Changing Direction


Historical fiction, paranormal/young adult/women’s fiction, call it what you will, my current in-progress novel could be labeled all of these.

When a woman time-travels to the past, meets intriguing characters, learns about herself and life, and brings that new knowledge back with her to the  present and future, you have the gist of the novel I’m working on.

Imagine my joy when I met Veronica Knox, an editor who also writes paranormal books that include time travel. Then imagine my excitement when she liked my plot and encouraged me to develop it. Then think of my gratitude when she said I could call and talk with her about it and even recommended books to read to help me with the plotting.

So, if you don’t see frequent posts here, be assured I’m busy writing my book.

Cheers.

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Where Should Magda Go Next?


Where should Magda go next?
I’d like to take her to another island. Perhaps she can go by ferry to another Gulf Island, or perhaps she’ll go to Haida Gwai and solve a mystery there.Then again, she could travel across Canada and visit Prince Edward Island and learn about Anne of Green Gables. What about the Greek Islands? That’s a journey I’d love to share with her. There are so many choices among the hundreds of thousands of large and tiny islands on our amazing planet. Where do you think I should take her? Please let me know what you think.

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Creative Gifts


Every time a birthday, anniversary, or any other gift giving occasion looms on the calendar, I get sweaty, dash in and out of gift shops, wake in the night and scratch ideas on scraps of paper, and in general, lose my mind for a while. Why? Because I want to give meaningful gifts, useful gifts, memorable gifts. Everyone understands this. We all want to give the best gift we can.

Well, yesterday I received a wonderful gift. It was meaningful, useful and memorable. My friend Crystal Favel created a banner for my latest book. She asked me a few questions, asked for my cover and a blurb, and where the book would be sold, and the next day I had this magnificent banner delivered to my inbox.

Over the years I’ve received colourful hand-knitted socks that were just right, baked goods that satisfied my sweet tooth, a booklet written just for me, a water-colour painting made for me, a pair of one-of-a kind earrings that were designed for me, a lamp that was carved out of a piece of wood for my enjoyment, iron candlesticks welded into graceful curves for me, a lampshade in my favourite colours …. and on and on, so many lovely and personal gifts created by talented friends. I remember receiving each of these gifts with happiness, and continue to enjoy those that had more permanence.

I want to be a more creative gift giver. I’ve used my talents as a writer, crocheter, gardener, to create the right gift for some of my friends in the past. I know I can do it again.

I want to stop shopping for gifts and start creating them again. Crystal’s gift reminded me of how special I feel when a friend takes the time to make me a wonderful gift.

What do you think? Have you ever received a gift created just for you? Have you created gifts that were so right for someone else? Please let me know.

Promo Banner For Amber

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Getting a Kick out of Reading


It’s so much fun reading from my latest Magda book at the Mayne Island LIbrary. I ended up saying a lot more to my audience than I’d planned to about why I write and what inspires me. Without their questions I might not have opened up as much. For me it’s all about the joy of being able to tell a story, invent characters, and bring themes I care about out into the open. The adults and children present, with their smiles, laughter and general warmth, gave me the feeling of security a shy person like me needed to speak from my heart.

Another bonus on this occasion, (Festival Active Pass on Mayne Island, )was having my husband, son, a granddaughter and a grandson in the library audience. So much of the time as I write my books I think about how these and other very special people will enjoy it. I guess I’ll always write for an audience I keep in my mind. Guess that’s why I get such a kick out of reading to them!reading at the library Apr 2015

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Mounties on Mayne


Mounties on Mayne.

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Definitely Not Pysanka


Each year I used Ukrainian egg dyes and traditional patterns to make lovely dyed eggs to share with my friends and family. I was proud of the way they looked. I even taught other people to dye eggs. But this year I thought I’d try something new. I wanted to try dying eggs using natural dyes.

This morning I went shopping for ingredients. I bought two kinds of onions, beets, purple cabbage, cranberries, carrots with tops, and turmeric. I had already cooked four little eggs last night, one for each grandchild.

eggs easter start 2015

I boiled up the ingredients, each dye lot in its own pot, then transferred the dye to a stainless steel bowl when enough time had passed for them to have a good colour.

