Books that Move Us

Twice now, a reader told me that they cried while reading Ghosts on the Prairies. Oddly enough it was a different character that triggered each one and a different plot point each time.

Amazon.com
Got me thinking about the last book that moved me to tears. I know I mentioned it once before but I was at the dentist reading Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis and it moved me to tears twice! Once it was tears from laughing (see post here) so blasted hard and the other it was tears of pure joy at the way they greeted the freed slaves.

What made me cry? Well, trying not to laugh in public does that to me, and this kid was fun to read. And of course the tears of joy were from the idea of the freed slaves being so overjoyed-- which I find very emotional to begin with. But overall it was the voice. The way this kid captures the moment... magic!

It is a powerfully written, moving story that had me captivated by a fun voice like no other. I dare you to read it and let me know if it gotcha!

So, what has moved you to tears? Is it characters, voice, or plot that getcha teary?

Your Own Adventure

Everyone has a different outlook on life. This is clear. But, I'm about to tell you a story about three dogs going for a walk, and then you tell me, which adventure is for you.

It all started out as a beautiful sunny day. Is it safe to start a story that ends with me covered in frozen drool that way? I suppose so, since it's not really about me. So, I took my couch potato St Bernard and my sister's two bratty, but fun, terrier-type dogs, Buddy and Maggie for a walk. It began simple enough when I opened the front door. Like any adventure, none of us knew what to expect, but we had hope-- this would be great.

Quickly, I discovered that Buddy liked to run in leaps and bounds as if this was the party of the year. He never looked back to see if we were coming. Frankly, I don't think he cared about me at all. So I just let him go. What trouble could he get into, right? He was having fun, that's what life was all about, besides, I liked his life is a party attitude.
 
My own dog, Sara, stayed deep in the snowbanks, taking the road less travelled. Sometimes, she vanished completely in the snow to emerge in a victorious leap. It was very thrilling to witness. She even dug up something that she swallowed. Not sure what that was about, but she looked right proud of herself. Hmmm. Again, I let it go; her daring, let's go on an adventure spirit was inspiring.

Our journey was called to a halt when I realized we lost someone. Maggie was gone. Missing. Argh. She does that a lot. In fact, I have my suspicions that she's secret agent M, (a partner to that platypus on Phineas and Ferb.) Anyway. We backtracked, because, secret agent or not, I wasn't sure my sister's dog knew the way home, and I was curious where she was this time.

Ah there she was, sitting on Grandma's stoop, so innocently. Once she saw us, she raced home happy that we came back for her. This forced the rest of us to head home, too.

Buddy didn't seem to mind. If ever there was someone living a rockstar life, it was that dog.
Now, Sara was not impressed that her walk was cut short, because someone wanted to visit Grandma, so she played dead. Yup. A 180lb lump in a snowbank who ignored my sweet coaxing. The others came back to watch. I'm sure even the neighbours were watching. This was her idea of fun, not mine.
Frustrated that things weren't going the way I wanted, I got the leash out and climbed in the snow. Big mistake.

it was a trap we won't discuss

We did make it home, eventually. Covered in snow and frozen drool, I walked into the house, with all three dogs. We journeyed the same path. We started at home and made it back at the same time, yet not one of us had the same experience.
Sara took the hard way.
Buddy partied it up.
Maggie detoured to Grandma's for cookies or something. I didn't ask-- secrets agents prefer if you mind your own business, besides she can get a little mean if I confront her about things, so I keep it light.
That left me, trying to control the chaos so everyone else can be happy.

What an adventure life can be, and that was just a walk.

So what path did you walk today?

A Peek Into Your Life- Suzi Retzlaff

A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

Today I am so excite to give you all a peek into Suzi Retzlaff's life.

We met via our blogs. I have no idea who found who first, but when I stopped by her place I was hooked. Why? It's all about writing and reading which is my weakness.

Now the beautiful part is that even if you aren't a writer, you'll love her blog. She talks about books. So far, the books she recommends have made wonderful gifts for my mom and daughter. They are the exact things they love to read!!! So I feel like a won the lottery, because finding them books to read is now easy-- I just visit Suzi!

It's also where I won my first autographed book!

Plus Suzi finds the most interesting people for us to meet (and I get to be on her list of cool invites so be sure to visit!). This is a gem of a site and I keep it in my Partner in Crime list so I don't miss anything!


But enough about me, it's Suzi we want to meet. Since her blog is such a great place, let's start with that.

Suzi and her daughter on a trip to Chicago,
in the Willis Tower. 
Which was more widely known 
as the Sears Tower until 
some guy came in and changed it.

How did you become a blogger?
I became a blogger like many other writers. Because I thought it was what I had to do. I wanted to do it too, of course, but I probably wouldn’t be blogging if I wasn’t a writer trying to get published. It took me a while to get into the groove, but I finally figured out what I was doing.

What is the best thing that has come out running such an intriguing and diverse blog?
The best thing for me that’s come out of blogging is meeting other writers. It’s a great way to connect with others and there’s so many people I probably would’ve never met if it hadn’t been through blogging.

