My Take Away

We had beautiful weather for the big book launch and sale outside Open Book Coffee yesterday. Simply gorgeous. Except for a book signing at LaHave River Books last weekend, this was my first public event for my newly published book. Dang pandemic. But it’s good to see that some of these events are beginning to happen.

I finally got to do my first public reading of GOOD MOTHERS DON’T. Look at that beautiful blue sky.

I signed some books with the help of managing editor Whitney Moran. (Sorry Hubby cut your head off, Whitney. He’s not the best photographer but he does come to all my events!) Someone told me they purposely came to the event to get a signed copy of GOOD MOTHERS DON’T. That was music to this author’s ears. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it: I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received over the years.

I also came home with some great books I’m looking forward to reading. If you didn’t make the sale you missed out on some great bargains.

Finally, here’s my take away from the book launch and sale.  I’m taking it as a sign of good things to come!

I hope your Saturday was as fun as mine. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Update on the Good Mothers Don’t Update

With all that’s been going on in the world, with the pandemic and all, it seems our lives are constantly being updated. We hear one thing and then suddenly that has changed. It’s no wonder. Fighting an invisible enemy, one we have never come up against before, makes it that much more challenging. We are all trying to do the best we can.

In an earlier post I mentioned that my novel, GOOD MOTHERS DON’T was scheduled for release on April 30th. But there’s been a change of plans…Sorry, I know how most of you dislike change. I’ve  received a new book update and I wanted to let you all know that the release date has now been pushed ahead to June 1st. While I know this might be disappointing to some of you, I feel that under the circumstances, with the pandemic still shaking up our lives, it’s for the best.

That means you’ll have several more weeks to wait but I hope you will consider the wait worthwhile.

In the meantime, in case you missed it, there’s a lovely article on the book, written by Allison Lawlor, HERE that appeared in the Chronicle Herald.

I will try to keep you in the loop if anything new comes along or if there are further changes to this. 

I should also mention that my Cammie prequel, originally scheduled for publication this fall, has been pushed ahead to Spring 2021. I can also confirm that the title is THE FAMILY WAY. I’m really excited for this book as we finally, finally learn who Cammie’s mother is. There are also a few surprises along the way, things even I didn’t initially know when I started writing the book.

That’s it for now: stay home, stay safe, stay well, stay reading..

 

Good Mothers Don’t–Cover Reveal

I’m excited to be able to show you all the cover to my first novel for adults. And guess what? It finally has a title, which is a good thing, too, because now I know what to call it! ( If you read an earlier blog post, you likely know that for a time the novel had been nameless. But no more.)

Good Mothers Don’t will be released on April 30th 2020 by Nimbus Publishing & Vagrant Press, which still seems like a long ways away, but I promise you, it’ll come quicker than you think.

If you’d like to read a quick blurb to get an idea of what the book is about, just click on the link HERE and it will take you to the Nimbus site. I’m not sure when it will be available for pre-order (people have been asking) but as soon as I have that information, I’ll pass it along.

 

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.

Guest Author–Kayla Hounsell


Photo: Alex MacAulay

It is my pleasure to welcome Kayla Hounsell to my blog today to talk about her book,  First Degree: From Medical School to Murder. Kayla is an award- winning journalist who covered the murder trial of Will Sandeson. She is now the CBC’s National Reporter for the Maritimes. Based in Halifax, she has worked in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ottawa, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Liberia. This is her first book.

Book Blurb:

A murder, a missing body, and a sensational trial that shocked the community. Will Sandeson seemed like a model son. A member of the Dalhousie University track and field team, he was about to start classes at Dalhousie’s medical school. He had attended a medical school in the Caribbean; he worked at a group home for adults with disabilities. “There’s times for whatever reason that things don’t go quite as planned,” a Halifax police officer told Sandeson shortly after he was arrested for the first-degree murder of Taylor Samson, who also, on the surface, seemed like a model son.

Samson lived in a fraternity house near Dalhousie, and when the six-foot-five physics student disappeared without a trace, the focus eventually turned to Sandeson. Sandeson’s trial, blown open by a private investigator accused of switching sides, exposed a world of drugs, ambition, and misplaced loyalties. Through interviews with friends and relatives, as well as transcripts of the trial and Sandeson’s police interrogation, award-winning journalist Kayla Hounsell paints a complex portrait of both the victim and killer, two young men who seemed destined for bright futures. First Degree includes previously unpublished photos and details never made public until now.