I drew the first initial of each grandchild’s name on the eggs, then, when the dye was dry, I covered the letter with wax from a birthday candle. (This was something my older sister and I had done as kids – written our names in invisible wax before we dyed our eggs). So after that I dipped the eggs in the appropriate dye bath and presto! Easter eggs.

The biggest surprise was the red cabbage, which gave me a lovely blue colour (T) but turned sort of violet (J) when I added vinegar. The pink egg (S) was made with two dyes, cranberries and beets. And the one I thought worked best (B) is yellow from turmeric. The onion skins and carrot tops dye didn’t look festive to me so I didn’t use it. I shone the eggs up with olive oil and here they are.

eggs Easter 2015

They certainly aren’t Pysanky eggs. They aren’t even anything special, really. But they are made with love and it was fun trying something new.

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Mystery Book to Tantalize You


The owner of our local bookstore is after me to finish writing my book! She said that people have been asking her if it’s out yet. I told her it’s nearly finished. She said, “Then why are you reading from it at the Active Pass Festival? Are you just tantalizing us?”

Festival Active Pass will a big event on Mayne Island and the other islands bordering on Active Pass. This April the 17th, 18th and 19th many of the local clubs and enterprises of one kind and another will be welcoming visitors to three days of activities. On Sunday, April 19th, the library has lined up local writers to read mostly from their books for young people. I’m so excited to be reading from Magda’s Mysterious Stranger, the fourth Magda book set on Mayne Island. It is a work in progress that is almost ready to go! Continue reading

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Christine Lowther on Mayne Island


Christine LowtherA determined group of Mayne Islanders turned out on this rainy night to meet Christine Lowther and hear her read from her book, Born Out of This. She focused on her childhood love of our island, comparing it to Narnia, then gave us a brief trip through years as a foster child, the world of punk, her activism, and her return to Mayne Island. She now lives at Clayoquot Sound in a float-house.

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The Play-writing Bug has Bitten Me.


It’s over. Saturday was the best night of all, sold-out. The three-night run of five short plays on Mayne Island has ended.

The call of, “Author, author,” brought me and the other three playwrights to the stage. Standing up there with the cast of my plays was unexpected, a little terrifying, and very gratifying.

Many people from the audience took the time to approach me to say they found Car Stops very funny. The audience laughed a lot, so I guess it’s true. I enjoyed it, too, and laughed along with everyone else.

Other people came up and told me that my historical play, Thin Ice, was wonderful. It was called “moving”, “thoughtful,” “well-written” and “something that needed to be written” among other positive expressions. I actually cried a little while watching the interaction between the grandmother and her grandson, so tenderly played.

I feel encouraged by all these remarks.But even if the plays had not been well received, the play-writing bug has bitten me. I will write more. Wait and see.

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Writing a Play


I never thought of myself as a playwright. But a few months ago, the Mayne Island Little Theatre challenged locals to write plays that were no longer than twenty minutes, had no more than three characters,  and depicted a view of island life. These plays were to be submitted blind, no names attached.

Well, finding that a challenge was just what my writing needed at the time, I decided to give it a try.

I recalled a humourous experience while giving a ride to someone, and this became my first play.

My second play started life as a short story about the internment of Mayne Islanders of Japanese origins.

I enjoyed writing the plays, but was of two minds about submitting them. I rather timidly, and urged by friends, while not really expecting them to be chosen, entered them.

I was shocked when the theatre company’s readers selected both my efforts. Tomorrow and for the next two nights,  my little darlings, along with three others by local writers, will be displayed for all to see.

You can probably imagine my excitement.

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My Defining Moment


Two Kids Riding Bikes

My defining moment happened on a summer day on Mayne Island nine years ago. If the neighbor’s grandchildren hadn’t been out riding their bikes I might never have written my first book. As I watched from my front porch, it was like a switch had been turned on and I was back on my bike, pant legs rolled up, pedaling down the road. I was strong, free, and independent, just enjoying life as a kid, like those two. I was eleven again, riding my bike, thinking my thoughts, feeling the same feelings. I had to write my book. That day, my own childhood, the children I had known, the books I’d enjoyed and the world of my imagination came together and spilled out onto the pages. I could not stop writing.

