Basil the Bootlegger

IMAG2423Years ago people used to comment all the time on what a small world we live in. That was back in the days before social media and the Internet, when you could travel to another county in the province or even a whole other province and cross paths with someone who knew a relative or neighbour from your little community. It seemed a big deal. A little serendipitous, a little uncanny that you should stumble across someone who shares that connection with you—enough to make someone declare what a small world it is. Usually here in Dalhousie, you’d meet someone who was acquainted with an old fellow who used to bootleg. Seemed no matter where you went in Canada, and mentioned you were from Dalhousie, his name would come up. I swear he’s East Dalhousie’s most famous person which is exactly what Cammie had to say about her aunt Millie in Flying With a Broken Wing. But seriously, that’s the truth about these little communities in Nova Scotia—the bootlegger holds near celebrity status. And now just look, there’s a blog post even named after the bootlegger from Dalhousie. Yup, people still remember him from back in the day. I should only hope for the same recognition with my books. Hmmm, maybe I need to rethink this writing career of mine!

These days our world has been made even smaller via the Internet and social media sites. Now, we’re stumbling across people from all over the world. I can promise you though, not one of them has heard tell of Basil the bootlegger. Well, maybe now if you’re reading my blog. With all the social media sites out there we’re privy to information we’ve never had before and our world just keeps getting smaller. Some of you might remember that I was contacted last winter from someone in the US who wanted a picture of an ancestors tombstone here in Dalhousie. I snapped a photo and sent it off…Super cool. I was happy to oblige.

If you’re an author, the world has also become smaller with all the different sites at your disposal. A Google search of you or your book will bring up reviews as well as all the sites your book is listed on. You can read what others have to say about your book on GoodReads and what rating they give it. A site called WorldCat.org will show you the libraries around the world where your book (print and digital) is available. How cool to know that “Flying With a Broken Wing,” is in a library in Perth, Australia, and that someone in Singapore can sign out a copy of “Bitter, Sweet” and read about life in little old East Dalhousie, Nova Scotia—my backyard yet a totally different world for them.

An author can even track their book sales (print and digital) on a site called NovelRank that allows you to track your book on any Amazon site around the world. Novel Rank tells me that someone in France downloaded a digital copy of Flying With a Broken Wing. Tell me you don’t think that’s cool! There’s also a site called “Author Central” that tells you areas in the US that reported sales of your books, as well as the number of copies and how your book sales rank. Copies of my books have sold in Ohio, Colorado, New York, Minneapolis, Washington and Boston. (I believe this site keeps track of, not only Amazon sales, but other sales as well.)

And if all that doesn’t have you falling over with adulation for the Internet, you can become involved in promoting your own book through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or by starting your own blog through WordPress or Blogger. Whew! I’m exhausted just writing this. Some might say we really don’t need all these tools at our disposable, and that might be true, nonetheless they’re here. Like it or lump it. I prefer to like it, but also to pick and choose how much time I’ll devote to any one of these sites. Let’s face it, if your book makes a peep anywhere in the world you have the ability to know about it. Wonder why some days the Internet can make us feel like a spy?

To prove my point about how small the world has become I just did a Google search on Basil the Bootlegger and a whole page of links came up. Seems he’s more world famous that I previous thought! Okay, so I’m just joking with you, but I bet I had you fooled for a second.

So, I’m sure you’re curious to know—was Basil actually related to me or just someone from the community? You bet he was a relative, a distant cousin a few times removed. Wow, never thought I’d be boasting that fact. When all is said and done my claim to fame might not be the books I write at all, but the fact that I have a connection to the once infamous bootlegger of East Dalhousie. Go figure!

The only thing now that could bring Basil world wide recognition would be if this post went viral. Now wouldn’t that be a hoot?

What are you thoughts on the small world we live in today? Is it good, bad, scary or do you fully embrace it? More importantly, do you know who Basil the bootlegger was or were you related to him?

