No- Launch- Book- Launch

Welcome to the No- Launch- Book- Launch of Good Mothers Don’t,  brought to you compliments of Covid 19 and Rural Internet Service. I’m so glad you could make it. I know, I know,–it’ just not the same, right? But hey, I’m not about to let the fact that I can’t have a regular book launch at the community centre, or even a virtual launch, get me down. When life gives you lemons you make lemonade, right?

We tried, we really did, to come up with a way to help celebrate the release of my new novel but there was that uncomfortable feeling lurking in the background, that sinister pandemic pointing it’s ugly finger like the grim reaper waiting to catch us off guard. We thought about ways to make it safe and fun like all the other launches we’ve had here at the community centre, but mask-wearing isn’t fun, neither is physical distancing, neither is allowing only a few people in the community centre at one time. And we wouldn’t have been able to offer a lunch. Well, you may as well forget having a gathering in East Dalhousie if there isn’t going to be a lunch. I’m serious; it’s almost mandatory in these parts.

So, I got thinking that if I had a No-Launch-Book-Launch, how could I make it fun and interesting. I thought about all the people I would invite, figuring on how the sky’s the limit when you’re hosting a No- Launch-Book- Launch. So here’s my guest list.:

Patrick Murphy—It was Patrick’s suggestion that I write this novel, so of course I’m going to invite him. I’ll be honest, I might have cursed a time or two in the beginning, I can’t be sure now, but I do remember that I made him promise to tell me if I was writing monkey crap. Yup, monkey crap–those were my exact words to him. Thankfully he didn’t tell me that or I would have stopped working on this novel years ago. I think he just felt sorry for me at that point. Honestly, I ‘m pretty sure neither of us thought I’d be able to pull this thing off—it was THAT bad. But I persevered—I’m small but stubborn. I think the turning point for me came when Elizabeth said, “I am well now. When the pink dawn draws near to my bedroom window I take comfort in those words.” That’s when I really started to “get” her and when I knew that, come hell or high water, I would write this novel.

Whitney Moran—Whitney was the first one to read the book when it was just a bunch of loose pages. She liked it and wanted to publish it and I wanted to give her a big hug, but you can’t really hug over email. Whitney has acquired five of my book (three more to come) and we haven’t once met. I know—how is that possible? I can tell you that she seems pretty down to earth, very kind and patient, so VERY patient. So, I’d definitely add her to my No-Launch-Book-Launch invitation list.

Penelope Jackson—I’ve worked on my last three books with Penelope. She probably knows me, as a writer, better than anyone else, meaning she knows how to bamboozle me into digging deeper and finding a better alternative for all of the awkward sentences I might have written, without her actually telling me how awkward some of my sentences are–see what I mean about awkward sentences? She also knows how I dislike it if I use the same word in too many places and will point that out to me. (Just so you know, I wanted to throw that word “bamboozle” into this post because it’s presently one of my favourite words. I just love the way it rolls off the tongue—bamboozle.)

Since this is my non-existing book launch, and I’m the host, and get to make up the guest list, I thought it would be really great to have Carol Bruneau, Christy-Ann Conlin and Linda Little pop in to say hi. These three wonderful writers blurbed my book–early praise, the publisher called it. (Please check their work out!) They said some pretty amazing things about Good Mothers Don’t which you’ll see when you open the cover. I’d really like to thank them in person. Such a generous thing for these writers to do for little old me—maybe scratch that word “old.”


I’m inviting our Prime Minister this time around–for sure. I think Good Mothers Don’t would make a great gift for Sophie, don’t you? Whether you like him or you don’t, I figure he’d draw a crowd once word got out that he was coming. There’s even a field near the community centre perfect for landing a helicopter, but that’s not even an issue with this No-Launch-Book-Launch. really, he has no excuse for being a no-show. I’m so excited.  If this was a regular Launch, I’m sure he’d want to speak to the audience, however briefly, (not moistly, although he would be wearing a mask I suppose) Just a suggestion here, but he could always pose for a selfie with my book. Bet that would go viral!

Leo Glavine—The Minister of Communitites, Culture and Heritage and our MLA out here in East Dalhousie—yes, that Leo Glavine. Many East Dalhousians know that Leo and I go back a LONG way. He taught me Geography when I was about fourteen at good old West Kings High. He comes to all my launches (which, oddly enough, usually coincide with an election year.) And while he’s there schmoozing with all of you, I hope he has a darn good explanation as to why we don’t have high-speed internet for an author who is trying to launch a new book and how a virtual launch is out of the question because of it. Believe me, I’ve asked him the High-speed question more than once over the years….. But, since this is a celebration of my new book, and not a debate about rural internet, he’s not likely to give an adequate answer. You know what politicians are like. (PS: I hope he’s reading this.)

