Category Archives: childrens books

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

Apart from the freelance project, I did have time to write a Xmas themed short story for my writing group’s Xmas party, which was held yesterday.

WFSC Xmas Party

Letting my imagination take control and spin a story is always fun. I had thought the story would go in one direction but it veered off into another, again giving me a welcome surprise. I find this aspect of writing to be the most delightful and rewarding, as the characters or plot take control.

This was my story:

Joy’s Joy

The heavy snow slowly slid from the porch roof, Joy watched its gradual cascade and delighted at the thump it made on the frozen ground. Her thoughts turned to childhood memories of building snowmen and snowballs fights with her brother and sisters. As the youngest she was often the brunt of the jokes and teasing but no matter what she loved them but of course there were plenty of times when she was cuddled and coddled by her older siblings.

Now many decades later they were spread out across the country. The older they became the more infrequent were the visits even on special holidays. Joy was sad that this Christmas there would be no family to celebrate with. Again she felt she should have married again after Arthur, she had been young enough to have started a new family but her heart had been broken and as the years past, she became accustomed to her solitary life. But now she realized, she always looked forward to those special days each year with Frank, Gail and Bobbie-Jo, they were her hope for next month or next year, it kept her grounded and forward thinking. She would plan for months ahead of time – planning excursions, cooking cakes and biscuits and making gifts. With no visitors this year the house felt as despondent as Joy.

A knock on the door brought her out of her musings. A dark figure loomed on the other side of the frosted glass door. Joy made sure the security chain was in place before she opened the door cautiously.

                  “Hello, I have a delivery for Miss. Dashing.”

                  “Well that would be me.”

                  “Can you please sign here, the box is rather heavy so do you want me to carry it into the hallway?”

                  “That would be very kind, thank you.”

                  Joy unlatched the chain and the man picked up a large box from the porch floor. He set it down beside the entry table and then turned away, while arching his back.

                  “Thank you so much, you should take care of your back. Have a merry Christmas.”

                  “My pleasure, yes it’s not easy work. Have a good Christmas.”

                  Once the front door closed and the cold evening air shut out, Joy looked at the box. A label showed her name and address and the return address was one she was familiar with. It was from Frank. Excited to see what was inside she went to the kitchen to find a pair of scissors. With the packing tape cut, Joy pulled at the box to open it. Inside was a lot of packing and Christmas wrap. Her heart leapt – he sent me several gifts for Christmas!

                  The sight of the gifts made Joy happy. She was determined that now she would decorate so they could be placed under a Christmas tree. Two hours later the front room looked festive and Frank’s gifts were in pride of place under the small artificial tree, placed in the bay window. She ate a late light supper and went to bed. Her dreams were of frosty mornings and the four of them opening their gifts on Christmas morning, she smiled in her sleep.

                  In the morning she read her brother and sister’s letters again asking not to send gifts to them this year as they were spending time with their children and grandchildren and would be away from home. Joy had been disappointed as she had spent several months creating their gifts. ‘We will get together in the New Year and exchange gifts then’ – was the footnote on all three letters. Joy wrapped the gifts with extra care and placed them in a basket on top of her crafting shelf. Another knock on the door brought her to open it to the same deliveryman, his grey beard frosted with icicles

                  “Well hello again.”

                  “You must be very popular with all these parcels. I have two for you today, just in time for the big day. Shall I carry them in?”

                  “Oh yes please, that is kind.”

                  As the man turned to leave, she stopped him.

                  “Wait one moment I have something for you.”

                  “I’m not supposed to take gifts, I’m afraid.”

                  “Really that is not a very festive outlook and it is only a day to Christmas. It is some of my special cookies; surely you can have a few?”

                  “Well, I wouldn’t say no, I will be delivering until late tonight. It is a busy time of year as you can imagine and I don’t usually get time to stop and eat anywhere.”

                  “That’s settled then one moment.”

                  Joy placed several different kinds of cookies and sweet treats in a small tin and gave it to the driver.

                  “I hope you enjoy them and drive safely, there is a weather front coming in. It’s a good thing you don’t need to drive out to me again, that track can be treacherous.”

                  “I’ll be careful and thank you so much for these they smell incredible. I only have one run left and can go home, it is a favour to my old boss. He was short handed so I volunteered.”

                  “At least you have sustenance now. Take care.”

