Saying Good Bye to THE FAMILY WAY

Just moments ago I said goodbye to THE FAMILY WAY. Honestly, I breathed a sigh of relief. This means, of course, that the files have now been sent off to the printer and we are coming into the home stretch. The April 13th release day is not that far away .

The Family Way is book #3 in the Cammie series. The first two books were of course FLYING WITH A BROKEN WING and CAMMIE TAKES FLIGHT.

Soon, I’ll be holding all our hard work in my hands. Yes, I did say “our hard work” because it takes many hands to get a book to publication. Can’t say enough good about the entire Nimbus team. Hard to believe this is my fifth book with them. I well remember when the publication of a book felt like an unattainable dream, one that I kept working toward even those times when I didn’t believe it would ever happen.

Here is the final cover, front and back. Call me silly, but I’m quite partial to the little pram on the book spine.  Some of you might recognize the building on the front as The Ideal Maternity Home. The Blurb on the back was written by Hadley Dyer, a writer I admire greatly. We met many years ago when her book, JOHNNY KELLOCK DIED TODAY was published and she later gave me some wonderful advice that I never forgot. And the fact that she’s a “Valley girl” is an added bonus. We actually attended the same high school–in different centuries of course.

The Family Way can be pre-ordered right now directly from Me, the author (Yes, I’ll take pre-orders too if you’re in the area! Simply message me on Facebook or through the CONTACT page of this blog. )You can also pre-order from your local  Independent bookstore,    Nimbus Publishing. Indigo  Amazon.ca  Amazon.com

Butterboxes and ARCs

Back in the  early 90’s Bette Cahill broke the story of the Butterbox Babies. Until that time it had been a well-kept secret. While people nearby knew of The Ideal Maternity Home, many of them had no idea of the atrocities that were taking place there.

It was while I was writing FLYING WITH A BROKEN WING, the story of a visually impaired girl who is determined to find her mother, that I realized she was, in fact, a survivor of the Ideal Maternity Home. While this fact is revealed in CAMMIE TAKES FLIGHT, we still do not discover who Cammie’s mother is or the circumstance surrounding her birth.

But all that will be revealed in April when my upcoming book hits the bookshelves. I hope readers will continue the journey with Cammie as we go back in time to when Cammie was born. While the book will answer many questions for readers, it’s important to know that THE FAMILY WAY is also what we call a stand alone novel, meaning that you don’t have to have read the first two novels in order for this one to make sense. It can be read on its own.

I want to give a shout-out to Sue Slade manager of the Dartmouth Book Exchange for sending along this photo. In case you are wondering, that is a butterbox in the background, similar to the ones that came from the LaHave Creamery and served as small coffins for the newborns that died at the home.

Thanks, Sue.

Special Delivery, Unveiled.

Days before Christmas I mentioned  here on my blog that Miss Charlotte had received a special delivery from my awesome publisher, complete with a special note. I was feeling a little down that she wouldn’t be able to come to our home for Christmas this year, something she’d been doing for the past ten years. So, it was such a wonder gesture on my publisher’s part.

 

Needless to say, she was one happy girl. Miss Charlotte likes the cover as it is but it has yet to be finalized at this time, so we may see some changes when the book actually comes out.

What’s the book about? Well, for those of you who are familiar with the Cammie series, this book is the prequel to those.  Readers will finally find out who Cammie’s mother is.  Much of the book is set at the Ideal Maternity Home in East Chester, the infamous home of the Butterbox Babies. Here’s the back cover blurb.

Set in 1930 and based on true events, this middle-grade novel explores family secrets, set at the Ideal Maternity Home.

Tulia May lives in rural Nova Scotia with her mother, who works in the laundry of the nearby Ideal Maternity Home. It’s a place where unwed mothers can discreetly give birth, a place where adoptions by rich Americans can be quickly arranged. Tulia doesn’t think about the workings of the home much; mostly she hates being roped in to helping scrub the endless diapers. Her friend Finny Paul has suspicions that the home is holding sinister secrets — the worst being that unadoptable babies are being buried in butterboxes — but Tulia thinks he’s being ridiculous. When Tulia’s sister Becky ends up in the home, Tulia truly starts to consider Finny’s concerns. And when she and Finny discover what’s really going on there, she knows she has to act quickly to keep Becky’s baby safe.

