The March Robin

Sunny but cold on the first day of March here in Nova Scotia. It’s hard not to think of that saying that if March comes in like a lamb will will go out like a lion.

This little robin sits in the apple tree outside our kitchen window. I can only imagine that it’s waiting for warmer weather, as are many of us. Robins have been showing themselves for weeks now. For some this represents Spring on the way, others look at it as a sign that many stayed here for the winter.

My first round of edits for my fall MG novel is now back safely in my editors hands. There were a few near catastrophes when my word doc put up a protest one morning but I was able to avert (I won’t say a near disaster) but certainly a mini disaster.

I am still waiting for the title to be settled upon and to see a cover. I will share these as soon as I know.

Here’s hoping that this sunny first day in March will be the first of many. Forget about the lion. It’s time for the lamb to step up.

Storm Day

Here in Nova Scotia we are experiencing our first nor-easter of 2022, simply meaning a storm blowing from the north east. So help me, I can’t recall hearing that term used when I was a kid. We just had blizzards.

I grabbed my camera and went to the lake a few short hours into the storm to take a few photos. The lake dances with the seasons in such a lovely way. I’m so fortunate to live a few steps away.

We have lost power two times already in the storm, but fortunately it was restored again just as dusk was settling in and we were about to spark up the generator.

As we hunker down here in Nova Scotia, I hope wherever you are that you are safe and healthy and loved.

Saying Goodbye to November

We’re getting a light dusting of snow her in Nova Scotia this morning and it’s hard to deny how beautiful it looks. It’s not the first snow we’ve seen this month, but so far we’ve seen nothing substantial.

From my back step I can see the lake, so I snapped a quick picture. Brrr…

I was reminded today of how everything around us changes. We sometimes forget this. We think things can stay exactly as they are, maybe even wish they can. Life is transient, forever changing. Just as the season’s change, nothing around us stays the same. It’s impossible. The changes can be so subtle that we might not see or notice, until we have reason to slow down and reflect.

I’m not a huge big fan of winter. I have other seasons that I prefer. But it’s on it’s way. It’s inevitable. Today was a reminder. Here’s hoping the winter won’t be a harsh one.

Tomorrow will see the start of a brand new month. Winter will officially arrive. Another year is beckoning to us. Who knows what is waiting for us in 2022.

Special Delivery

Have I said how much I love my publisher? It is true. Here is just a small example as to why.

Awhile back, my awesome publisher sent out a special delivery package to my granddaughter who is in another province and won’t be able to make it to Nova Scotia for Christmas this year. It will be the first time in ten years that we won’t get to see her. 

The outside packaging was a little beat up when it arrived in the mailbox, but the wrapped item inside made the trip quite nicely.

So many times, it is the small things that end up meaning so very much. This special delivery went above and beyond. Thank you Kate, and everyone at Nimbus Publishing!

So, what’s inside you might ask? I can’t answer that before Christmas, wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, you know.  You’ll have to check back in with me after Christmas to find out. But in the meanwhile you’re welcome to guess.

Hoping you all have a happy and safe holiday. 

 

At Long Last–Good Mothers Don’t

After what turned out to be a challenging week, this was waiting for me on my doorstep when I got home from work. I’ve got to be honest, I was starting to wonder if June would actually be the month. Of course back when the world was normal, my book was to be out in time for Mother’s day. It just goes to show how things can change. But I am not complaining. Today, many businesses in Nova Scotia have opened up. There is a small light at the end of the tunnel and it is so very welcomed.

Super Moons and Flying Squirrels

Sometimes life gives us a chance to pay more attention to the world closest around us. Despite what many of us have been thinking and feeling these past couple of months, pandemics are apparently good for some things. It’s forced many of us to stay close to home and appreciate what we have in our own backyard. I also think we’ve stopped taking life for granted, especially those people in our lives that we haven’t been able to see or spend time with for months now, with that ever looming question hanging over us : When? When will we be able to hug our friends and family? When will life go back to some sort of normalcy? 

