Books for the Young and Young at Heart

I like supporting other authors, especially local authors. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you’ve probably clued into that. Whenever possible I try and pick up local books in the bookstore. They make wonderful gifts. Then again, I’ve been known to order books written by some of my blogging friends as well. It’s kind of a nice feeling to support those we have some connection to. I mean, why not?

Here’s a list of books for the young readers on your Christmas list. I’d mention “Flying With a Broken Wing,” but that would be a little obvious.  😉  So I’ll leave it off, but instead will list some of the local books I’ve recently read, or have purchased as gifts for Christmas.

1. The Power of Harmony written by my friend Jan Coates. Don’t forget to check out her Governor General nominated book, Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk as well. Power of Harmony - cover Jennifer’s best friend has moved away and she has become the sole focus for the mean-spirited teasing from the “mean girls” and the “bad boys”at school. But when the new girl, Melody, joins their class the bullies have a new victim. Melody is native and has moved from the recently closed residential school to join the fifth grade class at Summerhill. At first Jennifer is nervous about becoming friends with Melody. She has heard what people (including her grandmother) say about “those people.” But as she gets to know her new classmate, she discovers that they have more in common than she first thought – both of them find sanctuary amongst the books in the town library and both of them love music and being outdoors. Set in a small town in the coal mining regions of Nova Scotia during the late 1960s, this story of discovery and friendship perfectly captures time and place through the voice of its young narrator, Jennifer.

2. Buried Secrets At Louisbourg by JoAnn Yhard. Fred has had a 1771080183rough summer. His secret crush on Mai is going strong, his mother has barely recovered from a battle with cancer, and his unreliable father’s diving business has gone completely underwater. Now Fred, Mai, and Grace, extraordinary fossil hunters, are at the Fortress of Louisbourg hunting a different kind of treasure. They are secretly excavating the historic site, trying to find a mass of jewels Fred’s ancestor may have buried there-jewels that could save Fred”s family. But Fred uncovers far more than he bargained for, including a dangerous plot that could leave Fred”s family in even more serious trouble. The young detectives from the bestselling The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines shine in this fast-paced mystery for middle readers.

3. OakIsland Revenge by Cynthia D’Entrement. Jonah is fourteen 1551098997and lives on the Western Shore of Nova Scotia in 1958. He and his best friend, Beaz, have figured out a way to get to the forbidden OakIsland to seek treasure. They find a gold locket down one of the treasure shafts and can’t believe their luck-until they realize that the locket is not pirate’s booty but possibly evidence in a current murder investigation, one which Jonah already knows more about than he can handle. Beaz is in danger from his abusive mother if she finds out he’s gone to OakIsland, so Jonah keeps the secret even though there is a killer at large in his small community. OakIsland Revenge is a coming-of-age story, with much higher stakes than most teenagers have to contend with.

18948389984. The Sewing Basket by Susan White. (I bought this one the other day for myself but don’t tell anyone!) Dealing with a parent’s illness can be difficult at any age It is 1967 and twelve year old Ruth Iverson’s world pretty much revolves around her friends, a boy she likes, the Monkees and spending time with her Dad doing special stuff like watching the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup. But she is soon to realize that her mom’s strange behaviour which has become an embarrassment, are symptoms of a disease that will affect the family’s life and possibly Ruth’s future. While she watches major events like the marriage of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the birth of Priscilla Presley, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy and Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, Ruth faces some major life events of her own and struggles to come to terms with the changes they bring.

18970097395. Trapper Boy by Hugh R. Macdonald. I read on stage with Hugh at Word on the Street this year. Set in a 1920s coal-mining town, Trapper Boy is the story of 13-year-old JW Donaldson, a good student with a bright future. As school ended for the year in 1926, JW was looking forward to summer. Sure, he would have chores – feeding the horse and milking the goat, tending the garden, that kind of thing – but he would also have lots of time for fishing, building his cabin and reading. Lots of reading. But there is something worrying his parents. His father works in the mine, and there is a lot of talk around town about the mines. JW doesn’t know the details – Adults had a lot to worry about, and he was in no hurry to become one. Slowly, JW’s parents reveal the truth: his father’s hours at the mine have been reduced and they face difficult decisions to try to make ends meet. One such decision will have a previously unimagined impact on the young man’s life.

