Hold Onto Summer!!

I don’t know about you, but it feels like we never had much of an autumn. All of a sudden, snowflakes were flying! As Thanksgiving approaches, I would love to share the feelings, the love and the memories of summer.

Remember those soft, warm nights with a sky filled with stars? Or the touch of a silky evening wind on your face? How about the dazzling blinking of a firefly or the sparks from a bonfire? How many new friends did you meet? Were you ever lulled to sleep on a boat? Weren’t the sunsets amazing, and those Northern lights? How many times have we looked up to the night sky and marveled at the depth and beauty of the universe?

Well, Friends, my new book which is a bedtime story, Mother Nature’s Kiss, has all that and more! As our summer of 2018 closes, we can still grab those special moments. This book is for anyone who loves to look out onto a body of water and dream. The relaxation of letting your mind drift as you look out – no matter where I am – it is my happy place.

I wrote and illustrated Mother Nature’s Kiss with little ones in mind. It is a bedtime story that gently guides your imagination across a lake and into the possibilities of a twinkling night sky. We meet a firefly, a sleepy family on a boat, campfire kids, new friends, a lonely alien, a fanciful angel and, finally, Mother Nature! We feel the breath of a warm evening wind, silky across our cheek and the wisp of the magic of a good bedtime story.

Hold onto summer, with all the charm and memories of a warm, starlit evening. I invite you to a sneak peek at the images in Mother Nature’s Kiss.

 

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Coming soon to Amazon and a bookstore near you!

Warm wishes for a lovely Thanksgiving. xoxo

Gifts for the Irish

When an author, artist or musician sets out to create, it is usually a personal expression of something they hope to viscerally touch the masses. Because the end product is a personal expression, one can’t expect it to be understood by everyone, but hopefully, the impact intended will move many in one way or another.

I have friends who are artists and they pour themselves through their media, making themselves vulnerable to the expectations and judgments of the masses. Some like, some love, some don’t get it. That’s ok. It’s expected.

Recently, I went to Ireland and at the last minute, I threw some of my books, Gifts of the Crysnix, into my suitcase. I hoped that of all people, the Irish would “get” the story. Centered around a small seaside town, the story could be set anywhere in the world, and that is what I intended. I wanted it to be personal to many but to the Irish, I wanted it to be viscerally owned.

On our travels around the Ring of Kerry, we went by the beautiful town of Kells and its small cove. I turned to my husband and said it could be Galvin Cove! He smiled and nodded. With its cluster of houses overlooking the sea and the amazing Blasket Islands in the distance, this was the kind of place I envisioned as the setting for the book.

Emboldened by this, I took a few books under my arm and went looking for small bookshops to see if they would be interested in selling  Gifts of the Crysnix. To my happy amazement, I was well received.

In Dingle, there is a small bookshop called An Cafe Liteartha, which was my first success. It is an ancient (by our standards) shop where you can buy a book in the front and have a small meal in the cafe at the back and crack your new purchase. The place is tiny, homey and bursting with charm. The manager was so excited about my book, she immediately wrapped it in cellophane and displayed it in the front window! How fun for me to see it there as I walked on.

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The adorable gift and bookstore, Sweet Pea just drew me in! On a quaint corner in Dingle, it offers beautiful treats for the home and person. Jewellery, candles, books and gifts are displayed in the little shop that just brims with personality. I was so honoured to have my book welcomed there!

 

 

In Dublin, two gorgeous bookshops are now home to my book. True to the historical beauty of the storefronts in the Emerald Isle, Books Upstairs and Jewels and Gems can be found in age-old architecture. Books Upstairs is nestled in the heart of Dublin and has seen hundreds of years of history played out on its front street.

Jewels and Gems is a sparkly store offering jewellery, gifts, books and wait for it – chandeliers! My book’s front cover looked pretty nice in there.

There is a very special place called Moy House. It is a boutique hotel near Lahinch that boasts an amazing history, a view to die for, hospitality, service and food to make you think you have died and gone to heaven! Along with the many, many touches of old world charm, there is a library. I couldn’t help wanting to donate a book to it.

I am so happy that I have shared my story with a bit of Ireland. What a gift! It is a story of endurance, faith, honour, courage and being true to yourself to bring about your best life. Very much like the history of Ireland and all that the Irish people have endured.

