You Can’t Judge a Book Without a Title

As I’ve mentioned earlier on this blog, my next MG novel will be coming out this fall. But have I mentioned that for a long time my soon to be published middle grade novel did not have a title? I wanted to, just now, say that it was titleless but WordPress doesn’t acknowledge titleless as a word, contrary to Google which says it’s an adjective meaning “without a title.” Interesting.

Titles can be very important to a book. I can remember when my first book Bitter, Sweet was published; so many people commented on the well placed comma in the title. I had originally titled the book Bittersweet and when my publisher asked my thoughts on tweaking it a bit, I wasn’t quite sure. I needed time to think about it. I was told they wanted the title to stand out. There were other books out there with similar titles. I took a few days to mull it over, but ultimately agreed with them. Later, I was so glad I did. I now couldn’t imagine it being all one word and, as I said, many people seemed to be slightly curious about that comma.

But this last book of mine, coming out this November (yes, I did say November!) has been without a title for awhile now. I did title it when I submitted the manuscript, of course I did, but my publisher didn’t love the title. (Hey, these things happen!) So my editor and I brainstormed some ideas and sent our suggestions along. Our list was narrowed down to three, of which I was asked an opinion on. And suddenly my book had a title. Just that simple, dimple.

Did I say simple? Hmmmm, not quite.

The first list we submitted didn’t have anything that jumped out for my publisher. Could we come up with more suggestions?

No problem. We came up with another list. And then finally, within that list, three nuggets were found. I picked the biggest and shiniest nugget of the three. Hello book title!

I find it interesting that so often when people hear that you’ve an upcoming book, their first question is “What’s the title?” Never fail.

I find that interesting because, without knowing anything else about a book, the title doesn’t sem all that important to me. For instance is it an adult fiction? childrens book? non-fiction? What’s the story about? All things you might not be able to discern by a title alone. But that is just my thoughts on it.

So, happy that I am to have a sparkly new title. I won’t yet share it with you. Not to be intentionally cruel, but I’ll wait until I’m ready to show the cover. Believe me when I say, you’ll appreciate the title much more when you have a visual to go with it.

But stay tuned. I will share the original title in my next post, but only because there’s a story to go along with it. You may even learn a little something from the post. See you then!

Guest Author Barbara Carter

Today, I’m pleased to welcome author Barbara Carter as a guest on my blog. Barbara Carter was born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. Grew up and resided next to the town of Mahone Bay, until moving to the Halifax area in 2002.  She is a visual artist and writer who likes to take walks, read, watch TV dramas, and practice Qi-gong.

Making Dreams Happen

I was born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. Grew up near the town of Mahone Bay, famous for its three churches by the sea. As a young person my dream was to become a visual artist or a writer. I thought I had to choose, that I couldn’t do both. My beliefs were so limited. I chose images over words. But life had other things in store. The journey I wanted to take didn’t happen. My dreams faded.

With only a spark of a dream left, in 1988, I started showing and selling my artwork. Staying safe hidden behind images. Eventually, I needed to say more. Felt that if I didn’t, I would lose my mind. That led to writing memoir: Real life stories. First person accounts of my experiences. Intimate. Emotional truths. Structured to tell a good story. I was a child in the 60s. A teen in the 70s. There was no talk about trauma and its effects on children. Mental health was not considered. My father’s drinking was kept a secret. Nothing was ever talked about. We had to figure out our own ways to survive. To sink or swim.

My life was far from ordinary. Yet that search for love and understanding is universal. That’s where others can relate. My writing is about letting go of shame. Breaking the silence. I believe that denying darkness doesn’t bring anyone closer to the light. That silence keeps us isolated and alone.

When I was in elementary school, around the age of 10 or 11, I remember sitting on a grassy hillside in the schoolyard with the older girls telling us younger ones about the facts of life. They told us the things no one else would tell us. I like to compare that to the sharing of my stories, that it’s like whispering secrets in your ear. Telling you something no one else will tell you.