I had grown up in a Saskatchewan village — nestled among wheat fields and grain elevators. Like any village, ours was rife with gossip and legends. My imagination was haunted by the secrets and hidden mysteries I overheard while listening silently and invisibly to grown-up conversations. When I wasn’t skating or riding my bike, you could find me curled up reading. By the age of eleven I was writing the kinds of stories I enjoyed, and though I completed very few of them, I started many. I continued writing secretly while raising my family and working, but, always shy, I kept this part of my identity hidden.

But in 2005 I retired and had uninterrupted time. The first week of my retirement I saw those two kids and I started writing my first novel. My heroine, Magda, enjoys the same freedom I had. On her island where deer roam, fences are few, and farms and meadows lie on fertile land between hills and ridges, she rides her bike along quiet country roads lined with salal bushes, blackberries and wild roses, with her friends. They swim in the ocean and build rafts and shelters from driftwood. But all is not as idyllic as it seems on the surface. Magda, whose father and brother drowned in a sudden storm, learns that friendly people who have potluck dinners and bake blackberry pies for their neighbours, have dark secrets, both gruesome and terrifying. Magda’s adventures and her unbridled curiosity challenge the adults in her life.

I owe my three books and one “on the way” to the two kids riding bikes down a dusty road one sunny day nine years ago. Without that sudden coming together of everything I wanted to express, in one jolt, Magda and her friends would not exist

From my entry in CBC’s Writers Write: “Defining Moments”
http://definingmoments.cbc.ca/mediadetail/18448437-Two%20Kids%20Riding%20Bikes?offset=2?offset=2

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Magda’s Mysterious Stranger


I think I’ve finally settled on the title of my fourth Magda book.. What do you think? I was not happy with Mayne Island Mayniacs, though I still think it has merit. But this title includes Magda’s name as well as revealing the main plot line. And I think it has a nice ring. So, at least for now, it’s called Magda’s Mysterious Stranger. The subtitle will be A Magda of Mayne Island Mystery.

 

 

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To blog or to write


I’ve ignored this blog for several months. I’ve been hard at work on my fourth Magda book. I’m on my eleventh revision now. I think it’s finally starting to come together.
Unless you’ve written a book I don’t think you know what hard work it is. And I won’t tell you how hard it is because I would never want to say anything that would discourage you from starting to write one. Let’s just say that you must really need to do this, really be obsessed with the need to do it! It will use you up, and make you find resources you didn’t know you had. And if you are that motivated, then writing books will give you great satisfaction.
So, you might not hear from me again for a while. Send encouraging thoughts my way, please. I still have a long way to go.

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Senators and Pensions


I just read about the difference between the income received by “pensioners” in Canada and that of a refugee.  The author recommended we take from the refugee and give to pensioners.  That, to me, is just robbing the poor to give to the poor.  A better solution would be to take away from Senators who are, after all, mostly receiving pensions already, and giving it to the rest of us.

I already had lost respect for the lazy freeloaders who seldom show up for work, but the latest revelations of their greed erased any respect I still had for the institution.

If the Senators were paid by the hour, for the time they spend actually working, and the rest of their income were put into a fund to pay those of us who have contributed to our pensions for 40 or 50 years, they would still get their pensions like the rest of us, and a bonus every time they showed up for work.   Fair?  I think so.

 

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Looking for Myself


As a “human becoming” I often ask myself who I am right now.  The answer differs from day-to-day, even hour to hour.

A lot of people use the term “wearing a different hat” when they talk about the different roles they play.  We all have different hats; some just have more of them.  I remember reading “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins” to my classes when I was a teacher.  The hats got more and more ornate as he tried to remove them.  Something like that happens to us.  We take on a role, say the role of teacher.  We then find we aren’t just teaching but we’re also supervising a student teacher, so we have another hat on top of the teacher hat.  But we might have to address a group of educators or parents about something we’re doing with our class, so we wear the hat of public speaker, and so on.

Through writing this blog, which bears my heart to all and sundry, I want to share all aspects of my self with anyone interested.  In this way I remove the hats one at a time until the real me is revealed.  Perhaps I’ll be able to see myself under all these hats.  I’m a human becoming.  I hope to discover just who I am becoming some day.

