Inspiring writing reminder

“I wonder how old we are when we stop thinking like kids?”  – This Kid Reviews Books  (Quote used with permission. Thanks, Erik!)

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We have a winner of Flying with a Broken Wing by Laura Best!

It’s always fun to give away a book, especially when I have had the privilege of interviewing the author. This time I am delighted to be mailing a copy of

Flying with a Broken Wing – by Laura Best

to one of the people who left a comment after the interview.

If you missed the chance to enter the draw, you can still read my review of Flying with a Broken Wing here and my interview with Laura Best here.

drum roll please ….

snare-drum-th

Using the Random Name Picker tool …

The Winner Is ….

a very fortunate person …

who will be receiving the book given by Nimbus Publishing as soon as the Post Office can deliver it … after I can get it into the mail, probably on Friday, April 25.

and that person … is ….

Barb!

Congratulations, Barb! Please send me your mailing address so I can get this copy of Flying with a Broken Wing on its way to you! 

Thank you so much to everyone who has been visiting, leaving comments, and who entered the draw. I hope you make it a habit to visit again. And thanks again, Laura Best!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Easter weekend busyness; reminder of a book giveaway

The Lord is risen!  He is risen indeed! 

In the truth of those words my hope is anchored and my life is secure.  :)

What a busy Easter weekend we had. On Saturday morning my daughter #3 who lives in Alberta arrived home to surprise her oldest sister on her birthday. Although dd#3 (dd stands for dear daughter) was quite tired when she got here, she got busy adding the finishing touches to a video she had prepared of the many photos we had gathered of dd #1 through her life, from when I was expecting her right up to the present.

Dd #1′s lakehouse had been beautifully decorated inside with lots of birthday bling by dd#2 and dd #4, and pink balloons along the road marked the way there. Eventually, twenty-three of us were gathered in her large living/dining area, and the table was loaded with food for the “potluck” dinner. Once all were settled, in walked dd#3. When the birthday girl looked up and saw her sister standing there she yelled, “Are you freakin’ kidding me?!!” and ran to her for a long tight hug. Only six of us knew dd#3 would be there, so it was a delightful surprise to everyone else. The meal, some gifts, and then the video – which was enjoyable and entertaining, but it was the clip at the very end of it, from her good friend in Egypt, that really made her cry. Well worth the wait. :)

The next day was dd#1′s husband’s birthday, our son-in-law, so we had another little party. Since his birthday fell on Easter Sunday this year, we enjoyed our family dinner first – fourteen of us at Dad’s – and then followed that with blue balloons, birthday cake and a surprise gift we’d all ‘gone in on’ for him. It was another fun family event.

I know not everyone celebrates family the way we do. Some do more, some do less, but this is the way it has always been in my family. I remember as a child going up the road to my grandparents’ large farmhouse for celebration dinners. There would usually be somewhere between two and three dozen of us there (if not more), three generations. And everyone got along, except maybe there would be the odd spat among children that would be quickly settled, nothing major.

It has been surprising, and disappointing, to me over the years when my girls have invited friends to join us who weren’t used to that dynamic, but more used to squabbles when their family members got together. Their friends would express amazement to my daughters later and I would feel such regret for them. I hoped they saw in us something to strive for in their own lives and future.

Yes, we have much for which to be thankful. And when things don’t go smoothly, I have found the Lord can do wonders in hearts.

How do you celebrate family events?

AN IMPORTANT REMINDER: Tuesday April 22 at 6 PM EST … book giveaway! Laura Best’s Flying with a Broken Wing. Be sure to leave a comment on our interview.

Interview with Laura Best, and book giveaway!

Laura BestIt is my pleasure to welcome author Laura Best to my interview chair for a second time as she was the first author I interviewed here.  Laura, who has lived in a small Nova Scotia community all her life, is the author of the award nominated “Bitter, Sweet“, and more recently “Flying with a Broken Wing” – my review of which you can read here.  Laura has been published in literary magazines across Canada, and in 2003 her short story “Alexander the Great” was nominated for the Journey Prize. Now on with the interview!

I am very pleased you agreed to this interview, Laura, especially since it provides a great excuse to give away a copy of your new book … and to pick your brain a little … and to give someone a copy of your new book, which I already said.  :) 
 
Near the end of our interview back in January 2011, which was after your first novel – “Bitter, Sweet” -  you said, “I’m working on another novel at the moment. I don’t often discuss my work with others. All I will say is that it is young adult and set in a fictitious community in Nova Scotia.” 

