Monday, 3 November 2014

The Wishing Stone Book Trailer

Check out the first book trailer for the Wishing Stone and Other Myths: Learned on Gull Cliff Island...

Monday, 13 October 2014

Here's a new review from St. John's, NFLD!

Jenni from the Rock: Little House on the East Coast

Jenni from the Rock: Little House on the East Coast: Those who have grown up in Newfoundland and other parts of Atlantic Canada are aware of our distinct and rich history. We have memories of l...

Monday, 8 September 2014

Being Coaster Round 5, Strip 2

Remember, if you want to see Being Coaster from it's beginning, just click the 'Comic Strip Being Coaster' tab above.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Another short story: For the lovers of both music and words


            I can see people’s pain.  Like broken rainbows caught on fire its colors rage for my attention, its agony spits light that nearly blinds, and spinning wild, angry dances, the Pain eventually sees me watching it.  It reaches for me then, with fiery fingers, and if it comes too close I can feel it.
I’m scared one day I’ll burst into flame.
        I try to prevent this.
I don’t want anyone else’s pain.  I have enough of my own.
        There’s a building I walk by once a week after school. Brown, ugly, dirty, it merely blends into the background, into the sky, into the concrete.  Its edges smudge into those of its neighbors... at least it did before Aubrey.  Though I’d passed it on my way to piano lessons for the past five years, before Aubrey, the old building hadn't existed to me.
          Aubrey soon filled it like a beacon with his hurt.
          I managed to ignore the building the first two weeks after it was given life and made it to wrinkled Mrs. Dolby and her stagnancy ahead of my usual lateness.  I had been afraid of what I saw radiating from the building down her street and my footsteps had quickened.  The Pain hadn’t noticed me, for that I was grateful.  I’ve seen the damage it wrought.  My Mother’s Pain ruined her, though its passion died long ago.  Her Pain is grey now.
New Pain is difficult to look at.  It glares.  It shelters its owner greedily, it feeds him yet feeds off him, but mostly it lives beneath the rule of its owner.  Somehow the Pain in the building was different.  It was new and old, and it had come undone.  Its owner had lost control.
My ears swore they heard it roaring, moaning, and my heart cried for the poor soul slave to it.  On the third week, instead of facing Mrs. Dolby’s strict piano instruction, I found myself standing before the once unnoticed apartment building.
It flamed iridescence.
When I entered The Pain’s domain it turned itself toward me and my skin burned, but I was drawn by wonder as well as fear, I needed to understand it, so I continued forward.  The Pain watched me find its victim’s door but didn't reach for me.  It didn't want me.  It didn't need me.
I knocked on the door but when no answer came I forgot my manners and discovered its knob unlocked.  The door opened and streaks of blazing color shot from it.  Like coils of rope they wrapped themselves tightly around me until I fled, screaming.  Outside the Pain released me. 
When I got home my Mother was upset, as I knew she would be.  I had missed my piano lesson.  She sat across the table from me, the dunes of her grey ash shifting.  That frightened me.  I prayed they wouldn't wake.
“I’m not going back...  I’m not a musician,” I told her.
My spaghetti was cold.
“You would be if you practiced!”
“I don’t have the talent and you know it.  You’re making me hate music!”
Her lips tightened.  “Day after tomorrow you will go back, and you will apologize to Mrs. Dolby.”  She finished her meal and left the table.
Later, from the library, Mom’s violin sang what she couldn't say.