The reality is: home is not always sweet. Life not always kind. But the truth is you are stronger than you think. Change is possible. And dreams can come true.

My books can be read in chronological order, or on their own.

Floating in Saltwater, Balancing Act, and Loose Gravel are best read in order. Especially because of Dorothy. After my first book’s release, readers kept asking me: What happens to Dorothy? I guess it was obvious I survived because I wrote the book. But Dorothy’s future remained a mystery. She started living with my family when she was thirteen. They kept her captive. Even as an adult, she wasn’t permitted out on her own. Readers wanted to know: Would she ever leave? Would she marry? Would her dreams come true? By the end of the third book those questions are answered.

Ain’t Easy was released in 2020.

Joined, my next book will be released September 15, 2022.

Books can be found on my website: http://www.barbaracarterartist.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16278274.Barbara_Carter

Or by contacting me: barbaracarter849@gmail.com

Guest Author Sean Paul Bedell

It is my extreme pleasure to welcome author Sean Paul Bedell to my blog today. While he has worked as a paramedic and as a captain with the fire service, Sean Paul Bedell has been writing and publishing for more than 30 years. He lives in Dartmouth with his wife Lisa, and Somewhere There’s Music is his first novel.

The Forties and the 40s – a Call for Help by Sean Paul Bedell

Laura, thanks so much for letting me sit in as a guest on your blog. I am delighted and appreciate it. This is my first foray into blogging and using social media as a communication tool. Anyone who knows me will attest that I’m horrible at doing the requisite likes on Facebook and lagging in retweets on Twitter. Don’t get me started about my website….

Though I haven’t met Laura in person (thanks to COVID) I did feel an immediate kinship to her when I bought and read Good Mothers Don’t.

When the first pages spoke of the Forties Settlement, the book took me back to when I was a paramedic working the streets of Halifax. We used 10-codes on the radios then because scanners were everywhere and the encryption technology of today wasn’t in use. Medics used the term “forties” to mean the police. As in telling dispatch, or Control, “send me the 10-40s.” which was then shortened to the “40s.”

I know the “Forties Settlement” has no connection to ambulance crews calling for the “40s.” It’s a case of the same word used in different ways with different meanings.  Except that Good Mothers Don’t then talked about “…crazy, crazy, crazy Elizabeth.”

When I worked as a paramedic, we requested the 40s for calls where there was violence or we worried about getting beat up. But more commonly it was for calls involving patients with mental health issues. In paramedic and dispatch terms we called those types of calls “psychiatric complaints,” almost always shortened on the radio to “psych calls.”

My brain does a sickening little twist now when I think of the language we used then. It wasn’t even all that many years ago. Language and the words we use are a powerful manifestation of how we think. The Greek root logos means both “word” and “logic.”  The words we choose and use colour our perspective, attitudes, and outlook.

It was normal to need the police to help with such patients.  Little wonder we needed help. Though, as we see through the Black Lives Matter movement and incidents with Indigenous people, interactions with police can have tragic results, especially where mental health is the essence of the concern.

Depending on the shift I estimate that anywhere from 10-25% of the ambulance calls I did were for psychiatric complaints. And it’s a hard no; a full moon does not make busier shifts. That myth has been debunked by science years ago. Yet, it still flourishes in paramedic, police, and other first responder circles. It is a convenient reinforcement that someone suffering for poor mental health is the outsider, the one-to-be feared, like werewolves are to be feared. They are labelled through wrong word choice again, words like “lunatic,” from the Latin luna, of the moon. Language is powerful.No, it means the luck of the draw, what calls you get dispatched to, and what is happening on the streets during any given 12-hour period.

