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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Thank You Post

As a child I was brought up to say, “Thank you.” It was an important word. I can actually remember being prompted by my mum whenever someone gave me something when I was very small. (Just in case I would forget.) Over the years, it became so ingrained in me that it’s become a natural thing, but more than just saying the word is the meaning behind it. The feeling of gratitude is actually pretty awesome and it brings me so much joy. I love this quote by Rumi that goes like this: If you say only one prayer, make it, Thank You. 

I believe these words and so I’ve decided to make this a thank you post from me to all of you.

This year has been an amazing year for me as a writer. I have so much to be thankful for—big and small. First and foremost are my husband, children and grandchildren who support me through all of this. They listen to me talk about writing and books and publishing and never once tell me to quiet down, even when I know I’m repeating myself and talking about things that aren’t nearly as relevant to them as they are to me.

I also have some amazing friends, some are writers and others aren’t but, regardless, they’re with me every step of the way during this writing journey I’m on. I wish you all could have been to the book launch of Cammie Takes Flight. You’d have seen the work that went into preparing for it. My community, my friends and family are amazing. And I was so very gratefully to everyone who was able to help out, and for those who came to wish me well or helped in any way. I know I’ve said it many times but “Thank you” bears repeating over and over.

Thanks to all those who have bought my books, read my books, borrowed my books from the library; and to those who took the time to rate or review my books on GoodReads and Amazon or any other site. And thanks to those who emailed or phoned or wrote or told me in person that they enjoyed reading about Cammie’s latest adventure. To be truthful many people will tell you they read your book but many never tell you if they liked it. That is why it is such a joy to hear when someone tells you they enjoyed the book you spent years working on. A writer invests so much time into their craft. It’s not simply a matter of whipping up a story and having the words all fall into place. It’s special to hear praise for your work and something writers never take for granted.

Thank you to those who offered word of encouragement, who shared my book posts on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site or told others about my book the old-fashioned way. Thank you to my publisher for investing in me and my stories and for helping Cammie find a readership. Thank you to the editors who have worked with me over the years. I’ve been very fortunate. A big thank you to the Ontario Library Association for nominating Cammie for the 2018 Silver Birch Award.  That was a pretty sweet moment when a call came all the way from Ontario to tell me the news. I was kind of at a loss for words, which maybe isn’t a good thing for a writer.

Most of all I say thank you to The Powers That Be for allowing me the freedom to explore life through the written word, to create stories, and to have the opportunity to share what I’ve written with the rest of the world.

So as 2017 winds down for this writer, I look forward to what lies ahead in 2018 with a big old “Thank You” ahead of time.

 

Looking a Little Like Christmas

It seems like forever since I’ve taken time to blog. In my own defense, it’s been a busy few months. Luckily, things are slowing down at work and I can start preparing for Christmas. Whew! A lot to do in a little time. I considered giving everyone on my Christmas list a copy of Cammie Takes Flight but they all have copies, and wouldn’t that have been easy? Speaking of Cammie, I made a discovery today while at The Inside Story in Greenwood. I picked up a copy of Best Books for Kids and Teens 2017  put out by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and found out that Cammie was on that list. It also had a red star, which I found out means, “titles of exceptional caliber.” That is why it was also included in their Holiday reading list 2017. I’ve got to say, that feels like quite an honour and I’m very excited for Cammie. But as excited as I am about this, I’ve got to get real about Christmas. Less than two weeks and I still haven’t finished my shopping.

Each year, I try not to stress out too much about it. Christmas will come and go, as it always does, and somehow I’ll be ready. I’m creeping through the shopping and sometime this weekend I’ll do some baking. The tree will one day be decorated, it will, it will. Maybe the elves will chip in.

What I cherish most about Christmas is having the kids and grandkids home. Seriously, that’s all the gift I need. And I don’t even want to say “all the gift” because it’s a wonderful gift as memories and moments are created. These are the things that last, the things that never get old and never break. And this year, if the stars line up just right, Santa will make it to my house in East Dalhousie. So as much as I might enjoy a white Christmas, I’ll be glad if the weather cooperated and Miss Charlotte can hang put her stocking under our tree.

I’m looking forward to all that awaits me in 2018. Lots of family time and, who knows, maybe 2018 will be the year I sign that million dollar book contract. Wish me luck on that, people!

What are your plans for Christmas this year?

