A wedding, a dancing hurricane and a fairy dogmother – oh my!

Seems like I’m busy this summer, first with our son’s July 13th wedding in Toronto – all went well, other than the torrential downpour that started just as the venue got the outdoor seating set up. Being pros, they quickly got us under cover, and although the aisle was shorter than the outdoor one would have been, it was lovely, and we danced until the restaurant, The Granite Brewery, was ready for us to leave at 1:00 am. One of my hips is still sore:) One of the best parts, other than Liam’s new wife, Rachel, was that he had 8 friends stand with him, many of whom we’ve known for literally decades, since they were toddlers. Many of them flew in from Nova Scotia, as well as one from Rhode Island. The official pics aren’t in, yet, but here’s one my sister took after the “dudes” got ready. Thank you!

I also have two new books this summer, so those have kept me busy, too. DANCING WITH DAISY will launch this coming Saturday at the lovely Wolfville Library. It’s with a lovely small press in Newfoundland, Running the Goat Press & Broadsides. This blurb in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, had me smiling.  “Bisaillon’s pictures perfectly match the exuberance and high spirits of Coates’s story, which is sure to inspire young readers to tell tall tales of their own summer adventures.” My local independent bookstore, The Box of Delights, will be on hand to sell books, and Celeste, one of their summer employees, is responsible for the very cool piece of art pictured above. Thank you!

My second book is a middle grade novel, SAY WHAT YOU MEAN (Mean What You Say), and it features a fairy dogmother, as well as dealing with soup kitchens and mental health struggles. It’s with a new Nova Scotia publisher, Nevermore Press, in Lunenburg, and they’ve been absolutely wonderful to work with. Launch date hasn’t been set yet, but hopefully sometime in September. This is my first novel cover that’s 100% original art, and in Nevermore’s spirit of collaboration, I got to be in on their chat with the artist, Valerie Gagnon, as the cover was being developed. She’s really captured the essence of the story. Thank you!

Hope you’re enjoying summer. Here in Nova Scotia it didn’t arrive until the first week of July, and we’ve had lots of humidity, but I like the heat so I’m not complaining.

Home?

I’ve been thinking about the idea of “home” lately, possibly because my short story, “You Get a Line” is included in the recently-published anthology, My Nova Scotia Home. Many of the pieces are non-fiction, but mine is pure fiction. It’s an interesting collection, and each Nova Scotia writer has a unique take on what home means to them.

As always, Pooh is right, and I’m the kind of person who, in a few days or even hours, can be comfy in a lot of different places. Here are some of the places I’ve felt at home in recent years:

Port Joli House, NS

Sandy Bay fish house, Port Joli, NS

Doris McCarthy’s kitchen at Fool’s Paradise, Scarborough Bluffs

Liam and Rachel’s house, Toronto, ON

Cucuron, France (L’hermitage)

Charlie, Horseshoe Lake, Leville, NS

The Wolfville Library

my writing room

Sea Breeze Cottage, Saint Simons Island, GA

Home, Wolfville, NS

the beach, anywhere:)

Home means different things to different people, I suppose. For me, it’s not the house, it’s not the surroundings or landscape, beautiful as they may be. It’s not the stuff I’ve collected over the years, as nice as all those things are, and finding second-hand treasure is so much fun! Of course, I’m grateful for all of this, and try not to take any of it for granted.

 

But, for me, home is the people, these people. Wherever they are, that’s home for me.

my definition of home.

 

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.

Doodling the winter away …

I’ve been doodling the winter away (with water color pencils), and having so much fun! I started selling some cards at my local book shop, The Box of Delights, and amazingly, some people are actually buying them! The whole thing reminds me of the FIFTEEN years I spent making toddlers’ clothing and selling my cuddle duds at craft fairs – too many hats, bibs, jumpers and pajamas! But, hey – I got to spend a lot of quality time with my kids when it mattered most. It’s fun having a new creative outlet, trying to combine my love for picture books with words. Sorry the reproduction quality isn’t the best, but technology remains a challenge … Stay warm out there!

 

Celebrating Girls and Women

My little town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, is having its own version of the Women’s March on Washington tomorrow, with participants, as one voice, reading Maya Angelou’s poem, “Phenomenal Woman.” (Performed so beautifully by Ruthie Foster in this video.)

The basic principle behind the March is that:

“Women’s rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability.”

I got to hang out with young people yesterday, one of my favourite parts of being a writer. The diversity of Toronto city schools is inspiring, and it was great to see and hear the many vibrant, engaged and engaging, girls in those classes – the future. Rise up and stay strong! Let your voices be heard!

A town isn’t a town without a bookstore

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.”

Neil Gaiman

People-watching for a couple of hours in a small-town bookshop, like Wolfville’s The Box of Delights, box-of-delightsis always an interesting way to pass the time. My mum owned a mostly-used bookstore for the last 25 years of her life. She was passionate about The Book Nook, aptly named since it’s pretty small. In response to a request, Mum could always put her finger on any book on her crowded shelves. In these days of online shopping, MumI’m happy to see that people still want that kind of personal service in choosing books. As an author, I sure appreciate booksellers hand-selling my books!

This time of year, bookshop customers come with lists, some taking off their coats and spending an hour or more carefully choosing gifts. Brushing her fingers across an embossed cover, one woman smiled, telling me how books are a tactile experience for her. Reading on an e-reader or laptop just isn’t the same experience as holding a book, looking at its cover each time you open it, carefully placing a bookmark each time you close it. I most often have two or three books on the go at once, scattered around the house. Somehow books on an e-reader seem more disposable to me, and I’m more likely to abandon an e-book part-way through.

When I travel, I do like to have library books downloaded to my laptop, just because it’s easier. A market share analysis shows that sales of e-books published by the big 5 (Random House, etc) have plummeted from close to 40% in early 2014 to close to 20% in early 2016. http://authorearnings.com/report/february-2016-author-earnings-report/ The only group showing an increase in e-book sales during that two-year period is indie publishers.

It’s a tough go for independent bookstores today, with the big guys selling the season’s most popular titles for $15, when the usual retail price is $30+.  In this increasingly competitive bookselling world, choosing to shop at indies is the only way we can help ensure their survival. The best kind of people work in bookshops, and in a town of 4,000 (plus 4,000 university students), we’re so lucky to have The Box of Delights on Main Street as a community gathering place for booklovers. Thank you Hilary, Mitzi, and all!

Thanks for being with me on my blog this year; happy holidays and a healthy, contented 2017 to all of you!