Is there a particular genre, target audience or age group you write for?
Even though I’ve written some adult contemporary stories, I’ve been concentrating on young adult. I sort of fell into it a few years back. Wrote a story with teenagers and then started reading online more about YA, which has different ‘rules’ than adult fiction of course. I never really intended to write YA, but once I wrote that first story, I started reading it too, and fell in love with it.

Right now I’m revising one of my old YA stories. It’s about a foster girl who has a hard time opening up to others. I’ve learned so much since I first wrote this story. When I first got into writing, I never realized how big the learning curve would be. Writing a book is easy. Writing a book well is not.

How much time do you spend writing in an average week?
I’m not one of those writers who feels like I have to write a certain word count every week. Once I get into a story, the writing flows easily. I’ve written a novel in four weeks, but that is not the norm, especially since I’m usually revising one and writing another. Now it’s more like 3-6 months to write a novel.

Where is your fav place to read or write?
I don’t have a favorite place to read, other than a spot where nobody is bothering me. Whether that’s in bed or on the couch or sitting outside, it doesn’t matter. Just as long as it’s kid free.

I can give you my favorite place to write. It only happened once, but I’d love to go back. A few years back, my husband and I took a trip to Hawaii. I spent hours writing as I sat in a covered lounge chair overlooking the ocean. Listening to the waves roll in and smelling the salty sea. It was perfect.
  
Oh gosh. Sounds heavenly.
And we have a lot in common, I like to revise while writing too! 

We have to stop there, because a peek is really just a peek after all!
Still, that was fun.
I love peeking into the lives of others, and showing off a great blogger-writer like Suzi was perfect!
Thanks for stopping by Suzi, and all the best in your writing.
To read more about Suzi, be sure to stop by her blog for a chat.
Literary Engineer

Ghosts on the Prairies, a Sacred Land Story

GHOSTS ON THE PRAIRIES is now available in PAPERBACK HERE  HERE FOR CANADIANS             

Cover by Alison Buck
GHOSTS ON THE PRAIRIES 
A Sacred Land Story for adults
By Tanya Reimer
Elsewhen Press

ISBN paperback: 9781908168436 
ISBN ebook: 9781908168535
Elsewhen Press
Bootleggers, slavery, fools in sheets, spirits, shifty tunnel runners, even exploding churches.

Some things are worth a fight. Strong words that Antoine’s father drilled into him. After his father mysteriously vanishes one night, Antoine must find another income or he risks losing the Sacred Land that his father swore to protect. Working on a ranch, Antoine meets Emma, a victim of underground slavery.

Fighting for her freedom costs him his home, his sister, his best friend, and puts in question all of his values. If he succeeds, will she and her son fit into his world?


Storytellers

I had a short stay in the hospital a few years back, and I was feeling well enough to write so I pulled out my netbook and started revising a manuscript. A nurse came in to see how I was doing and told me I shouldn't be working. So I quickly explained it was a story I was working on. Purely for fun.

She paused on her way out the door and asked what the story was about. And so I started to tell her about the magic but I didn't get far, because by the gleam in her eye, she had a story to share and I was curious. "Do  you believe in magic?" I asked.

Of course she didn't...
                                But she did.

She came back in and told me a story about a magical fairy that haunts her cottage. A fairy?!

I snapped my netbook shut to listen. She was excited to have my attention and told her story with an incredible passion that drew others in the room.

Another shared a story bordering on the paranormal.

And another.

The afternoon passed and I was told several very interesting and unusual stories. For example the patient across from me knew my grandmother and Dad. She had stories to share about them that were real and magical in a very different way.

I didn't do much revising until later that night, because each time I tried, a new story presented itself. Each one was magical, and each one came from someone different. I was captivated and entertained all day.

When I left a few days later, a nurse called after me, that they couldn't wait to read MY stories. And I realized, I hadn't shared a single tale of my own, yet... everyone everywhere was still sharing stories! It was an epidemic!!!! (a good one.)

We love to be entertained, but there's something in us that just loves to entertain. We are all storytellers, because we all have a story to tell. So go... share your stories and watch the magic.

Who told you the last good story you heard?
Have you ever witnessed the magic of how a good story gets others to share one too? Love it!

Are You Safe Online? Part 1- PICTURES

During the teen technology workshops we talk a lot about things that put us in danger, especially on the Internet and with Social Media. We creep around these sites and find things people are doing that are putting them at risk so we can talk about them; how to avoid making these mistakes and how to help others be safe.

We discovered a bunch of good ways to use these sites, but the ways that put up red flags made us really nervous because... well, we were all doing them!

The trouble areas are all grouped in a few places I decided to dedicate a post to each of these places. So let's look at pictures first.

