Giving Thanks

22 Nov

As American Thanksgiving approaches it’s the perfect time to be grateful for our blessings. Here’s a list of what I’m grateful for:
My wonderful family and friends, and all the dogs I’ve had the priviledge of loving.
My physical health. As each year passes my body gently reminds me that I’m not as young as I used to be, so I also appreciate my aquafit bootcamp teacher at the local public pool. She’s a dragon but I know that investing in exercise now will prevent my joints seizing up later.
My mental health. I was fortunate to find an excellent psychiatrist who literally saved my sanity eleven years ago. Thanks to new awareness of the debiliating effects of depression and anxiety, I can actually say that out loud.
My new kitchen. After almost 20 years we finally invested in a new kitchen pantry and L-shaped island counter and I love it!
And finally, on the lighter side, I’m thankful for Judge Judy. She metes out justice and says things most of us only think about and wish we could say!
Wishing my American friends a blessing-filled Thanksgiving :)

A Writer’s Retreat — Day Five

15 Nov
"Apres la Tempete" by Horace Champagne Pastel on Paper

“Apres la Tempete” by Horace Champagne
Pastel on Paper

Took a break from our keyboards and drove to St. Sauveur, Quebec for lunch and some shopping. I took pictures with my iPhone but they didn’t turn out that great, so please enjoy this beautiful picture by Quebec pastelist Horace Champagne of St. Sauveur after a winter storm.
I enjoyed hearing French being spoken — although I was born and raised in Montreal, I’m an anglophone — and I practiced my French with the sales people in the stores, but as soon as they heard my horrible accent they switched to English. Not sure whether to be grateful or insulted, LOL.

 

A Writer’s Retreat — Day Four

13 Nov
002I get a little cabin fever when I’m inside too long, so I decided to go for a walk today without a map and my uncharged cell phone. Bad idea, since I had no clue where the paved trail led or how long it was. 
When I was 5 years old I got lost in the woods. We lived in the country, and this was back in the day before Helicopter Moms and Neighbourhood Watch. Kids were let loose in the world to fend for themselves. No car seats, no seat belts, no bike helmets. Go outside and play, kid. Don’t come back until lunch time. 
The woods across the road beckoned me and I decided to just enter a few steps, turn around and come back. I can still remember the creepy feeling of glancing backwards and realizing that the forest floor looked different than it did two seconds earlier. My grandmother eventually found me and all was well. But I don’t have a good sense of direction and the woods can creep me out. 
Fast forward to my walk today. After 40 minutes it became clear I’d bitten off more than I could chew, and started to get tired. Nature has a way of setting my imagination free, and after another mile I had been chased by a pack of wolves, mauled by a black bear and attacked by a deranged jogger. All in my head. 
But the universe is kind, and I came across a friendly trio of fellow hikers who happily informed me that the village was only 20 minutes further ahead and all downhill. 
I stopped and had a drink from a spring gushing down the mountain. Best water I’ve ever tasted. I wish I could have taken a picture but my cell phone had died a few miles back.
And because my creative juices were now gushing just like that water, I also plotted the first third of my next book. 
Alls well that ends well.

A Writer’s Retreat – Day Three

13 Nov
Pink Mouse

Pink Mouse

Green Mouse

Green Mouse

I may not be making the page count on my manuscript, but at least I’m blogging! It’s difficult to concentrate on writing because my friend Selena Robins’ psychadelic mouse keeps changing colors. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
The housekeeper arrived to give our little nest some tidying up. I’m sure her eyes popped out of her head when she saw the amount of empty wine bottles in the recycle bin. We didn’t stay long enough to find out.
We drove to check out the local casino but it was closed. Just as well, I always lose money at the slots. We went to the village and enjoyed fish and chips at a local pub. A lot of the stores are closed because it’s officially off season. The fall colors are over and ski season hasn’t begun yet. 
After an afternoon nap I did some research on the setting for my book and chose the names of my two protagonists. Progress.