Flying with a Broken Wing Now we can discuss that project since it has come out into the spotlight as the young adult novel “Flying with a Broken Wing”

First, to address the obvious, you seem to enjoy writing fiction based in Nova Scotia. Why Nova Scotia?

Often, we tend to think that books happen in other, more exotic places, and not in our own back yard. When I was growing up, I never read a story set in Nova Scotia. I wouldn’t have even thought that was a possibility. I might even have thought it would be boring. I’m happy to know that is changing and there are many wonderful books out there that are set right here in Nova Scotia. For those of us living here, I think it gives us a sense of pride to have our home province as a setting for a book. And while Nova Scotia might not be exotic to me it might be for people living in other places. I love this province! It’s what I know best, that and rural life. Most everything I write also has a rural flavour to it. It’s a large part of my identity.

I love this province, too, Laura, and it makes me glad to find books that are set here. Your writing is doing Nova Scotia justice, for sure.

I’m always impressed and fascinated with the ideas that come together to create well-rounded characters, their life stories, communities, even worlds. Where did the idea come from for “Flying with a Broken Wing”, and how long did it take you to fit this novel together?

The book started out with the idea that I wanted to write a story with a visually impaired protagonist. My writing usually begins with the idea of a character first. While I begin with a broad idea of what will happen most times the character leads me through the story. Situations crop up as I write. In the beginning, I didn’t know for instance, that my main character’s caregiver would be a bootlegger or she’d make friends with a boy whose father was a “drunk and a bully.” These things emerged along the way as Cammie told her story.

I’d say it took about a year to write the book if I were to add it all up. A few months into the writing of this book, I stopped because I wasn’t sure that I was happy with the way it was going. After taking a break for a few months I went back to it, decided I liked what I’d written, and continued on until I finally was able to write, “the end.”

You’ve given a good example of what a little time away from a manuscript can do for an author to finish the story. I’m very glad you continued it. Did you have to do any research to make this story believable?

There was very little research required for the book, just a few small facts to check out to make the story more authentic since it’s set in 1949.When writing a story with a historic setting it’s important to know what was going on in the world at that time. In one place, Cammie makes mention of a movie star whose legs were insured for a million dollars. I love these little details and find them quite interesting. For instance, the Standard magazines, that were mentioned several times, are magazines I actually have from when the queen and king toured Canada right before the Second World War. I’ve always loved looking though those magazines and knew it would fit into a story one day.

While Tanner is a fictitious community, the story could have been set in any number of rural communities in Nova Scotia. There’s this common bond in rural communities, things that are passed down from one generation to the next. It’s a part of the fabric, an inner knowing, if you will, of the people and the lifestyle. Cammie’s whole way of speaking, the sayings she used, are all things I grew up hearing, and still hear today. No research required in that department. :)

You are a fine example of ‘write what you know’. :)Flying with a Broken Wing” is an intriguing title, and very suitable. How did you come up with it, and was that always the title you had in mind?

The title came from a line that appears several times in the book and also makes up the very last lines in the book. “‘They say birds can’t fly with broken wings, Evelyn Merry,’ I whisper. ‘But that doesn’t mean that we can’t. I promise you we will.’”

More importantly, the title suggests that we can fly in the face of adversity, just as the main character, Cammie, does. We all face hardships in life. We’re either born into it or we encounter it along the way. We can allow these things to define us, and accept our limitations for what they are, or we can do what some might say is the impossible regardless of our life’s circumstances. I think it’s an important message.

The title originally began as “Fly with a Broken Wing” and slowly progressed to “Flying with a Broken Wing.” 

Flying with a Broken Wing” works so much better! Who or what inspired you to make your main character visually impaired? 

Writing a visually impaired protagonist was challenging because I knew I’d be entering a world that’s totally foreign to me. Not only did I have to let the reader know what Cammie could see (or couldn’t see) her other senses had to come into play as well. I had to make sure the reader understood Cammie’s visual impairment and I had to do it in a believable way. My mother is visually impaired and has been since birth. I decided that Cammie would experience the world the same way my mother does. When Cammie takes her glasses off to read up close, or her ability to read Aunt Millie’s moods by listening to the sound in her voice and her body language, these are things I borrowed from my mother. Several times through the writing of this book I’d call and ask her to explain what her range of vision was with and without her glasses on.