They are so easy to post online. I can do it from my phone and put it on several different types of sites. I can email them from my phone, and one day (if someone wants to show me how) I might be able to text them. Cool. Handy. But if I don't stop and think about what is in that picture, I might be putting myself at risk because they aren't so easy to remove. Once a picture is online, it can be stored in the archives forever. It can be shared via various social media, saved to other computers, phones... and basically take on a life of its own. It doesn't mean it will, but it can.

This is our list of things we found that put us at risk:
  • Anything embarrassing to anyone. (anyone includes our friends, our children, our teachers... EVERYONE) They are SOOOO funny! But! They stopped being funny when I asked what a future boyfriend or a college would think about these pictures? What if they wanted to run for mayor or their children found it one day? Or what if it became a Meme!?
  • Inappropriate pictures of  anyone. 
  • Parents posting pictures of their children. This one really annoyed them, and these teens were born after parents started doing this. I'm not so sure how these babies who we follow taking their first step, first pee, first big boy pants are going to feel in fifteen years about those pictures of them with their names over them and the date stamped on it. One teen commented, "I know this is funny, and so cute, but if it was me, I would be pissed that my parents posted this and it went viral."
  • Tags. Being tagged in a photos is fun, except when you don't want to be. We found all sorts of examples from being caught at a party you were not supposed to be at because a friend tagged you, to being linked in a Google search to someone negative because they tagged you in a photo.
  • Not asking permission to share, but worse, sharing things you don't want public. This happened to me; I found a neat picture, I asked the host if I could share it and suddenly the picture vanished... hmm. A good rule is to never post things in public you don't want shared. Please stop. Please ask. 
  • Viruses. We did not know that liking or sharing a picture was leaving a digital trace that exposed us and everyone we were linked to through this share. Think before you click. A good example was the picture of a celebrity promising cash to someone who shares this photo. 
  • Sharing personal data. We spent an entire class learning how to protect our reputation and then we learnt that with each Like or Share of those pictures, we were helping to create a personal data base of our preferences. We tested it out and I'll share the results in a different post.
  • Leaving geo-location on them. Heck we even met someone who was using a pen name but left his real life name, date, and location stamp on the picture. Handy for stalkers like us.
  • Personal information. Taking a look, a good look at what is in a picture. Names of churches, schools, street names, house numbers, little brothers peeing it the back. Ohlala. 
Do you have any pictures of yourself out there you wish you could take back? Any pictures that made you cringe? Do a search of your name and images that link to it... surprised? Any other feedback is welcome.

The Tombstone Game

Ever hear of the tombstone game? I read about it in a book.

How it works is that you ask someone randomly what they want on their tombstone. Tell them to really think about it because these are the words they will be remembered by forever. Their answer is apparently their goal or belief in life and it's what they aspire to be.

So one might say, "A fun guy."

Regardless of what they say, it probably won't surprise you and will be easy to remember. I look at my friends with this info in the back of my mind. He wants respect. She wants friends. She wants to be happy. He wants to be remembered. She wants to make a difference. He wants to touch lives.

Now what do you do with this information? Lots. My fav is to bring it back up to make their day. In the case of my example, when this "fun" guy does something fun, you toss the compliment out, "Wow, you are so much fun to be with." and bang! It's amazing how they beam and warm up to you!!!

So I use this a lot... sometimes to get my way. Sorry, but magic works that way. My own little magical whispers.

And this week I started using it on my characters. I know each one well, I thought he'd want this or that, it would be easy. But it wasn't. Because this goal we set ourselves is deep and this is what we really want but it's like an impossible goal only we know how to live by. So here are a few examples I pulled from my WIPs:

  • My guy who lost his memories said all he wanted on his tombstone was "lived a happy moment". I was shocked because he runs around helping everyone and is nuts about finding out about his past... yet knowing what his own goal is, changed the ending because now I know why he does that, and I just have to give him one happy moment to remember. I can do that. 
  • My one character born into a dark family, well, I knew he didn't want to be evil, but what would he put on his tombstone? "You only have to save one." And really, it made sense. He believes he will save himself by saving his father. 
  • So the father? He's just nasty. What did he want? "Finally Free." Wow. That's right, the entire book his goal is to die. (immortals are weird that way.)
I learnt so much about my characters-- about as much as I learnt about my friends-- with this little experiment.

So what would you like on your tombstone? Think about it, because it might change what you do today. 

The Legend of Whisperers

In the beginning of time, when God made the world, he split the creatures into two. Those with magic and those without. Every creature had a place but those with magic were fascinated by those without. They intervened in the non-magic world known as the mortal realm to teach. One group in particular began to integrate themselves into this mortal world: the Whisperers.

Whisperers were immortal. They called themselves a conscience for mortals and they took upon the task of guiding them along their intriguing journey.

Purposely, Whisperers led their parties astray to see what would happen and to study the results. God grew tired of the abuse and decided to offer them a chance to live as the mortals do. Each immortal was split in two. He ordered them to pair up with mortals and learn hands on how to live without magic, to die, and to love. He offered their magic to demons and promised that if Whisperers found their other half and were content with what they’d learnt, He’d allow them to return to the heavens as the immortals they once were. 

