Dandelions, book signings and childhood memories

While walking outside with my granddaughter recently, she looked at the dandelions growing behind the house and said, “Some people think dandelions are weeds, but I think they’re flowers.”

Okay, so I had to agree with her. I happen to think of them as flowers as well.

Of course her statement reminded me that life really is just a matter of perception, that there isn’t always a right or wrong to things, and that the perfection we often strive to find only exists in our own minds. The answer lies in the way we’ve been conditioned to think and be.

I was also reminded that day of what it’s like to see the world through the eyes of a child, something we lose through the process of living. Can you imagine a world where everyone sees a dandelion as a flower instead of a weed? We certainly wouldn’t be striving so hard to have them removed. I know people who put a great deal of effort into removing dandelions from their property, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in that especially if that’s something important to you.  Of course, the magic of it all is that in a few short weeks they leave all on their own with no assistance from us—just saying

I love the story my sister used to tell about “blow flowers.” When her daughter was young she was fascinated by the fluffy white dandelion heads that had gone to seed and she called them “blow flowers.” At the time I thought: leave it to a child to see the beauty in something that’s at the end of its life cycle.  I remember picking those dead dandelions as a child, blowing on them, and watching the seeds fly through the air. Such a simple thing and yet it was fun. I suppose those same white heads would make most adults cringe as they imagine their lush green lawns becoming a field of yellow the coming year. However, my granddaughter would be delighted!

Yesterday, I was off to Coles in the Bridgewater mall for a book signing. It was part of the Canada 150 celebration that Coles and Chapters had set up with various authors coming in at one hour intervals. As I’ve said in the past, for me, it’s never about the amount of books bought or sold but the conversation with those who drop by. I had some really great conversations, found out some news, shared some laughs and sold some books. Author  Syr Ruus  dropped by to lend her support too, so that was an added bonus. Have I mentioned that Syr’s memoir will be published next year?

I’ll also be at the Inside Story in Greenwood on the 24th. I’m quite pleased to be going there. The very first book signing I ever attended was at the Inside Story. Allison Maher was signing copies of I, the Spy. I was quite nervous meeting her and remembering being  a bit in awe that she’d had a book published. I’d been published in various literary magazines at that point but had my sights on one day having a book published as well. Of course I had yet to write that book. She encouraged me to keep writing, and reminded me that dreams do come true. She was so right.  A few years later Hadley Dyer was signing copies of Johnny Kellock Died Today  and when I head she’d gone to the same High School I did I knew I had to go meet her. Still didn’t have a book of my own published.  Loved her book, BTW and we’ve kept in contact since. She’s been very supportive of my writing and that means so very much. I’ve also gone to the Inside Story to hear Sheree Fitch read from her first adult novel, Kiss the Joy as it Flies . My first novel , Bitter, Sweet had been accepted for publication and Sheree was absolutely wonderful. So, as you can see, it’s a real thrill for me to actually be going there this time to sign copies of my own book. I do love signings, you really never know who you’re going to meet or what great conversations you’ll end up having. And, if you’re lucky, the cherry on top of it all could be a few book sales.

So, as I come to end of these ramblings I find myself curious to know:  do you consider a dandelion to be a flower or a weed, and have you ever gone to a book signing before? If so do you remember the first one? Did it leave you with any lasting impressions?

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Time was Flying While I was Chasing Spies

There was something suspicious going on at the Dempsey Corner Orchards more than just your usual Saturday afternoon goings on. I got wind of it a few weeks ago when a very suspicious email arrived in my inbox from, one, Allison Maher. Well, curiousity killing the cat and all, I decided to take a drive out to the Annapolis Valley and case the joint out, see what all the hub-bub was about. I’d been there previously, last November, when Star Dobson had a book signing,  (I blogged about it here) so I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for. Still, I figured there’d be a few spies in the bunch, and I’m not just talking about apples.

Saturday was the book launch for Allison Maher’s second juvenile novel, “Time Flies When You’re Chasing Spies.” It has the same characters as her first novel, “I, the Spy.” Okay,  so I guess that’s spy talk for sequel. It was held right at the farm where Allison lives. Now, you have to see this place to appreciate it to the fullest. For those of you who haven’t been there before, I’ll give you a quick tour of the building where the launch was held, but there’s plenty more outside to tickle your fancy. Really, a great place to take the family if you’re looking for a place that fully appreciates life on a small farm in Nova Scotia.

I arrived early and quickly located the building where I figured all the spies would be hanging out. They’re a close-knit bunch so I figured they’d be swarming the place. I looked in every nook and cranny. If there were any spies about I aimed to flush them out.

I went incognito. Sometimes you’ve got to. When spies are involved you can’t take any chance. Here’s my disguise. Snazzy, don’t you think? Hmm, maybe snazzy isn’t quite the word.

I checked the loft. The coast was clear. Not another living soul in sight, but plenty of interesting things here..

