A Christmas Post

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

april-2012-026These past few weeks have been a very busy time. In keeping with the tradition I started many years ago, I’m scrambling to get all the Christmas preparations taken care of before the big day. Each year I vow that I’ll get my act together well before December and each year I stick with tradition. I am constant if nothing else.

But Christmas will come regardless. The important part is having the family near. I’ll be back blogging in the New Year and sharing all the news about my new book coming out in April 2017! Exciting times.

I hope your Christmas is filled with precious moments and that you are able to become a child again even for a few moments. Merry Christmas!

Do you have a  favourite Christmas traditions?

The Scoop

I’d like to announce that I just signed a big fat publishing contract, and while I’d like to announce that… it just ain’t the case.  Sorry to disappoint.

So here’s the scoop…Which isn’t actually “the scoop.” My use of social media presence has been a bit on the skimpy side for much of the fall, checking in occasionally on Facebook to drop a comment or post a photo or two. My poor blog likely thinks I’ve abandoned it. But nope, here I am.

Fall is always my busy time. Things get away from me. I’ve stop trying to stay on top of everything. I’m only me, after all. Working six days a week when Fall comes doesn’t give me much wiggle room. I wasn’t able to write everyday. And I had to simply say “no” to a few things and not worry if people didn’t understand. It has taken me a long time to know my limits. Even now I sometimes struggle with the word “no.” Not only that, my world has expanded to include grandchildren so we need to make a special effort to spend time with them. (The kiddies grow too quickly.) Even then, we didn’t get to see them as often as we’d have liked because of work and other obligations.

Saturday, Jan Coates and I shared a table at the New Ross Christmas Tree Festival craft fair. We had a great time. It was so nice to see so many people out supporting local crafters. I think Jan would likely agree with me about this one lady who turned out to be my favourite customer. She happened by our table just as Jan and I was enjoying a homemade cookie and coffee. She bought a book from each of us, but was so impressed that we were authors she chimed, “I can’t believe you’re both published authors and you’re just sitting there eating a cookie like it’s nothing.” Yup…that we were. That was just a highlight to the day, although there were many other people who happened by who were quite delightful, as well. So nice to have that kind of support from the community, and nice just to see a friendly smile or have someone stop and chat even if they already have your book or are not planning to purchase one that day. It’s more about meeting the public and enjoying the day. If book sales happen that comes as an added bonus.

Christmas is coming. No need to panic…Deep breath. Some how things will all get done as I mentioned recently on my Facebook status. I know it. The tree is in the stand—not yet decorated, but that’s okay. Maybe on the weekend if we get time. I’m in no hurry for that and can remember a Christmas, not too many years ago, when the tree wasn’t decorated until Christmas Eve. Lots of shopping left to do but that will get done as well. I made fruitcakes a few days ago. (No one eats or wants fruitcake. It’s just something I’ve always done.)

This year, Levi had fun picking out the family tree. 😉

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12295427_585814727079_1086416405704928326_nThe Lilly and Lleyton are now three months old, smiling and laughing. What precious a thing it is to see them developing their own personalities.

 

Miss Charlotte brought home her first report card and has even experienced her first snow day of the season in New Brunswick. She’s anxious to come for a visit during the holidays and hasn’t yet met new baby cousins.

12348423_10153274457043951_1571437249_nHere in Nova Scotia it doesn’t look the least bit like Christmas, if you’re used to a white Christmas, that is. All that could change very quickly, and the weather forecast is calling for some snow on Tuesday. We shall see. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be in for a white Christmas. The temperatures have been fluctuating most of the fall.

So there it is, the scoop… sort of. Am I doing any writing? Sure am. While I struggled many day this fall to make the time, I’m actually working on a few projects. I have a piece coming up in another anthology next year and lots of ideas brewing.

So, what’s your scoop or non-scoop? I’ve missed you all these past few weeks.

