A Rainy November Day

The soft sound of rain reaches me on this November morning as I sit working at the kitchen table on another novel while waiting for Mum to wake. It is within these quite early morning moments that I often block out the noise from the radio and turn my thoughts toward my computer screen. But today, the rain persists, competing with the music coming over the airwaves, both of which I am able to block out while writing. I know, I know, it seems weird to be able to create in a noisy room. I am not one of those writers who must have silence in order to write. I learned to block out sounds when my kids were small.

November is a rainy month and, for me, a good time to spend in quiet reflection. November skies have always me interested me, their yellows and grays merging with the textures and shapes of the clouds.

It seems that I spend much more time these days reflecting upon my life, and the direction it is presently taking, than I ever have in the past. Perhaps it is my changing role from working five days a week to now being a fulltime caregiver.

There have been some challenging times over the past three years, but so too, have I had many moments of gratitude for all the good things that found their way to me–spending time with my kids and grandkids, completing a YA novel and signing a contract for publication, the publication of my latest middle grade novel, a morning spent discussing my writing with a book club recently, the thoughtfulness of the friends who continue to keep in touch , moments sitting by the lake, quiet midnight conversations with my husband and so much more.

Life is not perfect. We all go through challenging times that may last a short time or a very long time. It is one of the many things we have in common with others. While we will all face hard times, those challenges will be different for all of us. I have learned a lot about myself these past few years and the people who support and love me, and even the ones who don’t. I have no doubt that some aspect of these experiences will be integrated into my writing in one form or another. It is what we writers do, how we make a story our own.

One of the themes my current WIP explores is friendship (an important topic in MG novels) and I’ve been reflecting upon some of the friendships I’ve had over the years. Some of which I continue to value to this day. I’ve had friends I could count on, friends who counted on me, friends who lifted me up when I needed, friends who listened, friends who never listened and the list goes on. I expect that, in the writing of this story, I will learn more about human behaviour, about forgiveness and caring and loyalty and what friendship is all about.

I will leave you with these thoughts and head back into my work in progress. Although I have not heard a weather forecast, I am hopeful that we will be back to having sunny skies tomorrow. There is always that hope.

Enjoy your weekend.

Fall into Perfection

In the quiet of a late September day, the lake welcomed us into her waters, lapping against the sides of our boat in anticipation of our visit.

Sun and wind against our faces, we trolled along the shoreline marvelling at the beauty of this perfect autumn day. Trees are succumbing to the season; their leaves changing into subtle reds, oranges and yellows and slowly blending into the landscape. And I thought, what a difference a week can make. Last week we were bracing for Fiona and then enduring the wind, rain and power outages. So sorry to hear that there are people in the province heading into a second week without power. My heart goes out to them.

Now heading into October, we had our first frost overnight as the temperature dipped to -3 c at our location. It is time, something that can’t be denied, although we try and pretend that this year might be different. September seemed to be an unusually warm month. Seasons change as they are meant to, just as life changes, sometimes so subtly we barely take notice, other times that change can come in the blink of an eye. I welcome autumn with an open heart. It’s my favourite season.

I have been spending much time reflecting lately and deciding what is truly important in life as well as trying to put some of these beliefs into practise. I’m anxious to explore some different themes in my writing and recently finished the first draft of a short story, the idea for which I’d been thinking about for quite some time.

My next middle grade novel is due to be released around the first part of November. Hopefully, it will be back from the printer on time! It is a simple story but one I’m so happy to be sharing. I’ve been going through my library of photos, looking for possible images to use for another book trailer as well as finding the words to condense a novel into a few short sentences–all challenging. But I do so enjoy that kind of challenge.

May we allow these pleasant autumn days to fill our hearts with joy. May we look out at the world each day and see the beauty that surrounds us moment by moment. And may the season fill our hearts with a sense of joy and peace, something our world is in desperate need of. Happy fall!

Those Old Ads

The old magazine ads had plenty of panache, unlike what we see today. I once inherited some old magazines from decades back.

