The Last of the Flower Holdouts

Snapdragon in Dec.

There are always flowers for those who want to see them – Henry Matisse

A hearty little snapdragon that is still blooming on Dec. 1st!

Flower Friday! Home from our travels to Alberta to find that we still have hints of colour poking up here and there. Love the North Island.

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A lonely Angel’s Trumpet in the green house along with a vibrant chrysanthemum.

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Lovely to be home and I can’t wait to start writing again Smile

Circle the Object that May Not Belong

Bear in the garden - Guenette photo

Do you remember those worksheets from primary school that instructed you to find the object that was out of place? What certainly doesn’t belong in this photo is the big, black bear strolling down my garden path. Bears don’t belong in gardens. It seems like this guy or gal hasn’t got the memo.

I took this photo standing on the top step of the back stairs, camera in one hand and a paddle in the other. Ready for anything.

So far, we are living a peaceful co-existence with this bear. Except for chowing down on the grass that covers the pathways, he/she is not interested in any of the garden produce and we are not interested in his/her primary food choice – salal berries. Time will tell if this honouring of boundaries lasts.

Bear outside the kitchen window - Chelsea Johnson photoMy niece and I were in the living room the other night, both of us immersed in quiet reading, when we heard the distinctive sound of something thrashing away in a salal bush. Coming into the kitchen, we saw the bear, pawing and eating away on a rise just outside the kitchen window. If you read my last blog, you will recognize my tranquil view from the exercise bike filled with something not quite so peaceful.

 

 

 

 

Yesterday morning, our visitor was back. A wonderfully, healthy black bear going about business as usual.

Bear in the salal - Guenette photo

“We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Here’s to living in peace with our wilderness friends Smile

Cover Reveal–Chasing Down the Night

Here we go, folks. With a flourish and a bow, a drumroll and a trumpet blast, I give you the cover for the third book of the Crater Lake Series – Chasing Down the Night.

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Back of the Book Synopsis

One might be excused for assuming that an idyllic life unfolds for those who have chosen to live and work near the shores of Crater Lake. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Long-time resident, Izzy Montgomery juggles the stress of a new job with her burgeoning home life. Family dynamics go into overdrive when Alexander and Cynthia launch plans to build a home nearby and Liam’s sister, Fiona shows up to do an internship with the local doctor. Lisa-Marie and Justin are back for the summer and sparks fly. While crusty, old Reg keeps sawmill production booming, Beulah runs the organic bakery and plans the First Annual Caleb Jenkins Memorial Ball Tournament. Bethany discovers her own hidden talents working with young people at Micah Camp.

As a nine-year-old’s dreams reflect a dangerous reality, many encounter issues of the past. This is a novel for those who work at building family ties by strengthening the traditional and creating the new. Chasing Down the Night explores a wide-ranging emotional landscape while highlighting the many aspects of day-to-day, rural life. Tears and laughter are inevitable.

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Cougar photo courtesy of Father Charles Brandt. Background photo and cover design by Bruce Witzel. Publication date is set for mid-May. I can’t wait. What about you?

My Latest Book Selling Venue: Alder Bay Resort

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As a blue-sky day got underway, Bruce and I were off on a mini-road trip to explore a couple of new book selling venues. With the month of May winding down and June just around the corner, we want to get a toe into a couple of new resort locations to market and sell Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies. These drop-in visits are a lot like cold calls in any type of marketing – you just never know what might happen.

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Alder Bay Resort turned into one of those cold calls that leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy. We were met on the wide and inviting porch of the office/store/residence by Rick, one-half of the ownership team. He was kicking back with a coffee and when we asked to speak to someone in charge he said, “I’ll call Jeannie – she’s just cleaning the toilets.” Like I always say – put a woman in charge – she’ll get the job done – any job that needs doing.

P1000260Jeannie welcomed us with a big smile and was more than enthusiastic about stocking both my books, displaying them in a prominent location and promoting them as the work of a local author. We were invited to take a walk around the grounds of the resort and stroll out on the dock to enjoy the views. Rick told us to try out the new path he had just carved into the bush leading out to a great view. Apparently, it’s not all coffee drinking on the veranda for Rick.

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After taking numerous photos we wandered back and chatted with Jeannie  what it’s like to live on-site and run Alder Bay Resort. Coffee break obviously over, Rick was out and about on a landscaping task. Jeannie told us that neither she nor her husband ever takes the beautiful spot for granted. Just the past night a couple of Minke Whales had passed close to the shore. And then of course there’s the eagles and the cruise ships meandering right past their front door, through the water of Broughton Strait. What’s not to love?

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P1000271Jeannie told us a great story that reflects her hospitality ethic. She always warns her workers to never judge a person arriving at the resort on first appearances or experiences. People have worked hard to carve out a time to holiday at Alder Bay Resort, usually for fishing. They are, after all, a destination fishing resort and have a worldwide clientele. Patrons will have spent hours or even days travelling to get to the resort. They are anxious and stressed and running on high octane to get their perfect holiday started. All these factors may not lead to a guest making the best first impression – especially if something is not just as they have dreamed it will be. Jeannie assures her staff, “Give the person a day or two. Let him (or her) get that boat in the water, spend a night hanging out around the camp fire and you are going to see a different person.” Sage advice, for sure.

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Here’s a couple of quick bits of information on Alder Bay Resort and please check out their website. Enjoy the Northern Vancouver Island experience from one of the area’s most scenic facilities. Alder Bay is a full service waterfront campsite centrally located on a sandy beach between Telegraph Cove and Port McNeill and directly across Broughton Strait from historic Alert Bay. The Resort has full service RV sites, tent sites, a marina, a 2 lane boat launch, a sani station, a store and laundry facilities, showers, a fish cleaning station, fish freezing services, a separate kayak launch site, sandy beach and long term parking. Whew – that is the whole package for you fishing enthusiasts.