Time passed. Powerless and confused they were forced to try new things. Some earned back their magic from demons; others discovered memories and secret worlds known as realms. Always, they had this need to guide and teach the creatures from the mortal realm and sometimes, magic seeped into to their teachings. They didn't limit themselves to just humans, but animals, elements, even insects were at their mercy.

Slowly Whisperers found their powers and each other. They regrouped into families with leaders, counsellors, and rules. They left behind Notebooks to remind the next family of Whisperers of what they were and what they could do with their spells. They called their enchantment spells, whispers.

Each Whisperer grew in a new way and focused on a unique ability to whisper to as their calling. A Storm Whisperer whispers to nature. A Light Whisperer guides and controls the light that is someone’s spirit. A Love Whisperer or cupid controls their emotions. A Dark Whisperer encourages good people to do bad things. And so on...

In these families, they grew more powerful and vowed to never whisper alone. As they passed from life to life, reincarnating, pairing up with human souls, demonic souls or even with each other, they changed. This change was seen in their souls as a greyish colour. The transition could take one breath or thousands of lives.

As Grey Whisperers, their ultimate goal became to reach enlightenment and return to the heavens as gods. They remembered why they were here and in the remembering came an understanding. They mastered magic. They travelled to other realms. They understood concepts others didn’t and enjoyed teaching and learning. Some found their soulmates. All struggled with a new sensation; they felt more mortal than Whisperer, and this made them hesitate to return to the heavens, as they finally understood that they were unworthy of whispering to mortals

They deepened their studies and worshiped false gods in hopes that they would one day be worthy.

Their legends are many...
                                   their stories touch our lives...
                                     their whispers change the world.


*Note: in 2109 mortals had no idea what demons were and when demons took over the mortal realm, turning men to stone, they called them bogies, which came from a legend of a boogie monster that hid under children’s beds. The monster was actually Demon Mischief and the legend is true.

The first of the Whispering Tales by Tanya Reimer is PETRIFIED

It's takes place in 2115. They have Notebooks they don't understand and they have each other. But is that enough to save the world they've come to love?
Cover by Amber Rendon

PETRIFIED 

A Whispering Tale 
By Tanya Reimer
Sunbury Press
ISBN: 978-1-62006-358-3 (Trade Paperback) 
ISBN: 978-1-62006-359-0 (Mobipocket) 
ISBN: 978-1-62006-360-6 (ePub)

Legends say that when all hope is lost, Grey Whisperers will save the world.

It’s 2115 and hope is lost.

Bogies attack on the Saskatchewan prairies turning men to stone. Grey Whisperers have vanished.

Yet one boy has faith. Gabe might only be thirteen but he’s studied Notebooks written by Grey Whisperers
all his life. He believes they will come.

Even after bogies haul off his brother and pick Gabe as their next target,
he refuses to give up.

On the run, he befriends two special Whisperers. Together they use his Notebooks to tame the ghostly monsters with nothing but magical whispers. The trio set out to fight the enemy behind the attacks but the truth puts in question everything they believe in, even their friendship.

A Peach Almost Killed Me

I was an accident prone child. I am still a klutz, a gal gets used to it.

Probably the weirdest thing that just about killed me was the peach. I remember it in detail even though I was probably only three at the time. We had a new car and Dad bought a box of peaches on the way home. We stopped at a Drive-In A&W. (back then we didn't have drive-thru but drive-in; we pulled up, rolled down the window, someone took the order and brought the food to the car, on a red tray that hung on the window. Very cool. I remember every detail that matters.)

So anyway, this new car had a new feature; windows that rolled down with a button!!! The buttons for these were on the armrest of the door.

So my dad gives me a peach and tells me to bite into it. I'd never had such a thing but it smelled great. I bit into it and was shocked. It felt like a caterpillar was in my mouth! I rushed to spit it out, but didn't want to spit in the new car so I spit it out the window. Standing on the armrest. I must have stood on the buttons for the window because it started to close on me.

New things are sometimes confusing and there was a lot of screaming going on... and panicking. None of it from me. Still the window kept closing on me until I passed out.

I woke up in Hell. For those of you who have never been, it's a white room with florescent lights that pulsate and a demon woman tries to shove something up your bum, and if you fight her, she will restrain you.  Not a cool place. Someone saved me from it because when  I came to again, I was home on the couch with Dad. There were no peaches in the house, and I never got to eat another one until I moved out.

I have never just bit into one since, though-- that would be suicide. I always peel them, cut them and share them in a wide open space where spitting is allowed.

Anything weird almost take your life?

Petrified

So I knew they were going to be coming out close together, but it still feels a little surreal to have two books out within a few weeks of each other. 
Now out by Sunbury Press.

What they have to say:

Bogies attack on the Saskatchewan prairie 100 years from now. A 13 year old boy must stop them!

