Hearing With a Broken Ear—the sequel

Life has a way of making us stop and smile from time to time. Today was one of those days for me. I just learned that Miss Charlotte has started reading “Flying With a Broken Wing.” She has a bookmark to keep her place and she told me it’s the first book she’s read without pictures. Remarkably, she’d been reading since she was three (something I would never have believed possible had I not seen for myself.) Her mother tells me it will likely be a long while until she gets to the end of the book since she starts back at the beginning with each reading session. I was also told that a certain porcelain deer with a broken ear caused Miss Charlotte to declare “That’s Hearing with a Broken Ear.” Perhaps that will be the title of a sequel. You really have to love some of the things kids come up with.

This evening I picked up a copy of In the Company of Animals: Stories of Extraordinary Encounters,” an anthology of animal stories by writers from across Canada published by Nimbus Publishing. It was edited by Pam Chamberlain, the same editor I worked with when I wrote a piece for the Country Roads Anthology a few years back. Seeing my name in the acknowledgement of this book was kind of cool, not to mention knowing a few of the writers. I picked the book up at the local Coles and got a bit of a surprise when the young man swiped my Plum Rewards Card and declared, “Oh my God, your Laura Best!” I’ve got to be honest, I don’t often get that reaction, in fact I never do. It seemed a little surreal. I was just surprised that he recognized my name.

Fall is my busiest time and I don’t expect to have much time for myself until later in December. I’m still squeezing in some writing time most every day. I’d like to finally finish the novel I’m writing and get back to some earlier work..and who knows, “Hearing With a Broken Ear,” might beckon to me… I have a few craft events to go to in December and of course December means Christmas and Christmas means, well, a lot of work. I hope to get back into blogging more after the New Year. I’ve missed not checking in with my blogging friends. It seems as though I’m saying the same thing over and over. There’s never enough time. I just need to learn how to stretch out my days. Perhaps that’s something to work toward in the new year.

Just for fun because hey, I’m as silly as the next person, what title can you come up with for a sequel to “Flying With a Broken Wing?” I vote for “Running With a Broken Leg.”

Miss Popularity–That’s me!!

I’ve been holding out on you all for awhile now, keeping things kind of quiet for some time now, but then it happened again just the other day over at Diane Lynn Tibert’s blog. Diane nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award, which then reminded me that hey, Pauline over at Brightest Blue had also nominated me for this award, which then reminded me that Darlene Foster had nominated me for the Liebster Award.. I mean, all this nominating how did I get to be so popular? Little ole me…

So, thanks ladies, you all have terrific blogs and you make me feel more than welcome each time I visit.

Okay, so with every blog award that goes around in blogland there are rules in place, but what to do when there are several awards on the line?  Too many rules, too many blogs to nominate. What’s a tired blogger to do?

Why, make things up of course!!! I’m a fiction writer for goodness sake.

So I’ve decided to invent some of my own rules, taking a little here and a little there. Kind of like coming up with a new recipe of sorts, try what you like, leave out what you don’t.

I like the rule where you tell seven things about yourself. That one I’ll do.  So I’m going to tell you some totally useless things about myself, because well, I’m just not that exciting. If you know me in real life, you’re nodding your head about now.

Are you ready? Here goes.

  1. I’ve been harbouring a secret from most of you these past two and a half years, but I’m ready to come clean. I know it’s not evident from viewing my gravatar photos, but I’m vertically challenged. Yes, I know it’s a shock, right? Those of you who have met me in real life have no doubt figured this out on your own, ‘cause nothing gets past you. This news is more for the blogging community although even a few of you are in on that highly guarded secret. It is only a matter of time before Miss Charlotte joins the ranks of all the other children in my extended family who touches their hand to their heads and then over to mine to see how much further they have to grow to pass me. This usually begins at around the age of five. I have three years to wait. Oh joy, oh joy.

