The End of the Harvest

by @AnnieDaylon

What follows is a seasonal story, flash fiction, originally written for a 24-hour writing contest for Writers Weekly and currently published in Passages A Collection of Short Stories. It is definitely one of my favorites…

The End of the Harvest

© Annie Daylon

            The little boy stands at the log cabin’s rear window, peering out at us. The corn stalks rustle in the brisk breeze, waving at him. Laughing, he returns their greeting. I want to wave at him too, but my limbs are shrivelled now, useless appendages. I sigh. I observe the boy.

He seems happy. Does he know? Has he heard the news about the baby brother that his mom promised him? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe he is too young to be told.

But I know.

His mom, my caregiver, whispered many secrets as she planted the fields. When my seed sprouted and breached the surface of the rich soil, she stooped and told me about the life that was developing inside her own body. She promised that she would create siblings for me just as she was doing for her little boy. I beamed with pleasure for I did not want to live a solitary life.

In a short time, her truth became evident: I was surrounded by an abundance of relatives—long and green, round and yellow, plump and orange. So strong was my appreciation of my caregiver, so great was my loyalty to her that I tolerated without question the summer heat and the frequent watering and the incessant buzzing of the hordes that swarmed around, flitting from flower to flower. Without complaint, I obliged when she redirected the growth of my rapidly spreading arms. ‘Not here, but there’, was her mantra, as she donned kid gloves and shifted my limbs around. So much attention. So much care. I noticed that the bodies of both my caregiver and me were becoming spherical, and that hers seemed to achieve the desired shape more easily than mine. Obviously aware of that, she added regular rotation to my fitness regime. I responded by becoming corpulent and carroty.

The summer lazed away and autumn slid in to replace it. The rains came. And the mud. And the children, bus loads of children, laughing and trampling and squelching through the muck. Choosing and plucking and stumbling away with their heavy bundles. One by one, my brothers and sisters and cousins disappeared. I wondered how it was that so many school children whirled around me, brushed against me, slid past me, and yet, none chose me. My caregiver explained that she had great plans for me, that I was the chosen one, the one who would light her doorway on that important night—All Hallows’ Eve. I would be the first to welcome the newborn child she would carry to the door that very day. I would witness the smile on her little boy’s face when he first saw his new brother. All this she promised me.

But sometimes promises are broken.

 When I had grown to the size of a soccer ball, I looked to compare my shape with hers and realized that her spherical form had vanished. Her body had flattened, returned to its former size. Her spirit, too, had vacated, leaving only sadness, which bled through her pores. Empty in both body and spirit, she had no words, no whisperings. On most days, she just stayed away.

So now I lie here—alone. Leading a solitary life after all, the very life I did not want. But what of the boy? Is he still waiting for his new brother?

The dusk deepens on this, All Hallows’ Eve. The wind picks up and the front gate swings and creaks. Puffs of blue smoke rise from the kitchen chimney. The house is well-lit now, but here, in my resting place, it is dark and lonely. As night falls, my body sinks and just sits, marinating in mud.

Suddenly, the cabin door opens and she emerges. She dons her heavy boots and, with her head low, trudges through the mud toward me. Nearer and nearer. As she stoops, I long to console her, to slide my arms up her back and embrace her. But my arms are just flaccid vines and it is she who comforts me, talks to me, apologizes for leaving me alone for so long. I want to tell her that I understand. She reaches into her pocket, retrieves a knife and frees me from my vines. Then, she hefts me into her arms and straightens her back.

On the way to the cabin, my caregiver explains that there is a new plan—that she wants me to smile for her young son. This evening, she will carve a grin on my face and, while she is doing that, she will tell her son that he will always be a solitary child. We reach the porch and hover there, waiting for her body to stop trembling and her tears to abate.

Despite her distress, I am pleased with this new plan. I want her to carve me a ridiculous grin, tooth-filled or toothless, whatever it takes to ease a lonely boy’s acceptance of unwelcome news. I know of the difficulty of the solitary life. Unlike the boy, I have experienced the joy of siblings; however, many died before maturity and all the others were taken away. Like the boy, I represent the end of the harvest. I am the very last pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. Together, the boy and I—and our mutual caregiver—will face the night.

