Monday, May 30, 2016

Books For Sale

Waiting For Still Water arrived last Wednesday. I began distributing the ten complimentary author copies to my kids and a couple of people that were instrumental in its existence. I have more of those to send out in the mail . I took some copies to WFNB's Word Spring event this weekend in the Miramichi and sold five copies so the selling has begun. I will have my launch on June 29th but in the meantime the books are out there for sale. Checking the Indigo website this morning I see that there are lots of copies in Fredericton, a few in two of the Saint John stores(not at East Point yet for some reason),lots in Halifax and some in each of the Nova Scotia and PEI stores. I did not check any other book selling websites but I know Amazon had the book on their site last week stating it was out of stock and orders could be placed. I will be at the Kingston Farmer's market on Saturday and hope to see many of the people who have been asking me in the last few weeks when the new book would be here. My first four books had the cover price of 12.95. Waiting For Still Water sells for $19.95. I am looking forward to meeting new readers and greeting old ones. This book's journey has begun and I send it out hoping it touches someone wherever it lands.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

And Now There Are Five

I can not even begin to say how pleased I am to announce the arrival of book number five. As I placed it with the others between the book ends my friend Karen so fittingly gave me as it was her that got the ball rolling to see The Year Mrs. Montague Cried published ,Burton commented that we will have to get a bigger table eventually . At the launch of my first book in 2011 I stated that I planned on writing a book a year for the next twenty years. I am ahead of schedule as I just finished writing #9.Today I celebrate and applaud book number five. It is taller and thicker and gorgeous. It came into being after about five months of writing and five months of editing. It got a new name and its beautiful cover while I was on a trip to Newfoundland . I have spent hours in so called writing labour to birth this beautiful new member of my book family. I nervously and anxiously send this new book out into the world while at the same time clutching it to my chest reluctant to let it go. It holds such a huge part of me but will take on its own identity and be received by readers who will find a part of themselves in its pages.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I Have my Lake Back

May 24th is my official first swim date this year and I am thrilled to have my lake back. I have kept my eye on it mostly from the upstairs windows of Chapin and Brianne's house when I go down almost every day to see the progress. They have a beautiful view of my beloved Walton Lake. I can not see it from my own house and have to make a point of driving down during the months we are separated after my final swim of the season and I don't do that very often. Out of sight does not mean out of mind though. I am always aware that it is waiting for me, for warm days and another summer. Today I eagerly drove down determined to take the plunge. It is always the same every year. I have to talk myself into the first swim. I have to remind myself how badly I want the swimming to begin again for another year. I have to tell myself that the numbing cold will pass , that it will be worth it. I walk out to my waist still not completely sure I will do it. I remind myself how disappointed I will be if I give in to the belief that I can't do it. Then I go under. The seconds of shock are nothing when compared to the amazing feeling I get from being back in the lake. My beautiful lake waited for me and I am once more blessed with swimming and worshipping in my lake. Worshipping may sound ridiculous to some but that is exactly what the clear water and solitary swimming in Walton Lake offers me. As I submerge myself in the water I fill with thankfulness for having survived another winter, for the health that allows me to enjoy the physical activity that swimming provides, for the mindfulness of the many blessing the months that have passed since I last let the waters cover me have provided. For me the first swim of the season is a huge victory and a welcome invitation to the promise of summer.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Blossoms, Buds and Excitement Bursting

I am just about bursting with excitement like the blossoms and buds I see when I look out my office window . Someday this week Waiting For Still Water is supposed to arrive. I can not wait to hold a copy in my hands. It is something similar to giving birth, the pain and discomfort overshadowed by the existence of a new creation. This morning I brought up the download of the interior and randomly chose a spot to start reading. It grips me and I hope it grips my readers. It occurred to me on Saturday as I stood at my market table that the books displayed hold pieces of my soul . In the writing I dig deep in the crevices of emotion and even though I create a fictional story it always comes from a place within. So when I re read the words that made the cut and finally found their way onto the page I realize the journey has been long and difficult but so rewarding. Again I can not come close to expressing how grateful I am that I have been given the opportunity to do this. I am a writer in every part of my being. A story teller and an observer of life . Every day I take the story around me and try to figure it out, to put things in perspective, to worry out the whys and wherefores and to truly see what matters. I do not always get it right and don't claim to have any magic powers but the magic is in the living. Last night my brother in law did a thing with a tape measure illustrating how much of life we have already seen and how short the tape measure or what remains of our life is. I dug through a box of photographs and treasures my parents sent home with me on Saturday and read back to 1987 when my mother wrote her daily activities in a day planner. So much of what she did during those days included me and my three kids at that time. Chapin was two , Meg was five and Zac was nine and my mother was the same age I am right now. That hit me with a powerful wallop. It made me weepy on so many levels. But most importantly it made me thankful for the past, the future and the right now. We can not go back on the tape measure of life and we can not see ahead. We can only look at where we are right now and do the best with what we're given. I want those days back. I want to pick my two year old up in my arms. I want to brush my five year old's hair. I want to hug my nine year old boy who left me way too soon. I want my 59 year old mother talking to me, baking and caring for my little family. I want it all and I still have it all right in the place that matters; in my heart and soul and in my writing. Whatever lies along the next part of the tape measure can not take that away.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

