Busy, Busy April

Lots of things happening in April for me. With Cammie Takes Flight due to be released the last of the month I’m getting just a pinch excited. It’s always exciting when you bring a new book into the world.

Yesterday, I visited with the students at Via Vita Academy in Sackville to talk a little about writing and publishing. They had some great questions for me and I had a lot of fun.

I’ll also mention that there’s a giveaway taking place right now on Good Reads for  Cammie Takes Flight. Head on over and enter. You could win one of three copies if you’re lucky. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/230730-cammie-takes-flight . Hey, I’d be entering if it wasn’t my book. I mean who doesn’t want to win a book, right?

Of course there’s Easter coming up this month as well, not to mention Miss Charlotte’s birthday happens to fall on Easter Sunday this year. Seven years old—now how did that happen so quickly?

I’ve also been invited by the Annapolis Friends of the Library in Annapolis Royal to take part in a fundraiser on the 22nd in the former Annapolis Royal Regional Academy.

Saturday the 29th I’ll be at the LaHave River Books taking part in Author for Indies along with my friend Syr Ruus, Shelagh Meagher and Laurie Lacey will also be there. If you’re in the area that day drop in and say hello. I’ll be there from 1-2. There might even be some copies of my new book floating around that day.

On the 30th is the Family Connects Expo at the World Trade & Convention Centre in Halifax and I’ll be signing copies of my new book. I love meeting new people and having a chance to chat. Signing books is kind of cool, too.

The official book launch is scheduled for the 13th of May at 2:00 and if you’re in the area you might want to drop by to meet Prime Minister  Trudeau or the Queen. (That’s me still dreaming big.) And while that’s not an April event I’ll mention it anyway. Preparations are already underway and I feel so fortunate to have so many people offering to help out. Seriously, East Dalhousie is the best place to have a book launch. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive community.

So there you have it, a rundown of my busy April and then I mustn’t forget my regular Monday-Friday job on top of all that, plus the novel I’m working on in my spare time. But there’s nothing wrong with busy. Keeps me out of trouble.

FYI I’m still continuing to dream big. I hope you are too.

Dare to Dream Big

I’ve been thinking a lot about the main character, Cammie Turple, from Flying with a Broken Wing and, my new book, Cammie Takes Flight and how even though the circumstances of her life were less than desirable it didn’t stop her from dreaming of a better life for herself. In some ways she’s kind of my hero and probably has more nerve than I would have had at that age or maybe any age. Mostly, I like the way she never used her circumstances, her visual impairment, or her less than desirable homelife, as an excuse for staying stuck in the life she was familiar with. Let’s be honest, it’s sometimes easy not to stretch our wings too far. We settle into the familiar because it’s easier and doesn’t require anything too strenuous from us. Reaching into that great unknown can be scary as a friend of mine often reminds me. It’s good to have friends like that who don’t let you off the hook too easily.

I sometimes think we underestimate the importance of dreams. When we were kids we were made to believe that daydreaming was a frivolous thing, perhaps something only lazy people did. And I think what a shame that is to instill that kind of thinking into a child. Luckily, things are different today and I think people have started to realize that there’s nothing wrong in having a dream or dreams and certainly nothing holding us back from realizing those dreams except maybe ourselves.

Dreams make life interesting; they fill us with purpose and hope. The best part about dreams is that it doesn’t matter how big you dream. In fact, I figure, if you’re dreaming, why not dare to dream big. I mean, what’s the point in conjuring small measly dreams when we have an imagination that holds no limits.

And so there are times when I allow myself to dream big, very big. Do I share those dreams with others? Nope. No need to. I hold them close to my heart as I imagine how it would feel to have those dreams turn to reality. Sure beats the heck out of thinking crappy, negative thoughts and feeling the emotions that goes along with that. Maybe that makes me a Pollyanna, I’m not sure I care, and I’m sure there are some who would think my dreams are unrealistic, but someone has to make it onto the New York Times Bestseller List, right? (No, I didn’t say that was one of my dreams but come to think of it, what not?)

As the release date for my new book gets closer I expect I’ll have plenty to add onto my list of dreams, and as Cammie prepares to take flight so shall I.

Cammie Takes Flight: Cover Reveal

At last, after weeks of promising, I’m ready to share the cover for Cammie Takes Flight with the rest of the world. Some of you have already seen a version of the cover because, let’s face it, you’re privileged and you know it!  The release date is April 30th and, for Canadians,  the book is available for pre-order on Amazon.ca  and Chapters.ca right now!

