Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Down Memory Lane

We are in the process of doing something most married people get to experience once in their lifetime - cleaning out the family home we grew up in so that it can be sold.

In my case it is a little easier to do as my daughter and her fiance are buying my parents home so we don't have to clean it out completely and strangers will not be living in my old bedroom! My Dad is still living but old age - he is 92 - has necessitated him going to a nursing home, so my wife and I are cleaning out 52 years of accumulated "stuff" that our daughter doesn't want or need.

We came across a stack of postcards in one of the dresser drawers which caused this trip down Memory Lane. A couple of them, one from Montreal and one from Winnipeg were sent home by my older brother when he was heading for Regina in 1965 to learn how to be a Mountie which he did very successfully for close to 40 years. There was one from my brother-in-law from a hotel in Oshawa when he was just beginning his new career with GM in 1973. He retired from there in 2005 ish.

However, the very best was one Mom had sent to me in 1977, my first year at UNB. They had dropped me off in Fredericton and carried on to do some travelling around Maine and New Hampshire. The card the sent was from Clukey's (pronounced like Clookey's)  Motor Colony established by Mr and Mrs Francis J. Clukey in 1931. This was a collection of small cottages on their property in Bangor, Maine.

The first time I remember staying there I was about 4, so about 1963, and we still lived in Alma. My brother and sister  still lived at home and we went there for a small vacation. I remember being so impressed by everything about this place. Big city stuff for a little guy from Alma. Nearby was a public park which ran along the river and there was this large (at least in my mind) pool with a fountain in the middle. At night there were multi-coloured lights shining up through the water. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen!

There were things on the little black and white TV that I had never seen either. It was the first and only time I had ever seen a show called The Musketeers". I was very impressed.

I still have some more digging to do and another trip down Memory Lane may be conjured up because of it.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Lovely Rejection

Just after Christmas I sent Jimmy and Cinder off to Orca Press in BC to see if they were interested. Last week I received an email from the acquisitions editor saying she had enjoyed the book, especially the "delightful" Cinder. Unfortunately they didn't feel it fit with what they were looking for at the moment but she encouraged me to send it to other publishers as it may fit their current needs.

I forwarded the email to a freelance editor from Halifax who helps me and she called it a  "lovely rejection", It certainly was more pleasing than the previous publisher I sent it to, who had actually asked for it, and I have never heard back from them again. I guess the fact that this editor actually sent me something personal is a very good sign that I'm on the right track.

Speaking of which, it just never hurts to speak to people in a book store. I was at Cover to Cover books in Riverview (my favorite store) a few weeks ago and there was an author doing a book signing. So I chatted with him for a bit, bought his book, and then had a nice discussion about writing with him, I mentioned I was trying to find a publisher for Jimmy and Cinder and he asked if I had tried a publisher here in Riverview. I told him I hadn't realized there was one. He gave me the name, I looked it up on-line and there it was: Chocolate River Publishing.  I checked out their website and saw that they were fairly new, had four or five books under contract but none were even close to the fantasy genre I was writing in.

Rather than send a full query, I sent a short email saying what type a book I had and if they would be interested in seeing it. If so, I would send a proper query according to their guidelines. About two hours later, I get an email back from the publisher saying she was familiar with my previous two books and to send her the manuscript right away. Actually she told me to drop it off to her house.as I actually know her. My younger son, Fraser, was in her son's wedding party! Here, I didn't know this lady was a publisher! All this from speaking with another writer at a book store.

So I have dropped Jimmy and Cinder off to her and we will see what happens. If she isn't interested, I think I'll change tactics and look for an agent instead.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Biking in Moncton area

My wife and I have taken up cycling over the past few years and have come to really enjoy it. We keep threatening to do a "bike trip" but have never got ourselves to the point that we felt we were properly conditioned to do so.

Metro Moncton (Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe) is a wonderful place to bike recreationally. Depending on where you work, you may not agree that it is always a safe place, however I think all three communities are expanding their bike lanes whenever and where-ever possible. I see a lot more bikes using the road and drivers are slowly becoming more aware of them. I'm now seeing people biking in the winter using the "fat-bikes".

There are currently 10's of kilometers of off road, graveled or paved trails wide enough for walking or biking in the metro area. Because this area is relatively flat, it is not difficult biking either. My wife and I can go over 50 km around the city on trails and hardly ever be around traffic. A lot of it involves riding along the Petitcodiac River and several kilometers of it are linked to the Canada Trail system.

One of our son's goes to the University of Victoria. Victoria is a city that has embraced mass transit and biking in a big way. It is a very green city in more ways than one. Beautiful winters, compared to the east coast, encourages people to use their bikes year round, and the large amount of bike lanes encourages using them.

I'm a big believer in the phrase "build it and they will come". I'm hoping the three communities that make up Metro Moncton will to be aware of the importance of increasing biking infrastructure so that more people can use their bike safely. It could be the start of a green revolution in the area.