Helloooo 2017

I always enter the New Year with a sense of excitement. It’s not so much that I’m anxious to see the end of the previous year, but it’s more the thoughts of what lies ahead in the months to come. I’m like a child in that sense. Who are we, if at times, we cannot see the world through the eyes of a child, but old and stale and far too grumpy for our own good.

I’ve often heard people express their thoughts on how horrible the old year has been and how they’re looking forward seeing it come to an end. While I can understand where they’re coming from, I’ve never had that feeling for some reason. It’s not that every year has been stellar because it hasn’t. Like everyone else I’ve seen my share of sorrow and sadness, but I’ve also seen plenty of joy and laughter. Hopefully, these things eventually balance out. There is so much for us to take delight in in our lives, but I sometimes think we dig too deep into the gory parts of life, ignore all those special moments we’ve experience through-out the year, simply because they aren’t grand enough or don’t sparkle brightly enough to warrant our attention when sometimes those tiny moments are what keeps us going.

With all that is going on in our world at the present moment, I’m sure some people are dreading what the year ahead will mean for us both personally and globally. Believe me, I’ve had those feelings myself. Much of what is to come is out of our hands. There’s nothing we can do to change world events. What we can do is to try and change our reaction to those events as best we can. We won’t always be able to stay positive. Sometimes we might become quite angry and depressed. But hopefully, that positive outlook will win out in the end as we remember to cherish those small magical moments that are peppered through our day.

Already this year seems special. This year Canada celebrates 150 years of confederation. And have I mentioned that 2017 marks East Dalhousie’s 200th Anniversary? Now that’s something that only happens every 200 years! Most of us won’t live to see it again. 😉 I’ve decided this year will be the year for adventure. I’ve a few things coming up that I’ll share as they unfold, but really, the true adventure will be all those things that are not yet in the planning stage. You know, the things that happen right out of the blue when you least expect it. Maybe some small things, maybe some big. Kind of like winning the lottery, only there doesn’t have to be any money involved. While lots of money is nice, welcomed even, it isn’t a requirement for living a happy life.

Last evening I sat down to write my list of intentions for the upcoming year and to look back on last year’s list. It’s just something I’ve been doing for awhile now. Of course not everything I intended to have happen happened, but I was pleased by what I saw. It’s just a different way to reflect upon life. I’ve never been one to make resolutions. There’s just something about it that seems too restricting, or maybe too forced. Whatever the case, I plan to focus on as many delightful moments through-out the year as possible. And I am hopeful they will outshine any of the not so wonderful moments that are bound to come along.

Wishing all my readers a happy 2017. May it be filled with many special moments along the way.