                  Joy excitedly opened the two boxes to find more gifts and took them to the tree. It would be nice to open them on Christmas morning but she really wanted to have her siblings with her even more. With the house locked and the Christmas lights twinkling she sat to watch a movie. As the clock struck midnight she yawned and rose to go to bed. A tapping sound stopped her steps on the stairs. What is that? She looked around the front room, the kitchen and the hallway but the tapping had stopped. Joy shook her head and went to bed. She could hear the blizzard thundering outside, lashing the roof and trees. As she drifted off to sleep a nagging feeling gripped her but she knew she was alone on the side of the mountain, her house surrounded by fir trees and knew the track would now be under a lot of snow. She told herself to stop being silly and snuggled under the covers.

                  A loud bang brought her from her slumber. Oh my goodness is that a tree fallen on the house? Wrapping her toweling robe around her and putting her soft plush slippers on, she walked to the window. There was a sheet of snow obscuring everything. One after the other she went into each room fearing a damaged window or wall but there was none. What banged so hard then? As she crossed the hallway to go back upstairs she heard a thud on the front door. Oh no is it my lovely porch that is damaged? Joy unlocked the door fearing the worse. What she saw was a huddled dark figure covered in snow and crystals of ice on eyelashes and beard, and a pair of pleading eyes.

                  The man crawled into the hallway his breathing laboured and his whole body shaking.

                  “Goodness, where have you come from? Can you walk come into the front room I’ll light the fire again it will still have hot embers hopefully.

                  The man tried to speak but his lips were blue and his teeth chattered. He stumbled to the front room and collapsed on the sofa.

                  “Cold, so cold. Crashed on the track. Crawled back on the track, it took hours.”

                  “You poor man. Let me get some blankets.”

                  With several blankets heaped on top of the man, Joy stoked the fire. There I will make a hot drink and then call for an ambulance.”

                  After giving the man a mug of steaming coffee with plenty of sugar, Joy picked up the telephone but there was no dial tone. Oh no the line has most certainly come down in the storm, what do I do now?

                  “I’m afraid the telephone line is down I can’t call anyone.”

                  “I don’t have a cell signal up here either otherwise I would have called someone. I need to get warm and then maybe walk back to the highway.”

                  “You shall do no such thing! The storm is in full force out there and you will certainly lose your way. No you must stay here, once you are missed they will come to find you. Your route is on a schedule I assume?”

                  “Yes, my routine is tracked. I feel so bad imposing on you like this but your place was the nearest.”

                  “Quite understandable and I am glad you made it here, you could have frozen to death out there. I am going to run a hot bath for you and dry those clothes.”

                  “Thank you, I am so grateful. I am feeling a little warmer now.”

                  Joy ran the bath and guided the man to the bathroom. He slipped his damp clothes through the door for her to put into the drier then sunk into the warm water with a sigh. He could feel his flesh warm.

                  After putting the clothes into the drier, Joy made herself a drink and yawned. It was the early hours of the morning, in fact Christmas morning. She went to her craft room and unwrapped two gifts she had made for Frank, then put them outside the bathroom door.

                  “Your clothes will take some time to dry so I have put a dressing gown, pyjamas and slippers outside the door. I hope they fit.”

                  She heard the man thank her and returned to the living room to build up the fire again. After few moments later the man came down the stairs looking flushed but happy.

                  “I feel much more human now not an iceberg. These fit perfectly – thank you, are they your husbands?”

                  “Actually no I made them for my brother as Christmas gifts but as we will not see each other until the New Year I thought your need was greater. I can always make more. Come and sit the fire is roaring. Can I get you some food now?”

                  “I think I have imposed more than enough.”

                  “If I can’t offer a stranger a hot meal on Christmas Day when can I?”

                  “Oh my I forgot it is Christmas Day isn’t it. Well then I accept your kind offer but please don’t go to much trouble.”

                  “Nonsense the dawn should be breaking any moment, if we see it through that white out of course. An early, hearty breakfast coming right up, then I think we should both rest.”

                  Joy busied herself in the kitchen, smiling to herself as she thought how nice it was to have company on this of all days. With breakfast cooked and served, they both sat in front of the fire eating contently in silence.

                  “That was a most enjoyable meal, thank you once again for helping me and showing such kindness. It has been a long time since I has such a meal with good company.”

