Working My Way Through Winter

With Cammie being nominated for the Silver Birch Award, meaning that a lot of kids will be reading the book, I decided to create a post about the Halifax School for the Blind in case anyone was interested in knowing a bit more about it since it’s  also where the book is set. I’ve already shared this post on Facebook a week ago. You can find it by hovering over the Cammie Takes Flight tab at the top of my blog it should drop down and from there you click on it. Or you can follow the link HERE. The post explains how I used some of stories my mother and stepfather told me about their experience at the school when writing the book. This doesn’t mean the events in the book were real, of course not, it just means these experiences inspired me to create a fictitious story. Being able to add real details only adds to a story’s authenticity. That doesn’t mean a writer can’t also take certain liberties when writing as well. That’s the beauty of writing fiction.

I’m also planning to add some information on the Ideal Maternity Home in the future. Five years ago, when I first started writing the book, I went out to the spot where the maternity home used to stand. As mentioned in the back of the book, there’s a monument there to mark the place, and I did take some photos. It burned in the sixties. As sad and tragic as what the story about the home is it is a part of our history here in Nova Scotia and something I’m exploring further as I work on my next book.

Now that Christmas is behind us, and we’re making our way through winter, I’ve been able to devote more time to reading and writing. I’ve also more time to think and daydream. A lot of thinking goes into any book and something that can be done while doing housework or other mundane activities. What could be better? A writer doesn’t just sit down at the keyboard and watch the words materialize like magic. We spend as much time plotting a story as we do writing and rewriting. Some chapters take more time than others, some paragraphs for that matter, as we smooth out the writing and find that flow that makes our words sound effortless. Believe me, some first drafts can be pretty choppy. But that’s the part I like, pulling out the wrinkles, finding the right placement for a sentence or even word. Yes, it can be that exact.

I won’t lie. It’s easy to become discouraged, no matter how many books you have published or how many great reviews your work receives. Writing is challenging. It’s a solitary activity. Sometimes it can get lonely. Thankfully, we have our characters for company. So here I am, again, working my way through winter, keeping my head down and concentrating on the finish line.

Until next time.

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First Post of 2018

New Year’s Day is one of my favourite days throughout the year. It’s a day of hope. 365 days of wondrous possibilities ahead and that means anything, anything is possible. I was going to write a post about some of the lessons I learned in the past year but that soon had me bored. Life is filled with lessons, always has been. If we’re lucky we recognize some of those lessons for what they are and move along. So I wanted to keep this first post of 2018 short, maybe share with you a bit of wisdom that came to me before Christmas in way of an email called “Note from the Universe.” There were three things that came in the email and I loved each one of them. I hope you do too.

  1. Give thanks that your life is exactly as it is.
  2. Decide that 2018 will be the happiest year of your life yet.
  3. Every day, follow your heart and instincts down new paths. 

I wish you all the very best that life brings your way. I hope you meet all the challenges ahead with a sense of wonder and determination, and maybe you’ll keep these three things in mind as you go forward.

Happy New Year!

Thank You Post

As a child I was brought up to say, “Thank you.” It was an important word. I can actually remember being prompted by my mum whenever someone gave me something when I was very small. (Just in case I would forget.) Over the years, it became so ingrained in me that it’s become a natural thing, but more than just saying the word is the meaning behind it. The feeling of gratitude is actually pretty awesome and it brings me so much joy. I love this quote by Rumi that goes like this: If you say only one prayer, make it, Thank You. 

I believe these words and so I’ve decided to make this a thank you post from me to all of you.

This year has been an amazing year for me as a writer. I have so much to be thankful for—big and small. First and foremost are my husband, children and grandchildren who support me through all of this. They listen to me talk about writing and books and publishing and never once tell me to quiet down, even when I know I’m repeating myself and talking about things that aren’t nearly as relevant to them as they are to me.

I also have some amazing friends, some are writers and others aren’t but, regardless, they’re with me every step of the way during this writing journey I’m on. I wish you all could have been to the book launch of Cammie Takes Flight. You’d have seen the work that went into preparing for it. My community, my friends and family are amazing. And I was so very gratefully to everyone who was able to help out, and for those who came to wish me well or helped in any way. I know I’ve said it many times but “Thank you” bears repeating over and over.

Thanks to all those who have bought my books, read my books, borrowed my books from the library; and to those who took the time to rate or review my books on GoodReads and Amazon or any other site. And thanks to those who emailed or phoned or wrote or told me in person that they enjoyed reading about Cammie’s latest adventure. To be truthful many people will tell you they read your book but many never tell you if they liked it. That is why it is such a joy to hear when someone tells you they enjoyed the book you spent years working on. A writer invests so much time into their craft. It’s not simply a matter of whipping up a story and having the words all fall into place. It’s special to hear praise for your work and something writers never take for granted.