To Market, To Market

Saturdays are market days from May to November. Despite the getting up at 7:00 I really enjoy going. Some days are slow . Last week I had my first ever 'no book sales' day. I sold a few dozen eggs though and I got to talk to some friends and neighbors. I left early to make my way across the busy Saturday morning ferry and went into the city for Joan and Joe Howlett's funerals. Last week the highlight was a man picking up Ten Thousand Truths and reading the back cover. I take what I can get and every little bit of contact with potential readers counts. Nobody would come strolling into my office on a Saturday morning and show interest in my work. Yesterday the books sales improved, I sold all my eggs and sold a few tickets for the foundation fundraiser. A woman from Ireland returned to my table. When she was visiting a friend in 2014 her friend bought her The Sewing Basket and before leaving the peninsula two days later she called me and I met her in Kingston so she could get The Year Mrs. Montague Cried and Ten Thousand Truths for her daughters. Yesterday she bought The Memory Chair. It was so nice to talk to her and her husband. You don't get that staying home and sleeping in on market day. Many people inquired about my new book and I expect sales to increase in the next few weeks as I offer Waiting For Still Water to dedicated readers. I had a mom and son spend several minutes looking at and discussing all four books before they chose Ten Thousand Truths as a gift for Emily. I donated a copy of The Memory Chair to the Dragon Boat Festival silent auction. I got to talk with at least four former students and a former colleague. Pat who lives beside the ferry bought The Year Mrs. Montague Cried and said she was anxiously awaiting my new book. A man stopped by and bought The Memory Chair for his wife. I got to see my great nieces after the talented face painter was done with them and sent a picture right to their dad who is working in Alberta for a few months. I bought salmon and samosas. Overall, it was worth it and I came away thankful for the opportunity to spend a Saturday morning displaying years of work and the stories that have unfolded. Yesterday market morning presented stories of its own.By the way the launch for Waiting For Still Water will be at the Kingston Parish hall on June 29th at 7:00.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

In Memory of Zac

I just got back from a morning at MCS. I went from classroom to classroom explaining this year's fundraiser for the Zachary White Foundation for Tutoring. What a delight it was to spend some time with such eager and generous little to young teen people. Again it reminds me what I loved about teaching and what I love about being retired.Those familiar halls and classrooms bring back such memories of being a student there and then a teacher. This year we are selling tickets and most of the kids seemed quite willing and eager to participate. One little boy in response to being told the seller of the winning ticket will win a prize of $20 quickly replied that if he sells the winning ticket he will give the $20 right back to the foundation.How adorable is that?The baskets are just about complete. There will be a kids' basket, a mom's basket and a dad's basket and the winning ticket holder will receive all three baskets. Many businesses and individuals on the peninsula have donated goods and services and the total value of the baskets is over $300.This fundraiser will provide the ongoing tutoring services that have continued for seventeen years since we established the foundation in memory of our son. As a teacher and a mom and now a grandmother I am proud of this endeavor. All the money raised pays to provide free tutoring to the kids of the peninsula. After my morning I am reminded again just how important and impactful this is. Love you Zac and the memory of who you were still echoes in the halls of Macdonald Consolidated School!

Monday, May 16, 2016

A New Day, a New Week

Monday morning of a new week and I am able to put last week behind me. It does not of course erase the sorrows and concerns of last week but it offers the promise of the days and opportunities ahead. It offers hope and healing. Last week I watched dear friends struggle through grief and weariness, and this morning I hold them in my thoughts . I hope that a new week will offer rest and renewal, laughter , friends and family support and time to process the days and weeks that have passed. I will take this week to reflect and relish the gifts I receive every day in a place that allows me space, freedom and solitude which allows me to renew my spirit. My writing time is winding down and I will soon commit to gardening and the tasks of summer. I look forward to the weeks when Emma and Paige will be the main focus in this house and we will get to enjoy who they are at seven and four. We absorb a month of being with them to make the months apart bearable. I anticipate my first lake swim which seems awhile away since warm weather has been making very brief appearances. But I see the trees bursting with green buds and I recognize the signs that give me confidence summer will arrive. New life surrounds us. My friend Elaine welcomed a new granddaughter this week. Caleb and Ashlie brought home weanling pigs. We have baby chicks. I will launch another book on June 29th and watch it go out into the world. But today I take a deep breath, I rally and regroup. I take the wonderful gift of going nowhere today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

