Book Giveaway

Author Sue Harrison is giving away a copy of GOOD MOTHERS DON’T on her Blog. Follow the link HERE to find out how to enter. Draw date is Wednesday, Nov 24th.

A huge big thank you to Sue for being so supportive and for the lovely things she had to say about my writing. Please take time to check out her blog and her books. You are amazing, Sue!

I continue to be amazed by all the support that has come my way since my very first book came out back in 2009. The journey continues to warm my heart and spirit, and has helped me get through some tough times. I continue to feel gratitude.

Enjoy your weekend.

Author in a Small Town

Does that title actually say small town? Okay, so that is a total and complete exaggeration on my part. I remember when the year I went to Toronto when Cammie Takes Flight was nominated for a Silver Birch Award. I was talking to one of the other nominated author who said they were from a small town of only 20,000.

I thought wow, 20,000. That many? I looked at her and said “Try 200.” Yes, I did say 200. Now, that’s not an exact count. I really don’t know what that number would be. It could be a little more or a little less

I’m not really sure how many full-time residents we actually have, but we’re small. No doubt someone out there has that information. Yes, there are plenty of cottagers who are here on a part time basis, some for only a few weeks through the summer. I see their cars go by and on busy weekends my husband often expresses displeasure at seeing three or four cars, unknown to him, go by all at once. Oh the traffic! Traffic in small community is never thought of as a good thing unless there’s an event going on at the community centre. And that’s when you know you live in a small town place.

I finally got my shipment of my new book, THE FAMILY WAY. It was a big order, thanks to all those who ordered through me because they wanted an author signed copy. Being an author in a small town place doesn’t make me specially in anyway, but rather it makes the people who support me special. Many people write books, we see new books being published all the time, but believe me, not all of them have their family, friends and neighbours rally around them each time a new book comes out.

And as I announced on social media that the books had finally made it to my house, I was thinking how this is so typical of a small community. I really can’t say enough good about all the supportive people in my life. And while I couldn’t have an in-person launch again this time, this really is the second best thing.

So here I am, just your typical author in a small town place, looking over my shipment of books and hoping, so very much, that when my next book comes out in September we’ll be able to have a real small town place book launch. PS: There has been talk about cheesecake. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

2020 Pumpkin People

The Pumpkin People Festival was held this past weekend in Kentville. This year’s theme was Fables, Folklore & Fantasy. We didn’t have time to look them over properly but I grabbed a few shots while driving through.

You can check out their site here to find out more information.  Kentville ‘s Pumpkin People 

Hey Pumpkin People, did you forget there’s a pandemic going on? Where are your masks?

You wouldn’t know by these characters that COVID 19 was even a thing. (Sounds familiar?)  I mean, what about the six-foot rule?  Maybe?  I can’t tell the the people from the pumpkin people!

                                       Okay, maybe they’re sticking to their own bubble.

If you live in the area you can still check them out as they’ll be up for a few more weeks. To everyone out there I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving despite the pandemic.

FYI next time I’ll be posting an interview that I did with author Melanie Mosher who will be talking about her new middle grade novel, A Beginner’s Guide to Goodbye.

 

Come on, Write That Book in 2020

Be honest, how many of you want to write a book but it just hasn’t happened? Maybe you had your plans made, a start date picked, an outline written, a schedule prepared. It was all perfect. You were set to go. Maybe you even made a New Year’s resolution to get serious and start writing that book you’ve been planning all your life.

But then something happened.

You got busy, life distracted you (silly life), or maybe—and here’s a biggie– you became afraid that you just couldn’t do it, even convinced yourself that it was a dumb idea in the first place. Write a book? Who are you trying to kid? I mean what if you fail? What if you never get to those two little words THE END. What if you actually do finish it and it sucks?

These are all questions many prospective writers ask. Believe me, I know from experience. Sometimes even published authors have these same doubts. A writer’s ego can be fragile. We put our work out there for the whole world to see and judge. Many people are kind, but not everyone.

I won’t lie to you. Writing a book takes a lot of time and a lot of creative effort.

