Saturday, May 21, 2016

Memories of 9/11, Flamingos, and New Hope.

Most people in and around Manhattan couldn’t walk away from the city after 9/11, they had to stay and deal with what happened on that day. 
For those who remained, the sorrow may never pass, the memories may never dim, yet life goes on the same way Spring follows Winter. Everywhere, tiny buds of new life blossom into renewed hope for the future. Buildings are rebuilt, babies are born, and the music of the city flows through the canyons between the skyscrapers.

In the same way, Jon and Naomi get to see New York through their daughter’s young eyes, and they finally find the courage to return to the house and the city where they were so happy.
What does all this have to do with flamingos? You'll have to read Chapter 10 of For the Fireflies to find out!

Here's a short excerpt:

Raising his head, he seemed to shake off a heavy cloak. “Then something happened, and I never wanted to come back here, ever again. Your mom and I had to, though, because of the musical. But we never stayed any longer than we had to. Now, though…” 
Smiling at her, he let his hand glide over her braids. “With you here, it’s like I can look at it with fresh eyes, with your eyes.” 
Allie tried to imagine it: Was he somehow sitting inside her head, a mini version of Dad crouching somewhere behind her eyes, and using them like glasses? 
“A bad thing happened in this city not long after you were born, Allie.” He put down his coffee cup on the table by his elbow. “It drove out the memories of the good times, and left only black and dreary days in their place.” 

(psst… the signup form for the newsletter is right here, at the top of the right-hand column! Sign up, read the novel!)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Flowers and Blue Skies

Let me share this lovely day with you.

My walk today took me past the magnolia tree again. Sadly, all its wonderful blooms have gone, and it looks tired and limp like it was to a wild party and now is suffering from a murderous hangover.

There are other blooms out now though, like this beautiful azaleas (maybe they're rhododendrons, don't ask me!):

And this dandelion, totally ignoring the park fence and growing where it wants:

A bit farther down the road, and there are more azaleas (or rhododendrons):

And lilac. Have I mentioned how I love lilac? I could smell the sweet scent of this tree from far away.

There were some violets, too, but they were too deep in shadow to get a good photo of them.
Did you notice the blue sky? The beautiful sunshine?
It's definitely spring here!

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Starry Night

Last night I was trying to explain description to a friend. You know what I’m talking about, right? Description is when your characters see something and describe it to the reader. Or when you, the author, want to describe something to the reader. It’s what you do to get whatever you want to describe getting across? Is it enough to say the ocean was blue and rough or the trees were tall, and the mountains were high? The reader will know what you mean, but will they enjoy reading it? Will it transport them to that place you’re trying to create in their minds?

   Ah, give me a second. I think what we have here is the difference between showing and telling! I know that this has been discussed in many, many, many blog posts before but perhaps I should add my own version. 

   Don’t tell me what you saw. Show me what you felt seeing it. Do you know Monet? Or any other impressionist painter? Gauguin, van Gogh, Turner.  
   When you think of their paintings, do you see a thing first, or the mood the artist was in?
Think of van Gogh’s Starry Night. Stars don’t really look like that.They’re not visible to us as great wheels of light in the night sky; and we rarely get to see the Milky Way. What van Gogh shows us is his impression of stars in the sky, reality filtered through his mind. He shows us the light of the stars that he imagines

   What those impressionist artists did with their paintings, we authors strive to do with our writing. We want to take our readers with us on a journey through our fantasies, we want to show you the world as we see it. That ocean? It’s not just blue and rough. It breathes, and throws tantrums, it talks back to the sky, it dances with the beach. I throws its salty spray onto our faces to lure us into its waves, it tells stories from other continents, from its long trek around the globe. Writers must look beyond the obvious. We reach for the soul of things, and try to bring it out into the light.

   A forest is a forest, and its trees are tall, but it’s also a living thing. It has its own scent, its own air, its sounds and mysteries.

