It’s my write before Christmas, I’m happy to pen
holiday wishes to all once again.
It’s become a tradition, this greeting in rhyme
To 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, once again I’m highlighting
Links and events in this world of writing.
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.
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. Weilandhas guidelines to help you refine.
Seeking courses or webinars to carry you through? Writer’s Digestwill surely have something for you.
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 WRITEFIRST!)
So here’s to my tweeps, and all Facebook friends,
And bloggers and techies on whom I depend.
As for Tea & Critique with friends Fran and Mary,
I always apply their sage commentary.
A toast to all editors (writers, pay heed!)
You need that blue pencil if you want to succeed.
Take it from me, I once published alone,
A difficult lesson but from it I’ve grown.
(Despite years of grammar in English and Latin
I made mistakes and had to go back in
Re-edit the published, suck up the shame,
Suffice to say I won’t do it again.)
Accolades to my editors, Michael and Ken, At the Heart of the Missing‘s being scoured by them
For content and structure and copy and line
My new novel! Pretty soon you’ll see it online.
Here’s to writers who’ve found success on the road,
Who’ve looked back to aid others to lighten the load,
You help bridge the gap from the dream to real ground,
Your help is essential for success to be found.
Some bloggers review without compensation ,
They truly deserve a standing ovation! Fictionophile is a gem I discovered this year
(Stop by. Check her posts. You’ll find great reads there.)
Most of all, 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.”
That’s it for this year. Best wishes to you
As 2017 comes into view.
And now, ere December rolls out of sight, HappyChristmas to all! Have great reads and great writes!
Coming in 2017! Images: Shutterstock.com Design: michaelhiebert.com
October 8, 2016 isINDIE 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!
A 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.
Today is Labour Day in Canada. That means tomorrow, for many, is Back-to-School Day.
Memories always emerge around this for me, mostly memories of returning to teaching. This year, however, prompted by the knowledge that a cherished relative is returning to school after a long stay in the work world, I’m remembering the time when, after ten years in the work force, I decided go back to university.
Yours Truly. Second Grade.
I’d always liked being a student so I gave no thought to the fact that I would have to re-adjust to student life. The first course I signed up for? Statistics. (Ouch!)
I hadn’t studied Math at all in my undergraduate work; the last Math class I had taken was grade eleven Algebra, a mere fifteen years earlier.
In my first Stats class, the professor distributed a pre-test to “see where we stood.” My score? 63%. When I asked that professor about improvement strategies, he told me that I was not likely to improve at all. The laws of predictability and outcome were such that my pre-test grade would not change.
I’m sure my mouth was agape while I stared at him. I don’t recall what I said to him but I remember exactly what I was thinking: Chuck you, Farley. You can take your statistics and stick them where the sun don’t shine.
Did I quit? No.
For a couple of classes, I watched the other students. I picked out the highest achiever and I approached him. I offered to pay him to tutor me. He said he would tutor me but he wouldn’t charge me because he saw this as an opportunity to improve his teaching skills.
The long and the short of it: I worked with him, I worked on my own, I worked my ass off. On the first mid-term exam, (and I think it darn near killed that stats prof to tell me this) I scored 93%. Apparently, all I needed was adjustment time and a little help.
To all those of you who have decided to return to the classroom: becoming a student again is a transition. Give yourself time to adjust. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Be determined. Beg, borrow, barter… whatever it takes, seek the help you need.
Yours Truly. M. Ed.
You made the decision to go back. Make it work, your way.
“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.
Without further ado, here’s Lynne’s review>>> CLICK HERE
The 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!)
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.
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.
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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
My best to you,
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I 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:
The Book Thiefby 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 Marriageby 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 Partyby 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 Societyby 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.
419by 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 Thisby Alice McDermott An apt portrayal of the reality of life in an Irish Catholic American family. Lyrical. Engaging. Poignant.
All the Light We Cannot Seeby 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 Museumby 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: 419for the education I received (until I read this, I would have assumed 419 to be an area code, no more) and The Book Thieffor 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.)
And 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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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:
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.
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 throughThe 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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Little 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!
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,
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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.