                  “Well it is my pleasure. May I ask why you have not enjoyed good food? If I am prying please forgive me.”

                  “I think you are owed more than an explanation for your hospitality. I am a widower and to be honest find myself eating TV dinners most of the time. Rachel was the cook that was my wife. She has been gone now fourteen years and I never remarried. You become accustomed to being alone but it is still lonely.”

“I feel exactly the same I’m up here alone in my parents old house and like you I lost someone fourteen years ago. I delayed making a decision on his marriage proposal maybe a little too long and then he was gone. Working across the country and we lost touch. There have been moments of regret of course but you just get on with life – right?”

                  “Yes I agree, I could not sit at home alone all day. That’s when my old boss suggested the part time shifts as it turned out those shifts gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.”

                  Joy stifled a yawn the heat from the fire and a good breakfast filled stomach made her tired. The man looked at her and smiled.

                  “I need to sleep too I am happy to sleep here on the couch.”

                  “Well maybe a couple of hours and then we can decide what to do about getting you home.”

                  Joy locked her bedroom door although she felt quite safe in the man’s company. It was odd but he had not offered his name and she had not asked, as she fell asleep she told herself to ask upon waking.

                  The smell of coffee and toast woke her, for a moment it disorientated her and then she remembered her visitor. She quickly dressed and went to the kitchen.

                  “Good morning, I hope you don’t mind I made coffee and toast. Let me pour you a cup.”

                  Joy sat at the kitchen table enjoying the attention.

                  “Thank you, you make good coffee. I forgot to ask your name all last night.”

                  “Oh that is funny yes I should have introduced myself properly, my name is Blyde, it means Joy. I’m always asked.”

                  “It is? Well what a coincidence my name is Joy.”

                  They laughed together and a chink in the clouds sent a ray of bright sunshine across the table.

                  “I think the storm has finally passed us by, I might be able to get a cell signal now.”

                  “Of course but please finish your coffee first, its nice to have company.”

                  “It is isn’t it? Yes there is no hurry. I’m sure the snow ploughs are busy clearing the main highway but I don’t suppose they come up here do they?”

                  “Actually my best friend’s husband drives a plough and he swings by after his shift so I can drive back and forth. He will be up later this afternoon I should think.”

                  “Well plenty of time to chat then.”

Epilogue:

A year later Joy and Blyde married, her brother and sisters attended the wedding and everyone joked about Joy’s Joy. To Joy she had met her joy in more ways than one. Blyde was kind, generous and loving and best of all was happy to live in her house rather than his small townhouse. Days were no longer empty, Blyde had been her very best Christmas gift.

Do your stories stay on track or do they morph into something else?

My hope is to finish my YA novella by mid January so I can send the manuscript to my illustrator with suggestions for the chapter header images. I will also submit it to my publisher for editing and review. This story is set on another planet with four friends discovering and battling an intruder. I’m not sure why this YA novella and my previous one, Clickety Click both have ‘aliens’ in them but that was where both stories took me. There are similarities but also totally different settings, one on earth and the other on another planet. Both narratives have a message to young people, which I hope will encourage them to accept and care for each other and their environments.

Books: I am enjoying this novel set in Edmonton and have come to know the characters easily in the first few chapters. I am looking forward to following their journeys.

Dreamland

Writing Tips:

Create a inspiration list and find images for your story’s setting and characters. Make up a board, either physical or digital that you can have in front of you as you write.

Don’t edit as you write – let the process flow. There is plenty of time to edit and revise later on. For now let your imagination take control and write without a filter.

Do you have a tip to share?

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

Alas my writing has suffered for the past several weeks, setting up a new home takes a lot of time and organizing. However, this week I am back into full freelance work and should have a couple more chapters written for the ghost writing project.

I am itching to get back to my YA novella as well as it is tantalizing close to completion. I can then send it to beta-readers and my illustrator. I find not writing saddens me so the sooner I am back the better.

Has ‘life’ gotten in the way of your writing? How did it make you feel?

Books:

Pawn of the Phoenix

My review:
A spectacular sequel to the first boo. I was completely immersed in Keenan & Moira’s struggles to find the Phoenix but also their blossoming love affair.
We are transported to the world of the previous book with wonderful author skill and attention to detail. Well done Jamie.

hovel
My sister sent me this book from England mainly due to the story behind it. My parents always wanted to live in the wilds of Wales on a small holding. They came close with a small cottage and large garden in Narbeth but never the envisioned ‘hovel’ as depicted in this little book.

