Found on Floor – Reading

She pulled out the magnifier and peered intently at them.

Chapter 27, Eye of the Magpie

I came across this little darling in my Costco store, sitting quietly, engrossed in her reading. Mom was across the aisle, sock shopping. I asked and received permission to take the photo. The little girl smiled up at me and nonchalantly accepted my direction not to look at my phone but to continue reading. Both mom and daughter liked the picture but did not ask for a copy – a sign of our selfie state, we don’t need extra photos, thank you ever so much.

What tickled me about the scene was that she was happily reading, engrossed in her reading, that invisible umbilical cord between parent and child was long and slack, neither seemed concerned about where the other was. And that spoke to me that this was a normal, everyday thing for them. It was a testament of faith for me. Here was a whole new generation rising up the age ladder and this one exhibited a love of reading.

As a writer I sometimes feel I am shouting into the wind. I wonder if there is anyone out there interested in my stories. Oh, I’ve received much oral feedback that my first book was a page-turner, that the person could not put it down, that he/she loved my tale. Fleeting encouragement, happily received. Enough to keep me going and working on my second novel, as yet unnamed.

This picture will not get deleted from my phone. When the moment comes where I need inspiration to keep going (and those moments are many) then I will pull out my phone and peek at it and smile.

Yes! There are readers out there. Yes! They love stories. Perhaps even mine.

Inspiration from the Super Blood Wolf Moon’s Eclipse

Now you have my curiosity all stirred up. What did you find?” said Glenda to Aimee.

Chapter 27, Eye of the Magpie

Sunday night’s event really excited me. I was compelled to step out on my back porch every ten or fifteen minutes to peer up at the moon just to see what it looked like now.

It was like being a kid again, think about it. As babies we got excited looking at the blades of grass just beyond our blanket and we had achieved the ultimate if we could just wiggle our way off the blanket and grab a fistful of the stuff. Then we progressed to walking and think of the glow we got from pulling out all the pots and pans from the bottom cupboards or digging our little hands into a potted plant and tasting it! Eventually the thrill was a new playground with a different slide or merry-go-round. Then before we knew it we were grown and while excited at the prospects, once we were old enough to actually drive and go on trips by ourselves, we began to experience an ennui, a boredom in watching the scenery fly by. More trees or more prairies or GASP! more mountains. Are we there yet? It’s like the storage pot of our visual stimulation has been saturated and NOTHING can possibly be exciting again.

Ergo my joy at being tickled by the changing view of the moon.

Luckily, it was a warm night in Edmonton, while eastern Canada was freezing we were enjoying temperatures hovering just below the zero mark, making winter more than tolerable. (A bit of a twist there from the ordinary.)

I went to bed with an insight about winter: we plan winter projects to keep us busy, a chair to recover, a room to paint, a novel to finish. Yet, if you are like me, we procrastinate all winter long. Why? I think part of it is the light. It is damn hard to get up in the morning to the dark and then the day ends early, so, oh, I’m done working on this, look at how dark it is, what’s for supper? And the other part is the cold. I wanna stay under the covers, snuggled nice and cosy and warm. I don’t wanna go outside. We become recluse, sluggish and turn into under-achievers.

Compare that to a summer morning. The sun is bright in the beautiful blue sky, the aspen whisper “come out, come out,” with every breeze, the flowers smell sumptuous. The outdoors beckons to us. We wake up invigorated. We jump out of bed and are occupied until we plunk back down into it. There’s errands and gardening and house things to keep us busy and visiting and going for picnics and hikes and festivals and all kinds of outdoor things to do. We’re no longer held hostage by our couches and Netflix, who has time for that! and suddenly any deadlines we have are met, even surpassed.

Don’t get me wrong, we still socialize in the winter and wander out into the cold. This past weekend we had a get-together with friends and went for a hike Sunday afternoon out and around Lake Chickakoo. However, most nights we’re ready for bed by nine-thirty. Compare that with summer, we’re still out and about at nine-thirty at night, why, it’s not even dark yet!

