Writing Out the Crap

I know, I know, I know. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post. Or maybe you didn’t notice, which is okay. I still love you. Why wouldn’t I? You’re my people!

All week long I’ve been mulling over ideas of what to write. The ideas seemed to ebb and flow with my moods as disappointment and challenges kicked in during the week. Some days I was ready to  dig in my heels and write an uplifting post, still other days I wanted to get up on my soapbox and spout off a little. You see, I have a real problem with all the unfairness in the world, of people behaving badly, or simply not having a thoughtful bone in their body. It bugs me and, honestly, sometimes makes me want to retreat from the world and pull the blanket up over my head.

But I have a secret weapon, one that allows me to work through the crap in my life. Yeah, you’ve got it—writing. I know that’s what you’d expect me to say—me being a writer and all—but I believe that we all need to give voice to some of the things that are troubling us from time to time. Some people are verbal and can articulate what’s on their mind very well. Other people are verbal and well…Maybe they need to give writing a try because it just gets a little messy otherwise.. You don’t have to be a fiction writer and make up stories, just writing down the everyday can often help. I don’t mean the I did this and went here and did that’s. I mean really, you’ve got to get into the meat of things, the stuff that bugs you, the people who ticked you off, the ones who broke your trust or were mean or simply haven’t got time for you.

I mentioned this to a teacher friend recently, this writing out the crap thing that I do from time to time. It helps, really it does. It frees me to come to a clean page and start a fresh new writing session when I’ve got things bugging me that I just can’t shake. I mean, how can you allow the words to flow when you’ve got a swell of emotions damned up inside you? Many times we keep churning that crap around in our heads all day. Some people do it at night. Some people do it all day and night. For me, there’s something powerful about writing out what I’m feeling when I’m encountering life’s disappointing times. And since no one is ever going to read it, I can whine and complain and lament to my heart’s content. Because seriously, if you live in the world, you’re going to experience some crap in your life. I don’t care who you are. Even if you appear to be the most happy, bubbly person in the world. And remember, when crap happens in your life you can have a secret weapon too! Try writing out that crap and see how you feel.

While I think of it, I love the lyrics to the song “Bleed Red” by Ronnie Dunn.  I’ve added them below. It reminds me to keep other people in mind as I go through my day, good or bad, and that I’m not the only person who’s having a crappy day. “We all bleed red–the words get stuck in my head from time to time when I’ve got things on my mind. I hope they resonate with you in some way, too.

Bleed Red

Let’s say were sorry, before it’s too late, give forgiveness a chance
Turn the anger into water; let it slip through our hands
We all bleed red, we all taste rain, all fall down, lose our way,
We all say words we regret, we all cry tears, we all bleed red

If we’re fighting, we’re both losing; we’re just wasting our time
Because my scars, they are your scars and your world is mine
You and I, we all bleed red, we all taste rain, all fall down, lose our way
We all say words, we regret, well cry tears, we all bleed red
Sometimes we’re strong, sometimes we’re weak, sometimes we’re hurt and it cuts deep
We live this life, breath to breath, we’re all the same; we all bleed red

Let’s say we’re sorry…
Before it’s too late…

We all bleed red, all taste rain, all fall down, lose our way,
We all say words we regret, we all cry tears we all bleed red,
Sometimes we’re strong, sometimes we’re weak; sometimes we’re hurt
It cuts deep; we live this life breath to breath; we’re all the same
We all bleed r-e-e-e-d-d-d

Oh, and to my Canadian readers, Happy Thanksgiving. If you’d like to share something you’re thankful for in the comments that would be great.

Guest Post—Darlene Foster

Today, it’s my pleasure to welcome Darlene Foster to my blog. Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene dreamt of travelling the world, meeting interesting people and writing stories. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring spunky 12 year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Her books include: Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England – The Missing Novel and Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. Readers from seven to seventy enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene and her husband divide their time between the west coast of Canada and Orihuela Costa, in Spain. She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true.

So without further ado, here’s Darlene!


                                                                     The Joy of Writing for Children



Writing for children is important to me because I want children to develop the same love of books I had as a child. A love that doesn’t fade with time. Children’s books create lifelong readers; readers who eventually buy adult books. Without children’s books there may be no market for adult books.

