Going Back to the Beginning

Years ago, when I first began writing what would later become The Cammie Series, I knew that Cammie was a survivor of the Ideal Maternity Home, a place that really existed in Nova Scotia during that time. Of course, this information didn’t actually come out until Cammie finally learned a bit about her past in the sequel, Cammie Takes Flight.

Babies born at the home became known as survivors because there so many babies (numbering in the hundreds) that were born there ended up buried in butterboxes. The true story of the Ideal Maternity Home is a tragic one and there have been non-fiction books written about it. If you want to learn more, I’d suggest you check out Bette Cahill’s book, Butterbox Babies. There is a lot of important information in her book.

My latest book in The Cammie Series, The Family Way, is set at The Ideal Maternity Home where Tulia’s mother works and of course the place where Cammie was born.

Years ago, the survivors of the home had a monument placed in the area where the home once stood. It burned many years later. A picture of the The Ideal Maternity is on the cover of my book. The home was expanded over time to become what you see on the cover of my book.

On the weekend we drove out to the monument in East Chester again. I had been there before when I was writing the book to get a sense of the location and the area in general. This time, I wanted to take Cammie back to the place where it started.

My writing takes me on many adventures into the lives of the characters I create. My interest in local history and local settings is always present in the stories I write. I happen to think that our own backyard is just as interesting as stories set in exotic locations.

As with writing any series, the story can either continue or else come to a conclusion. I haven’t yet decided if book 3 will bring Cammie’s story to a conclusion or not as I do see the potential to continue. I suppose much of it will depend upon Cammie and if/when she’s ready to let the cat out of the bag. I’ll be sure to share it with you when I know, but for now I’m as much in the dark as what you are.

The Count Down Is On

Today marks a month until the release of my next book THE FAMILY WAY, a middle grade novel  based on the true story of The Ideal Maternity Home and its tragic Butterbox Babies. The count down is on! It won’t be long now. As I mentioned before it can be pre-ordered through your local books store, directly from Nimbus Publishing, Chapters and Amazon. But you all know that.

Spring is around us and its fills me with hope. I even saw my first robin. While we still have some snow hanging around in my area, you don’t have to go far to see open fields without a single solitary flake.

Releasing a new book is always exciting, even during a pandemic. As with my last book, I expect things will be slightly different and much will depend upon the restrictions that are in place in the coming weeks. You can be sure that I’ll keep you updated.

Having sent my first round of editors off to my illustrious editor for A SURE CURE FOR WITCHCRAFT, I am back working on a YA novel I began some time ago. It’s so nice to be creating for a change and having a break from edits. There is always something to work at. I will keep you up on the news that might come along.

This weekend the time changes. I’m not a big fan of the spring-ahead thing. I often wished they’d leave the time one way or another. But since the “powers that be” don’t often check these things out with me, I am at the mercy of this time change like everyone else.

I hope you enjoy the weekend ahead!

 

Saying Good Bye to THE FAMILY WAY

Just moments ago I said goodbye to THE FAMILY WAY. Honestly, I breathed a sigh of relief. This means, of course, that the files have now been sent off to the printer and we are coming into the home stretch. The April 13th release day is not that far away .

The Family Way is book #3 in the Cammie series. The first two books were of course FLYING WITH A BROKEN WING and CAMMIE TAKES FLIGHT.

Soon, I’ll be holding all our hard work in my hands. Yes, I did say “our hard work” because it takes many hands to get a book to publication. Can’t say enough good about the entire Nimbus team. Hard to believe this is my fifth book with them. I well remember when the publication of a book felt like an unattainable dream, one that I kept working toward even those times when I didn’t believe it would ever happen.

Here is the final cover, front and back. Call me silly, but I’m quite partial to the little pram on the book spine.  Some of you might recognize the building on the front as The Ideal Maternity Home. The Blurb on the back was written by Hadley Dyer, a writer I admire greatly. We met many years ago when her book, JOHNNY KELLOCK DIED TODAY was published and she later gave me some wonderful advice that I never forgot. And the fact that she’s a “Valley girl” is an added bonus. We actually attended the same high school–in different centuries of course.