Unlike heart-related or breathing emergencies, or even splinting broken bones or dealing with trauma victims in car collisions or other incidents, in a year-long training program to be licensed as a paramedic our training on heart issues was about a month of that year. A month for breathing emergencies. Trauma and patching holes and splinting bones were about as long. All that is good, you want thoroughly trained paramedics responding to such events. In a year-long program, the total amount of learning we spent on psychiatric complaints was one hour. One hour followed up with a few mock scenarios to top up our learning. No wonder we called the 40s for help.

So in Good Mothers Don’t, Elizabeth – in the Forties Settlement – starts to crumble into a disintegrating reality. She is removed, whisked away. That was how we handled crises with injured mental health for so much of our history. Our response has always been a litany of the “ize’s” minimize, stigmatize, ostracize, institutionalize.

I’d like to think much has changed with society’s treatment of those who suffer health setbacks, including mental health concerns. And it has, but we have a long way to go.

Years ago, when I served on the board of Capital Health (a predecessor of today’s Nova Scotia Health Authority) I had the privilege of talking with Senator Michael Kirby as he was doing a cross-country road-show to establish what would become the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

I told Senator Kirby about the ratio of training for mental health issues (one hour) versus the frequency of psychiatric complaints (10-25 %.) Senator Kirby was surprised, but not shocked. That ratio parallels other allied health professions.  Maybe with comments from me and others who know improvement is possible and necessary, we will eventually have a better balance in the training of all health care providers for treating people experiencing mental health crises.

In the Halifax area, the Mobile Mental Health Crisis Team made up of social workers, psychiatric nurses, police officers and paramedics is a step in the right direction. Examining what types of calls police are dispatched to, and how they interact with the people when they arrive needs to be the next pieces to figure out. A recent report by El Jones, Defunding the Police: Defining a Way Forward in HRM, is full of ground-breaking, constructive ideas to start that journey to improvement.  

It was this link that I had observed that lead me, in part, to write my novel Somewhere There’s MusicThis story is about many things, and it’s hard to sum up the complexities of a novel in a few words. It’s a coming-of-age story, it’s about brothers, it’s about fathers, and loss, and about small towns, big cities, and books, and, of course, music. Always music!

A thick thread through the story deals with the impacts of untreated mental health deterioration in general, and the post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that first responders deal with. In my novel, I dig down another level to focus on the families of first responders. I explore how the first responders’ loved ones experience this vicarious trauma and how it ripples or rips, through families.  

Everyone has mental health, everyone has physical health. How we respond when that state of health is injured is key to creating a better state of mental wellness for our communities and beyond.  We need to encourage another word, another “ize” word, and the idea behind the word: normalize. We need to normalize mental health and mental illness at every turn. That begins with inclusive and honest recognition, acceptance, and discussion.

Thanks again, Laura for having me as a guest! I appreciate it, take care. Sean

Thank you, Sean for your service as a paramedic and for providing some insight into that life for all of us.

The launch for Somewhere There is Music is at 7 p.m. on April 21st at Lisa Drader Murphy–Historic Properties.

Somewhere There is Music is available through Amazon.ca Amazon.com Indigo/Chapters , at Kings University Bookstore and at your local Independent bookstore. I hope you will check it out. I know I will be!

Guest Author Suzanne Atkinson

Today, I’m pleased to welcome author Suzanne Atkinson as a guest on my blog.

L. P. Suzanne Atkinson was born in New Brunswick, Canada and lived in both Alberta and Quebec before settling in Nova Scotia in 1991. She has degrees from Mount Allison, Acadia, and McGill universities. Suzanne spent her professional career in the fields of mental health and home care. She also owned and operated, with her husband, both an antique business and a construction business for more than twenty-five years. Suzanne writes about the unavoidable consequences of relationships. She uses her life and work experiences to weave stories that cross many boundaries. She and her husband, David Weintraub, make Bedford, Nova Scotia their home.

April 4 2022

According to my mother, who told anyone who would listen, I began my writing life as a poet. This phase of my growing up is difficult to recall. As an homage to my departed parent, though, I included a poem in my latest book, spoken in the voice of a character familiar to readers.