  1. I like Mars bars. If you’re on my facebook friends list you’re reading this and saying, “No kidding, mama!” The mighty Mars often takes up space on my status updates. Admit it. You’ve seen it. You even “liked” it.  Oh lovely, lovely Mars, you were worth hiding in the bathroom to savour when my kids wee small and driving me up the wall. But how many of you know that for a few months last year I had a Mars Bar Fairy who showered me with gifts of Mars Bars left in my mailbox?  Tis true. Tis real. I kid you not.

  1. My ring size is 4 ½. Yeah I know, you’re thinking, so what shorty. Someone mentioned ring size the other day so this tidbit seemed reverent while writing this post. I’m not a “ring” person. I like them, even admire them for their beauty. I sometimes walk into the jewelry store for a gander. I wear my wedding ring (unless my knuckle is swollen.) That’s it most of the time. I do have a family ring, and engagement ring and a birthstone ring given to me by my significant other when we were dating. That’s it. I don’t go for bling bling. I love it, but it’s not me.

  1. On separate occasions it was thought that my daughters and I were sisters. Wow, does that sound like an awkward sentence, and me a writer. Now some of you might think that’s quite a compliment. But truly, they only say this when they see me at a distance. Have you ever gone out into a Christmas tree lot and you saw that perfect tree, only to get closer and see all the big holes and flaws? Well here’s the truth people, women my age, like Christmas trees always look better when viewed from afar. True story. Listen to me on this. I live a whisker away from the Christmas tree capital of the world. I know my trees, and my wrinkles. Not to mention when you’re short people think you must be young.

  1. I once found a wallet when I was a kid with three two dollar bills in it. A group of us combed the cottage area looking to find the owner, because to us, if we didn’t know who you were you had to be a cottage owner. An entire Saturday afternoon was taken up. We just had to find the owner. But good old resourceful Dad found the owner’s phone number in the wallet that evening after we’d wasted an entire Saturday afternoon. Turned out he was from a neighbouring town and had been in the area driving his dune buggy with a friend. I thought I was rich when he gave me the six bucks for returning his wallet. Do you know how many Mars Bars that would have bought back in the day? I mean what? 10 cents a piece and no taxes back then either. I could have had sixty of those lovelies. And just think, the energy to burn off all those extra calories.

  1. On Valentine’s Day 1965 a small green lunch pail was found out the roadside in our little community by a passerby. Upon further investigation a handful of Valentines were discovered signed by one, Laura Legge. And for a small amount of time it was thought, by some of the neighbours, that I had been possibly kidnapped. Oh yeah, the minds of many spin mighty fast in small communities. It makes me wonder what the good folks thought my sisters were doing whilst I was being kidnapped, drawing straws to see who was going to break the news to Mum and Dad once they got home from school at the end of the day?  Turns out that at five years old, I’d tied the handles of my lunch pail to the end of my scarf. When the knot came out I hadn’t been aware of it. Mystery solved. So ended Dalhousie Road’s first near- kidnapping case.

  1. When I was a kid, my sisters and I used to spend our summers picking strawberries for money. Since we lived a long way from the berry field, often times farmers would bring in pickers from outside the area and change them a bit for room and board. The very first time I went off to make my fortune in strawberries, I got homesick and seen called Dad to come get me. Turns out my instincts weren’t all that bad. We later heard that the building the farmer had put us up in had once been the home of pigs. Yup, that’s right, I quite literally slept in a pigpen.

So there’s a whole bunch of useless information that I’m sure you’ll tuck away at the back of your mind never to think about again but, quite frankly, I enjoyed rehashing some of these memories.

Now I couldn’t possible pass these awards on to as many people as I’m supposed to, and since I know that many of the beloved bloggers I follow have already had awards bestowed upon them, how about we skip that part?

Instead, I thought I’d mention a few blogs that many of you might not have discovered, and thought I’d give a shout out to.

Pam Chamberlain-— Writer’s, there’s knowledge to be gained here, tidbits of info that you might not be aware of. Look into the mind of an editor. I worked with Pam in the past and she’s a real smart cookie.

