Dandelions, book signings and childhood memories

While walking outside with my granddaughter recently, she looked at the dandelions growing behind the house and said, “Some people think dandelions are weeds, but I think they’re flowers.”

Okay, so I had to agree with her. I happen to think of them as flowers as well.

Of course her statement reminded me that life really is just a matter of perception, that there isn’t always a right or wrong to things, and that the perfection we often strive to find only exists in our own minds. The answer lies in the way we’ve been conditioned to think and be.

I was also reminded that day of what it’s like to see the world through the eyes of a child, something we lose through the process of living. Can you imagine a world where everyone sees a dandelion as a flower instead of a weed? We certainly wouldn’t be striving so hard to have them removed. I know people who put a great deal of effort into removing dandelions from their property, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong in that especially if that’s something important to you.  Of course, the magic of it all is that in a few short weeks they leave all on their own with no assistance from us—just saying

I love the story my sister used to tell about “blow flowers.” When her daughter was young she was fascinated by the fluffy white dandelion heads that had gone to seed and she called them “blow flowers.” At the time I thought: leave it to a child to see the beauty in something that’s at the end of its life cycle.  I remember picking those dead dandelions as a child, blowing on them, and watching the seeds fly through the air. Such a simple thing and yet it was fun. I suppose those same white heads would make most adults cringe as they imagine their lush green lawns becoming a field of yellow the coming year. However, my granddaughter would be delighted!

Yesterday, I was off to Coles in the Bridgewater mall for a book signing. It was part of the Canada 150 celebration that Coles and Chapters had set up with various authors coming in at one hour intervals. As I’ve said in the past, for me, it’s never about the amount of books bought or sold but the conversation with those who drop by. I had some really great conversations, found out some news, shared some laughs and sold some books. Author  Syr Ruus  dropped by to lend her support too, so that was an added bonus. Have I mentioned that Syr’s memoir will be published next year?

I’ll also be at the Inside Story in Greenwood on the 24th. I’m quite pleased to be going there. The very first book signing I ever attended was at the Inside Story. Allison Maher was signing copies of I, the Spy. I was quite nervous meeting her and remembering being  a bit in awe that she’d had a book published. I’d been published in various literary magazines at that point but had my sights on one day having a book published as well. Of course I had yet to write that book. She encouraged me to keep writing, and reminded me that dreams do come true. She was so right.  A few years later Hadley Dyer was signing copies of Johnny Kellock Died Today  and when I head she’d gone to the same High School I did I knew I had to go meet her. Still didn’t have a book of my own published.  Loved her book, BTW and we’ve kept in contact since. She’s been very supportive of my writing and that means so very much. I’ve also gone to the Inside Story to hear Sheree Fitch read from her first adult novel, Kiss the Joy as it Flies . My first novel , Bitter, Sweet had been accepted for publication and Sheree was absolutely wonderful. So, as you can see, it’s a real thrill for me to actually be going there this time to sign copies of my own book. I do love signings, you really never know who you’re going to meet or what great conversations you’ll end up having. And, if you’re lucky, the cherry on top of it all could be a few book sales.

So, as I come to end of these ramblings I find myself curious to know:  do you consider a dandelion to be a flower or a weed, and have you ever gone to a book signing before? If so do you remember the first one? Did it leave you with any lasting impressions?

I won! I won!

Okay, let me calm down for a second so  I can share my exciting news with you.

Who’s the winner of the Booker Award? That would be moi, thank you.

Admit it, for  a split  second you thought,  Hmm, does  Laura  actually mean the prestigious Booker Prize, that  International writing award any author would give their first born up to win? …Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you know what I mean.  Did you see the little note below the prize that says “For those who refuse to live in the real world.” Ummm, that would be moi as well.  But listen, an author has a right to dream and dream big, right?  In the meantime I’m most  happy with my Booker Award  and the knowledge that my first born  didn’t  have to  make any sacrifices  for my  writing  career. (I’m a good mom, aren’t I?)

I was given this award by Darlene Foster, author of the Amanda series of books for children 8-12.  Check  out her  blog and you’ll  learn all about her and this great series. Darlene’s one of the nicest bloggers/authors/people I’ve met  on line. And to think we might never have crossed paths had it not been for the Country Roads anthology we were both contributors to.

Accepting this award means I’ll list five of my favourite books. Now this won’t be my five all time favourite since I couldn’t possible narrow it down to five, and I’m  also going to use this opportunity to give some shout outs to a few local books –so here I go:

Kit’s  Law  by Donna Morrissey.  This was Donna’s debut  novel and it’s a terrific read. I especially like the fact that Donna lives in my home province of Nova Scotia. I haven’t  yet met Donna but she’s on my list  of  author’s  too meet.  I came close  this fall  as she was  scheduled to come to The Inside Story  for a book signing, but had to cancel. Still hoping she makes it there. Would love to meet her.

