Obituary Advice, and other bits

Years ago, I developed a habit of reading the Nova Scotia obituaries every day. This morning, this little gem caught my eye.

“I think it’s important that each of us wring out of every day whatever we can. Play the game full out, and don’t leave anything on the table. Decide what you want from this month and go for it. This month is going by no matter what we decide to do, so take a few minutes and write down all the things you want to accomplish this month and attack the list.”  (with thanks to the late Michael Crosby)

Farewell to the Lazy Loon = sad Charlie…

Since we sold the cottage just over a month ago, I’ve been following Mr. Crosby’s advice and keeping very busy with daily lists, getting ready to be away for a couple of months in Ontario awaiting the arrival of our first two grandbabies😊 I’m still sewing masks, plus kitchen towels and mug rugs in addition to my soul smiles greeting cards and books, all of which I sell at the Wolfville Farm Market Store. Stockpiling for the two months of Christmas has kept me extra busy, although most days I feel like I’m rushing to cram all the stuff I want to do in to each day. Since the heart attack I had when I was 47, I’ve lived my life with gusto – we never know what lurks around the corner, so make hay while the sun shines!

I have a picture book coming out from Red Deer Press in 2022, Anna Maria & Maestro Vivaldi, which will be illustrated by the wonderfully talented Francois Thisdale, an artist whose work I’ve admired for years. Beverly Brenna is the new editor at Red Deer, and she’s been lovely to work with on this project.

And a little plug for my friend Laura Best’s new book from Nimbus Publishing, A Sure Cure for Witchcraft – I really loved this fairytale-feeling book about soul friends connecting across the centuries. If you have middle grade readers in your life who are fans of Gail Carson Levine’s books (like Ella Enchanted), I think this book would be right up their alley.

Excellent book – pretty good friend, too:)

Fall has given us beautiful, warm weather and sunshine here in Nova Scotia. Hope things are going well in your corner, and that you and yours are vaccinated and staying safe! I think we’re close to having 85% of eligible Canadians vaccinated now – yay us!

THE HERMIT – the film! And some good news…

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a few days making a book trailer for THE HERMIT. I used Animoto, which was new for me, but I have to say it’s a nice program (once I figured it out, roughly). And I got to include my late grandparents, Nana and Gramps Mingo in a YouTube video:)

Here’s the link to the two-minute trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19vC0aFDBdc.

I’ve been continuing to play with art, but I did work on the first edit of my forthcoming picture book with Red Deer Press, tentatively “Anna Maria & Maestro Vivaldi” due out in 2022. The wonderfully talented Francois Thisdale is doing the art for this one, which I’m pretty excited about.

I recently had some great news for THE HERMIT – it’s one of five finalists for the IODE Violet Downey Book Award, for the best Canadian book for readers 13 and under – two of the other finalists are also finalists for the 2021 Governor General’s Literary Awards, so my novel is in good company. I’m reading the other books, and so far I’ve read BANKSY (Tanya Lloyd Kyi, MY PINE ISLAND HOME (Polly Horvath) and SARA AND THE SEARCH FOR NORMAL (Wesley King) – they’re all very different and really excellent. Next up is THE BARREN GROUNDS (David A. Robertston). I have absolutely no hope of winning, but I’m happy my novel, from a relatively tiny, indie publisher (Nimbus Publishing) in Nova Scotia has gotten some recognition nationally:)

Hope you’re enjoying spring – it’s arrived a little early here in NS, and I hope all of you will get to see your people sometime before summer ends – I’ve had one shot of AZ, and I have to say I’m hoping for something else for the second shot now that AZ has been paused across Canada. The good news is the roll-out has been faster than expected – now we just have to persuade everybody to book an appointment. Cheers!

Bits and Pieces of Fall in this Virtual World

I enjoyed my first virtual school visit last week (Dr. Arthur Hines School), using Google Meets. It went well, although for the Q&A portion, kids had to approach the teacher’s laptop directly; otherwise I couldn’t hear them. From grades 4 and up, the students in Nova Scotia are masked, so it was a little tricky to make them out by times, but they had tons of great questions. Of course, it’s not like soaking up all that young energy like I usually enjoy during school visits, but at least now I know it’s doable. During my slideshow, the kids could see me in a postcard side image, but I could only see my screen as I was talking into my little camera light on my laptop, so that’s a little strange, and it was tricky to ask questions during the presentation since the teacher had to relay answers to me. But doable. And Arts Nova Scotia and the Writers Federation of NS are fully funding school author visits this year through the Writers in the Schools (WITS) program, which is amazing!

