Guest Author Alison DeLory

Today, it is my pleasure to welcome author Alison DeLory to my blog. Alison has written a special post to commemorate Canada Day 2019 and talk about her newly published book, Making it Home.  So without further ado, here’s Alison.

 

Like many of you, I’ve been uplifted by stories in the news in the past week about Syrian-Canadians graduating from high school—like Batoul Hadhad, the daughter of Peace by Chocolate owners in Antigonish, N.S., and the three Hendawi brothers in Shelburne, N.S. They all came to Canada as teenagers who knew no English and who had missed years of schooling in Syria because of the war there. Once arriving in Canada, they worked hard to recover their lost education and create future opportunities for themselves.

Certainly as we acknowledge Canada Day, many of us proudly think about how our great country makes space for refugees and other immigrants. Yes, Canada should be celebrated for this, but let’s not forget to also acknowledge all that Canada gains, too, from welcoming newcomers. The benefit is two-way. Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who have come to Canada in the most recent wave have already contributed to the Canada economically and culturally, plus in less measurable but equally (or more) important ways, like expanding our capacity for empathy.

My new novel Making it Home (Nimbus 2019) tells this particular migration story from both angles. While it’s been documented through news stories, I wrote it through a fictional lens. I drew heavily on actual events that took place between 2014 and 2016 as loss of industry was forcing young people off Cape Breton Island, as Alberta’s economic boom began to bust, and as people spilled out of Middle Eastern refugee camps into variously tragic and hopeful circumstances. But fiction allowed me to delve deeper into the lives of imagined people most directly involved in these events.

I wrote the opening scene, involving a mass beaching of pilot whales in Cape Breton, as an assignment for a writing class I was taking in 2015. Once drafted, I thought about the symbolism of the whales, and how they could be a metaphor for being thrown out of one’s natural environment and feeling displaced. Pushing them back into the ocean was a community (epitomized by one family) struggling with an economic imperative to leave Cape Breton, and a desire for things to stay as they were. I saw the potential in the story and kept writing.

A second story line transports readers to Syria where they meet a family forced to flee Aleppo as bombs drop around them. The two families’ situations are on the surface quite different: one is a white, Christian family living in a sleepy rural Nova Scotian village, the other is an Arabic-speaking Syrian Muslim family whose lives are at risk. But at their core the two families are more alike than they seem. Like families the world-over, both share common desires for security, comfort, work and belonging. I wrote this book to discover how these particular characters could affect and possibly help one another heal.

These two parallel migration stories highlight how similar people’s plights are despite their cultural differences. And connecting the stories is the common thread of searching for home. I hope this novel gives readers an opportunity to consider our shared need for home—not only the physical place, but where we feel most secure, valued and ourselves—and to what lengths and distances the desire for home will take people. This journey toward ‘home’ can be physical or emotional, and helping others find their ‘home’ may allow our best selves to emerge.

 Thank you Alison for sharing this with us. I really enjoyed reading about what inspired you to write you book. I’m looking forward to reading it . All the best as you go forward.

 Alison DeLory is a writer, editor, and teacher living in Halifax, currently working at the University of King’s College. She has been writing stories for newspapers, magazines, and digital platforms for 20 years. She’s also written two children’s chapter books and contributed to several anthologies. Making it Home is her first novel.

Making it Home is available now on Amazon, Chapters and bookstores near you.

A Canada Day Shout-out: Some Summer Reads For “Young Readers”

It’s been awhile since I gave a shout-out to some fellow authors by sharing with my readers some of the great Canadian books that are out there for readers, young and old. I thought it was high time I did something about that.  And since it’s the Canada Day weekend, what better way to celebrate than giving a shout-out to some Canadian books? While the title of the post suggests that these books are for young readers I know many older readers who enjoy reading books for the younger set. I happen to fall into that category.

This list contains some of the books I’ve read recently and really enjoyed, and a few that are on my summer reading list. You do have a summer reading list–don’t you?

I hope you’ll keep in mind that a good book is a good book regardless of the intended market. So it you’re not inclined to read books aimed for young readers, I suggest you consider giving some of these a try because a good book really is a good book. Hey, I already said that!

Talking to the Moon: A new middle grade novel by Jan L. Coates. I’m  really looking forward to reading this one. My Dalhousie friends will remember Jan as our author-in-shining armor who pitched in and helped Jeff sell books at my book launch, and helped save the day!

Deep roots. Last year in Social Studies, Miss Matattall got us to draw our family trees. Mine was the only one with no roots and just one full branch for me, plus a half branch for Moonbeam. Because maybe she’s already dead, and that’s why she didn’t come back to get me.