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It may not appeal to some, but I think it is enjoyed by those who like a bit of charm and magic to help us on our way. I wrote it from the heart. After all, I am Irish. The town of Galvin Cove is named after my family name, Galvin. It is a fictitious place but hopefully will feel like home to all who read the book.

Cheers and Slainte (good health) to all. xoxo

P.S. Christmas is coming! How about purchasing Gifts of the Crysnix for the young dreamer in your life? Check it out HERE and HERE.

I Did It!

Whew! I finally sent in my manuscript and illustrations to my new publisher, Tellwell Talent out of Victoria, BC. It has been a journey of exhilaration, self-doubt, commitment, fear, abandon, determination, oh – and I said exhilaration, right? The process is tough and fun but the hardest part is trying to get it RIGHT. As I said in my introduction in the book, writing a book of poetry is never finished. I have agonized over the wording and syntax and I can’t tell you how many sleepless hours I have had over this darn project! Anyway, at some point, I have to let go and today, I have. (Now comes the exhilaration part.)

 

 

I am not so green as to think this is the end, though. I will be working for at least another 6 weeks with the book designers to get the placements and hues of the illustrations right, the fonts and editing correct as well as designing the front and back covers. Then comes the first printed draft for me to approve. You just never know how it will turn out until you see it and hold it in your hands!

You know, the process can be crazy and you can’t think that all will go smoothly. Knowing I couldn’t rely on my own scanning and printing equipment (oh yeah, I have run out of ink how many times on a tight deadline?????), I decided to have a professional scan the illustrations so they would be at 300 dpi (high resolution for commercial printing) and put them on a USB stick. Easy, right??

 

 

The first time the paintings were scanned too dark so I brought them back to be rescanned and lightened. The second time I brought the stick home and started to download all my info to find the link only accepted jpegs and not pdfs – of course mine were pdfs. The third time I went back and had the info changed to jpegs but when I got home to download everything again, I found THEY GAVE ME THE WRONG USB STICK!!! The fourth time I went back to the printer, I received my correct information on another stick and happily went home and uploaded my manuscript and illustrations. Oh, but maybe I forgot some people to thank in my acknowledgments!!!!! SHIT! Whoever you may be (I won’t embarrass you here) who was a cheerleader for me along the way, I hope I mentioned you and please forgive me if I missed you.

I have to say a huge thanks to all of you who “like” my posts. It is incredibly encouraging when this writing thing is a lonely process.

 

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I want to be able to get “Mother Nature’s Kiss” out to you before the end of the summer but it is now in the hands of the publisher. I chose a Canadian publishing house this time as I felt I can keep the price at a competitive point without worrying about the Canadian exchange working against me. In other words, all my American friends can buy it for a real deal!!

I’ll keep you posted but in the meantime, keep enjoying the summer and looking up at those beautiful starry nights.

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As I wrote in the introduction:

I wanted to share it as a common love for a warm summer evening.

The idea of Mother Nature is one of universal and perfect love. It crosses borders, culture and time.

May we be reminded that with every shooting star and every warm breeze, Mother Nature is reaching out to all of us.

Happy July to you all. xoxo

 

 

The Making of an Angel

Procrastinate No More! My head was full of doubt when I woke up and said to myself, this is the day! I have been putting off painting the last few illustrations for my new book, the bedtime story, Mother Nature’s Kiss. I don’t know what gets into us to create doubt and fear, but it is insidious.

The most daunting illustration was to be of an angel flying with a comet to accompany:

Out in the galaxy, angels abound,

Flying with the comets with all the stars around!

Zooming by, they smile and shine down their love

And sprinkle twinkle stardust from Heaven above.

I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t find it within me to begin…

But I did.

First, I like to search for visuals on the internet to help me find an inspiration. I didn’t find what I was looking for so I started sketching and after a couple of duds, I came up with this.

Now, I had to commit! I started sketching on the final paper and tried to trust myself. I put in my earpods, fired up spotify and went to work!

Just for fun, I’ll show you a progression.

I looked around for a cool image of a comet and finally came up with this:

Here she is! I think I’ll call her Stella.