I love flipping through the pages from time to time and catching a glimpse of what life might have been like. I find the colours, the imagines inspiring. The world is changing rapidly. We now rely on tv ads and the ads that appear in our social media feeds, the ones the powers-that-be decide we should see!

The ads I’ve posted have a lot going on and I enjoy taking notice of the details. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

I am taking some time out from novel writing to work on a short story that suddenly edged its way to the surface, demanding that I do something about it and, quiet honestly, I’ve been enjoying the process.

As we head further into September, may you enjoy your weekend and the hint of fall that is in the air.

Publishing News–Change is a Coming

I just wanted to share this exciting news with all of you. I’ve just signed a contract for my next book with Nimbus Publishing, due out in Spring 2024. Yes, I know that’s a bit in the future and I expect many of you will forget this news until that time comes, but that is okay. I will keep you up on what’s going on, sharing covers, etc. Publishing is not known for it’s speediness. In the meantime, I’ve been working on a few other projects and am feeling so good to be back writing on a regular basis after floundering for the past few years, due to a plethora of obligations that has taken my attention away from writing, the way life does for all of us.

This new book will be different from what you’ve been used to seeing from me in the past in that it is young adult novel with a contemporary setting and explores some heavy topics. I’d share the title but it could change before now and the publication date so I’ll wait until that has been established. The main character is also a young guy who loves hockey. With that said, it’s not a hockey story although hockey does make up one element in the book. I was so fortunate to have a friend read over the hockey bits and set me on the right track. It made such a difference to the chapter. Her suggestions were so helpful and insightful and there is nothing better than constructive criticism. In fact, I welcome it.

So that is my exciting publishing news for now and I hope none of you will be disappointed with the changes. I’m sure I won’t stop writing historic fiction, as I do have some ideas brewing, but I also have a few ideas for more contemporary stories as well. Time will tell.

So, it is back to the keyboard for me as I wait for the publication of my new book in November!

Is It Really Worth It? $$$$

I recently had a conversation with someone about all the work that is involved in my being an author. It was a short conversation. This person asked me if it was worth it, meaning was I actually getting rich from my efforts. My reply was that we all put effort into things that we enjoy doing and not because we plan to get rich. In fact, most people I know with a “regular” job aren’t rich. Her reply was, “That’s one way to look at it.”

I think she felt sorry for me, the poor lonely author, slaving away in some tiny room, cut off from the rest of the world.

What I find interesting about being an author is that people often inquire about your book sales, those same people who certainly wouldn’t ask how much money your office job pays per hour. And if you think about it, there’s really no difference. You’re still inquiring about the money someone makes. What many people don’t understand is that authors don’t know about every book sale as it happens. We receive royalty payments two times a year.

Not About the Money.

Life is not about the accumulation of money. Many of us think that when we’re young and our whole purpose revolves around accumulating stuff. As we get older, we begin to see that stuff is something that just weighs us down and there is a huge big difference between a need and a want.

All that aside, I didn’t begin writing with the notion that I would one day retire from my efforts. It began as a means of self-expression, something inside seemed to be calling me to write, to say something. Any money that happens along is an added bonus, seriously.

Needless to say, this person does not see the value in what I do–books, big deal. Pfffff. Not that I expect people to fall all over themselves when I walk into a room, because I don’t. I’m the same person I’d be if I didn’t write. But publishing books is nothing to sneeze at. It’s an accomplishment, something that at the end of the day you can hold in your hands and feel proud of. People who do it, deserve some credit.

This person looks at the effort I put into my writing versus the monetary gains in the end. I don’t drive a fancy car or own a huge big house by the sea, I don’t travel the world. And I’m busy a lot, not only writing, but revising and editing the same story many times over. Sometimes I’m unavailable. Writers need their alone time. There are some who just don’t get that. But writers do find time for the important things in life. For us, writing happens to be one of those things.

So, if I were to define “worth it” it would mean something different for all of us for we are all as individual as the very things we think about and value the most.

Is writing worth it to me–absolutely.

The sun is shining here in Nova Scotia this morning and we’ve been promised a lovely weekend. If you are spending time with your family this weekend, consider yourself blessed.

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all the mothers out there!