I began my love affair with words many years ago. Some of my fondest memories are being read to as a child, visiting the library, and discovering the ability to read by myself. I still have worn copies of favourite childhood books, such as The Bobbsey Twins, Little Women, Black Beauty and Anne of Green Gables; and revisit these old friends from time to time. Books and children go together like toast and jam, in my opinion. Since I never show up without a book as a gift, my grandchildren call me, The Book Gramma. It´s not surprising that I love to write for children.

One grandmother purchased a set of my Amanda travel/adventure books and sent me this email which made my heart sing:

My 12 year old granddaughter just finished your books. She loved them. We were camping and we kept telling her to put the books down and come and play. This is the first time I have seen her get so excited about a book. Your books have given her a love of reading. Thanks for the good reads.

While writing for children can be fun, it isn´t easy. You have to remove yourself from the adult world and think like a twenty-first century kid. Fortunately, I like to hang around kids, listen to the words they use, observe the gestures, the looks, the trends. I also enjoy reading current, middle reader books to see what sparks the interest of today’s young readers. Children notice things adults wouldn’t and could care less about things adults think are important. It’s necessary to get into their head space. And guess what? While I’m writing, I get to be a kid again – and I love it!

The main character in my first book, Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask, is a Canadian girl who wishes for travel and adventure on her twelfth birthday. The next day she gets a ticket to fly to the United Arab Emirates to visit her aunt and uncle. There she has an adventure of a lifetime. One young reader said, “I want to know where Amanda will travel to next.” That motivated me to write Amanda in Spain-The Girl in The Painting.

I had so much fun writing about Amanda, her travels and escapades that I continued by writing Amanda in England-The Missing Novel. One day, while doing a presentation at a school, a student asked me, “Why doesn´t Amanda stay in Alberta and have an adventure?” I said, “That´s a great idea,” and wrote Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. Kids are always giving me ideas. I am currently working on book number five. I have to, my young fans are expecting it.
It brings me much joy to write my books as these fans will grow up and buy adult books soon. Writers of children’s books are creating readers for life. It’s an important job and one I am happy to take on.


Thank you so much, Darlene. It was a pleasure to have you visit.

If you’d like to learn more about Darlene and her books check out her website blog Amazon

Catch Up!

I chose this title thinking of a writer from Ontario whose work appeared in some of the same publications as mine over the years. She was a retired schoolteacher when we became acquainted. She often sent out emails to the people on her contact list with the title “Catch up” and she’d tell us all the news from her corner of the world.

She once sent me a photo of the farmhouse she lived in. It was beautiful. Over the years she moved several times as she downsized. She sent me some of her books in the past and shared her poetry with me, although she wrote more fiction that poetry. She’d tell me about the trips she went on, which sounded so remarkable to me for she was over 8o at the time. I was impressed by her stamina and her ability to try new things, her sense of fun and spirit. I came to value our friendship.

Overtime the emails became less frequent and I couldn’t help but notice that she seemed a bit confused–sending the same thing several times. Eventually, the emails  and letters stopped. I have no idea if she’s still with us in mind or body, but I appreciated her encouragement over the years and all her little “catch up” emails.

So, here is the “catch up” at the Best household this time around. Hold fast to your britches this is exciting stuff!

Zucchini…zucchini…zucchini. But if you’re on my Facebook you already know that it’s a zucchini jungle here in East Dalhousie as an influx of the green beasts are arriving daily to my garden. I’ve been slowly finding homes for these wayward …Ummm…souls doesn’t sound appropriate here, but you know what I mean. Here’s the scoop when it comes to zucchini. You either love them or loathe them, and when you loathe them you REALLY loathe them to the point where you don’t even want to hear the word zucchini mentioned in your presence. I have shuddered in the past over people’s rendition of the “I hate zucchini and don’t even mention the word to me” ballad. These people need some serious help! On a positive note, I’ve been discovering some new recipes that incorporate zucchini.



5 weeks to T-Day (That’s twin day for those of you out of the loop) although I won’t be surprised if they come a little ahead of schedule as they’re growing like zucchini …um make that weeds. Did I mention we’re having a girl and a boy? Exciting times. Speaking of twins, it seems there are twins everywhere I look. These twins were in the backyard yesterday nibbling away. No doubt a hint that the lawn could use mowing again.