Thank you to those who offered word of encouragement, who shared my book posts on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site or told others about my book the old-fashioned way. Thank you to my publisher for investing in me and my stories and for helping Cammie find a readership. Thank you to the editors who have worked with me over the years. I’ve been very fortunate. A big thank you to the Ontario Library Association for nominating Cammie for the 2018 Silver Birch Award.  That was a pretty sweet moment when a call came all the way from Ontario to tell me the news. I was kind of at a loss for words, which maybe isn’t a good thing for a writer.

Most of all I say thank you to The Powers That Be for allowing me the freedom to explore life through the written word, to create stories, and to have the opportunity to share what I’ve written with the rest of the world.

So as 2017 winds down for this writer, I look forward to what lies ahead in 2018 with a big old “Thank You” ahead of time.

 

Looking a Little Like Christmas

It seems like forever since I’ve taken time to blog. In my own defense, it’s been a busy few months. Luckily, things are slowing down at work and I can start preparing for Christmas. Whew! A lot to do in a little time. I considered giving everyone on my Christmas list a copy of Cammie Takes Flight but they all have copies, and wouldn’t that have been easy? Speaking of Cammie, I made a discovery today while at The Inside Story in Greenwood. I picked up a copy of Best Books for Kids and Teens 2017  put out by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and found out that Cammie was on that list. It also had a red star, which I found out means, “titles of exceptional caliber.” That is why it was also included in their Holiday reading list 2017. I’ve got to say, that feels like quite an honour and I’m very excited for Cammie. But as excited as I am about this, I’ve got to get real about Christmas. Less than two weeks and I still haven’t finished my shopping.

Each year, I try not to stress out too much about it. Christmas will come and go, as it always does, and somehow I’ll be ready. I’m creeping through the shopping and sometime this weekend I’ll do some baking. The tree will one day be decorated, it will, it will. Maybe the elves will chip in.

What I cherish most about Christmas is having the kids and grandkids home. Seriously, that’s all the gift I need. And I don’t even want to say “all the gift” because it’s a wonderful gift as memories and moments are created. These are the things that last, the things that never get old and never break. And this year, if the stars line up just right, Santa will make it to my house in East Dalhousie. So as much as I might enjoy a white Christmas, I’ll be glad if the weather cooperated and Miss Charlotte can hang put her stocking under our tree.

I’m looking forward to all that awaits me in 2018. Lots of family time and, who knows, maybe 2018 will be the year I sign that million dollar book contract. Wish me luck on that, people!

What are your plans for Christmas this year?

Last Call for the Urban Pumpkin

For those who have been anxiously awaiting news about the final weight of the urban pumpkin –and  I’m fairly confident in saying there’s at least two of you out there—I’m happy to report that the son’s  urban pumpkin finally made it out of the planter box about a week ago, weighing in at 285 lbs. I believe that’s about eighty pounds more than his first attempt last year (which technically means, if we were tallying first year pumpkins, the country pumpkin would have won.)

But hold your horses…

Let’s not start celebrating quite yet. We’re not comparing first year pumpkins. That was just me being, well, me…  *sigh*

SO the real truth is the country pumpkin lost out. I’m OK with that. For with every contest there must be a winner and a loser, otherwise the word “contest” would not be used. Still, there’s nothing wrong with a little friendly competition among family members, is there?

 

So, here’s the final pic the son sent of the Urban Pumpkin. Notice how the son used some props for decorative purposes for the season.

 

Thus end’s this year’s saga of the great pumpkin growing contest.  Already we’re gearing up  and making plans for next year’s pumpkin patch. Only about seven or eight months from now!

Oh and Happy Halloween!

Silver Birch Nomination for Cammie

Today, the exciting news came that Cammie Takes Flight has been nominated for a 2018 Silver Birch Award.. I can’t begin to put into words what this means to me to know that Cammie will be read by thousands of children in grades 3-6. Congratulations to all the other nominees. So great to know that Cammie is in such excellent company.

This link HERE will take you to the list of the other nominees.

I’ll post a bit later about this wonderful reading program called the Forest of Reading which is run by the Ontario Library Association (OLA), and what it’s all about. Right now, I’m going to try and get my head out of the clouds.

This is a very good thing!

Ode to a Giant Pumpkin?

