Writing Local

We hear a lot these days about supporting all things local and I have to say I’m a big supporter of that idea. And I even try to support local authors because, being an author, I know how difficult it can sometimes be to get any attention for our books.

Being a writer, “supporting local” has another meaning for me. When I set my first novel Bitter, Sweet here in my own little community it was important to me to set a book locally to let readers know that books don’t always have to have some exotic setting, that sometimes our own backyard can be the perfect backdrop for the right story. I’ve continued to use local name places in my books and some of the local “lingo.” My latest book, Cammie Takes Flight is set, for the most part, at the Halifax School for the Blind and uses other local name places. There also a connection to the Ideal Maternity Home in East Chester which was shrouded in controversy and it’s alleged that babies at the home were neglected and even starved to death. I found that to be quite disturbing  yet it’ also a piece of our history here in Nova Scotia. And, like all things that happened in the past, it isn’t going away.

Most people in Nova Scotia are familiar with the Ideal Maternity Home that was in operation more than half a century ago. While it might not ring a bell for everyone, the story of the Butterbox Babies usually does. I’ve read quite a few articles and books on the subject while writing Cammie Takes Flight and I’m not at all sure I’ve put the subject to rest. New articles keep cropping up. Here’s one from last December. What went on at the home was tragic and, as you can see from the article, is still very much an issue today for many of the survivors who are still looking to find their roots.

Some people will admit to not liking history but I’ve always been a big fan. The past has always seemed relevant to me, a piece of who were are. Perhaps there are things to be learned from looking at the past, trying to understand what life was once like and, hopefully, doing better in the future.

So, for now, I’ll continue my writing journey by doing what I’ve pretty much done right from the start—writing stories set in Nova Scotia with local characters that, hopefully, the rest of the world can relate to. Who knows, maybe years down the road, someone will pick up one of my books and they’ll get a small glimpse of the past and maybe, just maybe, that small glimpse will open up a whole new world for them. My backyard might very well be an exotic setting for them.

 

There’s an awesome review of HERE of Cammie Takes Flight on Reading With a Pencil. It’s always a thrill when someone you don’t know has wonderful things to say about your book,

Author Darlene Foster will be a guest on my blog next time. Darlene’s got a new book about to be launched in September. I hope you’ll drop in for a visit.

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The Wall

Yesterday, I took a trip to the Annapolis Valley. We ended up in Aylesford, the little village where I went to elementary school. That was a few years back. It’s a nice little village and nearly an hour by bus when I was growing up. One of the things I remembered about the village was “the wall,” where young people used to hang out. I guess all small places have their “hang out ” spots. There was nothing fancy about the wall, it was just a wall that sometimes had graffiti written over it. Not so nice if I remember correctly.

Here’s what the wall looks like today. As we came out of the drug store the wall was directly in our view and I snapped these photos.

DSC03339As someone who loves history, I simply fell in love with this mural. It’s like a step back in time, showing what this little village once looked like. I have no idea who the artist is, but I think this is such a great change from what used to be there.

DSC03345DSC03343DSC03344DSC03342Sorry about the ridge of snow blocking part of the painting, but that’s winter in Nova Scotia. This is such a wonderful idea and a great way to preserve the past. It helps makes us conscious of where we come from and how things have changed over time.

Blast From the Past :The Royals– 1939

Writers never know where their source of inspiration will come from. For some time now, I’ve been interested in some old Standard magazines that were given to us many years ago. These magazines were saved by my husband’s grandmother when the King and Queen came to Canada in 1939. Since the main character in my next novel was born that same year, I decided to make reference to this visit in the novel plus the captions provided little tidbits of information about the tour.

So here are a few of the photos from the magazine of the King and Queen from way back in 1939.

No wondeer the King has a strained look on his face. I would too wearing that head gear. * Note: I said “head gear” for lack of a better word. I’m sure it’s ceremonial, and hopefully something they did away with years ago. On the other hand the Queen looks a tad smug. I’d say she faired a bit better.

They obviously brought this poor veteran outside for photos. There were other photos in the magazine were the veterans were outside in the hospital beds.

The coloured photo is of the Queen with Princesses Elizabeth (future Queen) and Margaret. I think this photo is my favourite.

I hope you enjoyed this visit back in time.

I’m not expecting that many of you have seen these pictures of the Royals before. 😉

All About Change

As I mentioned in my last post we spent the weekend with my daughter, her husband and our granddaughter in New Brunswick. They are a four-hour car drive away, that’s four hours if you don’t make any stops along the way. (Three and a half hours if you’re my son-in-law.)

We made several stops; the trip seemed to go on forever. I went prepared, though, armed with a copy of Tom Sheppard’s, Historic Bridgewater, and a notepad. I’ve had Tom’s book for sometime but hadn’t got around to reading it. My to be read list is long. I sometimes get distracted. A new book comes along, one that I have to read immediately. I can’t help myself.

Okay, so I really am a history nut. There’s so much to be learned about our present and our future by turning toward the past. Whenever I read a history book I’m always reminded that history is all about change and preserving what once was. Life is about change. It has to be.

Not only did I dig into Tom’s book but I made plenty of notes during the trip for my present work in progress. (I guess I wasn’t very good company!) Ideas seemed to fly as the miles went by. I knew I couldn’t rely upon my memory to remember these things later on. I don’t often think to bring a notebook along with me but this time I did. I seldom plot my stories out on paper, but this particular story has been dancing around in background for some time, flaring up every now and again to let me know it’s time will one day come. I haven’t given up on it. It just hasn’t been quite ripe until now.

What amazed me about the weekend was realizing how our granddaughter has grown. The changes had happened slowly over the days and weeks, but for us it seemed so sudden. Then comes the nagging reminder of all those little moments we are missing out on. It had been seven weeks since we last saw her. So many changes have taken place. Babies are like that. Just try and stop them!

But I do not dare spend my time dwelling about all the things we are missing out on or all those little changes that we aren’t there to see.  I am choosing to enjoy each precious moment as it comes along.

The weekend was great and we had a terrific time, and although Miss Charlotte won’t see us as often as we might like those precious bonds are still being formed.

And now it’s back to the real world, back to daydreaming about all those little changes we won’t be there to see as they unfold, and back to a story that has suddenly decided the time is right.

From Fact into Fiction

In 2005 I wrote a short history of the Anglican Church here in East Dalhousie for our 100th Anniversary celebration. Little did I know, at the time, I’d be using that very same history when it came time to write a book. Once I realized that Bitter, Sweet would be set in East Dalhousie, I simply couldn’t resist.

So if you have read the book and was wondering, the original frame for the church really did blow down in a windstorm, and was then torn down by a bunch of drunken lumbermen. (Gosh, I love that part. So colourful, don’t you think?)

To show how determined the folks in Dalhousie were, and how passionately they felt about erecting this church, it took them nearly forty years to complete, with some major setbacks. I’m not altogether sure you’d see that determination today but maybe the folks back then were used to working hard and staying true to what they believed in.

Today I was thinking about how we often encounter setbacks in life. We set our goals, stay determined and yet everything does not always unfold in a timely manner. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps the journey is more important than the actually goals we set.

When I think about St. Cyprian’s I don’t just see a white building. It is so much more than that. It is the people who worked hand in hand to complete the church, all of those who came before me and those who will come after. History is like that. It tells us who we are and where we came from. It helps us to decide what is important in life, not by keeping us stuck in the past, but by giving us a sense of belonging.

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