So, yes, I admit I have been lazy of late. It is time to crack the whip and get going. My goal is to have my second novel completed to the first draft stage by May. The countdown starts now. Winter be damned. Thank you, Moon.

RELATIONSHIPS

Kindred spirits to the end.

Chapter 34, Eye of the Magpie

Today I was asked how I could be so nice to Mike’s ex. The question took me aback as I met Mike when he was twenty-two and Victoria was nowhere in the picture. She was his first girlfriend when they were both still kids. Would he be uncivil to my first boyfriend if he met him?

All relationships enrich us and they stay a part of us even when we no longer play a role in each other’s lives. (The odd element in this story is that he kept the gift unopened for so long.) And the bonus was that we raised over a thousand dollars for the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton.

Here’s to friendship wherever you find it.

Let me back up a little bit of give you context on the above. While I was writing Eye of the Magpie my husband became an internet sensation over an unopened Christmas gift he has been lugging around with him for 47 years.

Continue reading “RELATIONSHIPS”

The NANOWRIMO Challenge

“Glenda, that is so exciting, you’ll have a whole new project on the go,” exclaimed Aimee

Chapter 58, Eye of the Magpie

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo for 2018 and I am excited. I have been ruminating over my next novel for some time and I am ready to begin the process of laying it down.

The novel is set on Vancouver Island. Three ladies from Alberta (one is Josie, Aimee Brace’s mother from my first novel, Eye of the Magpie) are on a holiday and the excitement begins when they reach Tofino. They stop for gas at a small country station in the countryside. They are engaged in a conversation which they continue, while refuelling and buying snacks. The trouble is the fellow who is helping them thinks they are talking about him and takes umbrage. He begins to stalk them.

I find it interesting that I am starting this piece of fiction, inspired by the van attack on pedestrians that occurred in Toronto last April, on the same day that it is announced that the case against Alek Minassian will skip a preliminary hearing and head straight to trial, a trial that will take place in ten to eighteen months. The assailant was described as a member of an Incel group, something I had never heard of before. Researching material on the Incel movement is not for the feint of heart. They rail against women and women’s rights in the most graphic and hateful way. To say they are misogynistic is an understatement.

Nanowrimo demands over fifteen hundred words a day to complete successfully. Wish me luck in my endeavour.

Gratitude

They are gifts to be treasured.”

Chapter 58, Eye of the Magpie

While my sales are slow, the feedback I am getting from people is amazing and extremely rewarding, like this one.

Excellent, excellent, excellent!

Wonderful story, captivating and suspenseful.

Very proud of you.

Can’t wait for the next book.

   – Deborah, Sept 13, 2018

The Trials of Self-Publishing

“For all we know he was her killer,” Glenda replied softly.

“Yep, that is true. Glenda, where’s all this leading? What would we do if we did find this guy?”

Chapter 9, Eye of the Magpie

As the Queen of Formatting, I have to admit it was a daunting process to upload my book to Amazon. I had taken an intense self-publishing course through our local library that helped me tremendously. AND it still took me almost two months to upload my book.   :^(

The first hurdle was errors in my manuscript. I click through all of them. Some are typos in dialogue, and I tell the reviewer to ignore them. If I remember right, I think I had two actual spelling mistakes, and I think that is pretty darn good. I correct and then reload my document. That Folks, takes maybe an hour of time. The rest of the saga involves my struggles with the book cover. It is a bit of a comedy of errors.

The lovely Joelle Johnson, of Saskatoon fame, did a beautiful piece of artwork for me for my cover. In the top left-hand corner there is an angry magpie, coming in for a landing. Below it we see, through a rifle scope, our two intrepid sleuths, engaged in conversation. There is a red wash over the whole page, some dripping down menacingly towards the women.

Neither Joelle nor I had ever created a book cover before. My first realization was that the format of the picture was wrong. The watercolour is a slight rectangle, closer to a square. A standard book cover is six inches by nine inches, a taller rectangle.