Maria Panopalis and Jayson Baxter–obviously I’m going to invite the media. This is MY launch after all and that means I get to make up all the rules. These two gifted hosts entertain me over the supper hour. They’re a staple in our household. Can’t miss CTV News Atlantic every evening at 5:00 pm, I just can’t. I love all the heart-warming stories from around the Maritimes, especially during this pandemic. They constantly renew my faith in the human race with the stories they present. That’s exactly what we need during these times. Way to go Maria and Jayson!

Jann Arden–Who wouldn’t want the multi-talented Jann Arden at their book launch? Not only does she sing, she acts and she writes and she’s just so darn funny. I tweeted her book, “Feeding My Mother” after I read it and she even thanked me. That was a thrill! I wonder if her book sales soared after I tweeted it? 😉  I’m not expecting her to perform, that wouldn’t be fair but, if she insisted, she’d be more than welcome to sing “Good Mother” to keep with the theme. I love that song.

In the words of Michelangelo — The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.’ That is why I’m aiming really, really high by inviting my next guest. Please don’t think I’m off my rocker, just think of me as the author who dared to aim high. I’ve given it plenty of thought. And if for some reason I could only have one person at my No-Launch-Book-Launch it would be Ellen.–yup, THAT Ellen, the Ellen who doesn’t need to have her last name uttered because everyone just knows. It seems to me that she’s one of the kindest and most caring people on the planet. She does so much good in the world and right now the world can use as much good as we can get. And who knows, maybe when she’s able to film in front of a live  studio audience, she’ll give everyone in the audience a copy of GOOD MOTHERS DON’T. In fact, I’m pretty sure she will because she’s just THAT nice. Like I said, I’m aiming high, really really high. 😉  What we do know is that I won’t be a guest on the Ellen Show anytime soon, since I don’t have high-speed and she’s filming virtually these days. Guess we’ll just have to wait until this dang pandemic is over. Hope that’s Okay, Ellen.

No No-Launch-Book-Launch would be complete without my family and friends. Of course my family and friends are invited. What’s a celebration without all those important people in my life showing up? Besides, they’re also the ones most likely to come bearing gifts—yes, gifts. I know—they are spectacular.  I’ve receives flowers and potted plants, special mugs, Mars (FYI–the bar, not the planet), homemade jam, cards and one person even gifted me some Arnica at one of my launches. That’s why I love them! My mum will be there with bells on. You can be sure. She was the first person to read the book and she’s been spreading the word. It could be monkey crap, but she’s still talking it up like all good mother do

I’m also inviting the good people of the Forties Settlement where I set much of my novel. I love the people of the Forties, such a friendly bunch. I also have family ties there. And I love the landscape. It’s such a beautiful little community.

I’m inviting all of East Dalhousie, of course I am. East Dalhousie is my heart and soul. It’s where so many of my good friends live. It’s the place I wrote about in the Country Roads anthology many years ago.

So there’s my guest list, and since it’s my No-Launch-Book-Launch I can invite as many people as I want, no worries about crowd control or social distancing. We have plenty of space  on my blog. No mask-wearing at my No-Launch-Book -Launch because I would have had to insist that everyone wear one if this had been your “run of the mill pandemic book launch.” (Bet that’s something that doesn’t get uttered often. )


If you can think of anyone I left off my list or someone you think who’d love to come to my No-Launch-Book-Launch please feel free to add them in the comment section of this blog and remember the words of Michelangelo about aiming high. Invite anyone you’d like, even yourself, especially yourself..

And, because I put a lot of thought into this, I decided that it would be really great to have Margaret Atwood introduce me at my No- Launch- Book -Launch. She does have ties to Nova Scotia so no doubt she’d be anxious to come out to East Dalhousie. I mean, why wouldn’t she? I’ve gone to several of her events over the years and I kind of figure she owes me, not that I’m a tit-for-tat kind of person, because I’m not. Still, it would be really swell if she were to introduce me before I do a reading from the book. We writers need to stick together, right? And just imagine if she actually tweeted my book. $$$$$

After a grand intro by Margaret Atwood, and I’ve thanked all of you for coming, I’ll read an excerpt from my book. I hope you enjoy it. It’s the best I can do with under these circumstances. I hope you can appreciate the hoops I had to jump through to pull this reading off. Just click on the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xv0wkDjZKp8

You can’t have a launch in East Dalhousie, even a No-Launch-Book-Launch, without serving a lunch; you just can’t. Ask anyone here. But then I already explained that.. Someone once told me that when people come to East Dalhousie they expect to be fed well. Here’s a sample from our last launch. Spectacular, right? That’s only half the table and I’m pretty sure the food was replenished a few times. Can’t say enough about the way people in this community come together on launch day. They’re the ones responsible for this spread, and really I couldn’t do any of this without the many helpers I’ve had over the years. 