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Scare on a Ferry


We had a big scare yesterday.  On the ferry going to Swartz Bay, my husband passed out.  I thought of dialing 9-1-1 but knew that was pointless right away, so then I got out of the car and went looking for someone to tell a ferry worker to announce that we needed a doctor.  The sensible-looking man I selected just happened to be a doctor!  He examined my husband, who had come around again, took his pulse, and said I should take him to an emergency clinic.  My husband and I switched places and when the ferry arrived, we drove to the Saanich Peninsula Hospital where the response was quick.  In no time at all he was on a bed with sticky bits and wires all over him, attached to a monitor that measured his heart beats, oxygen level, and pulse, and took his blood pressure every so often.  He was seen by a delightful nurse and a serious doctor, given blood tests, and released four hours later.  We learned never to skip breakfast, especially after too few hours of sleep.  This is something we’re going to have to deal with every time we take the 7:00 am ferry.  We will.

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Beta Reader


I write primarily for kids between 9 and 12,  and my books are mysteries and adventure stories.  I never read or write Sci Fi.  But I’m reading a friend’s first novel to look for things that don’t work.

Why am I doing this?  I’m helping out a friend and fellow-writer, someone who has done the same for me, in fact.  I’m doing it out of friendship and gratitude.

What are my qualifications?   I write.  I can spot grammar and spelling mistakes.  I can tell when the flow in the novel is bumpy.  I can sense when a character does or says something that is “out of character.”  And I know when there is too much telling and not enough showing, which brings me to my next question.

How am I unqualified?  I don’t know how much explaining of technology is acceptable in a Sci Fi novel.  I don’t know how much explanation of the fictional society’s peculiarities is enough.  I don’t know if I can skip over the technical details that I can’t understand.

Please give me feedback if you’re a Sci Fi writer or reader, or if you’ve ever been a Beta Reader for someone’s Sci Fi book, on any other genre of novel, with which you’re unfamiliar.

I look forward to your comments.

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From Draft to Draft


Today I finished the 4th draft of my fourth Magda book. Feels wonderful. I’ve added 4,00 words since the 3rd draft. The plot pieces have moved around and the logic is falling into place.

Is it still a mystery? I don’t know. Is it a love story? Not really, though love is there throughout the story. Is it a book for kids 9 to 12? Maybe. It’s about kids, but perhaps the subject makes the book too painful for kids to want to read.

It’s the book I wanted to write, is all I know.

When I write the next draft, number 5, I’ll concentrate on imagery, mood, suspense, the language that makes up the story’s tone.  This is the part that I love the most.

After the next draft, I hope to be ready to show it to a good editor.  I know that I’ll be doing more rewriting after that.  And so it goes.

Any suggestions?

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Your Voice Haunts Me: Remembering Doreen Kimura Part 4


You laughed often and enthusiastically.  You loved silliness and got giggly quite easily.  Sometimes when you and our mother got together, a laugh-fest would erupt, and Mum would laugh so hard she’d shed tears.

You listened to opera, folk music, and rock-and-roll, and knew the words and music to every song, and could even sing in German and Ukrainian.   We sang Christmas Carols every December, in English and German.  You sang the hymns in Gammy’s old hymnal.   You could sing anything until that neck operation robbed you of your beautiful singing voice.

You had to speak a lot in your work as a professor.  You had very clear enunciation, which I’m sure your students were grateful for.  I confess I used to love watching you talk because of the way you moved your mouth.  You spoke with as much care as you did everything else.  And I could always tell if you were relaxed, worried, annoyed or bored by the way you used your voice.

I hope your voice will go on haunting me.  I miss it and I miss you.

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Life Doesn’t Make Sense: Remembering Doreen Kimura Part 3


She had so much to live for.

Doreen had reached the summit in her field of research.  But she was still asking questions she wanted answers to.  She would have followed another line of research had she lived.  I can’t remember what it was.  She told me, but because I’m not a scientist, I forget what it was.  Maybe it had to do with her interest in evolution.

Speaking of evolution, what sense can I make of our human evolution?  In order to accommodate our big heads, our mothers deliver us at an acutely dependent stage of development; our big brains have survival value. We learn and learn, explore and create, grow intellectually, until we die.  Death does not seem like a sensible end to creatures with all that brain development.

Doreen enjoyed life.  She had one of the liveliest intellects of anyone I ever knew. Her body, however, fell apart and no longer supported her.

I have no answer.  I’m not sure I even have a question.  But she should have lived longer, much, much longer.  I can’t make sense of any of this.  Can you?

