My daughter asked me to find certain photographs for her recently. As I went though hundreds of photos (not the digital kind either!) in this large tea chest, that belonged my Mother, it was quite apparent that the numerous family day trips and vacations all had one common thread – nature and wildlife. We went to zoo’s, safari parks, wildlife parks, and even family walks ended up at farms or in fields and forests. This interest has been passed down from parent to child and grandchild. It is a family interest to this day.
My narratives reflect this fascination, even if a location is ‘off world’ there are always references to the natural inhabitants of that world. In Ockleberries to the Rescue, although there are magical woodland sprites caring for forest animals, it is based on Earth. Each chapter allows a child to learn about a specific animal or bird on Earth. These sketch’s by J.E. McKnight illustrate some of the chapter headers.
In Clickety Click there is a hidden world within our own and in Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria there are fantastical plants and animals of my imagination. The initial spark for the story behind Creature Hunt was a chance encounter with this enormous mullein plant on one of my road trips. As can see it was taller than me! You will have to read the book to find out what character it plays.
In The Twesome Loop, an Italian olive grove is a fundamental part of the story. Olive trees can grow for hundreds of years and their gnarly trunks give them character. The story is set between England and Italy, two places I love very much, having lived in one and visited the other.
I used my new found knowledge of my new home, Canada, for the setting of my novel, Life in Slake Patch, which has a prairie location. And The Commodore’s Gift has my protagonists living in a forest cavern, while I take my readers back to medieval England in The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy.
As you can see the settings for my stories are as much a character as the protagonists are. It allows my dear readers to imagine the surroundings and the flora and fauna. I personally love discovering the natural world, while letting nature relax and inspire me. There is always something new to learn and see from a bug to a bison, from a flower to a tree.
It is that time of year again, I have been working with the Board members of my writing group to finalize details for our annual writing conference. As I am hosting an online session about blogging, I revised my presentation notes in readiness. The countdown is on!
I would ask any writer that is interested in gaining new skills, honing their craft or wants to expand their network to attend this remarkable conference. The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County’s Conference on 27th March – The Art of Writing is covering a wide range of writing skills. https://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/annual-writers-conference
We will also be live on our Facebook page if you want to drop by anytime between 8:30 am – 5:00 pm MST https://www.facebook.com/wfscsherwoodpark There is the opportunity to promote your book(s) as well throughout the day so click the link to submit.
Apart from continuing to write my current WIP; book one of the The Delphic Murders trilogy, I have been thinking about the book covers. Each book needs to reflect the story within it but also tie-in to the other two books. After a conversation, an idea has been bouncing around in my head but on Tuesday a much better idea for the imagery came out of nowhere. I am now discussing the possibilities with my cover artist. This is such an exciting stage of any the book creation.
As always, working with any artist, it is paramount to have good communication and be able to describe our ‘vision’ for the illustrations. We are lucky to have the power of technology to find samples and suggested imagery. I have been lucky to have worked with several artists to create artwork that reflects my stories.
With any cover we need to ask ourselves three main questions:
Does the cover reflect the story?
Is it eye catching?
Does it reflect the genre?
How did you decide on your book (s) cover?
Did you use your own photographs, commission or draw you own drawings or manipulate images some other way?
Interestingly, I searched best book covers for 2020 and there are several lists to look through. All of them have different covers, so it is really a matter of person preference. A cover might attract one reader but not another. It is a balancing act, for sure.
Do you have a favorite book cover? Why not share one?
Walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, twice, once in the autumn, again a few years later in the spring, and I wanted to share the beauty.
2. How did you come up with the title?
A Photographer Walks the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, I wanted people to understand that this was a visual journey along the Camino route.
3. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
For those who have walked the Camino the book would serve as a reminder, for those planning their journey it would serve as an inspiration, and for many who cannot make the journey the book will be their virtual journey.
