Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Snowy Storm Day

My daughter AKA blog coach has instructed me to write on my blog today. I had given a fleeting thought to writing a post this morning but thought I should write instead.Of course before beginning to put words to screen I checked my e-mail and there was a message from my daughter with a couple of interesting tidbits and the suggestion that I write on my blog. I have lots of thoughts percolating in my cluttered brain , some not fit to share so I will sift through them and share a few. Firstly, I turned on the radio this morning to see if my daughter-in-law got a storm day. I was hoping that she would get a break from the busy teaching schedule she has maintained all fall. I was happy to hear that schools had been cancelled. Oh how I loved that announcement back in my teaching days.I am trying to get everything in order for our trip to Edmonton on Christmas Eve. I can't wait to see Emma and Paige and be a part of their Christmas excitement.For now I am soaking in the comfort and beauty of my home. I debated whether or not to decorate and put up a tree. I am so glad I did as the glow of the candles in the windows and the tree lights fill me with such joy. I seemingly absorb the peace and strong memories they evoke and it fortifies me for the days and months ahead. Again I can not even begin to say how very much we have to be thankful for.I am going to leave it at that and get to work.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Get Me Through December

The first day of December has brought a blanket of snow.I sit and listen to Stephanie Mainville's beautiful rendition of Gordie Sampson's song Get Me Through December mindful of the challenges the month brings. I was in Fredericton yesterday signing at Chapters and was going to stay the night at a friends but decided to come home when Burton mentioned that there was snow in the forecast. So after a delicious meal at the Diplomat I drove home and I am very glad I did. Not only do I not have to drive on snowy roads, I love being here in my warm house this morning with the whole day stretching ahead of me. I am going to start decorating for Christmas. This week will be a more reflective week than usual with Zac's 35th birthday approaching on Thursday . We have now faced fifteen birthdays without him. We love you Zac and treasure the twenty years we had together.My thoughts are with the four families facing the nightmare they have been given in Cap-Pele NB with the tragic deaths of four young men. So for today, I will take comfort in my home and joy from my memories and keep a quiet vigil remembering each of the families of those lost sons, as they face the journey that lies ahead.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Back at School

Yesterday I spent the day back in a building that I know so well and that was such a huge part of my life. In 1969 I walked through the doors of Macdonald Consolidated as a scared, grade seven kid going to a new school and living in a new community. I had summered on the Kingston Peninsula all my life but now we were living here year round. I have lots of memories of the three years I spent as a student there,some that involve the tall, gangly boy that became my husband .I can vividly remember the way the school was before the new addition was built in the late 70's. Only my generation and before remember the steps that led to the boy's bathroom that were off of the landing half way up the stairs and all the many other things that changed when the new part was built. Zac started school there in 1984 and the other kids followed, the last one leaving in 2004. In 1986 I came to MCS as a teacher after teaching six years in Rothesay and taught there for 23 years.So when I enter that building it is filled with so many memories .I visited the Grade 5 class first. Those kids were in kindergarten the last year I taught. Next I went to the grade 4 class. Several of those kids were kids of Zac's friends and that always brings tears to my eyes when I think of the children my son did not get to have. I stand before those kids reading from and talking about a book that holds the memory of a boy that their Dads grew up with,played Lego with,built treehouses with, had sleepovers with, partied with. I stop there with my thinking as thinking too deeply about it would render me unable to finish this post.Grade 3 was delightful. They were reading Ten Thousand Truths. I read them the last two chapters.I had some concerns when I heard they were reading it and perhaps their understanding of some parts is different than an older reader might have but they certainly brought an insightful and compassionate perspective to it.So overall ,I spent the day in a familiar place, stood in classrooms where I had taught, sat in a staff room with some of the staff that still remembers me,shared my three books with 60 kids who now eagerly wait to sign them out of a library that happens to be named after my father, in recognition to his years of dedication on the local school board.My friend Alice would say that's how I got my job. Macdonald Consolidated School , a special part of my life as a mom, a teacher and now an author.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mid November Days

November has a distinctive feel. It's days are often grey, cold, windy and somewhat bleak. I remember a November a few years ago when my journal recorded that every day was wet and dark with no sunny days for the entire month.Whether the sun shines or not November is a month that serves to prepare us for the winter that is coming. But just as every season and every month does, November has it's gifts and blessings to give if we are open to receive them. As November reaches it's mid point this year I reflect on those blessings. First of all I have my husband home as he begins his retirement years. He has so enthusiastically embraced his at-home days. The garden has been harvested and he has begun the fall ploughing to clean up this year's garden and prepare for next year's planting.He has been filling the basement with the winter's wood.He has taken over my daily chores of feeding and watering the pigs, turkeys and chickens. I must admit I miss those chores a bit but love the extra time it gives me in the morning. He keeps the house lovely and warm and I rarely have to go to the furnace.I have enjoyed my writing time getting started on book # 5.I had an enjoyable shopping trip with my daughter-in-law and her mom , sisters, cousins and aunts.Yesterday I spent the day at Island View School. I presented to all the students from kindergarten to grade 5. What wonderful, interested, bright and eager kids they were and I enjoyed each session.The students and staff welcomed me warmly. It was such a joy to see principal Mark Blucher doing all his principal things throughout the day. A joy especially because I was Mark's Grade four teacher. I joked that I was responsible for him wanting to be a teacher. He very nicely told the kids that he remembered me as a wonderful teacher.(Really what else could he say?)I look forward to the rest of the month with three book signings,another school visit and more days in my office. As I have stated so many times before , I loved being a teacher but these days I am so happy to be a writer. Bring on the dark, deary days of November ,and the long winter. I am very content to be right here at my computer, in my nice warm house.