Hearing With a Broken Ear—the sequel

Life has a way of making us stop and smile from time to time. Today was one of those days for me. I just learned that Miss Charlotte has started reading “Flying With a Broken Wing.” She has a bookmark to keep her place and she told me it’s the first book she’s read without pictures. Remarkably, she’d been reading since she was three (something I would never have believed possible had I not seen for myself.) Her mother tells me it will likely be a long while until she gets to the end of the book since she starts back at the beginning with each reading session. I was also told that a certain porcelain deer with a broken ear caused Miss Charlotte to declare “That’s Hearing with a Broken Ear.” Perhaps that will be the title of a sequel. You really have to love some of the things kids come up with.

This evening I picked up a copy of In the Company of Animals: Stories of Extraordinary Encounters,” an anthology of animal stories by writers from across Canada published by Nimbus Publishing. It was edited by Pam Chamberlain, the same editor I worked with when I wrote a piece for the Country Roads Anthology a few years back. Seeing my name in the acknowledgement of this book was kind of cool, not to mention knowing a few of the writers. I picked the book up at the local Coles and got a bit of a surprise when the young man swiped my Plum Rewards Card and declared, “Oh my God, your Laura Best!” I’ve got to be honest, I don’t often get that reaction, in fact I never do. It seemed a little surreal. I was just surprised that he recognized my name.

Fall is my busiest time and I don’t expect to have much time for myself until later in December. I’m still squeezing in some writing time most every day. I’d like to finally finish the novel I’m writing and get back to some earlier work..and who knows, “Hearing With a Broken Ear,” might beckon to me… I have a few craft events to go to in December and of course December means Christmas and Christmas means, well, a lot of work. I hope to get back into blogging more after the New Year. I’ve missed not checking in with my blogging friends. It seems as though I’m saying the same thing over and over. There’s never enough time. I just need to learn how to stretch out my days. Perhaps that’s something to work toward in the new year.

Just for fun because hey, I’m as silly as the next person, what title can you come up with for a sequel to “Flying With a Broken Wing?” I vote for “Running With a Broken Leg.”

The Idea of Christmas

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that? ~~Bob Hope

I have to say those are mighty wise words. We go out of our way at Christmas time to spread  joy and love, and to perform acts of kindness. At this time of the year we make that extra effort, but who knows, maybe one day these things will flow effortlessly. Maybe one day, as Bob pointed out, we won’t just wait for Christmas. What a lovely world it would be. Don’t you agree?

I’ll leave you with a wintery photo I snapped the other day. A day later the rain took most of the snow away. It’s been a few years since we’ve had a white Christmas and today, the flurries are flying and the ground is back to being white again. It’ll be interesting to see what Christmas day will bring in regards to the weather.

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My wish for all is for you to enjoy this time regardless of what holiday you celebrate. May you find joy, peace and laughter in the year ahead.

A Christmas State of Mind

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. ~~Calvin Coolidge

Our tree has finally been brought in and decorated so it feels a bit more Christmasy at out house.  You might even say I’m in a Christmas state of mind.  Coupled with the fact that we’re getting our first *real* snow of the season, it seems like a day to take it easy and relax and enjoy the season.  What gets done gets done, and what doesn’t well…

I’ve got a few more little things to pick up plus grocery shopping before the “big” day. We’d planned to go shopping today,  but with the snow we’ll stay were where are. Tomorrow will be a better day for travel.

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The edits on my novel are on schedule to be finished before Christmas. Since they’re not due until January, I’ll give it another read through before then. It’s always best to have a bit of a break before reading it through a final time. But this is the place where I’ll have to resist the urge to keep fiddling with the sentences. It’s difficult to let that story go. There always seems to be something we can see that needs to be changed, whether real or imagined.

It turns out this wintery day will be a good day to tie up some loose ends while I’m in this Christmas state of mind.

How about you, are you in a Christmas state of mind? Are you all ready for the “big” day? What things put you in the Christmas spirit?

Busy, Busy Beaver

On the property across from ours, the beavers have been extremely busy as you can see from the photo. It’s rather amazing to know that these small creatures aren’t afraid to tackle something so large. This urge to chop down trees is something that comes natural to them. Funny, how they don’t shy away from such a big undertaking. We see plenty of evidence of the beaver’s work, but we’ve never caught them in the act. I think much of their work is done at night.

