I've Been Busy

The Books Have Arrived!

--- which means they should be in bookstores right on schedule -- JAN 16, 2018.

A Wee Bit More Painting

I have given myself until the end of March to write Girls Like Me. I wasn't planning to do any writing in December, because of Christmas and all the hustle and bustle that entails, but somehow I already have three chapters completed. Yay, me! So, I've been rewarding myself with art time. Here's what I accomplished today.

 

New Book Contract!

I've just signed a contract to write a book for Orca Book Publisher's Sounding Series. The novel is titled Girls Like Me and is scheduled to hit bookstores in the Fall of 2019. Yippee!! In the meantime, get ready to snap up your copy of Winter Road -- also with Orca. Winter Road will be available in just a few more weeks. Mark January 16th on your calendar.

Artisan Market

I am pleased to announce that I shall be taking part in The Campbell River Art Gallery’s Annual Artisan Market, which will run from November 18 – December 24 from 10 am to 5 pm, Monday to Saturday. That means that my cards will be for sale. They will make a great Christmas gift for friends, family -- or even yourself.

I can't wait to see what other crafty people will have to offer.

Inktober: Day 15

So ... though I have had some practice with india ink and nib pens and with fine tip india ink pens, I have had NO experience painting with india ink. Oh boy -- talk about a learning curve. However, I'm nothing if not stubborn, and I'm determined to become at least proficient applying ink with a brush. It's the ink washes that are really tough, because you have to layer the ink and use LOTS of water, and let's just say ink can be willful.

So today's word prompt was Mysterious. And for that, I decided to use ink washes to create a semi-closed door in the dark. This was my third attempt at ink washes, and I do think I'm getting better. Silly person that I am though, because I didn't want to clean a lot of brushes, I used just one for the ink -- a large one. Consequently, I didn't have the control I would have had with a smaller brush, the edges aren't sharp and the door knob is somewhat misshapen. Still, the results could be worse.

 

Inktober: Day 12

Today's word prompt was Shattered. I took it literally, which is unusual for me, but I had fun with it.

The New Catalogue is Here!

Release Date for Winter Road is January 16,  2018.

Inktober: Day 7

The word prompt for the day was "shy". I was pumped, because the word inspired me to paint a portrait -- a quick one, as I only had the day. I cheated a bit -- I did the prelim sketch the night before. The first photo was taken about halfway through the painting. I really enjoyed this particular challenge.

Inktober 2017

Inktober is a month long art challenge, in which participants do a daily ink sketch to illustrate a given word prompt. You can use other mediums in addition to ink, but you must use ink in some way. When a friend invited me to join, I thought, "Why not?" If nothing else, it would force me to do some art each day -- and think outside the box as well. I'm having a grand time. Here are a couple of my efforts so far.

Day 4: the word prompt is UNDERWATER

Day 6: the word prompt is SWORD


Affordable Art!

Sometimes an email just doesn't cut it. You need a more personal touch -- like a 5"X7" card featuring reproductions of original paintings. $5 each ($.25 tax) or any 5 for $20 (plus $1 for the government). Envelopes included. If you don't want to part with the cards, you can frame them and hang them on your walls. Interested? Contact me.

Racoon

Fishin' in the Fog

Mutt

Bullrushes

Photo Bomb

Summer at the Lake

New Painting

Coffee & Art!

Some of my art pieces are hanging in Sundance Java Bar, a Campbell River coffee house. If you're in the neighbourhood, pop in and have a look. Everything is for sale.

Excitinger and Excitinger!

I received the ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) in the mail yesterday. The real book should hit bookstores on January 16, 2018. Just 4 more months, people!

It's Been 20 Years!

The Runaways was my first novel. It was published in June of 1997, and though it went out of print 10 years ago, it is still used widely throughtout Canada and the U.S. as a classroom novel study and to assist in the teaching of English as a second language. It was well-reviewed and was even a Silver Birch regional award winner. The thing that made me most proud though was how, after reading the book, young readers organized themselves to make a difference to the homeless people in their communities. They worked in soup kitchens, canvassed local businesses for combs, toothbrushes, soap, and toothpaste, which they put in zip bags and distributed to those in need, and collected money for a community help group and challenged local businesses and the public in general to match their efforts with donations of their own.

