Writing Local

We hear a lot these days about supporting all things local and I have to say I’m a big supporter of that idea. And I even try to support local authors because, being an author, I know how difficult it can sometimes be to get any attention for our books.

Being a writer, “supporting local” has another meaning for me. When I set my first novel Bitter, Sweet here in my own little community it was important to me to set a book locally to let readers know that books don’t always have to have some exotic setting, that sometimes our own backyard can be the perfect backdrop for the right story. I’ve continued to use local name places in my books and some of the local “lingo.” My latest book, Cammie Takes Flight is set, for the most part, at the Halifax School for the Blind and uses other local name places. There also a connection to the Ideal Maternity Home in East Chester which was shrouded in controversy and it’s alleged that babies at the home were neglected and even starved to death. I found that to be quite disturbing  yet it’ also a piece of our history here in Nova Scotia. And, like all things that happened in the past, it isn’t going away.

Most people in Nova Scotia are familiar with the Ideal Maternity Home that was in operation more than half a century ago. While it might not ring a bell for everyone, the story of the Butterbox Babies usually does. I’ve read quite a few articles and books on the subject while writing Cammie Takes Flight and I’m not at all sure I’ve put the subject to rest. New articles keep cropping up. Here’s one from last December. What went on at the home was tragic and, as you can see from the article, is still very much an issue today for many of the survivors who are still looking to find their roots.

Some people will admit to not liking history but I’ve always been a big fan. The past has always seemed relevant to me, a piece of who were are. Perhaps there are things to be learned from looking at the past, trying to understand what life was once like and, hopefully, doing better in the future.

So, for now, I’ll continue my writing journey by doing what I’ve pretty much done right from the start—writing stories set in Nova Scotia with local characters that, hopefully, the rest of the world can relate to. Who knows, maybe years down the road, someone will pick up one of my books and they’ll get a small glimpse of the past and maybe, just maybe, that small glimpse will open up a whole new world for them. My backyard might very well be an exotic setting for them.

 

There’s an awesome review of HERE of Cammie Takes Flight on Reading With a Pencil. It’s always a thrill when someone you don’t know has wonderful things to say about your book,

Author Darlene Foster will be a guest on my blog next time. Darlene’s got a new book about to be launched in September. I hope you’ll drop in for a visit.

Where Evil Dwells

Just a quick post; I promise.

Some of you may remember from way back that I mentioned that I have a story forthcoming in an anthology edited by Vernon Oickle—or maybe it slipped your mind. That’s Okay. Plenty of things seem to be slipping my mind the busier I get.

But here, for your viewing pleasure is a look at the cover for this brand-spanking new anthology about to hit the bookshelves early this fall. It’s such a pleasure to be a part of this book and have my work published alongside such great local writers. I really like the cover.  Makes me wonder what he’s walking into…The story I submitted is perhaps a bit different from what some of you are used to seeing from me. And many people forget that once upon a time I wrote adult fiction.

So far as my Cammie books go, I’ve a few book signings coming up. Bridgewater Coles on Saturday July 15th 1-3 and I’ll be at the Rural Roots Market at the Ross Farm on July 30th from 10-2 along with my author friend Jan Coates. We’ll both be reading from our books as well.

So, there you have it, a quick post. Hopefully, my next post will be a bit longer with a little more content. I really just wanted to show off this gorgeous new book cover.

Book Launch: A Behind the Scenes Look.

The other week as I was going through some book launch photos, I found a few that made me giggle just a little. Most of these were candid shots taken by the lovely Dawn Alexander my official photographer for the day. Dawn showed up the night before while were setting up for the big day and she stayed pretty close by all through launch day. Now that’s dedication!

So, just for fun, I thought I’d post some of the behind the scene photos no one ever gets to see.

Setting up for the launch the night before was great fun. Of course it helps to have a few silly friends to take charge.  I’ll be the first to admit that decorating is not my forte. I’m more about the written word. Therefore, the decorating I leave to those more qualified.

Hard at work. Recreating the book cover was a little tricky since the vision of it only existed in Bonnie’s creative mind prior to setting up. Judi made all the silhouettes. It was a pretty cool idea. Wish I could take the credit but, as I said, I’m more about the words.

The end result kind of speaks for itself. I loved it. So did everyone at the launch. I warned you that I have some talented friends. They added all the extras they knew would make me happy: dark chocolate, Mars, beautiful white roses and my books. The tea pot of flowers was a Mother’s Day gift from my daughter.

There’s always someone in charge of the ironing. All those little details count. Thanks Barbie.

The look on my face suggests surprise, doesn’t it? You’s almost think I was expecting something to jump out of the box when, in fact, I knew there was a cake inside courtesy of the Monday Craft ladies. Seriously, they went above and beyond to make the day special. These ladies know how to show some author love. I don’t know what I’d do without the help and support from my friends and community.

And here’s a much better view. Just so you know it did make it out of the box It was delicious!

Launch Day: I could have told Bonnie it was a little late to be playing shy. Dodging the photographer isn’t as easy as it might seem when you get to be our age. Dawn was relentless in her mission to gets photos, but Bonnie using me as a human shield just doesn’t cut it! Oh Bonnie, oh Bonnie, when will you learn?

When the Nimbus publicist, Jeff Arbeau showed up, author friend Jan Coates offered to help him sell books. I love this photo taken when our MLA Leo Glavine showed up. Now there’s the look of a woman who can hardly wait to get her hands on some money. The next photo in the series (that I decided not to post) shows Jan actually prying the money out of his hands.. Okay, I’m just kidding about that! Seriously, Jeff said Jan was a huge big help!

There you have it, just a few of the candid shots from the launch of “Cammie Takes Flight.” Life is not just about the perfect moments that get capture on camera, it’s more about the moments that go unseen, but it’s all those silly, imperfect moments that create the best memories.

Coming Back Down to Earth

Launch day has come and gone. I was so pleased to see so many of my friends, family, and even people I didn’t know, come out to support me. It’s very heart-warming to know that others are interested in what I’m writing, and really, launch day wouldn’t be at all possible if it wasn’t for the help of everyone around me. I have a lot of awesome friends! It really does feel like “our” book launch, not just mine. Everything was perfect that day, even the weather that had been really miserable up until then, co-operated. Writing is such a solitary thing, what can amount to years of work eventually ends up in a book, and then all of a sudden it’s out there for everyone to see. Some people will like what you’ve written and others won’t. It’s just the way it is. Either way, some will have an opinion.

The week after the launch was super busy with Miss Charlotte coming to visit for four days. We got in a trip to the Ross Farm and the Parkdale/Maplewood Museum. Both were big hits with her. I got back to work on Thursday and then went to the Atlantic Book Awards at the Halifax Central Library with author Jan Coates. Jan’s wonderful book Sky Pig won the Lillian Shepherd Award for excellence in illustration which is given to an illustrator “residing in or from Atlantic Canada, or who has illustrated a book written by an Atlantic Canadian or a book that is set in the region.” Ontario artist, Suzanne Del Rizzo, brought Jan’s words to life. I think it would be terribly exciting for an artist to be presented with such a brilliant story to illustrate. It must truly be a gift to both the writer and the artist.

I am so looking forward to getting back to writing. I feel as though it’s been forever since I sat down at the computer to hunt and peck my way around the keyboard. I’m expecting there will be some signings coming up in the near future, already there’s talk about my going to Bridgewater if things can be worked out—a special signing for Canada 150.

So life is slowly returning to normal. The big book birthday party is over. Cammie has officially earned her wings, she’s ready to fly, and I’ve got to admit it feels pretty darn good.

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.

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