Silver Birch Nomination for Cammie

Today, the exciting news came that Cammie Takes Flight has been nominated for a 2018 Silver Birch Award.. I can’t begin to put into words what this means to me to know that Cammie will be read by thousands of children in grades 3-6. Congratulations to all the other nominees. So great to know that Cammie is in such excellent company.

This link HERE will take you to the list of the other nominees.

I’ll post a bit later about this wonderful reading program called the Forest of Reading which is run by the Ontario Library Association (OLA), and what it’s all about. Right now, I’m going to try and get my head out of the clouds.

This is a very good thing!

As the Pumpkin Grows

There has been a new development in the ongoing saga of Laura and the Giant Pumpkin that I haven’t yet revealed. Perhaps you recall that a few weeks back I mentioned that our pumpkin seemed to have stalled. Turns out I was right. Upon further investigation we discovered that our precious pumpkin had met an untimely demise. It died and we didn’t know. We didn’t even get to say goodbye as it slowly began to rot. I know, I know… poor Pumpky.

But…

New life sprung up out of the ashes..or the vines as the case might be. Much to our surprise, a second pumpkin began to grow, and we watched while it grew in excess of the first one. This was one of the clues that there was something amiss with the first one. Sadly, Pumpky ended up in the compost heap. It was all we could do.

So…

We started again and here we are. Already bigger and better than our first. Last weekend the son used his formula to calculate the weight and told us it was around 90 lbs. It would, of course, be heavier by now. I know his urban pumpkin is bigger but, chin up, we’ll persevere.

While we long ago accepted that we’re not going to end up with a thousand pound pumpkin, (Good Lord what would be do if that happened?) this has been a learning experience for us and, who knows, maybe one day…..

Hmm…I wonder how the son’s urban pumpkin is doing.  Perhaps he’ll send a photo  for me to share..

Next weekend is Halifax Word on the Street at the Halifax Central Library on Spring Garden Road; Sept 16th to be exact. Here’s the schedule. I’ll be reading from Cammie Takes Flight at 10:00 in the BMO Community Room. If you’re in the city that weekend and would like to visit the new library, it would be wonderful to look out and see a familiar face. I’ll also be signing at the Nimbus Publishing table, although I’m waiting for confirmation on a time. Less than a week. Time is closing in.

              Urban Pumpkin Update:

Since the son just sent a photo of his urban pumpkin the other night, I’m going to tack it onto the end of this post. The estimated weight is 177 lbs. He says it’s three weeks ahead of where his pumpkin was last year this time.

September Update

And so begins a busy September both personally and professionally; not that busy is a bad thing. It certainly keeps the boredom away. Summer seemed to fly by. It feels as though July just started and here we are at the first weekend of September. It’s nice to have a long weekend and I’m hoping to get caught up on a few projects that I’ve been working on.

I’m still trying to squeeze time into my days for writing. It’s kind of important to me. Lately, there hasn’t been much time to write and I’ve been feeling a little down because of it. I need to keep reminding myself that this will change soon. Things will slow down to an acceptable pace. It always does.

September brings with it several family birthdays, my own included. Family is the most important and we always enjoy spending time with the kids and grand kids. The twins are turning two this year. Where did the time go?

Next Saturday , Sept. 9th I’m off the Blueberry Festival at the Parkdale/ Maplewood Museum. I’ll be set up with books for the day. It’s always a fun time and I look forward to it every year. It’s about a six hour day so I’m usually pretty wiped out by the end of it.

Halifax Word on the Street is on the 16th this year at the Halifax Central Library. I’ll be reading from Cammie Takes Flight at 10 am in the BMO Community Room and doing a book signing as well.

Sunday the 17th is the big celebration here in East Dalhousie for our 200th year. I’ll be taking part in the outdoor church service by reading a bit of history that I’m in the process of writing NOW. I’m still working on this but hoping to get it completed this long weekend.

On the 23rd I’m at the Rural Roots Market at the Ross Farm Museum again from 10-2 with author friend Jan Coates. It’s their big Pumpkin Harvest weekend so it’s sure to be busy.

The 29th will see me heading down to St. John New Brunswick to take part in the FogLit Festival. I’ll be at East Point Indigo on Sept. 30th from 10:30-12:00 for a reading.

So this is what awaits me during September. That and the fact that I work a full time job as well. But being busy isn’t a bad thing. Let’s not forget the giant pumpkin we’re tending to this year. I’m hoping to have some update on that in awhile so check back!

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.

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