Based on the true story of the Ideal Maternity Home, and its tragic Butterbox Babies, The Family Way is a thoughtful and engaging exploration of family and of Nova Scotia’s history. A stand-alone middle-grade novel, it also serves as a prequel to the critically acclaimed Cammie novels, Flying With a Broken Wing

Release date for The Family Way is April 2021. That’s only four months  from now. I’m so looking forward to sharing the rest of Cammie’s story with you all. In the mean time, I’ll be hard at work on the edits for my next novel, A Sure Cure for Witchcraft.

The Family Way

Just a quick blog post to bring everyone up to speed about my next book.. Yes, there’s soon to be a next!

The title of the new book is The Family Way and is due to be published in April 2021.

The ARCs have been sent off to the printer awhile ago. We still have to finalize the cover for the actual book but there’s still plenty of time for that. If you remember, ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) are sent out early to reviewers and book sellers in advance of the actually book. To, hopefully, get people excited about the book before it actually comes out.

The Family Way is what we call a stand-alone middle-grade novel, but is also the prequel to my other two Cammie novels, Flying with a Broken Wing and Cammie Takes Flight. What that means is that you don’t have to have read the other two novels in order for this one to make sense. Thus the term—stand alone. The book is set at the infamous Ideal Maternity Home in East Chester in 1939, the year Cammie was born. If you’ve heard anything about The Butterbox Babies, this is where that true life story actually happened.

Here’s the back cover copy and will give you a bit of an idea what the book is about.:

Set in 1930 and based on true events, this middle-grade novel explores family secrets, set at the Ideal Maternity Home.

Tulia May lives in rural Nova Scotia with her mother, who works in the laundry of the nearby Ideal Maternity Home. It’s a place where unwed mothers can discreetly give birth, a place where adoptions by rich Americans can be quickly arranged. Tulia doesn’t think about the workings of the home much; mostly she hates being roped in to helping scrub the endless diapers. Her friend Finny Paul has suspicions that the home is holding sinister secrets—the worst being that unadoptable babies are being buried in butterboxes—but Tulia thinks he’s being ridiculous. When Tulia’s sister Becky ends up in the home, Tulia truly starts to consider Finny’s concerns. And when she and Finny discover what’s really going on there, she knows she has to act quickly to keep Becky’s baby safe.

Based on the true story of the Ideal Maternity Home, and its tragic Butterbox Babies, The Family Way is a thoughtful and engaging exploration of family and of Nova Scotia’s history. A stand-alone middle-grade novel, it also serves as a prequel to the critically acclaimed Cammie novels, Flying With a Broken Wing and Cammie Takes Flight.

When I have a finalized cover, I will share it here on my blog.  In the meantime, edits for yet another middle-grade book A Sure Cure for Witchcraft  will be getting underway in the next month or so. I actually started that book many years ago and have worked on it  off and on since then, trying to get it to a place where I’m satisfied with the end result.  I’m so happy that it is now going to be published in fall 2021. The story is set in Germany in the mid-1700’s and at the time when Foreign Protestants were immigrating to this country. It was actually where my ancestors on both sides of my mother’s family came from, so this book is especially important to me.

So that’s sort of it for now. I hope you’re finding some positive things in your life these days. It has been difficult for so many of us with the pandemic on, but despite the pandemic, life still goes on. That means we have to learn to adapt, to search for the joy in our lives, no matter how difficult that joy may be to find.

Have a wonderful November.

 

Exciting Cammie News!

I was planning to write a quiet post about how quickly summer is passing by but heck, I’m just going to throw all that out and make this super exciting announcement.

I recently signed my third book contract in less than a year. Yup. You read that right—three!

This recent book, that BTW I finished writing last winter, is the prequel to the other two Cammie books. Making it, I guess, a trilogy. Who knew? Well, me, but that’s to be expected.

The book is set in East Chester around the time Cammie was born and it fills in a lot of the details of Cammie’s life—who her parents really are and just how she came to be living with bootlegging Millie Turple in Tanner. We also learn some more about Evelyn and his father Jim Merry; lots about the Ideal Maternity Home, as well.

It’s due to be published in the Fall of 2020 which means the book that was previously scheduled for that slot had to be bumped to Fall 2021. Just a little shuffling as it seemed to make sense to bring this book out sooner rather than later, seeing how Cammie Takes Flight was published back in 2017.

So there’s my late summer news and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am. I’ve been sitting on this for awhile and was just bursting to tell!

But eventually, we all have to come back down to earth. Right? Even authors who have signed three book contracts in less than a year!!

I’m back writing again, looking through some material I wrote years ago and trying to decide if it still has value. This could take some time.