A lot of hopeful writers start out great, but then lose traction. That great idea suddenly seems to be not so great. The excitement you felt when you first started, fizzles away to nothing. This can also happen to published authors as well. Again, I know this from experience.

Authors don’t just write books while our publisher waits with hands out to snap it up and publish it. It still has to be a good story, something the publisher can get behind, something they believe in. If it’s not, it doesn’t get published. It’s that simple.

Nevertheless, these things shouldn’t stop us from pursuing our dream of writing a book, if that’s what our dream truly is. I say that because there are people who like the idea of writing a book far greater than the actual doing because, really, the writing part ain’t all that glamorous. You spent a lot of time alone, researching and writing and writing and rewriting, sometimes crying and wailing. You start and stop and start again, you walk away but later come back.

But see, that’s the key–you come back, as many times as you have to in order to get it done.

I think many times, we put our expectations onto the end result instead of enjoying the journey. What I am discovering is that the journey will have its bumps and potholes but try to relax and put those expectations aside. Who cares if what you write isn’t very good? First drafts are often horrible, even for published authors. Believe me, we don’t just write one draft; we write many drafts. We tear apart scenes, change our entry point, points of view, you name it, we’ve changed it. And I know this might seem contrary to what I said about setting writing goals for myself, but I set these goals at a time when I know that the book I’m working on is near to completion. (By near, I still mean a few months away.)

So, if you’ve always wanted to write that book, make 2020 the year you begin. You don’t need to whip up chapters at a time. A paragraph, or even a sentence will suffice, whatever feels manageable at the time. Don’t worry about how good it is or who, if anyone will read it. Be creative. Express yourself. We all here on the planet to create in one form or another. If something inside is urging you to write than you should follow that urging. I like to think that we all have an inner wisdom, that little voice that helps direct us by times. So if there is indeed a hidden voice inside you that is dying to be heard then what are you waiting for? Get out there and start writing. Honestly, that’s how I became published.

Here’s hoping that 2020 finds you taking steps toward accomplishing some long-held dream.

Happy New Year.

Persistence

You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.
Octavia Butler

I love this quote that I recently stumbled across. In the past I have shared this same sentiment about writing because it’s SO true.

When we first start writing we think we’re so much better than we really are. This is understandable since we’re so eager to unleash the creativity that’s been pent up inside us, sometimes for years.  In the beginning, we love all the words we put down, all those flowery sentences we deem so very important to all great works of fiction. And make no mistake, ours IS great, maybe THE greatest.  We smother our run-on sentences with adverbs and adjectives while searching for meaningful ten syllable words that we think makes our writing infectious, and certainly makes us sound….educated and sophisticated. You know, the way an author is supposed to sound. People simply will not be able to resist reading our work. (Wait until this comes across some editor’s desk! Won’t they be surprised!)

Turns out “infectious” is just another word for BORING, but boring to everyone except the author—funny how that works. We’ve been told that “describing words” are needed—and  plenty of them. Don’t just write simple sentences; make them come alive by describing them in detail…fine detail. Who cares about an actual plot when you’ve got a bunch of descriptive words and sentences to read?  Simple sentences show a lack of imagination and no one, but no one, wants to be accused of that. I remember this advice from my elementary school days when I was first discovering the power of words, when good writing amounted to writing with a lot of these aforementioned “describing words.” It takes a lot of imagination to come up with some of them when you’re nine or ten. I mean, how many words can you use to describe say, a blade of grass or a sunbeam that is SO detrimental to the story you’re crafting?

What is sometimes hard for people to understand is that the more you write the better your writing becomes. Just like anything else you’re learning. Authors don’t just sit down and write a story that immediately gets published. We write, and rewrite and rewrite some more. And once we’re convinced the story is as good as we can get it, we write and rewrite again. And then, when it’s finally accepted for publication we work with an editor who will squeeze even more out of this story that was finished a long time ago.

The story is not truly completed until we’re holding that book in our hands. But what’s this with all the writing and rewriting, you might ask? As anxious as we might be to see our story in book form every revision, every rewrite, all that extra buffing we do to the story only improves it. I promise.