The Birth House by Ami McKay. You know how every now and again we read a book and think, this is a book I would have liked to have written just because it seems to really speak to you in a special way?  Well, the Birth House is one of those books for me.  Ami is a fellow Nova Scotian as well. Her book was a #1 Canadian bestseller.

The Case  Against Owen Williams by Allan Donaldson.  Allan in a fellow Maritimer and lives in New Brunswick. I thought this novel well written and made me sympathetic toward a character  whom I might otherwise been indifferent to.

My next two are children’s books, and books that would also appeal to many adults as well.

Johnny Kellock Died Today by Hadley Dyer. Hadley grew up in the Annapolis Valley and even went to the same high school as me which I think is rather neat in itself. I met Hadley at a book signing some years back and she sent me some notes of encouragement at one time. A very supportive writer.

The Year Mrs. Montague Cried by Susan White. Susan is a writer from New Brunswick. I totally enjoyed this book and the fact that Susan drew on her own experience of losing her son made it so very authentic.

So there you have five books that I can’t really call my favourite, but local books I really enjoyed. I’m not going to pass this award on, but if you`d like to leave a list in the comment section of five, or four, or three….books you really enjoyed please feel free to do so.

Happy Reading!

Starr Dobson Struck

Every Maritimer should recognize the name Starr Dobson. If you don’t you must be living in complete isolation. For those of you not from the Maritime area, Starr is the co-host of Live at Five, a suppertime news show which highlights people and stories from the Maritime region.

In case any of you are wondering about the title of this post, I wasn’t actually struck by Starr Dobson when we met last Sunday, of course not, silly! In fact, she couldn’t have been any more gracious when I caught up with her at Dempsey Corner Orchard Farm  near Aylesford, Nova Scotia.

We were greeted at the door by two rather rambunctious goats. Quite fitting since  Starr was there to sign copies of her picture book, newly published by Nimbus Publishing, titled My Goat Gertrude.

About an hour into the book signing, Starr read her book to a group of children who sat listening to her every word. She captivated them all, and no wonder. Nothing like having a local celebrity in your midst with a great book. I’ve never seen so many children quite that quiet.  The moment I heard about Starr’s book, and that she was going to be handy my neck of the woods, I knew I had to get a copy for Miss Charlotte. It was no surprise to learn that Starr is just as friendly in person as what we see on Live at Five every evening. In fact, she is so down to earth you almost feel as though she’s a member of the family.

The lovely illustrations for the book were created by Dayle Dodwell who lives in Bedford, Nova Scotia. You can visit her at dayledodwellsillustration.blogspot.com. This is the very first children’s book that Dayle has illustrated. I’d say she did a number one job! There are more illustrations on her site. I encourage you to pop over and have a peek.

Have I mentioned the scrapbook I’m going to put together for Miss Charlotte with pictures of her Nanny Bee with children’s writers from the area? (I’m hoping she’ll think it’s pretty cool when she’s old enough to read these authors’ books for herself.) Well I mentioned it to Starr who immediately told me I didn’t look old enough to be a grandmother.  I’m thinking now I should have bought a few more books for that remark!! I mentioned to my daughter how tall Starr is to which she quickly came back with, “No, you’re just short.” So here’s a photo of Starr scrunching down to make me look taller. I actually think it was just so my husband could fit us both into the same shot. By the look on my face, I’d say I’m the one who looks a little star struck!

How to Order in the US

I’ve had a few people from the US ask about ordering my book and since I wasn’t sure exactly how that would work I decided to contact Nimbus to find out. There are several different options for ordering from the US.

I’ve been told that Nimbus will ship to the US and that it will eventually be released in the US in spring 2010. I have the Nimbus link on my site for anyone wishing to go that route. Also the book can be purchased at Amazon.ca or Chapters. Ca or it can be ordered through the Woozles website http://www.woozles.com/

For anyone wondering what the heck Woozles is it’s the largest children’s bookstore on the east coast of Canada.

So, I ended up at The Inside Story in Greenwood today. I wanted to see if my book was on the shelf. I know, pretty pathetic… but I can’t help myself. Their site had mentioned that the book was in stock so I was curious. I was spiked with disappointment when I didn’t find it. I don’t know why. There are plenty of stores it won’t be in, that’s for sure. I guess it was because I knew they had ordered some in. So where the heck were they?

Before I left the mall my husband went into the store and asked for the book (I was too much of a chicken to do so— doubly pathetic. Right?) Of course it was there, I just didn’t know where to look. Relief!!!

So ….a bit later in the day my sister, who happens to live in the Annapolis Valley stopped into the same bookstore and asked if the book was in. The lady mentioned that she was the second person that day to come in and ask for the book… Hey, how impressive is that my sister thought? She went on to explain that her sister had written the book just before she whipped out her camera and took a photo of my book in the bookstore. Later, we shared a laugh when she found out that my husband was the other person who had inquired about the book today… How’s that for impressive? Hehehe.

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