My Hallmark Moment

Who would have thought that Bitter, Sweet would make it into a Hallmark movie?

You might have to look closely ..

The movie, November Christmas, was filmed in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and while I knew some Nimbus books had been requested for the set, no one knew for sure which ones might make a cameo appearance.

Yup, that’s my book alright!!

Gotta say, this is pretty darn sweet!!


Back To the Real World

The car is packed up. The house is now quiet. Gurgles and smiles, and baby noises are no more. The only sounds I hear are the hum of the computer, the clicking of the keyboard, and the buzzing of a solitary housefly intent on annoying me. (Must get the fly swatter and make away with the wretched thing!)

But it was a great visit, one that will bring a smile to my face for an entire month, until Mama and Daddy and Miss Charlotte return. This Christmas will be made extra special. Funny how much power one little person can possess.

Now it is back to work on Monday. Back to writing on my WIP. Back to figuring out what twists and turns my plot will take.

Until next time!

Look Who’s Coming To Visit

I may be a bit busy this weekend, but I’ll try and catch up with everyone next week. Enjoy your weekend. I know I will. Aren’t grandchildren the best?

What a Character

I usually credit my mother for my love of reading, for instilling in me a love for books at an early age. Nothing was more exciting to me then having her read to my brother and I when we were growing up. (There’s a photo of her in the book launch pictures right under the Bitter, Sweet tab.)

Considering the fact that she is legally blind, it might seem like a strange pastime to some. There was a time when she could see the printed words by removing her glasses and holding the book up close, but with cataract surgery about ten years ago, she now reads with the use of a special magnifier. It takes her longer to read that way, but it’s hard to keep a good reader down.

No one gets into a story more than my mother. I sometimes swear she thinks the characters she reads about are real. They make her laugh and cry, and as angry as a riled hornet. Yes folks, she sometimes sputters when a specific character behaves in a way she doesn’t approve of and, I’m always the one to hear about it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing. In fact, I know she’s not the only one who becomes emotionally involved to that extent. I had many people tell me they how annoyed they were with a particular character in Bitter, Sweet. And while that character annoyed me to the fullest, I didn’t hate him for being flawed. I even found myself more understanding of him than I likely would have been if he were someone I knew in real life.

It is a writer’s job to write the story without bias. When a character gets under our skin, and acts out in ways that seem inappropriate, it is not up to us to stand in judgement, nor do we jump in and make them change their actions with a few quick strokes of the pen. Or should I say keyboard? It is simply up to us to tell the story– to say, this is what happened. This is the story.

Now, while my mum would probably like to change a few plot lines in the books she reads (and I’m sure she’s not the only one) I think that you’ll agree that catching our readers and pulling them into our stories, emotionally involving them in these worlds we have created, is a very good thing indeed.

How emotionally involved to you become with the characters in the books you read or have written? Do you feel their pain? Would you like to give them a swift kick sometimes? Is feeling an emotional response more important to you than the plot or do you think both are equally important?

Head Up My Own Past Syndrome

I’ve been a bit distracted this week, my mind wandering throughout the day. Yes, my head’s been, literally, up my own past. I don’t know how else to word it.

I smile to myself as I pull out memory after memory of my school days. Must be this turning 50 or something. I’m not sure. What I am sure of are the wonderful feelings I’ve been experiencing as I’m called to remember things I hadn’t thought about in years— the boy the teacher made me hold hands with the day the class walked to the fire hall in the first grade, the friend I wrote letters to over the summer vacation, the girl who sat next to me in Math class—you get the picture. This week has been a bit of a “blast from the past” for me.

On a whim I started poking around facebook, and looking up some of the people I went to school with. After thirty years of not seeing many of them it’s been fun to touch base, and see where they’ve all been these past thirty years. I had to wonder if many of them would even remember me as I hit the “Send Friend Request” button. I was kind of quiet in school. I’m sure I didn’t make much of an impression. Miraculously, little emails began to come in, people asking how I was, letting me know about their kids, their jobs. They genuinely seemed glad to hear from me.

Living in a small community where we were bussed to school an hour away, often left me feeling that so much was missing, things that the rest of my classmates likely took for granted. I never got to talk to these people on the phone (longs distance charges) nor did we ever hang out on weekends or evenings. The only time I saw these people was during school hours. Wonder why I’d be doubtful if they’d remember me?