Amy’s Marathon of Books—Guest Blog Post

I’m so excited to announce that Amy Mathers has kindly agreed to be a guest on my blog today. Perhaps you’ve already hear of Amy and her Marathon of Books. She’s been getting quite a bit of media covering and, yes, she even appeared on Canada AM a few weeks back! The buzz around Amy and her “Marathon of Books,” began back in December and continues to grow. If you care about books, teen books in particular, I hope you’ll support Amy and her quest to raise $100,000 dollars to endow a Canadian teen book award. I know you’ll be inspired by Amy’s story and her determination to help promote teen fiction in this country. To date Amy has raised $10,000 dollars toward her goal. I think that’s an amazing feat in itself. If you’d like to support Amy, why not pop on over to her website HERE and find out how. 
Dear Laura Best Blog Readers,
AmyMy name is Amy Mathers and Laura has kindly invited me to write a guest post for her website. I am currently reading my way across Canada with Canadian teen fiction books. My Marathon of Books is a year-long venture and I have been reading a book a day since January 1st. I started my reading journey in St. John’s, Newfoundland by reading books either set in St. John’s or written by authors either born or living in St. John’s. I’m going province by province and territory by territory, and after 90 days of reading I am now reading my way through Quebec.
The goal of my Marathon of Books is to raise money to fund a Canadian teen fiction book award to be given out on a yearly basis by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Currently they award six cash Canadian children’s book awards at a yearly awards gala, but none of them are specifically for teen fiction.
As a volunteer for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and an avid fan of teen literature, I felt not having a specific teen award to support the efforts of our incredibly talented Canadian teen fiction authors was a real gap, and one that I hoped I could do something about.
You see, books have played an important role in my life. I was born with a genetic illness called Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD), type 3A. It’s considered to be a metabolic disease, but also a type of muscular dystrophy. My type affects the liver, heart, and muscles, and my case was so severe that I needed and received a liver transplant when I was five, and then a heart transplant when I was 27. I am now 31 years old.
Terry Fox is my hero, and I love the message he sent to Canadians through Marathon of Hope that people dealing with disabilities and illness could still live the lives they wanted to live despite their limitations.
But having a muscular dystrophy made me different than Fox, and even different than Rick Hansen. I use an electric wheelchair for mid to long distances and while dealing with chronic illness my whole life long has given me the fortitude of a marathon runner, I am not physically able to be one.
Instead of being a runner, I am a reader, and I realised that I could be like Fox and Hansen in a different way, by reading my way across Canada instead of running or pushing myself in a manual wheelchair. It’s a journey of the mind through literature, and I am experiencing everything Canada has to offer.
A typical marathon day starts with me reading a book that can range from just under a hundred pages to over 400 pages. I take the rest of the day to think about and write a review to prove that I’ve read the book and hopefully promote it, and also a daily Tumblr post to let my followers know about my reading experiences.
Some nights I’m up pretty late finishing my writing, because depending on how my body is doing that day and if I had other events going on, my brain can take time to work things out. Also, while I had figured out that I could read about 10 pages in six minutes, I didn’t take into account page size, spacing, and font size which affects my reading speed on a daily basis. Terry Fox could run a kilometre in about six minutes, and so every ten pages I read counts a kilometre across Canada in my Marathon of Books. I’m up to 19,532 pages of reading, which translates to 1953.2 kilometres travelled across Canada.
My favourite part about my Marathon of Books is that I’ve had tremendous author support. I’ve heard from the likes of Deborah Ellis, Eric Walters, Vicki Grant, Gordon Korman, and, of course, Laura Best. I’ve read so many books that I probably would have never heard about or picked up before my journey, and I love getting to review each one and brag about the talent our country has. Also, with all of the books that helped me through my life, letting me experience what I couldn’t physically and providing me with the mental strength I needed to face my situation, not to mention my profound love of Canada and its health care system, I can’t help but feel that my Marathon of Books is a wonderful way for me to say thank you for all that I have been given.
I hope you’ll visit my website, www.amysmarathonofbooks.ca, to read my reviews and for more information. I’ve already reviewed Laura Best’s Bitter, Sweet which you can read here: http://amysmarathonofbooks.ca/bitter-sweet/. Also, I encourage you to take the 13 Book Challenge and read your own way across Canada through reading one teen fiction book from each province and territory. If you do take the challenge, I hope you will get in touch with me and tell me about your reading journey.
Warmly,
Amy Mathers
Thank you Amy. It’s been such a pleasure to have you visit my blog. I wish you all the best and will continue to watch your progress in the coming months!
You can follow Amy on twitter,  Goodreads Facebook, tumblr and Youtube.

It’s That Time Again

“No skill is more crucial to the future of a child, or to a democratic and prosperous society, than literacy.” 

– Los Angeles Times, “A Child Literacy Initiative for the Greater Los Angeles Area”

Family Literacy Day here in Canada is on January 27th.  It’s a day set aside to remind us all about the importance of literacy, and to help promote reading. It’s a time for family, and reading, and anything regarding the written word. You can find out more about Family Literacy Day by checking out the ABC Life Literacy  Canada Site.

In honour of Family Literacy Day I thought it would be fun to give a shout-out to some great Canadian books enjoyable to those of us who are young at heart.

51UHUD2iHkL._SL500_AA300_How To Tend A Grave. I’m currently reading Jocelyn’s book. Seriously enjoying this read. Here’s the backcover blurb.

When Liam’s mom dies, he thinks life can’t get any worse. He’s wrong. Forced to live with a grandfather he’s never known, in a small town where Youth and Crime are king and queen of a hick-town gang, Liam only wants to be left alone. Not easy, considering the gang’s favourite hangout is the cemetery where his mom is buried. A popular place, this cemetery, as there he meets Harmony, a gorgeous but unusual girl who records the names of all the babies buried there long ago. Like Liam, she has a secret. The very different stories of these two grieving fifteen-year-olds interweave brilliantly in this fast-paced, engaging and unforgettable book about family, love and healing.