Miss Charlotte has her backpack ready and will heading off to school on the 8th of September. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. Wasn’t it just a year ago she started walking and talking and reading? Oh my!

Some sad news for us this month as well. One of my mum’s childhood friends, who went to the School for the Blind with her, isn’t doing so well. My mum and stepfather got down to visit her in the hospital yesterday to say their goodbyes. The last time I saw her was at Mum’s wedding last fall. She was anxious to know when my next book was coming out. Growing up, I heard so many stories about Mum’s friends from the school and many of them have stayed in contact with her over the years. It’s a strong bond they all share.

That’s what friends are for—I’m reminded of this in so many ways. A late night email from a friend, who sent along some words of encouragement, for no particular reason, not only gave me a much needed boost, but impressed upon me the importance in lifting one another up. We can all use encouragement, not just during our low times, but all those times in between—writers especially. So a big thank you to my friend who understands that the little things really do mean so much.

We were to a beautiful wedding at the end of July at Sainte- Famille Wines in Falmouth. So happy for these friends who go back all the way to elementary school if we’re being technical.


I’ve a few book events coming up in September and will be part of the Arts and Life Tour again this year. I’ll be at the Parkdale/Maplewood Museum  the same as last year.  You’ll even see my name listed! Drop in and say hello if you’re taking in this tour. I’ll be there with my books and we can talk about writing or zucchini—you choose. I’m versatile that way! Seriously, sometimes people shy away from speaking to authors at these events, feeling that they’ll be expected to buy a book. That’s not true.  While authors love it when someone makes a purchase, we also love meeting people and having a good gab!

Also, before I go, I’d like to mention to any of the writers out there who would like to be a guest on blog during the month of September feel free to contact me through the “contact me” or my regular email if you have it. If you have a book you’d like to promote we’ll mention that too. I’ve declared September the “lifting up my fellow author month.” 


Now it’s your turn. What do you have to share as part of this “catch up” post?


Waiting on Inspiration

I’ve been waiting on some inspiration for the past couple of weeks, hoping for some idea for a blog post. Then it hit me—like inspiration does. I’ll write a post about inspiration because, at the moment, I feel inspired to do so. Inspiration often hits us like the shot from a gun. Bang! She kind of blind-sides us at the strangest, most inconvenient times. We’re waiting in traffic, sitting in the dentist’s chair, fixing dinner for a hungry crowd. She doesn’t give warnings. Oh no, that would be too easy for inspiration. She’s cagey, a bit of a trickster, but no matter what her terms are we welcome with her open arms. IMAG0574AShe comes right out of the blue when we least expect her. Dropping what we’re in the midst of, we hurry toward our computer, or if our computer isn’t handy we whip out a notebook, and scribble down that brilliant thought, paragraph, sentence, or word. Satisfaction forms a smile on our face as a comforting feeling wraps a warm arm around our heart. Finally, the waiting is over. We’ve found the very inspiration we’ve been longing for. Most times when we weren’t even looking. One thing is for certain we can’t rush inspiration—nope, not at all. Like an apparition stepping through the mist she comes to us in her own good time. She can be illusive, sometimes shy, other times she appears in her party dress, classy and down right sassy, ready to entertain us with her flamboyant moves. She can dance for hours if we’re willing to watch. No sense in letting our frustration build as we wait and wonder when she’ll appear. There’s no point in sending her a gold embossed invitation or attempt to serenade her in the evening hours beneath moonlight and stars. We can’t coax her out of hiding like a kitten that’s crawl under a doorstep the moment a little hand reaches out for it. She’s a free spirit, who comes and go as she pleases. What’s most amazing is the way she can appears to us in so many different forms. No two people will ever see inspiration in the same way. Just as we are one of a kind, her relationship to us is unique, therefore everything we create, even though it may come from that same place of inspiration, is totally different. How cool is that? IMAG0581AIt has taken me quite some time to realize that no one will write a story the way I do, about the things I do, in the way I do it. Some people will like it, while others won’t. It’s that simple. I can’t/ won’t please everyone, but that won’t stop inspiration from seeking me out. She’ll come to me in spirit, in truth. She’ll touch me with moments of insight and send me in a direction that has never before held the weight of footsteps on its path. Do you often find yourself waiting on inspiration or is she a constant companion?