Half Awake and Dreaming—If Lissa’s art work doesn’t blow you away then I don’t know what would. She’s wonderful. It’s always a thrill to go visit, to see her newest creation. Head on over, poke around, tell me you’re not impressed.

Lavenderlines-–Colleen is a writer/blogger/ book reviewer from good old Prince Edward Island. Check out her review policy. She also has book giveaways from time to time.

Life according to Loup—Dog lovers head on over.  Loup Graham is about as lovable as any dog out there. He’d likely argue and say he’s THE most lovable. One thing I know for sure is he’s the most articulate pooch I’ve ever met, and a real tease.

Miss Julie’s Hodgepodge—Julie’s a local gal who dishes up a steaming helping of hodgepodge with every post. Her posts are filled with wit and charm. She tells it like it is on the beautiful South Shore of Nova Scotia

So there you go folks, some useless information along with some great blogs to check out. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Memory Makers

I love sending out Christmas cards every year. More than sending them out, I love it when they arrive in the mailbox. With anticipation I open them, savouring the little messages the sender has written inside.

Several years back, I began saving the cards, placing them inside the Christmas box when we dismantle the tree, and I’ve been saving them ever since. Off they go for another year to the attic, forgotten until next year rolls around. When it comes time to decorate the tree, I take out the cards and read the little messages inside. Today, I came across a card that an elderly friend had sent me several years back. Sadly, she’s no longer with us, but her little message still warmed my heart and brought the memories of her warmth and kindness back to me.

Today I received a card from Pam Chamberlain, the editor of the Country Roads Anthology. Along with her thanks for my participation in the anthology, there was a little note letting all the contributors know that Nimbus has plans of printing more copies of the anthology when April rolls around. Yay Pam!

Next year when I take my cards out of the Christmas box I’ll come across Pam’s card and the memory of the time spent working on the anthology with her will become another fond memory for me to look back on.

Pam has now started a site of her own, and is preparing to put together another anthology. You can find her here.

Congrats Pam, not only has your hard work been instrumental in your success, but your talent, kindness and determination to keep going. Best of luck with your next project. You can be sure that I’ll be thinking of you each Christmas when I take out my collection of cards.

Welcome, Pam Chamberlain

Today I am welcoming Pam Chamberlain, editor of  Country Roads: Memoirs From Rural Canada to my blog. As I worked on my piece for the antholoy I came to respect  and admire Pam as an editor. Now that the book is out, and we have kept in contact, I am pleased to consider her a friend.

Awhile back I asked Pam if she would like to write a post for my blog, and to my delight she agreed. So, since this post isn’t about me I’ll stop rambling so that you can read what Pam has to say about compiling an anthology.

The Unexpected Rewards of Compiling an Anthology

When I first embarked on the project of compiling an anthology on rural life, I thought the main reward would be a completed book. Although (trust me!) it was wonderful to finally hold the book in my hands, the published book—Country Roads: Memoirs from Rural Canada—is only one of the rewards of such a project, and possibly not even the greatest one.

I originally decided upon an anthology format for this project because I didn’t think I alone was capable of telling “the” story of rural Canada. How could any one person do that? Yet I believed it was important that the story be told. I decided I needed help, so I sent out a call for submissions. In response, I received 150 submissions from people who had grown up in rural communities across the country. What a joy it was to read the submissions and find that there were people across the country who had shared the experiences of my childhood. After the difficult task of selecting which ones would make it into the book, I was left with about thirty texts. I began contacting the writers to ask for their permission to include their story in the anthology and, in most cases, to request revisions.

I didn’t anticipate what a rewarding experience it would be to work with authors on their text. Working together on a text is an intimate act. The editor must move carefully, respecting the author and the writing; otherwise, the writer might dig in and refuse to revise or to be part of the project. The editor must also work to build the writer’s trust. For only if the writer trusts the editor will he or she be willing to make the changes. Working together on revisions is like a dance—it requires a shared goal, mutual trust and respect, and give and take. I’m sure some of the contributors were initially disappointed by my requests for revisions; however, it is interesting that those writers with whom I worked on the most substantial revisions are the ones whom I developed the strongest relationships with.    