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Petunia among the Roses: Remembering Doreen Kimura Part 2


“Did you attend SFU for graduate school or your undergraduate years?” the woman asked. 

 

I guess 99% of the attendees at Doreen’s memorial were either professors or had PhDs.  With my measly MA I was definitely a petunia among roses.  And though my tribute was well-received, I managed to give the wrong title of her most famous book.  I know.  I’m sort of dopey.

All the speakers, except her daughter and I, were used to giving lectures, and her daughter is a performer so she was completely at ease, too.  Again, I think I was the only one who read my address.  Everyone else gave their talks from memory.

But the day wasn’t about me.  It was about Doreen, and whatever my shortcomings, they in no way took from the esteem in which she is held.  She was brilliant.  She was funny.  She was dedicated.  She was generous.  All these attributes and more were revealed and expanded upon.

One aspect of her life that people recalled with pleasure was her ability to give successful parties, whether get-togethers for the lab or tasteful dinner parties.  She spent hours and hours preparing everything to perfection.  One story involved a dinner party where one of the guests began to expound on a controversial topic.  Doreen tried to turn the conversation, but at last had to inform her guest that he was becoming “tedious.”  She enjoyed a good argument as much as anyone, but this person was being rude and her other guests were being made to feel uncomfortable.  She had to intervene.

I could never give a party like Doreen did.  I don’t have the stamina it takes to carry out all the preparation involved.  I’d lose interest or get distracted.  I guess that’s why I’ve remained a petunia among roses.

But though Doreen’s friends were all roses, I doubt if anyone of them had the beauty and fragrance that my sister had.

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Truth in Science: Remembering Doreen Kimura Part 1


“I saw her today at the reception

A glass of wine in her hand.”

 

That’s what was playing as I sat out on the balcony, my sister Doreen’s memorial reception starting up around me. “Doreen, here’s to you,” I said to her memory, then raised my glass and drank.

I knew her as my big sister, my mentor, my friend. Other people knew her in their own way. Their tributes revealed several different facets of her personality.

I think my question, “What do you hold sacred?” And her answer, “Truth,” gave the true colour of her character. She told me she loved data, I guess because it revealed another little piece of the Truth. She was always searching for more and more of this. If the data didn’t support something, neither could she.

Some of her former grad students called her “Dragon Lady.” She was fierce when fighting for Truth in science. Someone said she did not suffer fools gladly. If you were her grad student, you had a moral obligation to serve Truth, and to do that she expected rigorous research, clear writing, and fearless defense of what the data revealed. And they loved her. When she committed to them she stood by and supported them, through good times and bad.

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What’s Your Writing Routine?


Debra Purdy Kong writes “As technology has changed, I’ve found that taking part in social media a few minutes before writing, is now part of my ritual. And, of course, there’s that necessary cup of coffee!”

Like Debra, I’ve used many writing techniques that others have found helpful, like taking breaks and writing at a consistent time.  I find that a cup of coffee in the morning, while perusing my social media contacts, gets me ready to write, as well.  Starting to write before breakfast and continuing after is part of my routine, too. (It helps that my dear husband likes to make breakfast!) I find the morning the best time to do original writing, while the afternoon is a good time to read over my work and edit it.

You can read Debra’s complete blog entry at

http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/4448690-what-are-your-writing-habits

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Debra Purdy Kong’s Review of Mayne Island Skeletons


Debra Kong‘s review

Jul 02, 13

Image

Young teen, Magda, has her hands full these days. Not only does she have a part-time job looking after a neighbor’s chickens, but she wants to investigate the truth behind an allegedly haunted house. There are rumors that the deceased owner was a nasty man whose wife and five children disappeared one day. Had they left him, or were they murdered?

Magda’s sleuthing skills are also needed in a very real problem when her friend Brent is accused of stealing First Nations artifacts from someone’s home. Brent’s been in trouble before and his mother has decided that he’s unmanageable, so Brent runs away to avoid jail or a foster home. The police and Magda’s mother pressure her to turn Brent in if she sees him, but Magda refuses. She intends to prove he’s innocent.

Mayne Island Skeletons is a mystery for readers aged ten to thirteen, or for reluctant readers. Mayne Island is one of the smaller southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and BC’s mainland, and a terrific setting. There is a real community feel to this story and a pace that reflects the lifestyle of the 1,000+ residents.