Friday, November 1, 2013

News as November Starts

Another month begins and I look back at the busy month that was October. Yesterday I had another school visit and met with a Family Dynamics class at KV High School. It was a quick hour but I enjoyed sharing some parts of Ten Thousand Truths with the very attentive (and it was Halloween) class.Tuesday I finished book # 4 (before editing of course) and sent it off to be considered for publication.After months of work I let it go and hope for the best.I got an e-mail this week telling me that I was chosen to launch The Sewing Basket in the OLA Mass Book Launch in Toronto in January. That's great news and I look forward to the trip and being a part of the OLA Super Conference. The Sewing Basket also made it into the Fall edition of Best Books for kids and teens. Yesterday I got an envelope filled with wonderfully written and supportive letters from the Grade 5 students at Lakewood Heights. I enjoyed reading every letter. I will read them again whenever my confidence is low. Those sentences that say things like "you are truly an amazing writer" are nice to re read.I started book # 5 yesterday afternoon and look forward to some consistent writing time in November and December before Christmas interferes with my writing days.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Two Aidan's and a Grace

Ok, one more entry about my visit to Lakewood Heights and my attempt to remember all the grade 5 students that welcomed me. I forgot Aiden , Aidan and Grace.Sorry ! My daughter cautioned me this morning that if I was going to do this for twenty more years I couldn't expect that I would be able to remember all the student's names. Of course she is right(and usually is) .I certainly can not remember all the students I taught in my 29 years in the classroom although some are unforgettable. I will however continue to try to learn kid's names when I present to a class, especially if I spend a full day, morning or afternoon with them.But next time if I tell the kids that I will mention them by name on my blog ,I think I will cheat a bit and take a copy of the class list with me. That way no one will be left out.

Monday, October 21, 2013

My House on the Hill

Today I spent the afternoon with eleven, bright,intuitive, funny, compassionate and beautiful young women at First Steps School. I walked out the door onto the street afterwards and said to myself right out loud, "What a lucky duck I am".At my age I don't worry any more about people thinking I am crazy if I talk to myself. These girls opened their classroom and themselves and welcomed me. They have been reading Ten Thousands Truths with their wonderful teacher Kathy on the recommendation of a fellow staff member Sharon. Thank you Sharon and Kathy.I was invited to read to the girls the last two chapters of the book. What an honour for me. We had a great afternoon talking about the book, my writing ,my life, their lives, challenges,joys and sorrows. I did not want to leave. On Thursday they are going to start reading The Year Mrs. Montague Cried so I hope to meet with them again , next time maybe as was suggested in a field and I invited them to my house. I love my house . It is not perfect but it is mine and a place that above any other I find myself wanting to be. In the book it was Zac's house and just as the house does that I imagined to be Amelia's, it has it's imperfections but it is home.And what better thing can a house be ,than a home.

Sorry Girls

Just a quick entry to acknowledge that yes I did forget a couple of kids from my visit to Lakewood Heights. I forgot to mention Julie and Sophie.Sorry girls! Can't wait to receive the letters the kids wrote to me. I am writing this morning and then have a school visit this afternoon where I have been asked to read the last chapter of Ten Thousand Truths with them.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Turkeys, Planes and Classrooms