First Degree: The Story Behind my First Book

It was May 2017 when I was asked to write First Degree, although it didn’t have a title then. My first thought was, “Of course I want to write this book. This book has to be written!” But my immediate second thought was, “But what will Taylor’s mother think?” It was a question that would follow me through every step of the process, every line I wrote, every social media post I made, and every public appearance since. (I even asked her to read this blog before it was published. She told me it was not necessary and that she wouldn’t want to edit my feelings.)

First Degree: From Med School to Murder: The Story Behind the Shocking Will Sandeson Trial is ultimately about two promising young men whose families were destroyed after one plotted to kill the other. Taylor Samson, a Dalhousie University physics student, is now dead. Will Sandeson, a Dal medical student, is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. Samson’s body has never been found.

So it was that I was live-tweeting from the murder trial in my role as a reporter, when I received an email from Elaine McCluskey at Nimbus Publishing asking if I’d consider writing a book about the case. It quickly became clear that my employer was not willing to work with me, so I quit my job. It was shocking to everyone in my life. After all, it was a great job that I had held for many years, the people I worked with had become family, and now I had what? A book deal, great. But then what? I had no idea and it was terrifying.

But there was no way I could not write this book. So that was that.

Next, I had to tell Taylor’s mother and humbly ask for her participation. By that point I had been covering the case for nearly three years and felt I had developed a positive relationship with Linda Boutilier, but I was well aware committing to an interview for a TV story that would last less than two minutes was far different than agreeing to participate in a project of this scale. I had no idea what she would say. I invited Linda and Taylor’s childhood friend for lunch. On a break from the trial at Nova Scotia Supreme Court, I went around the corner to Stayner’s Wharf Pub & Grill, my heart pounding.

To my absolute astonishment, Linda gave me her full support. I went so far as to point out that there would be parts of the book she might not like to read. I knew even then that parts of it would be graphic, and I would have to point out that her son was a drug dealer. I had no intention of shying away from the truth of the matter and I certainly did not want that to be a surprise to her.

“That’s okay,” she said in that downtown Halifax restaurant, “I know if you write it, it will be fair.”

Again, astonishment.

For a journalist, there is no greater compliment. That level of trust cannot be matched when you build everything you do on trust, balance and fairness. It also came with an incredible amount of pressure and it played on me over and over as I wrote lines, deleted them, and rewrote them.
Since then there have been multiple conversations, endless text messages, and even words of encouragement from Linda for me.Imagine.

You may think you know a little about Linda Boutilier by now, perhaps you’ve seen her on TV. You might think that she seems tough, you might even judge her because she knew her son was selling marijuana. But you do not know what I have come to know over the last three years. Linda Boutilier is fierce. She is fearless in the face of unimaginable adversity. She is her son’s defiant defender. She is also rational and compassionate and she has my utmost respect.

As she says in First Degree, “I am who I am. If you judge me because I’m honest, well then you’re going to judge me because I’m honest.”

Linda Boutilier has welcomed me into her home, shared her family photos, allowed me to look through her private text messages and shared her grief.

She has done all of this so that you might come to know her son as more than a drug dealer, so that you will have a full picture of what happened to him, what Will Sandeson did to him, and so that you might have a rare glimpse into the Canadian justice system unlike any you have seen before.
It’s because of her that this is the first page of First Degree:

Dedicated in memory of Taylor Samson. May we not forget that wrapped up in the pages of this crime thriller, a mother and father lost a son, a brother lost his protector, and a young man lost his life.

And as for her words, “I know if you write it, it will be fair,”they played in my mind like a mantra as I wrote, and I did my very best to be fair.

My great thanks to Laura Best for the opportunity to share a little of my writing process.

First Degree is available at Amazon.ca. and Chapters.ca as well as independent book stores.

Thank you Kayla for sharing the story behind your first book. I’m looking forward to reading it. Best of luck to you and your book. 