When I again stood within sight of the Pain, I knew Mrs. Dolby would receive no apology that day.
I went to the building, I went to the door, and I withstood the grasping light that shot from it.  I walked into the apartment.
The room within was dark and stale.  The room was silent.
Through the hallway I drifted, as if in a trance, afraid yet hopeful, and as I stepped into a living-room my eyes squinted against pulsating red; the Pain’s heartbeat.
I became a part of it. 
The Pain throbbed through my veins and was at once my pulse, my body’s rhythm.  And then I found Aubrey, shriveled and wilting.  He watched me through glassy eyes.
I went to him, and knelt beside the wooden rocker he was set in.  He turned his head toward me.
“Who are you?”
His voice wasn't weak as his body was.  It held a strength I couldn't have guessed he possessed.
Who are you?”
Someone answered from behind me, “A child who was just leaving.”
I scrambled to my feet.  “I’m sorry, I was just... I...”  A large woman glared down at me, past thick arms folded across her chest. The words I wished to say remained lodged in my throat.
“You were just leaving,” she reaffirmed, pointing a thick finger toward the dim hallway.  Her finger led me, she followed.  “There’s nothing to see here.  Just an old man readying to die.  Leave him be.” 
The Pain’s beat beneath my skin begged to differ.
I faced her before she could close the door in my face.  “You’re wrong.  He isn't readying to die.”
“Young girl, you know nothing of these things.  Aubrey’s wasting away.  This isn't your business, go on with you and let the man alone.”  The woman shooed me with her hands, but I didn't move.
“What’s wrong with him?  Can’t he have company?”
The woman eyed me carefully.  Again her arms crossed.  “And what sort of company do you suppose he needs?  Are you selling stuff?”
“I... found him by accident, and now that I've seen him, I don’t know… I’d just like to help.”
Her eyes softened and her arms disentangled.  “It’s a shame isn't it. Aubrey Hyme is his name and I guess you could say I’m his nurse.  ‘Nurse Agatha’ he used to say.  He hired me nearly three years ago after discovering he has Alzheimer disease.”
“Alzheimer’s… is it very bad then?  Has he forgotten lots?”
Nurse Agatha nodded her large head sadly.  “He was a violinist in his day, a real one too. I mean, music was what he did for a living. He only played the stuff he wrote.  I don’t know much about that stuff, but even I could tell his music was his life.  It took him all over the world, he once told me.  And you know, even when he forgot his name he could still play his violin.”  Nurse Agatha scratched her chin.  “Not anymore though.  A few weeks ago he lost memory of that too, and now he’s given up.  Once I tried playing violin music on his stereo but he got to howling like an old wolf.  So that was that. I don’t understand the interest you have in him, but I suppose caring isn't a bad thing.  It wouldn't hurt for you to visit from time to time, but only in the mornings before noon.  It’s his best time, he’s strongest then.”
And so I started visiting Aubrey every Saturday morning before noon.  Each time I entered his building, Aubrey’s lightening ridden Pain linked itself to my heart.  I soon got used to its throb, I understood its hunger.  Aubrey’s inability to play music was feeding his Pain, his loss was fueling it.
In other words, Aubrey’s Pain was eating him up.

“I found these,” Nurse Agatha said one day, after placing three fat binders on my lap.  “They’re his compositions, his favorites anyway.  I thought you might like to take a look at them.” 
I opened the top binder but all the lines and pretty symbols meant nothing to me.  They didn't come to life as I knew they were supposed to.  I was a child born to two brilliant musicians, whose future was supposed to have been written upon a sheet like the one I held, but I couldn't understand a wink of what I stared upon. 
Aubrey watched me quietly.
“You know, Aubrey,” I said, reaching for his hand. “I should be able to read these.  My dad could play any instrument he picked up, and the violin is my mother’s voice.  If they looked at these they’d hear music.”  I placed Aubrey’s hand upon the open sheet.  “Can you feel your music?  Can you feel it inside you?”
Who are you?”

My mom hadn't spoken much after I’d made it clear I was done seeing Mrs. Dolby, but her violin had cut through me every night after.  It was her music, that expression of what lived inside her that became my punishment.  Her sorrow drifted through our home as a torment.  I prayed for the ash to leave her but it was all she had left, and she clung to it without end.
“Mom, there’s something I need to tell you.”  My meal was untouched, I wasn't hungry.  “I know you’re upset with me, about giving up piano—
“Just like you gave up violin,” she interrupted.
I watched her chew.  She was cold and colorless, a copy of the grey beach which clung to her, the ash that comforted and tortured her.  I wondered if she could taste.
I've been visiting on old man named Aubrey.  He has Alzheimer’s.”  She stopped chewing and looked at me, icy and still.  I braved the silence.  “He loves music, like you do.  ...Like dad did.”
Her dunes shivered.  “Be quiet.”
“He only played the music he composed—
“Be quiet.”  Her dunes shook.
“But now he’s forgotten how.  His mind doesn't remember music, Mom, but his heart does, and it needs to feel what it created."
“I’m warning you.”
“I can’t help him, but you can.  Play his music for him, please.  He loved music like you do, like dad did—
“Nobody loved music as your father did; nobody.
Her dunes were no longer dunes, but a grey sea, they had become waves.
“Aubrey does.”
Mom pushed her chair backward and it toppled behind her.  “I don’t care who Aubrey is and I don’t care what he’s forgotten.  This conversation is over.”
I started to cry.  “Let it go Mom, why can’t you just let your hurt go?”
Music flashed through her eyes.  “All the talent you could have,” she seethed, “if only you’d take hold of it!”  Her composure slackened, her ocean swelled.  “Your father… your father was so gifted—
“Dad’s greatest gift wasn't that he knew music. It was that he knew how to wield it. His greatest gift was that he didn't use it to hurt others.  Dad used his talent to heal hurts and to make things grow.  Dad played music for those who couldn't so they might feel it as he did.  He shared his talent mom.  He didn't turn it into a weapon.”
Carefully, so that I wouldn't fall upon the floor in surrender, I stood, and before me she shook.  Sadly, I watched her waves once again turn to flame.
“I’m going there today,” I whispered.  “And I’ll leave the address behind.  Maybe you’ll visit us there.  I hope you do.”

