Candlemas Day

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won’t come again.

Candlemas DayOn Facebook this morning people are talking about Groundhog Day. It’s also being talked about on the radio. Bright and early this morning we were being told that we were due for six more weeks of winter, but growing up we always went by what the weather was like at noon on this day. Somehow things get changed along the way without any of us knowing how or why. Who knows, maybe that was just a regional thing?

But Groundhog Day isn’t the only happening thing going on today. The 2nd of February is also known as Candlemas Day an ancient festival that marked the midpoint of winter.  Yay! We’re half-way there. Isn’t that enough to make you shout for joy? Already, you can see a big difference in the amount of daylight hours we have and I find it exciting. I love the way the longer days are becoming more noticeable. It makes me feel happy and hopeful in a way that I don’t feel any other time of the year.

From what I read Candlemas Day was originally a pagan festival called Imbolc which was called the Festival of Lights and focused on lighting fires. The lighting of fires celebrated the increasing power of the sun over the coming months, and we’re certainly feeling that!

So how did The Festival of Lights become known as Candlemas?

The church turned this pagan festival into Candlemas Day. It was the day when all the candles, that were to be used in the church during the year, were blessed. They were then distributed around and a lighted candle was placed in the window of each home. Sounds kind of nice actually. Of course, back in the day, candles were important, not only for shedding light, but people thought they gave protection against nasty things like the plague and famine. Nothing like a famine or plague to take the fun out of winter I like to say.

So while I did know this day meant we were half way through winter I didn’t know exactly why it was called Candlemas Day. Thank goodness Google can answer all our questions.

While this is totally unrelated to Candlemas or even Groundhog day, I do want to mention that there’s still time to enter a contest over at Lynn Davidson’s blog for a chance to win a copy of Steve Vernon’s YA novel, Sinking Deeper OR My awesome brilliant Questionable Heroic Decision to Invent a Sea Monster. I’ve already read the book and enjoyed it a lot!  Here’s the link if you’d like to enter.

So what am I planning this Candlemas Day? Well, I’m not building any bonfires I can tell you that right away, but I may just light a candle tonight to welcome in the second half of winter. I’m also going to enjoy this sunny day and feel glad that we’re half-way through winter.

Happy Candlemas Day! Do you have any special plans for today?

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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?

I Heard the Word, and it was on the Street

Word on the Street was held on the Halifax waterfront this year. It’s the annual celebration of book and magazine publishers, authors, anything to do with the written word. Two years ago I read from my manuscript as my book wasn ‘t yet back from the printers. This year I went to be part of the audience, brought along my camera and enjoyed the day as a spectator. Okay, so I hung out around the young adult stage for much of the time we were there. It only seemed natural. Plus, I was hoping to get some photos with some of my favourite YA authors.  I’m putting together a scrapbook, one that I hope Miss Charlotte will adore when she is old enough to be reading these authors for herself. Hopefully, she’ll be impressed to see that her Nanny Bee actually met these incredible authors for real.

We arrived in time to hear Jan Coates read from, “A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk.”  I’m not sure why I didn’t make Jan pose for a picture with me. Maybe it was because she was in a hurry to get over to the Woozles booth to sign books. As many times as what Jan and I have had coffee together it makes me wonder why there isn’t one single shot of the two of us together. Why is that Jan?

 

 

 

We checked out the various publishers who were set up. Got a few pictures of the books on Nimbus Publishing’s table.

Look, there’s JoAnn Yhard’s books Lost on Brier Island and The Fossil Hunter of Sydney Mines. Sorry that I missed JoAnn’s reading, I blame the chauffeur, although I can’t complain because he does a darn good job of driving the old folks around the city. Thanks, Matt!  Not to worry, we took him to have his photo snapped with Theodore Tugboat. It was all good.

When I asked for a photo with Sheree Fitch, she pulled out her glasses from her big Mary Poppin-sized bag and asked me to put them on. Well, you don’t say no to Sheree Fitch.

What do you think? Do I look any taller in these?  Hmmm, I’m kind of wondering now what all she keeps in that purple bag of hers.

So listen up, I learned a valuable lesson while talking to Sheree yesterday. Never, ever tell an author, such as Sheree Fitch, that you loved her book. You’ll be sure to get a somewhat polite but confused response when they ask you “which book?”  Duh! Like Sheree’s been published a gazillion times and I have read a number of her books, but I don’t think she’s yet mastered mind reading. Always remember to mention what book you’re talking about. It just makes it  SO much easer for the author.

We listened while Sheree, Jill MacLean ad Don Aker read from their books and answered the audience’s questions.

I chatted with Jill MacLean later. I met Jill last year at at the book launch for author Cynthia D’entrement’s book  Unlocked . Jill even wrote me a lovely note  last year to congratulate me on Bitter, Sweet’s nomination for the Bilson Award. So it’s obvious that I could have used Sheree’s glasses this time too., or would you believe I was sitting down for this shot?

 

 

 

I was excited to meet Valeria Sherrard. Valerie’s latest book, The Glory Wind, won the Ann Conner Brimer award this year. Yay Valerie!  I’m SO looking forward to reading it. It was remarkable to watch as Valerie answered questions from young readers. Seems to me, those young readers had some well thought out questions. Glad it was Valerie on the hot-seat and not me.

I ran into Syr Ruus yesterday as well. She was off to sign copies of her book, Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart. Okay, so Syr scrunched down a bit for this photo to make me appear a bit taller. How’s that for friendship, I ask?