*****

Passages Book Cover
My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

Indie Author Day

by @AnnieDaylon

indieauthorday_postcard_authors_5x7_web_214_300October 8, 2016 is INDIE AUTHOR DAY , a day when libraries across North America host indie authors. The event will raise awareness of self-published books, demonstrate their place as a vibrant part of publishing, and provide a vital connection between indies and readers.

 

Who is involved?
Hundreds of Libraries, Thousands of Indies across North America!

Am I participating? Yes!

I will be reading and signing books at the…

Vancouver Public Library Indie Author Day Event
Date: Saturday, October 8th
Place: Central Branch of VPL, 350 West Georgia St.
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Activities: Author Readings, Author Tables, “Talk-to-an-Author” Corner.
In Vancouver on October 8th?  Drop by and say hi!
Not in Vancouver on October 8th? Check out this event in your own area>> List of Participating Libraries

Free Short StoryA free short story is yours when you join my email list! My newsletters contain book news, blog posts, sneak previews, and, occasionally, fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To join, place the required information in the space provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. 

My best to  you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

Reviews are Gifts. This One? Priceless!

by @AnnieDaylon

Tweet from Lynne Legrow_jpg-large

“Historical fiction should do two things. #1 Portray the time period, culture, and events with accuracy (i.e. be well researched); #2 Entertain. Annie Daylon’s “Of sea and seed” succeeds on both counts.” ~ Lynne LeGrow

It’s a struggle for indie authors to get recognition for their work. There is a constant push and pull between writing and marketing; often I bypass the latter because I fear that when I feed the marketing machine, I starve my first love which is writing.

For me, (I dare say for all authors) every review–good, bad, or indifferent–is a gift. Someone, somewhere has taken the time to read your book and to offer an opinion. When I received a review from Lynne LeGrow,  a trusted reviewer for many imprints including Simon & Schuster Canada, I was over the moon, not only because it was polished and positive, but also because it showed up at a time when I wondered if I should continue. 

Suffice to say, I am grateful to Lynne, as I am to all readers and reviewers. Colman Gratitude Readers and Reviewers

Without further ado, here’s Lynne’s review>>> CLICK HERE

Excuse me, but I have a novel to finish…

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

Summer Solstice Splash ‘n Cash Rafflecopter

by @AnnieDaylon

Rafflecopter over! Thanks so much for entering! 🙂 

WELCOME!
Enter Splash ‘n Cash Rafflecopter for a chance to win $100! (No purchase necessary!) 

 

Summer Solstice
 Splash ‘n Cash Giveaway!

 

$100 Grand Prize
(Amazon Gift Card or PayPal Cash)

 

Sponsored by:

 

Best of luck! eNovel-Round-Logo

Annie Signature Light Blue

My Novels. My Research. (Vancouver Bound: Boots on the Ground)

by @AnnieDaylon

shutterstock_212016496I am a multigenre author, born in Newfoundland, living in British Columbia. My novels are reflective of my bi-coastal experience in that they are set on the opposite ends of Canada: Newfoundland or Vancouver. The time element is also extreme: I plunk my work anywhere from the 1920’s to the now. The research methods vary, dictated by setting. The Newfoundland novels catapult me into the past: I read and view everything I can find on the historical events and settings. Here, I am focusing on the Vancouver novels (yes, plural because I’m nearing the end of the second) which are set in present-day and require boots-on-the ground research.

My first Vancouver novel, CASTLES IN THE SAND, is set in 2010 in the west end and, in addition to online research regarding the city and the plight of its homeless, I made two specific trips to the city.

On the first trip, I left the comfort of my west-end hotel at the cusp of dawn on a relatively-warm winter day and hiked the full length of Robson Street. Why? To see, hear, and smell the world as my main character, a homeless man, does. When he observes the pigeons strutting the sidewalk, he notices (because I notice for the first time) that the

  • “little bastards have red feet.”