Now, 20 years later, the book has resurfaced. This past May it was reviewed again.

"The Runaways is very much about taking the time to really think about other people’s lives; it is about developing empathy, not only for people who are obviously “other” (Luther and the homeless community) but also for those closer to us, whose strengths we might not see clearly."

To read the entire review, visit There Will Be Books.

Tomorrow I Paint.

While I wait for the next chapter of my current work in progress to sort itself out in my mind, I am filling the time with pencil and paper. I did the sketch this afternoon. Tomorrow I paint.

(Time Lapse) Tomorrow has come and gone. To see the finished painting, hop on over to my blog.

We Have a Cover!

Well, here it is. My 2018 book has a cover. To learn more about this new novel, as well as my other Currents' titles, visit my page at Orca Books.

Look for it at your favourite bookstore in mid-January.

 

3rd Reprint!

Popping My Buttons

This has absolutely nothing to do with writing, but everything to do with family. My daughter just texted to say that her son and daughter were named co-students of the month (a schoolwide achievement) for April. Colour me proud!

A Rewording Life

Congratulations to Sheryl Gordon on the IPPY gold medal for her book, A Rewording Life -- a courageous campaign against dementia. Since I contributed a sentence for one of the words in the book, I feel like I'm sort of a winner too. But since the profits from the sale of this book go to battling Alzheimer's, people with dementia are the real winners. Well done, Sheryl!

Another Reprint!

Wow! Just got back from a week-long visit with two of my grandkids to learn from my publisher (Orca Books), that Chat Room has gone to reprint yet again. It was originally published in 2006, so it's wonderful to think that it still has an audience.

Photobomber!!

As you can see, I'm still playing with paint.

Foreign Sale!

Surprise! Surprise! Cabin Girl has been picked up by Danish publisher, Nyt Dansk Litteraturselskab. One more foreign language for me to learn.

BIG Week

... one that has been shaped by a BIG cold. However, I still managed to find a subject to paint at my next art class, and I took a stab at cartooning, I got an idea for a collection of short stories, AND most important of all, I got my taxes ready for the accountant. (I am smiling -- with my mouth open, because I can't breathe through my nose.)

 

An Art Class Exercise

The directive was to bring something to paint and work with pen. This was my subject--a silk purse with coins from many countries.

More Fun!!

My eldest grandson at age 3. He's now nearly 17. Yikes! Where does the time go?

Too Much Fun!

How can a person possibly have too much fun? Well, I'm supposed to be writing a novel and researching my family tree, but I can't seem to put away the paint and india ink, so I must really be having a good time. I am absolutely loving the way those two mediums come together in illustration. I can't wait to get on with another painting.

Oh, I know the jar lids look like they're floating in air, but I did have them stacked quite precatiously. In fact, they toppled over after I had done the initial pen work and I had to try to recreate the still life so I could paint it. But I can live with the result. I'm learning how to meld the two mediums and this is just an exercise to hone my skills.

 

Alibi ...

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Looks like my publisher, Orca Books, is sticking with it too. It just went into reprint. Woo-hoo!!

We Had All This Snow ...

So I painted it.

Fa La La La La La ...

Time to deck the halls, and I'm already exhausted just from cleaning the house in preparation.

US Election

Dear American neighbours. Firstly, I apologize for this political intervention. That is not the purpose of my website, but I'm beginning to panic. Afterall, I live right next door to you. I never thought things would get this far out of hand. Are you bent on self-destruction and the annihilation of the rest of the world? Please get out there and vote -- and NOT for Trump!! This is very scary.

Someone Who Gets It -- Thank You!

Here is a recent reader review from Goodreads for my novel, In Search of Sam. So often my writing is criticized for being 'gentle'. I admit I don't write a lot of angst, horror, or rebellion, but I always feel that my characters do represent a hefty percentage of the population. My thanks to Janka H who GOT IT!