We writers look through the veil of reality, we seek the deeper meaning, we prod and wheedle and tap until it’s revealed to us. We peel away layers of fabric, of the mind, of feelings, until we get to the root of things, and then, when we’ve looked at it for long enough, we bring it forth and present it to the world. 

The trees stretched all the way into the sky, their highest branches reaching for the passing clouds. Rain dripped through the foliage, moving from leaf to leaf ever downward until it came to rest on the mossy ground. The air was rich with scent, a heavy perfume of earth, dampness, cedar resin.

   Or you could say, of course, the trees were tall. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

For the Fireflies – a sequel to the Stone Trilogy!

Did you know that I'm writing a novel exclusively for my newsletter subscribers? 

It's a sequel to the Stone Trilogy, and it tells the stories of Joshua and Allie, Jon and Naomi's children.

If you want to read along, sign up for my newsletter! At this point we're releasing a new chapter every Friday.
I promise that you'll NEVER be spammed! You can find the subscription field right here >>>> at the top of the right-hand column of this blog! 

I'm sharing the opening of the novel with you to whet your appetite. Enjoy!

It was early morning when he left.
Dawn had barely crept over the tops of the trees, and the world was silent save for the lonely cry of a loon, piercing the mist over the water.
His backpack in hand, guitar case over his shoulder, he followed the driveway through the property until he reached the road. At the gate, he stopped to look back. 
Pausing, Joshua drew a deep breath. One more step, and he’d be outside. He’d be free of his past; now just another stranger lost in the world.
Once they realized he wasn’t going to show up for breakfast, his mother would go to his room, and find the note he’d left on his pillow. It wasn’t a long letter, but she’d understand right away. She always did. She always knew.
Hoisting his backpack, Joshua moved forward, the sun at his back, the empty road ahead.
It didn’t take long for a driver to stop. He thought it was hilarious that something as mundane as a milk truck would aid him in his flight. 
“Where to?” the driver asked, his shoulders shaking in rhythm with Gloria Estefan’s “Conga.” 
“The airport. I have an early flight and didn’t want to make anyone drive me. I was pretty sure I could catch a ride.”
“You got lucky then.” He was wearing a muddy-blue baseball cap ringed with sweat stains that resembled waves as they crashed on the beach. “Where are you headed?”
“New York.” Would his family find his friendly chauffeur? How much information was it safe to give away? A grin tugged at Joshua’s lips. As if it mattered. “I have a new job waiting for me.”
The man shot him a dubious glance. “I’m only going into Kleinburg. How are you going to get to the airport? You’re not going to hitchhike all the way, are you?”

“I’ll take the bus.” Another lie. Yes, he was going to try to hitch a ride, but not toward the airport. He wanted to cross the border on foot, or as a passenger in the car of a friendly stranger. He has certain no one would expect that of him. His parents would check the airports, heliports, car rentals, maybe even the train station, but they’d never imagine that he’d set out on foot. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Remember when I promised you photos of the magnolia tree across the street?
Well, here they are! The tree is in full bloom.
The owners were sitting outside on their front steps, enjoying the lovely spring day, when I stopped to take the pictures. I asked if it was okay and they replied, "Of course! Go right ahead!"
I think they're quite proud of that tree.

And if you ask me, with good reason.

When that magnolia tree bursts into bloom the entire neighborhood knows that it's finally spring.

I also found some bluebells (and yes, this time they're really bluebells!)

And the forsythias are out in full force!

And I found some pansies.

Hope you enjoy spring as much as I do!

Oh–and here's a recording of the nightingale that lives in our backyard! Don't worry, the video is black (because it was made during the night, duh) and the quality isn't the best. I made it with my iPhone. But you can still hear the nightingale!


Friday, April 1, 2016

A Walk into Spring

It's April 1st. and spring has finally showed its pretty face!
My hubby and I took a walk around the neighborhood today, and this is what we found:

An amazing blue sky!