MOOSE JAW, Canada — Sunbury Press has released Tanya Reimer’s novel “Petrified,” a speculative young adult novel about a young lad from Saskatchewan who must save the world 100 years in the future.
petrified_fcAbout the Book:
Legends say that when all hope is lost, Grey Whisperers will save the world.
It’s 2115 and hope is lost.
Bogies attack on the Saskatchewan prairies turning men to stone.
Grey Whisperers have vanished.
Yet one boy has faith. Gabe might only be thirteen but he’s studied Notebooks written by Grey Whisperers all his life. He believes they will come.
Even after bogies haul off his brother and pick Gabe as their next target, he refuses to give up.
On the run, he befriends two special Whisperers who use his Notebooks to tame the ghostly monsters with nothing but magical whispers. The trio set out to fight the enemy behind the attacks but the truth puts in question everything they believe in, even their friendship.
Excerpt:
Saskatchewan, 2115—
Gabe cupped his hands to get a drink of the cold water. The Moose Jaw river wasn’t clean enough for him to drink from, but he’d found a brook beside the city where the water tasted like it did back home, on the sacred hill. The brook overlooked the Saskatchewan prairies and every time he glanced that way, Gabe was tempted to return to his cellar to study and well… to catch a decent nap. He hadn’t seen his bed in a long time and the way things were going, he might never see it again. Why did that thought twist his guts?
Gabe shook the dirt from his long, grimy red hair and studied himself in the water. His black eye didn’t throb right now, but it looked bad. He couldn’t believe he’d let a girl beat him up and chase him out of Moose Jaw.
He scooped up a second mouthful of water, feeling more alone than ever. A movement reflected in the water. Gabe glanced up. A large bird circled above him. It was brown with grey streaks and twice his size. All his senses were alert with the sudden presence of the bogie. Last time he’d encountered one of these spirit-monsters it had tried to turn him to stone. Would this one, too?
Gabe slowly backed away from the water, trying not to draw attention to himself.
“Light, shield me,” he whispered, and a magical light appeared and twirled in front of him. It warmed his face as it surrounded him like a shield, giving him a new sense of hope. It might not protect him if the bogie dived, but it was worth a shot. He was a Whisperer, after all—why not use magic to protect himself?
About the author:
Speculative Fiction Author, Tanya Lynne Reimer is also director of a non-profit French Community Center on the Canadian prairies. Many of her novels are inspired by her years of research into Saskatchewan’s local Francophone history.
She claims to have a very ordinary life, spiced up with a writing addiction. It’s how she gets a rush. In fact, just last night she found a way to kill an immortal and whispered him to Afterlight.
Petrified
Authored by Tanya Reimer
List Price: $14.95
5.5″ x 8.5″ (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
Black & White on White paper
184 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620064542
ISBN-10: 1620064545
BISAC: Juvenile Fiction / Dystopian
Also available on Kindle and Nook
For more information, please see:
For more links, check out my website: Here

History Oozes Off

We went to a fair recently and they had some old cars on display. The one was a Model T 1909 that had never been restored. I wish I had a picture of it but when we travel across the border we don't bring our phones.

So I thought I'd go into detail about what it looked like, but each image locked in my mind is actually not of the car. Weird, but as I stood beside it, the stories seemed to come off the worn fabric in micro flakes that sparked life in my imagination.

It was in bad shape, but yet good shape... for its age and for the journey it took.

As I looked in the front seat at the worn fabric and the wood pieces on the floor, I saw a couple riding it. Snuggled in tight. She sighed against him and he had a strange smile that says life won't get better than this moment.

The one door was open and ripped so I could see exactly how it was built. But what I saw was a man holding out his hand and a girl giggling, biting her bottom lip, and then almost jumping into his arms.

The backseat was red, I remember that much, mostly because I saw a woman clutching her purse against her, her jaw tight, her hair in a bun as she stared straight ahead, nervous. She wore a blue coat, not sure that matters, but the buttons are big and black. One doesn't match because she had to stitch it on this morning and well... now she's late. Her gloves are black and one's crooked, not sure anyone will notice this but me.

And then the lanterns for headlights fastened to wood caught my attention. I could see a tall skinny guy trying to light the headlights and I had to hold my breath, because that couldn't be safe at all...

It was hard to leave it with all these haunting images. This car had so many stories to share.

Ever find something that the history just oozes off, haunting you with details that you had no idea existed?

Ghosts on the Prairies in eBook

I am very excited and proud to announce that

Elsewhen Press has released Ghosts on the Prairies as an eBook 
available on Amazon
Look for it in paperback later this fall.
Here's what they have to say about it:

Some things are worth a fight 
Strong words that Antoine’s father drilled into him. After his father mysteriously vanishes one night, Antoine must find another income or he risks losing the Sacred Land that his father swore to protect. 

Working on a ranch, Antoine meets Emma, a victim of underground slavery. Fighting for her freedom costs him his home, his sister, his best friend, and puts in question all of his values. If he succeeds, will she and her son fit into his world? 

As the law of the Ghost tribes says: 
Respect others, respect yourself, and respect nature. 