The launch for the book will likely take place in May but things are in the very early stages of planning so there’s nothing definite at the moment. As more info on the launch etc. come up I’ll be sure to share either here or on Facebook, possibly both.  The book launch is open to the public so anyone and everyone can come. Make sure to spread the word far and wide. No special invitation required. The more the merrier–that’s how we do things here in East Dalhousie.  For anyone flying in from out of the country, I’ll reserve you a room at the hotel here in East Dalhousie. (Okay that’s a bit of joke since we don’t have a hotel here, but I’m sure we can make some arrangements!)  I’d love to have the Prime Minister attend, but he’ll probably be too busy. Still, perhaps if I  sent out a special invite and if he’s flying by that day, maybe he’ll give a little wave. It would be cool if the Queen could come too, and I’d be really impressed if Margaret Atwood put in an appearance… but….Oh well, as Cammie loves to dream so do I.  Dream big; fly high-words to live by. The truth is I’ll be pleased to have my family, friends and community come out to help celebrate with me as Cammie finally takes flight.

And because all books have a front and a back cover, I’ll share the back cover as well. Love the quote they used on the back. It was a bit of a surprise to me, but a pleasant one , especially when I realized I was acquainted with the author of this review written for The Children’s Writers’ Guild. Thanks Darlene Foster– I thought this was kind of cool.

So finally, all the hard work of writing and revising and editing is  about to pay off and my book, my baby, will be going off to the printer very soon.  One day in the coming weeks I’ll receive a notice in my mailbox that a parcel has arrived with my complimentary copies. It’s been a long and exciting journey. But it doesn’t stop here. It is the hope of every author that their words will make a lasting impression on their readers. Now that would be a dream come true–for me and for Cammie!

 

The Sealed Book

I’m not sure if any of you are old enough to remember the old radio program called, “The Sealed Book.” I discovered it during a conversation with my mother while writing Cammie Takes Flight. I could still hear the excitement in her voice when told me how when the gong sounded it meant the Keeper of the Book had unlocked the vault where the great sealed book was kept. It was in that very book that all the secrets and mysteries of mankind has been recorded through the ages. Just imagine how mysterious that must have sounded to my mum and her friends as they crowded around the radio on Saturday nights. At the end of each episode, listeners were told to tune in next week when “the sound of the great gong heralds another strange and exciting tale from… the sealed book.” According to my mum the show also had sound effects that made it all seem quite real.

While doing a little checking online the info I found said the program originally ran between March 18 and September 9, 1945, and was broadcast on Sundays from 10:30pm to 11:00pm. My guess is that the program aired on reruns for years after its original broadcasting which makes me think that it’s good to actually talk to someone who has knowledge of a time period rather than just relying on the information that’s available online. Obviously that’s not always possible and so a writer must do the best job she can to bring that authenticity to the story.

I worked in some bit and pieces about The Sealed Book to my novel during my first round of edits as it seemed to fit in nicely with a scene I was working on at the time. I found it quite exciting and hadn’t remembered my mother ever mentioning it over the years. And who knows perhaps there was something in our conversation that day that jarred the memory loose for her. It’s strange the way memories can suddenly come to us when we hadn’t thought about a particular thing in many years. (For anyone who doesn’t know, Cammie Takes Flight is , for the most part, set at the Halifax School for the Blind.)

Part of a writer’s job when writing historical fiction is to research the time period we’re writing about. All those details add authenticity to the story and help the reader to become a part of that time and place the author is writing about. What many people told me after they’d read my first novel Bitter, Sweet was that they remembered that time so well since they were kids themselves back then. Many of them found it easy to relate to the Burbidges plight because of it.

With both my mother and step-father having gone to the Halifax School for the Blind they were able to provide little bits of information I would not have otherwise discovered through research—The Sealed Book being one of those things. There were other little things as well, the note tossing between the boys and the girls during classes when the teacher they had was blind, and the way the boys would sneak out of the school and call the payphone in the lobby asking to speak to a particular girl they had a crush on. There were other stories as well that I was able to weave into the novel and hopefully when kids (and adults) read it they’ll come to understand that the children who went to the School for the Blind weren’t much different they are.

My ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) for Cammie Takes Flight arrived the other day in the mail. I finally got to see and read the story in book form for the first time. It’s such a wonderful sense of accomplishment to know that others will get to read my words and hopefully find something of value in the story. I’ll read through the ARC a few more times to pick out anything that needs changing before it goes for the final printing. Release day is three months away!

