Some Favorite Lines for Valentines

by @AnnieDaylon

Be My Valentine
My Valentine and I have been married for eons. During that time, all of our vows– to laugh with you in joy, to grieve with you in sorrow, to share with you in love, through sickness and in health– have come into play. A roller coaster, at times, as are all relationships, but we are still standing, strong.

Here are some of my favorite lines for Valentines:

    • A heart well worth winning, and well won. A heart that, once won, goes through fire and water for the winner, and never changes, and is never daunted. ~ Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

    • You are my heart, my life, my one and only thought. ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The White Company

    • He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking. ~ Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

    • To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life. ~Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

    • A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness. ~ John Keats, A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever

    • He was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest. ~ W.H. Auden, Stop All the Clocks

    • I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love. ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

    • Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be. ~ Robert Browning, Rabbi Ben Ezra

    • Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. ~ Lao Tzu

    • The problems of your past are your business; the problems of your future are my privilege. ~ John Watson to Mary Watson in Sherlock

       

Happy Valentine's Day Balloon Two

My best to you,
Annie Signature Light Blue

 

 

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My Favorite Reads of 2014

 by @AnnieDaylon

shutterstock_227649499I originally come from the island of Newfoundland but right now I’m coming to you from the island of my sofa. I have the flu and, due to my husband’s medical history and resulting weakened immune system (detailed in Olympic Hope), I have placed myself here, in solitary confinement,  with only tea, books, and tablet as companions. A good place from which to comment on my favorite reads of 2014.

Here are the books that I found inspiring, compelling, challenging, or truly entertaining this past year:


T
he Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set in Nazi Germany with Death as narrator. A young girl, through the theft of books and with the aid of her foster father, develops a passion for reading which sustains her through the reign of Hitler. This novel is classified as YA but its power and eloquence defy such limitation. Searing. Grim. Indelible.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
This memoir contains a collection of previously published articles (NY Times, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s) about love, friendship, work, art. Clean, clear language. Honest. From the soul. Inspirational.

Larry’s Party by Carol Shields
Set from 1977-1997. A fumbling man discovers his love of mazes and finds his way to self through his labyrinth of a life. Quiet. Arresting. Realistic.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by MaryAnn Shaffer & Annie Barrows
This epistolary novel is set on the Channel Islands during WWII. A tribute to book lovers, it details the journey of a cast of courageous book club members whose island is occupied by the Nazi regime. Nostalgic. Enchanting. Inspiring.

419 by Will Ferguson (2012 Giller Prize Winner)
A literary thriller set in Canada and Nigeria, this is a woman’s crusade to find the man she deems responsible for the downfall and death of her father. (The term 419 is a code for Nigerian email scams.) Taut. Intriguing. Educational.

After This by Alice McDermott
An apt portrayal of the reality of life in an Irish Catholic American family. Lyrical. Engaging. Poignant.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Set in France during WWII, this novel has two surprising protagonists, one a blind girl, one a Nazi soldier. The beauty in this lies in the author’s ability to create sympathy for the young soldier and to help the reader see through use of sound. (A must read for any writer seeking to improve sense of sound in writing.) Ambitious. Authentic. Riveting.

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
Atkinson’s first novel, this exquisitely-written piece details , from conception onward, the life of Ruby who takes us into the world of her quirky British family.  Complex. Funny. Heartbreaking.

My favorite book of the year? I must cite two from the above list: 419 for the education I received (until I read this, I would have assumed 419 to be an area code, no more) and The Book Thief for its innovation, power, and simplicity. (In case you noticed… yes, I am currently reading a lot of WWII fiction: my work-in-progress, Book II of a trilogy, is set during that era.)

shutterstock_165829418And now… I’m looking for some good reads while I remain quarantined on the couch, Kindle at the ready.  Any suggestions?

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My best to you,

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Pick of the Twitter: December, 2014

 

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Looking for writing/marketing/reading tips? Here are my Top Twitter picks for December, 2014:

  1. Marketing your book on Goodreads via @BookTemplates @CiaraBallintine

  2. 13 Podcasts That Love Books as Much as You Do via @VanWritersFest

  3.  Your 2015 Blogging Roadmap. @WritersDigest

  4.  We remember the great authors we said good-bye to in 2014 @CBCBooks

  5.  What Do Agents Like to See When They Google Writers? @carlywatters via @elizabethscraig

  6.  5 Steps to Clutter-Free Writing @WriteToSell

  7. Our Most Popular Posts on Writing  @thewritelife

  8. The 25 Best Websites for Literature Lovers via @ZeBookman

  9.  How To Approach a Bookstore: Tips for Authors   @HollyBrady via @WriterUnboxed

  10.  Overcome Procrastination: Steven Pressfield’s Top 12 Tips  via @EricStoffle

 

Many thanks to Tweeters and Bloggers alike!shutterstock_169020800

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My best to you,

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My Write Before Christmas: 2014

by @AnnieDaylon 

 Sardis, Retreat, Christmas 034 2014

It’s my Write before Christmas, my time to send

Best wishes to wordsmiths and readers and friends.