Artwork: Alison BuckThis suspenseful and beautifully written story concerns the interwoven loves, hopes, dreams and tragedies of lives lived in backwater towns and isolated farmsteads of the US-Canadian border lands, where hard work, lawlessness and harsh, summary punishment are a way of life. A network of secret underground tunnels, linking the controlled and controlling world to the south with the Sacred Lands of the Ghost tribes across the border to the north, offers the possibility of escape and freedom. 

“Using a light touch, Tanya’s story draws on spiritual beliefs and mystical traditions and deals with the dark, lingering shadow of slavery; with racism, sexual abuse and religious intolerance; with the corrosive effects of all-consuming greed; with exploitation; and with the clash of cultures, concerning the nature of ownership.” 

Tanya enjoys using the setting of the prairies for her stories, many of which are inspired by her years of research into Saskatchewan’s local Francophone history.

Petrified Has a Home at Sunbury Press!

Here is the cover for my new young adult novel Petrified. It will be released shortly by Sunbury Press.
I'm excited about this one because it is the first of the Whisperer books to be unleashed!  And even better it is a book I wrote for my kids.

I am just blown away by the cover design by Amber Rendon. Wow.


Legends say that when all hope is lost, Grey Whisperers will save the world..

It’s 2115 and hope is lost.

Bogies attack on the Saskatchewan prairies turning men to stone.

Grey Whisperers have vanished.

Yet one boy has faith. Gabe might only be thirteen but he’s studied Notebooks written by Grey Whisperers all his life. He believes they will come.

Even after bogies haul off his brother and pick Gabe as their next target, he refuses to give up.

On the run, he befriends two special Whisperers who use his Notebooks to tame the ghostly monsters with nothing but magical whispers. The trio set out to fight the enemy behind the attacks but the truth puts in question everything they believe in, even their friendship.

A Peek Into You Life in Florida

A peek into your life, is a segment spotlighting authors, specialists, and friends who brave my countless questions day in and day out. It's the best way I can share with you all, the many people who taught me the bizarre things I know, who satisfy my thirst for knowledge and adventure, and who keep me motivated.

Self portrait in the shadows
So today I am being interviewed over at Writing and Living where Richard asked me some questions about the unique place I call home. Now... we get extreme cold, he sees extreme heat...

He lives in a state I visit often because I have family there who I love dearly, and so when he ran this idea by me... I just had to jump on the chance to find out what he thinks about actually LIVING in Florida, because well... I think it's a righto swell place to visit.

Richard is the author of The Gunman in Black, Battles and Other Stories, and Only the Lonely.  He is also a painter and you can check out some of his work on his site.

But! This isn't about Richard!!! It's about peeking at where he lives and how that inspires him.

Where are you from, and did you always live here?  I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. I went away to college for four years, coming home off and on, and then lived at home for a year before going on active duty with the US Navy. When I got out of the navy, I lived in Jacksonville another two years before moving to Rhode Island in 1973, where I lived for a year before moving to Massachusetts and married my wife of 40 years in 1974. For a variety of reasons we moved to Jacksonville in 1988, where I’ve lived since.


View from the highest point in Jacksonville
What places or sites would you recommend I visit when in your area? Do you visit these places and what did you think about them? If you visit Jacksonville, the main attractions are its beaches. We have a smooth sandy coast line with usually small to moderate (2-3 foot) waves, although when storms come in those waves can get quite high (easily 6-8 feet).
For northerners, the best time to visit is April or May for wonderful weather. The summers can be brutally hot, and the winters too cold for lying in the sun and swimming. We actually have quite a few visitors from Canada during the spring.

The best nearby place to visit is St. Augustine, Florida, about an hour’s drive from Jax. It’s the oldest continuously occupied city in the U.S.A. It’s quaint and restored to its original buildings and configuration. It has many visitors from around the world every year. It’s a destination for many travelers. I’ve been there many times.

What do your pets think about the climate? I (we) have two cats. One’s an inside cat, the other goes in and out. They almost always want to be inside the house.


A good day drawing by the pool!
What do you like to do in your spare time that is outside? I dislike working outside in the summertime. The heat and humidity floors me within minutes. Unfortunately, I have to maintain the yard. I do have a swimming pool, so I jump in when I get too hot. Pool maintenance is a constant outside activity I’ve been doing since 1988.

What areas/places interest you the most about your town? 
We have a vibrant arts scene; we have some good museums and art galleries; I enjoy our library system a lot. Other than that, I don’t do a whole lot. I do take courses in art at the U of North Florida.

In what ways does where you live filter into your writing?
The lake at the Jacksonville Arboretum
Jacksonville played prominently in my early stories, but not so much now. In fact, after traveling some of the world and living up north, Jacksonville is just a place to live, nothing more. I could easily move someplace else, although I’ll probably be here the rest of my life.





Dang, our peek is already done.
Thank you so much Richard for sharing your world with us! 
Hope you enjoyed it and take the time to visit Richard's site to see what I have to say about living on the prairies. 