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Writing a novel is also a big undertaking. One that writers enter into willingly, regardless of the work involved. Rarely can an author say they whipped a novel up in a matter of a few weeks or months…(Yes, I know, some can, but many can’t.) For many authors it may take many months, maybe even years until their book is ready to be read by an editor. But once a book has been accepted for publication it doesn’t mean a writer can sit back and wait for those royalties to start rolling in. For those not involved in the industry, it’s difficult to understand what takes so long for a book to come out. I hear from people all the time, anxiously wondering why, if I’m working on edits for the book now, it isn’t coming out until next fall.

The whole idea behind the edits is to help make that story shine as much as possible. A writer often becomes immune to seeing the flaws in our stories and it takes another set of eyes to point out the imperfections and make suggestions as to how the story can be improved. We all want that book to be the best it can be, right?

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So this is where I am at the moment. No, I don’t mean I’m cutting down trees….The edits are going well and I’m pleased with how the story is evolving even further. It’s always exciting to discover something new in your work, something you overlooked while you were getting the story down the first time around. Did I say the first time? I guess I should say the first several drafts.

Christmas might be creeping up on me, but I’m very hopeful that I’ll have the manuscript sent back before then. What is it about Christmas that makes us want to accomplish certain goals? I can remember, as a child, that rooms were painted before Christmas or new flooring laid.—always before Christmas, regardless of how close to the big day that it happened. So long as it was done by then everyone was happy. Anyway, I’ll use Christmas as a deadline to have this round of edits completed. I’m pretty sure that I won’t get a whole lot of writing done once a certain little someone arrives anyway.

How about you, is there anything you’d like to accomplish before Christmas comes?

Let the Edits Begin

Seems as though the things we often expect to happen a certain way end up going off in a totally different direction altogether. Life is funny that way. This month I thought I’d have time to devote to my new writing project, but low and behold I received an email from my editor at Nimbus Publishing. It is time to start editing my new YA novel, “To Fly With a Broken Wing.”  Yippee!!

“If you could have the edits done by January that would be great,” she said.

“No problem,” I replied.

No problem! Oh right, there’s this thing called Christmas coming up this month. I forgot all about Christmas mere seconds before I fired off the email. *gulp*

Okay it’s really not THAT bad. My editor is understanding and did add that if I needed more time it was fine, just to let her know. And truthfully, edits seem a bit overwhelming at first until you actually start addressing each comment and suggestion as you go. Personally, I’m just happy to be working on it and gearing up for the book’s release next fall. The exciting part is, the book is making progress. Edits have begun and, Christmas or not, I’ll get the work done. Authors are funny that way.

But it hasn’t been all work. I’ve been balancing things out as I go. A little shopping, a little gift wrapping, a lot of editing, a little decorating. If I play my cards right I’ll even get to watch an episode of “Grimm” this evening.

DSC02991A big thrill this week was meeting up with Donna Morrisey at a book signing. Donna’s new book is “The Deception of Livvy Higgs.” If you remember, I mentioned in an earlier post that she was on my list of authors to meet. Little did I know at the time our meeting would happen so soon. Yes, life certainly does throw in a surprise or two. This month has been busy with lots of authors doing book signings and I’m heading out again for one tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll either post about it on Facebook or my blog.

I’ve also had a disappointment this week. I’d been planning for months to get high speed Internet service, but it just wasn’t to be. I know this is difficult for many of you to understand, but here in rural Nova Scotia we don’t necessarily have the option for High Speed and that sucks. One company put up towers and many people can receive a wireless signal, but I happen to live in an area where too many trees are blocking that signal. I’ve got to say, dial-up makes life very challenging, and many times I have problems with pages loading, especially those blogs that have lots of photos posted on them. Then again, it can sometimes be impossible to comment when it does load. But I’m dealing with this challenge the best way I can. Some things are out of my control. I sometimes think the thought of something better makes us less tolerant for what we have. So perhaps now, I’ll accept what is and feel grateful to have Internet service at all.

Anyway, despite Christmas and the edits for my novel, I’m hoping to be around Blogland a bit more this winter. I have a lot to catch up on.

Has life given you any unexpected surprises lately?

