ANNE MURRAY AND ME!

Anne signing

Like a lot of girls growing up in 1960s Nova Scotia, I idolized Anne Murray and admired her effortless, pure singing voice. The idea that a young woman who grew up just down the highway from me could become an international singing sensation boggled my mind. I’ve always liked to sing and I could sing along to a lot of Anne’s songs, but I was crazy-shy and had no aspirations about following in her footsteps. But when I set out to write The Power of Harmony, about a girl who does want to be a famous singer, I had to include Anne. And I did, including setting the story in her coal-mining hometown of Springhill, NS.

After the book came out in 2013, I mailed Anne a copy, and she responded by email, thanking me. She also tweeted about the book during Canadian Children’s Book Week in 2015, reaffirming my belief in her being a down-home, thoughtful, genuine person, despite her fame.Anne July 30, 2016

Finally this weekend, I got to meet Anne, at her annual meet-and-greet at the Anne Murray Centre in Springhill. By the time Shannon and I arrived, she’d been smiling for over five straight hours, but she seemed genuinely happy that I’d stopped by, and she remembered the book (she didn’t, however, say she’d read it (yet), but that’s okay:) She’s 71 now, and she looks fantastic, as you can see! I got her to sign a copy of my novel for me – possibly it’s the only one-of-a-kind autographed item I’ll ever own.8ee011c0-6e82-4308-bbf7-ef4ee3e106af

How about you? Ever met anybody famous? Were they as nice and personable as Anne?

Feeling grateful.

Mum

May has been a busy month for me. I was a judge in the Truro Library’s 8th annual teen writing competition, named after my late mum, Ada Mingo – pictured here in her bookstore, The Book Nook. It’s hard to believe she’s been gone for 8 years already, but it’s a lovely occasion to remember and honour her. I was so impressed by some of the writing submitted by teens this year!

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During Canadian Children’s Book Week, Anne Murray tweeted and “facebooked” about THE POWER OF HARMONY, so I sent her some Mayflowers by way of thanks:)

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Then, my copies of ROCKET MAN arrived – early! I don’t think it’s widely available yet, but I did find it on the shelves of Bookmark in Charlottetown while I was there for the Atlantic Book Awards last week.IMG_0044I got to spend the Victoria Day weekend at one of my favourite places, Port Joli, with some of my favourite people as we celebrated Shannon’s graduation from Dalhousie on May 20th. There’s nothing like family time!

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While I was in Charlottetown, I got to spend time in the sunshine with two of my best writer friends, Jackie Halsey and Jill MacLean.

All in all, it’s been a great month, although Don and I are true empty nesters, now. Birthdays are funny in that you’re always left shaking your head, wondering how you got to be so old when you still feel like an eleven-year-old (at least inside your head:) I’m feeling grateful for having people who like me and love me in my life, and for the great privilege of getting up most mornings anticipating working at something I adore! Thanks for being part of my journey …

 

Airing out your feet on the street, generosity and famous people

We were visiting Liam and Rachel in Toronto last week. If you haven’t tried out Air B&B yet, it’s the way to go when you’re visiting a city. We’ve used their service now three times, and all three short-term apartment rentals have worked out perfectly. Here’s the view from our penthouse on St. George St.

 

Looking South on St. George Street

Looking South on St. George Street

So, I was sitting at the corner of Queen and Bay, out front of Old City Hall one afternoon during the five o’clock rush, resting my aching feet, when a man plopped himself down on the sidewalk at the bottom of the steps. He proceeded to take off his brightly-colored sneakers and socks, roll down the rim of a Tim Horton’s coffee cup, shove it into one of the sneakers, then rest one elbow on a pillow he’d brought along.  From behind, it looked like he was drawing something on the sidewalk. After a few minutes of speculating, I had to stroll over to see what he was up to (I explained I was a nosy writer). He was SO friendly, and seemed happy to have somebody ask. “I’m just airing out my feet,” he said. “I’m 45, but have the feet of a 20-year-old because I keep them aired out.” He extolled the virtues of the particular vent he was lying on, insisting it was just as warm as being inside a house, grinning all the while. As I dropped some money into his cup and said goodbye, I read what he’d written in chalk on the sidewalk, a message for all the Bay Street people rushing home. “I love you!” in fluorescent green:)  I love encounters like that that remind me that people are people, no matter what.

And right across the street, The Bay has this most wonderful old-fashioned animated Christmas window display.

The Bay, Christmas display

The Bay, Christmas display

In other news, while I was away, I got an email from ANNE MURRAY. I’d sent her a copy of The Power of Harmony, in which “Annie Murray” has a cameo, since it’s set in her hometown of Springhill, NS in 1968, the year she was on the brink of becoming famous. In the email, she thanked me, apologized for not getting around to reading the book yet, assured me she would soon, and gave me her best wishes for the book. I’m constantly amazed at the generosity of some people, especially those who are crazy busy, famous, rich, etc. Part of her success, no doubt, has stemmed from the fact that she’s a nice person!  Now if she’d just Tweet about the book after she reads it:)  Have you had any interesting encounters lately, meetings that made you pause and reflect?

In rural Nova Scotia, sometimes you have to stop for free-range turkeys crossing the road:)

In rural Nova Scotia, sometimes you have to stop for free-range turkeys crossing the road:)