Floods on the Prairies

We experiences an absurd amount of rain for the prairies this weekend. Water levels were already high; so high many didn't get their crops in this year. Add to that about 190 millimeters more rain than expected in one downpour and well...

Roads are washed out, cutting entire towns off from the world. Basements are flooded. Towns had to evacuate. Livestock is forced to higher ground and many horror stories erupted.  

We were away at the time and felt powerless. Yet these great people who were stranded kept us posted, took care of the buildings in town that they could save and looked after what they could. It would have been so much worse had they given up.

Using 4x4 and taking some dirt roads we wiggled our way into town over streams and around washed out roads after the major flooding had passed. Our usually 9 minute trip took us an hour as we detoured around the rising creeks. It was interesting and dramatic. We arrived to see the town working together, fighting the water in every way imaginable. Of course, when we arrived it had already backed off our property and was slowly going down.

I can't imagine how scared they were to see the creek rise to levels never seen before and to know they were without help from the outside while high ground became surrounded by rushing water. Every community in the area was cut off from the others, forcing people to do like us, and find creative ways to get in and out, and to save their town.

As of right now, we are fine. Lots to clean up and do. We still have no phones, but the Internet is working! And our cell phones are working too. The power is on, and we have lots of food and water for drinking. Leaving town is far from everyone's mind.

We lost very little. My heart breaks as we help others who lost so much, and yet they offer to help others get back on their feet. These people are amazing and I'm so proud to live among them. I wish I could do so much more.

The damage in the area is going to take a long time to repair. Yet I already see the changes each thing we do makes. Spirits aren't down, just tired.

Everyone is safe and for right now, the worst is over. With the creek so high, who knows what will happen, but we'll cross that damaged bridge when we have to.

I do want to thank the wonderful family who rescued my dog. She is terrified of water and can't swim. I know a terrified St Bernard is not the easiest beast to house yet they did it so gracefully and happily (even though she was a drenched muddy mess who smelt wonderful) and kept us posted as we tried to get back. She is home now, washed, and happy.

Here are a few links from the news:
Leader Post news
Huffington Post
CBC.ca
CBC
Interview

What My Father Taught Me

Recently, we had to clean up my dad's video game collection. Hundreds of games. Games we bought with him. Games we promised to play with him. Games he wanted to play while he retired. 

Each one feels like a kick in the gut. There is no way any one person could play all those games in any life time, forget one whose life was cut short like his. (mind you, he did play a lot of them!)

My dad always lived with the motto, "I'll do it next month." His months ran out and it was still close to his last words.

And so, it leaves us struggling with this-- It's not fair he never got to do these things he dreamed of doing. 

Yet...  he was happy putting these things off to sit and play a game with us. Always, he was happy to come visit us. Always happy.

So... this means...

Anything that can be put off until next month isn't important enough to this moment, which means something else is more important. Take a look around, what could possibly be more important?

I like the idea of putting off the things that can wait until tomorrow so I can be happy today curled up on the couch, playing a game with my family.

It's a nice lesson. 

I miss my dad terribly but I have a lot of wonderful and caring father figures still in my life to play games with and he taught me how important they are to me. 

Happy Father's Day 
to all the wonderful dads in my life, 
thank you for putting off things to spend time with us.

What memory do you have of your father that you feel like sharing today?

Laughing in Public- fou rire

So I was reading a book at the dentist office while waiting. The dentist office is a… not so funny place. Everyone looks nervous and anxious, but here I was reading and well… it was funny.
Not done it yet, but enjoying it so far...
I guess it's my type of humour
I tried to muffle a laugh, but dang it, it was FUNNY!

And my quiet throat-giggle turned into a snort. Which is always funn--ier.

So there I was giggling like a nut. I glanced up. Everyone was trying not to look at me, but when someone snort-laughs all to themselves at the dentist office, it’s grounds for a few smirks. So everyone had this little grin they couldn’t really hide while they avoided making eye contact with anyone.

I had this urge to read them the page that made me laugh so they’d know I was not as crazy as I was coming off, but I did that before and no one else thought it was funny, so then I really did look crazy and even got that eye-roll thing that makes me want to run.

Looking at the cover of the book, well it looks serious so they probably thought I was a bit of a weirdo. I had no idea it was going to be so funny, but this kid. *shakes head and wipes laughing tears that materialize* Anyway,  I was tempted to tell these strangers it was a good book, but they were trying so hard NOT to look at me I decided to just sit there and giggle to myself. But it's hard to do this properly and without drawing attention to yourself. At one point my entire body was shaking with the laughter which of course was funny and you see how this was not cool.

In French we call it fou rire and I never found an expression similar in English, but this is the perfect example, just laughter that explodes from inside you at the worst time or place that you can't get a handle on. 

So, I finally collected myself and dived back into the book. Well… it got more funny… so there I was, right out laughing to myself, not caring where I was. I mean, let's face it, by now I was already on the nutso list, I might as well just go with it.