I find it strange that these friendships, forged in the past, seem to bring something out in all of us. They call us back to a time and place when life was much simpler, a time when our whole lives were stretched out before us. We were not thinking or imagining a time when we would turn 50. We were innocent. We were young. We were anxious to take a bite out of life. We lived in the moment. We did not have our heads up our own pasts.

So to all those who graced the halls of West Kings High during my school days, just letting you know, you were a pretty cool bunch.

How about the rest of you, have you ever suffered from Head up your own past syndrome?

Wish I’d Said That

Every once in awhile you come across a quote that resonates with you, one you look at and think, “Wish I’d said that!” The following quote of Virginia Hamilton’s pretty much did that for me today.

I think, I dream, and writing is who I am. How much time I spend at it, who I write for, why I wrote, and what next I will write, fall into the realm of propaganda. The fact is that I must write and writing is work, hard and exacting….. Virginia Hamilton, from “Portrait of the Author as a Working Writer.”

Gee, kind of wish I’d said that. Oh right, I already said that.

While I’m pretty sure I’ll never have anything quotable to say about writing, or life in general, it’s nice to know that there are those out there capable of expressing our thoughts and feelings for us. Not only that, when we read such quotes, it feels so right and true, we might very well have written them ourselves. Perhaps that’s the key. A truth is something that, the moment we read it or hear it, we believe it. Not only do we believe it but we know it. There’s no room for doubt. Doubt doesn’t exist. No need to try and convince others. You either know it or you don’t.

While I do suppose we are all born with these truths within us, my pearls of wisdom are not as eloquently expressed as Virginia Hamilton. Still, these tiny seeds of wisdom lie dormant within each one of us until something triggers them; they grow and blossom, and erupt into full bloom. Luckily, someone eventually steps forward to remind the rest of us. Yes, we all possess wisdom, whether we admit it or not. Wisdom isn’t always something profound. Sometimes the greatest wisdom comes in the simplest form.

“There are all kinds of wisdom in the world, Pru. It’s in everything from a sunrise to a dewdrop. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Complicating things is our own doing. We’re handed life on a platter. It should be so easy,” said Mama as she clasped her hand around the delicate golden thread she had dug from the ground.” Bitter, Sweet

If you have any pearls of wisdom to pass along I’d love to hear, or perhaps you have a great quote you’d like to share. This is your moment make the rest of us shout, Wish I’d said that!

and the winner is…..

Last night was the big awards ceremony, put on by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre in Toronto, where the winners of the Canadian Children’s Literature Awards book were announced.

I just want to say congratulations to all the winners, and special congrats also to Shane Peacock, winner of the Geoffrey Bilson Award for his book Vanishing Girl!!

So I didn’t win, but hey, no one can take away the honour of having Bitter, Sweet short listed for that award. Right? Shane’s a great writer and well deserving of the award. I had the opportunity to read some of his work this summer and he’s good!! You should check his books out if you’re into reading YA fiction.

Thanks to everyone who had their fingers and toes and nose hairs crossed for me. Your well wishes meant the world to me. Maybe next time!

One another note, November is always a hectic time of the year for me. I’ve been trying to visit as many blogs as I can through the evening, but I’m falling behind. I’ve got you in my google reader and eventually I’ll make my way around. There are just so many great blogs out there to follow, and I do try and comment when I have time. Please be patient. I’ll see you around!

Winning’s Not Everything But It Sure Feels Good

Guess what arrived in my mailbox today?

Two great books from Canadian author, kc dyerA Walk through the Window & Facing Fire–signed, I might add. Sweet!

Remember back in October when I mentioned that Ev Bishop was giving away some copies of kc’s book on her blog? Well guess who also entered? It wasn’t a difficult thing to do. Just left a comment on Ev’s blog. Bet you’re wishing you had, too! I don’t consider myself a winning sort of person, so you can imagine my delight when Ev emailed me awhile back to say I’d hit the jackpot! Not one, but two of kc’s books. Okay, so I’m going on about it, but I can hardly wait to start reading these two YA novels.
Facing Fire is the sequel to A Walk Through the Window.

Thanks kc and Ev! I’m totally delighted with my winnings. Can hardly wait to dig in.