Amanda in England: The Missing Novel– This book by blogging buddy, Darlene Foster, is one in a series of books aimed at kids from 8-12.  Amanda in Arab :The 31cqxPKolDL._AA160_Perfume Flask is the first in this charming series of books about Amanda and her best friend, Leah. Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting was published in 2011. There’s lots of travel in these books and plenty of adventure.  If you’re into series you might want to give this one a try.

 

Amanda Ross is visiting England and taking in all the sights. She gets lost in the maze at Hampton Court, does some shopping at Harrods, meets the ravens in the Tower of London, explores Windsor Castle, and rides the London Eye. When she discovers a vintage book is missing from a collection, she is determined to find out who stole it. Amanda befriends a pair of tough teenagers from the streets of London, an elderly bookshop owner, and a big, friendly, clever, Maine Coon cat named Rupert. Follow Amanda through cobblestone streets, medieval castles, and underground tunnels in her quest to find the missing novel!
41ErVLb6JgL._AA160_I met Sylvia Gunnery last spring at the Bridgewater Library when she launched her new YA book, Emily for Real. It’s always nice to give a shout out to a local author. Here’s the description from Amazon. ca . Seventeen-year-old Emily’s world crumbles when her boyfriend dumps her, and when she thinks her life can’t possibly get any worse, a series of secrets are revealed that threaten to tear her beloved family apart. Emily’s heart has been broken into a hundred pieces and she feels like there is no one to turn to, until an unexpected friendship blossoms with a troubled classmate named Leo.
Maxed Out is Daphne Greer’s first book is part of the Orca Currents series. Daphne and I met at the 51vp6OkWyWL._AA160_launch for A Maritime Christmas in 2008. Here’s a description for Maxed Out.
More than anything, twelve-year-old Max wants to play hockey like he used to. But since the death of his dad, his mom does more crying than mothering, and Max has to take his special-needs brother, Duncan, with him everywhere he goes. The team needs Max to win the upcoming game against the Red Eagles, but one practice with Duncan makes it evident that it’s not safe to leave him unattended on the sidelines. With only a week to figure out how he can play in the big game, Max is feeling the pressure. Will he find a way to be a good teammate, a good brother and a good son, or is it too much for one kid?
51ZlnwRkaVL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU15_Last but not least, Stolen Child by  Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. I read this book a few years back and really enjoyed it.
Stolen from her family by the Nazis, Nadia is a young girl who tries to make sense of her confusing memories and haunting dreams. Bit by bit she starts to uncover the truth—that the German family she grew up with, the woman who calls herself Nadia’s mother, are not who they say they are.Beyond her privileged German childhood, Nadia unearths memories of a woman singing her a lullaby, while the taste of gingersnap cookies brings her back to a strangely familiar, yet unknown, past. Piece by piece, Nadia comes to realize who her real family was. But where are they now? What became of them? And what is her real name?
So there are five books for young adults I’m passing along, but really they can be read and enjoyed by any age. I hope you find a way to celebrate this important day. The written word is all around. Reading should be as natural as eating and breathing. For some of us it is. Hopefully there will come a time when  illiteracy will be a thing of the past.
Happy Family Literacy Day ! Now go read something.

I’m a SCAIPER

What, you’ve never heard of a SCAIPER?

That’s SCAIPER as in CANSCAIPER.

If you’re from Canada and you write for kids you have likely heard of this organization.

Let’s keep this simple.

CANSCAIP is a National Arts Service Organization dedicated to the celebration and promotion of Canadian children’s authors, illustrators and performers and their work.

You don’t have to be a published author to join. You can become a “friend” and still keep up with all the news. It’s also a great way to find out more about your favourite Canadian children’s author, illustrator or performer.

Here’s the link to the CANSCAIP site. If you click into members you can find my page. And if you don’t, well then, you won’t find it. Told you it was simple.

Today, I received word that the CANSCAIP site had added a list of the member’s book trailers. Many of you have already seen the trailer for Bitter, Sweet. My daughter and I put it together, about a year and a half ago on one of my visits, shortly after Miss Charlotte was born.

If you’re familiar with Dalhousie, the pictures we used  in the trailer are all from the area. Kind of “cool and neat” as Miss Charlotte likes to say. And yes, that’s an actual shot of the Dalhousie Road where the story is set. Now, I personally don’t live on the section of road that is unpaved, but yes, part of the road today is still dirt just like back in the 1940’s. Unfortunately, the deserted house featured in the video was torn down last summer. It had been empty for some years and I suppose there was no one to keep up repairs. Oh, and the little guy holding up the trout is my husband at about seven or eight. The joke in our family is that hubby loves to see videos of himself so it only seemed fitting that he’d make an appearance.