Stella has taught me to trust myself. Maybe it’s a bit of twinkle stardust that helped me today. I hope you felt some too. xox

Best Wishes

December had its highs and lows this year. We bid a sad farewell to dear friends and a fond hello to new ones. It is a time for reflection amidst the joy of being with loved ones. My emotions were on a rollercoaster and happy tears flowed along with the sad ones.

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You can pack a lot into a month and I sure did. Some of the

high points were sharing my book with the girls at Connie

and Lily’s book club (see my last post)

 

 

 

and participating in the RiverCross Craft Fair where there were fairies trapped in jars and purple decorations and gifts everywhere. Gifts of the Crysnix just fit right in! I set up shop in the library along with author, Lisa Young. Visit her website here.

Between the two of us, we had great fun selling our books and visiting with the many people who came by the craft fair. Below is a slideshow of the day. Enjoy.

The month carried on and I found myself back in Arizona where I went to Vicki O’Connor’s Open House. Remember it last year? I showcased my book there but this year I relaxed as a guest and enjoyed the beauty and range of Vicki’s artistic talents and was off-duty. 😉

To find more of Vicki’s work you can see it here.

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The showcased author this year was Sally Schrempf who was promoting her new book Forget the Fad and Eat the Food. Sally’s warm and funny personality shines through as she guides us to eat healthy and have fun doing it. You can buy it here.

 

 

December wouldn’t be December without Laura’s cookie making party!

Thanks to my elves for helping with the decorating! Those shortbread trees travel across continents and borders and have been a tradition in my family for many years. Yummy!!

Special sunsets and visits with family and new friends rounded out the Arizona trip. I won’t embarrass my daughter with pictures of her but we sure lucked out with the sunset that had the bonus of the full (almost super) moon rising.

Up to Canada we went and Christmas set into full swing! The weather even cooperated with a beautiful dump of snow on Christmas Eve. The table was packed as usual and the kids big and small, all had a ball.

It was a month of first steps and first time on skis for my grandsons, and first words for our granddaughter. A year for weddings – my son in July and an engagement for my step-daughter. And a year for tough things that test us; broken bones and broken hearts with the loss of too many friends.

This is the month when we touch base with the many people who mean so much to us. It is a time to reflect on our good fortune and make promises to ourselves to be better people. So love yourself and be good to your loved ones. My very best wishes to you all for a wonderful New Year.

Life’s Little Stumbles

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When I was two years old I learned the value of perseverance. I broke my left arm and had to suck it up all summer not being able to go swimming and playing like the rest of the kids. But, being only two, I didn’t understand the concept of time passing so being in a cast for 6 weeks was just something to deal with.

Without realizing it, I also learned patience and resilience. These concepts served me well when I broke my left leg three years later. I became a whiz on crutches and time passed. It was what it was and having no control over the healing time, I just sucked it up again.

 

Well, holy crap! I broke my left wrist AND left ankle this summer and I had to dig deep (still am) to remember the patience that is needed to get through. Perseverance and resilience are not a problem as I am patently reminded daily of my uncanny ability to live in denial.

The process has been humbling as I struggle with my belief that I am invincible crossed with the angst of trying to simply walk again. The last two months have been a time of reflection (couldn’t do much else) and insight into how life’s stumbles make us stronger.

images-1Oh, you may think – what a cliche. Well, yes it is and for good reason. But what I am talking about goes deeper than what is obvious. A poor trait of Humans is that we get complacent about what is the norm. When the status quo gets tossed and an unexpected injury or illness takes over our lives, we long for that which used to make us complacent. All of a sudden, we wish we could do the little things again and we are so grateful when we finally can. What a gift! That gratitude makes us deeper, wiser and more aware of life’s simple beauty that surrounds us all. The deeper the scar, the deeper the soul.

I was fortunate to have two book signings arranged before the accident. I really didn’t feel like drumming up business so I was happy to go to Poor Michael’s Emporium a few days after the injuries happened and then on to Indigo in Calgary again. I have to admit, I have felt pretty guilty about not posting about them. But, honestly, I didn’t feel well enough. My hand didn’t allow me to type properly and I had to have my foot elevated so I binge-watched Netflix with abandon!!

I want to thank all those lovely people who came out on a stormy night to listen to my readings at Poor Michael’s Emporium. It was an Onyx of a storm that night! All of the kids bought books and I hope they have enjoyed them!

