Laura Takes Flight (The Best Version)

As some of you already know the Festival of Trees, big award ceremony for the Silver Birch, is held every year at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. Last week I ventured into the big scary city for the event. Needless to say, Toronto is a bit bigger than East Dalhousie which has a population of a few hundred.

The day was busy and the ceremony lots of fun. While there were different categories: Sliver Birch Express, Silver Birch non-fiction, etc, I’ll just mention that the winner in my category was Alex Lyttle for his book From Ant to Eagle—a big congratulations to him.

Of course for the rest of us getting the nomination really did make us all winners. Yay! It really was an honour and a privilege to be nominated.

Here we all are up on stage. It was a little chilly with the cool breeze at the water front but we were warned ahead of time to be prepared for the weather. It was fun to meet some of the other authors nominated in my category. I’ve already read many of the books.

But  hold on a moment: there’s a version to the festival, the “Best” version that I wanted to share with you, the unedited verion. So while I was of doing my author thing for the week I shared a few highlights with the son who came up with his version of what REALLY happened at the ceremony. Now this he posted in our family chat on FB so no one else got to see it.

So what you should know is that I took a little tumble in the underground parking after the ceremony was all over. I blame the new glasses as they’ve made me feel a bit off all week. Not to worry though, I skinned my knee a bit but other than that I was ok.
However, when I signed into Facebook a few days later I was met with the Son’s version of events as he related them to his sisters.

Mom didn’t win the award and to top it off she walked out on stage, fell and skinned her knee. Knew there would have to be a racket!

Omg. Did she really? It’s those new glasses!

That’s what she said, the new glasses. Rolled around on stage, knocked over the microphone, pulled a tablecloth on her way down and ripped all the books off the table. Can’t wait to get all the juicy details

Stormed off in a rage, I suppose.

Now I don’t know what to believe! lol Did she really fall?!

Oh yeah, skun her knee up like a little kid on a playground

Okay, so there you have it, the BEST version of my adventures in Toronto at the Festival of Trees. Needless to say I got quite a chuckle out of it as my writer’s mind pictured the Son’s version while reading it. But of course the celebration wasn’t that eventful. Thank goodness. Leave it to the son to spice up the events for his sisters and his dear old mom!

I wanted to make this post short as it was a long week, we got home late, and I’m plenty tired at the moment. But just wanted to sign in to let you know I made it to Toronto and back. Now it’s time to go back to the real world and off to work tomorrow.

I hope you had a great week!

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Mail System Error

Since having a book nominated for the Silver Birch Award I’ve been receiving emails and even letters from young readers. I have to admit it’s kind of nice. I enjoy answering their questions. This weekend I received an email from a young girl, Nichole. And after spending some time crafting an appropriate response to her questions, and feeling kind of good about it, I hit *send.* But wait! My email came back. Those nasty Mail System Error emails… Seems as though there must have been a mistake in the email address. So Nichole, if you’re reading this try sending me your email address again. Ok. I figure this is a long shot but what’s an author to do? I hope the young reader is not disappointed. When any reader reaches out to me I always respond. I think it’s the least an author can do. And Nichole had some very nice things to say about Cammie.

The Festival of Trees is a week away. The winners in each category will be announced. As you can imagine it’s an exciting time for all the nominees! But truthfully, we’re all winners. Having this nomination has been absolutely amazing.

I think I’m safe in saying that spring is here. Flowers are blooming, the grass is green. A few nights ago we had a visit from some four-legged beings that gobbled down Miss Charlotte’s tulips. We were quite disappointed as Miss Charlotte was only one when she helped plant them and it’s something we look forward to seeing each spring. Nasty deer. Last week we were in an area with so many mayflowers you could smell their delicious aroma in the air. We picked a few to bring home. Such beautiful deep pink colours.