 If you’re interested in checking out some of the other trailers slip on over and have a gander. You’ll find mine there as well. This link will take you directly to page. Here. In the next while, I’m going to check these trailers out to get some “cool and neat” ideas for my next book trailer.

*Keep in mind if you’re on dial-up, as I know many of my friends from the area are, it’ll take awhile for these YouTube videos to upload. Be patient.

Oh and while you’re here, might I say, Happy Valentine’s Day to you all. May your day be filled with sunshine, roses and chocolate. If you’re one of those folks who doesn’t buy into the whole notion of Valentine’s Day have some chocolate anyway. Even the most mundane day can be improved with chocolate. Oh here, I’ll give you the chocolate myself.  Enjoy.

Family Literacy Day—January 27th

This coming Friday is Family Literacy Day in Canada.

So what is Family Literacy Day all about? Well, it was created back in 1999 by ABC Life Literacy Canada and is held every year on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. The idea is for parents to take an active role in helping to strengthen the reading and writing skills of all family members. It’s a great idea!  I’m not sure if there is any such program in other countries, but we hear plenty about it here in Canada.

In celebration of Family Literacy Day, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre in Toronto comprised a list a few weeks back consisting of 25 picture books and 25 works of fiction that “share in the joys (and struggles) of families of all sizes and combinations.” What was particularly nice about this, for me, was that Bitter, Sweet was included in this list. Feels kind of good to be a part of this especially since we’re talking about a subject that is near and dear to every writer’s heart.. Here’s the link if you’re interested in checking out all the great Canadian books on the list.

I think what’s important for us to understand about literacy is that creating a home environment where reading and writing is a priority doesn’t necessarily take oodles of time. I’m told that even fifteen minutes a day, reading, writing, playing a game, following a recipe or even singing a song will help to strengthen your family’s literacy skills. I know many of us are busy, especially those of us who work full time. One thing I found that worked well, when I was really busy after a day’s work, was to have my kids read to me while I prepared supper or did other chores in the kitchen. It was lots of fun when they were first learning to read. Reading was always an important part of our day, and while I can’t imagine a day going by without reading something, I know this isn’t the case in all families. So anything that helps raise awareness for this worthy cause if okay by me.

So even if you don’t celebrate Family Literacy Day where you live, perhaps you can help do something wherever you are to bring awareness to the importance of reading and writing in our every day lives.

Guest Blogger–Joylene Nowell Butler

Today, I am excited to have Joylene Nowell Butler as a guest on my blog. I met Joylene through blogger, Carol Garvin. Joylene is a terrific writer.( I’ve been told I’m allowed to pay her as many compliments as I’d like.) The thing is, our reputation in life speaks for itself. If you have read any of Joylene’s work I don’t need to tell you what a great writer she is, you’ve already figured that out for yourself.

Joylene Nowell Butler wrote her first book after her father died 1983. Though the book wasn’t worthy of publishing, Joylene was hooked on the process. Today she lives with her husband and their cats on Cluculz Lake in central B.C and is working on her sixth book. She is the author of suspense thrillers Dead Witness and Broken but not Dead. 

YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST NOVEL

By Joylene Nowell Butler

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words doesn’t fit with this photo taken in June 2011. Words are needed to explain who these women are and why they’re standing together in a grocery store with stacks of novels in front of them.

So why share the photo?

I’m the one in the middle with gratitude seeping from every pour. Lorna, on my right runs the Save-On bookstore in Kelowna, B.C.. Nancy, standing behind Dead Witness owns Sandhill Book Marketing, a company specializing in the distribution of independently published novels acrossCanada.

In 2008, after I self-published my first novel Dead Witness, these two women were instrumental in jump-kicking my career. Because of their initiative, Canada’s oldest Aboriginal publisher, Theytus Books published my second novel Broken but not Dead a few days before this photo was taken.

Thank goodness attitudes about self-publishing have changed. However, it doesn’t alter the fact that self-publishing is hard work. Though the community is learning to look at all published authors on the merits of their work, a lot of sweat and tears is still needed to make your dream come true.