I am catching my breath. Since last writing on my blog, I have hardly had a chance to do just that.This morning I sit in my very quiet office with the sound of rain on my tin roof and take a deep breath. Emma has gone home. Echoes of "Monkey, Monkey" are a fading memory and I miss her but Monkey is so happy to be alone. I have a book to finish and writing business to attend to. I took a week to go take Emma home and visit Meg, Cody and Paige. I flew all night Sunday night and arrived home at noon on Monday.Sunday I cooked a turkey dinner for my Alberta family and when I got home I cooked one for my New Brunswick family ,another reason for wanting the family to all live in one place.Tuesday I wrote all day and was thankful for every minute. Wednesday I visited Rothesay Park Middle School. In the morning I presented seven ,half hour sessions seeing I believe every student in the school and repeating myself seven times. Luckily what I say is true so I don't have to worry about keeping my lies straight. The kids were wonderful . In the afternoon I did a writing workshop with about 20 kids.What an impressive group of kids. I was in awe of the writing they did with a prompt and only twenty minutes to write. Very tired at the end of day but I came away having had another extremely rewarding day enjoying the best of what it means to be a teacher and a writer. Thank you RPS!Thursday I got up bright and early again and headed to Lakewood Heights Elementary. Just stepping inside the building took me back to the days of being an elementary school teacher. My former self would be thrilled to be dropped in to that building and become a part of the excitement of each new day there. I would have been pleased to join the staff and take over one of those classrooms as my own. But those days are done and now I enter those buildings as an author. And what a thrill that is. Miss Buckley's Grade five class welcomed me warmly and I set about the task of learning their names. Only one name stumped me but it was the name I kept forgetting not the interesting , dark haired boy, full of personality and wonder that possessed it. I met Andrew ,Stephen, Sharbel,Kyle ,Maddie , Jenna , Coleby,Cole, Lexie, Ryan, Casey,Rebecca, Brooke Jade, and Jadyn. I really hope that I didn't forget anybody. If I did please forgive me and let me know and I will talk just about you in my next blog entry.We had a wonderful morning together.The class had just finished reading Ten Thousand Truths and I was more than happy to answer their questions and hear their comments. I read from my other two books , we did a couple of reading/writing activites and before we knew it the morning was over. I got to see them again for a few minutes at the end of the day. In the afternoon I got to meet the other grade five class and had new names to learn. I believe that class was made up of Mya, Sydney,Isaiah,Jack, Haven,Sarah, Kiara,Heather,Casey, Taylor Kennedy,Tyler, Danielle,Emma,Kaleb,Jessica,Ethan, Ryan,and Alyssa.I apologize if I forgot anyone or mixed any of the students from the two classes up.I had another very good session with the second class They have not read any of my books yet but will hopefully get to do so later in the year and I probably could be convinced to come back for another short visit once they do.The school bought my three books for their library and I left feeling like I had been so welcomed at Lakewood Heights. I now look forward to reading the letters the kids wrote to me. So after this Thanksgiving time I give thanks for family, for turkeys, for schools, kids and teachers and again as I so often do for having a chance to be an author.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Suddenly September is Over

I have not written an entry since the first day of September and here it is the last day. The month has been a bit of a blur, a granddaughter filled blur. I should have counted the times I heard "Monkey !" to give a numerical perspective to the demands of a four year old. She loves it here on the farm and there have certainly been enough special moments to make the demands worthwhile. She loves to run free following Grampie ,her uncles, the dogs and now a gaggle of turkeys roaming freely until they are called up for Christmas dinners. She picked hers out the other night. It was the one that was hollering, a decisive pick in her mind although it seemed to me that was the majority of them as they squawked their way back to the shed.My writing time has been somewhat compromised but I have had enough time to get headed in the direction I want to go to finish telling the story of four generations in my fourth book. Hopefully October will offer up more writing days.Yesterday we said goodbye to September and the lake. Grampie, Emma and I took our last very cold and short lake swim. Our cries of glee could be heard up and down the road as we made ourselves jump in one last time. It was somewhat like what I imagine a polar dip to feel like but I was so glad we did it as a final tribute to the wonderful gift the lake gave to me again this year. Emma waved goodbye and told the lake she would see it next year. Hopefully we will have her and her little sister with us next year and we look forward to it.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Suddenly it is September

It is the first day of September.I am the keeper of several journals, my summer journal, my writing journal and my regular journal. Every morning I write about the previous day's events in my journal as part of my morning routine. Today I wrote the last entry in my Summer journal for the summer of 2013. When writing I often take the time to look back and read past entries and today I read most of the entries from this summer .Contrary to what most people say we have had a beautiful summer with lots of sunny hot days. My summer was filled with all the things I set out to do,I swam a lot, I kayaked some, I kept a large and fairly weed free garden, I did some signings ,went to the market and sold books,spent time with friends and family, and went to Meg's and brought Em home. I enjoyed most every day at a home that is my favorite place to be in all seasons and is as much like the best summer cottage you could imagine except that I can't walk right out my back door to the lake(but it is only a two minute drive away). Tomorrow I will write in my regular journal under the list of September goals and head into the next season, sorry to see summer go but anxious for the next season's approach. I will harvest and preserve much of the garden, I will take the last few swims as the days become cooler,take my kayak out a couple more times and I will go to my office Tuesday and get back to work.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Morning at the Market