I spent two months with my kids in Kingston and Toronto, Ontario during the fall; we were all working, but it was so nice to be part of their daily lives for a short time. I was lucky enough to receive a grant from Arts Nova Scotia this fall, so I was working on an illustrated chapter book project, “Charley & Maple,” which has been so much fun! I ended up doing 25 pencil/ink illustrations – now to find a publisher… You can see some of my illustrations here: https://jancoates.ca/illustrations-art/

I was glued to the American election last week and was part of the collective sigh of relief echoing around the world once the end result appeared imminent. I do wonder if Kamala Harris will be the first female President after hearing her speak for the first time.

I was part of the group launch Nimbus Publishing had last weekend for its fall titles, including my new middle grade novel, THE HERMIT. I’m not a huge fan of book launches, organizing, begging people to come out, etc., so I didn’t mind the group launch at all. Everyone was keeping their distance and wearing masks, as we all are these days.

We’ve had a nice stretch of weather for November, but I’m not looking forward to the long cold winter ahead, especially without our annual trip to Georgia to look forward to. But we have lots of firewood, and there are always crossword puzzles to be done.😊

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.

Wishing You Good Health, Peace of Mind and Joy!

We weren’t along on on this camping trip, but Liam and Rachel got engaged shortly afterwards – another daughter! It’s fun to scroll back through the year’s pictures and memories. Here are some highlights from the 2017 chapter of my life story…

I’ll remember 2017 as the year I started exploring art – water color pencils are so much fun!

Signed two new book contracts this year, plus this one coming from Nimbus in 2018!

Having both kids in Georgia at the same time – such a treat! Super proud of Liam who passed his CPA exam, and Shannon who’s about to become a teacher. And they’re both stellar people!

We didn’t break any distance or speed records, but what fun biking the trails of Nova Scotia (and Ireland). We’re at Kejimkujik Park here.

Had the huge pleasure of visiting with hundreds of young readers this year, including this group in Toronto (part of the DeMar DeRozan All-Star Reading Challenge). Nothing like seeing so many copies of your book in young hands!

30th Anniversary – same clothes as in 1987!

Toured bitterly cold Ottawa with my sister, Nance. Love the library at the Parliament Buildings.

In May, I got to accept the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration on behalf of SKY PIG illustrator, Suzanne Del Rizzo. And I got to enjoy the evening with my good friend, Laura Best:)

Beautiful Horseshoe Lake – our second home. Lovely except for the blackflies and mosquitoes…

Proud patriotic day in gorgeous Port Joli, NS on our annual writing retreat with friends Jill MacLean and Jackie Halsey (and Marcia Barss) as we awaited the drive-by of PM Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.

And the Trudeaus did not disappoint – she’s lovely, warm and beautiful. Keji Seaside for a backdrop isn’t too shabby, either.

Ten days stepping back in time exploring Ireland, Scotland and Liverpool – this is Howth, just outside Dublin.

 

 

Thank you SO MUCH for being part of my life story this year – every good wish for good health, peace of mind and joy in the coming year!

 

 

The King of Keji – Launched!

P1000620I have to say launches are super anxiety-producing for me. Asking people to come out and celebrate me isn’t my favorite thing to do, but it’s part of this writing gig, I guess. Here are a few pics – huge thanks to EVERYBODY (especially people who don’t have a particular interest in kids’ books:) who came out to show their support – big shout-out to my friend and neighbor, Karen Duncan (about to retire from teaching) for helping the enthusiastic kids have fun making their crowns – I owe you! P1000665

 

 

And thanks to everybody at Nimbus Publishing (publicist Emily MacKinnon pictured here with Patsy and me) for the book, The Box of Delights Bookshop (yeah Indies!) for hosting, and to illustrator Patsy MacKinnon for the beautiful paintings!

To the parents, grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles, etc. who encourage and nurture a love of books in the young people in their lives – you’re the best!P1000651
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