What’s New!

I’ll admit, my blog presence has been a bit scarce this past while.There have been several reasons. Christmas being one of them, plus the company of my daughter and granddaughter these past two weeks (Yay!) and not to mention the distraction with the guitar contest I blogged about last week.

Just want to thank those of you who took part in the contest and to let you know what the outcome was.  I hadn’t planned to blog about the contest in the beginning because I  knew quite a few of you who read this blog are also facebook friends and had already voted, but in the end I knew it would take every last vote we could get, and well, when it’s family involved I guess you do what you can. Right? Starting out with over 500 votes behind, we were able to get within 20 votes of the leader in the end and had nearly 1600 people supporting our efforts!!! Pretty darned impressive if  you ask me. It only goes to prove that there are a lot of people out there willing to do something nice for someone even if  that someone is  a complete stranger.

Because the numbers were so close and because my nephew’s story was one that resonated with many people, Jimmy Rankin decided to give away two signed guitars… I mean how super is that? The whole reason behind everyone working toward this was to help lift my nephew’s spirits as he recovered from a broken back.

Not being an online person, my nephew still doesn’t know about any of this and won’t until the guitar is finally delivered to him. Bet he’s going to be surprised…

As to how he’s doing, he’s “amazed” everyone at the rehabilitation centre with how quickly he’s come along in his recovery and I’m really not surprised. Strength and determination go along way when we’re recuperating. He’s now out of rehab and staying with his parents, able to walk although the paralysis is still there. We’re all hopeful that he’ll make a full recovery. To be truthful, you can’t tell me that his recovery wasn’t helped along by the prayers of so many. For those of you who included him in your prayers, I thank you and so does Rob.

Next week I’m hoping to be back to regular blogging…  Happy New Year to you all!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.  ~Janice Maeditere

If you stop by here before Christmas–Merry Christmas.

Enjoy this time with family and friends, and above all do something kind for someone else this season no matter what holiday you celebrate,.

The Christmas Tree Owl

So I’m an advocate for thought-filled gifts. Most of you know that about me by now. I long ago gave up being impressed by expensive gift buying at Christmastime. I’m at the point in my life when I’m pretty much able to buy something if I truly want it. I don’t often “want” things simply for the sake of “wanting” but every once in awhile I’ll splurge on something that really catches my eye. Truthfully, that doesn’t happen often. My kids will tell you that. Okay, I do buy quite a few books, but books are a need, not a want, right? See, I knew you’d all agree.

I’m just not a shopper. I don’t particularly like to browse the stores. I like to go with a purpose in mind, get what I want and go home. Not much fun, huh?

Now I’m not for a moment suggesting that everyone should stop buying gifts for one another, nor am I saying that a costly gift cannot be a “thought-filled” gift, because it can depending upon the circumstances. We all know that. There are many things that factor into our gift buying, first and foremost getting something we know the other person would like and want.

I’m no expert when it comes to gift-giving. But one thing  I can honestly say is that the gifts that have touched my heart the most, in many cases, have been quite simple. And cost more in the way of time and consideration than money.

Today, I was unwrapping ornaments and came across this “Christmas Tree Owl” my daughter made me last year, and the little poem that accompanied. (I’ve mentioned that this family is big on writing silly poems.) It is a snapshot of that time and place, and will forever be looked back on with fondness— Miss Charlotte’s first Christmas.

I wonder what memories we will make this year?

The Christmas Tree Owl
 
Twas the week before Christmas, and you can be sure
Things were much busier than ever before.
There was a new baby, just eight months old
Charlotte Rose was her name, as the tale goes.
 
When it came time for bed, she’d hoot and she’d howl
For little Miss Charlotte was quite the night owl.
But sooner or later, not before  nine
She’d drift off to sleep with on final whine.
 
Once all tucked in, then Mommy would act
Working hard though the night on this Christmas gift craft;
A little owl for your tree as your yearly reminder
A sleeping baby, you know, there ain’t much that’s finer.
 
Since it’s Christmas, and we should all be filled with some Christmas spirit, can we share with one another our stories about a thought-filled gift you once received or gave?
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