The Family Way can be pre-ordered right now directly from Me, the author (Yes, I’ll take pre-orders too if you’re in the area! Simply message me on Facebook or through the CONTACT page of this blog. )You can also pre-order from your local  Independent bookstore,    Nimbus Publishing. Indigo  Amazon.ca  Amazon.com

Butterboxes and ARCs

Back in the  early 90’s Bette Cahill broke the story of the Butterbox Babies. Until that time it had been a well-kept secret. While people nearby knew of The Ideal Maternity Home, many of them had no idea of the atrocities that were taking place there.

It was while I was writing FLYING WITH A BROKEN WING, the story of a visually impaired girl who is determined to find her mother, that I realized she was, in fact, a survivor of the Ideal Maternity Home. While this fact is revealed in CAMMIE TAKES FLIGHT, we still do not discover who Cammie’s mother is or the circumstance surrounding her birth.

But all that will be revealed in April when my upcoming book hits the bookshelves. I hope readers will continue the journey with Cammie as we go back in time to when Cammie was born. While the book will answer many questions for readers, it’s important to know that THE FAMILY WAY is also what we call a stand alone novel, meaning that you don’t have to have read the first two novels in order for this one to make sense. It can be read on its own.

I want to give a shout-out to Sue Slade manager of the Dartmouth Book Exchange for sending along this photo. In case you are wondering, that is a butterbox in the background, similar to the ones that came from the LaHave Creamery and served as small coffins for the newborns that died at the home.

Thanks, Sue.

The Family Way

Just a quick blog post to bring everyone up to speed about my next book.. Yes, there’s soon to be a next!

The title of the new book is The Family Way and is due to be published in April 2021.

The ARCs have been sent off to the printer awhile ago. We still have to finalize the cover for the actual book but there’s still plenty of time for that. If you remember, ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) are sent out early to reviewers and book sellers in advance of the actually book. To, hopefully, get people excited about the book before it actually comes out.

The Family Way is what we call a stand-alone middle-grade novel, but is also the prequel to my other two Cammie novels, Flying with a Broken Wing and Cammie Takes Flight. What that means is that you don’t have to have read the other two novels in order for this one to make sense. Thus the term—stand alone. The book is set at the infamous Ideal Maternity Home in East Chester in 1939, the year Cammie was born. If you’ve heard anything about The Butterbox Babies, this is where that true life story actually happened.

Here’s the back cover copy and will give you a bit of an idea what the book is about.:

Set in 1930 and based on true events, this middle-grade novel explores family secrets, set at the Ideal Maternity Home.

Tulia May lives in rural Nova Scotia with her mother, who works in the laundry of the nearby Ideal Maternity Home. It’s a place where unwed mothers can discreetly give birth, a place where adoptions by rich Americans can be quickly arranged. Tulia doesn’t think about the workings of the home much; mostly she hates being roped in to helping scrub the endless diapers. Her friend Finny Paul has suspicions that the home is holding sinister secrets—the worst being that unadoptable babies are being buried in butterboxes—but Tulia thinks he’s being ridiculous. When Tulia’s sister Becky ends up in the home, Tulia truly starts to consider Finny’s concerns. And when she and Finny discover what’s really going on there, she knows she has to act quickly to keep Becky’s baby safe.

Based on the true story of the Ideal Maternity Home, and its tragic Butterbox Babies, The Family Way is a thoughtful and engaging exploration of family and of Nova Scotia’s history. A stand-alone middle-grade novel, it also serves as a prequel to the critically acclaimed Cammie novels, Flying With a Broken Wing and Cammie Takes Flight.

When I have a finalized cover, I will share it here on my blog.  In the meantime, edits for yet another middle-grade book A Sure Cure for Witchcraft  will be getting underway in the next month or so. I actually started that book many years ago and have worked on it  off and on since then, trying to get it to a place where I’m satisfied with the end result.  I’m so happy that it is now going to be published in fall 2021. The story is set in Germany in the mid-1700’s and at the time when Foreign Protestants were immigrating to this country. It was actually where my ancestors on both sides of my mother’s family came from, so this book is especially important to me.