In the meantime, if all goes according to plan, the second round of edits on my still untitled adult fiction novel will be underway sometime in September. And as soon as we find the perfect title I’ll be sure to share it with you.

I hope you’re all having a spectacular summer.

The Blind Mechanic

For anyone who has any preconceived ideas of what blind people are capable of accomplishing they should read  The Blind Mechanic.

Long before this book came out I heard about this remarkable man from my step-father. Like my mum and step-father, Eric went to the Halifax School for the Blind. Eric was blinded in the Halifax Explosion when he was two and went on to live a long fulfilling life. Eric dreamed of being a mechanic and despite the obstacles he encountered he did just that. He was a man admired by many for his accomplishments, especially those within the blind community.

I just finished reading this book and would highly recommend it. The book was written by Eric’s daughter, Marilyn Davison Elliott. Having grown up with a mother who was born visually impaired I felt an immediate connection to Marilyn and her book. Children who have a parent or parents who are blind or visually impaired recognized the strength and determination their parent possess. We also realize that being blind or visually impaired doesn’t have to stop anyone from achieving their goals. It was why I created the character of Cammie. Having grown up seeing  how blind and visually impaired people were often underestimated, it was important for me to write about a feisty, 10-year-old determined to make a better life for herself.

Even if you don’t know someone with vision problems The Blind Mechanic is a truly inspiring story. Lots of interesting information about the aftermath of the explosion as well.

The Book:

Eric Davidson lost both eyes in the Halifax Explosion when he was two years old. Against all odds, he taught himself to become an auto mechanic and had a successful decades long career as “one of the boys.”

Eric Davidson was a beautiful, fair-haired toddler when the Halifax Explosion struck, killing almost 2,000 people and seriously injuring thousands of others. Eric lost both eyes, a tragedy that his mother never fully recovered from. Eric, however, was positive and energetic. He also developed a fascination with cars and how they worked, and he later decided, against all likelihood, to become a mechanic. Assisted by his brothers who read to him from manuals, he worked hard, passed examinations, and carved out a decades-long career. Once the subject of a National Film Board documentary, Eric Davidson was, until his death, a much-admired figure in Halifax.

This book does not gloss over the challenges faced by Eric and by his parents. Written by his daughter Marilyn, it gives new insights into the story of the 1917 Halifax Explosion and contains never-before-seen documents and photographs. While Eric Davidson has been mentioned in previous Explosion accounts, his story has never been told in such fascinating detail. Davidson overcame such odds that his life story might not seem believable if it had not happened.

The Blind Mechanic is in bookstores and can also be purchased through amazon.ca HERE.

Another Blast of Winter in Spring

Winter just doesn’t seem to want to go away this year. Here in East Dalhousie we were blessed with about 10 cm of snow last night. Some of it melted during the afternoon, and the eaves are still dripping. That said, we’ve been told to expect another 15 cm overnight. I’m not sure what will happen to the tulips in our garden that suddenly burst through the ground late last week, but I’m hoping they’ re hardy enough to survive this next blast of winter weather this spring. But this is not unusual for spring, nor is our complaints that winter just doesn’t want to give up. Still, with each warm day we’re granted, hope stirs inside us. That’s the one thing about hope. It seems no matter how many times we’re disappointed with the outcome of something, we remain hopeful that next time the results we’re looking for will finally show up.

It’s like that when writing a book. Most times it takes several attempts before I end up with the results I want. Some authors write many drafts before they declare the story completed. I tend to edit and revise as I go along, and often never get a first draft completely written out so I have no idea how many drafts I go through. Back when I was writing Flying with a Broken Wing I became dissatisfied with the story and even stopped working on it, so sure I was that it was never going to amount to anything, let alone anything publishable. So I took a break from it and went back to it many months later filled with new hope that this time I was going to make it to the end. And I did!

I actually started the book I’m working on now about the same time that I started Cammie Takes Flight, and while Cammie’s been a book now for nearly a year, that other book is still waiting for me. I don’t expect I’ll ever be a fast writer. Many times I feel as though the story is struggling to find me. Sometimes there’s a lot of static in the way. But when the lines finally become clear, sentences and paragraphs begin to fall into place. That’s when I know for sure the story I’m working on will not get abandoned along the wayside.

And while I’m hopeful that spring will soon be here to stay, there is definitely no guarantee. Just as there is no guarantee that the story I’m presently working on will make it into book form. Still, amidst the struggles and frustration, I try to remain hopeful. It may not always be possible. I sometimes fall into a rut and become discouraged even with three published books and over forty published short stories. I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this. We all become discouraged from time to time. But it’s our ability to pick ourselves up time and time again, to find that small bit of hope and run with it as fast as we can, that is responsible for all the accomplishments we achieve in life.