I honestly believe that I became a published author because I refused to give up. Okay, so I did give up, many times. I screamed in frustration and vowed to never touch a keyboard again. But once the tantrum was over, I was right back at it. Like an addiction, I just couldn’t stop.  

So, to all the unpublished writers out there, I hope you can take heart in knowing that as you continue along in your writing journey, each story you write, each paragraph or even sentence, your writing improves. And if you’re writing is crap in the beginning you’ll know, so long as you never give up,  you’re one step closer to improving. And, by the time you are finally published, you will have learned the value of persistence. 

Next Time

I’ve got to admit, the passing of Wayne Dyer earlier this week had me feeling a little sad. I’ve most of his books and loved what he had to say. I surely looked up to this man.

A few years back, I went with a friend to one of his talks when he came to Halifax. I would have liked to have gone to meet him after the show, but we didn’t. We left with me longing to have met him on a more personal level. Afterward, I promised myself if I ever got the chance again, I wasn’t going to let it pass. Even if it was just to say “Hi” and get a close up photo. My mind was made up. Next time, things would to be different.

See where that thinking got me?

There’s something to be said about seizing the moment and not letting opportunities pass because, seriously, we never know when our encounter with someone is going to be our last. I should have learned that lesson many years ago on the day my father died. I was at the house when he left to go to town and I don’t even think I took time to say goodbye. (The day was busy. He was just going in to town and I’d likely see him later that day. If not that day, the next.) He never made it home.

We put too much dependence of these “next times” in life, giving ourselves and easy out. (No problem… I’ll just do it next time!) While that thinking is fine and dandy so long as we get that “next time”, but what about the “next times” that never materialize? Think of all those missed opportunities.

So, I’m going to try and change this. If I have something on my mind to tell someone I’m not going wait until the “next time.” No more “next times” for me if it’s at all possible. From now on “next time” has been wiped from my vocabulary. I’m going to be a “this time” kind of gal. If I have an urge to meet someone, to say hello, or to stop and talk a few moments, even when I’m in a hurry, I’m going to do it. This may not work all the time, I mean, sometimes we do need these “next times” in our lives, but I can almost be sure that many of my “next times” won’t be filled with regret later on. That’s all I can do.

I hope you’ll join me on Wednesday when author/blogger Darlene Foster pops in for a visit to talk about why she writes for children. Darlene’s the author of the Amanda Adventure Series for young readers. Hope to see you next time. Oops there’s that “next time” again!

The Biggest Roadblock Along the Road to Publication

IMAG0609I’ve been thinking a lot about the writing process these past few days. As I sifted through some older writing files and reread some of my stories that had been published in literary magazines, I was reminded of that time when publication was only a dream—a dream that felt so very far away.
Yet a dream I was sure would come true…
…possibly….
…maybe….
…hopefully…..
…one day

PRETTY PLEASE!

Over time, as the rejections mounted, as the dream began to look a little fuzzy, I came to a realization about my writing, something that writers don’t often want to admit:

The biggest road block, the thing that was keeping me from being a published author was me.

Yup, that’s right, little ole me.

While there were things I was more than willing to work on—my writing being one of those things—something else was preventing me from being published. I was inadvertently placing road blocks in the way, not because I didn’t want to be published (Lordy, but I wanted it) but because, on some level, I was afraid of it. Fear is the one thing that has the power to hold us back, to keep us from realizing our dreams, and no matter how badly we might want something, we’ll allow that very same fear to put obstacles in our way and keep our dreams from coming true.

I think of these fear-based obstacles as roadblocks because they do just that—they block our path and prevent us from continuing our journey toward publication. When the obstacles show up along the road we can either let these roadblocks stop us or we can figure a way to get past them. And in order to do that it’s important to recognize these roadblocks when we come up against them.

Here are a few of the road blocks I’ve encountered in the past, ones that I unknowingly placed in my path.

