Those Special Moments

When we’re going through difficult times, there are some times special moments, however small, that come along to lift our spirits and maybe even warm our hearts just a little. While it doesn’t make everything right in your world, it does bring some comfort and even a small measure of joy. The moments I’m talking about are often spoke of as coincidences , but I’m not so convinced that things in our world are just a bunch of random circumstances that haphazardly fall into place at just the right time, producing some amazing outcomes.

On the weekend I experienced one of those special moments that, really, just gladdened my heart and made me happy.

Last Saturday, I was at the Christmas Festival in New Ross with friend and author Jan Coates. We’ve had a table at the festival for the past five years or so and look forward to going each year. You just never know who you’ll meet and it’s always fun to chat with the people who drop by.

late morning, a woman stopped by my table and asked if all my books were in large print. (She’d seen the large print edition of Cammie Takes Flight on my table.) I explained to her that my publisher had the large print edition printed especially for that book as it was set at the Halifax School for the Blind. The older woman with her spoke up and said that she’d gone to that school. I was immediately intrigued, and told her that my mother had also gone to the school there! Since the school would have had approximately 150 students at the time my mum attended, I knew there was a good chance that they would have at least heard of one another other. And of course this woman did remember my mother. We chatted for a little and I told her a bit about Mum and what had been going on lately in her life. She asked for my mother’s phone number, and left with a large print copy of Cammie Takes Flight. As she was leaving, she said to the woman with her, “This just made my coming here worth while.” I can’t tell you how her words warmed my heart.

The real surprise came when, during our conversation, I asked this woman where she lived and discovered that she lived in the very same community as Mum, and had lived there for twenty-five years. I mean really? I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited.

When I got back to Mum’s I told her about the woman I’d met, and of course she remembered her. She said that she and my step dad often wondered about her and had no idea of how get in touch. While they’d kept in contact with many of the people at the school, they hadn’t a clue where this particular woman had been living all these years. But really? What are the chances she’d be living in the same town?

And in case you’re wondering, Mum received a much welcomed phone call two evenings later from her old school friend and I can tell you after 65 years they had plenty of catching up to do. In fact, it will likely take a lot of hours for them to truly catch up.

They’ve made tentative plans to get together once the holidays are over and I can’t tell you how much this chance meeting with a friend from my mother’s past has meant to her, especially at this time.

I’m a firm believe in the wonders of the Universe. At this stage in my life, I consider myself old and wise enough to accept the fact that there are things in life that cannot be explained, nor should they be. When I think of how so many things worked together to help reunite these two friends, right from the fact that I hadn’t been absolutely sure I’d be able to go to the festival this year, I can’t help thinking that it is one of those things that was meant to be.

As I said earlier, it did my heart good, and I’m so glad that a large print edition of Cammie Takes Flight played a small part in it all.

Not Another Book

It’s been a very busy time for me with my first novel for adults about to be published in the spring and the ARCs soon going to print. While I’ve had three books published for kids, this one feels a bit different in some respects with a different audience. And while a lot of adults do read my kids book, I’m sure kids will not be reading this one. Just so you know, this doesn’t mean that I’ll no longer write for kids because I will. As many of you know I also have two books for kids coming out. The prequel to the Cammie books is scheduled for publication next fall, plus I have another book due out in Fall 2022, but wait….there’s more.

yes I did say more.

I just signed another contract for a book, set in Germany in the 1700’s that is due to be published in the Fall of 2021!

So it looks as though I’ll be quite busy for the next little while with edits and book promotions, and four books coming out in the next three years. I’ll continue to keep you in the loop, though. I’m sure the time will fly, and I’ll continue to work on new projects. I’ve got several books simmering along as we speak, which is nothing unusual for me, and hopefully, one day they’ll all see publication.

Today is the first day of December. I, for one, am glad to see November over and done with. I hope this month goes well for all of us as we make the first steps into December.

Thanks for reading!

Exciting Cammie News!

I was planning to write a quiet post about how quickly summer is passing by but heck, I’m just going to throw all that out and make this super exciting announcement.

I recently signed my third book contract in less than a year. Yup. You read that right—three!

This recent book, that BTW I finished writing last winter, is the prequel to the other two Cammie books. Making it, I guess, a trilogy. Who knew? Well, me, but that’s to be expected.

The book is set in East Chester around the time Cammie was born and it fills in a lot of the details of Cammie’s life—who her parents really are and just how she came to be living with bootlegging Millie Turple in Tanner. We also learn some more about Evelyn and his father Jim Merry; lots about the Ideal Maternity Home, as well.

It’s due to be published in the Fall of 2020 which means the book that was previously scheduled for that slot had to be bumped to Fall 2021. Just a little shuffling as it seemed to make sense to bring this book out sooner rather than later, seeing how Cammie Takes Flight was published back in 2017.

So there’s my late summer news and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am. I’ve been sitting on this for awhile and was just bursting to tell!

But eventually, we all have to come back down to earth. Right? Even authors who have signed three book contracts in less than a year!!

I’m back writing again, looking through some material I wrote years ago and trying to decide if it still has value. This could take some time.