So that’s sort of it for now. I hope you’re finding some positive things in your life these days. It has been difficult for so many of us with the pandemic on, but despite the pandemic, life still goes on. That means we have to learn to adapt, to search for the joy in our lives, no matter how difficult that joy may be to find.

Have a wonderful November.

 

Mid-Winter 2020 Catch-up

I love it when we get to February and the lengthening days can be readily seen. Not only that, February 2nd (Ground Hog Day or Candlemas Day, whatever you want to call it) marks the half-way point for winter. Yay! And while I know there can still be plenty of winter snow and ice in the forecast, knowing that we’ve reached that half-way point always fills me with hope.

February also means that there’s only a few more months until Good Mothers Don’t hits the bookshelves. Many of you who follow me on social media are already aware that it made the CBC list of Works of Canadian Fiction to watch for in spring 2020 which of course is very exiting for me, this being my first novel about to enter the adult world and all.

The book has received some wonderful blurbs from Carol Bruneau, Linda Little and Christy-Ann Conlin and have been posted on the Amazon site. Here.  I can’t tell you what it means to get such great endorsements from these three remarkable writers. There is also an excerpt posted on the site if you’re at all curious.

Right now, Good Mothers Don’t is available for pre-order at Independent books stores across the country, Chapters and Coles, as well as Amazon. Pre-ordering just means you’ll be one of the first to get your hands on a copy, hot off the press. It’s already received a few ratings on GoodReads and has actually been added by some readers which I’m totally thrilled about since there are still two months before publication!! If you’d like to add it to your own reading list or even read the first review on Goodreads, the link is here  written by Darlene Foster, the author of the Amanda Travel Series. You can check out her blog and her books here.

January saw me back into the edits for my next middle grade novel about to be published in fall 2020. It’s the prequel to the Cammie books and I’m excited for the story of Cammie’s first year to finally be revealed so you all can find out how Millie actually came to have Cammie and exactly who Cammie’s parents are. There is also a bit of a surprise at the end, something even I hadn’t seen coming until quite late into the writing.

This book is set in East Chester and revolves around the Ideal Maternity Home, the place where Cammie was born. Many of you already know much of the story behind the infamous home that buried stillborns in butterboxes. It was widely reported on. The story of the Butterbox Babies effected many people in Canada but also the United States, since many of the babies were adopted out to people in the US. Many of the “survivors” as still looking for their birth parents and the story is very relevant today even after all these years. If you haven’t yet heard of it, or want a little more information I have a link onto my blog HERE.

I’ll keep you updated on the book and share the cover, etc. when it’s available. (Yep, still working on a title for it) All this is still several months away so be patient!

I’m presently working on a YA novel that I began several years back and I’m hoping to set a realistic goal on completing it. I say realistic because this will be a busy spring for me with an up-coming book launch that my friends already have in the works. I mean how great is that? I’m already booked for several book club discussions and of course there will be book signings, etc. I’m not, by nature a goal-setter, but it worked well for me in the past. But, as I said, goals have to be realistic or else you’re just setting yourself up to fail. Don’t want to do that.

While I have several other books simmering along, I’m not going to look too far ahead or set too many goals at this point.

So, there you have my mid-winter catch-up. Now, we just need more sunshine and less snow and before you know it spring will be here.

Spring in February

This winter has seemed suspiciously more like spring than winter. Just last week I was working outside all afternoon without a jacket. That shouldn’t be happening. I did have a pullover on over my shirt but still… it’s February. And again, today felt more like an April day. I was tempted to go out and look for signs of crocuses because you just never know. We have had a bit of snow off and on but nothing like we had two or three years ago, thank goodness. This photo speaks volumes of what that winter was like. We did get to enjoy a fair amount of snowshoeing that year so it made it much more enjoyable. Kind of an if-you-can’t-bet-em-join-em attitude I suppose and it really did help. However, as nice as it is to have spring nipping at out heels, I’m trying not to have a false sense of security about this. There is still plenty of time for winter to kick in.