This Too Will Pass

A week since I've blogged my blog coach just informed me. I try to avoid writing an entry when I am bogged down with worry and a heavy heart. I am always reminding myself and others that worry doesn't get us anywhere. I saw a sign when I was in Alberta that said " Worry is the waste of a good imagination". I am not imagining any of the things that weigh heavy on my mind today. Good friends of mine are keeping vigil as they sit out the last few days of their mother's life. This has come to them hours after loosing their older brother unexpectedly. Another good friend and her family are dealing with the aftermath of an accident that left two elderly men dead after being hit by a car while walking across a Fredericton street. My friend has her daughter and two grandchildren arriving today one week after fleeing the nightmare fires in Fort MacMurray. Ashlie got a wisdom tooth out two weeks ago tomorrow and has been caught up in a never ending cycle of pain and swelling. I am carrying some of the other regular worries trying to stuff them down to make room for the current ones. Perhaps that's why I avoided writing on my blog today but now that I've started I may as well see it through. Life is fraught with worry, with sorrow , with pain and suffering. We all know this and we all know too of its blessings . The sun behind the clouds, the beauty in the difficult. I know the Howlett girls will find strength and will come away from this nightmare with stories of love and amazement. Mr. Menzies leaves behind a life well lived and this will overshadow the horror of his passing. Joy and comfort will come to Hailey's family and the others that have lost and suffered in Fort Mac and the smoke and ash will clear. Ashlie will heal. This too will pass! So for right now I claim the weight I feel in the pit of my stomach and hold those suffering in my thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Looking Back and Ahead at TD Book Week

This time last year I was driving the highways of Ontario, participating in TD Canadian Children's Book Week. It was an amazing experience that I will always treasure. I still talk about the driving challenges and the presentation rewards. It was a wonderful opportunity and I am very thankful to the CCBC for giving me that chance. Next week the 2016 Book Week begins and I will be driving Mary Ann Lippiatt as she comes to our province . I would have liked to have had a driver in a few places last year especially downtown Ottawa and driving around NB seems effortless to me but I am pleased to do it for her. I will also get the privilege of hearing her presentations in St. Andrews, St. George , and Hampton. It will be nice to be an audience member and see the kids responding to her . I hope to have a good feed of seafood in St. George as part of the perks. Good luck to my friend Lisa Dalrymple who will travel to BC and share her infectious energy and delightful picture books. Instead of the rented Yukon I drove through Ontario I will pick Mary Ann up in my old Corolla and we will head out to make memories during the 2016 TD Canadian Children's Book Week.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Everyone a Winner

Awards season in Atlantic Canada came this past week in the midst of the Frye Festival in Moncton. I drove up with Carole and Steven on Wednesday night and sat in the audience as the awards were given out . It was the first time the awards gala was held in New Brunswick and the first time New Brunswick gave it's own book awards. The evening took me back to the excitement I felt four years ago in St. John's when I sat in the audience nervously waiting for the announcement of the winner of the Ann Connor Brimer award. It was the first award given out that night and I barely remember the minutes before the thrill of seeing my picture and my book with the caption Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children's Literature goes to...That is a moment I will never forget and I imagine it was very much that way for the winners on Wednesday night. Sharon McKay received the Ann Connor Brimer. Beth Powning was absent but her son accepted the first NB award for Fiction on her behalf. Many other winners and nominees enjoyed the evening. But the excitement of awards is fleeting. It is wonderful of course to have the award attached to your work but the real nuts and bolts of being a writer is in the day to day task of doing the work. It is wonderful to have your work acknowledged but the real test is in the slogging away with getting the work done and getting it out there to readers. I have said before that no award or recognition seems to be enough to completely eradicate the self doubt surrounding this endeavor. The glam and glitz of awards night and the whole award process has it's place but we the authors must continue to encourage each other and ourselves to fight the good fight. Publishers, book sellers, librarians, teachers are among the soldiers that fight beside us. It is imperative that we all support one another and celebrate our accomplishments but it is also important that we don't get too caught up in the false belief that our work only matters if we are the ones called to the stage on awards night.