Since sales are a part of any launch, even a No-Launch-Book-Launch, you can contact me if you’re in my area and we can make arrangements for a safe book sale. Just call or email ahead of time, maybe even stop me on the road. I have books. I can even sign one for you! You do want an author signed book, don’t you?

You can also order a book through your local Indie book store. Good Mothers Don’t is also available at  through Nimbus.ca,  at Coles and Chapters, and can be ordered on line at Chapter.ca and Amazon.ca.

Despite the circumstances surrounding the release of my book, I’m going to think positive thoughts. The book recently made the “Hottest Summer reads” list in the Globe and Mail and that was an absolute thrill to have my book be recognized in that way.

When all is said and done, saying thank you is the most important part of any launch. I thank all for coming to my No-Launch-Book-Launch. It has meant so VERY much to me. I hope you weren’t disappointed that we couldn’t have an in-person event. No one wanted this pandemic to happen but we’re all making the best of it under the circumstances. And think of all the famous people you’ve had the chance to hobnob with. It’s not as if that would have happened at a regular book launch.

If you’d like to leave a comment for me or if you have a suggestion of who else we should invite or if you want to add your name to let me know you’re out there, please do. One tiny thing you can do to help spread the word about my No-Launch-Book-Launch and the publication of GOOD MOTHER DON’T is to share this post on social media: share it, tweet it, shout it from the roof tops because when Margaret Atwood tweets it, and this thing goes viral, I promise, you’re going to want to be a part of that.  😉  

Thanks so much for coming and helping me celebrate today. All jokes aside, I’m making the best of the situation. I’m just so grateful to have my novel in print  and that some of you have already picked up a copy and even told me how much you’ve enjoyed it. I love seeing the pictures my Facebook friends have been posting  to let me know they have the book and helping to spread the word. That means the world; it really does. Thanks so much to all the wonderful people at Nimbus Publishing for believing in me and my  book!

And remember that no matter who you are, or where you’re from, whether you’re famous or just YOU (because I’m just me) you’re always welcome in East Dalhousie, not only on launch day –or No-Launch-Book-Launch Day as the case may be–but any day. Please know how very special you all are!

Mid-Winter 2020 Catch-up

I love it when we get to February and the lengthening days can be readily seen. Not only that, February 2nd (Ground Hog Day or Candlemas Day, whatever you want to call it) marks the half-way point for winter. Yay! And while I know there can still be plenty of winter snow and ice in the forecast, knowing that we’ve reached that half-way point always fills me with hope.

February also means that there’s only a few more months until Good Mothers Don’t hits the bookshelves. Many of you who follow me on social media are already aware that it made the CBC list of Works of Canadian Fiction to watch for in spring 2020 which of course is very exiting for me, this being my first novel about to enter the adult world and all.

The book has received some wonderful blurbs from Carol Bruneau, Linda Little and Christy-Ann Conlin and have been posted on the Amazon site. Here.  I can’t tell you what it means to get such great endorsements from these three remarkable writers. There is also an excerpt posted on the site if you’re at all curious.

Right now, Good Mothers Don’t is available for pre-order at Independent books stores across the country, Chapters and Coles, as well as Amazon. Pre-ordering just means you’ll be one of the first to get your hands on a copy, hot off the press. It’s already received a few ratings on GoodReads and has actually been added by some readers which I’m totally thrilled about since there are still two months before publication!! If you’d like to add it to your own reading list or even read the first review on Goodreads, the link is here  written by Darlene Foster, the author of the Amanda Travel Series. You can check out her blog and her books here.

January saw me back into the edits for my next middle grade novel about to be published in fall 2020. It’s the prequel to the Cammie books and I’m excited for the story of Cammie’s first year to finally be revealed so you all can find out how Millie actually came to have Cammie and exactly who Cammie’s parents are. There is also a bit of a surprise at the end, something even I hadn’t seen coming until quite late into the writing.

