Saturday, July 18, 2015

Poetry Reading at Stephan G Stephansson House by Nancy M Bell

Nancy reading from her work and the work of Stephan G Stephansson.

Sunday July 12, 2015 I had the privilege of attending a poetry reading at the Stephan G Stephansson House north of Markerville, Alberta. Stephan G was an Icelandic settler who lived and homesteaded in the area. He was a prolific poet with hundreds of verses to his credit. Incredibly, he wrote most of his poems at night after the work of the day was done. The house is lovingly restored to the way it was in 1926. Stephan's writing desk still stands in the lovely front room with the bow window. The inkwell and pen still waiting for his hand.

The reading took place outside on the long front lawn with the herd of cows lazing under the spruce trees in the field beside us. The MC commented that since they hooked up the audio system for the readings last year that the weather had co-operated and not blown up a storm. She felt that Stephan wanted to hear the poetry and without the amplification in the earlier years he had called up the storm to chase them inside where he could hear. It is true that you can feel his presence, especially in the room with the writing desk. Poets were invited to read from their own work and to share some of their favorite Stephansson poems. Poets included: Margrit DeGraff, Melle Huizinga, Alvin Boragar, Nancy Bell- that's me!, Rebekah Branson and two other local poets who dropped in. Brian came up from the Markerville museum to share his poetry. Kate McIver treated us to some beautiful harp music and the Branson Family regaled us with some inspiring songs. I am so happy the organizers reached out and invited me to join this event. It was a lovely way to spend a July Sunday afternoon. The lovely ladies of the house gifted me with a hand bound personalized journal which they made themselves using Stephan G's bindery tools.

The poets standing in front of Stephansson House July 2015

Some lovely photos of the house.

Beautiful writing set

The room as you enter by the front door.

The wind up record player still makes beautiful music.

The front room where Stephan G wrote.

To learn more about Stephan G Stephansson and Stephansson House please click here.

To learn more about the man himself, please click here.

If you'd like to read some of my poetry, you can find Through This Door by clicking on the title.

The poems I read on Sunday were:

By Stephan G Stephansson

Evening written in 1899

The Prophet's Son written in 1914

At Close of Day written in 1883

Toast to Alberta written in 1893

From Through This Door by Nancy M Bell

Never Linger

Summer Evenings

Maybe When


The Last Breath

Until next month, enjoy your summer and stay safe!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Casting Your Characters - Cancer - Janet Lane Walters

This is a sign I am rather familiar with since I have a birthday today. I'm also blessed or cursed with 6 planets in Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus and Pluto (only a planet astrologically) I also have a series featuring Cancer heroines - Moon Child. At this point there are three completed and I'm working on the fourth one.

The character with a Cancer sun is usually quiet and reserved yet they do like the spotlight. They are versatile, and changeable. They set their own course in life and have no desire to change what they want to do. They have a fertile imagination and dramatic ability. Tears can flow with ease though they hate to show this weakness to others. They love strange experiences and enjoy the occult. They may be psychic and have a retentive memory. They fear ridicule and love kindness. If someone badly hurts them, they will remember and they will erode this person rather than blast.

With a Rising sign in Cancer, the character will be changeable about life and their occupations, enjoying more than one but usually one at a time. They have a tenacious memory. They are industrious and frugal. Fear of ridicule makes them discreet and conventional. Their emotions are strong. They are receptive to new ideas. They have a knack for adapting to their environment.

Moon in Cancer. The emotional nature. There is a desire to work along the line of least resistance. They are sociable and domestic, sometimes talkative. Their emotions are influenced by the environment. They can be imposed upon and may resent this but never complain. They enjoy travel and home. They are fond of the occult and antiques. They desire to live near water. They may be either consciously or unconsciously psychic.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

To Submit Or Not - getting Over the fear of Rejection by Roseanne Dowell


Strange, realistic visions and dreams invade Rebecca Brennan’s mind. When she experiences someone’s pain, she’s determined to find out who shares her mind. Her search leads to a small town filled with Victorian homes and interesting people and puts her life in danger.
Available from Amazon
Visit Roseanne's author page at Amazon or her website 

I could barely open my eyes. Was it morning already? Another sleepless night and my head felt like a million cotton balls resided in it. Disoriented didn’t even begin to describe how I felt.  How would I ever get through the day? Needless to say I was anxious, which explains the sleepless night. I've always been that way, excited and anxious before a big event. Like a kid at Christmas waiting for Santa. 
Coffee was definitely on the agenda. Lots and lots of coffee. I bided my time until a reasonable time to make the phone call regarding a query, and it was only 7 AM. Watching the clock didn't help and I busied myself around my apartment.
The submission guidelines allowed me to present the query via phone or email. I opted for phone because I'd get my answer immediately. 