My review: Delightful insight into the simple life in near isolation in North Wales. Set in the early 1960’s it is a quaint but realistic story of self sufficiency, persistence and ‘making do’. Loved the imagery and the sheer beauty of the natural world around them.
I will certainly try to find the next book – Garden in the Hills.(Footnote: this next installment is out of print unfortunately.)

Currently reading:

Dreamland

Writing Tips:

Set your writing goals for every writing session

Outline your aims for a writing session in order to keep yourself focused. It may help to write down what you want to achieve in the next chapter or scene. However, remember,  to give yourself elbow room. It is okay to depart from your scene summary if you feel the story should go (or wants to go) in a new direction. Personally, I let the story flow but some writers find writing a pre-scene enables them to maintain a clear sense of direction for each scene in relation to their story arc.

Which process works for you?

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…


events

I am moving home this week so will not be partaking in events for obvious reasons. Although, I am sad not to join in the Christmas story reading at Christmas in the Heartland this year, it has been wonderful the last several years I have attended. My writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County resides at a historical house, Bremner House for the day. A day of arts and heritage activities, vintage tractors, aboriginal and Métis traditions, music and more. 1-4 pm 53452, Range Road 225 Sherwood Park.

CITH2017

Freehand Double Book Launch with Alison Watt and Daniel Griffin

2 roads

27 November  19:00 – 21:00 Audreys Books Ltd.

10702 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3J5
bip

3-2-1 Indie Slam Qualifier and Open Mic

28 November at 19:00–21:00 

The Nook Cafe

10153 97street, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 0L4

The Power of Social Media

trio

2 December 13:30 – 15:00

Join Kathleen Smith, Paula Simons and Marty Chan on Saturday, Dec. 2 for a discussion around the Power of Social Media. The trio will discuss how they’ve managed tough situations and issues using social media, and if the social sphere helps or hurts in these situations.

What events do you have on your calendar?

Writing Hub -Books, Writing, Tips & more…


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Writing:

It may be a day late but I hope you enjoy this Halloween themed story. I wrote it 3 April 2011, when my writing career was starting.

A Glimpse Through a Window

It started with a glimpse out of the corner of her eye. A movement passing the opened window but when she turned there was nothing there. Dismissing it as possibly a bird or a butterfly floating in the warmth of summer sunshine, she turned back to her work.

Just one more chapter and then she would treat herself to a walk to ease and stretch her aching muscles. Janice had woken bursting with inspiration at five o’clock, now six hours later a major part of the novel was complete. With a flourish she hit the keypad and straightens up. There in front of her was a beautiful face peering through the window.  Instinct made her jump and involuntary utter a gasp.

“Hello, who are you?”

The lady smiles but does not answer just reaches out her hand to beckon Janice outside. Her dark shape and long ebony locks float as if in water, it is surreal. Fascinated Janice opens the patio door and enters the warmth of the day time sun.

“Come follow – you will find.”

“Find what, where are we going?”

Without waiting the lady turns toward the rose garden, the oldest part of the cottage garden. The floral scent permanents the air as they approach the blooms.  The dark lady stops in the center of the path and points. Janice’s eyes follow her fingers direction – there blooms an ebony rose so dark it gleams.

“Write its story, Janice and release me.”

“Release you – I don’t understand?”

“My spirit resides within the bloom I am relying on your gift of words to free me forever.”

“What shall I write? Tell me what to write.”

“You know my story it is deep within you.”

Janice’s mouth opens to ask another question but the dark lady has disappeared. Was she dreaming? Everything seemed so real, so tangible – the warmth on her skin, the grass beneath her feet. Janice returns to her desk puzzling thoughts race through her mind. There she finds a dark rose petal lying upon the laptop keys. It was real?

A blank page faces her and her fingers begin to type – a story unfolds.

Esmeralda’s roses were well renowned even as far away as London. Each bloom was perfection itself due wholly to her unwavering commitment to their care. After years of trial and error with combinations of manure, egg shells and herbs, Esmeralda had found her ‘secret’ formula. Each season demanded another ritual before the first buds appeared in April. With careful attendance each bud was nurtured to its full potential. Every flower show saw Esmeralda take first place much to the dismay of her rival, Vanity. The competition between the two women was fierce.