6. Me and Mr. Bell by Phillip Roy      Alexander Graham Bell, Baddeck’s most illustrious resident, and one of the 1927492556world’s greatest inventors, is also famous for the greatness of his compassion. It’s 1908, and ten-year-old Eddie MacDonald shares the friendly inventor’s passion for solving problems and for taking long walks in the fields above Bras d’Or Lake.
But whereas Bell is renowned by many for being the smartest man in the world, Eddie is just a local farm boy who struggles to learn to read and write. After a few chance encounters, the elderly Bell befriends the young boy, and takes an interest in his struggle – encouraging Eddie to celebrate his successes and never give up.
When Bell’s long ambition for manned flight culminates in the Silver Dart soaring over Bras d’Or Lake, Eddie is inspired to find solutions to his own challenges.

While any of these books would make a great gift for that young person on your list keep in mind that adults might enjoy them as well.  Of course there are plenty of great books out there for young people that I haven’t mentioned. Do a little digging around. Find out who your local talent is. Here’s hoping you find the right book for the right person on your list. Drop in next week to find out what books for adults I have on my list. Lots of loca

Now it’s your turn. What books for young people would you recommend? If you’re an author, it’s okay to mention your own book, after all we’re looking for book suggestions!

Doing the Street

I was doing the street on the weekend.—Word on the Street, that is–down at the Halifax waterfront. I was on stage at the Vibrant Voices tent with Hugh R. MacDonald, and I apologize to Hugh for the lack of photo. My cameraman seemed to be preoccupied and only took two shots of me as it was. This one turned out the best. None of Hugh, I’m afraid. Hugh read from his ya novel, “Trapper Boy,” of which I am now the proud owner of a signed copy. Hubby is reading it at the moment and when things die down a little in the Best Household –post book launch—I’ll be diving i next

DSC04152This year was a bit different being on the author side of things, even though I also love being a spectator at these events. I got there in time to see friends, Jan Coates, JoAnn Yhard and Jill MacLean, all super great YA authors, at the Vibrant Voices tent. If you haven’t checked out their books yet, you really should. I was amazed at how these ladies can speak so fluently in front of a crowd, something I one day hope to achieve. But for now, I have a long way to go.DSC04134

Kathy Stinton was also there. I love Kathy, but only had a few moments to listen in. I discovered Kathy about 30 years ago when my second daughter was born. A copy of her book, “Big or Little” was included in a hospital pack they gave new moms back then. Little did I know I’d get to see her in person. Wish I would have had time to say hi. But I was too busy doing the street.


Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet Jackie Halsey, either. It was a busy day for me with book signings at both the Nimbus Publishing table and Woozles  table—and  doing the street.


Did I mention I got a really neat Nimbus Publishing T-shirt? I probably would remember if I had mentioned it already. I’m in heaven! And yes, a few people even wanted me to sign copies of my book for them! I met up with Lesley Crewe at the Nimbus table and got to personally congratulate her on the movie deal for her book, “Relative Happiness” which will be filmed in Hubbards starting in November. Lesley has even promised me a small part in the movie. Just kidding, but I bet I’d be in there if Lesley had any say in the matter.  😉

I also met Patti Larson at the Woozles booth when she popped in to sign copies of her picture book.

I had a bit of time to listen to Susin Neilson talk about her new book, “The Reluctant Journal of Henry K Larson.” So proud to say that my niece was part of the TD book club who interviewed her for the CBC. Yay Emma!

DSC04150I’m trying recap everything and remember all that happened. It could be some time before I’m invited to do the street again. I do have to mention meeting Patrick Murphy, managing editor of Nimbus Publishing. We had a nice little chat while I was at the Nimbus table. I saw him again while he was on the panel for  “Pitch the Publisher.” I could’t get over all those brave souls pitching their books in front of three editors. I never would have done that, coward that I am.

The coolest moment of the day was meeting blogger, and now author, Libby Schofield.  I had no idea she’d be at Word on the Street. Made my day.  🙂 Thanks for stopping by Libby. I hope you enjoy the book. So there you have a bit of a rundown on my day at Word on the Street. Wish you all could have been there to see the local talent. I know you would have enjoyed it.

Yes, We Have a Winner!

The winner of the book, “Buried Secrets at Louisbourg,” by JoAnn Yhard is Betty McEachern of Nova Scotia. Thanks to all of who entered in the fun. You might still want to grab of copy of JoAnn’s book and check it out.  🙂  Better luck next time!

