Happy Easter and Welcome Spring

Puffed up Grouse - Guenette photo

Spring must be here when the male grouse goes looking for a mate. I captured a shot of this guy outside my kitchen door yesterday. We see grouse around here all the time. They love to eat the Russian Kale that grows so profusely there is enough for all of us. But this was my first experience of seeing a male all puffed up in this way. A friend on Facebook provided this information:

It’s a Ruffed Grouse. Named after the wonderful ruff around the necks of the males. He’s starting to look for a mate. You will also be hearing a “drumming” sound, which is them beating their wings. Again, to attract a mate.

How wonderful! We’ve often heard the drumming, thrumming sound. Now we know what’s going on out in the wilderness!

Russian kale 2(original), March 20-2017 - briuce witzel photo

Autographing the First Copy of Your own Book: Oh What a Feeling!


I held a hardcover copy of my novel Disappearing in Plain Sight in my hands for the first time yesterday and the feeling was close to indescribable. Being a writer, that’s a telling admission and makes me think I better get busy and try to describe it!

It was right up there with the birth of my children and my two beautiful granddaughters and the day I walked on the stage to receive my graduate degree. Milestones, accomplishments I wasn’t sure I could get myself through – and yet I did.

I mentioned holding the book in my hands on my Facebook homepage and on the private Facebook site for the Independent Alliance of Authors. I was amazed to receive so many likes and comments. I’m sending out a big thank you to all the well-wishers. Positive energy is always a bonus.

Apparently the first thirty days on Amazon are crucial – if you’re reading or thinking of reading and doing an honest and heart-felt review, please don’t delay.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember the post I did (Why Not Just Enjoy It) right after I received my editorial evaluation from FriesenPress. I wrote about how great I felt and then almost immediately began to doubt myself and the evaluation’s authenticity – typical of me.

The other day I received an amazing comment on that post and I want to share it with all of you.

Hi there Francis,

I found your website after seeing your book for sale in the FriesenPress Bookstore. First of all, congratulations on this accomplishment! I’m so happy to see your book’s finally in print.

I’m outing myself now – I’m the editor who did the evaluation of your manuscript through FriesenPress (yup, I’m a ‘she’) and I think you should know that every word I wrote about it was absolutely genuine. I loved your book. I still think about it now, many months (and many, many manuscripts) later. A few times I’ve even found myself wondering about the characters, and then remembering after a moment that they’re not real people who I know (so I’m very excited to read that you’re working on a sequel). I’ve told fellow book-lovers about it, and will be linking to the book’s page on the FP store so that it can be read; it deserves to be.

In another part of my life, I worked as a social worker on Vancouver Island, and the way you captured the complexities of therapeutic relationships, particularly in trauma work, was really fantastic.

I just wanted to clear up any lingering doubt you may have about my words; I really thought the book was excellent, and I do wish you a great deal of success with its publication.

I emailed my amazement and thanks to Sarah Stewart and received this reply:

Hi Francis,

Thanks so much for your email! I’m so pleased that you were happy with my comments. And of course you can use anything I’ve written as promotion for your book. Feel free to quote me as either an editor or a social worker, whichever you think carries more weight in this context. I don’t tell many authors about my other hat, but I thought it might be meaningful to you given your work history as well as the book’s content. I’d be happy to write something for Amazon too.

Your blog post was such a great surprise for me; as an editor for FriesenPress, I don’t normally have any personal contact with the writers I’m working for, which can sometimes be a really strange thing. I send my words out there into cyberspace and hope they are useful, but I never get to hear how they’re received since the authors (as you know) only work directly with their account managers. I so enjoyed reading about your process of writing (and editing, especially), and about your very real and vulnerable reaction to my evaluation. It made me feel, in turn, like what I do has a positive impact on the authors that I work for, and that is incredibly important to me.

Anyway, I can’t wait to keep reading your blog and your book’s sequels too!

Thanks so much for writing to me.


Sarah Stewart – thank you and rest assured your words will pop up again – an independent endorsement by an editor and a social worker – my promotion heart sings and my newly published writer’s insecurity has been lulled to sleep for the moment.

Yesterday was the first day of spring. On Northern Vancouver Island we have enjoyed one of the mildest winters I can remember. And today the snow is coming down! It’s quite beautiful and it won’t last, but winter seems to want a last little hurrah before those spring flowers really make their appearance. Though this rhodo in the snow is a hardy forerunner of beauty to come.