     "Sweet novella about the search to know more about the Dani' s deceased father - and in process to come to know more about how to live according to one's ideals.
      This is the second in the series Truths I Learned from Sam, but can be read as a standalone novel (as I did).
      Dani Lancaster had known her real father just for the short 6 weeks before his death by cancer. Dani had been happy growing up with her mother, assuming that her father was her previous husband - but now she knows and she is missing her dad fiercely. And she knows so little about him! So, to cope with his death, she decides to know him better. She is trying to meet his friends and even his family - her family, too - but Sam was a foundling, with no indication of who his parents had been. When travelling and meeting with people, Dani finds the little town of Farrow, full of charm and hidden possibilities for hope and reunion.
      This was one sweet read! Yes, maybe a bit unchallenging and a bit naive, but like a fresh water for my soul. The writing is fine and the characters are too - finally the novel full of good people, who are interested in each other and who are willing to be there in the time of need.
      Pure feel-good read, and I am not saying that lightly."
 

 Heirlooms 

 Imterested in finding out how things become heirlooms? Read this month's genealogy column in The Campbell River Mirror.

Things That Make You Go ... Hmph

In 2013 I published Caching In, a novel about two teenage boys who hit a big jackpot while geo-caching. Now it would seem there is another treasure hunt type craze out there called Munzee. I don't fully understand how it works, but like geo-caching, it is built around the idea of finding hidden booty and utilizes GPS. However, it also employs QR Codes. Anyone with a smart phone can play -- just about anywhere in the world. There are even munzees hidden in Antartica! Curious? Just download the Munzee app to your phone, and away you go.

FIRE!

On August 4th Sono Nis Press, the publisher of my fall book, Isobel's Stanley Cup, suffered disaster. Their officies and warehouse in Winlaw, BC were destroyed by fire. Fortunately no one was hurt, but all inventory was lost. I have no idea what this means for my book, but I'm sure it will be a while before things are back to normal. Find out more at BCBookLook.

Wheels are in Motion

I've just seen the preliminary sketch for the cover of Isobel's Stanley Cup, and I'm super stoked. The artist was kind enough to illustrate the scene I asked for from the perspective I'd requested, and it looks fabulous! I am very pleased. The substantive edit and line edits are now complete, as is the author's note, a brief biography, and the dedication. The designer has my illustrations, the marketing department has all pertinent PR goodies, and the copy editor is currently making sure the manuscript adheres to the publisher's style. Looks like we might have a finished book by early fall. Yippee!

We're Going Chinese

Pharoahs and Foot Soldiers is headed to China. Man, I really need to take language lessons. I now have books in English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Korean (2), Slovenian, and Chinese. Some of my titles have also been made into audio books and translated to braille for the visually challenged. All this from  stories that pop into my head. Wow!

Who Is That Guy?

Need help identifying people in old pictures? I give you some hints in this month's genalogy column. You can read the online version here.

Done, Done, & Done

... I hope. Today I put a bow on the last of the illustrations for my fall book, Isobel's Stanley Cup (Sono Nis Press). Here is the one depicting the final scene. I hope it makes you curious enough to want to read the novel.

My seven-year-old granddaughter attributes the old-fashioned look of the illustrations to the idea that I must have drawn them a long time ago.

(Sigh.) I'm old, but not that old.

As soon as I know the book's release date, I'll post it, so please visit again.

Gone to Reprint!

Yay! Another of my Orca Book titles has gone to reprint. So, if you like your novels in French, you better run out and buy this one before it's sold out again! Or if you prefer, you can pick up Cheat, the English version.

Coho Books

I should have mentioned this sooner, as it happened several months ago. Coho Books, Campbell River's little bookstore, has changed hands. Former owner, Pirkko Anderson, retired to travel and enjoy her family, and so the reins have been taken up by two book-loving ladies, who met through a book club. (Who would have guessed?) In addition to a change of ownership, Coho Books has also changed locations -- just a few doors down the street, but still on Shoppers Row. Drop in and say hello -- oh, and buy a book or two.