During the sixth annual London show Esmeralda was summoned by the Duke of Suffolk. He commissioned her to produce a truly black rose – something never achieved before. With a deep bow Esmeralda had thanked him for his obvious confidence in her abilities but felt she would not succeed. The Duke took her hands and solemnly stated that if anyone could succeed it was indeed the Rose Queen herself.

Upon her return home Esmeralda began researching the deepest and darkest strains of rose. Using grafting techniques and cross pollination she grew several young plants. As they grew and flourished she waited patiently for the first blooms. She achieved deep burgundy and the darkest crimson but never ebony. Three long years past each new bloom took her a step closer to her goal but never close enough. Then in the fourth year a tiny shoot grafted to the main plant produced a bud unlike any Esmeralda had ever seen. It was the darkest green she had ever seen. She tended to this special bud as with all her charges and waited in anticipation for it to blossom.

Sunday 14th April would be a date Esmeralda would never forget – for that morning she witnessed the darkest most beautiful ebony bloom gleaming in the sunlight. She would send word to the Duke that she has succeeded in making his wish come true. However, Esmeralda died that day at the hands of her arch rival, Vanity. It was a dagger to her heart as she breathed sweet words to her special bloom. Vanity took the plant and professed it was her own creation. She became famous over night and revelled in the adulation.

As for Esmeralda her body was buried beneath her rose garden- a place she had loved above all others. Her spirit lived on in the multitude of blooms until one day it rose up and made its presence known. She was the Rose Queen and the ebony bloom her creation.

The words flowed so quickly Janice could not read them quickly enough. At last her fingers ceased their frantic tapping and she realized who her visitor had been. Janice would make sure the real creator was acknowledged for her Black Rose.

Most of my writing for the next couple of months is going to be my freelance project – I have to keep to the deadline! If my brain needs refreshing I will return to my YA novella, Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria, I have maybe 2-3 chapters to complete now. Then I can send the whole manuscript to my illustrator with ideas for the chapter header images.

What projects do you have planned for the winter months?

Books:

I am reading this novel by a young local author. She has created her voice and a wonderful cast of characters. Review to follow.

chronicles

Writing Tips: Hashtags for writers.

#amwriting: Commonly used by writers to indicate they’re generating pages.

#amediting :  a writer is going through his or her pages, revising.​ 

#writingtip or #writetip
Writing coaches, editors, and others whose livelihoods depend on authors will offer up their tweety pearls of wisdom, marked by these hashtags.

#writingprompt
This hashtag is used when writing coaches give a suggestion about what to write, an idea to get the writer going and help to stimulate the flow of the pen on the page.​

And good luck to all who are participating this year.

img_0356-1

#nanowrimo
National Novel Writing Month (November) helps create solidarity among those toiling on their magnum opuses

Other tags:

#book
#novel
#nonfiction
#fiction
#paperbacks
#short or #short #story or #shortstories or #shortreads
#litfic (for literary fiction)
#histfic and #histnovel (used for historical fiction)
#womensfiction
#scifi or #science #fiction
#romance
#paranormal
#crime
#suspense
#kidlit
#cookbooks

What hashtags do you use?

 

Upcoming Writing Events- Add Yours for your Location…


events

I have a couple of events coming up this Saturday – one in a local book store – Star Wars themed and then an author reading later in the afternoon – Halloween themed. I have not decided which story I will relay quite yet. It depends on the audience. If there are a number of young children I will most likely read Rumble’s First Scare but if it is mainly an adult audience then I will choose a scarier story. Maybe the true story of my first encounter with ‘predictive death’ or a true ghost story. We will see.

What events do you have coming up this week?

Oct 24  7:00 pm – 21.00 pm bip

The Nook Cafe, 10153-97 Street, Edmonton T5J 0L4

star-wars-reads

OCT 28 STAR WARS READS 11:00 – 15:00
The Sherwood Park Bookworm
62 Athabasca Avenue, Sherwood Park, Alberta T8A 4E3

And my next reading will be here:

Halloween Author Reading Oct 28

Banff Mountain FB festival

From October 25 to November 5, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival puts readers up where they belong, in Banff, AB.

What are the local events you will be attending?