I’ll leave you with this quote that I find particularly inspiring. Maybe you will, too.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Dare to Dream Big

I’ve been thinking a lot about the main character, Cammie Turple, from Flying with a Broken Wing and, my new book, Cammie Takes Flight and how even though the circumstances of her life were less than desirable it didn’t stop her from dreaming of a better life for herself. In some ways she’s kind of my hero and probably has more nerve than I would have had at that age or maybe any age. Mostly, I like the way she never used her circumstances, her visual impairment, or her less than desirable homelife, as an excuse for staying stuck in the life she was familiar with. Let’s be honest, it’s sometimes easy not to stretch our wings too far. We settle into the familiar because it’s easier and doesn’t require anything too strenuous from us. Reaching into that great unknown can be scary as a friend of mine often reminds me. It’s good to have friends like that who don’t let you off the hook too easily.

I sometimes think we underestimate the importance of dreams. When we were kids we were made to believe that daydreaming was a frivolous thing, perhaps something only lazy people did. And I think what a shame that is to instill that kind of thinking into a child. Luckily, things are different today and I think people have started to realize that there’s nothing wrong in having a dream or dreams and certainly nothing holding us back from realizing those dreams except maybe ourselves.

Dreams make life interesting; they fill us with purpose and hope. The best part about dreams is that it doesn’t matter how big you dream. In fact, I figure, if you’re dreaming, why not dare to dream big. I mean, what’s the point in conjuring small measly dreams when we have an imagination that holds no limits.

And so there are times when I allow myself to dream big, very big. Do I share those dreams with others? Nope. No need to. I hold them close to my heart as I imagine how it would feel to have those dreams turn to reality. Sure beats the heck out of thinking crappy, negative thoughts and feeling the emotions that goes along with that. Maybe that makes me a Pollyanna, I’m not sure I care, and I’m sure there are some who would think my dreams are unrealistic, but someone has to make it onto the New York Times Bestseller List, right? (No, I didn’t say that was one of my dreams but come to think of it, what not?)

As the release date for my new book gets closer I expect I’ll have plenty to add onto my list of dreams, and as Cammie prepares to take flight so shall I.

Cammie Takes Flight: Cover Reveal

At last, after weeks of promising, I’m ready to share the cover for Cammie Takes Flight with the rest of the world. Some of you have already seen a version of the cover because, let’s face it, you’re privileged and you know it!  The release date is April 30th and, for Canadians,  the book is available for pre-order on Amazon.ca  and Chapters.ca right now!

The launch for the book will likely take place in May but things are in the very early stages of planning so there’s nothing definite at the moment. As more info on the launch etc. come up I’ll be sure to share either here or on Facebook, possibly both.  The book launch is open to the public so anyone and everyone can come. Make sure to spread the word far and wide. No special invitation required. The more the merrier–that’s how we do things here in East Dalhousie.  For anyone flying in from out of the country, I’ll reserve you a room at the hotel here in East Dalhousie. (Okay that’s a bit of joke since we don’t have a hotel here, but I’m sure we can make some arrangements!)  I’d love to have the Prime Minister attend, but he’ll probably be too busy. Still, perhaps if I  sent out a special invite and if he’s flying by that day, maybe he’ll give a little wave. It would be cool if the Queen could come too, and I’d be really impressed if Margaret Atwood put in an appearance… but….Oh well, as Cammie loves to dream so do I.  Dream big; fly high-words to live by. The truth is I’ll be pleased to have my family, friends and community come out to help celebrate with me as Cammie finally takes flight.

And because all books have a front and a back cover, I’ll share the back cover as well. Love the quote they used on the back. It was a bit of a surprise to me, but a pleasant one , especially when I realized I was acquainted with the author of this review written for The Children’s Writers’ Guild. Thanks Darlene Foster– I thought this was kind of cool.

So finally, all the hard work of writing and revising and editing is  about to pay off and my book, my baby, will be going off to the printer very soon.  One day in the coming weeks I’ll receive a notice in my mailbox that a parcel has arrived with my complimentary copies. It’s been a long and exciting journey. But it doesn’t stop here. It is the hope of every author that their words will make a lasting impression on their readers. Now that would be a dream come true–for me and for Cammie!