The Hidden Power Behind the Words

I’ve been thinking about a substitute teacher I had for a few days in the sixth grade. From time to time this woman pops into my mind. I’m not sure what sparks the memory.

I was the kind of student who was always well liked by my teachers. I never talked back, got good grades. I did what I was supposed to. I followed the rules. But this one particular time our regular teacher was off for a few days, and we had a substitute.

Suddenly I could do nothing right. Every little thing I did, this teacher picked up on. I was scolded again and again for reasons I couldn’t understand. I felt belittled and small, insignificant. In a few short days I went from being a happy student, who liked school, to one who couldn’t seem to do anything right.

I was miserable. I hated school. If I didn’t cry, I’m sure I felt like it.

Then one day this substitute asked us to write something creative. I didn’t have to think twice about what I would write. I wrote about teachers who have no respect for students, who berate them and treat them unfairly. The words flowed onto the page like magic. I vented. I purged. I got it all out of my system. It felt good. I breathed a sigh of relief.

I was suddenly aware that words were powerful. It was the first time I was able to express myself fully, in a way that didn’t make me feel self-conscious. I didn’t think about what would happen once this woman read my essay. I didn’t care. I’d discovered freedom. It was at my front door. It came in the form of the written word. It felt right, good and just!

For some reason I don’t recall having any more problems with this teacher. Maybe it was because our regular teacher was back. Hallelujah!

I do, however, remember the substitute teacher passing our assignments back the next day. “So that’s who wrote this,” was her comment. And do you know what? I didn’t much care. I wrote what felt right, what needed to be written. I was able to breathe a bit easier.

I’m sure this teacher hasn’t spent the past forty years pondering what a sixth grader had to say in an essay. I’m thinking that my words didn’t make such a big impact in the grand scheme of things. But I learned a valuable lesson during that time with that substitute teacher. Words have power, not just for the person reading those words, but for the one writing those words.

Do you remember when you first discovered the hidden power in words or did you come to the realization over time? Are you more comfortable expressing yourself verbally or does the written word offer you much more freedom to think and be who you are?

We Interrupt This Blog To Bring You Some Earth-shattering News!

I, Laura Best, have mastered the art of folding a fitted sheet!

Yup, you read that right. Exciting times in the Best household.

Look a tad bit familiar?

Remembering a blog post a year or so ago, on Tricia Sutton’s blog, where many of us so called “intelligent” people openly admitted to not being able to fold the frigging things, let me tell you, today I feel like a freaking genius!

Didn’t see it on a TV show. Didn’t get any nifty pointers from Martha Steward.
Didn’t even look it up online. I figured it out all on my own. I looked at the freshly laundered sheet and just knew I could do it!

Want to know my secret?

Sure you do!

The last time cracked open a package of new sheets I unfolded them with care. I paid attention. I looked at the way they were so meticulously folded up into that little package and I thought to myself, “I can do that!” And you know what? I could. No more balled up fitted sheets for me.

That same feeling sometimes happens when I’m writing. A scene or chapter seems to evade me, something isn’t quite right. I’m not sure why, can’t quite put my finger on it. It could go on like that for some time until I feel like balling it up and tossing it in the corner, until in a sudden flash of sheer brilliance (okay, maybe not quite brilliance, but you get the picture) it comes to me.

I love those moments, usually when I’m in the middle of something totally unrelated when I’m presented with some wonderfully new epiphany about my main character, something I didn’t already know. It happened the other evening while we were driving home from town. A few sentences stuck in my mind. They were dark, and caught me totally off guard. I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t sure I liked it or even how it would fit into my MC’s present predicament. But there it was.

But then came the dawning of a new day, where I quickly worked with the sentences that had popped into my head the night before. Like that folded sheet, I knew exactly what to do with them. While it didn’t make me feel like a genius the way I felt when I saw that fitted sheet folded up so small and nice and sitting on the shelf, it did make me feel pretty darn good. Once I got down to work, everything else seemed to fall into place. Best of all it fit in perfectly with the rest of the story. Turns out it wasn’t nearly as dark as I originally thought, but that happens often when we write.

So, call me a genius if you want, but only if you struggle with those fitted sheets yourself, otherwise just call me totally and utterly ridiculous for this entire post.

Do you ever get those moments when, in a suddenly flash of brilliance, a new scene comes to you right out of the blue, something you weren’t expecting, something that left you feeling like a complete genius?


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