So, without giving you age away, do any of you remember The Sealed Book or are there any other old time radio programs you might have listened to back in the day? 

Spinning Wheels and Book News

“There’s an old spinning wheel in the parlor.” Never dsc08174thought I’d be singing that old tune, let alone actually being the owner of a spinning wheel. I understand that most people wouldn’t be excited over something like this, but as a writer of historical fiction it makes my little heart go pitter-pat. Coincidentally, I’d been given a set of wool cards a number of years back. Perhaps the universe has ideas for me!

(Again)coincidentally, I have a friend who knows how to spin wool and the plan at the moment is for me to get a little instruction on this. I’m looking forward to it! Who knows I may discover a hidden talent. Stranger things have been known to happen. Or maybe when I sit down to spin I’ll have a flashback to a past lifetime and it’ll all come rushing back to me. My grandmothers both spun wool, as I’m sure many others did. It was a way of life back then. I’ve always said that history is made up of ordinary people simply living their lives the best way they could, doing the things that were before them to do, and yet when we look back we’re totally amazed at some of the feats they preformed.

While we speak about the past as simpler times there was certainly nothing simple or easy about the work our ancestors did. I marvel at how industrious people were one hundred or even fifty years ago and how we take so much in our lives for granted these days. We run to the store for most all our needs or else order it online from the comforts of our homes. What could be simpler? I’ve always felt a connection to the past from the time I was quite young. I suppose that plays a role in my writing life. When I sit down to write a story it almost always seems to end up being set in the past. It’s as if I can’t stop myself. I remember when it dawned on me that Bitter, Sweet was considered historical fiction—actually not until I saw it in the historical section in a book store. For some silly reason 1949 didn’t seem that long ago to me.

As for book news, the edits for the new anthology being put together by Vernon Oickle is moving along. There wasn’t a whole lot to do, actually. The piece I’ve submitted was previously published in The Antigonish Review quite near the beginning of my writing career. I’m looking forward to the book’s release. The works of a lot of talented writers is included in the anthology. And now for the really exciting news, the Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) have arrived at the publishers! I’m hopeful that a copy will arrive for me in the mail one day soon. While it’s not the final version (I’ll have the chance to make some subtle changes to the text) it’s still pretty cool. I haven’t done a cover reveal on my blog yet as there could still be some changes there as well. So I’ll wait until I receive the “official” cover—front and back. Should be soon since the release date is April 30th. That’s coming up quickly. When I look at the calendar I can scarcely believe that we’re so far into January. We’re half-way through winter on February 2nd—or Candlemas Day for anyone with a mind for these things. Before you know it April 30th will be hear and Cammie Takes Flight will finally be released into the world. What could be more exciting?

What has your winter been like so far? Are there any new happenings on the horizon for you?

Cammie Takes Flight: One Step Closer

“You’ve signed a contract months ago so what’s taking SOOO long?”

As a writer with a new- to- be published book I get asked that a lot, which I suppose isn’t a bad thing. Means there’s interest, right?

A published book comes about in baby steps. This is once the book has been written (not to mention all those hours of thinking and plotting, writing and revising, a writer does before it’s even sent it off to a publisher.)

While each of these steps might be little over time they begin to add up.

Here’s where the books is now:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the aim for “Cammie Takes Flight” (Yes, that’s the name we’re sticking with!) is to have the Advanced Reading Copies or ARCs  ready to be sent out in early winter. These go to reviewers etc. before the book is actually released. At this point I’ve already made revisions to the manuscript plus a few rounds of edits, smoothing out the wrinkles and straightening out any problems with the plot, etc.

Late this week, I received the design ARC galleys. This shows me what the interior of the book will look like, such as what fonts have been used and the little birds at the start of each chapter that I absolutely love! So with the file now created, the words, fonts and birds all in place you might think we’re all set to go, right?

But wait.

I still have some tweaking to do.

Crazy, isn’t it?

Not really. I’ve got a bit more work to do to the galleys, plus a decision to make, before the ARCs are ready to go to print.

Okay, so there’s no cover yet. Sorry. But trust me on this, there will be a cover before it goes to print. I mean, whoever heard of a book with no covers, right?

So once the ARCs are printed that’s it, right?

Wrong.

Believe it or not I’ll have the opportunity to make slight changes before it goes to the final print which should be late February, ready for the book’s release in April. Yay, it will finally be a book!