As the stack of books in the picture suggests, I’ve written a few. There is a work of creative non-fiction titled Emily’s Will be Done – a cautionary tale about wills and estate planning; a stand alone novel called Ties That Bind – on a theme which relates to the lessons we are taught as children, serving us in good stead through the toughest of times; the four-part mystery/suspense series subtitled Regarding Hayworth and set in the fictional northern Alberta town of Hayworth; and finally, the Stella Kirk Mystery Series — specifically, a cozy mystery series. Fictional Truth: A Stella Kirk Mystery #4 became widely available across all platforms and by order via any bookstore as of March 15, 2022.

What exactly is a cozy mystery…as opposed to a suspense, thriller, police procedural, sci-fi, or fantasy mystery? I am asked this question often. Cozies are a genre all their own. They range from the library, cat, and cupcake variety to the historical, or more noir versions. They most often follow a list of basic rules: someone dies, and the murder is solved by the end of the book; the main characters are a police detective and an amateur sleuth; the reader does not have a personal relationship with the victim; there is no overt gore or sex, because the reader’s imagination is considered a powerful tool; there is a specific setting (so usually a few murders in a small area – readers expect this); and fans of the genre like to see a pet of one sort or another. My books are somewhat darker than average. The themes speak to the “why” of murder, more than to the “who.” I’m not concerned if you figure out who did it early in the novel. Can you isolate the reasons behind the crime and why the perpetrator was reduced to killing?

No Visible Means: A Stella Kirk Mystery # 1 introduces the reader to Stella, the reluctant owner of Shale Cliffs RV Park, along with a motley crew of residents and staff who populate her property every summer. The story explores the blurred lines between good and evil.

Witnesses saw Lorraine Young arrive home. Her 1977 black Malibu remains parked beside her twenty-seven-foot Holiday Rambler trailer. Her windows and doors are bolted from the inside, but she’s nowhere to be found.

Stella has the instinctive ability to frame questions in formats that elicit long-buried answers. She tackles the disappearance of one of her seasonal residents with a vengeance.

Aiden North, a police detective, and her first love from thirty years ago, investigates with Stella’s help. Nick Cochran, the park manager, and Stella’s partner in ever increasing ways, supports their efforts.

Didn’t Stand a Chance: A Stella Kirk Mystery #2 illustrates how perceived sacrifice and devotion can be twisted into horrible results for a family.

The assumed accidental death of a young bride leads Detective North and Stella into an investigation fraught with sibling secrets, revealing choices, and unforgivable misunderstandings. Which household member holds the ultimate power of influence? Will Lucy Painter’s murder be confirmed? Will the perpetrator be exposed? Will family ties be unbreakable to the end?

Sand In My Suitcase: A Stella Kirk Mystery #3 acknowledges how old habits often die hard. Can people really change in the face of external pressures?

Her dear friend is dead. She finds the body. Follow Stella and Detective North as they uncover Paulina McAdams’ secrets. Will a diary reveal her life story once the code is broken? In their search for answers, they untangle the clues of a clandestine affair, a long-held confidence, and a past indiscretion refusing to be left behind. Did a series of random encounters ultimately lead to blackmail and murder?

In Fictional Truth: A Stella Kirk Mystery #4, the mystery to be solved depends on whether a young author’s death was a simple case of misadventure, or if his murder was the culmination of sinister secrets paired with decidedly poor writing.

The First Annual Shale Harbour Writers Retreat ends almost before it begins when a budding author is found dead at the bottom of the stairs in the Community Hall and Playhouse. He was a collector of the indiscretions of others; an unpleasant young man disliked by most. The workshop instructors have questionable backgrounds, partake in covert affairs, and are cloaked in confidential circumstances. Stella Kirk and Aiden North sort through the noise, understand the victim’s methods, and finally determine what is fiction and what is truth.