In the meantime, if all goes according to plan, the second round of edits on my still untitled adult fiction novel will be underway sometime in September. And as soon as we find the perfect title I’ll be sure to share it with you.

I hope you’re all having a spectacular summer.

The Blind Mechanic

For anyone who has any preconceived ideas of what blind people are capable of accomplishing they should read  The Blind Mechanic.

Long before this book came out I heard about this remarkable man from my step-father. Like my mum and step-father, Eric went to the Halifax School for the Blind. Eric was blinded in the Halifax Explosion when he was two and went on to live a long fulfilling life. Eric dreamed of being a mechanic and despite the obstacles he encountered he did just that. He was a man admired by many for his accomplishments, especially those within the blind community.

I just finished reading this book and would highly recommend it. The book was written by Eric’s daughter, Marilyn Davison Elliott. Having grown up with a mother who was born visually impaired I felt an immediate connection to Marilyn and her book. Children who have a parent or parents who are blind or visually impaired recognized the strength and determination their parent possess. We also realize that being blind or visually impaired doesn’t have to stop anyone from achieving their goals. It was why I created the character of Cammie. Having grown up seeing  how blind and visually impaired people were often underestimated, it was important for me to write about a feisty, 10-year-old determined to make a better life for herself.

Even if you don’t know someone with vision problems The Blind Mechanic is a truly inspiring story. Lots of interesting information about the aftermath of the explosion as well.

The Book:

Eric Davidson lost both eyes in the Halifax Explosion when he was two years old. Against all odds, he taught himself to become an auto mechanic and had a successful decades long career as “one of the boys.”

Eric Davidson was a beautiful, fair-haired toddler when the Halifax Explosion struck, killing almost 2,000 people and seriously injuring thousands of others. Eric lost both eyes, a tragedy that his mother never fully recovered from. Eric, however, was positive and energetic. He also developed a fascination with cars and how they worked, and he later decided, against all likelihood, to become a mechanic. Assisted by his brothers who read to him from manuals, he worked hard, passed examinations, and carved out a decades-long career. Once the subject of a National Film Board documentary, Eric Davidson was, until his death, a much-admired figure in Halifax.

This book does not gloss over the challenges faced by Eric and by his parents. Written by his daughter Marilyn, it gives new insights into the story of the 1917 Halifax Explosion and contains never-before-seen documents and photographs. While Eric Davidson has been mentioned in previous Explosion accounts, his story has never been told in such fascinating detail. Davidson overcame such odds that his life story might not seem believable if it had not happened.

The Blind Mechanic is in bookstores and can also be purchased through amazon.ca HERE.

Recap – 2018

I don’t usually do a recap of the previous year in my writing life, but this year was an exception. So many great things happened; most of it had to do with the Silver Birch Nomination for my middle grade novel Cammie Takes Flight.

I really can’t begin to express what this nomination meant to me AND to Cammie. Knowing that so many kids would be reading your book is a dream come true for any author.

When word of the nomination came in October of the previous year I knew I was in for an interesting year. I’d heard stories about the Festival of Trees held in Toronto each year at Harbourfront Centre, and while I never dreamed I’d ever be so fortunate to get such a nomination, I knew one way or another I’d be going to that festival.

I was SO grateful to my publisher, Nimbus, for making the arrangements for me to go.

As many of you already know I’m not the travelling kind. This was going to be my first time flying, add to that, the fact that I come from a tiny place of about 200 full-time people. Well…I’m sure you get the picture.

But I had plenty of help getting me there. Truth be told, I couldn’t have done it without them. As soon as the nomination was announced I had offers of help from other authors who had previously gone through the experience. (It’s always helpful to have some idea of what to expect ahead of time.) Then there was Hubby, who swore he’d never fly, but he got on that plane with me and off we went.

We stayed much of our time with one of my oldest friends and her husband, and she was certainly a God send. Were it not for her we might be roaming the streets of TO (See how I’ve picked up the lingo?) to this day. I was about as pampered as any one author could be! She picked us up at the airport, took us out sight-seeing, drove us into Toronto for the reception and festival, then out to Oshawa for another event. Can’t imagine having done all that without her, plus it was really great catching up on old times. I’m so glad that I was able to share the experience with her. Thanks again, Darlene!
So, a few other things happened this year as well.

First this… (I already mentioned it in an earlier post.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then this….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m most excited about the second contract as it’s for my first adult novel and is due to be published in spring 2020! The second book, for children, is due in the fall of 2020. It should be a busy year. I’ll be sure to keep you up to date with the progress of these as it comes along–such as covers, blurbs, etc.

As for the rest of 2018, I’ll be trying to squeeze in some writing time before Christmas. It’s not always an easy thing to do. I’ve a few stories I’m working on and I’m hopeful that I’ll make good progress this winter. And who knows, 2018 isn’t over yet. Perhaps there will be more news before it’s over.

I can always hope…..

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!

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?

 

 

Working My Way Through Winter

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

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

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

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

Until next time.

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  • Publication date April 30, 2020. Available for pre-order NOW.

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