Magda has common traits to any great sleuth: curiosity, intelligence, and bravery, but she also has a lot of compassion. Although this book deals with modern day issues such as neglectful mother, First Nations artifacts, and to a lesser degree, the melting ice caps and endangerment to polar bears (through letters from a friend in the Arctic), this book reminds me of a Nancy Drew novel. It’s partly because of the story’s pace but also because Magda’s so polite and well mannered; something not often see in novels today. On the other hand, you’d never see a neglectful mom or a First Nations issue in a Nancy Drew novel, so I’d call this book a lovely blend of old and new.

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What Subjects are Taboo?


July 2nd, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Everyrosehasathornwrites, “It seems to be how tastefully it’s written that counts.”

My response is, I agree. I’m dealing with the taboo subject of child soldiers in my fourth book. I want to let my young readers know about this horrible situation without freaking them out so much they’ll stop reading. I’m treading very carefully.

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BroCrew Returns


I’ve been told that raccoons are repelled by the smell  of ammonia.   I’ve been told that a tennis ball soaked in ammonia will keep them away.  Any truth in those suggestions, anyone?  After I buy tennis balls and ammonia I’ll test out the theory.

As for the herd of young bucks, I haven’t seen them in a couple of days, so perhaps they’ve moved on.

I’m  still interested in building a deer and raccoon-proof bird feeder.  Let me know if you have any other suggestions.

Thanks.

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New Review for Mayne Island Skeletons


 

Mayne Island Skeletons on June 25, 2013
star star star star

“Amber Harvey’s latest book is a gripping mystery that is perfect for the 9 to 12 age range, and even as an adult I was able to get into her descriptive writing style and the paranormal tale she has spun for all’s enjoyment.”

Smashwords book review by Sierra Cline

Thank you to all the readers of my books who write a review! I feel so grateful when you take the time to tell me how you liked it.

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Why Do You Write?


Yesterday I bared my heart and told you Why I Write For Young Readers.  Today, I’d love to hear from you.  Why do you write?  Why do you write the kind of books, stories, poems, articles or whatever it is you write? This is your chance to bare your heart, dear reader.

 

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Why I Write for Young Readers


I was one myself.  Yup.  I know how it is to be 11 or 12, with all the freedom and restrictions, joy and pain it involves.  So when I write, I feel like that young person, and for a while  I become her.  I wake up to the smell of toast my mom is making, feel the pebbles through my runners, hear my bike’s tires on the road, taste the warm, ripe blackberries, see spooky shapes in the trees at night. 

Writing is the most exciting thing I do.  I’m never so alive, for such an extended period of time, as when I’m in my young protagonist’s body and mind, living her life.  That’s why I write.

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Kids Who Do Not Like to Read


Mystery books are good for kids who do not like to read. Look for adventure books where the action is driven by talk not text. Books with descriptive text bore children. Find books that are two hundred pages or less. This is so the mystery book does not intimate the child, tween and teen reader.”

These are the words of Taisha Turner at Children’s Book Site  I came upon this site today as I was surfing the net.  I hadn’t seen it before, and was happy to find out that the books I write for 8-to-13-year-olds match the description she holds as a model.

I’m in the midst of writing the fourth in my Magda of Mayne Mystery Series. Happily, these books match her guidelines in three important ways:

Check – Like the other three in this stand-alone series, this adventure novel is “driven by talk not text.”

Check – Description plays a minor but special role: that of setting the mood.

Check  – All of these books fall into the appropriate range in length, of 200 or fewer pages.

As in all good mysteries, however, atmosphere in Magda’s Mayne Island Mystery, Mayne Island Aliens, and Mayne Island Skeletons plays an important part in what gives pleasure to the reader.

So, if you know of any kids who “do not like to read” they should enjoy these.

I’d love to hear from you regarding these guidelines.

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Author or Writer


ImageRecently, I’ve been wondering if as someone who has and is writing original novels, some of which I’ve published, as paperbacks and as e-books, I’m a writer or an author.  I’ve also had poems, articles and short stories published in magazines and books.

I’ve been reading other people’s blogs where the question, “Am I an author, a writer, both, or neither?” is being discussed.