Wind-Up

River Writers, the critique group I belong to, had its summer send-off party Thursday night. As you can tell, we all had a great time. But it means no more meetings until the fall; summer activities make it too hard to find common time to get together. It doesn't mean no more writing though. We shall all just keep on keepin' on until September.

(Left to right) Janet Smith, me, Jocelyn Reekie, Sheena Gnos, Shari Green, Liezl Sullivan and (behind the camera) Diana Stevan.

Have a great summer, everyone!

June Genealogy Column

For those who don't get the Campbell River Mirror, this month's column is now online! 

Genealogical Research has Expanded my Horizons in Ways I Would Never Have Expected.

$10 Richer +

And the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup! Yay!! (My husband and I had a bet, and I won.) So I'm $10 richer. But I'm actually richer than that, because when hockey starts again next fall, my new book, Isobel's Stanley Cup will hit the bookstores. I can hardly wait -- FOR BOTH!!!


CCBC Summer Reading List

Well, it's that time again, and the Canadian Children's Book Centre has posted its recommended summer reading list. I'm happy to say that many of my friends have books on the list -- as do I. Have a peek.

Everything Old is New Again

This morning I received the Dundurn Press newsletter, because I have three books with them. And what should it include but a blog I wrote quite a while ago, featured in their News Media Spotlight. Check it out.

More Good News!

Just got word from my editor at Orca Book Publishers, that my submission for a book titled Winter Road is going to be published in the spring of 2018. It seems like a long way away, but considering I still have to write the book, I'm good with the timeline. (Colour me very happy.)

Sneak Preview

Okay, I'm totally excited! A chapter book for early readers I wrote about a little girl who wants to play hockey in 1893 (titled Isobel's Stanley Cup) is going to be published this fall by Sono Nis Press. That in itself is wonderful, but it gets better. I'm going to be doing the interior illustrations. Yikes! I love drawing and painting (check out the art gallery on this site), but I've never done any illustrating. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Here's a sneak preview of what's to come.

 And suddenly my office is an art studio!

Yay, Shari!

Big congratulations to a member of my writing group, Shari Green, on a great advance review of her upcoming verse novel for middle grades, titled Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles, though those of us who belong to River Writers will probably always think of it as The Beachy Book, since that was its non-title the whole time Shari was writing it. So check out the review in CM Magazine and put it on your reading list. The release date is early fall.

More Reprints!

Today I received word from my publisher, that Caching In and Chat Room have both been reprinted again! Chat Room was originally published in 2006 and is getting close to 25,000 books sold. SWEET!

 

DNA for Genealogists

This month's genealogy column is in today's Campbell River Mirror.  (April 22/16) It focuses on new doors that are opening for genealogists with the help of DNA. If you don't have access to the newspaper, you can read the article here.

The Daily Mail (UK) shared the following scientific findings, when Richard III's skeleton was uncovered in 2012.

Writing Contest!

Are you a Canadian student in grade 5, 6, 7, or 8? Do you like to write? Do you want to make the world a better place? Do you like contests?

If so, World Literacy Canada has just the thing for you. In 400 words or less, explain how you were once a villain. But you better write fast. The deadline for entries is April 25th!! Click here for details.

Newspaper Column

I write a monthly column on genealogy for the Campbell River Mirror newspaper. It generally appears the second Friday of each month, though it sometimes gets bumped to a later date, as it was this month. If you don't get the Mirror, you can read the articles online. Here is the link.

Moonlight Special

My parents courted in post WW II Winnipeg. Part of their experience included Saturday evenings at Grand Beach, dancing in the Pavillion. Transportation there and back was via the Moonlight Special. I shall be speaking about this train on April 7th at CRGS meeting in the Maritime Heritage Centre.

"Passengers will please refrain

from flushing toilets while the train

is standing in the station.

I love you."

