Lovin’ the Liebster

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I’m ridiculously pleased and flattered to be nominated for a Liebster Award by friend-of-I-don’t-know-how-many-years Rich Meyrick, author of the Jaspa’s Journey books, who writes a fascinating, beautifully illustrated (with his own photographs) blog about his extraordinary travels at https://jaspasjourney.wordpress.com/.

The Liebster is presented to bloggers by their peers, who in turn nominate their own favourite bloggers for it. Here’s how it goes:

  1. You post the Award on your site.
  2. You link it back to the person who nominated you.
  3. You answer the seven questions posted by the person who nominated you.
  4. You nominate other deserving blogs.
  5. You post seven questions for the blogs you nominate.

So, first, here are my answers to Rich’s questions:

1. What made you decide to write a blog in the first place?

Simple: I was researching publishers, looking for a home for a novel I was working on, and twice came across the statement – If you don’t have a blog, don’t bother to submit.

2. Of all the blogs you’ve posted, which is your own personal favourite?

That’d be a children’s picture book short story I wrote years ago called Mr. Fitch (April 24th 2014), because I love the story, and am frustrated at my failure to have it published, after coming very close, and was happy to take the opportunity of sharing it with the two or three people who read this blog.

3. What is the absolute #1, must do item on your Bucket List?

Return to White Head Island, which is my absolute #1 must do item every time I leave it.

4. If you were exiled from your home country, where would you live, and why?

I’m already in a kind of voluntary exile – from England, where I lived until I moved to Newfoundland in my twenties. If I was exiled from Canada, I’d ask to be sent to somewhere like the Orkney or Faroe Islands.

5. Hot or Cold? Do you prefer the baking heat of summer or the chill days of winter?

Winter. Absolutely. Unequivocally. (I say that even after the long, hard winter of last year.)

6. Not including family or friends, who would be your ideal travelling companion, and why?

It’d have to be one of the dogs that has graced my life (read about them in The Last Dog, January 10, 2014), Maxim, or Roger, or Jesse. I wouldn’t trust anyone else – bar family members – to understand what I wanted, or didn’t want, from a travelling companion.

7. Character or Clutter? When photographing landscapes, places, etc., do you like to have people in your pictures, or do you feel they detract from the subject in question?

As a general rule – definitely no people. If somehow they sneak into the picture, I usually photoshop ’em out.

And my Liebster nominees are:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6197790.Lisa_Dalrymple/blog

http://litwist.wordpress.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4524261.Sarah_Butland/blog

For whom my questions are:

  1. Who do you want to read your blog? (In other words, describe your ideal reader.)
  2. Why do you write a blog?
  3. Do you focus your blog on one particular topic, or leave it open for whatever grabs your fancy when you write it?
  4. What is one of your favourite books – and (in one sentence) why?
  5. What is one of your favourite movies – and (in one sentence) why?
  6. What piece of music (any genre – song, symphony, aria, quartet …) evokes most memories for you – and (if it’s not too personal) why?
  7. What is your favourite line from a book or poem?

Blueberry Blues

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To paraphrase a friend’s comment: “We’re so blue!”

Actually, the band’s blue shirts were an accidental addition to the blue theme of the afternoon at the Wild Blueberry Festival in St. George, New Brunswick, but it meant we fit right in, among the blue outfits of Ms. Blueberry and her young friends, and of the blueberry processing plant in the background.

Looking back, I suppose we (the band, Stepping Out) could have played a whole afternoon of blues, so that our music blended with the theme of the afternoon as well as our shirts.

Not just the 12-bar variety with all its variations, but songs with blue in the title. Blue Bayou, Blue Velvet, Blue Suede Shoes, Blue Moon, Song Sung Blue, Blue Christmas, Blue Hawaii, Forever in Blue Jeans, Famous Blue Raincoat, Am I Blue?

And of course Blueberry Hill.