 

Lessons From Life

Life is all about learning. Each day we’re offered the opportunity to learn something new about ourselves, the world we live in and the people who make up our world. This past week I’ve tried to pay close attention to what life is trying to tell me. Subsequently, I’ve put together a list of some of the random lessons that have come my way.

Quotes and photos

  1. It is possible to have too many plastic containers.
  2. Proofread carefully.
  3. Be persistent. You don’t have to get it right the first, second, third, fourth…….time. You get what I mean.
  4. People you thought were friends sometimes aren’t.
  5. Facebook will not always send you notifications.
  6. It is not helpful to stay stuck in the past. Keep on movin’.
  7. Sometimes, when housecleaning, you really do need a toothbrush.
  8. If you think someone has betrayed you you need to have a glass of wine and get over it.
  9. Good friends will take time to make you laugh.
  10. There are many varieties of pickles in the world. You only need to choose one.
  11. Some people lie, accept their faults but don’t trust what they tell you.
  12. You won’t always get what you want but you have to be okay with that.
  13. The small gestures mean a lot.
  14. We all experience brain farts.
  15. Cry, but only if you have to.
  16. Inanimate objects have the ability to move all on their own.
  17. Everything you need cannot be found on the Internet.
  18. We all see the world in a different light.
  19. Dust bunnies can be scary creatures.
  20. Everyone needs alone time.

What lessons has life taught you this week?

Gratitude

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” ~Cynthia Ozick

Today, the key word seems to be gratitude, gratitude for all the good things that are, that were, or will be. I’m sure every day we can find something to be grateful for, but do we always take the time to be aware of the good things in our lives? I hope so..

A lovely thank you card from the Homeschoolers group I read to last Friday arrived in the mail today. What a lovely added bonus to my day! It made me smile.

Today I’m over at Reading Recommendation. If you haven’t checked out Susan Toy’s site before you might want to give it a try. Hey, and you’ll even see yours truly. Find out how we connected years ago without my even knowing. Cool!

Earlier this week I had coffee with Jan Coates. We had some catching up to do as it had been awhile since we’d chatted. Jan’s new picture book “The King of Keji” is scheduled for release this spring. It’s in the spring Nimbus catalogue already! You can check it out HERE.I know some of you from Facebook have already seen it.

I also want to mention that Family Literacy Day is on January 27th. For those of you who need a gentle reminder:

Family Literacy Day is a national awareness initiative created by ABC Life Literacy Canada in 1999 and held annually on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.

I don’t have to mention how important literacy is to us all, especially to the new generation growing up.

Lastly, since I began this post with gratitude, I want to give a shout out to those of you who follow my blog. I appreciate you signing up! I wrote a blog post back in December about Supporting Your Author Friend and things went a little crazy here for a day or so. So, thank you! Also, a big thank you to those of you who recently joined my Facebook page. Well, not just those who recently joined. Whether you joined in the beginning or just recently, I appreciate all of you. Oh, you know what I mean! Saying thank you is something that often gets overlooked and something we kind of take for granted. I don’t want to take any of you for granted. I happen to think thank you are two words that should be said every day. Gratitude should not only thought about but expressed.

So, since I’m ending on a note of gratitude for all the wonderful things in my life, maybe you’d like to share something that you’re grateful for with the rest of us.

I’m Keeping it to Myself

Pray for me people, quite possibly I’ve angered the Facebook Gods. I know, I know, this is serious business. I mean Facebook, right?

Secret messages have been turning up in my inbox— friends who have updated their status, uploaded photos, invited me to “like” pages. It’s a conspiracy of sorts, a cleverly devised plan to lure me back. I’ve been ignoring them all, closing my eyes and shutting it all out. Delete…delete…delete… I’ve been sending these Facebook messages into oblivion.

