Phew! Made It!

Love my independent bookshop, ,THE BOX OF DELIGHTS, on Main Street in Wolfville, Nova Scotia

I had three book launches last month and a few bookstore signings; they were lots of fun, and I so appreciate people coming out to show their support when I have a new book (or two this year). As you’ll see in the short video clip, Tom Chapin really made my Lunenburg Launch (hosted by the Lunenburg Library now located in the old  Academy) special, and I got to sing along on the line from his tune “Family Tree” that I included in TALKING TO THE MOON – “You’re probably my cousin, and the whole world is our kin.” We started September with Don’s 60th birthday party/house concert. And that about sums up my summer!

Von Coates family; Shannon, Peter, Jan, Rachel, Liam & Don (Charlie is missing from the picture)

having fun at a book signing at Chapters with illustrator Marijke Simons

Shannon’s friend, Finn, was surprised to find himself in my new picture book!

Tom Chapin, American singer/songwriter  who provided the soundtrack to my kids’s growing-up years) came and sang his song which I used in TALKING TO THE MOON – he’s awesome!

With Susan Rank of Red Deer Press/Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Tom, and Michael Higgins of Lunenburg Bound Books

Owl cookies I made as there’s an owl in the novel – tasty, I must say!

Wish I was that entertaining…

clearly having fun…

and we learned some American Sign  Language, thanks to  Tom.

Well, those 40 years sure flew by! And Tom Chapin!

40th high school reunion (Truro, Nova Scotia) – over 200 people!

Two new books and three launches in August – too busy! (Tom Chapin (who provided the soundtrack to my kids’ growing-up years and is the late Harry’s brother) is going to sing his song, “Family Tree” (which appears in Talking to the Moon) at one of them!)

Hope you’re  all surviving the humidity and enjoying summer!

hometown music teacher surrounded by some of her “OLD” students – thank you, Mrs. Dill!

BFFs since 1965 (Brenda)

Friends from Willow Street Elementary School – looking good!

Shannon’s friend, Finn, looking surprised to find himself in my new book!

LESSONS LEARNED FROM MY HERMITAGE

I learned a few things while living and working alone in Lunenburg, NS these past five weeks:

1. Five t-shirts, three sweaters, a raincoat, and three pairs of pants is all the clothing you need for five writing weeks. And hand-washing underwear/socks is pretty easy.

2. Quiet (inner and outer) is conducive and necessary to productive writing time (I suppose I already knew this).

Sigh ...

Sigh …

3. Laundromats are interesting places but it’s easier to do your laundry at home.

4. About-to-expire spinach, a can of chicken noodle soup, an onion and some curry powder = a delicious supper. And Chapman’s fudge sticks ($6 for a box of 18) provide excellent incentive to keep writing.

5. Strangers are more likely to talk to you when you’re alone, and even invite you to go for coffee.

6. The camaraderie among badminton players is the same at every club.

7. There is no better way to “find” your characters than walking the paths they may have walked 250 years ago.

8. It is possible, and hugely satisfying, to write 1,000+ words daily (not including the rewritten/deleted words) for 33 consecutive days.

9. Enjoying your own company is a necessary life skill (although writers are really never alone, thanks to the characters living in our brains and hearts).

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THANK YOU ARTS NOVA SCOTIA for the grant

and the opportunity to completely immerse myself in my characters’ world.

Have you ever had a chance to retreat from the world?

WHAT WOULD YOU BE?

If you had a do-over, I mean; a chance to go back to the beginning of your working life. This thought popped into my mind today as I drove past a car accident that had just happened. It appeared both drivers were out of their cars safely, but there was significant damage and other people (who looked very capable) had stopped to offer assistance, and a woman on her front lawn was already on the phone. The young male driver looked incredibly distraught; he was wringing his hands, in fact. Maybe he had just gotten his license. Maybe it was his parents’ car and he feared they’d be less than understanding. Anyway, my instinct was to stop and offer to help. Help do what? Give him a hug? If only I had some medical background, or counselling skills, I could have offered to help. But I knew I’d be useless.

