Follow this couple’s inspiring story, filled with the joy and triumphs and the obstacles and failures experienced as they travel the turbulent path of turning dreams into reality.
Follow this couple’s inspiring story, filled with the joy and triumphs and the obstacles and failures experienced as they travel the turbulent path of turning dreams into reality.
|Memorial in Light |
Image by David Z from Pixabay
|Freedom Tower |
(One World Trade Center)
|Flight 93, Memorial, Shanksville|
Image by Andreas H. from Pixabay
|9-11 Memorial, Keyport NJ|
Both of those books are non-fiction, how to incorporate the day into fiction. A few thoughts come to mind.
Since my current work-in-progress is a fantasy romance, the actual events of 9/11 weren't appropriate. However, I went through my collection of images and several worked as inspiration for the aftermath of a tornado. Someday, more of the ideas might be used. but not today. Until then I prefer to fly with dragons, hang out with mages and wizards, and tell their tales.
To purchase the Windmaster Novels: BWL
~Until next month, stay safe and read. Helen
Helen Henderson lives in western Tennessee with her husband. While she doesn’t have any pets in residence at the moment, she often visits a husky who has adopted her as one of the pack.
First, When Words Collide, that wonderful and very affordable writers festival has wrapped up for another year. This is the second year we've gathered online and all things considered it seems we are getting better at managing Zoom calls. The wonderful thing about WWC is that all the presenters and hosts and organizers volunteer their time and expertise which makes this amazing event accessible to everyone. Hopefully next year we can all meet in person again in Calgary. I sat on several panels and did a presentation on Character Development which was well attended. Thanks to everyone who tuned it and participated.
Now, for a bit of shameless self promotion. As you may or may not know reviews are so important to an author. Chance's Way releases on September 1, 2021 and I have been lucky enough to get a couple of pre-release reviews. So, just to whet your whistle, so to speak....
From KC Finn of Readers Favorite
Author Nancy M. Bell has crafted a great YA drama that will introduce readers to country life in Canada, with sweet romance and highly relatable protagonists. Chance’s journey was intelligently penned and well-balanced to give a heartfelt but not overdone approach to his big life turnaround. The issues surrounding his ne’er-do-well father were so interesting to explore, and you could really feel Chance’s family conflict coming through. I also enjoyed the presentation of Laurel immensely, and her dialogue and charm made me want to read the rest of the books in the Alberta Adventures series to see her personal journey too. Overall, I would recommend Chance’s Way to fans of the existing series and new readers seeking emotional tales of young people just setting out to carve a future for themselves despite their setbacks and adversities.
Till next month, stay well, stay happy
Treasure or Trash
When finishing up a manuscript before sending it off, I look through my files at the manuscripts begun and not continued to write. This time I came across one and sat to read the words. I decided this was really good and wondered why all I had was three chapters and a synopsis. This is a book akin to Code Blue, thus the reason for that cover. A medical suspense again hopefully with twist as different as Code Blue.
Not being able to decide whi I’d gone no further, I took the thought to bed with me. With a blinding flash, the reason came to me. Committee of Angels came about in a number of ways that fit together like a tapestry being woven.
The first thought was because of an article I read that opened with these lines. 5 to 10 percent of the physicians in this country are unfit to practice medicine. For days those words percolated. At the time I was working at a local hospital as a nurse. Several times I ran into situations where I realized the doctor was incompetent. So did my colleagues. We spent several lunch times in the break room talking about the latest incident. This was added to what was simmering in my head.
That year I went to a writer’s conference and managed to snag an appointment with an editor. We talked about the book I was currently working on but then out of the blue, I thought of Committee. I spoke about the idea behind the book. “Send me three chapters and a synopsis.”
I sat down and finished the mterial for the proposal and sent it off and waited. One day the material came back with a rejection letter I still have in a box with enough rejection letters to paper a room. Here goes.
Your writing is great and the idea is very interesting. I have one problem with the story. One of the nurse characters is frankly a slut. Nurses would never behave the way she has in the story.
I laughed. Having just interrupted a fellow nurse and one of the new doctors making out in the stairwell that afternoon made me wonder about the editor. So I had in the meantime gone on to a different story and I put the partial in my file cabinet and forgot it until I decided I was looking for a new story. I’ve decided to pursue this book and see what I can make of it.
Another little comment about the book. I was talking about the idea at the nurses’ station when I doctor overheard what I was saying. “You can’t write that book,” he declared and stomped off. Since thirty years has passed, I decided to try again.