I spent money I didn’t have publishing Dead Witness. I paid for the book to be printed, distributed and promoted. I made myself known online, started a blog, made contacts in every bookstore near me. I approached libraries, newspapers, radio stations, and anyone else willing to listen. I spent 18 hours a day marketing when all I really wanted to do was write.

After I signed with Theytus for Broken but not Dead, they took on the financial expensive of publishing my novel. I still had to pay for my travel expenses during my book tour, for bookmarks, long-distance calls where I arranged for book signings and readings. But Theytus paid for the line-editor, the copy-editor and the book cover illustrator. They created the oversize posters. They also placed my book in their brochure and distributed a copy to every bookstore in Canada. I can’t imagine how much that would have cost.

In the way Lorna and Nancy were my support system after the release of Dead Witness, Theytus believed in my work and did everything possible to bring Broken but not Dead to the reading public. How can you beat that?

So, yes, in my case, to become a published author, I had to first self-publish.

Every writer, at one time or another, decides whether to go the traditionally route or to self-publish. But it’s a decision you don’t have to make alone. Do your research. Read every self-published author bio you can find. Know what’s expected and what shortcuts you’re best not to take. More importantly, write the finest novel you can write. And that means hook up with experienced critique partners and a great editor. Because in the end, it’s all about numbers. Or as I like to sum it up: You’re only as good as your last novel.

Joylene wanted me to mention that she will give away a free e-book version of her novel, Dead Witness, to anyone who leaves a comment below with their email address included.

So You Want to be the Prime Minister of Canada?

We all have our own life to pursue, our own kind of dream to be weaving. And we all have some power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing.

– Louisa May Alcott

Okay, I’ll admit to being a dreamer. I’ve no doubt admitted it right here on this blog before. Now, some of you might think that’s a bit of a lame way to go through life (and it’s okay if you do think that, it really is. You’re entitled to your own opinions) but I’m willing to bet that at least some of you are one my side here.

I’m under the impression that some people think that all dreamers are delusional, and no doubt some of us are. I’ve known people who set unrealistic goals for themselves and then did absolutely nothing to work toward making their dreams reality. (You can’t be a published author if you don’t write that book. And then, then, you actually have to get that manuscript printed off and into a publisher’s or agent’s hands. Sounds like a no brainer to me.)

Dreaming alone won’t get you where you want to go. You’ve got to actually do something. You know, put one foot in front of the other, that sort of thing. Set down one sentence, one paragraph and keep building from there. It may take many months, or even years, to get where we want to be. We might not make any huge strides in the beginning, but those baby steps add up after awhile. BTW, learning to have patience fits in nicely about now.  Just saying.

Being a dreamer doesn’t mean I go through life with unrealistic expectations, nor does it mean that I believe I can conjure up some far-fetched goal to achieve and spend the rest of my days hoping that it will magically materialize. I’ve never tried to convince myself that I’m going to be the next Prime Minister of Canada or anything else so bizarre, cause I can tell you right now folks, I know it just ain’t happening.

 

Big deal. So, you don’t want to be Canada’s next Prime Minister does this prove you’re not delusional? you might ask. Maybe. Maybe not. I’m smiling now because I’m thinking that dreaming for the sake of dreaming is harmless and sometimes fun. I still don’t want to be Prime Minister though.

Aren’t dreams the very things that keep us going especially those times when we’re feeling kind of low? If I’d never dreamed if being a published author would I have continued to spend twenty years writing? Would I have continued to revise and edit my work (making it the best that I could) and send it out one more time if I didn’t hold fast to my dream? If I hadn’t worked toward my dream I’d still be me, but I’d be an unpublished me, and I’m pretty sure there would be days when I’d start to think that pretty much sucks.

You know what? My dream came true, but I worked darn hard to get here. I didn’t give in even those times when I thought I was being delusional, tricking myself into hoping for something that was simply out of my reach. But you know what else? Every day we wake up in the morning for a reason. A brand new day is waiting for us to enter. We can go though the motions of living, not really giving a darn so long as we come to the end of the day, or we can aspire to becoming something more than we were the day before. We can let our dreams, big or small, help us to put one foot in front of the other because, aren’t dreams the very things that keep us going?

I don’t care who you are, you’ve got to have a dream even if that dream is something small. Not all of us will want to be Prime Minister of Canada. (You can rest easy Stephen Harper!)

No dreams = no fun in life, no accomplishments

Some might think that all dreamers are delusional, but I guess maybe I’d rather be thought delusional than to have no dreams at all.

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