No one else laughed, just stared ahead pretending I wasn't nuts. I know right?

What do you do when you’re in public and can’t stop laughing? This ever happen to you? Do you ignore strangers laughing or get in on the joke? Where is the weirdest place you ever caught the fou rire?

Time Travelling to 1907

During my research, I came across some interesting finds and thought I'd share this one.

This document was found in a desk. What a treasure. It's from the first school board annual meetings in the area. It's written in French, and says that for the year of 1907, they are hiring a teacher for 10 months, with a salary of $75/month.

This is a pic of the school/convent with church and rectory in the background. 

What interesting gems did you com across during your research or cleaning?

Technology Advancements? Part 2- Your eReputation

With all this snappy technology, things should be so easy. Yet, somehow, it means higher expectations, unknown dangers, and a lot more work. Sounds fair, considering how small the world suddenly got. I mean really, I used to write for the local newspaper, now, I write for the world. And! it's archived, so really, I write for the future. We all do.

It goes a lot further and even pours in to our reputations. I mean let's face. Do you Google your babysitter before leaving her alone with your children? Do you check online for the reputation of a restaurant before venturing out? Do you read book reviews on Goodreads and Amazon before buying?

I had a difference of opinion with a colleague not long ago and we agreed to cool off before we talked again. During our next encounter, it was clear I'd been Googled. I know this because even though I want to be real online, it is only a part of who I am. Yet, I was judged, classed, and shoved down because I... (wait for it.... wait for it... ) because I blog. I know, the horror of it. How could I? Apparently, it's something over dramatics do.
LEWES

I've been teaching technology classes for teens and we end up discussing some interesting challenges they face, well... that we all face. There is a new type of bullying and a new stress on their lives that other generations didn't live as teens. What can they do when they're walking home from school and someone is making a video that catches the exact moment a gust of wind blows up their skirt unexpectedly? (why is someone making a video you ask?? ... someone is always apparently making a video. They just are. This isn't me being over dramatic or anything.) What can they do when this funny image is shared on social media and goes viral? (why would someone share this you ask??... someone is always apparently sharing a video. They just are, and yes, I am over dramatic.)

We ended up calling it Private meets Public. Because the places where they should be safe and private, like their bedrooms, are now public places. Places where 200 friends can come in (if they let them) and find out that they are doing homework. Where walking home from school becomes a public venue. Where potential bosses can check to find out where they eat. Where angry colleagues can search for things to use against them in their next encounter and curse them: "you.... you blogger you!"

How fast can your reputation be affected? Instantly. (gee, maybe I am over dramatic.) I tested it the other night and put out a post on a social media where I did nothing with it. Nothing. I just put it out there. In twenty minutes, 238 people had seen it. I had one share but had set the privacy settings so no one could share. To get around this, this person went to the link and shared it from there. I couldn't track that share and only found it because someone tagged me in their share of that share (still following?). That initial share is out of my control in some new life being shared with strangers. Of 238 that saw it on my page, only one left a comment and a dozen liked it. Overnight, while I was sleeping that number jumped to over 800 views. I saw it all over being shared. Some were collecting comments for me as if this was their post... How accurate are these tracking numbers? If they're even close to the truth, it's scary, because imagine if I put a little effort behind it at a normal time of day? Imagine if each share saw 800 views overnight! Can you see how fast your name could be bloggered? (still feels like a compliment to me...)

How quick will others class us based on what we post? I can't hold this against my colleague, I do it myself. I unfollowed a blog once because the blogger ditched coworkers in a very vulgar way. Two years later I went back to this site to see if he was still doing this. (his name came up on my twitter sidebar and I was curious, I guess, but point is I took a mental note of his name to avoid being linked to it.) His site was cleaned up, full of useful information on how to use social media properly, there were author interviews and book reviews. I was shocked. I'd classed him as rude and didn't want my name linked to his. Sure he used several swear words, but they were funny in a very over dramatic way. And it's clear this is the intense reputation he is after. I felt bad for having unfollowed him when he was probably having a bad day and made a wrong choice.

Cleaning up our own image isn't that hard to do because people can be very forgiving. But!!!
How do we control what others post about us or link to us? Common sense will prevail, and just like we got used to not listening in on those party-lines (okay maybe not.), we'll learn not to post things that damage the reputation and ruin the lives of others. Right?

And has anyone figured out Google+ yet? Someone told me it was important in building an online presence as it was searchable.  And Google rated posts on it higher... no idea if that's true... if it is, you all see where that might help our reputation... or quickly destroy it. There I go, being over dramatic again.

Are you finding these leaps and bounds in technology a hard adjustment? Is it ruining your life or improving it? Do you do an online check of your reputation regularly? How do others see you? Is your online reputation the same as your off line one? What do you do to maintain a healthy online reputation?

Here are a few links I enjoyed reading and sharing;
7 dangerous aps
8 step clean up for your ereputation
Clean up your online rep
Norton security tips