The predominant aroma for him is the smell of coffee (not the smell of ocean air as I had expected.)

  • “I take a deep breath so I can suck in the Starbucks. All the beautiful people carry Starbucks.”

He hears the day beginning, not just generically in the roar of traffic but specifically:

  • “The bus engine grumbles…Whooossssh. Air brakes.”

  • “Won’t be long before the bolts on the door of the shoe boutique behind me twist open. Three bolts. Every morning. Like clockwork. Click. Click. Click.”

 That day, I also walked the Vancouver Seawall, toured Gastown, and ate at the Spaghetti Factory, all the while taking notes. My best discovery? At the end of a long day, while walking back to my hotel on Robson Street , I saw a young man in a white, puffy jacket. He was talking to a homeless man. I didn’t want to interfere but I wanted to eavesdrop, so I strolled past. The young man was saying “Let me help you to a shelter.” I pinged on that. For my novel, I created a new character, a Good Samaritan, who was dubbed “Marshmallow Man” by my main character.

  • “Some guy in a puffy, white jacket hovers over me. A marshmallow. A goddam talking marshmallow.”

My second trip to Vancouver was to finalize details. The backstory of my homeless character was that he had lost his home during the real estate crash. I had a specific residence in mind for him, one that I had found in the MLS listings, and walked the area surrounding that very house. I went to the nearby park where my fictional family played. There, I sat on a bench and penned a description of both house and park. I walked the tunnel under the Granville Bridge. And I sat in the foyer of the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library where I noticed a pigeon strutting the floor, a pigeon that inspired a caring moment for my homeless character. It was in the library that it occurred to me that all the chattering voices around me melded in to a ghost-like drone, into

  • “whirling ghosts of indiscernible chatter.”

The effect of all that research was not only that I was better-able to detail the journey of my character but also that I am now better-equipped to notice detail daily. (A bonus for a writer.) 

As for current research… My Work-in-Progress is a crime thriller set in present day Vancouver, again in the west end. I have the characters and the details down, most of them anyway. But I want, once again, to walk in the shoes of my characters. This time I will take the Aquabus to Granville Island, visit a café on the beach, shop at Pacific Centre,  detail heritage buildings in the area, and, most importantly, do some people watching.

In short, in a couple of weeks, I’m Vancouver bound. Boots on the ground. Can’t wait!  🙂 

I invite you to join my author journey: subscribe to blog or newsletter or both! The newsletter contains news about books, links to some blogs, and occasional fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To sign up, simply place the required information in the spaces provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. eNovel-Round-Logo

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue 

A Tribute to Pat Conroy: “My Reading Life”

by @AnnieDaylon 

My Reading Life“Here is all I ask of a book – give me everything. Everything, and don’t leave out a single word.” ~ Pat Conroy

Yesterday I read of the recent passing of author Pat Conroy, probably best know for his novel The Prince of Tides. I love the story, the beauty, the lyricism of Conroy’s fiction but my favorite of his books is a memoir titled My Reading Life

My Reading Life is Conroy’s view of life through the books he’s read and through the people who introduced him to those books. This work resonated deeply with me: I related to Conroy’s love of words, to his knowledge of Latin, and to his habit of collecting words and phrases and quotes. I was amazed at how much I learned about this author through his reading choices; I even started a list of the books he’d read, thinking that I would visit them all at some point.

During this list-making  process, I searched the book’s title on Pinterest and discovered to my delight that the list already existed! The title of the Pinterest Board? My Reading Life-Pat Conroy. Thank you to Liz Whittaker for creating this board which is not only a gift for readers like myself, but also an outstanding tribute to avid reader and accomplished author, Pat Conroy. 

RIP, Pat Conroy.

I invite you to join my author journey: subscribe to blog or newsletter or both! The newsletter contains news about books, links to some blogs, and occasional fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To sign up, simply place the required information in the spaces provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. 