Now you have a flavour for my books and the most recent series. I want to add that although most writers strive to sell books, they also yearn to be read and see good reviews about their work. I am including some links, but in addition, each novel is available via Hoopla, as a borrowable e-book from your local library — for free. Support for authors by borrowing as well as buying is appreciated. As always, signed copies can be obtained for purchase directly from me.

Thanks so much to Laura Best for affording me the opportunity to share my writing with you today.

L. P. Suzanne Atkinson

Author contact:

Email – lpsa.books@eastlink.ca

Website – http://lpsabooks.wix.com/lpsabooks#

Face Book – L. P. Suzanne Atkinson – Author

Face Book – lpsabooks Private Stash

Chapters/Indigo Kobo

Amazon

lpsa.books@eastlink.ca

Titles:             Emily’s Will Be Done (2012)

                        Ties That Bind (2014)

                        Station Secrets: Regarding Hayworth Book I (2015)

Hexagon Dilemma: Regarding Hayworth Book II (2016)

Segue House Connection: Regarding Hayworth Book III (2017)

Diner Revelations: Regarding Hayworth Book IV (2018)

No Visible Means: A Stella Kirk Mystery #1 (2019)

Didn’t Stand a Chance: A Stella Kirk Mystery #2 (2020)

Sand In My Suitcase: A Stella Kirk Mystery # 3 (2021)

Fictional Truth: A Stella Kirk Mystery # 4 (March 2022)

Mallory Gorman Won’t be Buried Today: A Stella Kirk Mystery # 5 (due 2023)

Guest Author–Denise Adams

Today it is my extreme pleasure to welcome Denise Adams to my blog. Denise’s latest book was published last fall and she’s graciously agreed to tell us about what inspired her to write Round Trip: A Seabird’s Pursuit of Darwin’s Route. But before we get underway here’s more about Denise.

Author-artist Denise Adams holds a Masters of Arts and Art Education from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, Canada. The retired high school art teacher, now part-time landscape consultant and full-time nature enthusiast, is once again inspired to put out a book about her seaside surroundings near Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. Adams is also the author of Atlantic Coastal Gardening, The Little Book of Sea and Soul, For the Love of Lobster, The Little Book of Wildflower Whispers, and Seeing Stars.

What inspires me most to get writing is the sea. All my books revolve around it. I am happiest by it, in it and on it. I can see water from just about every window of my house. The sea is so photogenic and I have the great privilege of easy access to unique breathtaking photo moments.  I don’t take that for granted. Nor do I take for granted that life, as we know it, could not exist without healthy oceans. I want to spread the love, I guess. My first serious writing project was about the challenges and joys of gardening by the sea. Thanks to Nimbus Publishing, “Atlantic Coastal Gardening” was born in 2014. From that point on, I continued writing about the sea and taking photos to accompany text.  

I was thrilled to learn that Pegasus Publishers wanted to publish my sixth book “ROUND TRIP” A Seabird’s Pursuit of Darwin’s Route. It was a perfect fit as Darwin’s theory of evolution (now a truism) was first presented in 1859 at the now called University of Cambridge, England  –Pegasus Publishers home base.                             

I learned about Charles Darwin’s rather late in life. I’ve been bothered by the fact that I had not heard of him throughout my entire schooling. Then I became a teacher. After twenty-two years in the public school system, I noticed that there was still little to no mention of evolution in the curriculum. So, in my retirement, I set out a way to make the basic principles of evolution easy for young people to grasp through story telling. If they couldn’t learn about it at school, they could pick it up in a book. This story I would say, is my most important and meaningful writing project. The cover design and the forty pen & ink drawings inside are mine. The entire concept of an early chapter book for youth was five yeas in the making (143 pages).

ROUND TRIP is still relatively unknown to Atlantic Canadians but I am working on getting a Canadian edition of it published. Stay tuned. In the meantime, it can be ordered through Amazon.  If you do get your hands on it, please leave a review.