There’s Always the Weather

If you live in the Maritimes it’s safe to say that talking about the weather takes up a certain portion of your day. It’s part of what we do. Whether you know someone or just met them, it’s a topic for conversation–the cold and snow of winter (or else our unusual mild spells), dry summer/wet summer, cold springs, wet fall, warm falls–there are so many possibilities and we Maritimers take notice of them all. Mind you, we don’t always complain. We do get our share of, what some might call, perfect days from a weather standpoint. So please don’t feel sorry for us Maritimers. We are not digging ourselves out of huge snowbanks ten months out of the year. I promise you!

With that said, this weekend we do happen to be digging out from our third Nor’easter of the year. Yes, I did say third. But it’s January and we must remember that. A year without snow in January, now that would be talk-worthy for this Maritimer.

We all have thoughts about the snow. Watching from the safety of their windows, some declare it beautiful, others look at it as an opportunity to get some exercise shoveling or maybe skiing or snowshoeing. It’s just a matter of perception for many of us. We can love it or hate it, the choice is always our own.

This morning I’m sipping coffee and waiting to get back to work on my edits. I’ve been wanting to make some changes to the opening but have been working on other parts of the manuscript in the meantime, knowing that at some point the opening sentences I’d been looking for would come. It happened late last night and common sense ordered me downstairs to write it down. I obeyed. I can’t tell you how many times a sentence will to me as I’m lying with my head on the pillow, but then disappears come morning. Yes, I know better. These words/sentences are fleeting even when we’re convinced that we’ll remember come morning because that sentence is just that great.

This time I listened to that little voice inside that said, “Drag your sorry butt out of bed and write this down.” Well, those might not have been the exact words, but you get my drift–and I don’t mean snow drift.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and send me some positive vibes as I work out the bumps in my manuscript.

My Comfort Zone

Welcome to my comfort zone. It’s so cozy and safe here, all the things I’m used to seeing and having around me. My comfort zone doesn’t require a lot from me. It understands me in a way nothing else does. It’s known me since forever and that is such a comforting thought.
My family and friends are here, all the familiar faces I’m used to and places I have already seen, experiences I have already lived through, thoughts I’ve had many times over. Have I already said how comfortable it feels?

Oh yes, I have.

I never have feelings of anxiety or worry as long as I stay in my comfy zone–strange thing, that is.

But as comfy as all that sounds, after awhile it gets to be a bit boring and going through life forever bored seems like such a waste. As one of the characters in Good Mothers Don’t said, “too much worry can kill you, but a little worry at least lets you know you’re alive.” I do believe this is true. Sometime we need some worry in our lives as we begin to look outside that comfort zone of ours. I have a friend who has often reminded me in the past that staying in my comfort zone does not allow me to expand and grow as a human being. She is right of course, not matter how well-fitting that comfort zone of mine has been, there comes times when I need to step outside.

When I first began writing, I imagined a life of solitude as I filled empty pages with prose. Of course, for many years I wrote in private and no one but a few family members knew what I was doing behind closed doors. Slowly, that “secret” began to expand and close friends were let in on it. And then the first book was published, pushing me into unfamiliar territory. While book signings and public appearances are all part of an author’s life, it drew attention to me and my work and I’ll be honest, putting my work out there for the whole world to see was scary, especially the first time. Some people will like what you’ve written and some people won’t. People you know will either support you and your work, or else they’ll ignore you altogether. It’s just the way it is. Everyone is not going to care that you’re an author, nor should they. I’m still me. Some published books hasn’t change that.

What I didn’t know back at the very beginning when I first started writing was that there would be many many times when I’d be called upon the step outside my comfy comfort zone. All I ever wanted to do was write and see my words in print. I knew that would make me happy. I’ll admit that there have been times when I’ve not been able to take those steps and I’ve missed out on opportunities because of it and I’ve been disappointed in myself.