Katie Dupuis Pearson wants to find her real mother; her only clues are her Lavender Lady, a piece of amethyst, and a bookmark from Lunenburg. While spending a month in lovely Lunenburg with her foster mother, Katie makes friends with estranged sisters, Aggie and Jessie Langille. Katie becomes fascinated by stories about their ancestor, Catherine Marguerite Langille, one of the original Foreign Protestant Lunenburg settlers in 1753. Like Katie, Catherine was friends with the Moon. Like Katie, Catherine was uprooted, forced to transplant herself. Will Katie find her own roots buried deep within the Lunenburg soil?

Halifax Time Travelling Tune by Jan L. Coates. This year, Jan has not only one book but two coming out. I’ll be picking up a copy for my grand kids as well as myself!

Grandma closed the piano lid. “I love singing those old tunes with you.
I wish you could have seen the Halifax I once knew.”

This dreamy and whimsical story follows a young child who travels back in time to 1950s Halifax with a whimsical tune. Follow the pair through Point Pleasant Park, the Public Gardens, Spring Garden Road, Citadel Hill, and other historic Halifax landmarks, showing off all the sights and sounds of the city. With lively text from Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Jan Coates and vivid illustrations of mid-century Halifax by Marijke Simons, A Halifax Time-Travelling Tune is bound to conjure more than a few bedtime sing-a-longs.

Camped Out by Daphne Greer. This book has been nominated for the 2019 Hackmatack Award. It’s the sequel to Daphne’s earlier book, Maxed Out. And is definitely on my summer reading list.

Max knows his mom can’t afford to send him to summer camp. But he really, really wants to go. He needs a break from looking after his autistic brother, Duncan. And from his mom’s new boyfriend. He is surprised when his mom says that he can go after all. But there’s a catch. There are spots available at the camp for families with special needs. A grant would cover Duncan’s fees, and Max could attend at no charge. If he goes as Duncan’s escort.

This is the second story featuring Max and Duncan after Maxed Out. 

Here so Far Away by Hadley Dyer. I was anxiously awaiting the release of this book and I wasn’t disappointed. Really, really enjoyed it. It actually stayed with me for a time afterward. Just couldn’t shake it. Valley people might be interested to know that Hadley is a former West Kings student.

George Warren (real name: Frances, but nobody calls her that) is well aware that she’s sometimes too tough for her own good. She didn’t mean to make the hot new guy cry—twice. And maybe she shouldn’t have hit the school’s mean girl in the face. George’s loyalty and impulsiveness are what her friends love about her—they know she’s got their backs.

On the cusp of her senior year, though, everything starts to change: a fight with her best friend puts an irreparable rift in George’s social circle, George’s father can no longer work as a police officer, and the family’s financial problems threaten her dream of going away for college. The year is turning out nothing like what George envisioned, but unfortunately, life’s a bad writer.

Then George meets Francis, an older guy who shares her name and her talent for sarcastic banter. In him, she—the queen of catch-and-release—has finally found someone she wants to hold on to, when lately it seems like she’s only been pushing people away. And with him, she falls hard and recklessly in love in ways she never thought herself capable. In short, it’s the year George nearly loses everything, including herself, in secret and utterly alone. 

With brilliant humor and heartbreaking truth, award-winning author Hadley Dyer tells a story of finding love—and the road back from unthinkable loss.

Missing Mike by Shari Green. Shari’s novels are in verse which makes them unique especially to anyone who isn’t familiar with Verse novels. I met Shari at the Festival of Trees in May. Her book Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess was also a nominee for the Silver Birch along with Cammie Takes Flight. I knew Shari previously through blogging and I have to say she was just as nice in person. This book is on my TBR list. I can hardly wait. Check out her other books.

He’s a rescue, a mutt. Maybe there’s a little golden retriever in him, although he’s not exactly pretty. He’s had a run-in with coyotes and he’s missing an eye. But Mike is eleven-year-old Cara Donovan’s dog, and they love each other absolutely. Usually her pet follows Cara everywhere, but on the day the family first smells smoke in the air, Mike becomes anxious. Pine Grove is in the path of a wildfire, and the family is ordered to evacuate. In the ensuing chaos, Mike runs off. And then the unthinkable happens; there is no time to search for Mike. They are forced to leave him behind.

Shocked and devastated, Cara watches helplessly as the family drives through a nightmare, with burning debris falling from the sky and wild animals fleeing for their lives. Once in the city far from the burn zone, the Donovans are housed with a volunteer host family. Jewel, the hosts’ daughter, is nice, but Cara can only think about what she may have lost. What will happen if nothing is left? But as she reflects on what “home” means to her, Cara knows only one thing. She is not going to lose Mike. She will do what it takes to find him, even if it means going back to Pine Grove on her own.
With her signature style combining simplicity and lyricism, the author of Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles and Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess tells an uplifting story of love and loss. And she shows how one girl’s stressful journey eventually leads her to an unexpected place, and a new definition of home.

The Goodbye Girls by Lisa Harrington. I first met Lisa at the launch for A Maritime Christmas and shortly before her book Rattled was published. I’ve also added this book to my summer reading list. I’m going to be a busy reader!