OUTLINE

This story begins in coastal Nova Scotia Canada, where a cormorant from England is in distress. Micheline, a middle school aged girl, finds the seabird and takes it upon herself to rescue him.  They fast become friends. Miche manages to secretly get the seabird to her mother’s place near Peggy’s Cove while she is away.

Encouraging the cormorant to take flight, Miche watches as this unique seabird embarks upon his mission to meet his cormorant cousins and fellow-seabird relatives up and down the coast of the Americas. During the arduous journey, the cormorant is helped along by kind oceanic strangers, who he notices are not so different from himself as revealed by Darwin’s enduring theory of evolution.

Will the cormorant reach his ultimate destination of the Galapagos Islands to see for himself what Darwin saw? Will he ever see Micheline again? Embark this sweet and ambitious tale of one bird’s quest to find his true destiny. Round Trip: is available through Amazon.ca or Pegasus Publishers.

Thanks so much, Denise. Getting to know a bit more about the authors whose books we read is always interesting and it’s so very important to support our local authors.

Those Pickles are Bound to Happen

Sorry about my WordPress blunder today. I was trying to schedule my upcoming guest post with author Sean Paul Bedell when I obviously made a booboo and you all received notification of a new post. Not to fear, Sean’s post is scheduled to go live on Monday April 12th.

So, sorry if you got fooled over here earlier. Some days are filled with pickles, as a friend of mine is quick to point out.

Hopefully, this will be the last inaccessible post. Thanks for your patience.

Guest Author Elaine McCluskey

I am so excited to welcome author Elaine McCluskey to my blog today. I’ve been a fan of Elaine’s work for some time now. In the past, our stories have even appeared in the same journals! I met her at Halifax Word on the Street years ago. Elaine has graciously agreed to tell us about her new book coming out this March by Goose Lane Editions.

Elaine McCluskey writes about the people you might find in the corners of life. She has written two novels and four short story collections all based in the Maritimes. Her latest collection, Rafael Has Pretty Eyes, will be released in March 2022. Her stories have appeared in anthologies and most Canadian literary journals, including Room, The Dalhousie Review, subTerrain, The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead, and Other Voices. One story was a Journey Prize finalist, another placed second in the Fish international contest in Ireland. She lives in Dartmouth, N.S. She has worked as a journalist, a book editor, and a journalism instructor.

With the publication of this book, I will have published 67 short stories, a surprise even to me. My new collection, Rafael Has Pretty Eyes, contains seventeen short stories, The Watermelon Social ten, Valery the Great nineteen, and Hello, Sweetheart twenty-one. Some stories, particularly the short experimental ones, wrote themselves. Others vexed me.

I have a favourite story from each of my collections, and it is not always everyone’s favourite. One of the very first stories I published was The Watermelon Social, and it was the story that convinced me I could do this, and people would respond. I do not feel that a story has succeeded if it cannot elicit an emotional reaction from readers and/or surprise them. My writing has been described as darkly humorous and I use humour to manage blows or circumstances that could otherwise destroy us. All of my stories are set in the Maritimes, and all of my characters are composites of people I have met. Some are strange, but who, including me, isn’t?

Below is an excerpt from It Will Happen, one of the stories in Rafael Has Pretty Eyes, which has a release date of March 29. It Will Happen may be my favourite in this book.

It Will Happen

James d’Entremont had been running for the bus.

The No. 99 had never — in thirty years — arrived at the same time and on this day it was early. James couldn’t afford to be late for school, he couldn’t afford trouble, so he ran — hoping that the driver with the creepy-clown tattoo would not pull away, pretending, as he often did, not to see him.

It is hard to describe what it feels like to be hit by 3,500 pounds of metal, travelling at fifty kilometres an hour. The bumper of a 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan hit James’s right hip, sending him skyward. James’s spiral through the air felt to be in slow motion, and he could later recall the vague sensation of one Adidas track shoe flying off.