 

 

A Writer’s Retreat – Day Two

11 Nov
From November 10 2014 001Laptop plugged in. Nancy Drew related articles for inspiration nearby — watch, bracelet made of typewriter keys, card case. Coffee. i Pod and headphones. Flash drive for back up. All set.
Breakfast. Check Facebook. Say hello to some new friends. Do crossword puzzle. Go for morning nap. Think about brainstorming session from yesterday. Make notes. Blog. 
Make hamburgers for lunch. Go for a nap. Feel guilty that I’m not writing as I watch my friend Selena Robins tap away at her keyboard. I hate myself. 
Pour a glass of wine and go outside to smoke a cigarette. One of two every evening. I know, I know.IMG_1501
Watch Millionaire Matchmaker. It’s getting dark.
Go outside with friend and drink more wine. Feed a deer that wanders by.  He likes carrots. 
Back in front of my computer. Have a few more ideas but don’t know how to start this damn book. Hope for better things tomorrow. 
 

 

A Writer’s Retreat – Day One

10 Nov
View from our window

View from our window

November has come around again, bringing with it an urge to write. In honor of NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) my friend (and critique partner) and I have travelled north to Mont Tremblant in the Laurentian Mountains for a one week writing adventure.
 NaNoWriMo has been a personally successful format for starting a first draft. My latest novel, From Away, was born in November 2011 and was released two months shy of its 3rd birthday. So here I am again, with only a vague idea of what to write about, but hopeful that with some brainstorming, homemade pizza and wine, another idea will evolve by the end of the week.
 Got up this morning to snow on the ground and a mostly clear blue sky. There’s something about the mountains that fills me with peace and hope, giving me clarity of thought and a catalyst for creativity.
We will write each morning, take a walk in the afternoon, drink Long Island Iced Teas before dinner and talk about our WIPS (works in progress). Bouncing ideas off someone else’s brain gives more perspective than brooding about it on your own. 
 Writing is by its very nature a solitary activity. Sharing the process with a fellow writer is a collaborative, connective concert of words that provides fodder for the long winter to come.

Elusive Ghosts

30 Oct
Party Store Windsock

Party Store Windsock

Since shopping is my favorite hobby, you’d think I’d be able to find a Halloween Ghost-themed windsock or hanging lantern for my cherry tree; with its spindly bare branches it looks appropriately spooky this time of year and serves as a perfect backdrop for a hanging ghost. But these wispy spirits have eluded me for years. I could probably find a random one online and pay a thousand dollars for shipping to Canada, but it perplexes me as to why a simple hanging ghost decoration isn’t readily available in my local department, dollar or specialty party store? Believe me, I’ve checked and found everything else—banners, buckets, costumes, door decorations, fencing, figurines, flags, hanging heads that feature light and sound, inflatables, lawn ornaments, masks, props, strobe lights, tombstones, treat bags and window clings. 
When I can’t find what I’m looking for, I resort to desperate measures. 
Several years ago I saw a ghost windsock hanging from the ceiling of a now defunct party store, and after pleading and begging for several minutes convinced the woman to sell it to me, even though it wasn’t for sale. It belonged to the store’s private collection of decorations and was the only one of its kind. 
Hand-made Windsock

Hand-made Windsock

Over the years I lost it in the bowels of my basement, and decided to make my own out of a white shower curtain and a lot of sweat and tears.
When it comes to crafting and sewing I know enough to be undaunted by most patterns, but not enough to do a really great job. (Yes, I need to use a pattern and very specific instructions.) Plus I inherited my father’s clumsy fingers when it comes to fine motor coordination. So my friends and family are very kind with their remarks, but if a seriously gifted seamstress or crafter took a close look, they would laugh in my face at my crooked stitches and fraying hems. 
No matter, it looks good enough for my purposes. I don’t think the neighbourhood kids will notice how uneven the ghost’s streamers are. If they do, I’ll give them extra candy for being so observant.
This year, while de-cluttering my basement, I found my original Ghost Windsock, so now I have two of them hanging proudly in my front yard. If I ever run across another one in my shopping travels, I’m grabbing it.
So, Dear Blog Reader,  if you should come across a ghost windsock, think of me. And perhaps you should buy it for yourself, because apparently they’re as rare as four-leaf clovers.