For the second Saturday in a row I spent the morning selling books at the Kingston Farmer's Market. For anyone that hasn't been there it is a happening place.A wide variety of vendors offer many culinary delights , fresh produce , meat and a varied selection of crafted items. For two weeks I have set up my table beside the Cape Breton Oatcake guy. He is very keen to talk up his oatcakes and does very well selling them . I have developed a fondness for the Skor Toffee ones and highly recommend them. I did very well both weeks and was happy with my sales. It is rewarding to see that I usually sell all three books pretty equally. I was asked yesterday which book was my favourite. That is like asking which child is my favourite. I love them all for different reasons and could talk at great length about the qualities of each one but also see the flaws and shortcomings but usually choose not to dwell on that.Each time I let a book go to a new reader I feel such joy as my story connects with theirs. We all carry such a range of story as we live our lives with it's challenges ,joys and sorrows.I love those brief moments when the buyer lets me see a bit of their story while they accept a bit of mine.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August

The first day of August used to give me a feeling of panic as I knew that before the month was done I would be back at school and the glorious freedom of summer would be gone for another year. Now after four years of retirement August holds a much different emotion for me. I still hate to part with July and the special summerness of it's days. Early mornings and late evenings are now holding a trace of fall and the days are getting shorter. The water of the lake feels slightly cooler and we are getting closer to our last swim. My garden has gone from the early stages of growth to large plants some like the peas and beans that demand daily picking which takes time away from weeding. I am obsessed with weeding and hoeing the rows of vegetables and take such pride in a clean weed free garden. If Burton had his way he would cover the entire garden with the rolls of fabric that miraculously keep the weeds away.Not me, I am all about the weeding and hoeing It is like the revising of a piece of writing. It is paying attention and removing what doesn't belong and taking pleasure in what remains and grows each time you look at it.So in this month I will enjoy three more weeks of gardening and swimming. I will go to Meg's to get Emma toward the end of the month and then greet September as I begin the harvest and get back to my writing. Oh the joys of the seasons!(and the gift of being able to ignore those annoying back to school commercials!)

Monday, July 15, 2013

A July Morning

I am writing a short entry this morning probably to avoid the heat of the garden. We have had a run of beautiful ,hot sunny days and it is wonderful but part of me longs for the crisp September days when I can return to my office and begin writing again.Several things are simmering in my writer's mind and I will let them take shape in my thoughts as I carry out the tedious task of weeding.Don't get me wrong I love to weed. I love the transformation of a row once I have removed all the weeds and hoe up the growing plants paying close attention to the miraculous process that takes a small seed to a green plant and an eventual vegetable on our table.Today I will tackle the parsnips. If you have ever seen a parsnip seed you will share my awe that a minute paper thin disc produces a root vegetable of such substance. It is one of the last seeds to germinate and I had to wait until the small leaves got big enough to stay rooted as I pull the weeds out around them. I know I should be out there doing it instead of in here writing about it. That is what writing is like sometimes . More time given to the thinking about it than the actual getting words on the screen.I had a good signing in Fredericton on Saturday and was pleased to meet a woman named Jodi-Ann . She had just finished a session of the Writers Workshop at UNB and was anxious to talk about the challenges of writing. I was happy to share my experience and offer some advice and encouragement. But it does all boil down to doing the work ,just like a successful garden does. I always say I want a Jim and Ida garden. Jim and Ida were my paternal grandparents and every summer they planted and meticulously maintained a huge garden. Perhaps my grandchildren will aspire to having a Burton and Sue garden. OK I'm going and if I can keep the vision of a long clean row of parsnips as my goal and I can get past the heat and the bugs I will have the reward of a lake swim and the joy of accomplishment.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Wet Weekend of Signings

We have had some heavy rain for a few long wet days. The rain has put weeding on hold,the last bit of planting off and delayed mowing and other outside work. So when I had to go to the city for three book signings I did not feel like I was wasting time that I should be giving to the garden. Friday, I sat at Coles in the Brunswick Square Mall and watched scores of people file by . Feeling rather like a vendor with the most uninteresting table at a yard sale I got lots of smiles and nods from the passer bys, when they actually made eye contact. Some said hello and some even stopped to briefly acknowledge me. It is not that I don't appreciate the store's effort to welcome authors but once you are stuck there any positive interaction is left to chance. This is not to say that I have not had good experiences when signing in book stores. It seems that from every signing I take away at least one really meaningful interaction which makes it all worth while. On Friday I had two such experiences. The first was with a lovely family of four from Burlington, Ontario on vacation in NB for the first time.Initially the dad stopped with the purpose of having an author tell his daughter, who wants to be a writer, that she can't make a living at it. I was able to clarify that theory but was also I think, able to give her some direction as to how, despite that fact, she could indeed follow her passion. They genuinely asked questions about each book and my writing journey and after buying The Year Mrs. Montague Cried we said our goodbyes. At the same time a woman stopped to say that she had read all three books and offered some very kind words about them. So Friday's signing was successful even though at 2:00 sharp I packed up quickly definitely not having sold out at my table.Saturday I started out at Indigo. That store is very welcoming and I enjoy the young enthusiastic staff that mills around greeting customers . Jeremy regularly announced my presence to people as they entered the store and even if they walked briskly by with a polite hello, I never felt invisible.I took pleasure in being surrounded by books and perused a few as I sat waiting for the interaction that would make this signing stand out. My sister in law's sister and mother came in and they bought four books. Wonderful! I can always count on friends and family.But the experience of the day goes to a young girl named Sarah. Sarah came through the door and I saw right away that she was holding a copy of The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. She had been waiting to meet me and have me sign her book since seeing a week ago that I was coming to Indigo.She had some questions to ask me that she asked shyly with the help of her mom. She showed me her favourite part (March 17, page 115) and told me why it she liked it.I signed copies of Ten Thousand Truths and The Sewing Basket for her and she left excited to read them. Now really ,what more could I ask for? So then I went to the mall and sat in the doorway of Coles, again feeling like I was an obstacle to be avoided or negotiated around. I saw a few people I knew ,had one man come up and make an astute observation through squinted eyes (apparently he left his glasses at home), "these are books right?" So on these wet miserable days I spent six hours sitting with books that I spent countless hours writing and if it sounds like I am complaining I really am not.For years I walked by book stores dreaming of having a book on the shelves.I now sit at those stores with three. I look forward to being at Chapters in Moncton ,Saturday July 6th.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Back in the Lake