The arguments appear to fall into two camps: one camp bases the nomenclature on content and the other bases it on publishing.  Camp 1 says, if you write, you’re a writer.  If the writing is your  own idea, originating with you, then you’re its author.  If the writing is about someone else or about their ideas, you’re a writer.  Camp 2 says if you write, you’re a writer.  If your writing is published, you’re an author.

But Camp 2 can be broken down into Camp 2A, which says that you must publish a book, not a story or poem, to be called an author, and Camp 2B which states that the publisher must be a recognized publishing house; you can’t self-publish or be an indie publisher, otherwise you’re a writer but not an author.

The Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary makes it difficult to distinguish between author and writer.  It defines an author as “the writer of a literary work (as a book)” and a writer as “one that writes.

So far, I’m not clear about e-books and which camp you’re in if you consider an e-book a published book.

I would love to hear your opinion.

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Spring Break is coming soon! Reading My Books at Our Library


Mark your calendars.  March 20, at 4:00 PM, the Mayne Island Library will be open to everyone who wants to hear about Magda and Brent’s adventures on Mayne Island.  I’ll be mining my three novels for stories to interest and entertain, and I’ll also be reading from my fourth novel for the 9 – 13 crowd, the as-yet unheard stories of their further adventures!  (This fourth novel is in its early stages.)

If you want to ask me any questions about writing, I’ll be happy to answer them the best I can.

See you at the Mayne Island Library on Wednesday, March 20, for some fun with books.

PS  The Library is providing light refreshments, as well.

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What Was that Name?


          Decades ago, before I had the frosty white hair I now use as an excuse for my forgetfulness, I was embarrassed constantly by forgetting people’s names. 

          One autumn week-end I was attending a workshop for women, one of those weekend retreats we used to hold in the eighties, where people re-enacted painful events of their younger years and went through a catharsis to cure them of their traumas. 

          Well, while standing in my bathrobe and slippers, brushing my teeth in the common bathroom, I started a conversation with one of the participants.  I told her my name and she told me hers, and then I said, “I hope I won’t forget it.” 

          “It’s easy to remember,” she said, rinsing off her toothbrush. “Just think of Woody Allen.”

          “I will,” I promised. 

          The rest of the weekend passed in the way we all expected it to; with lots of screaming, crying, hugging, and finally a closing ritual to bring us all back to our usual calm demeanours, so we could once more go out and face the world.

          A few weeks later, I was walking along a busy street in Victoria with a friend from work and I saw my new acquaintance on the other side of the street.  Proud that I remembered her face AND her name, I waved and shouted, “Hi, Woody!”

          She waved back.

          My friend, who was acquainted with her, said, “That’s funny.  I thought her name was Ellen.”

          “Oh, no,” I replied.  “Her name is Woody.  I met her at a retreat and I’m positive that’s her name.”

          My friend shrugged and I didn’t think of it again.

          A year or more passed and once again I ran into her, this time at a potluck.

          “Hi, Woody,” I said, grabbing a plate and getting in line right behind her.  “How are you?”

          She looked at me and said, very gently, “I don’t use that name any more.”

          “You don’t?”  I asked, now a little worried because I didn’t know how I was going to unlearn the old name and remember the new one.

          “What name do you use now?”  I enquired cautiously.

          “Ellen,” she replied.

          I suddenly remembered that community bathroom and her suggestion that I remember her name, Ellen, by thinking of Woody Allen.  I was mortified.  I must have blushed the colour of the pickled beets on the table.

          “Ellen,” I repeated.  “I’ll just think of Woody Allen.”

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Saying good-bye – the burial of the placentas


Mother carry me,

          Your child I will always be,

          Mother carry me,

          Down to the Sea

In a sacred grove overlooking the ocean, with cedars overhead, and sheep grazing on the hillside, a circle of children, young parents and elders, celebrated with the four children whose placentas were reunited with Mother Earth.

          We are the weavers, we are the woven ones,

          We are the dreamers, we are the dream.

Everyone helped dig the four holes, north, south, east, and west.

Rose petals, acorns, cedar, and birch bark were sprinkled as the placentas were lowered into the ground, to return to the earth.

Placentas are buried in the circle of the sun

          Circle of the sun on their burying day.

          Babies are born in the circle of the sun,

          Circle of the sun on their birthing day.