This book is set in East Chester and revolves around the Ideal Maternity Home, the place where Cammie was born. Many of you already know much of the story behind the infamous home that buried stillborns in butterboxes. It was widely reported on. The story of the Butterbox Babies effected many people in Canada but also the United States, since many of the babies were adopted out to people in the US. Many of the “survivors” as still looking for their birth parents and the story is very relevant today even after all these years. If you haven’t yet heard of it, or want a little more information I have a link onto my blog HERE.

I’ll keep you updated on the book and share the cover, etc. when it’s available. (Yep, still working on a title for it) All this is still several months away so be patient!

I’m presently working on a YA novel that I began several years back and I’m hoping to set a realistic goal on completing it. I say realistic because this will be a busy spring for me with an up-coming book launch that my friends already have in the works. I mean how great is that? I’m already booked for several book club discussions and of course there will be book signings, etc. I’m not, by nature a goal-setter, but it worked well for me in the past. But, as I said, goals have to be realistic or else you’re just setting yourself up to fail. Don’t want to do that.

While I have several other books simmering along, I’m not going to look too far ahead or set too many goals at this point.

So, there you have my mid-winter catch-up. Now, we just need more sunshine and less snow and before you know it spring will be here.

Interview With Christy Ann Conlin

downloadToday, it is my pleasure to welcome Christy Ann Conlin to my blog to talk a bit about her latest book The Memento. Since its release in April, The Memento has received a lot of publicity, and you know me, I love supporting authors–especially local authors! Christy Ann Conlin’s acclaimed first novel, Heave (2002), was a Globe and Mail “Top 100” book, a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award in 2003 and was shortlisted for the Thomas H. Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and the Dartmouth Book Award. Heave was also longlisted for the 2011 CBC Canada Reads Novels of the Decade. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including Best Canadian Stories. Conlin also hosted the popular 2012 CBC summer radio series Fear Itself. The Memento is her first novel in fourteen years. Conlin teaches at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies online Creative Writing program. She lives in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Before we talk about the book, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what the writing process is like for you? Do you spend much time in the planning stage or do you jump right in when an idea comes to you and figure things out as you go along? In other words, are you a plotter or a pantster?

A bit about me: I was born and raised in rural Nova Scotia, both in the Annapolis Valley and over on the on-the-road-to-kingsportBay of Fundy. When I finished high school, I left, like many of us Nova Scotians do, ha ha. I traveled and worked all over the world. I did a MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto, and then headed to Northern Ireland, and from there made my way back to Nova Scotia where I’ve been ever since. It took all that wandering and exploring to discover there was no place more exotic than home. I think many writers have this experience, and some are smart enough to know this without having to leave!

My process: I tend to work on stories in my subconscious, while I’m actually writing another one. For example, I’m working on a novel right now, but at the same time, I have a notebook on the go for another novel. Usually it all starts with a character who appears, and if I follow them, they show me the story. When I do sit down to write, it feels like jumping in but there actually has been a huge amount of mental work done in my head. As a result, I go into a story with a very strong sense of character and plot. In the early days of writing I used to skip this mental process so I’d have really fascinating characters and great dialogue and a distinct sense of place but nothing happened. Oh, those stories which lead to…nowhere. But it was how I cut my teeth, so to speak, and learned.

When the book opens we learn about the significance of the mirrors placed outside the front door of houses which I found quite intriguing. I’d never heard of it. Was this something your writer’s mind invented for the book or was it taken from actual mountain folklore? 

It’s a combination of actual folklore and my writer’s mind! My grandmother always had both a chest of drawers and a mirror in her porch. If people came by to drop something off for my grandmother, a present or something they had borrowed, or a letter) they would leave things in the drawers, if they were valuable or private. As a child I would peek and one just never knew what would be in there! And the mirror was something my grandmother told me she would check her hair in, and then she’d laugh in that dry way she had and say that it was good to see if there were any ghosts behind you.

The Memento introduces readers to some memorable characters that you certainly brought to life on the page. Were any of the characters inspired by people in real life?

All of the characters in all of my work are inspired by real people, sometimes nominally and sometimes to a very large degree. That said, it’s often not a specific person, but a specific kind of person.  When you travel and live in different places you begin to see that every town has similar kinds of people. It’s one of the most amazing parts of writing, creating my own fictional characters whose origins come from observing the world around me, the heartaches, the joys, the devastations, and the triumphs, the big ones and small ones.

The embroidery element plays a significant role in The Memento. Can you explain what inspired you to add this to the book? Do you perhaps embroidery yourself?