I took my first lake swim of the summer of 2013 on Tuesday. It was almost a month later than last year so I will try to make up for lost time. Today will definitely be a swimming day . Lots of things are up in the garden and the weeding has begun so after a morning in the garden I will make my way to the lake and jump in again.Burton retires in a month and he will get to be here every day too and enjoy the quiet beauty of the home we have created . As much as I love to be alone on my writing days I do love working outside when he he working somewhere nearby. We are establishing some retirement rules that should help me adjust.Today I will enjoy the bright sunshine and head to the lake at least a couple of times, floating in the refreshing water looking at the vast blue sky thankful for another day and another summer!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Days of June

We are in to the days of June. Spring has held back some of its sun and warmth and only teased us a few times with the promise of summer. I have not jumped in the lake yet and am behind my last two years swim date. I have most of the garden in but nothing has come up yet.I thought I was possibly done book four but after sharing it and looking at it through my friend Barb's eyes realize it is not finished and I will take any rainy days of summer to work on it and maybe not get it done until I go back to work in September. Yesterday I saw that The Sewing Basket made the list of books on Woozles Battle of the Books 2014. That is great. I love that students in Nova Scotia will read it as they prepare for the Battle of the Books. Thank you Woozles! No NBArts grant this year for this author but luckily I am not in this for the money.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Getting Back to Business

The rain and cold air is keeping me inside and I must say I am glad . The newly tilled ground lies waiting to be planted and I anticipate the busy growing season ahead. But today I am in my office and back to work.I am attending to some writing business and then plan to work on the finishing of A Fear of Drowning.What a crazy, busy couple of weeks I have had culminating in a nasty head cold.Meg and the girls arrived a few days before the launch and we kept busy every waking hour. The weather was great the day of the launch and everything came together nicely. My sister in law Louisa brought author Lisa Dalrymple out from the city and she spent the night with us. She fit right in to the craziness as soon as she arrived and we all enjoyed getting to know her.The market was full again for the launch of my third book and I enjoyed every minute of it. Back at the house the stories and laughter continued. The next day Lisa and I participated in the many events of WFNB's Words Spring. What a great weekend! Meg and the girls left Tuesday and I took a deep breath. But my deep breath started a coughing jag that has just now started to lessen. I am blaming Paige for giving me her cold.So I will work today and look forward to the weeks ahead filled with gardening, some book signings,my first swim of the season and much more.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Week of the Launch

It is Sunday morning. The sun has been shining for days which has been wonderfully uplifting after a cold,wet and dull beginning to Spring. The week begins with my making an extensive list for every day of what looks to be a very busy week ahead. My daughters inability this time to keep a secret gave me the heads up on her arrival for the launch which truth be known the real surprise would have been if she didn't come for it. My husband is famous for bringing her home for every important writing event I have had. The first time she popped out of my cousin's dining room the night I was to receive my AWC award and completely surprised me. She arrived late the night before my first launch and had my granddaughter jump on my bed waking me up. In August my daughter in law picked them up at the airport at night and they walked in to the yard the next morning surprising me as I was kneeling in the garden weeding bean rows. So after a series of surprises I have come to expect them. This time knowing the week before that they are coming has sent me in to a whirlwind of getting prepared for them . I have been avoiding for quite some time the final cleaning out of the bedroom that was Zac's then each of my teenage boys. I jokingly say I have not been in that room since 1995.My boys expressed their musical and cultural tastes by posters and painting a variety of interesting things on the walls. In the last while I have used this room as a catch all and just opened the door long enough to shove something in that I had no other place for. But this week I decided to reclaim that room for my granddaughters.Luckily one of my creative sons is a drywaller/crackfiller and he has prepared the walls for me to paint. We bought bunkbeds for the girls and by the time they arrive Tuesday night it will be an entirely different looking room.I am celebrating the way life takes us from one stage to another and enjoying the frenzy of getting ready for my launch. Amid the craziness I vow to relish every moment.