My best to you,eNovel-Round-Logo

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Fun Facts about My Native Newfoundland

by @AnnieDaylon

Canada Map 2

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is located on the eastern part of Canada; Labrador is on the mainland of Canada and Newfoundland is an island. I was born and raised on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula (south east corner) and I enjoy weaving stories through the history of that area. Here are a few facts:

  1. Newfoundland officially joined Canada in 1949 as the 10th province. Prior to that,  the residents had the opportunity to become part of the United States of America.

  2. Newfoundland equilateral triangle

    When it’s 7 a.m. here in British Columbia, it’s 11:30 a.m. in Newfoundland.

    The island of Newfoundland forms an almost perfect equilateral triangle on a map. Port aux Basques, L’Anse aux Meadows, and St. John’s are all nearly the same distance apart. 

  3. The island of Newfoundland has its very own time zone, one that it does not share with its counterpart, Labrador. Newfoundland time is thirty minutes ahead of Atlantic Standard Time.

  4. St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador, is the oldest city in North America.

  5. 010309_0775_5614_nslsIn downtown St. John’s, there are many vibrantly-colored Victorian row houses, fondly known as “Jellybean Row.” When people ask how to find Jellybean Row, they are often surprised to learn that no one street has that actual name. Jellybean Row is a nickname for all row houses in that area.

  6. Often, news reports from Newfoundland warn drivers to be on the lookout for moose on the highway.shutterstock_193643531 I have even heard moose referred to as Newfoundland speed bumps. 🙂 It surprised me to learn that moose are not native to Newfoundland. One pair was introduced in 1878 and thought not to have survived. Two more pairs were introduced in 1904. Currently, there are 100 000 moose there, assumed to be descendants of the 1904 pair.

  7. Print

    Argentia, the main setting for OF SEA AND SEED, Book I of my Kerrigan Chronicles series, is one of the two foggiest land areas in the world; the other is Point Reyes, California. Both places have over 200 foggy days a year.

  8. Jerseyside, which is near Argentia, got its name from the large number of people who came from Great Britain’s Channel Islands– Jersey and Guernsey.

  9. Cape Spear, about fifteen km east of St. John’s, is the most easterly point in North America. It is a major tourist attraction and is also home to a WWII bunker.

  10. Screeching-in is a traditional way of welcoming first-time visitors to the province. It consists of a shot of screech (rum), a short recitation, and the kissing of a cod.

  11. April 2012 026

    I took this photo at Harbourside Park in St. Johns, NL. There are two sets of these dog statues in St. John’s. The other is on Signal Hill.    (Sculptor–Luben Boykov)

     Both parts of the province have a dog breed named after them: the Newfoundland dog and the Labrador retriever. (To learn more about the dog statues in the photo on the right, CLICK HERE.)

  12. Memorial University in St. John’s is the largest university in  the Atlantic region (18,000 full and part-time students.) 

  13. The oldest continuous sporting event in North America is the St. John’s regatta held on the first Wednesday of August

  14. Dictionary of NL and Labrador 001 (412x640)Due to unique dialect,  Newfoundland and Labrador has its very own dictionary. (To read former post, “Newfoundland Dialect: Derivation and Appreciation,” CLICK HERE.) The Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador, a “unique collection of language and lore” is both informative and fun, an absolute treasure amidst my book collection. For me, it is not only a valued reference for the Newfoundland language, but also, in a rapidly changing world,  a valuable record of that language. 

And there you have it! A few tidbits about my pine clad hills. If you have interesting or fun facts to add, please send them my way!

I invite you to join my author journey: subscribe to blog or newsletter or both! The newsletter contains news about books, links to some blogs, and occasional fun facts about my beloved island of Newfoundland. To sign up, simply place the required information in the spaces provided on the right. Rest assured your email address will not be shared for any reason. 

My best to you and long may your big jib draw,

Annie Signature Light Blue

My Write Before Christmas: 2015

by @AnnieDaylon

ALL-ABOARD-with-medallion

My Write Before Christmas: 2015

It’s my Write before Christmas! This year I’m delighted
To blog hop with BRAG for I’ve been invited
To share my tradition of greeting in rhyme
Readers and wordsmiths at holiday time.