Alas, it finally had to happen. Frost hit the pumpkin patch while I was away at the FogLit Festival in New Brunswick last weekend Maybe I should have mentioned this in the last post, but I couldn’t bring myself to write about it. I needed time. To his credit, Hubby did his best to try and save her, he really did. He covered her lovingly with blankets but her vines were too massive. It went down to -1 that night. I feared the worst. There was a crispness in the air when days before we were waking to +18 or more degrees. I’d been hoping for a few more weeks of growth as the son’s urban pumpkin has been granted. But nights are generally cooler in East Dalhousie.

And so you can’t lament forever. There will come another year and, hopefully, we’ve learned a bit about growing giant pumpkins and can apply that knowledge to next year’s crop. We are pleased with our first-time effort. It’s the largest pumpkin this garden has ever seen. But there comes a problem with growing big pumpkins, the kind of problem no one warns you about back in the beginning. How the heck do you move it? Too big to roll.

Now, here’s how you move a really big pumpkin East Dalhousie style.

While we were moving this monster, there came a new development from the urban pumpkin camp, something we weren’t prepared for. The son is really out to win this. First this came; chocolate face and all.

Then this: Things were getting serious.

I mean how can two middle-aged pumpkin growers complete with this? So we countered in the only way we could. Not quite so cute, but the son’s not getting away that easily, thinking weren’t not going to notice the size of the pumpkin with all that cuteness sitting on top of it.

Of course our pumpkin looks smaller. Look how much bigger we are then the twins! This seems totally unfair to me–just saying.

So how much does the Country Pumpkin weigh? To the best of our calculation she’s tipping the scale at 235lbs.  As for the Urban Pumpkin that has yet to be determined as I’m sure the son delights in the fact that his urban garden has thus far avoided the frost. The competition continues….

I will report the final weight of the Urban Pumpkin once the frost finally settles in Lower Sackville.

Have a happy Thanksgiving weekend, everyone!

FogLit Festival

The FogLit Festival in St. John made for some lasting memories. The drive was long and we made a few very short stops along the way there. It was over 500 klms one way. Here we are just coming into the city.

It was exciting to finally see the sign for St. John especially since I’d never been there before. Of course, I’ve never been much of anywhere as most of you know!

We stayed at the Delta. Here’s a few shots taken from the room. This one over-looks St. John Harbour.

 

There is always time for some silliness. I mean, why not? Can’t work all the time, right? That’s just boring. Just an observation here: These things are not made for short people. I was standing on my toes when this photo was shot.

  This guy seems a little lonely so I stopped for a chat. Everyone has a story. However, I quickly found out he was a man of few words.

We attended a poetry event Friday night at the Kent Theatre featuring Kathy Mac. Emily Nilsen and Clyde A. Wray. It always nice to support fellow writers/poets. After all, it is all about the written word. Enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Cora’s the next morning.

Now that’s a hungry man’s breakfast.  lol. My French Toast and bacon kept me going all day, thank you!

My event was planned for East Point Indigo. I have to say Miranda and her staff were so welcoming and friendly. I can’t say enough good things about them. I got to talk about my book and that’s always fun. And one woman who bought a book for her  children though she and her mother might enjoy reading it as well.  So that’s always encouraging. OK, I still can’t get over that breakfast!

We drove straight home, no stopping along the way. It was good to finally make it home.And I was especially proud of the fact that I could actually get out of the vehicle after sitting there for over 500 klms.

Next post will be my final pumpkin report for this year. So if you were following me along this summer with my pumpkin adventure you’ll find out exactly what happened to ..to…Gee I didn’t even giver her a name. I will take suggestions in the comment section or on Facebook and maybe we can come up with a fitting name for her…or him.

 

Time for a Pumpkin Update.

I haven’t any idea how much our baby now weighs as the son has not been out to sabotage calculate it’s weight recently and we haven’t any idea as to how to calculate it ourselves. (Another top secret bit of information that the son has not shared. ) Perhaps if the weather remains warm and the frost stays away we will end up with a thousand pound baby after all. Well, I do think that’s a bit of a stretch but still, for a first effort we’re happy.

I have not seen a recent photo of the Urban pumpkin and have not set my eyes on it first hand for a few weeks, but I expect it is growing by leaps and bounds.

Here’s our baby. Isn’t she beautiful? As you can see, she is gaining nicely. I’m not ready to declare the son a winner in this competition yet. Who knows what magic can happen in a pumpkin patch during a warm stretch of autumn weather.

 

Writing update:
Saturday I’ll be in St. John at the Foglit Festival. I’m doing a reading from my new book at Indigo East Point and looking forward to it. Hoping to get some photos of the city since I’ve never been there before. Wish me luck!

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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