This evening I’m hard at work on some interview questions for a local publication that will come out near the end of August. If you’re in my area, watch for this publication in your mailbox. I can’t begin to express how wonderful it feels to have the support of local communities. It really mean a lot. Writing is such an isolating activity. A writer can work for many months, or years, on a book. We like to think all our effort was worth it. Knowing that other are interested in what we’re doing helps keep us poking away at that keyboard day after day.

And now I guess I’d better get back at those questions.

Enjoy your weekend.

Time Flies

Do you ever wish you could stretch time out or at least stop it for a few days to catch up on some things?

I’m in awe of how quickly the summer is going. Although I suspect it goes quickly for everyone, it seems as though here in the country it simply flies by. Summer is a busy time. I’ve been working in the garden, working at my job, trying to squeeze in some writing time, not to mention preparing for the upcoming release of my book. A lot of juggling to do. There are worse things in life though, like being bored out of one’s tree. So I’ll try not to complain about all the things in my life that keep me busy.

Publicity for the book is soon underway. I have my first interview next week for a small publication that is distributed to all the homes in the surrounding area. I might have mentioned that I’ll be reading this year again at Word on the Street on the 22nd of September and of course the book launch is tentatively scheduled for the 29th. As well as email invites, Nimbus will send out snail mail invitations so I’m in the process of gathering addresses and making a list. Unfortunately, I can’t find my list from four years ago so I’m basically starting from scratch again.

I want to mention that I’ve added a new tab on my blog for the new book. There’s an excerpt there as well for anyone who is interested in reading it. I shared it yesterday with my Facebook friends. I”m still hoping to put together a book trailer for this book, although I’ll make no promises at this point. Much of it depends upon my daughter and how much time we’ll get when she next visits.

The contest to enter a chance to win JoAnn Yhard’s new book, Buried Secrets at Louisbourg is open until next Friday. Don’t forget to enter. JoAnn shared her thoughts on writing a sequel.

How is your summer going? Do you have any tips on slowing down time because I could sure use some.  😉


JoAnn Yhard on Writing a Sequel

It’s my pleasure to welcome Nova Scotia, author, JoAnn Yhard to my blog. JoAnn is the author of “The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines,” as well as “Lost on Brier Island.” Her latest book, “Buried Secrets at Louisbourg” came out this spring and is now due to be released in the US on September 1st. That means all our US friends will be able to order. One lucky person can win a signed copy of  JoAnn’s book. Check the bottom of this post to find out how.

Buried secretsSo what’s Buried Secrets at Louisbourg about?

Fred has had a rough summer. His secret crush on Mai is going strong, his mother has barely recovered from a battle with cancer, and his unreliable father’s diving business has gone completely underwater. Now Fred, Mai and Grace, extraordinary fossil hunters, are at the Fortress of Louisbourg hunting a different kind of treasure. They are secretly excavating the historic site, trying to find a mass of jewels Fred’s ancestor may have buried there—jewels that could save Fred’s family. But Fred uncovers far more than he bargained for, including a dangerous plot that could leave Fred’s family in even more serious trouble. The young detectives from the bestselling The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines shine in this fast-paced mystery for middle readers. 

You can check out JoAnn’s Facebook Author page here for signing events.

Without further ado , here’s JoAnn .

Thanks so much, Laura, for inviting me to do a post on writing a sequel. I am sitting on the deck with our wild backyard groundhog, Sam, sitting on his rock keeping me company as James paints. It’s been a hectic summer with the move, but we are settling in and the words are starting to flow again.

Buried Secrets at Louisbourg, my new book, is the 2nd with the same characters as The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines.

A book with the same characters. Should be easy, right? I mean, so much is already established: where they live, their history, their likes and dislikes. No agonizing over character traits. Will she have blue eyes or brown? It was also nice slipping back into that world again after Lost on Brier Island, my 2nd book, which had all different characters and was aimed at a slightly older audience, YA. I was back visiting with old friends and I’d missed them.

But it turned out that the 2nd book had some major challenges I hadn’t expected.

Initially, my plan was to do a mystery series with the same protagonist, Grace. She was the main character in The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines. However, for those of you who’ve read it, Fossil Hunter, while a mystery, had lots of emotional drama for Grace as well. It wasn’t about a neighbour with a missing cat. It was deeply personal to Grace. Her dad was presumed dead and the story centered around discovering what happened to him.