My day at Indigo went really well. The store almost ran out of my books! I am always excited to talk about a story that helps us dream big and believe in ourselves.

Life’s little stumbles give us perspective. I’m not talking about the big pitfalls that change our life forever such as losing a loved one. Unfortunately, several of my friends and family have had to go through that recently and such profound loss creates a benchmark that will define life going forward. There is no comparison.

The perspective is a gentle one. It is the knowledge that we aren’t always in control of our lives but we are in control of how we live. It makes us take time to savour the little things and appreciate so much we take for granted.

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This time has also given me the gift to see a new side of my loved ones and myself.

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When friends and family offer to help me it makes me uncomfortable. I had to let go and accept help, which can be hard. I appreciate those who were there for me in a way that has bonded a love so strong, it has reached a new level. All the things I took for granted like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping etc. were done for me. The humility I found forged a stronger love for them. I also found a stronger commitment to appreciate life.

 

I have always been the kind of person who notices the beauty around us. It just makes me feel better. Being house bound has made me ache to take a walk at sunset or ride my bike or go for a run. I am so fortunate that I will do those things again. Beyond that, I have a deeper appreciation for those who are bound to a wheelchair. Those incredible people who have dug so deep to carry on and make a great life for themselves. They are the true testament for living with perseverance, patience, and resilience. I have the most profound respect for anyone who has dealt with a life-altering accident.

Mine was just a little stumble.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hungry​ Monster Interview

If you think that writing  a book is daunting, it’s only half of the work once you jump into the ocean of publicity and promotional options. Authors who love to write and bring their stories to the masses have to be adept at having a marketing brain as well as being a wordsmith. That is why it is such a treat to have help from the interviews and reviews.

My last post was about the Hungry Monster Review, which I really appreciated. Now I have the honour to share the interview from Hungry Monster. I can’t express enough how exciting it is to interact with those who make it their passion to promote authors like me.

Thanks again to Thomas Anderson for his time and kind insights.

Please read the interview here.

Cheers to all and have a great day!

The Winnipeg Launch

Hello, Winnipeg! Welcome to my launch!

Lisa Book Launch  05McNally Robinson Booksellers … (cue dramatic music …) a mecca for any prairie author to give a reading and launch.

It is one of the most beautiful and HUGE independent bookstores that still remains in North America and is the largest in Canada. You can just feel the unique touches as you walk in – the children’s section built like a treehouse, complete with a full line of clothing and soft toys, the fabulous Prairie Ink Restaurant and the photos celebrating hometown authors adorning the walls like a frieze of accolades. This is a special place and I was so honoured to have my launch there recently.

Thank goodness it wasn’t a scene from Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again! That expression was so false when I looked out at the many faces of the people who took time out of a beautiful summer evening to attend my launch.

Family, friends from my school days and friends of my parents, dear friends I can never see enough of and old friends I haven’t seen in years, all came to support me. I can’t thank them enough for their love and “being there” for me.

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My dear friend, Patty Christie introduced me. To give you the level of the bar of the people there, she came and stood at the podium to introduce me after a hip replacement two weeks before! Man, I have good friends!

 

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My best friend from high school, Ali Hanks came by and her husband, Bruce, (and by the way a huge shout out to all the husbands who attended!) took these pictures. Thanks so much, Bruce!

 

My readings were set to the music of Thomas Newman, lowland and Hans Zimmer. Quite an accompaniment! If you would like to hear the music again you can click here , here and here . The first selection was the Prologue and you can read along to the music for fun. It is very dreamy and dramatic and you just feel swept away into another world. I love reading to music and plan to create YouTube videos of me reading to these selections and more.

As I signed books and chatted with old friends, I felt so grateful for the reconnection to Winnipeg. True to the Crysnix magic, the whole evening’s success was a wish come true.

I just heard from John Toews, who is the Events Coordinator, that my book reached #1 that week! 

Here is a video I pulled together. Honestly, I need a resident high school kid to help me with this stuff! Just another reason why I miss my kids. Many thanks to my son, Lee for his amazing help through the evening and to him and his fiancee, Emily for putting me up and putting up with me! 🙂

A video of the evening and much love to all. xoxox

My New Fan

The students file into the library and I smile at the eager faces. I am at my old neighbourhood school and I marvel at how time has passed so quickly since my kids were attending Robert H. Smith School.