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Old Sewing Basket

This is the sewing basket my father bought me when I was in grade seven. It is this sewing basket that gave me the idea for the fictional story I wrote that became "The Sewing Basket" which I will hold in my hands next week.I find it intriguing and encouraging that a seed of an idea can come from an object, a brief experience ,something heard , or just about anything. As a writer, that is good to know but the challenging part is to pay close attention to the seeds that have potential to grow and let some others go that seem at the time to be brilliant . The hard part is taking the idea and letting it take shape and the most exciting part is that it doesn't always take the shape you think it is going to take. If you let it the story takes over and finds its way out through you or in spite of you. The process is hard to explain or even to understand but again I must say how truly grateful I am to have the time and the inclination to let those stories come. My friend and talented photographer, Kathy Thornhill of Sparrowhawk Photography took a series of photographs of my sewing basket.She took my old sewing basket and found such beauty in it.She made several of the photos in to bookmarks that I will give out at my launch on May 9th. She also created the beautiful pansy bookmarks I gave out with Ten Thousand Truths.Thank you Kathy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cover For The Sewing Basket

I am only stopping here to write a short entry. I want to finish book #4 by the end of this month. Part of me feels that I am hurtling toward the finish whereas another part of me is holding back not entirely certain I know what it will take to finish this story.So those two sides are battling with each other and the rational referee that is also in me must make the determined effort to get to it. But I do want to enjoy the feeling I have this morning after receiving what I think will be the cover of The Sewing Basket. It is completely different than the one I envisioned but through the capable work of Matt Reid and his designing skills I think we have come to another perfect cover . I have been very happy with the two covers he previously designed for me and have gotten lots of positive comments about both.I have the three spread out on my office floor seeing them as a collection of my work which thrills me . Next step is to hold it as a book and launch it out in to the reading atmosphere. With all the current debate about books vs e-books, are books still relevant?, are people reading? etc. for me the important thing right now is the story that began with a small flash of idea ,has taken shape and will come together in a book. What more could I ask for at this time? Nothing! I am perfectly content in it's progression. Now get to work on the stage that the next one is in this morning and move it along.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Indian Horse

I finished reading Richard Wagamese's Indian Horse while sitting on a plane coming from Edmonton. I wanted to hold the book to my heart and cry which for me is the sign of a good book.I also wanted to shout to the plane full of people that this is a book Canada should read.I read most of the book while visiting my daughter and two little granddaughters and on more than one occasion I hollered out as I read of such cruelty and heartlessness at St. Jerome's. As a mother , grandmother and teacher I could not even imagine being witness to such evil disregard for individual value. It is really beyond grasping how a child can be stripped of everything that matters to their very being and then casually buried out back. Then I struggled through the blatant racism in small town Canada and in sport. I know this is reality and I am ashamed of it.I also know that there are layers to this racism that are age old and complicated but definitely worthy of honest reflection and debate. I listened every day to the debates of Canada Reads and I registered some of the comments made about Indian Horse but had not read the book so didn't really engage in the debate. I read February and certainly would take nothing away from Lisa Moore's win. But come on people. How could some of the comments made about Indian Horse have been made if they had really read and embraced the writing at all. I don't know how Richard kept from losing his mind upon hearing remarks like "The sport should have been lacrosse". Really! The powers at St. Jerome's stripped the residents of everything "Indian " but would have encouraged Saul to play Lacrosse? "No redeeming white character." I found one but Erv Swift didn't ride in and save the day and I would have been pissed off if he had. "No hope." That is the biggest unfair statement of all.Hope was the powerful message of this book. Saul's mere survival showed hope and the fact that he explored the horrific events of his childhood brought hope from the only real and lasting place it can come from,a place deep within that sees where the soul has been but where by choice it can find a place to reside that gives it a reason for hope. This is what made me want to sob and what will give Indian Horse a place of honor on my book shelf.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Great Day in Fredericton

Yesterday I had a very enjoyable day in Fredericton. Fredericton holds a special place in my heart and I always look forward to time spent there. I lived in Fredericton from age seven to eleven. Anyone who knows me at all has heard me talk about 619 Regent St.That address has found it's way into two of my books.In fact Fredericton is the setting of "The Sewing Basket" which comes out in May and my main character lives where else but 619 Regent St.In 1976 I went to Fredericton to attend St. Thomas University and remember those days as a student in Fredericton very fondly.I started my Fredericton day by meeting with Joan Clark who is spending this year in NB as UNB's Writer in Residence. She generously gave up her morning to share her wisdom , experience and perspective. I came away from that meeting with some of my questions answered and a good feeling about the trajectory of my writing career.What a wonderful example she is for other authors.I spent the afternoon in Sara Belong's classroom at George St. Middle School. I would love to list the names of all the seventeen students I met and could probably remember most of them but I wouldn't want to leave anyone out so I won't try. Each one of them was delightful and welcomed me with such enthusiasm. When you hear a boy exclaim that he will buy every book I write it makes me very happy even though I imagine he will soon forget his claim. Then there was the thrilling comment I received when after reading just a short passage from Ten Thousand Truths ,Chantay remarked that it made her think of Anne of Green Gables. That is the best compliment I could ever get about that book.I spent two hours reading from my three books, sharing some of my favourite books and authors and having the kids do some writing. I ran out of time and was very disappointed when the bell rang . They presented me a gift of appreciation , a few pictures were taken ,I hurriedly signed bookmarks and said goodbye.I look forward to visiting there again next year. Thank you Ms. Belong.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Reach of The Year Mrs. Montague Cried