So, when doing another story, I was left with the puzzle of how to achieve the same intense emotional stakes? Her mom dies? Dog? Best friend? The answer is, I couldn’t. If sticking with a mainly plot-driven mystery series, like Nancy Drew, you can have the characters basically suspended in time (not aging), and solving crime after crime. Not that I’m criticizing my beloved Nancy Drew books…they were glued to my hands growing up. But there was not much depth to the characters in those stories. So, because I had intentionally added an emotional and personal layer for the main character, I had inadvertently created a major hurdle for book two.

I did try it, though. I wrote several chapters. But it was hard slogging – the words were not coming easy. I also found myself trying to bridge the time from the last to the current book. If it’s not a continuation of the first book’s plot, you don’t just pick up where you left off. It has to start with something interesting and relevant to the current plot. What’s this book about? I was finding it hard to jump into the action. In other words, it was boring. I thought maybe I was being too hard on myself. We writers tend to do that to ourselves at times (always). But I read it out loud to my writing group and…it was still boring!

So we rolled up our sleeves to brainstorm this crisis. I love my writing group! And out of that session came the solution. Why don’t you try another point of view? There it was. The missing link. This wasn’t Grace’s story – it was Fred’s, one of her best friends. It was Fred’s mom who was sick, his dad who’d lost his job, and it was Fred’s treasure to find. Telling it from Grace’s point of view was watering it down. So I unraveled it like bad knitting back to the first stitch. A few key strokes. Painless, right? Not at all. Watching the words disappear, I mourned all those wasted hours. But in the end, they weren’t wasted. I had direction and purpose. And the story flew with new wings.

I also got to see what the other characters looked like through Fred’s eyes. He has a crush on Mai, so everything she does is golden. He finds Grace bossy, where from her point of view she came across as self-confident. And Fred is not a fan of Jeeter, so Jeeter doesn’t get as much air time. Sorry in advance to Jeeter lovers. I found this aspect fascinating!

I definitely grew as a writer through the experience. I’m currently working on the third in the series, this time from Mai’s point of view. Danger in Iceberg Alley is set in Twillingate, NL.

A little plug for Buried Secrets at Louisbourg. It’s the 300th anniversary this year and The Fortress of Louisbourg is the #1 vacation destination in Canada. I will be there for signings August 24th 3-5 pm and August 25th  12-2 pm. It is one of their main event weekends.

Thanks JoAnn for agreeing to guest blog. Congratulations on your new book and best of luck with the other books in the series. I’m looking forward to reading them!

Now, to win your very own signed copy of JoAnn’s book you simply leave a comment on this post. To help get you started here’s a question. What’s your favourite summer vacation destination? Have you ever been to Fortress Louisbourg?  The contest is open until Friday August 23. Good luck! 

Oak Island Revenge

Today we were city bound. A bit of a birthday celebration for our son, and to attend the book launch for Oak Island Revenge. The book was written by author, Cynthia D’Entremont, and is a mystery set on, you guess it, Oak Island. For anyone reading this who hasn’t heard of Oak Island it’s a tiny island quite literally a hop, skip and a jump off  mainland Nova Scotia. There’s reported to be pirate treasure buried there. People have been digging for this treasure for hundreds of years.

Cynthia was introduced to the crowd by children’s book editor, Penelope Jackson. For any hopeful writers out there submitting to Nimbus this is the lady you need to impress.

The launch was held at Indigospirit, Sunnyside Mall in Bedford. Here’s Cynthia reading from her book. Well, actually she was working up to the reading. She shines in front of an audience.

One never knows who they’ll run into at a launch. Here are three more authors, Daphne Greer (left) JoAnn Yhard(centre) and Lisa Harrington (right.)They belong to the same writing group as Cynthia.

Best of luck, Cyndy, with your new book. I can hardly wait to dive in and start reading.

That’s Me—Writer Groupie!

My name is Laura Best and I am a writer groupie.

I never knew this before, but apparently there IS a word for what’s ailing me( if you call it ailing) —- “writer groupie.” And doesn’t that sound totally lame? I mean anything with the word groupie attached to it. Makes you sound so…so… I don’t know…desperate.

I discovered this tidbit over at Fitch Happens. Sheree wrote that even though she’s a writer, she’s a reader first. She spoke about how precious her signed copies of books are. She openly admitted to sniffing the ink on the page. She was not ashamed.