 Still, I had the feeling that I was being watched. It was kind of a baaaaad feeling. That’s when I discovered something I hadn’t expected.  Lamb Chop of all people…People?  Hmmmm.. She was playing it kind of cool if you asked me, hiding amongst a bunch of Lamb Chop clones.  Clever indeed!

I questioned the hobby horse. If anyone in that loft was in the know, I figured it had to be the horse. No luck. I was back to square one.

Once I determined there were no spies in the loft I went back down to where the books were displayed. I got distracted on my way past the kitchen. Check out these Mile High apple pies. They’re big enough for spies to hide in I wager, but I wasn’t about to do anymore digging.

Around about this time I was starting to get anxious. When you’re dealing in the world of spies, crime and under-cover work you can’t be too careful. I decided to track down this Allison Maher, this writer of fiction, this perpetrator of book launches, just to hear her side of the story. I mean it was her gig after all, the rest of us just came along for the ride, and to get a signed book I might add. I caught up to her seconds before she ducked behind a whole stack of books. She thought she’d lost me. This is one sneaky author, folks. She’s got all the right moves, got them down mighty pat for someone who says she simply writes about this world of spies and crime.  To tell the truth, I was starting to doubt her story a little. Hmmm, could be she’s been up close and personal about some of the spies she’s been writing about way late into the wee hours of the morning. Slippery, that one is but, I’ll tell you, she met her match.

So there you have my statement of the  events from last Saturday’s book launch , others might very well have their own story to tell. Does time really fly when you’re chasing spies? You betcha.

All jokes aside, it was a lovely afternoon, and Allison is certainly a good sport. Not to mention entertaining as old heck. I’m looking forward to reading her book and wish her all the best.

Author, Author

It never fails to amaze me how two people can go to the same event and have totally different experiences. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, in fact, I think it’s good!. Seeing life from different perspectives gives us a broader picture over all. Sunday was this year’s annual Word on the Street, and what a beautiful day we had! When I read Diane Tibert’s blog post about her experience that day it was totally different from mine. She wrote about the sights she saw on the waterfront and her experience with some of the booksellers  and authors of the day. My time was spent sitting in on author readings, for me, a super big treat. I was in heaven.

I was excited to learn that Halifax author, Elaine McCluskey, was to read from her book of short stories. Elaine’s name I was well familiar with since our work has appeared in the same literary magazines over the years. Here she is reading from her latest book of short stories, “Valerie the Great.” It was an exceptional reading. Not only do I love her subtle humour, but her hair’s something else too. I’m a little jealous to tell the truth.

A real treat it was to hear Binnie Brennan read from her short story collection, “A Certain Grace.” Although I’d heard of Binnie, I wasn’t familiar with her work at all. I can tell you now, both authors are superb short story writers. Their work is well worth reading. Hmm, and just when we writers are being told that short story collections are harder to market! I love knowing these two women have collections out there. I guess the short story isn’t dead yet.

I stopped by the Nimbus table to have a look. Did you really think I wouldn’t? Come on– Nimbus is my publisher and a gal’s got to know where her loyality lies.  Lots of new and exciting titles. Some I’ve read, others are on my BTR list.

I sat in on a reading by Lisa Harrington. Lisa’s new YA novel, “Live to Tell,” is psychological  thriller and the reviews I’ve read have been great. This is a book I’m looking forward to reading.

 Cynthia d’Entrement read from her book “Oak Island Revenge.” If you remember I went to Cynthia’s book launch back in May.I met Cynthia and Lisa back in 2008 at the launch of “A Maritime Christmas,” the  anthology published by Nimbus that year. We’ve kept in touch –Facebook is a wonderful thing–which is kind of nice. It’s always good to see a familiar face at these festivals, and you never know who you’ll end up befriending one day.  🙂

Gary Blackwood read from his book, “The Imposter.” I quite enjoyed Gary’s story about how it took twenty years for this book to find a home. It sounded a bit complicated, and sometimes it’s just the way things work out. A lesson to be learned perhaps is that a book may be accepted for publication, but sometimes things are just out of our control. Sometimes the planets just don’t align properly. I’m sure after a wait like that publication is very sweet indeed.

Allison Maher entertained us with a reading from her book, “Time Flies When You’re Chasing Spies.” Allison has more energy in her baby finger than the rest of us have in our entire bodies. No exaggeration. If you want to be totally entertained do take time to drop in on Allison when she’s doing a reading. Allison’s book launch is coming up on the Saturday and I’ve been invited to go. Truth is, you don’t need an invitation to attend a book launch, they’re most always open to the public—the more the merrier.  You never have to worry about being turned away.

So there you have my account of WOTS 2012. I wish I could have stayed longer, but my chauffeur had to get a little shut eye before work later that night.

Oh, and as for what I did with the copy of my book that I snapped up from the library sale last Saturday, I found a school library I plan to donate it to, and that feels right.  🙂

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