Before heading back out of the big city, we listened to Steve Vernon read from his YA novel, Sinking Deeper.        Having already read the book, I knew what to expect. My son did not. I do believe by some of the chuckles he quite enjoyed Steve’s sense of humour, and his lively writing which comes out quite nicely in this book.  Steve’s a great story-teller and very entertaining. A real pro.                                                                                                                                                                                

So, I think I covered just about everything. Of course, there is so much more to Word on the Street than what I covered, but I can’t be in every place at once . If you have never gone it’s well worth going to. We have some truly remarkable and talented authors in our area.

New Blogger on the Block

Remember when you first started your blog and didn’t know a single blogger? I sure do. It was a bit of a scary undertaking, not to mention a bit lonely as you wonder if anyone is ever going to read your posts. Every time I hit “Publish” I felt a bit nervous.

I don’t usually do this, maybe because I’ve never thought to do it, but allow me to direct your attention over to a new blog Steve Vernon just started today. Friday the 13th ? Oh yeah. Steve’s a writer of of horror and ghost stories, so Friday the 13th sounds like a good time for beginning a new blog, don’t you think?

Recently Steve has penned a young adult novel titled “Sinking Deeper: Or My Questionable (Possibly Heroic) Decision to Invent a Sea Monster ”

I’ve read it and it’s great!

So head on over to SteveVernonStoryTeller and say hi! I bet he’ll appreciate it, being new to the blogging world and all.

Book Bash

On Saturday evening local children’s authors and illustrators writers of children’s book from the area got together at the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia to present the books they published in 2009. There was a long list of authors and illustrators presenting their books that evening.

Talk about author overload….I mean that in a very good way.

I’ve been a member of this organization for many years but this is the first time I’d been to the Federation office and the first time I’d met most of these talented writers. When you live out in rural areas it’s not so easy to participate in many of the events offered. It’s not just a matter of jumping into the car and off you go. A two hour drive often makes you think twice, especially during a working week. And to be honest, until Saturday night, I’d never given it much thought. Sometimes situations are the way they are and you just don’t question them.

Earlier that day I’d met Jill MacLean at the book launch for Unlocked. Jill is the author of The Nine Lives of Travis Keating and most recently The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy, two wonderful books for young people. The Nine Lives of Travis Keating won the Ann Conner Brimer Award and The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy has been nominated this year for the same award…Yay Jill!! Imagine my delight when Jill bought a copy of my book that evening for me to sign.

No photos of Noreen Smiley, who is our CANSCAIP rep for Eastern Canada. I introduced myself to Noreen earlier in the day at the book launch, another wonderfully supportive author. I chatted a bit with Kate Inglis (author of The Dread Crew, Nimbus Publishing). Again, no photo. I’ll have to speak to my photographer.!

I’m not ashamed to say, I was like an excited child when Budge Wilson sat beside me. Budge is also an award winning author and another truly talented writer in our area. Of all the writers for children’s book that I ever hope to meet, Budge is up there at the top of my list. She’s simply amazing and the sweetest, most down to earth person you’d ever want to meet.

I’d met Steve Vernon at Word on the Street back in September. Steve’s a great support to local writers and a fellow Nimbus author. Steve has turned his talents from writing ghost stories to include writing for kids with his Maritime Monsters book, proving his versatility as a writer. Way to go, Steve!

The evening was a wonderful celebration, a time for me to meet other authors which is not something I get to do very often. What a great group of people. My only regret was that we had to leave earlier than I would have liked to. That long drive home, you know.

So that was my weekend. Pretty frigging awesome I’d say. I’ll take author overload any day.

So what’s it really about?

Before the publication of “Bitter, Sweet” my oldest daughter and I had a conversation about the book and I remember saying that I didn’t want this whole experience to be just about sales. I know what you’re probably thinking, sales are important. Absolutely. Writers need to make a living too, so in one sense sales do matter. Not to mention that the publishing company needs to make money in order to stay in business.

But is that all that really matters? I sure hope not. I hope that somewhere, somehow this little story I wrote a few years back will mean much, much more to me than a few royalty cheques in the mail.

My daughter reminded me of our conversation recently when I mentioned that “Bitter, Sweet” was temporarily of stock on Amazon. (I concluded that perhaps they only had about four copies of the book in stock to begin with. I mean who really knows what that means?) Okay….so I’ve been spying on my book. I’ll admit that.

So is it all about sale, the very thing I didn’t want this to become? I’ve been thinking a lot about this and I can say in all honesty that no, it isn’t. For me this book is about so much more. It is about a whole community working together the day of the book launch to make it the most memorable event possible and, the little notes I received the day of the launch, the flowers, the well wishes and emails not only from my family and friends, but from perfect strangers who know nothing more about me other than the fact that I’ve written a book. This book is about the other authors on facebook— Helene Boudreau, Steve Vernon, Shari Green—- who have been helping to promote my book by writing reviews, giving out links to my book on Amazon for everyone on their friends list to see. It is about a blogger friend, Carol Garvin setting up an interview to help promote it as well– a dear lady who took the time to think up questions for the interview and using her valuable time just to help out another writer. It is the looks of excitement on people’s faces when they let me know they’ve been checking out the bookstores and it’s about the people who have never before entered a bookstore, let alone purchased a book, wanting copies of my book. It’s about the people who have taken the time to actually read the book and to tell me how much they enjoyed it. How cool is all that? It is about people in the blogging community cheering me on, dropping in to read my post and taking the time to leave comment. So far, this little book has brought out the best in a whole lot of people.

So, it is about more than sales. I’d say this little book  is doing pretty darn good for itself.

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