These days, I’m taking a bit of a Facation— a little break from Facebook if you will— because I sometimes find it a bit intruding. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook (kind of) and keeping up with my family and friends, but it’s far too easy to pop on for what you think will be a few minutes but ends up being much more. When that nosy factor kicks in I sometimes can’t help myself!

I was going to mention in a status update my intention to take a bit of a break but kept putting it off. I thought I’d let others know that I’d probably still update my author page but  they shouldn’t use Facebook as a way to contact me if something needed a timely reply. I thought it would be the polite thing to do, but I didn’t get around to it and so I didn’t start my intended break. Hey, I can procrastinate with the best of them!  But sometimes procrastination gives us time to reflect, a time to rethink our intentions. And low and behold, a few days ago someone’s status update had to do with this very same subject. Cool, right? Hmmm, maybe not.

To paraphrase the status it was something along this line: If you’re going to take a break from Facebook just do it. Don’t bother announcing it because no one really cares.

Oops! For a second I thought they had read my mind! But no, it was just my social media insecurities getting the best of me. Needless to say I didn’t bother to mention my intended break. Yet I couldn’t help wondering if people really do feel this way or if this was just one person’s opinion. I have often read status updates, especially from other authors, letting us know they were taking a break but I didn’t find it upsetting in the least. I actually thought it was a smart idea, not only the break but letting others know.

One of my beefs about Facebook lately, has been the sponsored ads that keep coming up into my news feed from people and companies I’ve never heard of.  Also the fact that some people really show a lack of caring. I don’t particularly like to read negative status updates. But they’re there. Disgruntled people with gripes galore. While I do understand that people are sometimes frustrated by life, and the behaviour of others, I don’t feel as though Facebook is the right forum to discuss that frustration. However, it’s their prerogative. Luckily, I have no one on my friends list who are downright belligerent. I might be forced to eliminate them from my list if that were the case. And no one likes to be eliminated. Anyway, I’m planning to make myself scarce from FB for the next little while, not being dramatic or anything, but I’d really like to spend more time blogging. Oh yeah, and writing. I am a writer, right? Two books and about forty + short stories says I am so who am I to argue? At least not today. Maybe I’ll keep that argument for another day!

Do you take breaks from social media from time to time? Do you agree with my FB friend that you should keep your intended break to yourself and simply disappear? Do you think it’s a matter of courtesy to let your friends and followers know that you’re not simply ignoring them?

Let the Competition Begin!

“Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character.”
~~Horace Greeley

These days it’s almost impossible not to compete on some level. Whether or not we consider ourselves competitive or not, the world seems bound and determined to rate us in one way or another. It’s like that in many areas in life and it certainly exists for the writers out there. Maybe we set ourselves up for this the moment we set foot into social media arena and yet……

While we might not openly admit to this competitiveness, I’m here to say it exists as sure as I’m sitting here writing this post. Granted, we might not necessarily compete against anyone in particular, sometimes the competition is self-induced, a means of striving for more and more. More what you might ask? More blog followers, more comments in our comment section, more likes on Facebook, more followers on Twitter…And the more, more, more continues until we start to lose the enjoyment these very same social media sites once provided us with.

I recently noticed a new option on my Facebook author page. This is kind of what prompted this post in the first place. Here’s what it says on my administration page:

“New! Pages to watch. Track the progress on any Pages you want to watch. You’ll see how many likes they get so you can keep up.”

This darn near knocked my socks off when I saw it. Really? Now they want us to try and “keep up” with the popularity of other pages? Kind of feels like we’re back in elementary school here. Now, I really shouldn’t knock Facebook. I do like it. It’s fun and allows me to keep up with what my friends and family are doing. There are plenty of benefits to it but, as with anything out there, it comes with a certain amount of criticism. And we do love to criticize in one way or another. I’m sure many of us could list our complaints if we wanted to be picky.