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Writing at Rivendell


The Federation of BC Writers first annual writers retreat is happening right now and I am here, at Rivendell Retreat Centre.

Some of the writers here have received recognition in their fields.  Some are still finding their way.  All are here because they write and beyond that, have their own personal reasons for choosing to go on this retreat.

Those of us from Mayne Island, Gail Woodward, Leanne Dyck and I, left our homes at 7:00 on Thursday, took the ferry to Tsawwassen, then got a ride with a friend to Horseshoe Bay and spent several hours there, some of it at the beautiful home of author Robin Spano.  A short ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay and a very steep climb and/or drive up to the lodge in deep darkness at 7:00 pm, and we had arrived.

The retreat building and setting are all I could have wished for.  On Bowen Island, surrounded by “misty mountains” and tall fir trees, it has the feeling of quiet isolation.  The rooms are very comfortable and each one has its own bathroom, so if you want to spend the days in uninterrupted writing, you can.  Meals are catered and simply delicious as well as accommodating of all the food allergies and sensitivities in the group. Table setting and clean-up chores are shared amongst the nine participants.  We’ll clean our own spaces and the public areas before we leave Sunday.  These small, shared duties helped to keep down the cost.

I had a “blue pencil” session with Ben Nuttall-Smith on Friday.  I have never received such a thorough and constructive piece of editing from anyone, though my work has been edited many times.  I found it such a gratifying experience.

Our evening readings were a time to relax and enjoy some of the work our members has either published or were still working on.  The experience was amazing;  I’ll write more about it later. The evening ended in a small group of us eating popcorn in the semi-darkness, sharing at a heart level.

Today my friend Gail and I have breakfast and lunch duties and will then have the rest of the day for our writing and one more blue pencil session.

The big breakthrough for me has been the realization that I don’t have to complete my novel.  I began it last November 1st, for NaNoWriMo, and “completed” it on November 30th.  I brought it with me, but it began to change from a police procedural to a literary book and became unwieldy.  So I plan to close its pages and keep it on file, but to forge ahead with my autobiography, which is a gift I would like to leave for my children and grandchildren.

I will probably have more to add later.  Stay tuned.

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Emergency Call to Action: Call in for Aleppo


as we speak, civilians are being executed by the assad regime in east aleppo & all over syria. this is a call to action from xʷməθkʷəyəm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh territories.…

Source: Emergency Call to Action: Call in for Aleppo

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Magda Grows Up?


Parallel universes have taken over my mind. The past couple of months I’ve been working on a book dealing with this concept.  In this novel,  the protagonist confronts her life’s decision points and goes back to sample a reality she rejected earlier. 

Life is made up of decision points,  small and latge, and had we turned right rather than left, how would life be different? She finds out.

I’m enjoying writing about her many lives, and wish I had the secret of doing this with my own life. Don’t you?

Is this Magda, all grown up? It’s a question people keep asking me. I’ll tell you when I know.

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Passage to the Gulf Islands


Reflecting Vancouver

Queen of Nanaimo

This past weekend I returned to Mayne, some six years after my first visit to the Southern Gulf Islands, and reached further to Saturna. This island-hopping was made possible by an ambitious community event, Tour des Iles, which provided free sailings between neighbouring islands. Some boats took routes we landlubbers might otherwise never see: from Retreat Cove in the north of Galiano to Salt Spring Island, and in a triangle from the eastern side of Mayne, to Saturna, to Hope Bay on Pender, and back again.

To keep things simple, I planned a Saturday morning arrival on Mayne followed by a bike ride across the island to Horton Bay. A Tour des Iles boat would then ferry me to Saturna in the early afternoon and return me to Mayne in the evening for camping near Miner’s Bay. Sunday would allow a meandering journey back to Vancouver.

“Are you headed…

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Ph.inisheD


Ph.inisheD.

 

There are many reasons for completing our education.

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The Truth Remains The Same Feat. Robbie Madsen (DJ Kwe – Search N Rescue Trevor Mix)


The Truth Remains The Same Feat. Robbie Madsen (DJ Kwe – Search N Rescue Trevor Mix).

 

Here’s one more tragic story that could have been so happy,  if someone with authority had been wiser. I hope Trevor is found and the three brothers have a reunion very soon.

 

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Getting a Kick out of Reading


Getting a Kick out of Reading.

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