    Finally eight o'clock rolled around and I garnered up the courage to call, only to have the receptionist tell me to call back later. It wasn't easy getting the courage to submit. No one likes rejections and I've had my fair share. Most writers will tell you they can wallpaper a room with them. I certainly could. But as a wise person once told me, if you don't submit, you'll never get an acceptance either. Submitting over the phone via mail or email took a lot of courage.   
 My nerves on edge, I sipped my coffee, sat at my computer, and pondered my notes. Did I have everything I wanted to say? Would I sound professional enough?  Maybe it would be better to email a query.
Either way I’d have to wait. If I made the phone call, hopefully the editor of Ohio Writer's Magazine would be in a good mood and I’d get the answer right away. Decisions, decisions. 
    I took a deep breath, wishing my stomach would calm down. I hated waiting for anything. Patience was not one of my better virtues.     
    I opened my email screen to compose. “I called a magazine a few minutes after 8 and can't call back until  9:30.” I wrote to my writing buddy. Hopefully, she'd answer right away and help me pass the time, give me the encouragement I needed, and critique my query. 
No such luck. Apparently she wasn't online. I stared at the clock, watching the numbers slowly tick away.  Only 8:15, more than an hour to wait. There was only one thing to do. 
    Okay but write what? My brain was so focused on this query I couldn't think of anything else. I went to the kitchen for more coffee, stopped and chatted with my grandson, who had spent the night. He wasn’t in a chatty mood, too glued to the television screen. He didn't even want breakfast, which would have passed some time.
    I glanced at the clock again, only 8:20, still more than an hour. 
    I really shouldn't complain, it wasn't as bad as mailing a query and waiting 4 to 6 weeks for an answer. Often times a rejection. 
    I sat back at the computer and tried to write but the blank page on the computer screen stared back at me. 
I tapped my fingers on the keyboard. What to do?  I look over my notes again. It wasn’t a bad query, with a little work maybe I could improve it.  My fingers moved rapidly over the key board. Finished I leaned back, looked at it for a moment.  "Yes!"   
"Did you call me?" My grandson appeared in the doorway.
"Huh? Oh no." I hadn't realized I spoke aloud. "Just talking to myself" He disappeared into the other room, and I chuckled. I'm sure he thought I was nuts. 
    I shrugged and looked at the computer screen. Just do it an inner voice said. I moved the cursor to select all, clicked it, and then copy. I opened the email screen, typed in the address of the magazine. Should I do this? 
Do it something inside said. If I sent the email by time the editor came in it would be there. Besides, what if she didn't like my voice or what if I stammered and stuttreed? No mattr how rehearsed I was, sometimes the words fumbled out of my mouth.
What the heck, I had nothing to lose. I moved the mouse over the send button.  A click and it disappeared. Gone. Off into cyber space.  
An hour later, I had my answer via email. Send the article, we’ll look at it.  This time the query paid off, I’m glad I didn’t wait.  If only every query turned out so easy.  But, alas, it’s not the norm, often it’s a flat out rejection. If I had allowed my fear of rejection stop me from submitting I never would have been published. Fortunately, I discovered the worst they could say was no and if you don't try, you'll never know. Of course, they still had to accept the article. So the waiting wasn't over yet.

My article, Show Me the Story appeared in the Nov/Dec 2004 issue of Ohio Writer's Magazine.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Is it possible to have too many books? by Michelle Lee

My husband teases me (sometimes not so affectionately) about my bookshelves.  And my stacks of books.

I am a voracious reader - I average about 100 pages an hour, and anywhere between 5-10 books a week.

I take a book with me everywhere - the doctor's office, to the DMV, the bathroom, you get the idea.  I read both print and ebooks ... I buy books new and used, and borrow from the library (generally when I want to try a new to me author).

For one of my anniversaries, my father-in-law built me a seven foot tall, seven foot wide bookshelf, with the shelves perfectly spaced for books.  It fits great on my landing going upstairs.  It's also full.

As are the bookshelves in my bedroom, in the hallway leading to my room, in my living room, etc ...

So I am always on the lookout for creative ways to house my plethora of books.  Here are a few that I have found and would love to have the ability to create.




(This one used to be a closet)

(This also used to be a closet - and not only is it filled with books, but the doors are also bookshelves.)

(Another door/bookshelf - looks like maybe a library behind the door.)


Now in my search for creative book solutions, I have come across some other ideas for guestrooms, extra storage, etc.

So what do you think ...  Is it possible to have too many books?

Any book shelf ideas to share?  