I’ve always envied people with those skills, people who remain calm, cool and collected in a crisis, people who don’t get queasy around injury and illness. Life savers. I’m the kind of person who almost faints when she goes to pick up her husband from wisdom teeth surgery because there’s a trickle of blood on his chin. Uh-huh.

So, since I could never have become a medical person (due to queasiness and almost failing high school chemistry) or a counsellor, I might have liked to be an artist, except for the fact my talent stalled in about grade 4 and never restarted. But when I see inspirational scenes like this, in Lunenburg Harbour (especially when I’m writing a novel set in 1753 Lunenburg):

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I really understand what motivates people to try to capture such elegance in art. But I’ll leave that to them and stick with words.  If you click the picture, it looks more impressive when it’s larger. (the tall ship, BTW, is the Peacemaker, a barquentine owned by The Twelve Tribes, a religious group (?) with 50 communities in North and South America, Europe and Australia)

At this stage of life, I realize there are some things certain people just aren’t cut out to do – for a multitude of reasons. But if you had a do-over, if you were 16 again and thinking about a career, what would you be?

Sudden Lunenburg Love Syndrome

Stole this heading from my new-found cousin (about 9 generations back), Charlie. He lives in Florida most of the year, but he and his wife, Linda, have a beautiful home  in Lunenburg, too, and we spent time exploring our mutual Langille ancestry over the past few weeks. Sadly, my month was over today, and it’s back to reality. Not that doing research isn’t “work”, but Lunenburg is just so incredibly beautiful, and such a welcoming and artistic town, that it was a most pleasant place to do that work. A highlight for me was meeting with the “Gallows Hill Writers”, a lovely group of writers (my landlord for the month, Gill Osmond, is part of this group) – we had tea at the art gallery of Joseph and Tela Purcell – their work is incredible! And if Tela is there, she’ll welcome you with open arms:)

Purcell Art Gallery

Purcell Art Gallery

I feel like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do – now it’s a matter of sitting down and figuring out how the story might come together, blending characters from 2014 with people in 1753, a challenge for sure. I took loads of pictures and here are a few that capture the essence of my month exploring the area. So long, lovely Lunenburg – I’ll be back!

Hearth, as it has been since 1805 in this authentic Cape

Hearth, as it has been since 1805 in this authentic Cape

Random mysterious cottage in the woods ...

Random mysterious cottage in the woods …

Sigh ...

Sigh …

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So easy to see why people from around the world fall in love with this town and end up becoming seasonal Lunenburgers.

So easy to see why people from around the world fall in love with this town and end up becoming seasonal Lunenburgers.

The Anglican Church (as featured in "Simon Birch" the movie inspired by John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany"  - beautifully restored after being burned on Halloween in 2001, I believe).

The Anglican Church (as featured in “Simon Birch” the movie inspired by John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany” – beautifully restored after being burned on Halloween in 2001, I believe).

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Access Copyright Foundation = Opportunities for Writers

http://canlitforlittlecanadians.blogspot.ca/2013/07/the-power-of-harmony.html Review from a site dedicated to reviewing books for young readers.

Thanks to a grant from the Access Copyright Foundation, I’ll be living in old town Lunenburg for the month of August and researching the arrival of the first Lunenburg settlers (among them, my French Huguenot ancestors from Montbeliard) in the 1750s. I’ve received support from ACF one time before when they gave me a grant to attend the Carver/Stinson writing retreat in Port Joli. Grants are hard to come by, and I’m feeling lucky to have their support for researching this project.

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My Menegaux (Mingo) family arrived in Nova Scotia originally in 1752, but as far as I can tell, they then moved to Philadelphia for a few decades before returning in the very early 1800s and settling in the River John area. I have a clay jug that came to Canada with those original settlers, and I’ve always wanted to write a novel, maybe inspired by that jug, somehow connecting a kid today with those original ancestors. I’m planning to dig deep, visit all the local museums, and hope that somebody will introduce me to an expert in the area of the “Foreign Protestants”, as they came to be known.  I’m so curious to see what random bits and pieces I’ll stumble upon that will spark my interest and ignite the story.  It won’t be the story of my actual relatives, but rather of the original inhabitants of Lunenburg, many of whom still have descendants living in the Lunenburg area. Wish me luck!

Do you have a story you’ve always wanted to write?

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