Patient. We’ve been told to be patient. Let me assure you, writers are patient people. We have to be.

Thankfully, we’ve made some fun discoveries during our self-isolation. Yes, there have been times of uncertainty and many sleepless nights, not to mention how much we miss seeing the kids and grand kids, and wondering how long it will be before we can visit our granddaughter who lives in another province. But hope is out there and is something that keeps us going. The world is filled with many wondrous and beautiful things.

I’m not sure how many of you had the chance to see the super moon earlier this month. It was a lovely yellow as it came up across the lake. Quite breath-taking.

And while we were out discovering things in our back yard, Hubby found a flying squirrel in a dead tree on our property when he randomly tapped on it. He got a bit of a surprise when this little girl popped her head out. We’re thinking it’s a “she” as she appeared rather plumb and  a quick search on the internet told me they have their babies in May and June.

I was quite tickled to get a photo since they are nocturnal which means you don’t often see them during the day.

As we trudge through this pandemic, I hope you are making some wonderful discoveries where you live. With all the great weather we’ve been having recently, and summer not far off, I am looking forward to making many more discoveries in the weeks ahead.

Nova Scotia Strong

As a Nova Scotian it’s difficult for me to describe what these past few days have been like, except to say sad–extremely sad. With that said, I can’t begin to imagine what the families of all the victims from the weekend’s shootings are going through. Such senseless violence that really will never make sense to any of us. How can it?

We think that we live in a safe part of the world, that our little province couldn’t possibly be touched by violence of this magnitude. We’ve all heard about shootings in the US and even other places in Canada. But here we are, with at least 22 lives lost, the largest mass shooting in Canadian history. It can happen anywhere.

My heart, all of our hearts, go out to the families of all those lost.

My Deserted Island

Across the lake from where I live there’s an island. Plenty of trees but nothing else, it’s basically deserted, if you want to use that term, although we have seen the remains  of human activity left behind on the shores from time to time while out in our boat; the remnants of small camp fires and some empty bottles.

I was thinking today how writing is sometimes like being on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere, where your only thought is of survival—survival of the story, that is—with little contact with the outside world. You’re in hermit-mode—thinking, eating and breathing the story you’re working on. You can’t keep your thoughts on anything other than that dang story which can become kind of a convenient excuse for your own forgetfulness with those in the outside world. Things like not remembering what you were going for in the refrigerator or even the next room, the phone calls and emails you forgot to return. I like to call it author-brain, kind of like mommy-brain when all you think about is that little bundle of joy( or story) you’re suddenly responsible for. Don’t bother the author, her mind’s on her writing.

These past few weeks have been kind of like that; kind of, but not quite.( I’ve still had family time that I wouldn’t trade for all the stories that are circulating in my author-brain.)

I’ve started edits on my adult fiction novel recently and have just sent round one back to my editor. I’ve got to be honest, it’ always difficult to hit that *send* key and resist the urge to keep making changes, some so tiny that no one would ever know, except the author. But eventually you have to let go, the same way you let go of your child when you send her/him out into the big scary world. And it’s been pretty scary out there as of late.

All authors want their books to be perfect, and if not perfect, then as near to perfect as is humanly possible. Still, the typos pop up, the missing commas or periods, the misplaced words—all these things, regardless of how many proofreaders go through it with a fine tooth comb. Still, it’s something to aim for.

As many of you know, this is my debut adult fiction novel which doesn’t mean I won’t be writing for kids anymore. It just means, I’ll be doing both. I’ve several other adult novels that need to be resurrected after years of neglect. It was more like I got side-tracked. I’m really hoping to get back to them soon. But…I’ve also a few more ideas for children’s books as well. Why can’t there be more time in the day?

As of yet, this next novel of mine is titleless which isn’t really a word but I felt like using it. Titles are important but can sometimes be SO difficult to come up with. I was lucky with my first three book but this one has been a bit more challenging.

Another snippet I can share with you is that much of it is set in the Forties Settlement which, as many of you know, is right next door to good old E. Dalhousie. I like to give my stories local settings or use local name places. It’s important to me to share my part of the world with readers from far and wide.