I've just returned from a month in Georgian Bay, Canada, sailing its beautiful shores and anchoring in the most beautiful and pristine bays. So it's only natural that my creative writing turned to composing a sea shanty, which, by definition, is a work-song sung by laborers on a sailing vessel. This shanty, however, is not a reflection of my time on the water. Oh no. The only thing that is true in this sea shanty is the name of our boat, Escape Route.
So off with you now, besotted scum that you be
|Above are three types of figureheads, each restored from an old ship.|
Every season has its charms. My favorite is Autumn, when leaves turn color, air feels crisper and a fresh energy animates the muscles.
Of three months duration, autumn begins with mid-September’s Fall equinox and ends on mid-December’s winter’s solstice, marking the transition from summer to winter. In popular North American culture, however, autumn starts on September 1, Labor Day, and is associated with the end of vacations and the return to school.
I have always enjoyed long drives in the country during this season. Forests turn brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange, while wheat fields glow a healthy gold. While Alberta certainly boasts brilliant fall foliage, especially in the mountains, the forests of maple on the Canadian and American east coast are certainly more popular and a tourist attraction in their own right.
I vividly remember childhood visits to apple farms during this season. My parents would take my sisters and me to a farms that offered us the chance to pick and purchase ripe apples from their trees (not to mention the ones I ate for free!)
For many, autumn is the season for football and hockey. Children join hockey and football leagues at this time, either at school or at local community centers. Baseball’s World Series is played in autumn, while professional hockey and football seasons commence at this time. With the beginning of university and high-school, varsity sports get in on the action.
|Dia de Los Muertos|
Autumn is renowned as the season for festivals. Thanksgiving celebrates the bounty of the land and Halloween is associated with carved pumpkins and gift-giving. England has its Harvest Festival, the Moon Festival is celebrated in East Asia, Oktoberfest in Germany and Mexico has its Dia de Los Muertos. I enjoy celebrating Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, with fellow community members at the local community center or at the temple in Calgary.
I can pinpoint the taking off point for every story I write, and it can sometimes be something that happened months or even years before that has been quietly sitting and waiting for its chance to shine. At other times it is almost instant. Take Reluctant Date for example. It is set mainly in an (anonymised) place where I had such a wonderful holiday that much of its geography and ambience is lifted directly from that experience. It didn't take me long to decide to find a heroine either. She more or less leapt at me from a magazine article about dating websites. I find that once I am focused on a story everything else seems to fall into place. I'm not sure if it's because I am looking or whether the characters are just out there waiting until I decide to tell their story!!
In Kissing Maggie Silver it was the photo of an interesting looking girl in an advertisement that started it. That, and yet another holiday where a countryside ranger took us on a trek. I just put them together. Whereas Mending Jodie's Heart was triggered by a house, a horse, and a bridle path!
As they say, every picture tells a story. And I can remember why I wrote every single one of my books just by looking at the cover. A sepia photo for Remembering Rose, a cruise from NewZealand to Australia for Cabin Fever, a magazine article for Finding Bella Blue, and so on and so on.
Now, however, it is time to write a new book but one that is part of a trilogy, a follow-on from Remembering Rose and Loving Ellen. This makes it a little more difficult as part of the story is already there so whatever my trigger is, it has to fit with the previous two books. And that's where old ideas come in. The ones I've had on the back burner waiting until I'm ready. And this time the trigger is another photo, but not of a person. It is of an old and derelict watermill.
The mill is at least 600 years old. I came upon it unexpectedly a few years ago when I was walking my dog in woodland, and I was so intrigued by the fact that none of the local people seemed to know anything about its history, that I took several photos and stored them away for future use. And now seems to be the right time for it to take its place in my next book. Those who have read the first two books in the trilogy will already know quite a lot about the village of Mapleby. What they won't know, however, is how times are changing for the villagers, and the old mill has quite a lot to do with that.
It's half written. It hasn't got a title yet, and it won't be published until June next year, but without the old mill it might not have happened at all. So here's to story triggers and to the writers who recognise them and store them until the time is right. In the meantime, I have to get back to my writing.
When I was ten, my parents took my sister Kate, brother Peter and me on our first trip by airplane. We traveled from New York to Washington DC. We visited museums, the OAS headquarters, and a cathedral.
But my most vivid memory was of the Lincoln Memorial. My father stood us beside the wall of the north chamber and had us recite the words of Lincoln’s second inaugural address. I did not understand the sense of our sixteenth president’s thoughts about the national trauma that was our Civil War. But I understood the beauty of the sound of his thoughts…
With malice toward none, with charity for all,
with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right,
let us strive on to finish the work we are in,
to bind up the nation's wounds,
to care for him who shall have borne the battle
and for his widow and his orphan,
to do all which may achieve and cherish
a just and lasting peace
among ourselves and with all nations.
