Dandelions, book signings and childhood memories

While walking outside with my granddaughter recently, she looked at the dandelions growing behind the house and said, “Some people think dandelions are weeds, but I think they’re flowers.”

Okay, so I had to agree with her. I happen to think of them as flowers as well.

Of course her statement reminded me that life really is just a matter of perception, that there isn’t always a right or wrong to things, and that the perfection we often strive to find only exists in our own minds. The answer lies in the way we’ve been conditioned to think and be.

I was also reminded that day of what it’s like to see the world through the eyes of a child, something we lose through the process of living. Can you imagine a world where everyone sees a dandelion as a flower instead of a weed? We certainly wouldn’t be striving so hard to have them removed. I know people who put a great deal of effort into removing dandelions from their property, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in that especially if that’s something important to you.  Of course, the magic of it all is that in a few short weeks they leave all on their own with no assistance from us—just saying

I love the story my sister used to tell about “blow flowers.” When her daughter was young she was fascinated by the fluffy white dandelion heads that had gone to seed and she called them “blow flowers.” At the time I thought: leave it to a child to see the beauty in something that’s at the end of its life cycle.  I remember picking those dead dandelions as a child, blowing on them, and watching the seeds fly through the air. Such a simple thing and yet it was fun. I suppose those same white heads would make most adults cringe as they imagine their lush green lawns becoming a field of yellow the coming year. However, my granddaughter would be delighted!

Yesterday, I was off to Coles in the Bridgewater mall for a book signing. It was part of the Canada 150 celebration that Coles and Chapters had set up with various authors coming in at one hour intervals. As I’ve said in the past, for me, it’s never about the amount of books bought or sold but the conversation with those who drop by. I had some really great conversations, found out some news, shared some laughs and sold some books. Author  Syr Ruus  dropped by to lend her support too, so that was an added bonus. Have I mentioned that Syr’s memoir will be published next year?

I’ll also be at the Inside Story in Greenwood on the 24th. I’m quite pleased to be going there. The very first book signing I ever attended was at the Inside Story. Allison Maher was signing copies of I, the Spy. I was quite nervous meeting her and remembering being  a bit in awe that she’d had a book published. I’d been published in various literary magazines at that point but had my sights on one day having a book published as well. Of course I had yet to write that book. She encouraged me to keep writing, and reminded me that dreams do come true. She was so right.  A few years later Hadley Dyer was signing copies of Johnny Kellock Died Today  and when I head she’d gone to the same High School I did I knew I had to go meet her. Still didn’t have a book of my own published.  Loved her book, BTW and we’ve kept in contact since. She’s been very supportive of my writing and that means so very much. I’ve also gone to the Inside Story to hear Sheree Fitch read from her first adult novel, Kiss the Joy as it Flies . My first novel , Bitter, Sweet had been accepted for publication and Sheree was absolutely wonderful. So, as you can see, it’s a real thrill for me to actually be going there this time to sign copies of my own book. I do love signings, you really never know who you’re going to meet or what great conversations you’ll end up having. And, if you’re lucky, the cherry on top of it all could be a few book sales.

So, as I come to end of these ramblings I find myself curious to know:  do you consider a dandelion to be a flower or a weed, and have you ever gone to a book signing before? If so do you remember the first one? Did it leave you with any lasting impressions?

Local Fiction for the Adult Reader in you.

Last week I made a few suggestions of books to buy for the young (at heart) person on your list, but I really think it’s only fair that I mention some homegrown adult fiction books this time.

Syr Ruus Devils Hump cover July_2013_proof (1)1.Devil’s Hump by Syr Ruus. I have my own signed copy of this book that I shall treasure forever. The book can be purchased at Coles in Bridgewater, the Lahave Bakery, the Riverhouse in Petite Reviere or directly from the author- Syr (at)eastlink.ca . The winter of 1921 turned bad for all the Islanders, bringing one unexpected thing after another… beginning with the -quarantine, then the discovery f the deaths of the entire Ross family, followed by the fire and the acquittal of the Turnbull brothers. The storm of talk hadn’t even reached full crest, when a new development ensued. Devil’s Hump depicts the unique and disappearing culture of a maritime island community. It tells the story of Aaron Ross who, in spite of devastating circumstances, is able to survive alone on a small secluded island. But more than this, it celebrates the power of the human imagination which can shape our lives and make even the most difficult situations bearable. 