The Writer’s Walk

One of my favourite things about being a writer is what I like to call walking the writer’s walk. When you’re walking the walk you’re out there in the world of authors and readings and book launches and writing festivals—all kinds of literary functions.

Calling ourselves a writer, even feeling it deep in our bones is one thing, but there’s more to being a writer than talking the writer’s talk. Anyone can talk about being a writer so long as we can find someone willing to listen, but I believe we also have to walk the writer’s walk.

For a long time I didn’t walk the walk. For a long time I was oblivious to the outside world of writing. I lived in my own little writing world. I wrote my stories, I reveled in the contributor’s copies of my work I received, and kept on writing. Little did I know there was a literary world out there just waiting for me somewhere with other writers just like me, writers who were willing to be my friend, to share their experiences and offer advice. Being a solo act can be mighty lonely.


Author, Syr Ruus reads from her novel, “Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart.”

Having participated in literary events, writing festivals, having attended book signings and launches for other authors has so totally enriched my writing life. Just the other Friday evening I attended an event at the Linc in Lunenburg. My good friend Syr Ruus was reading as well as poet Carolle Langille. These two ladies are absolutely marvelous. Seriously, check out their work if you haven’t already. There was also an open mic that evening and other writers and poets got up and read their work. I can’t begin to imagine the courage it must have taken to read before two such renown authors. (Certainly more courage than I would have had at that stage in my writing.) I say good on them!

In the weeks ahead I have some book launches to attend that I’m so totally looking forward to. Not only do I get to support some of the writers I know, and have met, but you just never know who you’re going to bump into at one of these events. Could be someone who’ll end up being a friend or even someone who has an interesting story to tell. Hey, you might even rub elbows with an editor you’ve been longing to meet or an author you’re just dying to speak to.

A writer’s walk is about immersing yourself in the literary world, attending events, supporting one another, getting to know your fellow writer. We’re a community, a community of like-minded people. Mind you, it’s impossible to attend every literary event, but you’d be surprised at the number of writers, and would be writers, who aren’t willing to engage themselves in the writing community at all. I say they’re missing out on a lot. In order to be a writer it’s important to walk that walk, to count your every footstep and claim that path as yours. Seriously, if you want others to support and lift you up as a writer, you should be willing to do that exact thing yourself.

Poet/writer, Carolle Langille.

Poet/writer, Carolle Langille.. 

Do you make an effort to “immerse yourself” in the writing community, to walk that writer’s walk? If not, what are you waiting for?

The Biggest Roadblock Along the Road to Publication

IMAG0609I’ve been thinking a lot about the writing process these past few days. As I sifted through some older writing files and reread some of my stories that had been published in literary magazines, I was reminded of that time when publication was only a dream—a dream that felt so very far away.
Yet a dream I was sure would come true…
…one day


Over time, as the rejections mounted, as the dream began to look a little fuzzy, I came to a realization about my writing, something that writers don’t often want to admit:

The biggest road block, the thing that was keeping me from being a published author was me.

Yup, that’s right, little ole me.

While there were things I was more than willing to work on—my writing being one of those things—something else was preventing me from being published. I was inadvertently placing road blocks in the way, not because I didn’t want to be published (Lordy, but I wanted it) but because, on some level, I was afraid of it. Fear is the one thing that has the power to hold us back, to keep us from realizing our dreams, and no matter how badly we might want something, we’ll allow that very same fear to put obstacles in our way and keep our dreams from coming true.

I think of these fear-based obstacles as roadblocks because they do just that—they block our path and prevent us from continuing our journey toward publication. When the obstacles show up along the road we can either let these roadblocks stop us or we can figure a way to get past them. And in order to do that it’s important to recognize these roadblocks when we come up against them.

Here are a few of the road blocks I’ve encountered in the past, ones that I unknowingly placed in my path.

1.Procrastination: Believe me when I say I can procrastinate with the best of them. I’ve had plenty of practice, too. There is always something else to do. That something else might very well be important, like spending time with my family or friends, or it could be something as insignificant as watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. If you want to be published you need to make writing one of your priorities. REPEAT WITH ME. “If I want to be published I need to make writing one of my priorities.” You may not be able to write each and every day, but you need to make an effort even on those days when you don’t feel as though you have a literary bone in your body. Even ten or fifteen minutes of writing are better than no minutes. Remember, if you can’t publish what never gets written. No one’s going to publish blank pages. Sounds like a no-brainer to me!

