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Two Sonnets

Nassagaweya Township is where I live. Still mostly rural, it is dominated by rock and swamp and small fields, and was first settled in the early-to-mid 1800s. The lives and labour of those first settlers, who cleared huge tracts of hardwood and white pine, dragged enormous boulders to build boundary walls, and quarried limestone for rock and lime, were in part behind these two sonnets.

Nassagaweya 1: Winter Deer

Dividing wood and tangled swamp the road

Cuts survey-straight, a line drawn cleanly on

The map, unlike the trail that six deer followed

Through brush and cattail, three pairs of doe and fawn.

Their path ran crooked, keeping to high ground

Between the clumps of osier, brilliant red

Against the morning’s snow. A final bound

Brings the first doe to the road: the others, led

By her, follow, and in silent file cross

This barren space, alert, deliberate,

Unhurried; not admitting any loss

Of path or cover, valiance animate.

No survey stake or draftsman’s pen rules here:

Red osier, swamp, and wood belong to deer.

Nassagaweya 2: Rock and Water

Rock and water underlie this township,

But neither deeply; it’s rarely more than

A few feet to the rock, and every dip

Of land’s a swamp. A challenge to a man,

To try to farm this, but his chance to make

A life is here. So fields are cleared and streams

Diverted; roads are built. But rock can break

Both ploughshares and spirit: too many dreams

Of harvest awake to springtime flood

And summer drought; the skin of soil above

The limestone now like rock itself; now mud.

His sons say there’s not enough here, to love

Or prosper on: they answer other calls

As trees surround the crumbling boulder walls.

Divided Desires

I wonder if Margaret Atwood has this problem?

I often go walking when I’m working out plot points, conflicts, or scenes, and today was no exception.  I’m reaching a fairly pivotal plot point in Empire’s Hostage, and I needed to think about it.  However, I’m also house-and-cat sitting for my sister this week, and so am close to the birding mecca of Point Pelee National Park.  And those of you who’ve read my bio on various sites know I’m also a birder.

It’s fall, not the intense migration of spring with birds (and birders) in hordes.  So I figured I could walk, look at a few birds and think about plot at the same time. Ha!  Warblers everywhere.  Thrushes everywhere.  Sparrows everywhere and all the Eastern Phoebes in the world, it seemed.  I’d walk a few paces, thinking… “if Lena does this, how will Cillian react?”  and would just start formulating a scene and ‘What’s that?  A black-throated green?  Yes, juvenile male….ok, where was I?  Cillian doesn’t like…..Now what?  Kinglet…which one…golden-crowned, should be a ruby-crowned in this bunch somewhere…”

This went on for my entire two hour walk. I can’t turn my birding brain off; it’s just not possible. I wonder if Margaret Atwood has this problem?  (Canadian writer extraordinaire and also a birder, in case you’re unsure.)

However, at the end of the two hours, I had seen a ruby-crowned kinglet along with a lot of other birds, and had more or less worked out the next couple of scenes, albeit in a very fragmented way. So once I’ve got today’s records entered in e-bird, I’ll go and write for a couple of hours. Away from the window and the bird feeders.

Supporting a fellow YA Author: “Tomorrow my book is out… Let’s party”

Here’s a promotion for a fellow YA writer whose book is out tomorrow!

Susanne Valenti


This is an invitation to all of you to attend my book launch party tomorrow!

Throughout the day I’ll be online to chat with you all about the book and anything else you’d like to discuss! There will be extracts and character profiles going up throughout the day here on my blog and over at the event on my Facebook page too so come on over and join me ☺️ here

I’ll also be hosting a competition to win an advanced e-copy of the first novella in the series.


So are you in? 😊xoxo

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And now for something completely different…

Here’s a short story I wrote a number of years ago for my husband’s birthday party – his birthday is just a couple of days before Hallowe’en, so every few years we do a costume party with a theme.  This particular year it was horror stories.   You can read it on Wattpad  or on my website.

Spider

A review of Jazz, by Cristian Mihai

One of the gifts of retirement is more time to read, and to read genres, authors, and works I may never have chosen before. I’m going to try to focus on works by my indie author compatriots, although not exclusively.  This will be an occasional series of posts – I’m not going to promise a schedule I can’t keep to!  But here’s the first review.

Jazz, by Cristian Mihai (2012)

Jazz is a Fitzgerald-esque novella by indie writer Cristian Mihai, set in New York and Paris. Mihai’s writing invokes both a strong sense of place and creates a mood of film noir, of smoky jazz bars and rainy nights on city streets.

Focused on the unrequited love of the narrator, Chris, for the beautiful, cryptic Amber, the novella’s title sets both the mood and the tempo; all through it I kept hearing Charlie Parker as the soundtrack. Like a piece by the great Bird, when it was finished, I was left with a feeling of melancholy, and of knowing there were more parts to the whole than I had been able to comprehend the first time through. There is nothing new in this story – rather it is a story very very old – but the way it is told makes it well worth reading.

There are occasional and minor mis-steps in the choice of words or sentence structure, but overall they do not diminish this short work. The e-book is available from Amazon and Smashwords for about the price of a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and it would be the perfect accompaniment to a good espresso on a wet afternoon. Strongly recommended.

This is an independent review, not sought by the author nor written for any benefit. The opinions stated here are mine alone.

Routines and Frustrations

It can take a long time to get back into a routine, especially when that routine is self-directed.

Since my holiday earlier in September I’m having difficulty getting back into many of my routines. I’m not writing regularly, exercising regularly, or even eating as well as I was. Now I’m away from home again, staying at my sister’s house for a while, keeping her cats company for a few days of the three weeks she and her husband are in India playing in the World Bridge Championships. (I can’t even play euchre, but the cats don’t care about that. They’re just happy to have a warm body to sleep with again, rather than just the teenager from across the street who feeds them every day.)

I’m also feeling some of the frustration all writers feel unless their book is a best-seller. While some of of my friends and family have read my work (and thank you all) others haven’t. Which is fine, too – the ones that are annoying me are those who haven’t even mentioned it to me, ever, even though they know it’s been published and a second book is in the works. I can’t work out if they are too self-centred to say ‘hey, that’s great, well done’, jealous, or, oblivious. I shouldn’t let it bother me, but sometimes it does.

I’m going to take this time – four days on my own – to re-focus, remembering why I do what I do, whether it is the writing, walking or what I choose to eat or not to eat. It’s interesting for me to observe that I am still quite easily swayed by external influences (and my own inertia) – I’m not quite as self-actualized as I thought (or at least hoped) I was. An opportunity for growth.

So I’m off for a walk…always the best thing I can do when things just aren’t right.

My Favourite Review

It’s one thing to have your book reviewed by family or friends.  It’s another to have a complete stranger review it.  Over on Kobo.com, this review of Empire’s Daughter appeared:

“A story both hard and beautiful, Empire’s Daughter handles with depth and eloquence the issues of its time. The Empire is so like a past that our culture could hold, and creates a reflection on our decisions and traditions and their impact. For all its insight it still drives a narrative of growth and action.”

It’s written by someone I don’t know at all, who had no reason to be polite or to hold back on what he/she really thought. For that reason, it’s (so far) my favourite review.

Interested in reviewing Empire’s Daughter?  You can download the e-book it for free for a limited time from www.smashwords.com for no cost, using coupon code: ML72W.