1.Procrastination: Believe me when I say I can procrastinate with the best of them. I’ve had plenty of practice, too. There is always something else to do. That something else might very well be important, like spending time with my family or friends, or it could be something as insignificant as watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. If you want to be published you need to make writing one of your priorities. REPEAT WITH ME. “If I want to be published I need to make writing one of my priorities.” You may not be able to write each and every day, but you need to make an effort even on those days when you don’t feel as though you have a literary bone in your body. Even ten or fifteen minutes of writing are better than no minutes. Remember, if you can’t publish what never gets written. No one’s going to publish blank pages. Sounds like a no-brainer to me!

2. Believing that you are not worthy of publication: This is a biggie. Too many of us struggle with this. While there are a few writers out there who have unrealistic goals, like signing a million-dollar book contract prior to publication when their writing needs much more work to make it publishable, many more writers struggle with the belief that their writing will never be quite good enough for publication. I’m here to tell you, in order to succeed in writing you have to believe that you are worthy of success. REPEAT WITH ME : “In order to succeed in writing I have to believe that I am worthy of success.” If you’re inner dialogue is constantly telling you something different, you need to give yourself a good talking to. Nothing good is ever accomplished beneath a cloak of negativity. Believe you are worthy because you are. Why wouldn’t you be?

3.Not owning it: If you’re a writer, admit it. Don’t gush over the fact, stammer and stumble to get the words out, own up to it. When I say, own it, I don’t mean for you to shout it from the rooftops because that would just annoy the heck out of everyone, I mean accept once and for all that you are a writer. Forget all that once-I’m-published-I’ll-be-a-writer nonsense. Every published writer was once an unpublished writer. They didn’t become a writer the moment their words were printed, they were writers before that. REPEAT WITH ME: “Every published writer was once an unpublished writer.” Did you think all writers were born with publishing credits? No sir, not a one. They worked at their writing until it was good enough for publication. But here’s a little truth, sometimes even publication isn’t enough to make you feel like a writer. I know, sounds silly. Certainly to be published is to be a writer, right? Yet I can tell you that I had several stories published before I finally, finally admitted that I was a writer. So do yourself a favour and admit it before publication, that way it won’t come as such a shock when you’re holding that first published story in your hands.

4. Saying you’re a writer but not really feeling it: Feeling that you’re a writer means much more than simply saying the words, “I’m a writer.” Anyone can do that, writer or non-writer. Don’t get me wrong, while it’s good to say the words, important even, it means very little if we simply do not feel it. REPEAT WITH ME: Feeling that I’m a writer is more important than just saying it. The day I actually felt like a writer, really and truly felt like one, was the day something momentous happened in my writing life. More and more of my stories were accepted for publication but, more importantly, the rejections that came afterward stopped stinging. I came to understand that rejection wasn’t necessarily a commentary of my work, but simply a story that didn’t catch the attention of the right editor on the right day. Finally, I stopped taking those rejections so personally.

While some of these may or may not be roadblocks you’ll encounter along the way, I feel as though we often underestimate our own self-worth. And when we’re not at a particular place in life when we want to be, we often end up beating ourselves up because of it. Maybe we even decide that it’s just too hard, that we’ll never get there. But we all take our own time getting places–that’s all part of life. Some stories take longer than others to polish. It’s always important to have someone in your corner. Isn’t it only fitting for you to be that someone?

What are some of the roadblocks you’ve encountered along the road to publication

This and That

Today, I had the privilege of reading from, “Flying With a Broken Wing” to the Central Valley Homeschoolers Association at the Wolfville Library. It always nice to meet people who are supportive of local authors. I had a wonderful time, and to tell the truth it’s the first time I’ve read to a group of children and their mom’s. Usually my audience is made up of adults so it was wonderful to read for my target audience. Lots of questions were asked and we had a great discussion. I have to say I have such deep respect for homeschooling families. I’m sure it takes a great deal of dedication, discipline and commitment, not only for the parents (God love them to pieces) but the kids. I`m in awe!

The winter edition of TRANSITION magazine is now up. Yay! You can read my short fiction piece, “Preparations” by following the link HERE. FYI I’m on page 12. I ‘ve been a contributor to this magazine on several occasions. I think it’s a wonderful publication. To use the words from their website:

TRANSITION is a magazine which publishes two kinds of works: those directly about mental health issues; and those about the individual’s personal experience of those same issues. Both kinds of works celebrate lives in transit – lives of change, growth, and transformation.