~ Michelle

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Statistically I don't exist by Sheila Claydon

I received a letter from the Office for National Statistics. It said I had been selected from the UK's Royal Mail's list of addresses to form part of a sample that represents the entire country. What it really means is that it's a mini census about a specific issue and the information given helps government departments, local authorities and charities make decisions about how they will spend their money.The European Union also uses the results as do schools and universities.

I know it works because a number of years ago a much needed local traffic system was approved as a result of a similar survey. This one, however, was not about transport and roads, it was about employment.

A man wearing a identification card on a cord around his neck duly arrived and, once he'd got his computer to work, started asking the questions. The first ones were easy. Name, age, household, health, da-di-da-di-da. So were the next ones about qualifications, past employment, retirement, tax benefits etc. Things started to get tricky when we started talking about the present though.

It didn't seem like a difficult question. Are you still in any form of paid employment? But it was.

Yes, I'm a self-employed writer.

A fair bit of hemming and hawing and then 'There isn't a writer category on the list."

Try author.

Ah yes there is one for author. I can slot you in there. Do you work full time or part time?

Part time.

Would that be mornings or afternoons, or part of a week?

All of those...sometimes.

Could you be more specific?

No because there's no pattern.  I work flexibly. I might write almost full time for a week and then, because of other commitments, not work at all for two weeks.

By full time do you mean Monday to Friday?

No. It could be Monday to Sunday or, in another week, just the Wednesday.

Do you work in the evenings?


How many evenings do you work?

It's impossible to quantify because it depends on what else is going on in my life.

Do you work at night?

If you mean right through the night then no but I sometimes work really late.

Would you say you write every day?

No. As I said it's flexible but I do look at my work related emails every day.

So would you say that's two hours a day or is it more than that?

Far less than that usually but occasionally I have to follow something up immediately and that might take a bit longer.

So can I put two hours a day?

I was feeling sorry for the guy by then so I almost nodded because I really, really wanted him to be able to tick a box. I didn't though because it wouldn't have been true.

So fellow writers (or authors if you prefer) how would you fare if the very nice man from the Office of National Statistics visited you? Would you fit into his nice orderly boxes or are you like me, an 'if and when' writer who has to take her chances when she can?

I'm not sure what the government and all those other worthy bodies are going to make of my answers. I guess they won't even see them, they'll just see a minor blip in the employment statistics that will eventually be published.  In the meantime maybe I should try to work in a more orderly fashion. After all it would be nice to be able to tick one of those boxes.

One of my heroines had to tick boxes. That was Claire in my book Reluctant Date. She was ticking boxes on an Internet Dating site though, and that's a whole other story.

All my books are available on Amazon at and at

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Writing Challenge by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

I was at a meeting with some fellow writers and, as writers do, we were talking about writing. One of them gave us a writing challenge. We had to write five beginning sentences for five stories. We had ten minutes to do it.

Here were my five:
My mother told me a joke on my wedding night saying. "The difference between rape and rapture is co-operation."
The day that my brother blew his hand off is the day that my father started drinking.
Whatever the past, the future is spotless.
I don't give a dang, for I have seen the elephant.
The only time I like water is when it is cold and the day is hot.
As each one read hers, we discussed them trying to figure out how the story would go. At the end of the meeting we decided that we should take one of our sentences and build it into a short story, or the beginning of a novel for our next meeting.
I took my second sentence and here is the beginning of the novel I wrote around it.
     The day that my younger brother, Ralph, blew his left hand off, was the day that my father began drinking. Not that he hadnt drank before. He'd have a beer on Saturdays with the neighbours or a drink at family gatherings but it was that day that he began drinking every day as soon as he got home from work.
     And the change was immediate. When he and mom came home from the hospital after leaving Ralph, Dad went to the cupboard and pulled out a half empty bottle of whiskey. He got a glass and poured it almost full. He drank it down. I was watching him as mom told me and my younger brother, Jimmy, that Ralph had lost his hand and would be in the hospital for a few days. Dad took time off work and he and Mom went to see Ralph every day. But every evening Dad drank himself into a stupor.
     When they brought Ralph home from the hospital the only change in Dad's routine was that in the morning instead of going to the hospital he went to work. He got up sober, left the house at his usual time and was sober up until the moment he entered our door after work. It was once that door was closed on the outside world that he'd sit in his chair in the living room and pour his first glass of whiskey or vodka or rum whichever he had on hand at the time. Mom would serve him his supper there while the rest of us ate at the table in the dining room. His evenings varied little. Sometimes he'd stare at the television set, sometimes he'd stare into the corner of the living room. And he continued drinking all evening until he passed out, usually in his chair, sometimes on the couch, occasionally he made it to bed.
     He became, and remained for the rest of his life, a functioning alcoholic.

West To The Bay

Gold Fever

The Travelling Detective Series boxed set:

Illegally Dead
The Only Shadow In The House
Whistler's Murder

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