Going to the Fair

As a kid going to the fair always meant the East Dalhousie Fair where you could enter exhibits and win prizes, buy an ice cream cone, dunk your neighbour in a tank of water and watch the parade. While I didn’t see anyone getting dunked today, and there weren’t any ice cream cones circulating, there were plenty of books and authors at the book fair in the Kingstec Campus in Kentville to celebrate children’s literacy.

I love taking part in book events, meeting people and chatting with fellow authors. Jan Coates and I shared a table. We seem to do that a lot. I made sure to get a photo of the two of us together since, in all the years we’ve been friends and have gone to different events, I didn’t have one.

Jan’s new picture book Sky Pig is hot off the presses and she’ll be launching her book on May 7th at the Box of Delights. Love, love, love this one so much I had to get my very own copy. I know, I know, I’ll get the grandkids their own copy later cause some things you just can’t share even with grandkids.

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So who else was at the fair?

Bet you know this gal from her Live at Five days. Starr Dobson‘s second book in the Gertrude Series came out a few years back. You might remember a few years back when I attended her signing at the Dempsey Corner Farm. You can read the post here if you  missed it first time around. For any of you wondering, she’s friendly and SO down to earth. And even though she’s no longer on Live at Five, she’ll always be a celebrity to Maritimers.

DSC07282Carolyn Mallory was there with her book Painted Skies. I’ve read this one and you should too. It’s really a delight. It’s about the Northern Lights. I mean, who isn’t fascinated by the Northern Lights? I love the art work. Carolyn is also an artist and her work is just wonderful!

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Jackie Halsey was at the fair. Explosion Newsie is her latest book.  Lovely illustrations and, as an added bonus, it’s about the Halifax Explosion. I did read it to my oldest grandson over Christmas. He’s just two and I didn’t have my glasses on that night but I was able to improvise and Levi seemed pleased.

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Lila Hope-Simpson and I traded books which is something I’ve done a time or two in the past with various authors. I’m really looking forward to reading her book Stepping Out. Sorry I didn’t get a photo of Lila. Sometimes my brain is on pause. It happened a second time today when I picked up Fox Talk by Lindsey Carmicheal for Miss Charlotte. She quite enjoys non-fiction and I’m sure she’ll enjoy this one.

I met Meghan Marentette who brought along her book The Stowaways. She seems quite lovely. Hopefully, I’ll get to know a bit more about her in the future.

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We popped by Melanie Mosher’s table to chat a bit…Again no photo (That makes three brain pauses).

So this is who I saw at the fair. There were other author’s there but I didn’t get around to everyone’s table. We also had a visit from blogger Lynn Davidson. It’s always lovely to see Lynn. I think she’d agree with me that it was a very productive day for her! She found a few goodies to take home in her bag.

If you ever get a chance to go to a book fair I urge you to do so. It’s a great way to find out about books and to meet and chat with some of your favourite authors. We’re an interesting bunch if I do say so myself!

And now, I have some reading to get caught up on!

Interview With Daphne Greer

photoToday, it is my pleasure to welcome author Daphne Greer to my blog. Daphne’s here to talk about her latest novel, Jacob’s Landing, which was published by Nimbus Publishing this past spring. Daphne says that never in a million years did she ever picture herself being a writer. She admits that she was not a good student in school and couldn’t spell. She spent her summers working at camps, with children always being the center of her attention.  She eventually  made her way to University and graduated with a Bachelor of Child Studies from Mount St Vincent University. Daphne is the author of Maxed Out (An American Library Association Nominee for best quick read) and her latest book,  Jacob’s Landing,  a Silver Birch Nominee.  She lives in Newport Landing with her husband and four daughters.

About Jacob’s Landing : Coping with the recent death of his father, twelve-year-old Jacob Mosher is !cid_7288C98B-A0D0-4073-A8F3-A908F0874800@Nimbussent to spend the summer with his aging, estranged (and strange!) grandparents in rural Newport Landing, Nova Scotia. Reluctantly, he trades the security of his foster mum in “Upper Canada” for a blind grandfather, Frank, who dresses like a sea captain and conducts flag-raising ceremonies, and a quirky grandmother, Pearl, who sometimes forgets her dentures and has Jacob running in circles. Jacob has two short months to figure out how to deal with his ailing grandfather, the surging Avon River tides, and the family secret that’s haunting his newfound grandparents. He didn’t expect so much danger and mystery to be lurking in tiny Newport Landing.

1.Can you tell us a little about your writing career, how and when the writing bug bit you?