I’m hoping I’ll find time to blog a bit more often, although it seems I’m forever promising that. It’s not as if I purposely ignore that promise but I’ve been putting more time into my actual writing these days which is probably more important. Perhaps when I’m fully retired I’ll make more time.

So that’s it for now. The edits are back in my editor’s hands and I’m getting ready to work on a project I started about nine years ago. I’ll be off on my deserted island at least for a little. They say that publishing is a slow business. It takes plenty of patience, but then so is writing sometimes.

I hope you’re all having a wonder summer and are enjoying this beautiful Nova Scotia sunshine. I’d love to hear what you’ve been doing this summer.

Guest Author Alison DeLory

Today, it is my pleasure to welcome author Alison DeLory to my blog. Alison has written a special post to commemorate Canada Day 2019 and talk about her newly published book, Making it Home.  So without further ado, here’s Alison.

 

Like many of you, I’ve been uplifted by stories in the news in the past week about Syrian-Canadians graduating from high school—like Batoul Hadhad, the daughter of Peace by Chocolate owners in Antigonish, N.S., and the three Hendawi brothers in Shelburne, N.S. They all came to Canada as teenagers who knew no English and who had missed years of schooling in Syria because of the war there. Once arriving in Canada, they worked hard to recover their lost education and create future opportunities for themselves.

Certainly as we acknowledge Canada Day, many of us proudly think about how our great country makes space for refugees and other immigrants. Yes, Canada should be celebrated for this, but let’s not forget to also acknowledge all that Canada gains, too, from welcoming newcomers. The benefit is two-way. Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who have come to Canada in the most recent wave have already contributed to the Canada economically and culturally, plus in less measurable but equally (or more) important ways, like expanding our capacity for empathy.

My new novel Making it Home (Nimbus 2019) tells this particular migration story from both angles. While it’s been documented through news stories, I wrote it through a fictional lens. I drew heavily on actual events that took place between 2014 and 2016 as loss of industry was forcing young people off Cape Breton Island, as Alberta’s economic boom began to bust, and as people spilled out of Middle Eastern refugee camps into variously tragic and hopeful circumstances. But fiction allowed me to delve deeper into the lives of imagined people most directly involved in these events.

I wrote the opening scene, involving a mass beaching of pilot whales in Cape Breton, as an assignment for a writing class I was taking in 2015. Once drafted, I thought about the symbolism of the whales, and how they could be a metaphor for being thrown out of one’s natural environment and feeling displaced. Pushing them back into the ocean was a community (epitomized by one family) struggling with an economic imperative to leave Cape Breton, and a desire for things to stay as they were. I saw the potential in the story and kept writing.

A second story line transports readers to Syria where they meet a family forced to flee Aleppo as bombs drop around them. The two families’ situations are on the surface quite different: one is a white, Christian family living in a sleepy rural Nova Scotian village, the other is an Arabic-speaking Syrian Muslim family whose lives are at risk. But at their core the two families are more alike than they seem. Like families the world-over, both share common desires for security, comfort, work and belonging. I wrote this book to discover how these particular characters could affect and possibly help one another heal.

These two parallel migration stories highlight how similar people’s plights are despite their cultural differences. And connecting the stories is the common thread of searching for home. I hope this novel gives readers an opportunity to consider our shared need for home—not only the physical place, but where we feel most secure, valued and ourselves—and to what lengths and distances the desire for home will take people. This journey toward ‘home’ can be physical or emotional, and helping others find their ‘home’ may allow our best selves to emerge.

 Thank you Alison for sharing this with us. I really enjoyed reading about what inspired you to write you book. I’m looking forward to reading it . All the best as you go forward.

 Alison DeLory is a writer, editor, and teacher living in Halifax, currently working at the University of King’s College. She has been writing stories for newspapers, magazines, and digital platforms for 20 years. She’s also written two children’s chapter books and contributed to several anthologies. Making it Home is her first novel.

Making it Home is available now on Amazon, Chapters and bookstores near you.

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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