Whew!

So, the important thing is the book is getting closer to publication. Baby steps, but it’ll get there. I promise. And one of these days, very soon, I’ll have a cover reveal on my blog.

It’s all very exciting each time a writer brings a new book into the world. It’s our way of sharing what we’ve created with the rest of the world. Well, at least with our readers. 😉

That’s it for now. I hope you’re having an enjoyable fall and that you’re making steps towards  completing your own project whatever that might be.

Book Update

It’s hard to believe that July is coming to a close. We’ve had some pretty warm days, lots of humidity but, I’ve got to say, I’ll still take that over an avalanche of snow any day. July scooted on by without me having written a single blog post. I didn’t mean for that to happen but….

Edits for Cammie Takes Flight are about to get underway. I found out last week that I’ll be working with Penelope Jackson again. Penelope and I worked on Flying with a Broken Wing together. She’s marvelous! Can’t express how fortunate I’ve been to have such great editors to work with  at Nimbus Publishing and how very thankful I am for their expertise. Having that second set of eyes always opens my own eyes up and allows me to see things that previously weren’t there. My imagination soars. Right now, the plan is to have the edited manuscript back to Nimbus for layout by mid-September and to have the Advanced Reading Copies available for media by early winter. The book is to be released in April 2017. (I think I mentioned that in an earlier post.)  I’m expecting to see a cover sometime in August or early September. I’ll share it with you as soon as I can. It’s always exciting to see a new cover, and with this being a sequel it’s even a bit more exciting.

Also in July, it was brought to my attention that Flying with a Broken Wing made the Bank Street College list for Best books in 2015. I know many of you saw this on Facebook so please indulge me. The college is located in New York!  Here’s a bit about the list in case you’re not familiar.

One of the most comprehensive annotated book lists for children, aged infant through 16. The Committee reviews over 6,000 titles annually for accuracy and literary quality and considers their emotional impact on children. The best 600 books published each year, both fiction and nonfiction, are listed with annotations, according to age and category.

I’m also working on a new project at the moment, but July’s been busy with family visiting (yes, Miss Charlotte was here for a few days!) and gardening, work  etc….etc….But writers find a way to work around the everyday. We squeeze in time for writing whenever we can. There’s no way we can resist!

So, there’s a bit of an update for now. I’ll keep you posted as more news come in. I hope you’re all enjoying your summer.

 

The Answer to Your Question

In the two and half years since Flying with a Broken Wing was published I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “When’s the sequel coming?” To be honest, some of you have been relentless in you pursuit of an answer, even trying to trick me into telling. (Smile because you know who you are!)

Many of you would agree with me when I say I’ve been a bit annoying vague about it all, dodging the question as best I could, not even willing to let you know how the writing was coming along. I’m not a fast writer. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say I’m not a writer who gets to the end as often as I’d like. I typically have several projects on the go. That was the case when I started writing the sequel to Flying with a Broken Wing.

And then I started another novel.

And then I went back to one I’d started right after Bitter, Sweet was published.

I went back to the sequel again…

You get the idea?

Things went along slowly.

Then I lied. Well, maybe not an out and out lie. Let’s say I withheld certain information from y’all. (Did I just say y’all?) Seriously, writing a story doesn’t necessarily mean that story will see publication. I mean what if the publisher hated it? What if it just wasn’t what they wanted? Doubt sets in.

But now all that doubt is gone. I’m here to confess that the sequel has been finished for some time now. Yay! Do you forgive me for leading you astray? Hope so.

BUT WAIT….

There’s more.

I just signed a contract with Nimbus Publishing for the sequel to “Flying with a Broken Wing.” Yup…signed …sealed and delivered. And I’ve been dying to tell y’all.

For now, the title of the book is “Cammie Takes Flight,” but as I’ve explained before this could end up being changed. I’ll be sure to let you know if that happens.

So, do you think I’m excited at all? You betcha. I can hardly wait!

Speaking of waiting, I assume y’alls next question will when when’s it going to be published?

Well, my sources are saying Spring 2017. That’s just around the corner in the book publishing industry.

So, there you have it. The answer to the question you’ve been asking me for years now. And well, me, I’m just walking around with my head in the clouds.

And if all that isn’t enough Darlene Foster , author of the Amanda Series, posted a lovely review of Flying With a Broken Wing posted on the Children Writer’s Guild. You can read it here. Again, thank you Darlene for your generosity!

 

 

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