14 years ago I pretty much stumbled into writing. My cousin’s son was struggling with his older brother with special needs and I was trying to figure out how I could be helpful. I initially went looking for a picture book that might help him understand his brother better. When I wasn’t successful I decided to write him a picture book myself. I called it, ‘The Boy Who Smiled.’ At the time I was working full time managing group homes for adults with special needs. I was also a busy mom of three girls until I became pregnant with our fourth daughter and landed in the hospital on bed rest for three months. To fill the time I started writing picture books. Fast forward to deciding to be a stay at home mother. I decided that writing would be my second career. Little did I know how difficult that would be. I quickly realized that I had to learn the craft of writing – loving to write was not enough. So, I joined the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia and trotted off to my very first class with Noreen Smiley with my little picture book in hand, where it quickly morphed into a chapter book and took on a whole new life. Many moons later it was published with the title, Maxed Out, as a quick read geared towards reluctant readers. I also wrote a short story called, Christmas Dinner at Wallace Point, which appeared in A Maritime Christmas (which is when I first met the lovely Laura Best, as we both had stories published in the collection.)My writing has lead me to be involved with Writers in the Schools where I give presentations to school age children – hopefully inspiring them to believe anything is possible.

2. You recently had a new novel published can you tell us a bit about it and where the inspiration for this novel came from?

I love stories about families and how they overcome hardship. Bits of stories that I might be privy too or hear about linger in my brain and slosh about until something perks my interest. In this case my Dad suggested I write about Newport Landing and the rich history of the area where we live. At the time I was working with elderly people so they were front and center in my mind. One morning I woke up early and pictured a young boy sitting across from his grandmother who he’s never met and all he can concentrate on is the fact that her false teeth keep slipping out of place. Jacob and Pearl were born and the story unfolded on its own. To my delight I was able to sneak some historical facts about my community into the story.

3. Your latest novel is set in Newport Landing. Why did you chose this location?

Newport Landing lends itself to a story as the scenery is breath taking. The area is rich with history and my husband and I have raised our four daughters here. It just felt right for the story.

4. How did you choose the title for Jacob’s Landing? And can you tell us a bit about the cover?

The title describes the main character who goes to stay with his estranged grandparents for the summer, where he ultimately lands on his feet. My writing group was instrumental with the title. I took the photo at the Avon River Heritage Museum near our home. In the story a telescope figures prominently. I had wanted to take the photo from the widows walk from one of the mansions across the street from my house, but it has seen better days and isn’t safe. The boy featured on the cover is Oliver Mitson a neighborhood boy who was the same age as Jacob in the story. Nimbus did a fantastic job with the cover. The compass is a neat symbol that represents Jacob finding family.

5. Jacob’s grandparents are both colourful characters. Did the inspiration for these characters come from real life?

I never really know my characters until they appear on the page, but at the time I was surrounded by many different colorful elderly people whom I’m sure made their way onto the pages of Jacob’s Landing in various ways, but no one character is based off anyone in particular.

6. How long did it take you to write Jacob’s Landing and can you describe the process from submissions to publication?

It usually takes me the better part of a school calendar year to write my first draft. I focus on producing a chapter per week to take to my writing group where we provide each other with feedback. The process from submission to publication is basically a big fat waiting game. A few sample chapters along with a letter to the publisher gets sent out. Because most editors read the submissions on their own time it can be anywhere from 3- 9 months before you hear back. Once you’ve been accepted with a publishing company the editor gives you and overview of what they like and don’t like about your story. The writer is then asked to do a re- write, taking everything into consideration. Once the editor is happy and you’re happy, things move rather quickly to line edits where the editor goes through every line with a fine tooth comb, making everything sound tighter. Words get deleted and questions get asked that the writer might not have thought about. I personally love the editing process. I don’t mind someone pointing out things I have missed or not thought about. At the end of the day the editor wants your story to be the best it can be. Trust is the name of the game.

7. With so many people choosing to self-publish these days, have you ever considered it as an option or do you prefer working with a publishing house?

I admire authors that have gone the self- publishing route, but I’m not as brave or confident enough to know that at the end of the day my work would be the best it could be. I’ve heard too many horror stories of self -publishing miss haps. For me I feel a great sense of comfort in knowing that certain things will be taken care of by the publishing house that I’m not so great at. I am not an editor for a reason.

8. Are you working on anything new and, if so, can you tell us a bit about it?

I’m a conflicted writer at the moment as I have three stories I want to write and I’m having trouble picking one to focus on. I have been given the extraordinary privilege of telling a story from the point of view of a young man with Asperger’s. I’m very excited and nervous about this project as it’s a huge undertaking. Another story is about a young girl in middle school who struggles with middle school stuff J and the third is a sequel to Jacob’s Landing. At present I’m waiting to hear back on two stories that are out in the ‘publishing universe.’   One is a sequel to Maxed Out and the other is story set in Belgium at a Convent run by Ursuline nuns – inspired by a friend in England who was raised by nuns after her mother died. When I was fourteen I was sent to a convent in Brussels while my dad was working overseas. The convent was rich with writing material.