Another Honour

Family Literacy Day is a national event created by ABC Life Literacy Canada and held annually on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family.

In support of this event, In Search of Sam is one of 6 YA titles recommended by the Canadian Children's Book Centre. What an honour!

A Well-Read Book

Cheat has gone to reprint. It might have something to do with being selected by two South Carolina middle schools to be a school-wide read. Thanks so much.

Reading Link Challenge

Zach & Zoe and the River Rescue is one of six titles selected to be part of BC's Reading Link Challenge, a reach-for-the-top type initiative aimed at raising reading retention in upper elementary readers. Zowie! I'm honoured to be in such great company.

The Plot Thickens

After laying the groundwork so carefully, the pieces of my novel are starting to fall into place. I couldn't be more thrilled. Here is what I've accomplished today.

Once we have seen Louisa safely to her lodgings, Peter carries on to his bed at the cooperage, and I start for Mabry Moor. I've been gone so long—the entire evening, in fact—I should probably think myself to the churchyard, but it's such a balmy spring night, I don't want it to end, so I make the trek back on foot.

As I lope contentedly along the Mabry road, I gaze up at the sky winking with stars and pretend I'm still alive, bound for home after my day's work. I'm lightheaded from the ale in my belly, and my mouth waters with the promise of a steaming bowl of mutton stew at my journey's end. I breathe in the night air, and let it roll lazily through me, all the way to my boots, cool and pungent with the earthy smells of the woodland. I close my eyes and savor the sensation. Oh, how well I remember.

But as I round the last turn before Mabry Moor, an unexpected shiver shoots through me, and I am suddenly wary. Then comes a feverish beating of wings, and I look skyward to see a dark swarm of birds passing overhead, moving away from the churchyard. Something is definitely wrong. I am the sentinel, and I am needed.

The next instant I am standing on the path between the church and the vicarage, and I gasp at the sudden blast of bitter cold. Sleet swirls around me in a merciless frenzy, and I lift my arms to shield myself from its stinging blows. The wind howls and shrieks, clawing its way through the trees and battering the buildings with such fury, the windows rattle inside their frames. Frost, like icy moss takes root on the church steps, while puddles well up in the grass at my feet, trapped in seconds beneath sheets of pebbled ice. The candlelight within the vicarage flickers, and Vicar Dunn appears at the windows, hastily closing the shutters against the draught. Another vicious gust rocks the cottage, pummeling the stone walls and ripping tufts of thatch from the roof. Though it is April, this is a winter storm if ever there was, and if I weren't already dead, I would surely perish from being out in it.

The evil spirit has returned, angrier and more determined than ever. Over and over it grabs the heavy, oak doors of the church, dragging them open before losing hold and letting them slam shut again. It is as if the spirit wants inside. Bang and shudder. Bang and shudder. How long can this go on before the doors are torn from their hinges and flung into the night?

 

Unplugged -- Sort of

I have spent the morning disconnecting myself as much as is possible from the Internet's social networks. (Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Indigo, Youtube, Google, etc.) It is easier said than done. You can open profiles and accounts, but it is a lot harder to close them. Many of them I opened at the urging of publishers -- to get my name out there, but I don't really think these Internet presences are helping my cause. All they are doing is using up a lot of my time and turning me into a cyberspace peeping Tom. I need to get away from the Internet world. It is invasive in many ways, and I just don't want to be a part of that anymore. I'm a writer. I want to write. So, if in the future, you are interested in what I'm working on, please visit my website.

Cheers!

(PS -- the iPhone may very well be next!)

Korean Cheat!

My Orca novel, Cheat is now available in Korea!

See you Tonight

Speaking this evening (Thursday, Oct. 1/15) at the Campbell River Genealogy meeting on how and why I infused genealogy into my novel, In Search of Sam. Hope to see you there. (Maritime Heritage Centre, Campbell River, 7 pm.)

Yippee!

Just found out that In Search of Sam is a Best Books for Kids and Teens selection.

Eureka!

Look what my grandson found in the bookstore.