People turned their heads when it happened because the sound was awful: the sound of fear, the thud of the unforeseeable, a low lament from the pavement. They turned their heads as gawkers do, and they squinted. It was an uncommonly sunny day for Halifax, and the scene seemed over lit as though someone was making a TV movie with Tom Selleck or Ethan Hawke.

Backlit by the strangeness of what had happened, James took on a surreal form. Motionless, no longer a person, he could have been a struck porcupine or a velour sofa that had toppled off the back of a delivery truck.

James had blond hair, that much you could see from the sidelines. Like many fair young men, he had yet to grow a real beard. If James was on a Florida beach forming a human pyramid, instead of lying broken on a grimy street, he would be in the middle row, but your eyes would be drawn to him because of his sun-streaked hair and his smile. When James’s smile escaped, it was as lovely as a chance encounter at the mall with your primary teacher, the nice one who brought a hamster to school and let you name it.

Face down, James had landed in a bed of shattered grille parts, and he thought, for a moment, that he would jump up and walk away before people noticed. He tried to lift his right leg, but it was numb. As James lay on the street, his thinking was so scrambled that he worried about the pink-winged fairy floating before his eyes, all organza and glitter. Was she cold?

James was alone on the hot pavement, but extras quickly filled in the scene. In the costumes of college students, store clerks, and bankers. They stood apart from him, as though ordered by a director, and they appeared to go about their imaginary business, as good extras do, while the emergency people arrived.

Gravel was imbedded in James’s right cheek, his white earphones torn free. Inside his backpack was a laptop with a download of Giant Killing, the Japanese anime story of a struggling soccer team and its coach, the once-great Takeshi Tatsumi? Underneath was a textbook on Carl Jung, one sentence underlined: “In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”

***

“I never seen him,” a scrawny man told the female cop, who seemed angry, like someone who had once had her heart set on being a large-animal veterinarian and was now doing this. She was wearing aviators, and she seemed angry at everyone, including James.

“I saw him,” a senior in wrap-around sunglasses shouted. “I have very good eyesight.” Her voice sounded like a shrill phone that would never stop ringing.

“Is he dead?” ventured the scrawny man.

The cop ignored him.

The scrawny man — the one who hit James with his car — was named Bim Shoveller and he belonged to a Facebook group called Cannabis for the Cure. Bim had an open growler on the back seat of his blue Grand Caravan. His anxiety felt like spiders crawling up your leg.

He sat slumped on the curb, head in hands.

Illuminated by the important role of villain, Bim became larger than he was. Part of something grandly ghoulish. Stare-worthy.

Bim had never in his life weighed more than one-hundred-and-forty pounds. He’d been a scrawny kid and a scrawny adult, and sometimes he piled on a gold chain and bracelet for heft. Bim was wearing a white tracksuit that overwhelmed him and made his scrawny neck look scrawnier. He’d kept his hair buzzed ever since one night, while drinking, he let a woman he may have known shave it into a Mohawk.

He pulled out a smoke.

Congratulations Elaine on the publication of another collection of your stories and thanks so much for sharing an excerpt with us. I’m looking forward to reading this collection. May Rafael Has Pretty Eyes fly off the bookstore shelves!

Rafael Has Pretty Eyes is available through the Publisher HERE Chapters Online Here and at your local bookstore.

Upcoming Posts

I want to make mention that in the upcoming weeks, I’ll be featuring posts by some local authors. I really hope you’ll take the time to read their posts and maybe even welcome them to the blogging world because, for some of them, this will be a first.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell most of you how important it is to support our local writers. After all, I’m also a “local” author to many of you and you’ve all been SO wonderfully supportively to me since the publication of my very first novel Bitter, Sweet back in 2009. That’s thirteen years ago. I know. Seems impossible, right?

As an author, I understand the challenges of getting my work out there to the public. Many people are under the impression that once a book is published and in book stores that the buying public simply gobbles up all available copies and publishing houses are having trouble keeping up with demands, that authors are made wealthy with the publication of each book. I wish that were true.