Authors work solo but none are alone.
It takes a village, an adage well-known.
With this in mind, herein I’m highlighting
Links and events in this world of writing.

A new writer? The world’s a mysterious place.
Catch a conference! It’s there that you’ll come face-to-face
With writers and editors and agents and such.
Volunteering’s an option if the cost is too much.

Don’t want to travel? Still want to learn?
This Indie group can ease your concern
About writing and publishing and marketing scenes
With FREE online events in 2016.

Love story contests? There’s fun with deadlines!
This>Contest Calendar’s< a favorite of mine.
As is Poets & Writers, a site that makes space
For a Contest and Grants and Awards Database.

Got a post that helps others? Want it retweeted?
@MondayBlogs is a place you’ll be greeted.
Ready to market? Don’t know the score?
Book Marketing Tools has ideas galore.

Having trouble with structure? Can’t seem to outline?
K. M. Weiland has guidelines to help you refine.
Seeking courses or webinars to carry you through?
Writer’s Digest will surely have something for you.

There’s a ton of advice from Elizabeth Craig
Author Media’s the place if tech is a plague
And if you’re afflicted with grammar trouble
Grammar Girl delivers help on the double.

Bestseller Labs has suggestions for selling;
Enovel Authors has info compelling
“How I sold 30 000…” is well-worth the buy
Martin Crosbie’s the author (I wish it were I ! :-))

Do you have a routine? Great tales must be spun
And writers toil daily to get the job done.
(On that note, dear writers who are reading this verse,
If today you’ve not written, go away and WRITE FIRST!)

So here’s to my tweeps, and all Facebook friends,
I’m new to the latter and the fun knows no end.
As for Tea & Critique with friends Fran and Mary,
I always apply their sage commentary.

Here’s to you, readers, on you we rely,
The work’s not complete until you stop by.
Samuel Johnson once said (and I paraphrase herein)
“A reader finishes what a writer begins.”

Thanks, BRAG Medallion and Layered Pages
for bidding me join with your blog hop sages!
Debra Martin‘s site is next on the hop,
she’s there tomorrow, be sure that you stop!

That’s it for this year. Best wishes to you
As 2016 comes into view.
And now, ere December rolls out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all! Have great reads and great writes!

Sardis, Retreat, Christmas 034

My best to you,
Annie Signature Light Blue

 

Reading: Book Nook and Book Choices

by @AnnieDaylon

Book Nook 012The Book Nook
A while back, I shared my designated working place in a post called My Write Space. Now I am sharing my designated place to read. From humble beginnings as a child when I hid beneath the covers with a flashlight to cherish my books, I have graduated to the perfect reading space. Ta dah! It includes:

  • A buttery soft chair, swivel, rocker-recliner.

  • A sculptured side table which I am sure is the envy of all avid readers.  (It’s mine: eat your heart out!)Book Nook 034

  • A storage bench which holds treasured books that used to be stacked on the dresser, the night stand, the floor.

  • A lush throw, the color of sea foam, a perfect match for the scheme of the room.

  • A discreetly-covered armchair caddy which holds so many crucial comforts: reading glasses, notebook, post-its, Kindle, pens.

The Book Choices
With reading, as with most things, I plan ahead; I prefer to have a stack of books at the ready as the lack of same prompts me to use the BUY button on my Kindle far too often. I prefer print copy and usually borrow the book first; if I love it, I buy it.
I read more fiction than nonfiction (most nonfiction choices are about the art of writing.)  I choose fiction based on author, content, style, sometimes even the cover. I search for Giller winners and Booker  winners and Pulitzer winners and Indie BRAG winners. I also seek recommendations from Goodreads. But my favorite way of meeting a new book is word-of-mouth.
A Few Words of Thanks

 

  •  Thank you, Shirley from Tai Chi who suggested My Reading Life . In it, author Pat Conroy listed the books that influenced his writing (if you want to know what those were, check out this Pinterest Board by Liz Whittaker.) I am now reading a book from his list, Look Homeward, Angel which I first borrowed. Then I bought it from The Book Man. From Shirley also came The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber, one of my favorite books of all time.