I’ll admit, it feels good to have that validation whenever we update a status or publish a blog post, but we also run the risk of becoming too involved, too needy, too wanting of other people’s opinions and comments, instead of allowing things to unfold naturally. What will be will be. There’s no fancy way of putting it so far as I’m concerned. I’m not ready to jump through hoops in order to gain popularity. Speaking of popularity, I just received a notification the other day stating that my Klout score just went up. Do I care? No. Should I? Maybe. Maybe not.

Seriously, I like my author page, but as for tracking the progress of other pages I’m just not interested in turning it into a competition. I feel as though I spend as much time on social media as I dare, maybe more than I should at times. If I don’t actually write then the author page seems a bit pointless. Not to mention I have people already asking when the next book is coming.

What are your thoughts on social media? Do you feel the competition in the air whenever you venture out there? Do you have a Facebook page or do you think they’re pointless?

When a New Baby Arrives

I can honestly say there’s nothing quite like bringing your new baby home. The feeling is as awesome at 52 as it was at 20.

A year ago in April, I made an announcement on my blog that I was expecting a bundle of joy at the age of 51.  After I shared the link to the blog post on Facebook, crazy things happened. Over six hundred people visited my blog via Facebook alone.  My blog was on fire! While that might happen on other blogs all the time, it was pretty exciting for me.

And now today, I’m ready to introduce my  baby to the world! Did I say baby? I meant babies! Yes, babies.

I held my babies close on the drive home from the post office today, held them on my lap so I could look down at them lovingly and coo. Seriously, I was a bit giddy, and I know Hubby was talking about something on the drive home. but I have no idea what. Ah well, he’ll never know just how distracted I was. Smiling and nodding can take you a long way so long as you don’t discovered later that you’ve agreed to something that you shouldn’t have. Just kidding! I’m still giddy.

I expect there will be plenty of restless nights in the future but, hey, how often does one bring home a baby like this!

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I Just Can’t Like You Anymore

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of problems liking people, which is new for me since I generally get along well with others. Here’s the scoop. I’ll start with Facebook. I love Facebook, don’t get me wrong, but this past while I’ve noticed, I no sooner “like” something then I notice that “like” has been taken away, disappeared into the great wide world of the Internet. Zappo! Poof! I don’t think it’s just me and my slow connection since others seem to agree with, but not everyone. Some say it hasn’t been a problem for them. And it’s not just the likeability thing. I’m sometimes told I can’t comment or else the comment I make disappears too. Well, okay, I’ll accept that, but when I want to comment on my own status it’s a bit annoying to be told I’m not allowed to.

Is it fair to knock these free services? I’m not sure. Do we have a right to certain expectations? I kind of think so since the whole idea is for us to interact with one another. Free or not, it’s difficult not to find yourself grumbling a time or two when these things mess up so frequently.

Since were on the subject of likes:

Now onto WordPress. I love the “like “ button we now have, because let’s face it sometimes we just don’t have time to think up a comment or sometimes we just have nothing to add, but still want to say, “Hey, I liked your post!” It’s a support thing and it’s great. However, most of the time my “like” button won’t load. This, I’m fairly sure is because of my connection and not a whole lot I can do about it. Every now and then I’m surprised when everything loads properly. So, it’s not that I don’t “like” you all anymore. Really it’s not you…it’s me.

The last of the proofreading for my book was done over the long weekend. I swear no matter how many times something is proofread, by yourself and others, those nasty little typos are bound to appear from out of nowhere. It’s seems inevitable. Yet we all hope. My editor says it’s impossible to catch them all. It’s soon off to the printers! I’ve been in touch with the Publicist from Nimbus and we’ve discussed launch dates although at this point it’s a bit tricky since there’s always the chance that things will get tied up at the printers. Can’t have a launch if the books have been delayed, right? For now, I have a tentative date since I needed to book the community centre ahead of time. No official announcement yet.  It’s all moving straight ahead.

Today Miss Charlotte comes to visit and we’re pretty excited. She hasn’t been down since Christmas. Hopefully, she’ll find lots to do and the weather will be great.