Authors work solo, yet none are alone

For it takes a village (an adage well-known.)

 

Critique groups are crucial, a part of the team;

Online or in person, they endorse your dream.

(An aside: Many thanks for your commentary,

My critique angels–Fran, Michael, and Mary.)

 

A new writer? This 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.

 

Like story contests? They’re fun, teach deadlines,

This>Contest Calendar’s < a favourite of mine.

As is Poets & Writers, a site that makes space

For a Contest and Grants and Awards Database.

 

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?

Writers Digest will surely have something for you.

 

If a positive thought is what you require,

Tweets from Rock Christopher will keep you inspired.

If you’re looking to blog but don’t know the scene,

Check out Blog It for authors penned by Molly Greene.

 

Got a post that helps others? Want it retweeted?

@MondayBlogs is a place you’ll be greeted.

Want to do marketing? Don’t know the score?

Book Marketing Tools has ideas galore.

 

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!) 🙂

 

Thanks, avid readers on whom writers rely,

The work’s not complete ’til you choose to stop by.

Samuel Johnson once said (and I paraphrase herein)

‘A reader finishes what a writer begins.’

 

That’s it, the year’s end! Best wishes to you

as 2015 comes into view.

And now, ere December slides out of sight,

Happy Christmas to all! Have great reads and great writes!

 

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

 

 

 

 

The Thing with Feathers (A Short Story)

by @AnnieDaylon

 

 I love to enter short story contests (see previous post: Why Enter Story Contests?) In my 2014 goals, I listed that I would enter a few. (One done in January, one in October. Yay!)
I enter to learn, not to win. I enter for the fun and for the feeling of accomplishment that the marathon of the novel does not provide.

Here is an entry that did manage to land second place this year:

The Thing With Feathers*
© Annie Daylon

shutterstock_121881667 woman birdsAirborne at last, after a lifetime of longing.

Bittersweet memories float past, memories of emerging from the womb, hoping to fly, flailing like a nestling, disillusioned by gravity. Childhood slips by in a blur of fairy stories and bluebirds and magic carpets and angels’ wings. Deeds of derring-do slide in: toppling from tree branches, leaping from monkey bars, jumping from a second-floor balcony. Echoes of painful cries ring out as I recall dropping like Icarus to broken bones and harsh reality.

Footfall (not free flight) was to be my transportation.

Grounded, literally, yet one day I fluttered with hope when I spotted a skein of Canada Geese scissoring the sky. Hope is the thing with feathers, Dickinson’s apposite metaphor, instantly flitted in. I stared at my bony arms which were peppered with freckles and wisps of hair, nary a feather in sight. Juxtaposed with tears of frustration was dissolution of hope. Knowing that I could never soar with birds, I shelved the dream and faced the future, determined to live my life to the fullest.

Love tapped on my door and I ushered it in.

Marriage followed and, with it, the free flowing joy of motherhood.

Never planned for divorce, but there it was and there I was.

On my own.

Plop!

Quickly, so as not to dissolve in a puddle of loneliness, I found a platonic partner with whom I happily shared more than two decades of living expenses, childrearing, and world travels.

Retirement years loomed, yet I, still committed to living large, never gave them, nor money, a thought.

“Save for your golden years,” warned my adult daughter, “else you’ll end up residing in my den.”

“The truth of the matter,” I replied, “is that life is short and I intend to experience all the joys of this earth, and that I will continue to travel until…”

“Until death do you part this mortal coil?” she grinned.

Vibrations shook me momentarily, a cold shiver passing through.

Was it really days later, after a minor surgical procedure, that doctors told me I had mere hours left? X-rays confirmed their diagnosis and soon I was gone, my body cremated, my ashes residing in an urn, in my daughter’s den, just as she had predicted.

Yes, my earthbound life was over and my loving daughter, knowing my deepest desire, chose a blustery day, this very day, to fling my ashes into the wind. Zillions of tiny particles, the remains of me, now sweep through the air like a murmuration of starlings, joyous, soaring, and I, after a lifetime of longing, am airborne at last.