I have never mastered a graphic software like Photoshop; I have used simple, free-ones successfully that I have found on the web in the past, to resize a picture or take out red eye. I thought it would be easy enough to do some photo editing, say with cropping. Not so fast.

Programs that I used in the past were no longer available. I did a bit of research and found GIMP 2.10. It is not simple. It has a lot of icons that I haven’t got a clue what they mean or what they do. But it is free. I spend a day or two experimenting with various buttons and perusing their online manual and finally come up with this:

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Then I upload my book cover to Amazon, fill in a bunch of boxes, find out I need a TIN number for US taxation purposes, contact another Canadian author who goes Huh?, Contact my accountant, who knows exactly what I am talking about and informs me no, I don’t need a TIN. figure out a way for Amazon to pay me, and my e-Book is uploaded. But … Amazon takes 72 hours to review it before it finally pops up in their store.

Continue reading “The Trials of Self-Publishing”

The Journey Begins

This became the beginning of something Gene looked forward to and took great pleasure in. — Chapter 11, Eye of the Magpie

While I wait for you, my esteemed readers, to find me on this blog, I’ve decided to add some recipes, cooked up in in my book, Eye of the Magpie, that you might enjoy.

20180711_202159_resizedMy big bad wolf piece of pie

Today, my husband, Adrian “Mike” Pearce, made a delicious rhubarb and strawberry pie. So, I’ve decided to start with it.

For this particular pie, he used the Tenderflake crust and about two cups of strawberries and two cups of rhubarb.

Usually Mike uses my Mom’s Crisco recipe for his pie crusts. And I do attest that his pies are 99.9% as good as Martha’s. The Recipe comes from the old Crisco boxes. They have updated the recipe a few times since this version.20180711_153145_resized

Sometimes though, due to time pressures, he cheats and buys Tenderflake pre-made pie crusts. He and I have the continual debate of which is better: a shortening-based or a lard-based pie crust. His Mom used Tenderflake, ergo his preference.20180711_153319_resized

Regardless of the shell, most people believe it is what’s on the inside that counts. And for that, Mike turns to the Joy of Cooking, pg. 650, “Berry Pie with Fresh Fruit” recipe. (Tenth printing edition, June 1978.)

Our friend, Jeff Woodward, labelled Mike (or Adrian, as he calls him) a baker and myself a cook. That is because I hardly ever exactly measure anything. I follow my Mom’s rule of thumb for making pies.

Mom used about five cups of filling. She would put the fruit in a bowl and sprinkle it with sugar. Her ratio was about one-half cup sugar and up to two-thirds of a cup of sugar for each cup of fruit. Less for sweet things like apples and peaches and more for sour things like rhubarb.

After the sugar was well-stirred into the fruit, Mom would add a few tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken up the ‘sauce’ made from the sugar and fruit. Apple pie is the only time I remember her using any spices, a bit of nutmeg and a lot of cinnamon. If the apples were dry, she added small bits of butter atop them, after pouring the fruit into the shell.

Once the fruit mixture was in the pie shell, Mom would fold the top crust and cut triangular shapes into it. She would carefully add it atop the big mound of fruit filling and pinch the two crusts together with her finger and thumb. Then she would pop it into the pre-heated oven (400 degrees,) turn the heat down to 325 degrees and bake it for about forty minutes. Yummy!

I’ve never mastered the art of making pie dough. Mine comes out hard, non-malleable, and never quite tastes done. Yet to watch Mike today, or Mom in the past, make pies, it looks like the easiest thing in the world. With the Crisco recipe, and Mike or my Mom’s hands, the crust is light and flaky yet substantial enough that you can pick up a piece of pie and eat it just like that.

That magic and the magic of eating the fruit from your very own garden, picked that day and baked into a pie, well, it never gets old.

Before I go, I just need to add one more thing: that I cant wait for my sisters to read this and tell me that what I wrote is NOTHING like how Mom made pies!