my way as she stood across the table from me. With smiles so sweet and innocent, they really brightened my day.

Maggie and Katie’s mum stopped by during one of my signings to explain to Maggie that I had written a book and to instill in both of her young daughters the importance of writing stories. She seemed like a pretty neat mom to me. While I was singing a book for their Nanny Francie, I told Maggie that if she kept on writing that one day she might be sitting at a table and signing her own book.

My favourite moment was when they passed my table once more before leaving and gave me a little wave. Made my day. How could it possibly not? I’m a real push over when it comes to little moments like that. Have you ever stopped to think how small gestures can make such a big difference in someone else’s life? And what can be more important when that small act is remembered with fondness far into the future? Thank you Maggie and Katie. Thank you for making me smile even now as I write this..

Picking my number one

My Chapters and Coles signings are behind me. I can breathe a little easier now. My biggest fear was not getting out and meeting people –heck that was the best part–  but wondering if our Maritime weather would be cooperative. Not only is East Dalhousie known for its friendliness we are known far and wide for the snow we get each winter,  often times before winter even officially arrives,. When the rest of the province is snow free we’re often knee-deep in that white stuff. Makes for some awesome snowmobiling but sometimes the roads aren’t fit for travel. This fall, however, it’s been all sunshine and rain. A traveler’s paradise.


I had six different signings this month at various Coles and Chapter’s. The people in these places sure know how to treat their local authors. They are as welcoming and warm as anyone could hope for. Now, as great as each one of these stores were if I was to pick a favourite I’d have to say that Coles in New Minas really have it going. They set me up at a big table, welcomed me to their store, the manager slipped a Lindt chocolate bar on the table for me, came out and snapped photos and was just so super nice and friendly. Her staff was terrific as well and one of the employees even bought a copy of the book for her mom. She was a real sweetheart. She explained that each year she buys an author signed book for her mom and that this year she had specifically asked for “Bitter, Sweet.”


Since people in the Valley know me, there were quite a few who dropped in just to say,”Hi” Some got me to autograph books they had bought back in October at the book launch and didn’t stand in line  to have them signed that day. I don’t blame them, I was told that people waited for an ahlf hour to have their copies signed, even I wouldn’t have waited that long for me!!!


Now, for all of you who have even seen authors sitting out in front of a bookstore all by their lonesome, take a moment just to stop by and hello, maybe talk about the book a bit, ask a question or two. Just being friendly doesn’t cost a dime but you’ll feel good about it later an s you’ll be appreciated immensely. I promise. You don’t need to feel obligated to buy a book but it can feel mighty lonely out there by times…… I know, I know, you think it might feel a bit awkward. Don’t you? But I have yet to meet another author who wouldn’t appreciate a friendly hello and, I’ll admit to being one of those people who would have walked on by in the past if I didn’t intend to buy a book. But no more.


In the next while I’m gong to post some of my favourite folks at my signings. I had plenty of laughs, received little gifts, (Hey, if you want to win me over just give me a Mars Bar…My little sister showed up at one of the Halifax signings with her two girls and whipped out a dual pack of Mars Bars…Well, she didn’t have to go that far to win me over but the gesture was surely appreciated.) Boy, people are so thoughtful, so friendly.


So that’s it for now, Coles and Chapters, you’re all number one in my book but that Lindt chocolate bar in New Minas kind of pushed it over the top for me.


  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 240 other followers

  • Follow Laura Best on
  • Laura Best

  • Blog Stats

    • 77,124 hits
  • Advertisements