The ticks are here! The ticks are here! Or rather, the ticks have landed.. which is kind of the way we talk around here. No explanation needed to those of us who understand the local jargon. While I’m well used to what we here call wood ticks, I’m not much of a fan the deer ticks, namely the ones that could carry lyme disease. Five hours waiting to see a doctor at the walk-in- clinic the other week and I’ve kind of had my fill. I normally wouldn’t have gone in but when I tried to remove it , it didn’t all come out. I certainly didn’t want a nasty infection resulting from it. I’ve got things to do! The doctor also gave me an antibiotic pill (One dose) and asked me if I knew what to watch out for. Sure do doc. I’m happy to report, so far so good.

I found this tree to be a bit strange and so I snapped a photo last week. I decided to share it with you all just for the heck of it. While you might look at it and see an old stump, I see what once was a tree with character. It is now an amputee.  I’m sure it was quite something in its day. Lots of limbs that I’m trying to imagine being cut off, wondering exactly how they did it. I would have liked to have climbed up and had a photo of myself, tree-hugger that I am, with my head sticking out of the top. But alas, there was no dang way I was going to try and climb that on my own. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it.

I’m trying to get used to my first pair of progressive lenses. It’s challenging. While they assured me I’d get used to them, I’ve talked to some people who didn’t. Time will tell. I’m trying to remain optimistic.

With all this great weather coming our way, it’ll soon be time to plant. Will the Bests grow any giant pumpkins this year? Guess you’ll have to keep checking my blog to find out. Please don’t lose sleep over it, though.

Now that spring has arrived I’ve started a few new writing projects. It’s what happens when spring arrives I guess. Granted, it’s not always easy to keep your butt in the chair when the sun is shining and nature is begging you to come out and play. But progress can be made even by writing a paragraph or two a day.

How about you, are you working on anything special this spring? I’d like to hear about it.

Another Blast of Winter in Spring

Winter just doesn’t seem to want to go away this year. Here in East Dalhousie we were blessed with about 10 cm of snow last night. Some of it melted during the afternoon, and the eaves are still dripping. That said, we’ve been told to expect another 15 cm overnight. I’m not sure what will happen to the tulips in our garden that suddenly burst through the ground late last week, but I’m hoping they’ re hardy enough to survive this next blast of winter weather this spring. But this is not unusual for spring, nor is our complaints that winter just doesn’t want to give up. Still, with each warm day we’re granted, hope stirs inside us. That’s the one thing about hope. It seems no matter how many times we’re disappointed with the outcome of something, we remain hopeful that next time the results we’re looking for will finally show up.

It’s like that when writing a book. Most times it takes several attempts before I end up with the results I want. Some authors write many drafts before they declare the story completed. I tend to edit and revise as I go along, and often never get a first draft completely written out so I have no idea how many drafts I go through. Back when I was writing Flying with a Broken Wing I became dissatisfied with the story and even stopped working on it, so sure I was that it was never going to amount to anything, let alone anything publishable. So I took a break from it and went back to it many months later filled with new hope that this time I was going to make it to the end. And I did!

I actually started the book I’m working on now about the same time that I started Cammie Takes Flight, and while Cammie’s been a book now for nearly a year, that other book is still waiting for me. I don’t expect I’ll ever be a fast writer. Many times I feel as though the story is struggling to find me. Sometimes there’s a lot of static in the way. But when the lines finally become clear, sentences and paragraphs begin to fall into place. That’s when I know for sure the story I’m working on will not get abandoned along the wayside.

And while I’m hopeful that spring will soon be here to stay, there is definitely no guarantee. Just as there is no guarantee that the story I’m presently working on will make it into book form. Still, amidst the struggles and frustration, I try to remain hopeful. It may not always be possible. I sometimes fall into a rut and become discouraged even with three published books and over forty published short stories. I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this. We all become discouraged from time to time. But it’s our ability to pick ourselves up time and time again, to find that small bit of hope and run with it as fast as we can, that is responsible for all the accomplishments we achieve in life.

I’ll leave you with this quote that I find particularly inspiring. Maybe you will, too.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Spring, Writing and Book Launch Photos

Time has certainly been flying by this winter or I should say spring? I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I last wrote a blog post. Here we are near the end of March. While the last time I wrote about how warm and unwinter-like the weather for February was, as we get closer to spring, winter decided to remind us that we needn’t start looking for crocuses and daffodils just yet. But that’s life, isn’t it? Just when we start feeling comfortable about the state of things, thinking maybe we have it all figured out, the rules change on us. In a way, it’s for our own good. I believe we all need for life to challenge us from time to time otherwise we stop growing and expanding as human beings, learning new things and having new experiences. A.K.A BORING.