41B-l6NKWgL._AA160_2.The Deception of Livvy Higgs by Donna Morrissey. I also have a signed copy of  Donna’s book . For two traumatic days, Livvy Higgs is besieged by a series of small heart attacks while the ghost of her younger self leads her back through a past devastated by lies and secrets. The story opens in Halifax in 2009, travels back to the French Shore of Newfoundland during the mid-thirties and the heyday of the Maritime shipping industry, makes its way to wartorn Halifax during the battle of the Atlantic in World War II, then leaps ahead to the bedside of the elder Livvy. Caught between a troubled past, and her present and worsening living conditions, Livvy is forced to pick apart the lies and secrets told by her greedy, prideful father, Durwin Higgs, who judges her a failure, and her formidable Grandmother Creed, who has mysteriously aligned herself with Livvy”s father, despite their mutual hatred. Tending to Livvy during her illness is her young next-door neighbor  Gen, a single mother and social-work student. Overnight, a violent scene embroils the two in each other”s lives in a manner that will entwine them forever. In The Deception of Livvy Higgs, the inimitable Morrissey has written a powerful tale, the Stone Angel of the East Coast.

Virgin cure3.The Virgin Cure by Ami MacKay  Set on the streets of Lower Manhattan in 1871, The Virgin Cure is the story of Moth, a girl abandoned by her father and raised by a mother telling fortunes to the city’s desperate women. One summer night, twelve-year-old Moth is pulled from her bed and sold as a servant to a finely dressed woman. It is this betrayal suffered at the hands of her own mother that changes her life forever. Knowing that her mother is so close while she is locked away in servitude, Moth bides her time until she can escape, only to find her old home deserted and her mother gone without a trace. Moth must struggle to survive alone in the murky world of the Bowery, a wild and lawless enclave filled with thieves, beggars, sideshow freaks, and prostitutes. She eventually meets Miss Everett, the proprietress of an “Infant School,” a brothel that caters to gentlemen who pay dearly for “willing and clean” companions—desirable young virgins like Moth. Moth also finds friendship with Dr. Sadie, a female physician struggling against the powerful forces of injustice, who teaches Moth to question and observe the world around her. The doctor hopes to protect Moth from falling prey to a terrible myth known as the “virgin cure”—the tragic belief that deflowering a “fresh maid” can cleanse the blood and heal men afflicted with syphilis—that has destroyed the lives of other Bowery girls. Ignored by society, unprotected by the law, Moth dreams of independence. But there’s a high price to pay for freedom, and no one knows that better than a girl from Chrystie Street.

4.Nova Scotia: Life Near Water by Diane Lynn McGyver . So you all know I’m a littl partial to the short story, having penned  few in my day.anthology01 Life Near Water is a collection of short stories that transports readers to locations across Nova Scotia and on a short vacation to the coastal waters of Newfoundland. McGyver’s love for the sea shines in The Ocean Between Them, and her keen interest in genealogy and history plays interesting rolls in The Man Who Reads Obituaries, Dancing in the Shine and War on His Shore. McGyver’s quick wit takes centre stage in Miss Tuttle’s Lemon Tarts where neighbours bond over a cup of tea. Mutated Blood Lines beams readers into the future to a time when high water levels transform Nova Scotia into an island. Nova Scotia – Life Near Water is McGyver’s first anthology. For information about where you can order this book click HERE

510MRkqaUiL._SL500_AA300_5. Kiss the Joy as it Flies by Sheree Fitch. Oh yes, this beloved children’s writer also writes for adults. Panic-stricken by the news that she needs exploratory surgery, forty-eight-year-old Mercy Beth Fanjoy drafts a monumental to-do list and sets about putting her messy life in order. But tidying up the edge of her life means the past comes rushing back to haunt her and the present keeps throwing up more to-dos. Between fits of weeping and laughter, ranting and bliss, Mercy must contemplate the meaning of life in the face of her own death. In a week filled with the riot of an entire life, nothing turns out the way she expected.

 

Again, I’ll ask for any suggestions you might have to add to my list. My hope is that these two posts will encourage you to check out these books and to think about supporting the local authors in your area. Many of us talk about “buying local” it’s only natural that it should apply to books!

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