One of the hardest parts, after the actual writing, is letting others know about our book. That’s were all of you come into play and is why I’ve invited authors to use my blog as another way to get their books noticed.

In the upcoming weeks authors Denise Adams, Elaine McCluskey and Sean Paul Bedell will be putting in an appearance on my blog and there will be others authors later in the year as their books come closer to the publication date. I really hope you’ll drop in and find out who they are and about their books. It could be something you’re VERY interested in. And please remember to share if you’re someone who understands the importance of supporting our local authors. There are buttons at the bottom of this post that make it easier for sharing.

Thanks so much, and I hope you’ll come on board to support local authors whenever possible!

PS: If you’re a local author and would like to appear as a guest on my blog to plug your book, email me through the “contact” tab or private message me through social media.

To Complain or Not to Complain

Have you ever thought about the number of times you complain throughout the day, or if not you, then someone close to you, maybe even someone on social media? I’d like to say that while many of have problems expressing our emotions, we do quite well in the complaint department.

The definition of complain is to “express dissatisfaction or annoyance about something.

Pandemic woes, the high price of fuel, supply chain issues, these past few years have given all of us plenty to gripe about. I’m in no way disputing that. Nor am I using this post to be complaining about us all complaining. Instead I’d like it to be a positive post.

It is true there is a time to speak up and express our concerns about things. It is how change happens. Nothing can ever change if a problem is not brought to the forefront. Sometimes if we express our concerns, we can make change happen for the good but complaining about it amongst ourselves just keeps us on that hamster wheel. I feel this endless complaining about things we have no control over isn’t helpful or healthy.

I’m not perfect. I’m willing to bet you aren’t either. I sometimes find myself pulled into a vortex of negativity. I’ll be honest, sometimes it almost feels good to complain. Good for a short time, that is. Spending the day thinking about all the things that is wrong in our world or the world in general can be like a disease that keeps spreading…but if we allow it.

I’m not suggesting that life should be this huge big ball of positivity because we all know it is not. But there are things we can do when we find ourselves slipping into that endless vat of complaints. For now, I’ve decided to avoid watching too much about the war in Ukraine because it is so heartbreaking. No, I’m not sticking my head in the sand, but watching the same horrors again and again is probably not so good for my mental health. Yes, I will stay informed. But I need to step back for a time.

So, setting all complaints aside, I’m going to mention something positive about my day. From my kitchen window I can see the wooded area surrounding the lake. After the foot of snow we got from the last snow storm, it was such a surprise to look out and see patches of ground where the snow had melted completely. This all happened yesterday when the temperature got up to +10. Spring, I thought gleefully. Yes, gleefully!

I’d seen signs of it in February, some pussy willows and robins (and for a time the snow was completely gone.) But we all know that while Spring might give us glimpses of herself in February, she does not completely show up until March or even April. So needless to say, the sight of bare ground in March feels like a small win for me today. Because maybe, just maybe Spring is slowly closing in on us.

Since this is a post about NO complaints, if you choose to leave a comment, please make it something positive. I am working toward a goal to have an entire day without complaining. Wish me luck and enjoy the rest of you day in a positive way!

The March Robin

Sunny but cold on the first day of March here in Nova Scotia. It’s hard not to think of that saying that if March comes in like a lamb will will go out like a lion.

This little robin sits in the apple tree outside our kitchen window. I can only imagine that it’s waiting for warmer weather, as are many of us. Robins have been showing themselves for weeks now. For some this represents Spring on the way, others look at it as a sign that many stayed here for the winter.

My first round of edits for my fall MG novel is now back safely in my editors hands. There were a few near catastrophes when my word doc put up a protest one morning but I was able to avert (I won’t say a near disaster) but certainly a mini disaster.

I am still waiting for the title to be settled upon and to see a cover. I will share these as soon as I know.

Here’s hoping that this sunny first day in March will be the first of many. Forget about the lion. It’s time for the lamb to step up.

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