About that picture

We’re told that a picture is worth a thousand words. Last week I watched as Lois, with a mighty flourish, added the one-thousandth piece into her 2014 version of her start-the-year-with-a-jigsaw project.

Polar BearOn and off, some days with sustained effort, Polar Bear and her cub slowly took shape. It was not easy. Each piece seemed to have a random shape the colour differences were challenging. It definitely took her artist’s eye and patience to complete. I did get to add a couple of pieces though, but that was two days before the run to the finish line.

I’ll stick to my words. The artist in the family can keep the picture. Her dogged determination to complete the puzzle was very valuable to me as I begin the march into a new novel. While she’s been sifting through the pieces of her puzzle, I’ve been contacting people and sifting through what I need to get started on my new project. It’s one thing to have an idea but to me it has to find some sort of shape before I hit the keyboard. Slowly the characters come to mind and the word picture I start with begins to take on form and colour. I have most of it together now but I’m still musing on the finish. What will the last line be? I like to have that written down somewhere. To me it’s like setting out on a journey. We know the starting point but where on the map will the story end up. I like to have that settled and then if change is needed as the characters dictate I can at least come up with a good reason to let them have their own way.


When a writer crumbles. . .

When a writer crumbles, eat ice cream. That’s what happened at our place this morning. I got up early at 6 am just to get some gems (a New Zealand style muffin) into the oven for a great, heart-warming breakfast with coffee before heading off to church. All went well, the research was done, the mixture made and, to add a variation to the mixture poured the mix into a muffin tray instead of the gem tray; looking good, and into the oven. I watched, my wife watched. They rose, they bubbled. . . and sank!

No nice fluffy muffins this day. What a sad looking tray I pulled from the oven. Perhaps my little loaf like gems didn’t like being put in a muffin tray. The mixture had slopped over the sides of the tray. It had glued up and stunk up the bottom of the oven. Nasty.

Was this the last time I’d attempt such a feat, to cook a fancy and fresh breakfast? The artistic one came and looked. Few words were exchanged. She scooped the cooked mess from the parchment baking cups while I produced the cafe lattes. By the time I got to the table she had a dish of warm blueberries and a bowl of ice-cream alongside the brown crumbled mess. Once again, I ate like a king.

I wondered where I’d gone wrong and reread the recipe. Oh-oh. My early morning eyes, glasses notwithstanding, I’d mixed a couple of lines and added a cup of brown sugar instead of half a cup.

It reminds me of writing, of what happens when we overstate and how easy it is to mess up a paragraph. It also showed, that with a few warm blueberries and ice cream we can make the changes and allow the reader to find merit in the gems.

Bohemian skies



Just look at these beauties! Bohemian waxwings. For a couple of days now we’ve seen huge flocks of these vagrants in the trees round about our place and yesterday they came close enough in the sunny warm skies to hear their trills and the zip of their wings as they whirled around sitting on every available branch. Then some mysterious fellow in the midst of their group decides to move on and up and around they go again, active and full of fun.

Spruce birds

Let’s Read

I love books.

Books take me to places I’ve never dreamed of. Books expose me to new ideas. Books entertain and excite me. Books give me knowledge and understanding. Books, well books are let’s face it treasures in a hard (or soft) cover. They glow in the subconscious. Find a comfy chair, open a book and enjoy a chemical-free tonic for the knock-downs of life.

Yep, I love books and the people who write them.

I met a lot of folk at our sales booth at a Christmas Marketplace last November that was visited by more than 60,000 over three three-day weekends. Sadly, in discussion over my novel Finding Dermot I made the comment in a post at the time “…interesting to chat with the number of people who said they did not read, those who preferred ebooks, and the number who said they did not read fiction.” I can now add to that the people who have told me they do not have time to read.

So you can see I was totally blown away in the spend-up to Christmas when I visited (several times) my favourite bookstore here in Calgary to find extra long lineups at the checkouts. Books were literally flying off the shelves at a rate I’ve not noticed in the past.

As an author, this was so very encouraging. It means I keep going, start that new book, bring a fresh story to print, paint the pictures with words, allow the characters to speak for themselves and in doing so allow life to breathe a new perspective.






Ice formDay one. And we’re off and running. Christmas has been celebrated, birthdays done and we sail ¬†headlong and fast into a brand new year. Well, where did the last one go? Where will this one take us?

The grandchildren were over yesterday and one of them read The Serenity Prayer which I keep on my desk.

“Why don’t we say or know the rest of that prayer?” she asked. “It’s pretty good.

Many, many people know and have found new direction in the first four lines.

“God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.”

The next lines gave my grand daughter new thought:

“Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;

Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.”

And so it goes. With that in mind it is all we can do, one day at a time. I wrote, completed and published a novel in 2013. I plan to produce another this year. Finding Dermot¬†(see Books) is off and running. I wonder how that will sell. I’m impressed and humbled by the comments I’m receiving. The question now is can I do it again. Check me out on 31-12-2014.

All the best for this neat new year. It started at our place with fresh snow overnight and bright blue skies.

(The full version and the original version of Reinhold Niebuhr’s prayer can be found at www.prayerfoundation.org)