Through this project, I have gained not only a published book, but relationships with writers across the country, most of whom I had never heard of before this project began, and most of whom I have never seen in person. Despite the fact we’ve never met, I feel we have developed a community. I know that if I find myself in Nova Scotia, there is a cup of tea waiting for me in East Dalhousie, and one in Halifax, and one in Bridgewater, and one in Upper Stewiacke—from four women whom I’ve never met. Yet we have shared the intimate experience of working together on their writing. Long after the book is out of print, I will remember the people who so generously contributed to this book.

I don’t call Country Roads “my” book. I call it “our” book, and so do many of the contributors, many of whom were as excited as I was to see the book in print. Some of them are working at least as hard as I am to promote it. The final product is an accomplishment we can all be proud of. It is ours.

Memories May Be Beautiful And Yet…..

Perhaps I should have called this post : Memories May be Beautiful and Yet Totally Inaccurate . Sound remotely familiar? Sure does to me.

My contributor copies of Country Roads: Memoirs From Rural Canada arrived late last week. You know the book, the one edited by the lovely and talented Pam Chamberlain with the funky chicken on the front. Before writing, The Place I Call Home —that’s my piece in the anthology— I’d never written a memoir piece. In fact, I’d never considered there was anything about my life worth writing about, certainly nothing that anyone else would ever want to read. That’s why I write fiction. But it was kind of fun to see the piece come together and even more exciting to see my words printed in the book. Thanks, Pam! You’ve been super to work with, not to mention very patient.

People who have only known me as an adult will learn a bit about my growing up years here in East Dalhousie when they read the book. It’ll all be news for most of them. But the truth is most of it will be news to the people who have known me my whole life, too.

I got to thinking about the human mind and our ability to remember events from the past. We’re all told to live in the moment and that’s good advice, but without our memories, those small random remembrances of our past, who are we really?

When my older sister read my piece in Country Roads she was surprised to learn that I was one of three girls who had made a mile long swim to an island in the lake we frequented as kids. It really shouldn’t have been such a shock since she was also one of the three. Talk about a memory malfunction! Okay, just so you know, she remembered making the swim. She just didn’t remember me being in on it. Sheesh! Thanks sis! Didn’t ya remember me being there, singing my head off, when we reached the further shore?

The headline in the local paper read, “Long Swim No Big Feat For Three Girls.”

My point is, had my older sister been writing this same piece, she’d have written an account with a headline that would have read, “Long Swim No Big Feat For Two Girls.” Heck, who am I kidding she wouldn’t have remembered there being a headline.

Memory is a tricky thing, no doubt about it. What causes us to remember some things while other memories are lost along the way? Just where do memories hide out? Ever find yourself remembering something right out of the blue, something you didn’t even know you remembered?  Sometimes it’s scary, other times it’s rather pleasant especially when the memory is a fond one. Dwelling on the past is unproductive. Reminiscing, however, is pleasant. It tells us who we are by where we’ve been. It gives us a sense of where we belong in the world.

I’ve always known that each person has his or her own recollections of events. And when two people tell two slightly different stories, I’m willing to accept the fact that they’re probably both right. That’s why memoir pieces can be so tricky. How much is the real truth and how much is the truth as we remember it? And does it really even matter?

So what are your thoughts about the mind’s ability to recollect memories?  Have you ever suffered from a memory malfunction?  If so, I’d sure love to hear that story.

The New Nimbus Anthology

The new cover for the upcoming Nimbus anthology, Country Roads: Memoirs from Rural Canada has been finalized. So as promised, I’m letting you all have a gander–or should I say chicken?

The anthology includes pieces from over thirty different contributors, including yours truly, and was edited by Pam Chamberlain.

Just so you know, it will be available this coming May. That’s only two months from now!  Pretty cool!

By the way, if you want to see the various stages the book cover went through, and exactly what goes into such a decision, just click on the Nimbus link. While you’re there you can also enter to win a copy of Atlantic Canada’s Top 100 Books. Good luck!!

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