2. Believing that you are not worthy of publication: This is a biggie. Too many of us struggle with this. While there are a few writers out there who have unrealistic goals, like signing a million-dollar book contract prior to publication when their writing needs much more work to make it publishable, many more writers struggle with the belief that their writing will never be quite good enough for publication. I’m here to tell you, in order to succeed in writing you have to believe that you are worthy of success. REPEAT WITH ME : “In order to succeed in writing I have to believe that I am worthy of success.” If you’re inner dialogue is constantly telling you something different, you need to give yourself a good talking to. Nothing good is ever accomplished beneath a cloak of negativity. Believe you are worthy because you are. Why wouldn’t you be?

3.Not owning it: If you’re a writer, admit it. Don’t gush over the fact, stammer and stumble to get the words out, own up to it. When I say, own it, I don’t mean for you to shout it from the rooftops because that would just annoy the heck out of everyone, I mean accept once and for all that you are a writer. Forget all that once-I’m-published-I’ll-be-a-writer nonsense. Every published writer was once an unpublished writer. They didn’t become a writer the moment their words were printed, they were writers before that. REPEAT WITH ME: “Every published writer was once an unpublished writer.” Did you think all writers were born with publishing credits? No sir, not a one. They worked at their writing until it was good enough for publication. But here’s a little truth, sometimes even publication isn’t enough to make you feel like a writer. I know, sounds silly. Certainly to be published is to be a writer, right? Yet I can tell you that I had several stories published before I finally, finally admitted that I was a writer. So do yourself a favour and admit it before publication, that way it won’t come as such a shock when you’re holding that first published story in your hands.

4. Saying you’re a writer but not really feeling it: Feeling that you’re a writer means much more than simply saying the words, “I’m a writer.” Anyone can do that, writer or non-writer. Don’t get me wrong, while it’s good to say the words, important even, it means very little if we simply do not feel it. REPEAT WITH ME: Feeling that I’m a writer is more important than just saying it. The day I actually felt like a writer, really and truly felt like one, was the day something momentous happened in my writing life. More and more of my stories were accepted for publication but, more importantly, the rejections that came afterward stopped stinging. I came to understand that rejection wasn’t necessarily a commentary of my work, but simply a story that didn’t catch the attention of the right editor on the right day. Finally, I stopped taking those rejections so personally.

While some of these may or may not be roadblocks you’ll encounter along the way, I feel as though we often underestimate our own self-worth. And when we’re not at a particular place in life when we want to be, we often end up beating ourselves up because of it. Maybe we even decide that it’s just too hard, that we’ll never get there. But we all take our own time getting places–that’s all part of life. Some stories take longer than others to polish. It’s always important to have someone in your corner. Isn’t it only fitting for you to be that someone?

What are some of the roadblocks you’ve encountered along the road to publication

Everyday Success

Have you ever wallowed in your own success or, rather, lack of? We’ve all attempted things in the past only to be disappointed when the outcome we received failed to take the form we hoped for. We’ve all felt like a failure at some time or other. But the truth is many of us don’t even recognize what success is. Success, we reason, has to be some grand, spectacular thing we’ve accomplished in order for it to count. But life is made up of many smaller successes, successes we encounter every day and shrug off because they seem too small, too insignificant. (I haven’t saved a life, or brought about world peace, I haven’t climbed any mountains–you know how it goes.)

If only we’d change the way we think.

Success doesn’t need to be some grandiose thing–the making of a million dollars or the purchase of a seaside home worth millions. Success can be as simple as getting out of bed in the morning—maybe not for you or me, but for some people I’m sure it is.

Today, I challenged myself to write down 100 of my successes. FYI I’m reading, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. I figured if it was good enough for Jack Canfield, it was good enough for me. I mean, even if you’ve never read a single “Chicken Soup” book, you’ve got to admire this man for what he has accomplished. So when Jack suggests making a list, I make a list. What can it hurt?