New Painting

... or how I spent the Labor Day weekend. Now back to writing.

New Worlds

So my great nephew is a reader now, and look what is keeping him up past bedtime.

 

Of Ivy and Thorns

Getting ready to begin Book 2 of The Huldufolk Chronicles. Here's a desktop image I whipped up to inspire me.

Another Goodreads Review

In Search of Sam

Lorrea said, "This book made me cry. It touches a place in your heart. ... This is the first book I have read by Kristin Butcher. I look forward to reading more of her books starting with the prequel to this book.

Sittin' on the Dock with a Good Book

You can't beat that.

 

Resource Links says ...

about In Search of Sam

"The contrast between the feisty, unconventional characters in Farrow and her less interesting conventional parents is nicely drawn. However, it is the conservative business people who are able to cause the rebirth of Farrow and bring commercial recognition to Alex. Thus reconciliation and respect between the  two ways of life is happily achieved."

Available in the U.S.

Today In Search of Sam hits U.S. bookstores. Happy Reading, my American friends.

School Library Journal

says about In Search of Sam --

"In a field of palpitating hearts and dystopian societies, this realistic novel is a refreshing change ... Butcher adeptly creates a feel-good story that has the flavor of Jonathan Friesen’s Jerk, California (Speak, 2008), sans the angst."

Another Review

Of In Search of Sam, one reviewer says,

"This novel is one of determination, self-discovery and coming of age. The story line was great, the ending was perfect. I did not want to put this novel down. I'm looking forward to more novels by Butcher in the future!"

For the full review, see Wandering Thoughts of a Wayward YA.

Summer's Biggest Books!

The iTunes' list is out, and look what's on it. Yippee!!

Happy Book Birthday!

Today IN SEARCH OF SAM is officially available to readers, so get to your local bookseller and pick up your copy. In Campbell River, see Pirkko Anderson at Coho Books.

 

More Praise for SAM

And the reader reviews for IN SEARCH OF SAM keep coming.

Anushka says: "One of my favourite things about In Search for Sam was how character-based it was. Honestly, books like this make my faith in the realistic fiction genre rekindle."

More Goodreads Reviews

IN SEARCH OF SAM doesn't hit bookstores until May 23rd, but the advance reviews are rolling in. I'm pumped!

Jennifer says. "What I really liked about this book is the simplicity of it. There was no crazy plot, no crazy drama, it was just a character and her journey."

And Samantha says, "I found the book quite inspirational to be honest. Dani, is such a strong-willed, smart and driven girl. She knows how to get what she wants and she manages to get it all done. She's so sweet. I was honestly inspired for my future to get out there and be awesome like she did."

Read the full reviews.

Sam Gets 5 STARS!!

I might have to hire the writer of this latest review in Goodreads as my publicist!

"I really love this book! All of the characters are wonderful and the story's message is perfect."

Thanks so much, Heather Brown.

Another Great Review

Check out the latest fabulous review for In Search of Sam from Rebekkah Koons in the New Hampshire Children's Writers Guild.

Among other things, she says, "... Butcher develops great characters that hold the story together. At the end of the book, you wonder if Dani wasn’t the only one who learned something about herself–you may have just ended up learning something about yourself as well."

A Present in the Mail

In Search of Sam will be in bookstores on May 23rd, but my copies arrived today. Yippee!!

Newspaper Column

I've always loved history, and a few years ago I discovered genealogy, which brings history a little closer to home. I've also always loved writing -- especially mysteries, and now my two passions are coming together. I'm going to be writing a newspaper column on local genealogy for the Campbell River Mirror. The prospect is a bit scary but also very exciting, and I'm really looking forward to the adventure. After all, genealogy -- like history -- isn't about dates; it's about solving mysteries and uncovering stories. And I'm all about that.

George Solly Lines -- my great grandfather, born in 1861. He died in 1897 at the age of 36 as a result of a plague, along with his young son. George is buried with his brother, who also died too young. His wife, my great grandmother, Clara Burton, is also interred in that grave, even though she remarried after George's death. Curiously, the son is not buried in that grave. His grave is yet to be located.