4. How much of the book is realistic?
The Camino I walked is the same one walked by hundreds of thousands every year, each of us have our own walk, we have our own journey, affected by our senses and sensibilities. Each walk during different seasons, different weather and even different times of days, each see and experiences, and stay in different places, travel with different people. But we all travel the same road, and the images and stories are realistic.
I have no other plans for another book at this time, we do want to walk another Camino to Santiago de Compostela, so another book is possible.
Please note this book is still in the process of being published. Links will be added at a later date.
7. What is your best marketing tip?
I’m new to marketing, so far, marketing has been about the photographs, as individual images, just recently I have started to work towards putting the images together as a series.
8. Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
For me social media has been tool to share and sell my photography, and sharing stories with family and friends, only recently have I started to make an effort to expand my social media reach, to make connections with others who.
9. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Writing has been a wonderful challenge, and it has been helpful in developing stories related to my travels.
10. What age did you start photography/writing?
I learned about photography, early in life, while in school, while I was traveling I started to write a blog, much before the days of Instagram, to share my photography and tell my travel stories, much later in life.
11. What genre are you currently reading?
I read fiction, at this time I have been reading World War ll fiction with women at the center of the story.
12. Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
I read for both pleasure and for research. Prior to my first Camino I read a lot about the history and architecture of the pilgrimage, and several autobiographical stories. I enjoy reading fiction with strong female characters.
13. Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My husband is my biggest supporter, my sister-in-law has been helping with proof-reading, and several good friends have been very encouraging.
14. Where is your favorite creative space?
I work at my desk, processing images with the computer. I also have a laptop and can work from anywhere, I write wherever I can find a quiet space, but my favourite space is early in the morning, in bed, with a cup of coffee, before the day has begun.
15. If you could meet one favorite photographer, who would it be and why?
David Duchemin, a strong photographer, who uses his writing to explore and expand his photography, he is a motivational writer, and his work has inspired me to better work, and better storytelling with my photography.
16. If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
I love Calgary, this is my home, while I love to travel, and have a long list of places I want to spend a month or two, Calgary will always be my home.
17. How do you use writing?
Writing supplements my photography.
18. Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
I don’t often nibble while I write, but I do love my tea, Cream of Earl Grey or Chai are favourites.
19. What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
Completion followed by a long walk is my great reward.
I first learned the magic of photography while taking pictures for the high school yearbook, and developing images in the darkroom. Since then I have been commissioned for both personal and corporate projects include portraits, architecture, travel, and products.
Master Photographer International
In 2018 I applied for and was awarded a Master Photographer designation for my Travel images.
Alamy Stock Photography: Contributor since 2012
I was excited to have my image of “Getting Ready” exhibited in the world famous Calgary Exhibition Stampede Photo Gallery July 2017
Calgary Public Library – Camino slideshow and talk
Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrim – Camino Slideshow and talk
Camino 101, Leadership team, Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims.
Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, Western Living, Art Auction
Calgary Exhibition and Stampede, Western Photo Gallery Committees
Languid – definition: slow, lacking vigor or force, weak
Today’s word perfectly describes how I am feeling. My vacation in England was fantastic although exhausting as we tried to squeeze in as much as possible into two short weeks. The weather was hot (unusual to say the least but very welcome). Visits with family, to a wildlife park and a stately home as well as a short few days in Wales. A beach day and trips down memory lane. I will cherish this trip for a long time.
Back at my writing desk and work place, I realize I will need a few more days to get back to normal. I tried to figure out how long a day I actually stayed awake for on Monday. We woke up at 4.30 am in the UK – flew for 9 hours and arrived back in Canada at 11.30 am local time. I was then awake until 8 pm! Mind boggling to say the least, going through different time zones. It was well worth it though, travelling so far.
My vacation has given me a wealth of experiences to savor and utilize in my writing at some point as well as hundreds of photographs to enjoy.
Have you used a vacation as inspiration for a story?