Happy 2022! (better late than never)

After finally getting to finish my highly-personal, and exciting, dedication for ANNA MARIA & MAESTRO VIVALDI (Red Deer Press, 2022, art by the amazing Francois Thisdale, whose work I’ve admired for years), I’m taking some time to reflect on November and December. We were in Ontario for those two months, back and forth between Kingston (a very easy city to live in/get around) and Toronto, spending time with Shannon & Peter, Liam & Rachel as they awaited their first babies.

Ada Jane (AJ) Vooys (named after my late mum and Peter’s Grandma Jane) arrived on November 22nd, on what would have been my parents’ 64th wedding anniversary, and Noelle Clara Coates arrived on December 21st, the first day of winter. Sadly, I can’t show you pictures as their parents have wisely decided to keep them off social media, but I’m completely in love with both of these sweet little girls. It’s early days, but it already seems they may have very different personalities – who knows? I’m just so grateful for their safe arrivals – thanks to their Mamas who did the hard work of growing them!

They’re so beautiful, snuggly, soft, sweet, cute – all the baby adjectives, and I loved them from the moment I met them (or possibly before they were born), something that kind of surprised me. I loved my own kids from the moment they were conceived, I think, but I didn’t know it would be the same for grandbabies. Best of all is watching their sleepy parents love them, too, as they figure out this parenting thing. Both couples will be such great parents, and they’re all taking a teamwork approach, supporting each other, exchanging bleary-eyed smiles, even across poopy diaper changes, with Vaseline-slathered hands😊

Both AJ and Noelle are lucky little girls to have the parents they do, and I am so looking forward to being part of their life stories as they unfold, chapter-by-chapter (diaper-by-diaper)! Fortunately, my almost-forgotten baby-holding skills kicked in immediately – there’s nothing like that new baby smell and warmth to send a new grandma into raptures.

Meanwhile, back home in Wolfville, I’m still making masks – I stopped counting ages ago, but it’s well over 5,000. Lots of snowy days to work on my illustrating, too. Hope you’re able to tune out Omicron for the most part, and that you’re vaccinated, boosted, and finding your way through this endless pandemic.

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!

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.

The End (and the beginning …)

Here in sunny Georgia, I’ve been putting the final polish on my middle grade novel, Talking to the Moon, due out in May from Red Deer Press, and thinking about how much work is involved in creating a book, for so many people. The list of contributors in movie credits is extremely long – everybody gets a mention; not sure why that doesn’t happen with books.

I began doing the research for this one back in 2013 – so almost five years from initial idea to publication. Because structure is not my friend, I figure I’ve written the entire novel 6 or 8 times by now, with constructive and key bits of advice from more than a few people along the way. I’ve read the manuscript approximately 1,000 times, and probably there will still be at least one typo, despite the sharp eyes of my editor, Peter Carver, and the keen attention to detail of the copy editor, Penny Hosey.

We don’t have a final cover, yet. Hopefully soon …

So ultimately, I ask myself – why do I do it? For me, I had to tell this story, in part, because it includes a bit of my family history, but mainly because once a character becomes real to me, I need to stick with them, and help them tell their story, right to the end. They need to be heard!

I don’t think any writer has ever said to themselves, ‘This book is perfect,’ but I’m satisfied that I’ve done my best with Katie’s story; I’ll miss her …

Now, on to the next project …

The Power of Harmony – the trailer

Whenever I get frustrated trying to find the right words to tell a story, or when the story stubbornly refuses to move ahead (like today!), I’m thankful I didn’t decide to take up film instead of writing.  This two-minute video took me MUCH more time than it should have, but I hope it captures the essence of The Power of Harmony – coming soon!