  • Thank you  to the staff of the aforementioned Book Man: Sara for  White Oleander by Janet Fitch, David for The Timetraveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and Linda forThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. (If you are an avid reader, you will love this video-gone-viral parody by The Book Man: All About Them Books.)

  • Thank you to critique partner, Mary, for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. What a surprise and a connection it created last spring  when I went via float plane Victoria to meet up with my sister and three nieces, and discovered we had all read and loved that same book.

  • Thank you to former fearless writing group leader, Ken, for literary novel Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks and suspense novel, The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner. I refer to the former when I need a lesson in historical fiction and to the latter when I want to create just the right mood for a dark scene.

  • Thank you, Jeannette who, in email response to  my post Favorite Reads of 2014, suggested Room by Emma Donaghue. That one haunted me and jumped onto my favorite list for 2015.

  • Thank you, Paula, for your comment on that same post, wherein you recommended Still Life with Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen. I have since read another of Quindlen’s novels and am seeking more.

  • Thank you to a long-time friend, Gini, for a long-time-ago mention of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.  This was a powerful story that stayed with me for a long time, but also a Masterclass in writing: each family member had a point of view and each voice was remarkably distinct.

  • Thank you Margaret at Tai Chi, for Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. And thank you for warning me that it is challenging and it’s worth if you stick with it.  I have since read everything that Kate Atkinson has written.

     

I am always seeking a great read and a good excuse to spend time in my Book Nook. Any reading suggestions? Please send them along in comments or by email. 

Free Short Story
A Free Short Story will be yours when you subscribe to my author newsletter by placing your first name and email address in the space provided on the right. Rest assured that your email address will be held in the highest confidence and will not be shared or distributed for any purpose.

 

My best to you,
Annie Signature Light Blue

 

 

 

Self-Publishing a Story Collection? 6 Tips!

shutterstock_163750679 (2) story collection

by @AnnieDaylon

Are you about to publish a collection of your short stories? I have done that once and am considering a second. Here are six suggestions based on hindsight:

  1. Go for a ‘sense of book.’ Group stories around one theme, one character, one setting. My first collection is varied: most of its stories were written, not with the idea of a book in mind, but for contests based on prompts. It was long after their completion that I chose a theme.

  2. Give thought to the title.

    Take time to examine your collection. Perhaps, as book title, you might choose the title of one story or the name of a place that is common to all stories. After I read through my stories, I realized there was indeed a thread: the choices we make and the paths we take. Thus the title: Passages.

  3. Consider, as title/subtitle, “a collection of short fiction,” not “a collection of short stories.”

    I used stories in the subtitle of Passages and wished I had used fiction, especially after I dropped a narrative poem into the mix. (Yes, I know: could have eliminated the poem. Sigh.)

  4. Acknowledge previous publications.

    List the stories that have been previously published, and include publisher, publication, and date of same. In Passages, in acknowledgements, I thanked creators, administrators, and judges of writing contests, and named a couple of specifics. There was no ill intent in my lack of a list of previous publications; I was simply unaware of the courtesy.

  5. Share background of story.

    Many of the short stories in Passages were written for contests. In retrospect, I could have enhanced the reader experience by writing a paragraph or two before each short, revealing the prompt or inspiration for the story.

  6. Give thought to the placement of stories.

    You might consider placing your best story first and your second-best last. I went a different route: I put an award-winning short story first because I wanted to draw attention to the fact that it had grown into an award-winning novel. As for the last story in Passages, it is a very short piece called Final Passage, a piece that is more than appropriate for its position in the book. The only thing I would have done differently with it is listed above: I would have revealed the inspiration for the piece.

    shutterstock_163750679

    Why do I love story contests? Click on image to link to “Why Enter Story Contests.”

    Are these suggestions helpful to you? If  you have already published a book of short fiction, what were the steps that worked best for you? What, if anything,  would you do differently the next time?

     

    My best to you, Annie Signature Light Blue