The students at Lizzie’s high school are notoriously terrible at breakups. Forget awkward conversations—they’re dumping each other via text. Inspired by the terrible breakups around her, sixteen-year-old Lizzie, strapped for cash and itching to go on the school’s band trip to NYC, teams up with her best friend, Willa, to create a genius business: personalized gift baskets—breakup baskets—sent from dumper to dumpee. The Goodbye Girls operate in secret, and business is booming. But it’s not long before someone begins sabotaging The Goodbye Girls, sending impossibly cruel baskets to seemingly random targets, undermining everything Lizzie and Willa have built and jeopardizing their anonymity. Soon family, friendship, and a budding romance are on the line. Will Lizzie end up saying goodbye to the business for good?

So here you have some Canadian books to consider on this Canada Day weekend.  I hope you’ll check some of them out, either for yourself or perhaps a young reader on your gift-giving list. It’s never too early to start thinking of Christmas, or is it?

Please feel free to give your own shout-out to any Canadian books that are on your summer reading list in the comment section below? It’s always always fun to share titles with others. 

Happy Canada Day. Enjoy the long weekend!

Why Do You Write?

The question as to why I write comes up from time to time in conversation. People want to know why? Why writing?

For me, it’s not an easy question to answer. It’s kind of like asking why someone prefers the colour blue over green or why they play a musical instrument or sing. No one seems to know. It’s just something that is, something that stems from inside us, makes us who we are.

Words fascinated me early on, even before I knew they fascinated me. I’ve always had this feeling that I had something to say. Mind you, I didn’t know anyone would ever read what I had to say.

Last weekend I had the chance to hear Wayne Dyer speak. I was in awe to learn how many millions of copies of his books are circulating around the world. It sure put the few thousand copies that my book sold to shame. But I wasn’t really comparing my writing to Wayne’s, nor was there even a slight twinge of jealousy. I went away wondering what it would be like to have my words touch the lives of so many people around the world. Yet, this man was as humble as you and I.

As a beginning writer, I used to wonder when or if I’d ever be good enough to have my work published. Back then publications felt like a pipe dream. Was I wasting my time and effort. Why was I even writing, subjecting myself to rejection after rejection?

For me, it wasn’t simply enough to write, I wanted my words to be read by others. That meant I had to grit my teeth, swallow my appointment,  keep my head up, my brain focused, and write on, many, many occasions.  Even when I felt like quitting.

Thank goodness the world is filled with many more doers than quitters. Imagine what would have happened if many of our great writers (who also faced their share of rejections BTW) would have given up because they weren’t up to the challenge.

This business of writing and published is filled with hurt feelings. If someone tells you they’ve never, ever felt hurt when their work was turned down, take what they say with a grain of salt. They’re obviously out of touch with their feelings. No one likes rejection. It stings. Mind you, over the years, I developed a somewhat thick skin. I was able to look past the rejections  on many occasions and keep sending my work out again and again. But every now and then a certain rejection would get to me and I’d be pulled down into the pit of despair. Yep, I got down, but more importantly, I didn’t allow myself to stay down. I became my own cheerleader. I had to if I wanted to become published. The truth is, all the good words from others won’t keep us going if we don’t believe it ourselves.

Have a great weekend, and for my Canadian readers Happy Canada Day!

 

I’ll leave you with a photo that I tried posting on Facebook, but my dial-up connection just wasn’t co-operating. It was one of several I took at the Cunard Centre the day Wayne Dyer was there.

Not so easy to get a clear photo of Wayne Dyer when he was in Halifax. Too many heads in the way and he moved around a lot on stage. He spoke for nearly three hours (not bad for a man who turned 73) and the audience hung on every word. This photo is sort of the best of the worst.

DSC03802

The Word Tree

My daughter makes cool and neat things. Whenever I visit I find something new she’s made. It’s usually something simple that ends me thinking, I wouldn’t mind having something like that.

Here’s what I saw on my last visit. Couldn’t help but snap a shot of it.

I believe she used a page from an old book that had seen better days. With a little imagination we can find a use for most everything. Hmmm…. I wonder what happened to the rest of the book?

You know, I was thinking it would be kind of neat to have one with a page from my book, but…

This weekend I’ll be spending some time with Miss Charlotte. She’s only two, but she’s got quite a talent for drawing. Maybe one day I’ll share one of her pictures on my blog.

I’m off to have an enjoyable Canada Day weekend.

Happy Canada Day!

Do you have any special plans for the weekend?

 

Happy Canada Day!!

Just thought I’d say Happy Canada Day! Enjoy the celebration.. After a morning of writing, I’ll be off to a BBQ with friends today. Nothing like good friends and good food to make a celebration complete.

Enjoy the day, no matter what country you live in, because we can all use a day to just celebrate life, a day to marvel in the natural beauty around us, and simply be in the present moment.

Do we really even need an occasion?

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