Last night I came up to my office to spend some time on the computer. I would have liked to have watched the East Coast Music awards but my son who does not pay for his own satellite was visiting so he could watch The Walking Dead.I did the normal stuff,looking at Facebook, checking my e-mail,went on Twitter, looked at my blog stats, and then Googled Ten Thousand Truths, and The Year Mrs. Montague Cried.I stumbled upon a blog entry that had just been published that day with a beautiful review of The Year Mrs. Montague Cried from someone in Australia who had bought the book at Woozles in Halifax,last summer. www.momotimetoread.blogspot.com I called Burton up stairs and we had a tearful embrace. It amazes and overwhelms me how vast and continuous the reach of this book has been.Over and over again I am touched when I hear from another reader.I have said this book was a gift Zac gave me and every day I am reminded of just how powerful that gift is . I am overjoyed when I hear from readers of Ten Thousand Truths but there will always be something very special when I hear of one more reader that has shared a bit of our pain in losing our oldest son."As long as there is one person on earth that remembers you ,it isn't over." Oscar Hammerstien

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Another Day of "Jeaneology"

Last year I had the privilege of spending a night and day at the home of Jean Holder in Millstream.I had that privilege again this weekend. Jean is now 91 and still a rich fountain of family history and past remembrances. She is humorous, and generous in sharing those memories. This year the theme of her get-together was "Meet Your Ancestors". I was so happy to be invited to observe the afternoon of story telling as each family member took an ancestor and after researching them read a piece as that ancestor bringing him or her to life and interconnecting the past and present recollections of that person.Aunt Jean and Barb Fullerton were interviewed on CBC Information Morning in Saint John and Fredericton about this undertaking. From the initial idea and through the extensive planning that engaged about twenty family members it all came together to create a wonderful family event that hopefully will keep this family connected by the past and present and determined to keep that connection for the future generations. Thank you Aunt Jean!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bring on Book # 3

After my last launch when I expressed how happy I was to be getting the chance to write , something I have always done but never had the time to devote to actually getting it done, my son Caleb said"How many books do you want to write,Mom.?"He asked the question with an element of surprise as if it hadn't dawned on him that I would continue writing. I know for my family the first book was huge in so many ways and the intensity of the whole thing has been monumental.I feel it was the book that I needed to write first and has allowed me the opportunity to keep writing. My answer to him was, Well it depends how many years I have left, a book a year,let's say - 20. Twenty sounds good , twenty five even better.Well it is getting closer to the time when I will hold book #3. Yesterday I finished the line edits after a couple of rounds of rewrites under the editing direction of Sherie Hodds. She was wonderful. I worked with Caitlin Drake on my first two books and was disappointed when she was not able to work on this one. But there was no disappointment once I started working with Sherie. She has been so supportive and encouraging throughout the process.Next I look forward to exploring cover options.So today after shovelling snow from yesterday's storm and amidst my occasional worried thoughts, as Caleb and Ashlie travel back from Chester today, I will work on book # 4. It is coming to a very pivotal point and I think I know what direction it is taking.Funny how much writing books is like living life. "I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned ,the hard way,that some poems don't rhyme,and some stories don't have a clear beginning,middle,and end. Life is about not knowing,having to change,taking the moment and making the best of it,without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity" Gilda Radner

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

OK Riel I'm Tweeting

Last week I purchased a PD package from the Writers Union of Canada. The content dealt mainly with how to use social media to help promote your book.I bought it in hopes of discovering some deep secret that would send my sales numbers sky rocketing.I am overall very pleased with the sales both The Year Mrs. Montague Cried and Ten Thousand Truths have had since their releases,however one can't help but get caught up a bit in the game.My book signings in November had me seated at a table right beside the rack of Fifty Shades of Grey and I must admit when the shoppers came eagerly (not a play on words)toward that display,part of me was so hopeful their excitement was to purchase my books.I am not a stranger to social media. I am on Facebook , I have a blog and I get the attraction and the benefits. I am also aware of how time consuming it can be and I am also cautious about exposing too much .Much of what the PD presentation was telling me I was already doing. It did present several other social media tools that I wasn't using though and one of those tools was Twitter. My friend Riel Nason has been talking up the positive points of tweeting and I decided to explore it. Before I knew it I had a username ,a password, had tweeted, was following and was being followed.See you on Twitter Riel!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Ten Thousand Truths Gets Honourable Mention