So, that’s my bit of news for the week. What are you all up to this week? Are any of you are having a problem “liking” people?

Rug Hooker Extraordinaire

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The lampshades below were also hooked by Syr!

I’m always amazed at those people who have more than one exceptional talent. Maybe that’s because I don’t venture very far from writing myself, and I forget that many others do. While I’ve known author, Syr Ruus (Love Songs of Emmanuel Taggart) for several years now, I’ve only recently discovered her talent for rug hooking. Imagine my delight when I discovered that she was having a show of her hooked rugs!

Yesterday, we drove to Petite Reviere to attend Syr’s opening at the River House Gallery. We were totally amazed by Syr’s work. Here are a few snaps I took to share with my blog readers.

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Syr’s work will be on display at the River House Gallery during the month of April. If you get a chance , I suggest you drop in and take a look at the work from this local artist. There are many more rugs on display for your enjoyment. There are also copies of her book, “Love Songs of Emmanuel Taggart” for sale at the gallery if you’re interested in supporting a local author. You can check out Syr’s Facebook page as well to learn more about this talented writer/rug hooker.

Syr Ruus, Author

DSC03498  Congratulations, Syr, on the success of your rug hooking exhibition. We had a lovely time!

World Book Day

It’s World Book Day. Bet you didn’t know that.

My source tells me that March 7th is World Book Day. (That source being Facebook of course.)

I popped on over to the site only to see Bitter Sweet as one of the books listed. Um, wrong Bitter, Sweet, however. This one has no comma and was written by Cathy Cassidy. Still, kind of a cool coincidence, don’t you think?

In honour of this day why not give a shout-out to a book you think is great, either one you’ve read, one you’ve written or one you hope to write?

Who Are You Sleeping With?

DSC03197I posted this pic on Facebook some weeks ago. It’s actually a plaque I got for Christmas this year and thought it was kind of neat. But the truth comes out when I say I can’t remember ever taking a book to bed with me. While, I sometimes stay up late to read I don’t do it from beneath the covers. Not even once!

I know a lot of people read in bed almost every night. It’s part of their bedtime ritual. After a long day it’s a great way for them to unwind as they curl up in bed with one of their favourite authors. For some, it’s the only quiet time in the day when they can enter an imaginary world and become a part of it. And we all know how important it is to lose ourselves into the world of imagination, right?

These days I tend to read while using the treadmill. In fact, some days it’s the only time I find to read.(Ah the busy, busy life of an author!) Let’s face it, a treadmill can be pretty darn boring, aimlessly walking until you work up a sweat with no true destination in mind, not even a change in scenery. So, I decided to combine the two. I thought, why not?  I’ve got such a list of books waiting for me I try to cram in reading time anywhere I can.

I’m also one of those lucky people who can read while driving in a car and not lose their lunch in the process. FYI, I’m not the one doing the driving. (Wouldn’t want to scare any of you readers out there. ) Living 45 minutes out of town does sometimes have its advantages, and on shopping day I can squeeze in some reading as well. I’m also known to take reading material with me to work, and read on breaks or at lunch time. Hey, who says you can’t find time to read?

Reading is important to writers. It’s not an option, it’s a must. I know many people don’t get that, and that’s alright. I’ve been accused by some of  “always” reading or writing, like it’s a bad thing. But the truth is, if you’re serious about being a writer, you’ve also got to read. Writers are often inspired by reading the words of others. I can’t begin to say how many times a particular book has inspired me with my own writing even if that book doesn’t resemble what I’m writing at all. It’s kind of a strange and wonderfully weird thing that happens to many writers when we read a book we really love. It makes us want to rush out and write our own story. We are sometimes struck by a moment of clarity that brings everything into focus for us, and we have other writers to thank for that.

Okay, so I got a little side-tracked from my original post. I was talking about reading in bed, which I mentioned I don’t do. But how many of you read in bed— once in awhile, never, or almost always?

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