As the Pumpkin Grows

There has been a new development in the ongoing saga of Laura and the Giant Pumpkin that I haven’t yet revealed. Perhaps you recall that a few weeks back I mentioned that our pumpkin seemed to have stalled. Turns out I was right. Upon further investigation we discovered that our precious pumpkin had met an untimely demise. It died and we didn’t know. We didn’t even get to say goodbye as it slowly began to rot. I know, I know… poor Pumpky.

But…

New life sprung up out of the ashes..or the vines as the case might be. Much to our surprise, a second pumpkin began to grow, and we watched while it grew in excess of the first one. This was one of the clues that there was something amiss with the first one. Sadly, Pumpky ended up in the compost heap. It was all we could do.

So…

We started again and here we are. Already bigger and better than our first. Last weekend the son used his formula to calculate the weight and told us it was around 90 lbs. It would, of course, be heavier by now. I know his urban pumpkin is bigger but, chin up, we’ll persevere.

While we long ago accepted that we’re not going to end up with a thousand pound pumpkin, (Good Lord what would be do if that happened?) this has been a learning experience for us and, who knows, maybe one day…..

Hmm…I wonder how the son’s urban pumpkin is doing.  Perhaps he’ll send a photo  for me to share..

Next weekend is Halifax Word on the Street at the Halifax Central Library on Spring Garden Road; Sept 16th to be exact. Here’s the schedule. I’ll be reading from Cammie Takes Flight at 10:00 in the BMO Community Room. If you’re in the city that weekend and would like to visit the new library, it would be wonderful to look out and see a familiar face. I’ll also be signing at the Nimbus Publishing table, although I’m waiting for confirmation on a time. Less than a week. Time is closing in.

              Urban Pumpkin Update:

Since the son just sent a photo of his urban pumpkin the other night, I’m going to tack it onto the end of this post. The estimated weight is 177 lbs. He says it’s three weeks ahead of where his pumpkin was last year this time.

Book Launch: A Behind the Scenes Look.

The other week as I was going through some book launch photos, I found a few that made me giggle just a little. Most of these were candid shots taken by the lovely Dawn Alexander my official photographer for the day. Dawn showed up the night before while were setting up for the big day and she stayed pretty close by all through launch day. Now that’s dedication!

So, just for fun, I thought I’d post some of the behind the scene photos no one ever gets to see.

Setting up for the launch the night before was great fun. Of course it helps to have a few silly friends to take charge.  I’ll be the first to admit that decorating is not my forte. I’m more about the written word. Therefore, the decorating I leave to those more qualified.

Hard at work. Recreating the book cover was a little tricky since the vision of it only existed in Bonnie’s creative mind prior to setting up. Judi made all the silhouettes. It was a pretty cool idea. Wish I could take the credit but, as I said, I’m more about the words.

The end result kind of speaks for itself. I loved it. So did everyone at the launch. I warned you that I have some talented friends. They added all the extras they knew would make me happy: dark chocolate, Mars, beautiful white roses and my books. The tea pot of flowers was a Mother’s Day gift from my daughter.

There’s always someone in charge of the ironing. All those little details count. Thanks Barbie.

The look on my face suggests surprise, doesn’t it? You’s almost think I was expecting something to jump out of the box when, in fact, I knew there was a cake inside courtesy of the Monday Craft ladies. Seriously, they went above and beyond to make the day special. These ladies know how to show some author love. I don’t know what I’d do without the help and support from my friends and community.

And here’s a much better view. Just so you know it did make it out of the box It was delicious!

Launch Day: I could have told Bonnie it was a little late to be playing shy. Dodging the photographer isn’t as easy as it might seem when you get to be our age. Dawn was relentless in her mission to gets photos, but Bonnie using me as a human shield just doesn’t cut it! Oh Bonnie, oh Bonnie, when will you learn?

When the Nimbus publicist, Jeff Arbeau showed up, author friend Jan Coates offered to help him sell books. I love this photo taken when our MLA Leo Glavine showed up. Now there’s the look of a woman who can hardly wait to get her hands on some money. The next photo in the series (that I decided not to post) shows Jan actually prying the money out of his hands.. Okay, I’m just kidding about that! Seriously, Jeff said Jan was a huge big help!