Yes, I do embroidery and different kinds of needlework. I grew up in 4-H and spent hours and hours by woodstoves and at dining room tables with some master craftswomen and artisans, learning what I call the “lady arts”. We also had a lot of antique embroidery on the walls at home. I was fascinated with the faces, how they looked so different up close, almost grotesque or unfinished, and when you stepped back, they seemed alive. It’s the same thing in impressionistic painting.  I collected framed embroideries and after years of having them surround me while writing, I began to think about how women who did needle work really channeled their experiences and spirits into these works, as any artist does. And so, then Fancy Mosher’s gift with embroidery took on a whole new meaning, of what she was able to depict in her pictorials, in these mementos.

Although Nova Scotia is not specifically mentioned, I found you totally captured the rural aspects of the book and I felt very much at home with the setting.  I actually Googled Lupin Cove Road because I was sure it was an actual place! Was there a reason why you chose not to mention specific name places in the book other than the Bay of Fundy?

Well, I wanted to create the exact experience you are describing for the reader, that the sense of place and setting would be so real and familiar they would be sure it existed. I had so many readers from England tell me my first novel, Heave, reminded them of the seaside villages they grew up in England. (Heave is also set in Lupin Cove).  It does, of course, exist in the story and in our minds, but it’s also one step removed, like a fairy tale. Faulkner did this, with a fictional county in Mississippi, and I really admired how this gave readers a bit of a distance, so they could see a reflection of the world, if you will. I love how the idea of a seaside village and a valley and a grand home and a path in the woods, how these locations resonate with people regardless of where they actually live. It is a way of using regionalism to create universalism.

The one setting which I really drew on specifically is the Tea House and Grampie’s art work. That was all inspired by Maude Lewis and her painted house and her artwork.

Of all the characters in The Memento who is your favourite and why?

I love Jenny, the anti-heroine. She’s so marginalized and outright dismissed, so powerless, and yet she is the only one brave enough to really acknowledge the full horror of what is happening, and to seek justice. Yes, I know, ha ha, her sense of justice is a bit warped, to put it mildly, but she wants more than anyone to restore a sense of moral order, and put the ghosts of the past to rest.  But she can’t do that on her own, and she needs Fancy, with her gift, to help her understand the true nature of what is haunting them.

The book is written in first person which is a very personal point of view that brings an author very close to the character she writes about.  I’m dying to know, are you hiding somewhere inside Fancy Mosher or is she somewhere hiding inside of you?

Honestly, Laura, I think I am hiding in Fancy Mosher, but I am seeing the world through her very unique eyes. It was a privilege to view the world from her unique perspective. I’m not so much like her, even though I would like to be. I always feel my characters are very brave, and I am not so brave. I’m more like Seraphina in Heave. That novel was much more autobiographical.  My grandmother always told me because I had an artistic disposition, a sensitive nature, the spirits would speak to me. My understanding of this is that characters come to me and I write out their stories.

The Memento has been described as a literary ghost story. Are you intrigued by ghosts and most importantly do you believe in them?

I think it’s more magic realism, to be honest, with ghostly elements. It’s very much a genre blending, or even genre defying novel, which merges the old world novels of Jane Austen and the Brontes, L.M. Montgomery, Allistar MacLeod and Ernest Buckler with a hint of Stephen King and Shirley Jackson.

What is your favourite part of the book?

The fire on the beach, and the island scenes.

Are you currently working on a new novel and, if so, you tell us a bit about it?

Yes, I am working on two new novels and a short fiction collection.  One of the novels is called The Flying Squirrel Sermon. It’s about a man who finds a bottle on the beach with a secret message in it, a clue to his sister’s disappearance many years earlier.  The other two books I can’t speak about or I’ll destroy the writing magic!

Is there anything in the book that you have not been asked about but would like readers to know?

The Memento is not at all a traditional ghost story or thriller. It’s a blend of pastoral writing and horror writing, humour and heartache, the historical and the contemporary. The story is really a look at what happens when we marginalize and oppress people based on gender, physical ability and economic circumstances. It’s an exploration of how young and vulnerable women are so easily exploited. In the case of Jenny, she’s physically disabled and pretty much rendered irrelevant because of it. Fancy is discriminated against because of the circumstances of her birth, and because she’s lower class. The ghostly element was my way of looking at the anger and fury which arises from this discrimination, how eventually, those who are mercilessly exploited will rise up.

Thanks so much, Christy Ann. I enjoyed learning more about the book and your writing life. I wish you every success with this book and look forward to your future publications.

The Memento is available at Amazon, Chapters Indigo and in your local independent bookstore or as an ebook.

 

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