The list goes on (and that’s just off the top of my head), without even mentioning all the (real) blues titles or the eponymous blues, like Joe Turner’s, and Miss Celie’s.

(Why so much blue in songs, anyway? There’s the association with The Blues, of course, and, by extension, ‘being blue’, but the fascination with the colour seems to go beyond that. Why, for example, Blue Suede Shoes? Why not Yellow Suede Shoes?)

As it turned out, we added Blueberry Hill to the playlist almost at the last minute, as an acknowledgement of the band’s venue, the Festival’s ‘On the Farm’ afternoon, for which we provided background music for the crowds who came to see demonstrations and displays and tasting of blueberry products, and to view the blueberry processing operation.

Through the weekend the Festival featured lots of music, a ball hockey tournament, customer appreciation week at local businesses, charity yard sales, a spaghetti supper, a hoop-a-thon (another fund raiser), a car show, runs (or walks, if you preferred), and a church breakfast (with blueberry pancakes, of course).

In other words, the best of small town life.

Thanks to Granite Town Farms, of St. George, for organising the Festival, and for their contribution to both the economy and the vitality of the town.

And for giving Stepping Out a blue but fun afternoon.

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Beginnings and Endings 4

Footprints (Breakwater/Jesperson 2008) is a thriller that poses the moral question of how far you should pursue a cause in which you truly believe when no-one will listen to you – and how extreme the action you should take in pursuit of that cause.

It’s one of those stories that, as I finished writing, I really liked – for both its characters and its plot – and that I thought was really strong, and that got good reviews (“… astute, contemporary and engaging …”, “… excellent, character-driven … relevant and contemporary …”)

And that had absolutely pitiful sales.

I’m conceited enough (or stupid enough – take your choice) to still believe in it, and every time I use it in readings the audience response confirms that belief. Especially I like both beginning and ending. Here’s the preamble.

She glides from the shelter of the trees, clutching the device carefully in one hand, and is across the road, pressed against the wall of the cottage grounds, before the boys have time to worry about someone seeing her. Keeping low, she peers around the stone gatepost. No sign of Anderson’s men. She eases herself up until she can reach the security panel, and presses in the code. She flattens herself back against the wall as the tall wrought-iron gates swing silently open. She has ten seconds before they close of their own accord. She peers around the gatepost again. Still no sign of life. With a glance back to where the boys wait in the woods, she sprints to the barn and slides into the space between it and the high garden wall. As she lowers the device towards the hole under the barn, the timer already set, she reflects: How did a walk on the beach lead to this?

 

 

Trash Trailers?

I often wonder how effective book trailers are, and whether they’re worth the time it takes to make them.

Does anyone watch them? How would anyone discover a book trailer unless it depicted a book by a favourite author, in which case readers would probably know about the book anyway, if they hadn’t already bought it?

And does anyone actually rush out and buy a book because somehow they stumbled upon its trailer?

Writing about White Head Island (‘Island Eden’) a couple of weeks ago reminded me of the trailer I put together for Defiant Island (DreamCatcher Publishing 2007), which – self-indulgently (sorry) – I can’t resist linking here.

Border Music

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Woke to the sound of rain.

Eat breakfast looking out at the rain.

Walked in the rain.

Abandoned all thoughts of the fun of playing al fresco, as planned, as I loaded amp and keyboard into the car in the late afternoon with rain still threatening and set off for the border town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, for that town’s Summer Sounds series of concerts, rain actually falling as I drove.

But – presto! – the sun came out on the way, and we (the band, that is, Stepping Out) played to a big and responsive crowd on the St. Stephen waterfront beside the St. Croix River that forms the border between St. Stephen and Calais, U.S. (regrettably pronounced Callous, but you might as well accept it because if you say CAL-ay no-one will know what you’re talking about).

Here’s another al fresco musical moment, from another time and place. Unfortunately the piano was beyond being played upon, but it made a fun picture.

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