So with pen and paper in hand I set out, wondering if I even had 100 successes to write down. 100 is a lot, I mean a LOT. I started out with the important ones—the birth of my children, thirty-six years of marriage, the publication of two books and my many other writing accomplishments. I quickly wrote down the award my first book was short-listed for. I whizzed through all these things with plenty of steam to spare.

But then it got a little more challenging. Hey, I’m not all that interesting. I haven’t done that many things. At least that’s what I thought! I dug back into my childhood and added things like learning to swim, to print, to read, and to write—all very important accomplishments. I’ve never won any big awards but I got my drivers license at twenty-five even though (and many of my friends can confirm this) I don’t really like driving. I taught Sunday school—bet you didn’t know that. I was even a 4-H leader at one time. I added friends to the list because to have friends is to have success, and I’ve got some pretty awesome friends. (Please take a bow if you’re one of them reading this now!) I listed the fact that after six years I’m still blogging and hey, I even have some followers, some of you even check out my posts when I publish them! I added learning how to can vegetables the year I was married. And even learning to play the recorder in grade five (shivers to this day.) I was a choir member in elementary and wrote and presented several speeches to the Home and School Association even though my heart was pounding in my ears. I wrote my first play at ten and bribed persuaded my friends into act in it with promises of fame and fortune. (Okay, so the promised fame and fortune part never happened. Who knew what fame and fortune was back in the fifth grade anyway?)

The more things I thought about the more successful I felt
which I suppose is the point of the whole exercise. I’m only half-way through the list but I’m confident I’ll reach 100 before the evening is out. I’ll be on top of the world!

No matter what your definition of success it, the one thing we can all agree upon is that success is always a positive thing. And if you think you haven’t been very successful in life maybe you need to rethink you definition of success. Maybe we could all benefit by taking a step back and deciding just what success looks like. Does it mean you have to lower your standards? I don’t think so. We can still set goals, in fact there’s nothing wrong in that, but we should still take time to acknowledge all those everyday successes that come our way while we’re waiting for that goal we’ve set to become a reality.

For the writer waiting for that first piece to be published, maybe success is the writing of a publishable short story, poem, novel or article. Maybe it’s making a commitment to creating a blog and writing regular blog posts. Or maybe it’s taking the time to write a letter to someone you know would appreciate a hand-written note. We won’t all sell thousands of copies of our books, we won’t all win awards, we won’t all retire from the royalties we earn, and we won’t all be published in book form—but we can still be successful.

So if you’re not feeling very successful at the moment I’d suggest you start making a list of your own, and I challenge you NOT to feel successful by the time you reach 100.



The sudden passing of a friend in February kind of threw me for a loop. For a few days I withdrew into my thoughts to contemplate the things I would miss with this friend no longer here, and to honour the memories I had of her. Whenever we lose someone in our life it causes us to reflect upon so many things—the frailty of life being one of them, our own mortality as well as the mortality of those closest to us, the things we haven’t yet accomplished that we’d like to, the relationships we forge and so, so much more.

When we get to a certain age, we begin to understand that life doesn’t always make sense. Good things happen, bad things happen, and we have no idea why. We can become angry and bitter over the things we deem senseless in this world and yet delight when good things happen that also don’t make sense. (If that makes sense!)

I’m not sure that life is supposed to make sense. If it did make sense all the time, I think we’d lose a little of the wonder and the magic that exists in the world. And without the wonder and the magic what would that do to our hopes and dreams and wishes? Without magic I’m almost certain all those things wouldn’t exist. Why would we ever wish for something or allow our hopes to propel us into some crazy new direction, why would set our dreams on anything other than the reality we now have if there wasn’t some force out there capable of making our hopes, dreams and wishes come true? Wouldn’t we simply go through our days and wait for life to happen? How drab, how utterly mundane and ordinary, how sad.

Truthfully, I’m glad to live in a world that doesn’t always make sense, where strange, out of the ordinary things sometimes happen, where people overcome insurmountable odds, a world that fills us with delight and yes, sometimes, sorrow. My friend once sent me a link to a site about fairy homes. There are those who might say that a site like that doesn’t make any sense, and maybe it doesn’t, but so what?