The plot thickens. And this is just one of hundreds of family mysteries to be unravelled.

Advance Review

In Search of Sam just received a lovely advance review in CM Magazine. The reviewer says,

"Like Truths I Learned About Sam, In Search of Sam is primarily a story about Dani and her dad. Even though he is no longer alive, his presence seems to linger as his story is told too. At the beginning of In Search of Sam, Dani says that “nothing less than a miracle” would help her get over her father’s death. It’s satisfying for the reader that there seem to be perseverance and coincidence—or, if you like, miracles--in equal measure when Dani finally finds the answers she’s looking for."

To read the whole review, click here.


Snow Willow Nominee!!

YAY!! Truths I Learned from Sam has been nominated for the Snow Willow Children's choice Award in Saskatchewan. So many good books on this list. Check it out.

And don't forget the sequel scheduled for release on May 23rd.

IN SEARCH OF SAM


Gramma's Books!

Look what my grandson found at the bookstore. When my son showed him my picture on the cover, he wanted to know where Gramps' picture was. Apparently he now thinks I wrote all the books in the bookstore.

You Could Win!!

Enter to win a free copy of In Search of Sam on Goodreads.

And to make sure you enter your name, here's a wee snippet from the novel.

Before I can change my mind, I hurry down the length of the trailer and through the open doorway. I feel Sam here more than anywhere else, so I avoid opening myself to the room. Instead I focus on examining its parts. The drawer of the bedside table contains a blank notepad and some rodeo magazines. A box on the floor is heaped with belts and old boots. A zippered bag slung on a hanger is stuffed with mismatched socks. That makes me smile. Sam must have been waiting for the mates to show up. I actually have to hunt for the string tie, but I eventually find it draped over a nail at the back of the closet. The triangular-shaped turquoise is cold and smooth, and as I clutch it fiercely, I see Sam at the potluck supper as clearly as if he were standing in front of me this very second. My body goes weak and I sink onto the bed. Tears roll down my cheeks.

“Oh, Sam.” The words catch in my throat. The tears come faster, and soon I'm crying so hard I can't breathe. I don't care. I topple sideways and bury my face in Sam's pillow, giving myself up to grief. Finally my lungs scream for air, and as I gasp it in, my senses reel with his scent.

My tears are shocked away. Pushing myself back to a sitting position, I tug the pillow free of the bed cover and hug it close, breathing Sam in until I feel lightheaded. I can't get enough of his smell. It's so real, so tangible. It's like he left a part of himself here on purpose to help me through this ordeal.

A Tidbit From My WIP

The novel I'm currently working on is called The Third Portal. It is a fantasy, a genre I've never attempted before. I'm a little over a third of the way through the writing, and mostly I'm having a wonderful time. Creating a new world is exhilarating. The central character is 15-year-old Kole. He and his 17-yr-old sister, Jorin, and a young man named Conny are searching for the portal to another world. Here's a snippet from Chapter 9.

And then, just when he was certain the wolves would overtake him in the next instant, he burst through the blizzard, straight into the first light of day. In the distance, the sun, like a brilliant orange jewel, teetered on the horizon, illuminating a narrow neck of land ahead. This must be the bridge that linked the forest to the ice caves, though truth be told, it was not what Kole was expecting. Conny had described the bridge as a safe haven—all they had to do was get to it, but Kole had his doubts. The bridge was nothing more than a treacherous stone walkway, crumbling at the edges and so narrow, it would be impossible to walk abreast. Even single file, the slightest misstep would result in a sheer drop to the abyss below.

Conny and Jorin, already partway across the bridge, beckoned urgently to Kole.

“Hurry!” Jorin cried.

The wolves were so close, Kole could hear their labored breathing. He couldn't be more than a few steps ahead of them. With his heart pounding in his ears, he summoned the last of his energy and raced onto the bridge. But the rock was uneven, tripping him and sending him sprawling. He landed on his stomach with such a thud, that his spear flew out of his hand and the air flew out of his lungs. He needed to get up and run again, but his body refused. So he lay still and prepared to be torn to pieces.