I have shared my father’s love of flying ever since that trip.
On September 11, 2001 I was emerging from the subway in lower Manhattan when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. I rushed up the steps of the Federal Courthouse to meet with my fellow jurors, hold each other’s hands, and watch the debris bursting out of the gaping black hole like white doves in flight against an impossibly blue sky.
My father called me from his home in Florida a month later. His printer was broken. He needed me to help him choose a new one and get it up and running. He was insistent, he’d pay for my flight, my mother was already making me a pie. He needed me right away.
So I boarded a plane, breathing deeply, telling my racing heart that all would be well, that my father needed me.
He didn’t need my help, of course. He needed me to get on a plane, to not let being an eyewitness to another national trauma take away my joy of flying.
Thank you, Daddy.
Please click this link for author and book purchase information
For my first three novels, I had book launch parties at my local independent bookstore. Close to 100 people packed Owl's Nest Bookstore's premises for each event. Shortly before the pandemic, Owl's Nest cut its store space in half and nowadays most people I know aren't keen on packing into rooms with strangers. Last month, Owl's Nest suggested I look for a larger venue.
Venues in Calgary weren't easy to find. The libraries weren't renting their larger spaces yet. Other venues were operating at reduced capacity. My first choice currently only allows a maximum 30 people and wasn't available on September 16th, my scheduled date. Eventually I found a church meeting hall large enough for people to spread out. I felt we could host a safe event that would be fun despite the requirements that we wear masks and not share food.
Unfortunately, Calgary's COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued their rise into September. The Alberta government reinstated restrictions. These wouldn't prevent the launch from going ahead, but I feared the situation would keep too many people away. Owl's Nest and I decided to move the event online, to the disappointment of one friend who was really looking forward to getting out and experiencing an in-person author reading, a novelty for her.
Right now, I'm busy getting ready for this fourth book launch, which will take place on Zoom. I plan to do three readings from my new novel, Winter's Rage, one for each point-of-view character. I'll also talk about writing this third book of my Paula Savard Mystery Series. In particular, I'll discuss:
All off this will be backdropped by Powerpoint slides, including pictures of the street where my fictional murder took place. It was easy getting these pictures since the street is in my neighbourhood.
It's also easy -- and free -- to attend the launch. All you need to do is go to the Owl's Nest Events Page , scroll down to Susan Calder: Winter's Rage, and click the link to register. Owl's Nest will then email you a Zoom link to join the event on September 16 at 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time. One advantage of a virtual book launch is that people can attend from around the world, as long as they're awake at that hour.
Henry Thoreau referred to mornings as "a cheerful invitation" and I totally agree. I like to wake up at dawn and watch the trees outside our bedroom window. When we first moved into unincorporated Pierce County we lived in the country. One morning a herd of horses ran by the window. One neighbor had goats and another a pear tree with pears that were pink inside. There used to be a big wetland at the end of the street and with the window above my head open I could hear the spring peppers. Sadly, the wetland was almost completely built on and what is left has no peepers. The horses, goats and pear tree have been replaced by houses.
After dawn has done its due-diligence, we get up, get dressed, and turn on the news. When the dog goes outside, our peanut butter trees,
Once home, it's time for chores and in the afternoon I finally have time to work on my next book. The pandemic shut downs were never a problem for us. It's not an exciting life but we like it.
|Available at www.bookswelove.net|
Over the years since 1856, many people have searched for the Arabia as there was a reported large quantity of whiskey on board which would fetch quite a sum at market. When it was finally discovered and unearthed in 1988 in a Kansas cornfield there was no whiskey, but there was a treasure-trove of pre Civil War goods heading for the wilderness around Omaha, NE. The first intent by the salvagers was to sell the treasure but they decided to restore and preserve, thus we now have a wonderful working museum down at River Market in Kansas City. It’s not your traditional treasure of gold and silver but rather a time capsule of the 1850s. I was amazed at the amount and diversity of goods aboard the steamboat.
Everything from buttons and shoes to construction tools and preserved pickles are artfully displayed in the museum. On any given day, visitors can watch preservationists diligently working on other uncovered items that tell a story not readily available in our history books.
Even though the Arabia museum is a work in progress and the restoration of artifacts continues, Dave Hawley (one of the original treasure hunters) has continued searching for other steamboats. The Missouri River has an estimated 300-400 sunken riverboats, many of which are now deep beneath farm fields as the river has changed course over the years. In 2016 he finally located the Malta, a steamboat sunk in 1841, loaded with Indian trading supplies for the American Fur Company.