I’ve been busy juggling a few stories these past few months, carrying on a love/hate relationship with them. I guess it’s why I juggle in the first place. As soon as I start hating one story, I switch to the other. Sometimes one of the stories will stick in my head and follow me around, sometimes even haunting my dreams or else coming to me late at night. The stories are so different from one another and maybe that’s a good thing. Writing is finding that balance and not sinking into a rut. So, I’ll keep juggling so long as these two stories dictate. Seems it’s rarely the writer who’s in charge of the story anyway.

I finally got around to posting some launch photos. You’ll find them HERE but also under the Cammie Takes Flight tab. There were so many photos taken  that day, I couldn’t possible post them all. I just picked out a few. Maybe you’ll see yourself in some of them.

Easter is in a few days, and although we have plenty of snow here in East Dalhousie, it’s melting away quickly. Today was absolutely gorgeous. Hopefully, it won’t be too many weeks before we see those crocuses and daffodils.

Happy Easter! Oh, and a shout-out to my friend, Gail, whose birthday is today. I’ve been calling but the line’s been busy. Hope you’re reading this and are having a stupendous day!

Spring in February

This winter has seemed suspiciously more like spring than winter. Just last week I was working outside all afternoon without a jacket. That shouldn’t be happening. I did have a pullover on over my shirt but still… it’s February. And again, today felt more like an April day. I was tempted to go out and look for signs of crocuses because you just never know. We have had a bit of snow off and on but nothing like we had two or three years ago, thank goodness. This photo speaks volumes of what that winter was like. We did get to enjoy a fair amount of snowshoeing that year so it made it much more enjoyable. Kind of an if-you-can’t-bet-em-join-em attitude I suppose and it really did help. However, as nice as it is to have spring nipping at out heels, I’m trying not to have a false sense of security about this. There is still plenty of time for winter to kick in.

I’ve added a bit about the Ideal Maternity Home on my blog HERE. It’s under The Cammie Takes Flight tab. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I was planning to do this. While this is a story known to many in Nova Scotia it might not be as well known in other parts. There is plenty of information out there about the home, but I do have a photo I took of the monument the survivors placed in East Chester a number of years back. The whole story surrounding the home is a sad one, yet it is part of our local history. I’m planning to add additional links to this post for anyone looking for more information. There have also been several books written on the subject.

Also, Cammie Takes Flight is now available through the CELA library. YAY!  This library is for people with print disabilities and the books are in audio. I’m quite please about this for obvious reasons. I say it seems quite fitting that the book is available for people who are visually impaired like Cammie.

Presently, I’m in the process of writing a synopsis for a story that may or may not be finished. I say it that way as one never knows when something will suddenly seem out of place and you wake in the middle of the night to declare that you need to make more changes even though you’ve already written “The end” several times over a two year period. I now know enough about writing to understand that “the end” doesn’t really come about until you’re holding that book in your hands. Only then is it too late to make changes.

Oh yes, and I’ve been knitting again. Well, knitting and unraveling and knitting again. But I’m still getting there. It’s no different than writing. Kind of a one step forward two steps back, but luckily it doesn’t last forever. Eventually you do reach your goal.

And lastly, I’ve received a number of emails from young readers this past while and I have to say it’s always nice to hear from those who’ve read Cammie’s story. It reminded me that I also have some authors to email whose books I’ve read and enjoyed. While it takes only a few minutes a little author appreciation means so much to an author.

How is your February going? Has the weather been a little interesting where you are?

 

 

Everyone’s Aunt Alma

While doing up a Valentine card to mail to my granddaughter who happens to live in another province, I smiled as I remembered how much she enjoys getting mail and of the photos my daughter often sends over email showing her excitement when an envelope or package arrives in the mailbox for her. I am so glad that, at the age of seven, she has long ago learned the special connection we share with others through a hand-written letter. It truly is something precious.