When nothing happened, he pushed himself onto one elbow and peered over his shoulder.

The wolves were right there, hackles raised and teeth bared—snorting, pacing, and growling. But not advancing. It was as if an invisible wall was holding them back.

“They won't go onto the bridge,” Conny called. “It is beyond their jurisdiction. But we must still hurry. Get up, Kole. We must get to the ice caves before—”

An ear-splitting howl from the wolf king drowned him out. The baleful sound galvanized Kole into action once more. Despite Conny's assurance that the wolves would come no farther, Kole wasn't taking any chances. Pushing himself to his knees as quickly as he could, he spied his spear, lying precariously close to the edge of the bridge. But as he reached for it, a shadow passed overhead. Thinking it must be a cloud, he looked up.

It was not.

What's Old is New AGAIN!!

Both Caching In (2013) and The Hemingway Tradition (2002) have gone into reprint again. Yippee!!

Thanks, Canlit!

Alibi has been included in the Canlit for Kids winter library set distributed nationally. Woo-hoo!!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

Library Media Connection says

about Alibi

"The plot is fast-paced, the characters are extremely likeable, and the clues about the burglaries provide the reader with enough information to solve the mystery before the conclusion. Readers who enjoy a good 'whodunit' will appreciate this story."

Amy's Marathon of Books

reviews Truths I Learned from Sam. Check it out.

Bravo, Cabin Girl!

Southwestern Ohio Young Adult Materials Review Group - July 23, 2014 says about Cabin Girl

--  "A well-structured and well-developed novel. The characters are fleshed out, the emotions are real and earned, and the plot holds well. I especially liked that Bailey grew stronger from April’s bullying and actually used the experience to gain confidence in herself."

Advance Review!

I've never had one quite like this before.

Goodreads

More Kudos for Cabin Girl

Cabin Girl has been included in The Best Books for Kids & Teens 2014 fall edition. Yippee!

Horn Book likes Cabin Girl

 "A summer job cleaning cabins at her godfather's fishing resort starts out well for Bailey until workplace rivalry turns her into the target of bunkmate April's wrath. Pranks are one thing, but when it appears that April is up to something more sinister, Bailey must face the situation as the adult she aspires to be. Overt messages are presented engagingly for reluctant teen readers." 

(c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted

(c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. - See more at: http://vpl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/3675252038_cabin_girl#sthash.HT8docWq.dpuf

Also, Cabin Girl is the featured fiction book at Text2Reader for October.

A summer job cleaning cabins at her godfather's fishing resort starts out well for Bailey until workplace rivalry turns her into the target of bunkmate April's wrath. Pranks are one thing, but when it appears that April is up to something more sinister, Bailey must face the situation as the adult she aspires to be. Overt messages are presented engagingly for reluctant teen readers. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. - See more at: http://vpl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/3675252038_cabin_girl#sthash.HT8docWq.dpuf
A summer job cleaning cabins at her godfather's fishing resort starts out well for Bailey until workplace rivalry turns her into the target of bunkmate April's wrath. Pranks are one thing, but when it appears that April is up to something more sinister, Bailey must face the situation as the adult she aspires to be. Overt messages are presented engagingly for reluctant teen readers. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. - See more at: http://vpl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/3675252038_cabin_girl#sthash.HT8docWq.dpuf

Cover Reveal

In Search of Sam now has a cover. Release date is May 23, 2015.

CM Magazine Review

of Alibi. Check it out.

That Which Matters is ...

Another good review for Cabin Girl.

AND a great review of an old title, The Hemingway Tradition.

Alibi's in Publishers Weekly!

Check out the review.

Kelowna newspaper says ...

Check out what the Daily Courier has to say about Cabin Girl.

ESL Reading List

Camosun College has included The Trouble with Liberty in its 2014 recommended summer reading list for those learning English as a second language. Cool!

ARCs Arrived

The adv