Let me be straight about this: I have NEVER sniffed ink.(Not that I believe that ink sniffing is wrong , mind you, or even beneath me. If you’re an ink-sniffer that’s perfectly fine by me.) I’m not even sure that ink gives off an odor, not from your regular run-of-the-mill ballpoint at any rate, but who am I to argue?

The truth is, the thought never crossed my mind….. I’m just not a sniffer by nature unless it’s something that is sniffable– flowers, skin products, perfume, spices—you get my drift. My daughter is a sniffer. Whenever she opens a gift she smells it regardless of what it is. Got it from her grandmother on her father’s side. It’s a family joke or, quite possibly, a tradition. We sit around and watch each Christmas, and yes, she does it every time. Does this mean we’re strange?

Nope. I’m definitely not an ink sniffer….Yet now the thought is there, isn’t it? I do have signed books, you know.

I could deny the word— writer groupie, and yet I think the signs are there…..I show up at book signing, have my picture snapped with various authors all in hopes of creating this scrapbook for Miss Charlotte. I love meeting other authors and chatting with them. I flock to where authors are hanging out. AND I have photos to go along with my signed books from: Syr Ruus, Jan Coates, JoAnn Yhard, Helene Boudreau, Margaret Atwood, Budge Wilson, Steve Vernon, Jill MacLean, Sheree Fitch, Star Dobson, … I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting at the moment of writing this, and there will be more in the future.

I remember when I was off signing copies of my novel. A few people came prepared to get photos so I guess I’m not the only one. It was actually kind of cool to think that someone wanted their photo snapped with me. I mean me, really. I wonder at this moment how Margaret Atwood feels, she’s probably in more scrapbooks and photo albums than any other Canadian writer.

Still, there are worse things in life I suspect. I won’t bother naming them at the moment.. I’ll just curl up on the sofa with my photos and books and resists the urge to sniff ink.

Be honest, are you a writer groupie? Do you have signed copies of books from authors that you would never part with? Have you ever sniffed the ink on a page?

Three is the Lucky Number

Had a great time in Bedford today at Helene Boudreau’s booksigning for her early chapter book , “Keep Out!

Helene is a super supportive author, one of those people who just can’t seem to do enough for those of us who are new to the whole publishing business. I was finally able to thank Helene, in person, for all of her help and advise. She’s just as nice in person as she is on facebook!

Author JoAnn Yhard also showed up while I was there. Here we are, three Nimbus authors, all at the same book store holding up our books for the camera! Some days you wish would never end! Thanks Helene and JoAnn. What a great time!

Meet JoAnn Yhard

Say hi to JoAnn  Yhard

JoAnn is one of the newest Nimbus authors whose book, “The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines,” has just hit the book stores. She’s a resident of Halifax and says she “writes mysteries and other stories on her yellow laptop, Bumble Bee.” Sounds like a fitting name for a yellow laptop. I quite like the sound of that. Don’t you?

I met JoAnn back in September when she attended my reading at Word on the Street and we’ve kept in touch since. JoAnn’s book won top prize in the Atlantic Writing Competition back in 2006. Way to go!!!

So what’s the book about you ask?

Well, for starters it’s a middle grade novel —8-12 years. So that means you adults can read it, too.

Thirteen-year-old Grace already has too much going on — grieving over her father’s mysterious death, dealing with her distraught mother’s erratic parenting, and evading her creepy nosy neighbour, Mr. Stuckless, just for starters. She and her friends Fred, Mai, and Jeeter like to get away from it all by hunting for fossils near their secret hideaway, the abandoned mine they’ve nicknamed The Black Hole. But when Grace receives a strange note regarding her father’s death, it sets off a chain of events that sees Grace and her friends turning into detectives to solve the mystery behind his suspicious accident. As the clues and suspects start piling up and the investigation becomes more and more dangerous, Grace and her friends find themselves racing against time through treacherous sinkholes and abandoned mine shafts to figure out what really happened to her father.

If you’d like to join her facebook fan page I’ve added the link.!/pages/The-Fossil-Hunter-of-Sydney-Mines/103530719681714?v=info

You can also check her out on the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia site if you want to get the real dirt, I mean scoop….Just kidding, JoAnn!

So if you like mysteries and dig fossils (that was supposed to be a lame joke) check out JoAnn’s book. I know I will.

Congratulations, JoAnn. I wish you all the best.

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