Aboard the side-wheeler steamer was cargo for Peter Sarpy, Papin & Robidoux and other Chouteau trading posts and merchants along the Missouri River. Once metal detectors hit a strong signal they drilled for a core sample which resulted in finding 150 gold buttons, fabric, well-preserved ceramics and a large iron hook. But as of today, the Malta is still 37 feet underground as the cost of excavation is around $3 million. You can find out more at Malta | The Arabia Steamboat Museum | Kansas City (1856.com).
From the time the Arabia museum opened, I have been an avid visitor anytime I’m in town. The evolving displays fascinate me; the history of the river and steamboats lure me into a past which I know was much harsher than how I romanticize it. Yet that is what fiction writing is about – taking a real event and spinning a tale of romance and intrigue. I love entwining the past with the present and especially like having the museum at my fingertips for research. I invite you to come aboard the Arabia with me on her last fateful journey by getting a copy of “Hold On To the Past” (available at www.bookswelove.net.).
Sunken steamboats on the river or storm-wrecked sailing vessels on the ocean – these are the settings for legends, tall tales and great historical novels.
|Deep inhale... she'll get it right eventually...|
|It's a joke!|
|Wait... if you knew you were going on vacation why didn't you just plan in advance and write the blog a bit EARLIER in preparation for the intended time away? If you were any sort of decent human being with even a MODICUM of forethought, you would have prepared SOMETHING for those people who continue to drag themselves through your hastily scrawled drivel every month! How do you expect to ever make it as a writer if you can't even commit to THAT? How do you expect people to keep putting up with you? How do you--|
In "Mishandled Conviction", Violette and her pregnant daughter flee in the forest to escape their abductor only to encounter a mama bear with her two cubs. To describe the bear encounter, I use the phrase If it’s brown, get down. If it’s black, attack. If it’s white, you’re dead, but how true is this statement?
I live in Wood Buffalo, Northern Alberta. As of August 11, there has been 134 black bear encounters in the municipality since the spring. 59% of these encounters occurred in residential areas. Late summer and fall are active months for black bears as they will eat as much as they can before going into hibernation, so that number will rise in the weeks to come.
The only bear I saw so far this summer was a cub crossing the street ten feet in front of my car. I did stop to let him cross safely, but no, I didn't get out. I didn't see his mama, but she couldn't have been far since that cub was too young to fend for himself.In Wood Buffalo, there are only black bears, but black bears aren't always black. They come in different colours: from cream, to cinnamon, to brown, to black, and almost everything in between.
When we use the term "brown bear", we mean a grizzly bear, not a black bear with brown fur. It is actually important to know the difference between a grizzly and a black bear in order to know how to react to them.
Though grizzlies are generally bigger than black bears, you can't rely on colour or size alone to differentiate them. A grizzly has a prominent shoulder hump and an elongated face, unlike the black bear who has no obvious hump and a more rounded face. Their toes aren't aligned the same way, so their prints are different. Grizzlies also have longer claws, though I would rather not come within distance of being able to see their claws.
So, should you fight back if you encounter a black bear, or lay down if you come across a grizzly? In most cases, that would be the right thing to do, but before you reach that point, there are a few other things to do--and not do.
First, if you see a bear, DO NOT RUN! And never turn your back to a bear.
If the bear hasn't seen you: move away cautiously.
If the bear saw you: speak calmly, wave your arm slowly, and back away. Get ready to use your bear spray, which should be clipped to your waist and not hidden at the bottom of your backpack.
If the bear charges, and your spray doesn't work, fight the black bear but lay down for the grizzly (protect your head with your arms) as you have very slim chances of winning a fight against a grizzly. That being said, if the grizzly doesn't lose interest in you after a few minutes and start biting you, you may want to fight back.
In practice, these worst-case scenarios don't happen very often. There are ways to minimize your chances of dangerous encounters: hike in groups, make noise, stay on the trails, pay attention to paw prints and scats (fresh poop means bear nearby), carry bear spray and know how to use it. Humans aren't on black bears' or grizzlies' menu, but bears will react if they are startled, if they feel threatened, if you stand in the middle of their berry patch, or heaven forbid if you come between them and their cubs.
A quick note on white bears, aka polar bears: they are at the top of the food chain. No human ventures into polar
bear territory without a loaded rifle unless they want to become a midday
snack. So, if a polar bear is charging at you, and your finger isn't on the trigger, I'm afraid that bear will be the last thing you'll ever see.
For more information on how to play safely in bear country, Read the Alberta BearSmart Guide
Happy Reading & Stay Safe