You did an excellent job of portraying that; your mother must be proud of the results of your work. In this book you have several very interesting and spunky characters. Do you have a favourite, and why?

I do love Cammie, but her aunt Millie might just be my favourite. Many people have expressed their strong dislike for Millie, and she’s certainly a hard nut, there’s no denying that. She’s self-centered, tough, and a known liar. But she’s more than that. She’s a product of her environment, someone who does love but doesn’t know how to love very well. Her toughness is a matter of self-preservation. She’s a bootlegger. She has to be tough. Perhaps Millie’s my favourite because I don’t judge my characters. I simply observe their actions. I don’t become upset by what they do or don’t do. And then, of course, I know a bit more about Millie than everyone else. She comes off as cruel, not only because she’s physically abusive, but because of the lies she’s told Cammie over the years. But we can take heart in knowing that Millie didn’t simply invent these lies to be cruel. There are reasons for the things she’s told Cammie. We just don’t know what they are. I think that’s the way it is with the people in our lives. How many times do we pass judgment on others without stopping to consider what personal challenges they might have faced in the past or are facing at this very moment? Everyone has a story. We don’t always know what it is, but we’re often quick to pass judgment.

Excellent points! I’m learning we must know our characters well in order to portray them effectively to others. Which of your characters gave you the most trouble, and in what way?

That’s a tough question. I’m not sure I’d say any of the characters gave me trouble. But if I had to choose one I might say Cammie because her visual impairment was challenging to write. Still, I didn’t want this to be just a story about a visually impaired girl. More importantly, I wanted it to be about a girl with hopes and dreams, a girl who isn’t about to sit back and let life happen to her, a girl who decides to change her life, someone who isn’t defined by the things that make her different, a girl who just happens to be visually impaired. I’ve come to have such respect for the blind and visually impaired. I’ve heard so many stories from my mother about some of the people she went to school with and some of the remarkable things they went on to accomplish. If my readers gain anything from this book, I hope it’s a better understanding about people who are living with physical challenges and the things they are capable of achieving. 

I believe readers of “Flying with a Broken Wing” will hear Cammie’s heart and root for her as I did. This is a book that should be encouraging to girls in whatever their situation. Which of your characters is the most like you in attitude and/or approach to life?

I’m probably most like Evelyn Merry. I’m the person who offers support to others, who cheers for the underdog, and holds other people’s secrets close to my heart.  

There are names which can be considered unisex, my name being one of those, and you created a male character with a female name that is very unusual for a man, at least not one I had ever heard a man called. Why did you choose to do that? And why that name?

I like unusual names. They tend to be the ones we remember, and I wanted Evelyn to be a memorable character, not simply Cammie’s sidekick. I’m really bad at choosing names for my characters but, thankfully, I have a book to look through. When I came across the name Evelyn, the book said that at one time it was a popular name in England for a man. I wasn’t sure in the beginning just how I felt about the name, but as time went on it really grew on me. I can’t imagine it being anything else. I love his name. 

It was really odd to me at first, but the more I got to know Evelyn the more I liked his name. Do you have another novel in the works since this one really leaves the reader hoping for a sequel?

 I’m working on several different stories at the moment. I didn’t plan for it to happen that way but it did. And while I am planning on a sequel to “Flying with a Broken Wing” my heart is pointing me in a totally different direction these days. I’m the type of writer who is led by the characters and the story. When a story demands that I work on it, and I try to ignore those demands, I’ll encounter all sorts of problems until I give in. While my logical mind might tell me to write one thing, I need to listen to the quiet whispers inside me. If I don’t pay attention I end up losing the joy in writing because I’m looking off into the future at the end result instead of enjoying the process along the way. So, for now, I’m working on a story that makes me truly happy and the sequel, I’m in the midst of writing, has been put on the back burner for a little while longer.  

I am so glad there will be a sequel! I think because you follow your heart is why your writing is so good. Is there anything you would like to add to this interview that I may have left out? 

I can’t think of anything I’d like to add only that it’s been fun, and some of your questions were quite challenging. I think that’s a good thing. Thank you so much, Lynn, for interviewing me about my latest book.

Thank you, Laura, for agreeing to share your writing wisdom and experience with us again. I am learning from you. Now let’s give away a copy of your new book!

Readers, if you would like to have a chance to win a SIGNED copy of “Flying with a Broken Wing” by Laura Best, please leave a comment about anything you found especially interesting in the above interview. On April 22 at 6:00 PM EST one name will be selected using the “random name picker” tool. At Laura’s book launch, Nimbus Publishing gave me an extra copy just for this event! So … remember to check your inbox in case you are the winner because I will be contacting you for a mailing address. :)

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! :)

Book Review: Flying with a Broken Wing – by Laura Best

Book: Flying with a Broken Wing
Author: Laura Best
Publisher: Nimbus Publishing
Date: September 6, 2013
Genre: young adult
Pages: 216
Price: $12.95; also available on Kindle
My Rating: a story of hope with characters the reader will cheer on
 

This is Laura Best‘s second novel. As Laura told us in this interview, Flying with a Broken Wing is a young adult novel set in a fictitious community in Nova Scotia.

Nearly twelve-year-old Cammie is the main character in Flying with a Broken Wing, and we get to see most of the adventure from her perspective. She is a young girl with a big dream – the dream of somehow starting a better life for herself.

All Cammie knows about her past is that her father was lost in the Second World War, her mother left her with an aunt who is the local bootlegger, and now her life feels full of shame and disappointment. Her aunt is harsh and not the most popular person around – among people who don’t buy moonshine, that is. Add to that the fact that Cammie’s eyes don’t work well. Being visually impaired has been a terrible burden, especially when everyone treats her differently because of it, and her aunt doesn’t even want to let her go to school. To Cammie that is very unfair, especially when she wants to go! When Cammie learns about a school for the blind in Halifax, that becomes her new goal and her hope for the better life she wants.

Cammie gains a friend along the way, one her aunt does NOT approve of because of her own personal reasons, which suits Cammie all the better. That’s when the excitement really begins … and the hilarity, and the trouble – big trouble. What kind of trouble? you may ask. Well, I’m sorry but you have to read about that yourself. Let me just say, it was a daring and dangerous plan, and the author certainly held my interest! Now I’m hoping for a sequel.

This is a delightful young adult novel for anyone to read. Laura Best created very believable characters in a post-war community setting. She is expert at writing real people who talk and act as one might expect, including some who aren’t always nice. If you have never had the privilege of reading any of the author’s work, read this one.

Please return here for an interesting interview with Laura Best – to be posted April 17’14 – after which you will have the opportunity to try to win a copy of “Flying with a Broken Wing” donated by Nimbus Publishing located here in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 
 
 

Jobs disappearing. Is yours?

Have you noticed how the world is changing? Well, duhh, you might say, but I am referring to job opportunities. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where the unemployment rate is low, good for you! Even so, you may not have thought about the jobs that are being phased out, being replaced by technology. It troubles me that people think it is a wonderful and quick convenience, and although that is true it also is taking away jobs that real people do – or used to do. 

I found this interesting article on Yahoo.com called Top 10 dead-end jobs on their way to extinction. From it I excerpted a couple of lists for you to see, but do go to the actual article and check out what else it says.

The 10 jobs that won’t exist in 10 years include:

  • Social Media Expert
  • Taxi Dispatcher
  • Toll Booth Operator
  • Retail Cashier
  • Word Processor / Typist
  • Switchboard Operator
  • Photo Finisher
  • Postal Worker
  • Video Store Clerk
  • Print Journalist

5 fast-declining careers

  • People Greeter
  • Photo Laboratory Associate
  • Head Cashier
  • Data Entry Clerk
  • Courier

Of course, with the decline of some jobs there is the rise of others.

5 fast-growing careers

  • Financial Advisor
  • Representative Financial Service
  • Field Sales Representative
  • Sales Associate
  • Social Worker

empty pockets

I also am concerned about people, especially young people, who have no understanding or preparation in place for retirement. It is never too early to start putting money away for that because the way the economy is going with prices going higher and higher, who is going to be able to live without something in place? And NO, the government will not be able to carry us. Even if there is an Old Age pension in place for you it will be such a small amount that if you are counting on that to live on you will find yourself under the poverty line, with barely enough to cover anything. Seriously, go see a financial advisor and check out what I’m saying.

Okay, that’s my rant for today!

Have you found your job being phased out? Is your job on the list? Do you feel okay about your financial future?

PS. If you are a writer, can you live off your earnings from writing, or will it provide enough of a supplement for you to live comfortably or even help pay the bills?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

Book Review: Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart – by Syr Ruus

Book: Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart
Author: Syr Ruus
Publisher: Breakwater Books
Date: August 1, 2012
Genre: fiction, comedy
Pages: 250
Price: $18.95
My rating: great reading for those looking for something different with humour and wit regarding the human condition
 

Having met the author, Syr Ruus, at another author’s (Laura Best) book launch, I made it a point to find this book. (It was on Amazon.)

Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart is an adult novel, fictional and amusing.

Emmanuel Taggart is a forty-five-year-old man who feels his life is stuck in a rut. His two sons are grown and out, leaving just his wife and him. One cold February day he feels ill so leaves the office early. From there the story takes the reader on an adventure unlike any this reader has journeyed before – in a good way.

Believing himself to be living his last months of life, Emmanuel Taggart sees doctors, endures tests by specialists, and meets people along the way whom he never would have approached before.  His mind takes him places he wouldn’t have dared to think until then, and he begins – not without feelings of guilt – keeping secrets from his wife. It gets more and more complicated, and more and more amusing, as he convinces himself that he is dying while he spins a web in which he traps … himself.

Syr Ruus tells a marvellous story, one that has twists and turns and delightful visuals to keep the reader devouring the pages. It is enjoyable the way she words things, such as this when Emmanuel’s secretary, Rose, is concerned about him:  “I looked out and saw your car still sitting here in the lot. Then I started thinking you weren’t feeling so good and maybe you passed out or something, and I says to myself, Rose, you better check this out. And here you still are, Mr. Taggart. Are you okay? You don’t look so good.” Shivering. Pulling her coat together to protect her scrawny neck, sleeves blowing empty at the sides.

Can’t you just see those empty sleeves flapping in the breeze, and feel that shivery cold? brrrr

Emmanuel Taggart makes discoveries about himself along the way, and not only about himself. There are surprises – some nice, some awkward, some that shock him. And there are surprises for the reader. This is a novel to add to your library.

Lovesongs of Emmanuel Taggart by Syr Ruus won the H. R. (Bill) Percy Prize from the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. I hope you will read it to find out why this author’s writing is so highly regarded.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

 

 

 

Book Review: Treasure Me, Book One in the Liberty series – by Christine Nolfi

Treasure Me by Christine NolfiBook: Treasure Me
Author: Christine Nolfi
Publisher: Christine Nolfi
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Date: April 19, 2011
Genre: romantic fiction for adults
Pages: 352
Price: $12.95 paperback; $5.00 Kindle
My Rating: Captivating characters and a story line that reels the reader in.
 

I received a copy of Treasure Me from Christine Nolfi to review.

Treasure Me starts out at a nervous pace, snagging the reader’s attention immediately. The main character, Birdie, is hanging from a ledge three stories above street level, trying to escape from a very angry man from whom she had just lifted a wallet. Now, is that enough to reel you in?

Birdie is a petty thief, taught by her mother. She has had a hard life alongside her mother who moved from town to town, stealing and playing her con games as she went, using her daughter to sweeten the con until cutting her loose at a young age, leaving her to fend for herself. Birdie learned well, and when the opportunity arose to strike it rich she grabbed at it.

Striking it rich, though, didn’t turn out to be as simple as she thought it would be. The only clue she had to hidden treasure in a lazy little town was passed down through generations and she could only hope it still existed. Little did she know her life was about to be drastically influenced by the unsuspecting people of that town in a way that would cause her much regret.

I won’t tell you any more! If this interests you then you will have to read it for yourself. ;)  But, beware: the author sprinkled flirtation, seduction and adult information (although not explicit) throughout so that this is not a book for pre-adult readers.  If it weren’t for that, I would recommend Treasure Me for advanced young readers because the main story line is a good one, well-executed with humour and mystery mixed into the interwoven relationships and fabric of the town’s history.

Christine Nolfi created memorable characters – although a couple are a little exaggerated, perhaps – who made Treasure Me a story in a fictional little town worth visiting.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)