I think we all enjoy getting mail, not the bills and junk mail that are an inevitable part of life, but a real letter from a real person who took the time out of their day to let you know they were thinking of you. While letters, cards and parcels hold a certain appeal for most of us, I think it’s true especially when you’re a child. Nothing can replace the magic of having those cherished cards and hand-written letters arrive in the mailbox. While many people send virtual cards they’re just not the same.

I remember as a very small child the cards that arrived for my sisters and brother at Easter and Christmas. I particularly remember the cards that arrived one Easter. I loved the little bunnies, the bright yellow chicks and coloured Easter eggs on the front of the cards. Another special part of the cards we received were the envelopes themselves as my sisters and I were addressed as Miss and my brother as Master. This was the first time I was aware that these salutations existed. At a time when us siblings were always referred to as, “and Family”  I can’t begin to describe how delightful it felt to discover that I was a Miss and not just an appendage that followed my parent’s name on an envelope. I was one and unique. I was a Miss. Now that was something to be proud ofI was perhaps four at the time and I can assure you I felt quite special.

Seems terribly old-fashioned now, although I will admit to tacking the Miss onto my granddaughter’s mail when I address it. I guess old habits die hard

The cards were from a woman we knew only as Aunt Alma. If I go back even further in my memory, I can remember her sitting in our living room and visiting with the grown-ups. She was married to my mother’s Uncle Fred. That made her my Great-Aunt Alma, although I only ever called her Aunt Alma.

A few years back I came in possession of some articles that had been written about Aunt Alma in the local paper. One was from 1987. According to the article, she not only wrote a weekly column about the comings and goings in good old E. Dalhousie, but she was an avid letter-writer. Of course, I knew about Aunt Alma’s column, everyone did. We all sent her articles from time to time to see our names and events in print. Marriages, births, funerals, card parties, the community fair—there was always something for Aunt Alma to write about. Even the announcement that so-and-so “motored” to Bridgewater or the Valley “on business” was news-worthy enough to make it into her column. Events usually ended up with “a good time was had by all.” These things were standard in any good community column just ask those of us who remember.

In 1992 Aunt Alma was profiled yet again in the same local paper under a section called, “Seniors in Action.” She was 93 at that time and still very much “in action.” The photo in the paper is the same one I used for this blog post. (Sorry about the quality.) At that time she’d been writing her column for over fifty years—fifty years, can you imagine? That’s a whole lot of writing and reporting of news, what some might say a life time. The article stated that she kept herself busy by writing letters, sending birthday, anniversary, sympathy and get well cards, which isn’t a surprise to anyone who knew her, certainly not to me. Obviously, she understood not only the importance of sending letters and cards, but the magic of being on the receiving end. She also loved getting mail.

I found it interesting that her parents ran the Dale Post Office at one time and that she helped out. She said she regretted not keeping some of the stamps. From the articles I read, it seems to me she was always someone who valued getting and receiving mail. Back then, many rural post offices were run out of people’s homes especially in small communities. There were once three post offices in East Dalhousie. Remarkable, when you think of how few people there were and still are. Of course life was different back then and a few miles down the road was a much farther distance than it is today. I now live in what was once the Dale Post Office years after the time when Aunt Alma’s parent’s would have operated it from their home. A different house of course, but I happen to think that’s a neat little coincidence.

What I learned about Aunt Alma in later life was that not only was she my Aunt Alma, she was everyone else’s Aunt Alma too–people I wasn’t related to; some I knew, others I didn’t. Maybe it’s because I live in a small community where everyone knows everybody or is in some way related if you were to go back far enough and trace through all those branches on family trees. I’m sure there were many people who called her Alma but she will always be Aunt Alma to me.

I often think about the little cards she sent to us in the mail when we were children, her way perhaps of instilling her love of receiving mail to the generations after her, and while I’d like to imagine that we were somehow special to her in a way that no other children on the planet were, I’m almost positive in my assumption that many young children in East Dalhousie and far beyond were blessed at one time or another to receive a card from dear sweet Aunt Alma.

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.

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?

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