If I was looking for things to always make sense I might have said a long time ago there’s no sense in trying to get published. I might have said it’s too hard to a thing to accomplish. I might have looked at the stats from some of the literary magazines I submitted to (we receive over 1200 submissions a year and publish 5%) and said the odds are not in my favour. I might have said, I have no one to show me the way. I might have counted the rejections (I had a few file folders filled) and said it isn’t meant to be. I might have said I’ve never once taken a writing course. I might have said I don’t know one single solitary writer in the entire world. But I didn’t say those things. I kept doing what I was doing even though there were times that it didn’t make sense to be doing it. (Seriously, some of my friends worried about the postage I was spending and if it was actually “paying off”) I kept wishing and hoping and dreaming…and writing.

And for those people who think life makes perfect sense, that if we dig deep enough we’ll find out exactly why things happen, I feel a little sad. I might be a Pollyanna, I might set my sights on things that seem an impossibility, but I’d rather live in a world of magic and wonder than a world that just is.

R.I.P my friend–the next time I find a fairy house in the woods I’ll think of you.

Do you believe in magic and wonder or in a world that always makes sense?
(Please drop in next time when author Heather Wright will be a guest on my blog. Heather will be telling us about her new book : Writing Fiction: A Guide for Preteens.”


Today, it is pleasure to welcome author Syr Ruus to my blog. As both a traditionally and self-published author, Syr has kindly agreed to share her thoughts on this with us.

37816_135253859838486_2745956_nSyr Ruus was born in Tallinn, Estonia during the Second World War. As a small child, she escaped with her mother to Germany and
subsequently immigrated to the United States. She has an MA in English and MS in Education and taught in the English Department of Illinois State University. She has lived in Crescent Beach, Nova Scotia since 1970, formerly working as an elementary school teacher while raising her three children and currently devoting herself full-time to writing. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies and journals and in 2009 her novel “Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart” was published by Newfoundland’s Breakwater Press.


I have always loved books. I became a reader at three. More than thirty years later, I became a writer. Why did it take so long, you might ask? Perhaps because English is my second language, or maybe I felt that I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say. Once I started, however, I never stopped.

Publishing, of course, is another matter. People say it’s extremely hard to find a publisher these days with things being as they are. I know from personal experience that it has always been hard. It’s even difficult to find places to send a manuscript. Only small publishers accept unsolicited queries. If anyone does offer to take a closer look, it takes many months, even years, before a decision is reached. Often you hear nothing at all.

Not that this is altogether bad. It gives a writer a chance to reflect. After the first flush of enthusiasm, one can make some meaningful revisions. Sometimes, along with a rejection, there is feedback. I have read in a manual for writers that when you finish a novel, it should sit in a drawer for at least two years before you begin working on it again. A bit extreme, maybe. Yet often it sits that long in a slush pile on some junior editor’s desk. There does come a time, however, when a work is definitely ready. Finished. Done. Only a few final perks and tweaks could make it any better. Or perhaps not. Still no one has offered to publish it.

The wonderful news is that it has become more acceptable than ever to do it yourself. Even the Writers’ Union of Canada has recently voted to accept self-published writers.

321214_269317809765423_1682562519_nI was lucky. A smattering of my short stories appeared in Journals and anthologies. After my novel Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart received first prize in the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia annual competition, it was published by Breakwater Press in 2009. This gave me a much needed boost and sufficient confidence to actually begin referring to myself as an author.

But what of the two books I had written earlier? In 1999, Devil’s Hump was being seriously considered by a well-regarded publisher before being rejected. A few years ago, a new editor at the same company found the same novel (revised edition) “transporting, enchanting, strange, unsentimental, vivid,” but not fitting in with “what we’re trying to do with the fiction list at present.”

“I do think you should be able to find a publisher for this,” she added.

So, like The Little Red Hen, I did it myself. Devil’s Hump was published in 2013 by etc. Press, Halifax, N.S.10569081_810453168985215_2058664649597654044_n

The first novel I ever wrote also received an award from WFNS. In 1994, Edgar was the winner in the juvenile novel category. After some years, I decided to incorporate the original story which concerned a pet crow within an adult novel about the family which raised it. As such it was shortlisted for the Ken Klonsky Novella Award, yet despite positive comments from various publishers, no one was prepared to take it on. Just a few months ago, The Little Red Hen did it again. The Story of Gar was published in December, 2014.