There you have it, just a few of the candid shots from the launch of “Cammie Takes Flight.” Life is not just about the perfect moments that get capture on camera, it’s more about the moments that go unseen, but it’s all those silly, imperfect moments that create the best memories.

Book Update

It’s hard to believe that July is coming to a close. We’ve had some pretty warm days, lots of humidity but, I’ve got to say, I’ll still take that over an avalanche of snow any day. July scooted on by without me having written a single blog post. I didn’t mean for that to happen but….

Edits for Cammie Takes Flight are about to get underway. I found out last week that I’ll be working with Penelope Jackson again. Penelope and I worked on Flying with a Broken Wing together. She’s marvelous! Can’t express how fortunate I’ve been to have such great editors to work with  at Nimbus Publishing and how very thankful I am for their expertise. Having that second set of eyes always opens my own eyes up and allows me to see things that previously weren’t there. My imagination soars. Right now, the plan is to have the edited manuscript back to Nimbus for layout by mid-September and to have the Advanced Reading Copies available for media by early winter. The book is to be released in April 2017. (I think I mentioned that in an earlier post.)  I’m expecting to see a cover sometime in August or early September. I’ll share it with you as soon as I can. It’s always exciting to see a new cover, and with this being a sequel it’s even a bit more exciting.

Also in July, it was brought to my attention that Flying with a Broken Wing made the Bank Street College list for Best books in 2015. I know many of you saw this on Facebook so please indulge me. The college is located in New York!  Here’s a bit about the list in case you’re not familiar.

One of the most comprehensive annotated book lists for children, aged infant through 16. The Committee reviews over 6,000 titles annually for accuracy and literary quality and considers their emotional impact on children. The best 600 books published each year, both fiction and nonfiction, are listed with annotations, according to age and category.

I’m also working on a new project at the moment, but July’s been busy with family visiting (yes, Miss Charlotte was here for a few days!) and gardening, work  etc….etc….But writers find a way to work around the everyday. We squeeze in time for writing whenever we can. There’s no way we can resist!

So, there’s a bit of an update for now. I’ll keep you posted as more news come in. I hope you’re all enjoying your summer.

 

The Answer to Your Question

In the two and half years since Flying with a Broken Wing was published I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “When’s the sequel coming?” To be honest, some of you have been relentless in you pursuit of an answer, even trying to trick me into telling. (Smile because you know who you are!)

Many of you would agree with me when I say I’ve been a bit annoying vague about it all, dodging the question as best I could, not even willing to let you know how the writing was coming along. I’m not a fast writer. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say I’m not a writer who gets to the end as often as I’d like. I typically have several projects on the go. That was the case when I started writing the sequel to Flying with a Broken Wing.

And then I started another novel.

And then I went back to one I’d started right after Bitter, Sweet was published.

I went back to the sequel again…

You get the idea?

Things went along slowly.

Then I lied. Well, maybe not an out and out lie. Let’s say I withheld certain information from y’all. (Did I just say y’all?) Seriously, writing a story doesn’t necessarily mean that story will see publication. I mean what if the publisher hated it? What if it just wasn’t what they wanted? Doubt sets in.

But now all that doubt is gone. I’m here to confess that the sequel has been finished for some time now. Yay! Do you forgive me for leading you astray? Hope so.

BUT WAIT….

There’s more.

I just signed a contract with Nimbus Publishing for the sequel to “Flying with a Broken Wing.” Yup…signed …sealed and delivered. And I’ve been dying to tell y’all.

For now, the title of the book is “Cammie Takes Flight,” but as I’ve explained before this could end up being changed. I’ll be sure to let you know if that happens.

So, do you think I’m excited at all? You betcha. I can hardly wait!

Speaking of waiting, I assume y’alls next question will when when’s it going to be published?

Well, my sources are saying Spring 2017. That’s just around the corner in the book publishing industry.

So, there you have it. The answer to the question you’ve been asking me for years now. And well, me, I’m just walking around with my head in the clouds.

And if all that isn’t enough Darlene Foster , author of the Amanda Series, posted a lovely review of Flying With a Broken Wing posted on the Children Writer’s Guild. You can read it here. Again, thank you Darlene for your generosity!

 

 

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