Concerning TRANSITION, I’ll have a bit more news about this at a later date. So I’ll keep you posted with what’s going on there. Sorry, to sound so mysterious but I’ll share when I can. For any writers out there you can check out the magazine at the link provided.

And, since it was pointed out to me today, (thanks Maureen!) that my “about” page hasn’t been updated since  before “Flying With a Broken Wing” was published I figured it was long past due. I`m no longer awaiting the publication of my book, as you know.  😀

So, that`s this and that for today.

10 Ways to Avoid Buying That Author’s Book

We’ve all been to those events, you know the ones, where local authors are set up pedaling their wares. It can be kind of uncomfortable for the average won’t-be-book-buyer. Especially when said author is located in a spot that you have to pass on your way to where you’re going. I mean, there they are sitting out in front of the bookstore in the mall, or at some festival or fair or market that has absolutely nothing to do with books. What the heck’s all that about anyway, right? What nerve, what gall. It’ kind of like being ambushed if I’m being perfectly honest. You know. You’ve felt it. It’s not like you’re expecting someone to be selling books, least of all the author of those very books.

Well, fear no more. Over the past five years of attending book signing and some of those a fore-mentioned “other events” I’ve learned a thing or two when it comes to not buying that author’s book. Actually, it’s not all that complicated. You just have to know the right thing to say and the proper way to carry yourself. Keep your wits about you and above all don’t panic. You’ll survive. I promise.

So, for all of you won’t- be-book-buyers these next 10 excuses are for you.

1. Listen to that little voice in your head. You know, the one that says, “Tell her you don’t read.” Who can argue with that? If you don’t read, you don’t read. Case closed. Keep on a walking, my friend, you’re in the clear, maybe even click your heels as you’re walking away. You’re so cool– you, you , person who just does not read.

2. Stop at her table for a few moments. Gently run you hand over the books. Appear interested, but not too, too interested. Slip in a comment such as, “One day I’ll have to invest.” The author will be giddy thinking that you’re talking about actually buying one of her books when in reality you’re talking about opening up an RRSP. She’ll never know the difference.

3. Ask her if the book in the bookstores. When she says yes, tell her that you’ll probably pick one up there some time in the future. She’ll love you for it, and by throwing that word, “probably” in there you’re getting off without a true commitment. Clever.

4. Ask for a full synopsis of the books on her table. Trust me, authors love that part. Leaf through the books one by one. Read a few passages, silently. Ask what age group it’s for. If she says young adult simply mention that your grandchildren are too young. If she says middle grade just say the opposite. She can’t argue the age-appropriateness of her books, right?

5. Remember, appearing interested will always endear that author to you. She’ll probably believe whatever you have to say. Ask if her books are fiction or non-fiction. If she says fiction, you know what you have to do. Sound rather disappointed and say, “Gee, I only read non-fiction.” If she writes non-fiction, you get the picture, tell her you only read fiction. Now if she happens to write both fiction and non-fiction you need a back-up excuse because if you don’t come up with something quickly you may just end up having to make a purchase. But have no fear, when all else fails here’s a handy, dandy excuse that will always work in a pinch…..

6. “I don’t have any cash on me or else I’d get one.” Remember, adding that little, “or else I’d get one,” will show her you’re serious. Can’t argue the no money excuse.

7. Another dandy excuse that often works well is this: Stop at her table and pretend you’ve already read her books. Her smile will be like a ray of sunshine, especially when you mention how much you enjoyed them. But for God’s sake don’t overdo it. She may just ask you what your favourite part is and the jig will be up. You’ll need make a quick exit. Fake chest pain if you must, but scram tout suite.

8. Stop at her table and introduce yourself. Tell her you have a book coming out next week. She won’t know the difference. Authors love other authors. Chances are she’ll congratulate the hell out of you because all authors know just how difficult it is to find a publisher after that book is written. And you know what, after all that congratulating is over, she won’t even care about selling her book. She’ll be just itching to buy yours. Now that’s a plan!