Each of our voices is important to our collective humanity. Those that have spoken to me in the books I have read over the years have enriched me beyond measure. Our writing preserves a personal vision of a world which is constantly changing. The characters we have created with such loving care deserve a chance to sit on a bookshelf and perhaps come to life in someone else’s mind also. It’s every writer’s dream to be published, but you can’t wait around forever. Sometimes you have to do it yourself.

It’s exciting to prepare one’s work for print: to choose the paper, to select the font, to format the pages, to decide on a cover, to be in full control from beginning to end.
This includes promotion, of course, which these days is increasingly left up to the author, but which publishers certainly facilitate. Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart is available in bookstores all over the world (as I see when I Google myself). It was also reviewed in 10247462_880235172007014_1772275323027241970_nvarious newspapers and was submitted to contests which I cannot access as a self-published author. Since both of my independently published novels have a regional content (as does In Pleasantry, a collection of connected short stories, which I plan to publish next), shops in the area are willing to take a few copies on consignment. The books are printed in limited editions; the cost goes down as the number goes up. Being a diffident self-promoter, I am mainly depending on word-of-mouth for any future sales, and with luck, I may get back what I spent.

But as writers, we know that we don’t do it for the money—we do it for love.

Thanks so much, Syr, for sharing your thoughts and your wisdom. I hope that In Pleasantries will find the same success as your other novels. I am looking forward to reading your next literary offering.

To learn more about Syr, check out her WFNS page here. And her Facebook page. Her books are available locally at Coles in Bridgewater, The RiverHouse  and Lahave Bakery or by contacting the author directly: syr@eastlink.ca

Welcoming 2015 With Some Writerly Intentions

I love the start of a brand new year. I’m sure I say that every year around about this time, but it’s SO true. A brand new year is so full of possibilities, like a blank page just waiting to be written on or a field of unblemished snow where not a single soul has tread. Guided only by my imagination at this time of the year I feel as though anything is possible. It’s like starting all over again and there’s something most exciting about beginnings, especially for a writer.

I don’t make resolutions but I do like making a list of intentions, things I intend to accomplish, hopefully in the upcoming year, but if not, somewhere farther off into the future. For me, that feels doable without too much pressure, yet allows me to have some goal in mind at the end of it all. And I don’t fill my list up with far-fetched notions, dreaming only big dreams. While big dreams are wonderful, life is also made of up a lot of little dreams that in hindsight can prove to be just as important as the big ones. Aimlessly wandering through life can have its drawbacks. Applying just the right amount of pressure never hurts. At least that’s my philosophy!

So what are some of the things on my list? Below are a few of the writerly ones.

1.I intend to finish the novel I’m presently working on and start sending out submissions for it. There’s nothing more exciting that having several submissions out in publishing land awaiting a rejection or an acceptance, and nothing sweeter that having an editor email and tell you they want to publish your work. I recently had a short story published in Transition, a magazine put out by the Saskatchewan Mental Health Association. While it’s presently in hard copy it will be available on line and I’ll share the link on my blog when it’s available.
2.I intend to pen more short stories in the future. I’ve had several ideas come to me while working on this last novel and I’ve jotted things down just to make sure I wouldn’t forget. I’ve said before I miss my short stories so I need to remedy that.
3.I intend to say yes to writerly opportunities as they arise. Just recently I was offered the opportunity to read for a group in January. I’m excited about this and hopefully more opportunities will arise!
4.I intend to continue supporting other local authors. This has always been important to me. Nothing makes me happier than to help out a fellow author. I obviously can’t buy every book from every local author but, as I mentioned in my post here, there are plenty of ways to support our author friends.
5.I intend to continue blogging. Notice that I’m not vowing to blog every day or even every week, just that I will continue in some shape or form. I know there are some who say we should choose a schedule and stick to it, but that’s not realistic for me. It makes more sense for me to spend more of my time writing fiction than blogging. I’ve met some great people through blogging and made connections I otherwise would not have made so of course I plan to keep blogging.

So there you have a few of my writerly intentions for 2015. Perhaps it will inspire you to come up with a list of intentions yourself. I’m excited for all that 2015 will bring both on the writing front and on a personal note. The sky’s the limit!

Anyone want to share one of their intentions, writing or otherwise?

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