9. Do you have any advice to pass along to writers who are not yet published?

Patience. Patience. Patience – is the name of the game. Writing is not for anyone who wants things to happen in a hurry or on your own time. If you’re willing to work hard, never give up, never get side swiped by the word NO – and if you love to write, then jump in and tread water like the rest of us. Learn everything you can about the craft of writing, join the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia, take courses, meet like- minded people, get feedback on your writing, enter competitions, put yourself out there and NEVER GIVE UP. You need to have thick skin and not take things personally. Keep a note pad with you at all times because your ideas will come to you in the strangest places, but most importantly enjoy the process of writing.

10. Is there anything else about Jacob’s Landing that you would like readers to know?

I’m thrilled to announce that Jacob’s landing is a Silver Birch Nominee by the Ontario Library Association. This is a huge deal in the ‘children’s writing world.’ It’s like getting nomination for the ‘People’s Choice Award,’ in TV land, except it’s for books and the children decide which book they like the best. Jacob’s Landing is one of ten books nominated and I feel incredibly blessed to be among the writers in this category.

Tanita Davis (YA blogger from California) summed up Jacob’s Landing so beautifully – I’ll give her the last word. : Like a perfect summer day – warm, but with just a kiss of breeze – Daphne Greer’s book celebrates the best things about foster care, family, friendships, and bridging the generations to make our own truths. This is a book you’ll want to hug.

!cid_7288C98B-A0D0-4073-A8F3-A908F0874800@NimbusJacob’s Landing  is available at  Amazon.ca,  Amazon.comChapters as well as Woozles in Halifax, the Box of Delights in Wolfville and most independent books stores.

To find out more about Daphne check out her website Here  

twitter: @daphne_greer

instragram : daphnegreerr

 

Dinosaurs, Crowns and Twins

I just got to the point where I’d had enough. I was completely fed up. And so, a week ago I decided to slay the dinosaur in my house—yes, I did say dinosaur. Yes, I did say slay. Let me explain.

She was simply taking up too much room with her slow, uncontrolled, unpredictable moves. Not to mention all the grumbling that was left in her wake. As far as dinosaurs go, she wasn’t really so bad, not like your run-of-the-mill T-rex or even stegosaurus which I venture to guess would be next to impossible to cohabitate with. My dinosaur was clunky and pre-historic but I brought her home when she was newly hatched. We bonded. I knew her every clunk, thump and grind. I wasn’t always appreciative of her. (You know how you tend to take all those dinosaurs in your life for granted.) She allowed me to check email, and Facebook, but she wasn’t so nice to me when I visited my friends in blogland. Sometimes she simply refused to budge. She didn’t want me to *like* any of you, and she didn’t want me to make any comments on your posts. Sometimes, she even forced me to go to the local c@p site to upload photos to my own blog. Imagine that.

Power can go to a dinosaur’s head.

Overtime, she became too independent for her own good. We were becoming disconnected. Yet, I resisted…and resisted. Even though I grumbled and complained. Finally, I just had enough. I mean, how long can you cohabitate with a dinosaur and be happy?

Life’s too short not to be happy with your dinosaur.

So, she’s gone, put to rest, retired, withdrawn, given the boot.

My life will be a bit easier.

Saturday was the launching of Jan Coate’s brand new picture book, The King of Keji at The Box of Delights in Wolfville. Can you imagine a better name for a bookstore? I had a great time. The book’s illustrator, Patsy MacKinnon was also at the launch. Crowns were made for the kids which was pretty cool. Did I get a crown? You bet. In fact, I got two for the little people in my life. I didn’t want to push it by asking for one for myself. Seriously, the crown-making was a big hit with the kids and worked in well with the picture book. Jan read the story which many of you know is set at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Park right here in Nova Scotia. Patsy explained a bit about how she creates the illustrations. I believe she said she worked on them for about six months. I love the colours she used.

While he didn't make the book launch, Levi was happy with his crown and book!

While he didn’t make the book launch, Levi was happy with his crown and book!

When you get married and have twins;
Don’t come to me for safety pins.

Speaking of dinosaurs, how out-dated is that verse? Perhaps as out-dated as autograph books which I’m writing into my next story. Does anyone use safety pins or cloth diapers these days? Autograph books?

While on the subject of twins… Some of you already know that we’re about to be blessed with twins this time around. Master Levi is going to be a big brother at the ripe old age of 22 months. There’s no quicker way for a child to grow up then to become an older sibling. I know a mom and dad who are going to be BUSY in the future; September, or so we’re told. Hard to say with twins. We’re all so excited. Being a nanny and guppy is pretty darn cool.

So, that’s my news for now. What’s news in your corner?

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