But each new day brings new opportunities to grow and learn. With that said, I have also taken those steps outside my comfort zone and it has been scary and things haven’t necessarily turned out the way I’d hoped, but that’s okay. It wasn’t the end of the world. Nothing terribly drastic has happened because of it and I eventually accepted the consequences of my disappointment. Life has to be that way sometimes. We learn much more though our missteps than when everything goes along smoothly. We are always harder on ourselves that we would ever dream of being on others, but we eventually learn to get over our missteps. We are all human and make mistakes.

I expect that in time to come I’ll become braver and more willing to leave the comforts I’ve come to know in pursuit of new experiences. These experiences might be good, they might be bad, but I’ll take the good with the bad. It’s all any of us can do.

Come on, Write That Book in 2020

Be honest, how many of you want to write a book but it just hasn’t happened? Maybe you had your plans made, a start date picked, an outline written, a schedule prepared. It was all perfect. You were set to go. Maybe you even made a New Year’s resolution to get serious and start writing that book you’ve been planning all your life.

But then something happened.

You got busy, life distracted you (silly life), or maybe—and here’s a biggie– you became afraid that you just couldn’t do it, even convinced yourself that it was a dumb idea in the first place. Write a book? Who are you trying to kid? I mean what if you fail? What if you never get to those two little words THE END. What if you actually do finish it and it sucks?

These are all questions many prospective writers ask. Believe me, I know from experience. Sometimes even published authors have these same doubts. A writer’s ego can be fragile. We put our work out there for the whole world to see and judge. Many people are kind, but not everyone.

I won’t lie to you. Writing a book takes a lot of time and a lot of creative effort.

A lot of hopeful writers start out great, but then lose traction. That great idea suddenly seems to be not so great. The excitement you felt when you first started, fizzles away to nothing. This can also happen to published authors as well. Again, I know this from experience.

Authors don’t just write books while our publisher waits with hands out to snap it up and publish it. It still has to be a good story, something the publisher can get behind, something they believe in. If it’s not, it doesn’t get published. It’s that simple.

Nevertheless, these things shouldn’t stop us from pursuing our dream of writing a book, if that’s what our dream truly is. I say that because there are people who like the idea of writing a book far greater than the actual doing because, really, the writing part ain’t all that glamorous. You spent a lot of time alone, researching and writing and writing and rewriting, sometimes crying and wailing. You start and stop and start again, you walk away but later come back.

But see, that’s the key–you come back, as many times as you have to in order to get it done.

I think many times, we put our expectations onto the end result instead of enjoying the journey. What I am discovering is that the journey will have its bumps and potholes but try to relax and put those expectations aside. Who cares if what you write isn’t very good? First drafts are often horrible, even for published authors. Believe me, we don’t just write one draft; we write many drafts. We tear apart scenes, change our entry point, points of view, you name it, we’ve changed it. And I know this might seem contrary to what I said about setting writing goals for myself, but I set these goals at a time when I know that the book I’m working on is near to completion. (By near, I still mean a few months away.)

So, if you’ve always wanted to write that book, make 2020 the year you begin. You don’t need to whip up chapters at a time. A paragraph, or even a sentence will suffice, whatever feels manageable at the time. Don’t worry about how good it is or who, if anyone will read it. Be creative. Express yourself. We all here on the planet to create in one form or another. If something inside is urging you to write than you should follow that urging. I like to think that we all have an inner wisdom, that little voice that helps direct us by times. So if there is indeed a hidden voice inside you that is dying to be heard then what are you waiting for? Get out there and start writing. Honestly, that’s how I became published.

Here’s hoping that 2020 finds you taking steps toward accomplishing some long-held dream.

Happy New Year.

Looking Forward to 2020

I have to admit, I’m feeling rather anxious for 2020 to arrive. I’ve said several times on this blog, over the years, that I always look forward to the new year coming and this year is no different. Not that a new year offers any special solutions to the challenges we might have encounter during the year, but it still fills me with a sense of newness for life as I anticipate what the year ahead will look like.

2019 had its challenges, but I came through the other side with my sense of humour and a love for life, and that’s the important part. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of great moments these past 365 days. I finished two books and signed book contracts for them both which, believe me, is something that every author loves to do. I worked on the edits for my first novel for adults, got to see the cover and read the blurbs written for “Good Mothers Don’t “ by authors whose work I admire. (I hope that’s a good sign that other will like the book as well.)