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Oh, and by the way, you can pick up a copy of Disappearing in Plain Sight or The Light Never Lies at the resort store and wile away the hours by the campfire, or sitting out in your boat waiting for the fish to bite, reading stories that are steeped in North Island flavour and filled with fictional, local characters.

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Check out these nifty driftwood trees they sell at the resort. All the pieces are numbered so you can take it apart, pack it up, get it home and reassemble. How great is that?

 

Throw that fish on the barbecue. Let’s kick back and enjoy!

The Next Big Thing–Disappearing in Plain Sight is Now Available

 

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I was tagged by S.J. Main on the blog – Diary of a Novel – A Writer’s Journey for the Next Big Thing Award. I received a nomination for this award a few months ago and this post is an update on a previous one. So, here goes – I answer the following questions and then tag a few other people to do the same.

What is the title of your book?

Disappearing in Plain Sight, my debut novel, was released for Kindle on Amazon yesterday. (Yippee – I still can’t stop going to the site to just stare – you can stare too by clicking on the book cover on your right and going from the Friesen Press website directly to Amazon.)

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I’ve always mulled over writing ideas while out for my daily walk around our cabin. There’s something about tramping along the trails that gets my creative juices flowing. When the idea for the novel came to me, I was supposed to be writing my PhD candidacy papers. For some reason, instead of doing my research, all I could think of was this handful of characters I had created in my head and how they might react to being thrown into certain situations. Soon the characters were interacting with each other and dictating what would happen next. I just sat at my laptop and took it all down. It was absolutely impossible to drop the idea of writing the story once it got started. At the time, I compared it to being in the grip of some sort of virus – it had to run its course.

What genre does your book fall under?

When the first draft was complete, I described it as a woman’s romance. As the novel developed through subsequent drafts, the genre shifted. A reviewer said I would be short-changing the book to limit it to romance – this reviewer described the novel as Dramatic, Literary Fiction. I’ve also had a reader say that the book has appeal for men as well as women. I guess time will tell on that issue. I chose Fiction – Literary; Fiction – Romance/Contemporary, and Fiction – General as my Book Industry Shelving Codes.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I’m going to skip over that question because I think it’s important for the reader to form their own image of the characters. Within the novel, I weakened on that resolve by having one character describe another as looking like a well-known movie personality. As I gain in maturity as a writer, I realize this type of thing isn’t necessary. The biggest thing I have learned about writing is that I need to trust the reader to follow where I lead.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I’m going to cheat a bit here and give you my book cover synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Lisa-Marie has been packed off to spend the summer with her aunt on the isolated shores of Crater Lake. She is drawn to Izzy Montgomery, a gifted trauma counsellor who is struggling through personal and professional challenges. Lisa-Marie also befriends Liam Collins, a man who goes quietly about his life trying to deal with his own secrets and guilt. The arrival of a summer renter for Izzy’s guest cabin is the catalyst for change amongst Crater Lake’s tight knit community. People are forced to grapple with the realities of grief and desire to discover that there are no easy choices – only shades of grey.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m self-publishing with the help of Friesen Press. This has been my first experience with any type of publishing – self or otherwise. I’m learning a lot and I have a clearer idea now about what I will do differently the next time around. (Yes – you heard that correctly – I am busy on the sequel to Disappearing in Plain Sight – the tentative title for the next novel is The Light Never Lies.)

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The first draft of the novel took about one summer to write – oddly the same amount of time and season of the year that the main action of the story takes place within. The first draft was shorter than the final manuscript turned out to be – a bare bones treatment of the story I wanted to write. I often think about going back to read that version. I’m sure I would be stunned by how much the story evolved over the various rewrites.

What other books of the same genre would you compare yours with?

I wouldn’t put Eden Robinson’s book, Monkey Beach, in the same categories that I’ve chosen for my novel. I also wouldn’t put myself in the same universe as Robinson in terms of writing talent. But for some reason, whenever I think about this question, Monkey Beach is the book that pops into my mind. Perhaps it’s the West Coast setting or the blue of the jacket cover.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I think my first inspiration was the place where I live – the isolation and the beauty of the area. I’ve also been inspired and informed by my life experiences. I’ve been an educator and a counsellor working with young people and adults for years and some of the stories I’ve heard inspired my writing – not in actual details. It is more like I’ve gained an understanding of how people might react under challenging circumstances.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

You will be drawn into a unique and beautiful setting – an isolated lake on Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. In this place, you will meet characters who deal with hard-hitting life situations – bullying, trauma – both past and present, death, grieving, and sexuality. The characters have problems to deal with – but their lives are also light hearted and funny. I believe the novel achieves something rare – handling complex and challenging life issues in the authentic voices of both young people and the adults who act and react to them.

If you’ve ever felt like life disappeared you, a little or a lot, then you will enjoy this novel. If you are a parent, or someone who works with or provides care for young adults, if you were young once yourself and remember the experience, you will get something from this book. If you’ve ever had to work at rebuilding your life after the loss of a friend or loved one, you will identify with the struggle the characters in this novel go through.

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So – there you have it – the next big thing is my novel – Disappearing in Plain Sight. Seeing the book out in the world is a big, big, big thing for me and my supporters. Open-mouthed smileOpen-mouthed smileOpen-mouthed smile

Part of being nominated for this award is to nominate others. I am going to follow the example of a couple of other bloggers and invite anyone who follows me and feels they have The Next Big Thing to feel free to consider themselves tagged.