The familiar brick walls and corridors call out to my memories of when I was one of the moms who was a permanent fixture, helping out when and wherever I could just to get a glimpse of my kids during their school day.

This is from the letter I sent to the principal, to introduce myself:

I grew up in River Heights and brought up my family there. My three children went through Robert H. Smith in the ’80’s and I was very involved with the school. At the time, I had a video production company and I created a video about the building of the new school and the historic accolades of the original. It was a great fundraising project but also became a testament to the legacy of the presence of the school in the community.

Although I now live in Calgary, my son still lives in River Heights. When I visit him, I love how the memories flood in as I drive by the school. Memories of a very happy time in my life as I raised my young children as part of a loving and thriving community.

My book, “Gifts of the Crysnix”, is about a small community and the people trying to live with purpose. It is about choices and making the right ones to better their lives. Targeted to your middle-grade students, it promotes the message that they have tremendous power over their lives

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by trusting their instincts and believing in themselves. This is the gist of my presentation to them. I will talk about life choices, the science behind a wish and also the components of creating a good story. 

My presentation went well and I was thrilled to have the kids line up to buy the book. There were so many, I was struggling to come up with original notes to write alongside my signature!

As I was leaving, I realized I didn’t have a picture of the school. The children were all streaming out of the school, on their way home for the day. I asked one of the boys who bought my book if he would mind taking a picture of me. I asked his name and Daniel smiled and took this great picture of me. IMG_2001Thanks, Daniel!

I was loading my things into my car as Daniel and his mom came running up to me. Daniel’s mom asked if she could take a picture of Daniel and me. I was so touched.

After, as he was running back to his mom’s car, Daniel called out to me, “I’m your new fan!”

Wow, what a high point of the day! When I think of the years it took me to have the guts to publish this book, I wonder – honestly, why did it take me so long?

Old School

With a couple of weeks to go before school lets out for the summer, the students at Balmoral Hall School must have thought I was crazy when I exclaimed how GREAT it was to be back!IMG_2012

But, really, it was.

I began in Kindergarten and left in Grade 7. The memories are rich and textured and, although the school has changed quite a bit with brilliant new wings and lofty ceilings,

 

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the exterior of the old school is still there and the memories are visceral as I remember how it felt to push out the heavy doors and run down the stairs to the playground.

 

 

 

 

IMG_2007 I was struck by the feeling of belonging as I noticed the beautiful, bronze plaque from a capital campaign years ago, and chuckled at my name engraved on it. I felt proud of the connection

 

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My presentation in the beautiful Sifton Theatre Auditorium went off without a hitch as I reminded the girls to believe in themselves and to fight the fear that holds them back from living their best lives.

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After, I really enjoyed meeting the girls and hearing their DSC00675.JPGdreams of being a writer. There was zero doubt in my mind they would go places and have a significant impact on the world.

DSC00674It was an honour to put a note in a beautiful writing journal.

 

 

 

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I stood under the pictures of the Head Mistresses who were there so many years ago with me. There have been five more Heads of School since and I felt like I entered a time warp.

There is nothing left of the old senior school as I signed in at the new entrance. Complete with a buzz-in system and guard at the front, I wondered, what has the world has come to? as I clipped on my visitor tag.

 

Gone are the days when I used my crutches with my broken leg in Grade 1 and won at “Mother, My I?” under the glass passage. The old swing sets are gone and with them the original and all engrossing pastime of swing tag. The kilts are still there, though, and the prefects and Closing Exercises, and I am convinced the facilities, ethics and dedication toward our leaders of tomorrow are new and improved.

As I walked to my car, I glanced at the old Junior School. Still the tindlestone brick and the many windows we all looked out of, almost every day of our formative years. I paused and looked at one window in particular and a hilarious memory flooded in of when a schoolmate climbed out of it, causing quite a stir as she inched along the outside of the building and climbed in the next one. I remember telling my mom about it and she just laughed along with me. She was definitely NOT old school.

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Many thanks to Balmoral Hall for the warm welcome and the warmest of new memories. There is something definitely intriguing about going back … to the place of your foundation and the seat of your ideals and values and friendships and aspirations … to your old school.