I’ve added a bit about the Ideal Maternity Home on my blog HERE. It’s under The Cammie Takes Flight tab. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I was planning to do this. While this is a story known to many in Nova Scotia it might not be as well known in other parts. There is plenty of information out there about the home, but I do have a photo I took of the monument the survivors placed in East Chester a number of years back. The whole story surrounding the home is a sad one, yet it is part of our local history. I’m planning to add additional links to this post for anyone looking for more information. There have also been several books written on the subject.

Also, Cammie Takes Flight is now available through the CELA library. YAY!  This library is for people with print disabilities and the books are in audio. I’m quite please about this for obvious reasons. I say it seems quite fitting that the book is available for people who are visually impaired like Cammie.

Presently, I’m in the process of writing a synopsis for a story that may or may not be finished. I say it that way as one never knows when something will suddenly seem out of place and you wake in the middle of the night to declare that you need to make more changes even though you’ve already written “The end” several times over a two year period. I now know enough about writing to understand that “the end” doesn’t really come about until you’re holding that book in your hands. Only then is it too late to make changes.

Oh yes, and I’ve been knitting again. Well, knitting and unraveling and knitting again. But I’m still getting there. It’s no different than writing. Kind of a one step forward two steps back, but luckily it doesn’t last forever. Eventually you do reach your goal.

And lastly, I’ve received a number of emails from young readers this past while and I have to say it’s always nice to hear from those who’ve read Cammie’s story. It reminded me that I also have some authors to email whose books I’ve read and enjoyed. While it takes only a few minutes a little author appreciation means so much to an author.

How is your February going? Has the weather been a little interesting where you are?

 

 

Working My Way Through Winter

With Cammie being nominated for the Silver Birch Award, meaning that a lot of kids will be reading the book, I decided to create a post about the Halifax School for the Blind in case anyone was interested in knowing a bit more about it since it’s  also where the book is set. I’ve already shared this post on Facebook a week ago. You can find it by hovering over the Cammie Takes Flight tab at the top of my blog it should drop down and from there you click on it. Or you can follow the link HERE. The post explains how I used some of stories my mother and stepfather told me about their experience at the school when writing the book. This doesn’t mean the events in the book were real, of course not, it just means these experiences inspired me to create a fictitious story. Being able to add real details only adds to a story’s authenticity. That doesn’t mean a writer can’t also take certain liberties when writing as well. That’s the beauty of writing fiction.

I’m also planning to add some information on the Ideal Maternity Home in the future. Five years ago, when I first started writing the book, I went out to the spot where the maternity home used to stand. As mentioned in the back of the book, there’s a monument there to mark the place, and I did take some photos. It burned in the sixties. As sad and tragic as what the story about the home is it is a part of our history here in Nova Scotia and something I’m exploring further as I work on my next book.

Now that Christmas is behind us, and we’re making our way through winter, I’ve been able to devote more time to reading and writing. I’ve also more time to think and daydream. A lot of thinking goes into any book and something that can be done while doing housework or other mundane activities. What could be better? A writer doesn’t just sit down at the keyboard and watch the words materialize like magic. We spend as much time plotting a story as we do writing and rewriting. Some chapters take more time than others, some paragraphs for that matter, as we smooth out the writing and find that flow that makes our words sound effortless. Believe me, some first drafts can be pretty choppy. But that’s the part I like, pulling out the wrinkles, finding the right placement for a sentence or even word. Yes, it can be that exact.

I won’t lie. It’s easy to become discouraged, no matter how many books you have published or how many great reviews your work receives. Writing is challenging. It’s a solitary activity. Sometimes it can get lonely. Thankfully, we have our characters for company. So here I am, again, working my way through winter, keeping my head down and concentrating on the finish line.

Until next time.

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