 

Before Carolyn Keene …

15 Oct

“Good Luck” by Mrs. L. T. Meade

… there was L. T. Meade.
A friend of mine who knows my obsession with old books found this for me at the used bookstore where she works, and I fell in love with the book cover.
220px-L._T._Meade_-_Elizabeth_Thomasina_Meade_Smith

Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith 1844–1914

Good Luck by Mrs. L. T. Meade was published in 1896 (!) and described as ‘A Story for Girls’ under the category of ‘Books for Young Readers’. But Mrs. Meade also wrote mysteries, sixty-six in all, along with one hundred titles of general fiction and twelve short story collections.
Born in 1844 in County Cork, Ireland, Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith was the eldest daughter of a Protestant clergyman and began to write as a teenager, much to her father’s horror. Upon the death of her mother, she moved to London and studied in the Reading Room of the British Museum. She married Alfred Toulmin Smith in 1879.
Using the pseudonym ‘L. T. Meade’, she wrote over 300 books in her lifetime. She is best known for her novels of girl adventure, especially of girls at school, but she experiemented with many genres including religious and historical novels, adventure, romance and detective fiction. Her writing was described as “sentimental” and “sensational”. She co-authored books with other male authors; the first of these was with Dr. Clifford Halifax, with whom she first collaborated in 1893. A year later she teamed with Robert Eustace. Her partnership with Robert Eustace  featured two female villains, Madame Sara (in The Sorceress of the Strand) and Madame Koluchy (the mastermind of a band of gangsters, in The Brotherhood of the Seven Kings). One of her most unusual titles is Dumps; A Plain Girl (1905). She was also the co-editor of a popular girls’ magazine, Atalanta (previously titiled Every Girl’s Annual). She was active in women’s issues and a member of the feminist Pioneer Club.
The largest collection of her books resides at Cornell University, with about 185 titles. If you think collecting Nancy Drew Mysteries is a challenge, imagine collecting all of her works!

 

Drum Roll Please …

29 Sep
FromAwayIt’s been a crazy season of a husband retiring, both daughters moving, friends getting married and having babies, and life in general getting in the way of my writing. Not to mention the long process of formatting and proofing all of my novels for print as well as Kindle formats. But I’m finally finished and happy to make two announcements:
1) All five of my novels are now available in Kindle and Print formats, to please the Kindle lovers and the ‘I need a real book in my hands’ readers, and (drum roll ) ….
2) From Away, my 5th novel, is finally finished and available at Amazon. I promised it this summer, and I’m sorry I’m officially a week late. 
I hope you enjoy it and if you do, don’t forget to visit Amazon.com and post a review! Reviews are very important to indie authors … our life’s blood, you might say, since reviews can increase readership and sales. 
Below you’ll find a short synopsis. You can also read an excerpt here.
Three women at a crossroads … and one shared secret. 
On a summer night in July 1981, three teenage girls gather to make a solemn promise–they will never reveal to anyone the trauma they’ve just been witness to. Thirty-three years later, the friends find themselves together again on the verge of turning fifty.
When a local woman goes missing and is found dead, old suspicions resurface to test the newly rekindled friendship and threaten a decades old promise. Can the women trust their past while confronting their future?

Blog Weeds

5 Aug
photo courtesy of randallrice.blogspot.com

photo courtesy of randallrice.blogspot.com

I think I’ve left my blog alone too long. Like my garden getting attacked by weeds while I’ve been away, my blog is getting weird comments from weird people. Here’s a brief sample:
From “Myrtle Beach Fishing Guides”: I have read several excellent stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much attempt you place to create any such fantastic informative site.
Do you speak English much? 
Don’t worry, there’s more:
From “Tree Removal and Stump”: Hi there, this weekend is pleasant designed for me, for the reason that this time i am reading
this great educational piece of writing here at my house.
I’m so glad they wrote and told me that. Made my day.
From “Galt Ocean Clubs”: Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be helpful to read through content from other writers and practice a little something from other websites.
From “Stuart Fishing Charter”: Undeniably believe that that you stated. Your favourite justification appeared to be at the web the simplest thing to bear in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed even as folks consider worries that they plainly don’t realize about. You managed to hit the nail
upon the highest as well as outlined out the whole thing without having side-effects , other people could take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thanks
Uh … you’re welcome?
From “Fountainhead For Sale”: This site truly has all the info I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.
What can I say? I aim to please. 
This is beyond annoying. Is anyone else finding weeds in their Blog Garden?
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