*****

 

The above story was written in January for an Alphabet Acrostic contest. The opening, “Airborne at last,” was given. The criteria? “Complete your story in 26 sentences, each beginning with words in the sequence of the English alphabet.”

The learning? I have entered this contest before, each time loving the experience of  reading the dictionary to search for words.  (Yes, X is limiting, but there are ways around it.) The fun? Love it! (This particular contest is available annually through The Brucedale Press. The sixteenth annual Alphabet Acrostic contest will be announced sometime this month (October, 2014.) Check their website!

*The Thing with Feathers was first published by The Brucedale Press in The Leaf #34, Spring 2014.

My questions for you: Did you notice as you read the story that I was progressing through the alphabet? If not, did you go back to check? 🙂

 

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My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

Book Lovers’ Bucket List Event: An Idea Worth Sharing

by @AnnieDaylon

 

Dear Readers and Writers,

Did you know that October 11th  is World Hospice and Palliative Care Day?

The information came to me recently via email from Colleen Rush, Education Coordinator with the Chilliwack Hospice Society. Inspired by the book,  The End of Your Life Book Club,  Colleen created an event to raise awareness about  World Hospice & Palliative Care Day. Her idea?  The Book Lovers’ Bucket List Event, to be held at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. until noon.

Participants at this event will discuss the joy of reading, talk about books that have inspired them or books that are on their “To Read Bucket Lists,” and listen to readings from local authors. The Chilliwack Hospice Society is organizing this event in partnership with the Chilliwack Branch of the Fraser Regional Library & The Bookman Book Store.

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A scathingly brilliant idea, certainly worth sharing. Stunning poster, too. Well done, Colleen!

Are there any ‘bookish’ events in your community to mark this day? Do you have a “To Read” section on your Bucket List? If so, please share.

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My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 Opening Lines: What’s the Book Title?

by @AnnieDaylon

 

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If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others:
read a lot and write a lot. ~ 
Stephen King

I do both.

What follows are some of my favorite opening lines.

Can you name the titles of the books?

(See answers below!)

  1. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

  2. “Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.”

  3. “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

  4. “As a boy, I dreamed of fishing before I went, and went fishing before I caught anything, and knew fishermen before I became one.”

  5. “I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.”

  6. “Elspeth died while Robert was standing in front of a vending machine watching tea shoot into a small plastic cup.”

  7. “Riding up the winding road of St. Agnes Cemetery in the back of the rattling old truck, Francis Phelan became aware that the dead, even more than the living, settled down in neighborhoods.”

  8. “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was 14 when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”

  9. “Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them. This city I am bringing you to is vast and intricate, and you have not been here before.”

  10. “It happens that I am going through a period of great unhappiness and loss just now. All my life I’ve heard people speak of finding themselves in acute pain, bankrupt in spirit and body, but I’ve never understood what they meant.”

  11. “They’re all dead now.”

  12. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

 

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 Answers:

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
  2. Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler (2001)
  3. The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley (1953)
  4. Lines in the Water by David Adams Richards (1998)
  5. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (2005)
  6. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (2009)
  7. Ironweed by William Kennedy (1979)
  8. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (2002)
  9. The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber (2002)
  10. Unless by Carol Shields (2002)
  11. Fall On Your Knees by Anne-Marie McDonald (1996)
  12. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)

If you have any favorite opening lines, please share. Would love to read them! Might even read the whole book!

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Annie Signature Light Blue

In the Company of Readers

 

by @AnnieDaylon

shutterstock_134073986Little did I know when I grumbled over precious time spent getting my novel onto the shelves of a local food chain that the effort would result in a magical evening in the company of avid readers. I was invited to a meeting of the Book Travellers, an octet of women whose group demeanor is a combination of the delicacy of porcelain and the strength of spider silk, women who have woven friendship into a book club that has endured two decades.

The Book Travellers are so named because each member returns from every trip with souvenir bookmarks for the group. The group chooses their books a year in advance, at a sleepover, in a cabin, on a nearby lake, each June. Through their meticulous ‘bookkeeper’, they keep track of every meeting (attendance, books read, and comments) and have done so since 1998.

They take turns hosting the event and, during my visit, they appeared to be as comfortable in their host’s home as they would be in their own. (author note: a wonderfully infectious state of ease.)

Our evening began with tea and dessert and progressed to discussion of my novel and books in general.

Elizabeth made Lemon Pavlova. Delicious!

Elizabeth made Lemon Pavlova. Delicious!