 

Guest Blog–Hugh R. MacDonald

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Hugh R. MacDonald to my blog. I’ve invited Hugh to talk about where the inspiration for his book Trapper Boy came from. The sequel to Trapper Boy, Us and Them was released this past October.

 

Thank you to Laura for the invitation to be a guest on her blog.

While in university, I took an Atlantic history course from Don MacGillivary, and one of the readings dealt with boys in the coal mines, working as trapper boys. It was an eye-opening moment for me, reading about how boys as young as nine or ten, some even younger, spent their lives in the mines. They would spend their days in darkness, opening and closing the trap doors that controlled the ventilation to the mine,rats scurrying around their feet in search of crumbs from their food.

MacDonald-Us-Them-poster.inddIt struck me at a deeper level than most other courses. The other history courses were ones I needed to complete my history degree, but this one was like a novel set in my back yard. Except it wasn’t fiction. Over the years I’ve written a number of songs, and I felt I needed to write something about what I’d learned from that short reading that had been assigned for the class. I wrote a song entitled Trapper Boy, and I played it at some of the gigs I was playing at the time. A few of the Men of the Deeps heard it and suggested I submit it to Jack O’Donnell, the Musical Director of the Men. It was given to one of the members of the group, who said he would get it to Jack. Much time passed and I never gave it any more thought.

Although the song told the story quite well of how I saw the life of the young miner, highlighting the loneliness and solitude of the trapper boy job, the fear of the rats and the absolute darkness, it wasn’t enough, so I decided to try a few chapters of a story, and then got it to Mike Hunter, Editor-in-Chief at CBU Press. To my surprise and relief, he said he was interested in seeing more, and over a few years the story came to be, and more importantly, Mike agreed to publish it.

It was then that I got to put my history degree to work and did some research. I read and reread articles about coal mining and miners. I wanted to get a more visceral feeling for the job of a miner, so I decided to speak to some of the retired miners, whose fathers and grandfathers had been trapper boys. The best place for me to go was to the Cape Breton Miners Museum located in Glace Bay. There are many artifacts located there, from the early days of mining, and they have several former miners, willing to share their stories. The miners act as tour guides, bringing small groups of women, men and children underground in a mine that was built to give the general public a little taste of what it was like to be in the bowels of the earth. I went on the underground tour several times and used what I felt and heard to help write the story.

In October 2012, “Trapper Boy,” the novel, telling the story of thirteen year old JW Donaldson, which included incredible sketches by my brother, Michael G. MacDonald, came to life, and it has been a dream come true to see it being enjoyed by many who’ve read it, providing wonderful comments. The book was included in the Best Books for Kids and Teens, 2013 Spring Edition. And I got invited to read at Word on the Street in Halifax in September 2013, which is where I got to meet the very talented Laura Best, and even got to share the stage with her. Also, a teacher resource for “Trapper Boy” was developed(as a free download for teachers) by CBU Professor Dr. Patrick Howard, and his B.Ed.students, and ”Trapper Boy” has been used in some classrooms in Cape Breton. I’ve been fortunate to have been asked to go into some of the classrooms to do presentations to the students. In April of this year, the Men of the Deeps recorded my song, Trapper Boy, and included it on their 50th Anniversary CD.

But just as the song was not enough to tell the full story, neither was “Trapper Boy” enough to tell the full story of JW Donaldson. A number of people who’d read the book asked me what happened next, so I decided to sit down and figure out what was going on in JW’s life and that of his friends.On October 20th of this year the sequel to “Trapper Boy,” “Us and Them” was launched.

I believe the story of JW and his friends comes to a nice conclusion, but . . . I have written a chapter or two of what might happen in the future, just in case there is an interest, so book three or four could happen. Thanks for reading. Take care.

 

getcontent7b0pbhvlHugh R. MacDonald is an author and singer/songwriter. His YA novel, “Trapper Boy” was included in The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Best Books for Kids and Teens. The sequel, “Us and Them” was released in October 2016. Hugh is a graduate of Cape Breton University, and works in the human service field. His song, Trapper Boy, which he wrote prior to the novel, was included on the world famous Men of the Deeps Coal Miners’ Chorus’ 50th Anniversary Compilation CD. Hugh is a member of the Writers Union of Canada and the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia. He lives in Cape Breton, NS with his wife, Joanne.

To hear the song that inspired the book  follow the link here.

Follow Hugh on Facebook  Twitter

 

Trapper Boy is available from Amazon.ca, Chapters.ca, Nimbus PublishingUs and Them is available from  Amazon.ca  Nimbus Publishing  Chapters.ca 

 

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