9. Promise to come back a little later. Find out how long she’ll be there to make sure you don’t happen to stumble on through before she’s done for the day. I mean, she’ll never see you again, right?

10. Remember, you can always distract her by talking about the weather. Weather talk always works no matter where you go. You don’t have to be weather-lady Cindy Day to appreciate the local Maritime weather. Canadians can talk forever about the weather. We’ve had plenty of practice. Throw in a, “I heard we’re going to have an early winter,” and you could keep her talking forever.  Book talk will always take a back seat to weather talk. Trust me. I’ve fallen for that one, myself, a time or two.

So there you have it, all the excuses you should ever need to avoid buying that author’s book. One final little tip I’ll leave you all with. If words happen to fail you, hey, we can’t all be wordsmiths, here’s something that will always get you out of buying that author’s book. Resist making eye contact. Keep trucking right on by that author’s table. It’s not like she’s going to jump out and stop you from passing. It’s simple, just pretend she’s not there. Make her feel invisible and she’ll probably believe she is. So long as you don’t slow your gait, you’re in for smooth sailing but, above all, remember not to look. Not even a sideways glance. If she detects even the slightest bit of acknowledgement on your part she’ll be smiling her face off to try and get your attention. She might even say hello. If you get that friendly hello all your hard work could go down the drain. Just saying.

So there you have it. 10, or actually 11, ways to avoid buying that author’s book.

Now it’s your turn. Can you think of any other ways to avoid buying that author’s book? I’d love it if you’d share some of your experiences. Or just come up with some inventive things to be silly like I did.

Emergency Book Signing–Sometimes You Have to Go That Extra Mile or Thirty

Yes, I did say emergency book signing! Sounds strange, I know, but life is filled with strange and unusually things. Some days even the smallest thing can miraculously turn into an emergency especially when there’s a book involved.

Sometimes the really cool things about being an author are the strange things that can happen on an ordinary day. Monday was such a day, ordinary and plain as white bread, not even toasted and buttered. But then I checked the messages on my phone when I got home from work. There was one from the local bookstore. (Bear in mind when I say “local” I mean it’s still about a 45 minute drive from where I am.) The owner said the most bazaar thing had just happened. A customer came in and bought the last copy of “Flying With a Broken Wing,” and the very next customer in line wanted that same book. She was calling to ask if I had books on hand and if it was possible to make some arrangements to get them. Apparently, the customer was quite disappointed to learn that the last copy ( a signed on at that) had just sold as she’d wanted it to take it to her daughter in Ontario— her daughter, as it turns out, was someone I had gone to school with. Now, there’s a bit more to this as it just so happens that this very same lady taught one of my daughters, actually shared a birthday with her, and always gave my daughter a birthday card all the while she was in elementary school. Nice, huh? I always thought so.

So here was the dilemma, the lady would really like signed copies of both my books but was leaving for Ontario in a few days. This meant the books wouldn’t arrive from the publisher, certainly not in time for me to come out and sign them, before she left. The bookstore owner suggested that I mail out the copies. I explained that I was 20 minutes from a post office and I work through the day. I chewed the situation over the next day at work and decided I’d take a drive out. The bookstore owner was going to buy my copies and keep the ones she had on order for her store. So that’s what I did. I made a quick trip out and delivered the books inscribed with a little message.

Now I know some people might think that it was silly of me to go out of my way to make sure this person got signed copies. She would have taken the books anyway (her husband was going to meet her in Ontario a few days later and the copies would be in from the publisher by that time), but sometimes you’ve just got to do what feels right and this felt like the right thing.

Have you ever noticed that Karma has a way of coming back, sometimes years later, and often in a good way? Many times, it’s those little things that make up for the disappointments we feel along the way. Having people specifically ask for my book, and to have it signed, is really an amazing thing. In the grand scheme of things, I believe all those little things add up to a great deal, at least in this author’s life!

Has anything small made your day recently? I love it when you share your stories.

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