Personal details slid through book talk, information about connections made through vocation—librarian, teacher, nurse, accountant—and avocation—curling, volunteering, walking, travelling. There were snippets with giggles about surprise birthday jaunts and fragments with sighs about thoughtful memorial gifts.

Overall, a delightful evening  in the company of readers, one which served not only to deepen my fervor for reading but also to re-ignite my passion for telling stories. More importantly, I experienced a surprising gift: the joy of being in the presence of unmatched  strength and vitality. Truly Canada’s Steel Magnolias.  

And so, to: Elizabeth, Bonnie, Judy, Randi, Nancy, Magda, Leona, and Kathy, I express my heartfelt thanks.

My best to all of you, always,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

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P. S. Dear Writers, Marketing can be a pain in the posterior: In my case, it took five trips to the store, several forms that had to be filled, trashed, replaced, filled again and edited; it also took a few emails to the wrong people before finding the right people. I was left wondering if time-consuming grunt details are worth it. They are. Do it.

 

For the Love of Reading

by @AnnieDaylon

Reading Rabbit 005

 

 

Are you a reader? I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. I read for many reasons: escape, meditation, knowledge, meaning, and pure love of story.
What follows are some quotes about the love of reading, most of which came from two great sites: Search Quotes and Quote Garden.

 

 For the Love of Reading

  • Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere. ~ Mary Schmich

  • To read a book for the first time is to make and acquaintance with a new friend; to read if for a second time is to meet an old one. ~ Chinese Saying

  • I have never known any distress that an hour’s reading did not relieve. ~ Charles De Montesquieu

  • The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries. ~ Rene Descartes

  • A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one. ~ George R.R. Martin

  • A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint…. what I began by reading, I must finish by acting. ~ Henry David Thoreau

  • I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read awoke in me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive. ~ Malcolm X

  • To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry. ~ John Andrew Holmes

  • The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it give you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination. ~ Elizabeth Hardwick

  • If you read a good book, you’ve got a friend for life. ~ My nephew, Matthew, at age nine.

 

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Are you a reader?
What is special about reading for you?
What books are you springing into right now?

 

 


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My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

 

P. S. If you can read this, thank a teacher. ~ Harry S. Truman

 

 

Book Club Request: Discussion Questions for “Castles in the Sand”

by @AnnieDaylon

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Just a few days ago, a Book Club contacted me saying that they have chosen my novel Castles in the Sand as their April’s read.(Pause here for dance of joy!) The group requested discussion questions and I was delighted to comply. I had not prepared such questions before but knew that character, plot, viewpoint etc., should be incorporated. I chose to share the resulting questions here (minus the spoilers) on the chance that my efforts might be of use to other authors.

 

BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION:  CASTLES IN THE SAND

1. Castles in the Sand is written in the first person from a single viewpoint, that of Justin, a homeless alcoholic. Why might the author have chosen to tell the story this way? Why is Justin’s voice so truncated?

2. The author tells the story by slipping between present and past. Why do you think the author chose to do this instead of telling the story chronologically?

3. Were you aware of the author’s subtle use of foreshadowing? (Example: At what point in Justin’s life did he learn of the existence of Steve?)

4.  In his review of Castles in the Sand, author Michael Hiebert states that “the plot hits the ground running and never lets up.” Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

5. Castles in the Sand is a cautionary tale, one of love and family, ruin and rise. The author incorporates symbols, such as the aquarium castle, to reinforce the main themes. What other symbols are prominent in the book and what do they represent?

6. Do the main characters, Justin and Steve, change by the end of the story? If so, is one arc more prominent than the other?

7. Steve is a shape shifter; both Justin and reader are kept in suspense about his motives. Eventually, Steve’s secrets are revealed. Should he have kept this secret for so long?

8. Justin feels betrayed and acts out violently. Have you dealt with someone who betrayed you? How did you respond?

9. Justin is stuck in a time warp and cannot progress until he deals with the past. There is a Buddhist proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” What was the readiness factor for Justin?

10. Is the ending satisfying? If so, why? If not, how would you change it?

 

If writing discussion questions, you can find help  by: talking with other authors, scanning the back pages of current novels, many of which now include such questions, and by searching on line. (Try Lit Lovers for the basics; you may even use their questions verbatim, with attribution.) 

Another suggestion: If requested to write discussion questions, jump at the chance. This activity will give you an injection of  joy and enthusiasm. You’re a writer and readers are interested in discussing your work. Celebrate!

A FREE short story is yours when you subscribe to my newsletter! Simply place your first name and email address in the box provided on the right.  Many thanks!

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue