Giveaway WINNER!

Any one of the six people who commented on my previous post would have been a worthy winner. I knew I couldn’t be impartial, so I enlisted the help of my hubby (who, as you can see, took his responsibility very seriously).

And the winning nameCLUCULZWRITER!

Congratulations, Joylene! I’ll be in touch via email to make the arrangements. I hope you’ll enjoy this delightful verse novel as much as I have.

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A Non-review and Giveaway: ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES

I don’t often review books because I don’t feel comfortable passing judgment, negative or positive, on someone else’s writing. When I do recommend a book, it’s because I’m particularly enthusiastic about it.

rootbeercandyandothermiracles_websiteI’m enthusiastic about ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES, but you’re likely to think I’m biased because the author is my daughter, Shari Green, and that’s not true at all. Despite it being aimed at a middle-grade audience, I’ve read it twice and am likely to read it again. It’s that good. But since you probably still think I’m biased, I’ll just let you read other people’s reviews instead of reviewing it myself…

CM Magazine: “…a light-hearted yet evocative page-turner … Green’s writing is captivatingly visual, with seamless inclusions of figurative language … versatile as independent reading or as an engaging read-aloud.” 

School Library Journal: “Recommend this lovely and poignant novel to middle grade readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories.”

Canadian Children’s Book News: “Writing in verse, Green aptly captures the journey of a girl faced with her first real heartbreak—the likely dissolution of her family. Bailey’s openness to confronting her reality while still believing in the extraordinary adds to her charm, as does her growing realization that heartache affects many others in her life as well.”

 ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES is a verse novel but it’s not your typical metered and rhyming children’s book. You don’t think “poetry” as you read, only that the story streams vividly onto the pages, taking you into the Felicity Bay community where Bailey is spending a rather stressful summer.

It will come to pass
that a stranger from the sea
will change
everything.”

“The locals in Felicity Bay shake their heads at the ice cream man’s prophecy. “Crazy old Jasper,” they say. But Bailey isn’t so sure. She’s found something special down at the beach: a driftwood mermaid, a gift washed up from a storm. Could she be the stranger from the sea who has come to change everything? Bailey hopes so. Because this summer, she sure could use a miracle.”

hi-res-dPublished this fall by Pajama Press, RBCAOM is just the most recent of Shari’s successes. In 2010 she won first place in the Writing for YA category of the Surrey International Writers’ contest with her short story, IN LIEU OF A WARDROBE. After that she took some time to work on full length pieces and in October 2014 her YA novel FOLLOWING CHELSEA was published by Evernight Teen. In April 2015 Vine Leaves Press released FALLING FOR ALICE, a collection of five short stories by Shari and four other YA authors in celebration of the 150th anniversary of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

Since then she’s had a very busy year.

  • September 2015 – TAKE ME TO THE SEA: an ocean-themed colouring book was published.
  • October 2015 – SANDBAGGING, a short story, won Honourable Mention in the SiWC writing contest.
  • January 2016 – CREATIVITEA: another colouring book was published, this one for tea lovers.
  • August 2016 – DOODLE SOUP: a “bit-of-everything” colouring collection was released.
  • October 12, 2016 – ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES, her verse novel, was published by Pajama Press.

And, coming up next spring…

dsc00373None of this sounds like bragging, does it? No, of course not, but I admit to being thrilled for all her accomplishments, not the least of which was last month’s Special Achievement Award presented to Shari by the Surrey Board of Trade at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.

If you’d like to know more about Shari, you could head for her blog or check out her Bio here.

This brings me to the giveaway (for Canada and the USA only, please). If you would like to have your name put into the puppy bowl (it’ll be clean; I promise!) for the chance to win a paperback copy of ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES, all you have to do is leave a comment below. I’ll be drawing the winner’s name at the end of day next Thursday, November 24th (Thanksgiving Day in the USA!), and announcing it here on the blog on Friday the 25th (just one month before Christmas!) 🙂

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Oh, wow! What a conference!

Conferences are often the brunt of jokes. You know how it is — the annual conference in Vegas that’s little more than a vacation getaway where attendees take in all the entertainment and casino opportunities, and make it to one conference session just to legitimize the trip’s expense claim.

Not so for most writers’ conferences. Maybe the difference is because writing is very much a solitary pursuit and it takes effort to commit to a weekend of being constantly immersed in a crowd of five-to-six hundred people. We have to be convinced the opportunities to improve skills and mingle with so many people who understand our unique lifestyle are going to be worth the stress of putting our introverted selves ‘out there’.

This particular weekend was definitely worth it!

The Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SiWC) has become known as “the most comprehensive professional development conference of its kind in Canada”, unique in atmosphere and what it provides for writers of every experience level. Its reputation has mushroomed and registration sold out well before this year’s event.

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Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel Ballroom – location for meals, daily keynote addresses, and special events

Last weekend writers, agents, editors, publishers and screenwriters arrived en masse to learn, teach, listen, encourage …. a total of fifty-eight of them were presenting ninety different workshops over the three days (a choice of nine in every time slot), and participating in free pitch sessions and ‘blue pencil’ consultations. Yes, it gets mind-boggling, and we came away with information overload, but inspired beyond belief.

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Fraser Room – location for ‘pitch’ and ‘blue pencil’ sessions and the Saturday evening author book signing event

Those things all contributed to the conference’s many highlights, but it was the less obvious experiences that made it truly unique.

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Robert Dugoni and I at the book signing

  • a special atmosphere of camaraderie and inclusiveness that embraced novice writers and famous authors, newbies and industry professionals
  • evening conversations and mingling over drinks
  • warm smiles and words of encouragement
  • a New York bestselling author remembering my name from a previous year and stepping up for a photo.

 

  • tears over an unexpected award for DD Shari Green, and pride in her well-received first time workshop presentations
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Presentation to Shari Green from the Surrey Board of Trade

 

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    Shari leading one of her workshops
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“Mud, mud, glorious mud!”

  • singing along with Jack Whyte’s infamous annual rendition of the Hippopotamus Song

 

  • disbelief that it could already be the ninth year for Michael Slade’s ‘Shock Theatre’

 

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Oh, those tights!

 

 

 

 

  • k c dyer’s distinctive daily selection of colourful tights

 

 

 

 

 

  • and the sun shining at least intermittently throughout the weekend to showcase the beautiful autumn scenery and the mountains of our west coast venue.
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A bright morning view from our hotel room

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Early evening view — last rays of sun on the mountains

I have so many photos but this sampling gives you a taste of what made the weekend special. It’s always memorable, but every year seems more so than the last. If I were to have any criticism at all, it would be that it’s getting too big, but that’s just the claustrophobia in me fluttering its anxious hands in the air. The writer in me loved it all.

Next year will be the conference’s twenty-fifth anniversary. It’s going to be spectacular! You might want to mark October 20-22, 2017 on your calendar right now.

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Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries – Excerpt and Giveaway

matowak-woman-who-cries-tour-banner

As I mentioned last Friday, author Joylene Nowell Butler is on tour this month with MC Book Tours featuring her new mystery novel, Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries. It will be released November 1st by Dancing Lemur Press L.L.C.

My blog is today’s location on the tour, and I’m offering a tantalizing sneak peek from Chapter 12. I think you’ll enjoy it.

You can follow the rest of Joylene’s daily tour schedule by clicking here to find other excerpts, Q&As, chances to win copies of her book and more. If you click on the bright red Rafflecopter link at the end of this page (below the excerpt), there’s an opportunity to enter to win one of three print copies of Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries (available to people in the USA only) and one eBook copy (available internationally). The giveaway ends November 22nd.

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Synopsis:

A murder enveloped in pain and mystery…

When Canada’s retired Minister of National Defense, Leland Warner, is murdered in his home, the case is handed to Corporal Danny Killian, an aboriginal man tortured by his wife’s unsolved murder.

The suspect, 60-year-old Sally Warner, still grieves for the loss of her two sons, dead in a suicide/murder eighteen months earlier. Confused and damaged, she sees in Corporal Killian a friend sympathetic to her grief and suffering and wants more than anything to trust him.

Danny finds himself with a difficult choice—indict his prime suspect, the dead minister’s horribly abused wife or find a way to protect her and risk demotion. Or worse, transfer away from the scene of his wife’s murder and the guilt that haunts him…

Now here’s the promised excerpt…

Chapter 12

A chill targets my spine, and my eyelids feel as if they’re stuck open. I wrap my sweater tightly and fold my arms across my chest.

Blink, Sally.

Through the French doors and across the way to my husband’s study, an officer rummages through Leland’s desk, then his filing cabinet. How many are upstairs going through, well, who knows what really? How many are in the kitchen and the garage?

Bad images cloud my judgment. Why is Corporal Killian disrupting my life? I trusted him. I thought he liked me.

Blink, Sally.

Does he sense my fear?

I focus on comforting visions. Images of blackberry bushes rise in front of me. My gloved hands sweep the stems aside. I concentrate on relaxing by slowing my breathing. Out of my peripheral vision, on the fringe of the room, I see someone hunting through the wet bar and the cupboards beneath. He knocks about on the shelves with only his shoulders and head visible. The small refrigerator door swooshes open, he looks in. Another officer says something to him and he shuts the door.

What are they after? What have they been doing since I left this morning? I should never have left. I should have stayed and—and—and…

I pull a tissue from my pocket and face the fireplace. Next to it are the French doors leading out back. I dab at the moisture on my upper lip. A gust of wind swirls the white flakes outside, throwing them to and fro. I feel like the snow, my thoughts blowing in many directions.

I twist to the left away from Pinscher’s and Killian’s scrutiny and, through the other French doors, see a man pass from the breakfast room to the kitchen. He disappears. The upright freezer door opens. The door and adjacent wall block my view, but I imagine him unwrapping each package, then rewrapping sloppily and tossing them aside. He does this until he’s opened every package. He returns them to the freezer. I see all this in my mind. After they leave, I’ll have to rewrap everything. A voice inside of me says you’re being absurd. Of course they wouldn’t go through my—freezer. The door closes. Now I sense him going through the pantry…

Fifteen minutes have passed according to the grandfather clock near the entrance wall. I’m grateful I sit in my gathering room and not in my bedroom. The idea that a stranger would go through my lingerie drawer is almost too much to bear. I feel violated. My skin crawls. Killian speaks to someone. I turn in time to see Lacroix. I recognize him immediately, though I haven’t seen him since our sons died. He’s coming this way. I look to Killian for support. He’s too busy eyeing his boss. Lacroix sits down across from me but something distracts him near the room’s entrance. I drop my hands to my lap and, remembering my Law and Order shows, try hard not to appear frightened.

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** The Rafflecopter giveaway **
(Click the link!)

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author-joylene-nowell-butlerJoylene lives with her husband and their two cats Marbles and Shasta on beautiful Cluculz Lake in central British Columbia. They spend their winters in Bucerias, Nayarit, Mexico. For more on Joylene and her writing, visit her website and blog then connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and her Amazon Author Page.

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Review of Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries

Joylene Nowell Butler has done it again – written another excellent, ‘un-put-downable’ murder mystery. Her previous two, Dead Witness and Broken but Not Dead, are what I’d call psychological thrillers. Her latest novel, the sequel to Broken but Not Dead, Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries, is more of a police procedural while still providing a suspenseful probe into complex and troubled characters. It kept me enthralled right to the last page.

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I’ll be taking part in Joylene’s virtual book tour next Friday, October 28th, with a sneak peek at Mâtowak, posting a chapter excerpt here for you. I guarantee it’ll whet your appetite and have you wanting to read more!

If you’d like to follow her book tour, you’ll find a schedule of the daily posts on Joylene’s blog, here.

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Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries

A murder enveloped in pain and mystery…

When Canada’s retired Minister of National Defense, Leland Warner, is murdered in his home, the case is handed to Corporal Danny Killian, an aboriginal man tortured by his wife’s unsolved murder.

The suspect, 60-year-old Sally Warner, still grieves for the loss of her two sons, dead in a suicide/murder eighteen months earlier. Confused and damaged, she sees in Corporal Killian a friend sympathetic to her grief and suffering and wants more than anything to trust him.

Danny finds himself with a difficult choice—indict his prime suspect, the dead minister’s horribly abused wife or find a way to protect her and risk demotion. Or worse, transfer away from the scene of his wife’s murder and the guilt that haunts him…

~

Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries will release on November 1st and is currently available for pre-order in eBook at the following sites:

Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C

The print copy is available for pre-order at:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

author-joylene-nowell-butlerJoylene lives with her husband and their two cats, Marbles and Shasta, on beautiful Cluculz Lake in central British Columbia. They spend their winters in Bucerias, Nayarit, Mexico.

For more on Joylene and her writing, visit her website and blog then connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and her Amazon Author Page.

 

Keeping track of what I read…not as easy as it sounds!

Good intentions get a bad rap, but I suppose it’s justified when they end up as only intentions. I know the problem all too well.

Books

Years ago I decided it would be useful to keep a record of what I read. My memory is terrible when it comes to recalling titles and author names. Someone would ask, “Have you read so-and-so’s new book? What did you think of it?” Not until they recounted a bit about the plot would I recognize the book in question.

I started a spreadsheet and added relative information, including a little blurb for each book. And it worked well … for a while. Before the end of the first year I was frequently playing ‘catch up’, trying to remember books that I’d read but already returned to the library, lent to friends or deleted from my kindle.

Blaming my lapses on the inconvenience of having to get the spreadsheet up and running on the computer, I printed out a copy with lots of blank spaces where I could jot down the details until I had time to transfer them to the computer.

That worked until I misplaced the sheet. I mean, how likely is it that a single sheet of paper would get mixed up with others on the desk of a writer? It had to be there somewhere, but I never did find it.

So I hunted up a notebook. The obvious choice, right?

It had to be just the right notebook. Big enough that it couldn’t easily be misplaced on my desk. Not so small it could hide in my purse, but definitely small enough to pop into my tote bag alongside my book-du-jour or kindle. My choice was one of two that were gifts from family — each with a grandchild’s photo on the wipeable, laminate cover. It brings a smile every time I look at it. I enjoy using it when I remember to.

Those good intentions I mentioned at the beginning? Any method would work if I were more self-disciplined, and I intend to be, but in reality the daily distractions and interruptions often mean when I finish a book, I put it aside and move on. The advantage of the notebook with a pen clipped on, is that it stays with the book until I record the details. If a library due date is approaching I’ve been known to renew online to give myself an extra few days to get the task done!

The other benefit to the book is that I usually remember to write down the title, etc., before I start reading, leaving a half page to add the blurb or my reaction/review later.

What works best for me is flexibility, not discipline. I like to be organized, but when I’m not I need a system that can compensate, and my just-right notebook delivers.

Do you think there’s value in keeping track of what you read? If you do, what method works best for you?

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The Intrusion of Real Life

Do you ever try to visualize what it would be like to live someone else’s life? Real life for some is a dream world for others.

There were days when I wondered if my life might have been different if I’d made different choices. The grass was greener, much greener where I envisioned I could be, and yet now, decades later, hindsight proves me wrong. Their colours might have seemed more appealing at the time, but the weeds and wildflowers grew just as abundantly in the grass on both sides of that fence. It was only my perspective that changed the view. I was exactly where God intended me to be.

Everyone’s life is filled with a lot of ordinariness, interrupted by occasional mountaintop and valley experiences.

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While I know perpetual tranquility would be boring, during times of upheaval and crisis I’m pretty sure most people wish life could be more serene.

I have family members who are currently wishing for less upheaval in their lives. What seemed like a simple plumbing-related flood upstairs in their home on December 9th resulted in damage also being done to several areas downstairs. The insurance and restoration companies were quick to tear out walls, ceiling and floors, to get drying underway. The repairs, however, are taking several weeks — which, when you are having to live somewhere else until the work is completed, is frustrating enough. When full weeks go by  and nobody comes to do any work, or when a carpenter arrives by himself, and puts in an unproductive day, working slowly while admitting he wants to get paid for as many hours as possible, it becomes downright maddening.

Almost eight full weeks have gone by, and it’s obvious there are more yet to come. Cold, hard “real” life continues to intrude on their daily existence as family members live out of suitcases and add extra commuting time to work and school schedules. It’s stressful for them, trying to carry on with all their normal activities under these abnormal circumstances. And yet they do it.

The thing is, they aren’t the only people who have to cope with the intrusion of the unexpected. I often read other author blogs and Facebook posts and note how their writers mention the impact of unexpected events, but they still manage to meet their writing, editing and publishing deadlines.

It’s a reality that we do what we have to. We compromise on the unimportant in order to give priority to the important. It’s a strange reality that no matter how challenged we may be by life, we always manage to make time for the things that are important to us. At least, it seems that way to me.

While the insurance company handles the paperwork at an unemotional distance, I hope my family members make it through this upheaval without any nervous breakdowns.

Have you experienced any inconvenient intrusions of “real life” and had to function around them? How did it work out for you?

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