And that blue sky and the birch tree look like a painting, but they're real!

The magnolia tree isn't in full bloom yet, but it will be soon! And I'll make sure to visit it again and take a photo when the blossoms are open.

We went a different route today and found this blooming beauty:

I have no idea what it is, but the dainty pink buds look so pretty against that wonderful blue sky.

Here are some bluebells in a front yard, raising their little faces to the warm light of the sun:

Actually, they aren't really bluebells, are they? They look more like tiny blue stars. Don't ask me what they're called. I'm botanically illiterate. No, seriously.

We came by an Easter tree that hadn't been cleared yet. I like how the people who live here stuck to the bright yellow. Doesn't it look like a little sunshine tree?

And finally, before we walked back home, these planes flew by overhead. My Vancouver friend  Sue calls these crossing vapor trails "kisses in the sky".

Sue, this kiss is for you! Can't wait to see you again in September! xo

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Hardest Job in the World

Being an author is the hardest job in the world. Yes, it is.
Not the writing part, mind you. Writing is easy; it’s like breathing, like sipping hot chocolate, with whipped cream or the 100% Arabica coffee that I love. Writing is like sailing along on a morning breeze over a silvery ocean in the opaque light of a sun bleached by a night of storm and rain. It’s the sweet, scent of roses in a balmy sunset or that slice of pizza you really, really wanted. It’s an escape, a dream fulfilled, an alternate reality, a thing of beauty.

See, here’s the thing: When you start writing your first novel you don’t think about publishing. Or I didn’t. I didn’t think of going out there and submitting my story to a publisher. I had a couple of friends who read it, friends I’d met on twitter, and that was far as I was going to go. Not even my family was allowed to take a peek; I was way too embarrassed for that. It was my story, my fantasy, and that’s how I wanted to keep it. 
Of course you know by now that fate had other things planned for me. Enter Buddhapuss Ink, the publisher who found and followed me on twitter, and who eventually published all the books I’ve written so far. 

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. When I signed my first book deal I imagined myself living like Castle in a few years. You know—Manhattan penthouse loft, Ferrari, nice restaurants, the works. That was before I realized that writing a book was just the tip of the iceberg, and that a lot of work was waiting for me that I’d never expected to do. Blogging, for instance. I’ve covered that ground in another blog post so I won’t go to go there again. 

But who knew how hard it is to sell books? I had no idea. Naive little me, I’d always assumed that if you write a book that’s good enough to be picked up by a publisher, a book that wins an important award, that it would fly off the shelves. I mean, if a publisher likes it well enough to sink their money into it, and an award jury likes it well enough to give it a medal, shouldn’t that mean that other people, aka readers, will love it to? 
See, that’s exactly the point. They do love it. Once they’ve noticed it.

I remember telling my publisher, when we first talked, before the first book contract was signed, that I was ready to do anything to market my books except dance naked on tables. 
Back then I thought that I was being hysterically funny. Actually, I wasn’t. Because with the internet going crazy and Amazon offering a new release every five minutes, one single book, award-winning or not, is no more than a single ant in an anthill as large as Manhattan.
That’s me; that single ant. And it’s every other author I know, too. 

So basically what I’m trying to say here is, if you’re in this for money, forget it. Unless you’re E.L.James or James Patterson or George R.R. Martin you won’t be able to pay your bills with your royalty money. You might use it to help pay for part of an amazing research trip. Or you can treat your family to a fancy sushi dinner. Or buy yourself that Michael Kors purse you’ve been coveting for so long,but sorry, not enough for a Herm├Ęs Birkin bag.

As for the rest, enjoy what you’re doing. Write for fun! Write for your friends, your family, yourself, the publisher who believes in you, for awards, and most importantly, for your readers. 

It’s a journey, enjoy the ride, but forget the money. And if you get very, very lucky, and you do make it big, and you want to share, I'll let you know where to find me.