At the OLA Conference last week Ten Thousand Truths made the list of Best Bets of 2012 as an Honourable Mention. What an honour indeed to be considered and selected for such an impressive list. Congratulations to all the other authors and the work that also made the list.Check out the link listed on the right hand side of this page. I remember in my teaching days using the Book Centre brochures and having the dream of someday having a book listed there.This is huge for me and I am thrilled!!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Beginning Another February

This morning I reflect on the start of another February. After reading my journal entries from February 2012 and my blog entry from last February it seems clear to me that the year went by very quickly.It also seems to me that it is a gift to be given another year and a gift to have the time to reflect the year's passing. As we live out our days they can often seem challenging or difficult at the time but when you look back at them they are rich with lessons we have learned and blessings we've received. Burton and I often joke about our wood supply which is supplied entirely from his time , energy and hard work.( he loves splitting wood by hand) This year the ongoing joke was that he almost had January's wood in as each rank was given a month and March and February kept being sacrificed for January. Every weekend he would add more to the January rank from a rich supply of dead maple so thoughtfully provided by a family of beavers a few years ago,that flooded an area killing all the maple trees standing in their path. Well we did it Hon!
We got through January as we have for the last 25 years in this house always facing the challenge of heating it's rooms with hard work and a positive attitude. I tear up thinking how that same outlook has carried us through so many challenges that have been much more daunting than keeping the furnace stocked.This February brings the revisions of The Sewing Basket which will be released in the spring. Last February I went through the same process with Ten Thousand Truths and the February before with The Year Mrs. Montague Cried.What more could a retired teacher who always dreamed of being a published author ask for?So here we go February. Today after the heavy winds and rain the last day of January brought, the ground is bare but I am sure many more cold and snowy days are ahead . I will take the time I am given to write and revise while at the same time take comfort in the ranks of wood now assigned to February and March and comfort in the fact that just as in the February's past, lessons and blessings await.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Charming and Impressive Library

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Cambridge Narrows Regional Library. Check out the web site. www.cambridge-narrowsregionallibrary.ca I was very impressed with the facility. With a lot of hard work by volunteers and their ongoing dedication and lots of support from the community, they have taken an old building and turned it in to a vibrant part of the community. The selection of books and other resources is astounding. The programs and activities they offer are numerous . The d├ęcor is welcoming and nurtures a love of reading in all ages. I was invited to meet in the morning with a group of grade eleven students and their very enthusiastic teacher. I was happy to meet Andrew, Brandis, Devon, Carly, Kristen,Justis, Greg and Mrs. Goodin. They had read The Year Mrs. Montague Cried and I was pleased to answer their questions and receive their comments.I talked more than I should have because we ran out of time and I would have loved to have heard more from them. Thank you so much Mrs. Goodin for sharing my book with these great kids and for inviting me to meet them.I then was invited to the home of Brenda Dunsmore for lunch. Brenda has been one of the people instrumental in the existence of the library and certainly is very involved in it's vibrancy. Brenda a former colleague and fellow Kingston Peninsula resident along with her husband Bruce have chosen to spend their retirement years in Cambridge Narrows. After having visited them in their lovely lake front home I can not blame them. I am sure they are getting back as much as they are putting in to their chosen location. After a lovely lunch with Brenda ,Betty and Pat I returned to the library where I spent a wonderful afternoon with a book club of about twelve ladies. What a welcoming group these ladies were. Again I probably talked too much but we also had a lot of discussion,some laughter and the emotion that makes tears well up.Days like this are such a joy for me. They combine so many of the things I love; spending time with kids, watching excellent teachers do what they do,being surrounded by books, sharing my work, telling my stories, listening to the stories of others,selling a book or two, and making another memory in this evolving career as an author. So today as I prepare to give the rest of this day over to writing I am reminded of why sitting here day after day alone turning words and sentences in to story is rewarded not with money but with the moments just like the ones I had yesterday at the Cambridge Narrows Library.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Welcome 2013

The sun is streaming through my office window and I am warm even though the outside temperature is -17. The furnace is well stocked , the kitchen stove is beginning to heat the water in the kettle and I am sitting in the quiet comfort of this room letting the frenzy of the last week settle.Yesterday we welcomed a large group of family and friends for our now annual New Years Day feast. For two days I work non stop to present a meal reflective of the efforts we have put in to growing vegetables, preserving the harvest and raising turkeys, chickens and pigs over the summer and fall months.I look to 2013 thankful for the gifts of 2012, ready to receive the blessings and challenges that lie ahead and very thankful for the memories I hold within the walls of this house and in my heart. I celebrate the people ,place and purpose I have been given.