2020 will see me working on more edits, first for the Cammie prequel and then for another middle grade novel as the advance reading copies (ARCs) need to be ready for the fall as well even though it will not be out until the fall of 2021. (Seems confusing, doesn’t it?) That novel will be a bit different as it’s written in third person, something I don’t often do, only because I tend to enjoy first person novels for reading as well as writing. That particular book, however, seemed to call for a different approach. I also have several books I want to get back to writing in 2020. Plus there will be the usual book launches and signings that always go along with the publication of a new book. It’s sure to be a busy year. But I’m looking forward to it.

Last year, I made a promise that I’d complete the Cammie prequel and gave myself a deadline. I did the same with the next novel. Seems like something I’ll carry with me into 2020 as it worked out well this time. For now, that’s my writing goal for 2020, to finish another manuscript I’ve been working on.

I hope 2020 is good to all of you. I hope you make good memories and share some special moments with those you love.

Happy New Year and I’ll be back blogging in 2020. What are your plans for the year ahead?

My Deserted Island

Across the lake from where I live there’s an island. Plenty of trees but nothing else, it’s basically deserted, if you want to use that term, although we have seen the remains  of human activity left behind on the shores from time to time while out in our boat; the remnants of small camp fires and some empty bottles.

I was thinking today how writing is sometimes like being on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere, where your only thought is of survival—survival of the story, that is—with little contact with the outside world. You’re in hermit-mode—thinking, eating and breathing the story you’re working on. You can’t keep your thoughts on anything other than that dang story which can become kind of a convenient excuse for your own forgetfulness with those in the outside world. Things like not remembering what you were going for in the refrigerator or even the next room, the phone calls and emails you forgot to return. I like to call it author-brain, kind of like mommy-brain when all you think about is that little bundle of joy( or story) you’re suddenly responsible for. Don’t bother the author, her mind’s on her writing.

These past few weeks have been kind of like that; kind of, but not quite.( I’ve still had family time that I wouldn’t trade for all the stories that are circulating in my author-brain.)

I’ve started edits on my adult fiction novel recently and have just sent round one back to my editor. I’ve got to be honest, it’ always difficult to hit that *send* key and resist the urge to keep making changes, some so tiny that no one would ever know, except the author. But eventually you have to let go, the same way you let go of your child when you send her/him out into the big scary world. And it’s been pretty scary out there as of late.

All authors want their books to be perfect, and if not perfect, then as near to perfect as is humanly possible. Still, the typos pop up, the missing commas or periods, the misplaced words—all these things, regardless of how many proofreaders go through it with a fine tooth comb. Still, it’s something to aim for.

As many of you know, this is my debut adult fiction novel which doesn’t mean I won’t be writing for kids anymore. It just means, I’ll be doing both. I’ve several other adult novels that need to be resurrected after years of neglect. It was more like I got side-tracked. I’m really hoping to get back to them soon. But…I’ve also a few more ideas for children’s books as well. Why can’t there be more time in the day?

As of yet, this next novel of mine is titleless which isn’t really a word but I felt like using it. Titles are important but can sometimes be SO difficult to come up with. I was lucky with my first three book but this one has been a bit more challenging.

Another snippet I can share with you is that much of it is set in the Forties Settlement which, as many of you know, is right next door to good old E. Dalhousie. I like to give my stories local settings or use local name places. It’s important to me to share my part of the world with readers from far and wide.

I’m hoping I’ll find time to blog a bit more often, although it seems I’m forever promising that. It’s not as if I purposely ignore that promise but I’ve been putting more time into my actual writing these days which is probably more important. Perhaps when I’m fully retired I’ll make more time.

So that’s it for now. The edits are back in my editor’s hands and I’m getting ready to work on a project I started about nine years ago. I’ll be off on my deserted island at least for a little. They say that publishing is a slow business. It takes plenty of patience, but then so is writing sometimes.

I hope you’re all having a wonder summer and are enjoying this beautiful Nova Scotia sunshine. I’d love to hear what you’ve been doing this summer.

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