Again I faced the building and again the Pain there didn't look at me.  It was bored with me and my visits, and unafraid.  The Pain had seen the extent of my strengths and laughed at my presence. It continued to eat through Aubrey’s soul.
When my mother arrived the Pain was unsuspecting and unprepared. It hadn't thought there’d be a new change to its order.  Neither had I.
“Who are you?” Aubrey asked when she walked into his vision.
The room was still, the room was quiet.
“She’s my mother,” I answered, awed and afraid.  “She’s come to play your music for you Aubrey.” I handed her a binder.
The violin sang.
For Aubrey it sang, for Mom.  The violin sang for me.
Its music danced with Aubrey’s Pain and made it beautiful.  It flowed through our hearts, through our souls, until we wept, until we sobbed, because each of us knew how love can be a terrible hurt.  Mom’s gift brought Aubrey’s music to life, and as she used her power as she was born to do, I watched her come to life as well.  Her raging flames burned to ash, and the ash lifted from her shoulders, it drifted into the wrenching, aching notes she sent soaring through the air.
And then, the music found Aubrey.
It caressed him gently, in sorrow and with love, and it wove through him and about him as it spoke words to his heart.
The notes shivered, the notes eased, and the room fell silent.
Aubrey straightened in his chair.
He looked at me through eyes that were as clear as his voice.
“I wrote that song,” he said, “for my wife, a long time ago.”
My mother, tears streaming down her face, set down her violin and moved toward us.  She knelt, and placed a gentle hand on Aubrey’s leg.
“Thank you,” she said, and it was then I noticed the room’s color had changed.
The building, like my mother, had lost its flame.

By J.M. Lavallee     

Short Story by J.M.: A Skinny Man and a Fat Woman


            The very first time I saw Hannah I fell in love.  Laughin’ with a circle’ a friends her smile enchanted me, and though I watched from a distance I just knew she was a woman’ a good, and that, no matter how hard I tried, I’d never find another like her.
Her dark hair shined like new copper under the midday sun and I remember wishin’ I’d had more gumption.  I wanted to walk up to her somethin' bad and run my fingers through all those smooth strands but, I never was a brave boy. And besides, these digits bein’ nothin’ but callused knobs, had I’d done so that pretty hair, not yet knowin’ this boney fool, might ‘a coiled from my clumsy touch.
I studied her for a good long time before she noticed me, but, when she did she was all cute and bashful at seein’ my hungry eyes, her creamy skin glowin’ nicely, and it was then that I discovered the sweet dimple in her chin that only appeared when she smiled.
That smart crevice made me weak in the knees.
            Hannah was a large woman, yes, made up’ a gentle slopes and warm soft folds.  I’m gangly, lanky, tall and scrawny.  Beanpole was what they called me in my school days, and I s’pose the title still fits.
Got taller I did, but though my Ma promised it, I never once filled out.
I got used to the name callin’ a long time ago, never did bother me too much, but my Hannah, well... it hurt her, as it always had I ‘magine. 
I’ll admit we must’ a looked the couple, Hannah and I, me all shootin’ up into the air and she takin’ up so much space and all, but how cruelty could be found where there’s love, I don’t s’pose I’ll ever understand.
There are a lot’ a things that go over my head. I’ll never be what they call a genius, but when it comes to my Hannah I know plenty, and so, on a day when she and I had been eatin’ out, (right here at Sammy’s Diner wouldn’ you know), I knew somethin’ awful had happened when I returned to her from visitin’ the washroom.
Hannah’s soft face was pinched, her eyes all red and puffy, and in her hand I noticed she clutched a hand full’ a wet napkins.
“Well Hannah, what’s happened?”  I asked.
“Nothing at all Graham,” she whispered.  “Some water got sipped down the wrong pipe is all.  You didn’t hear me coughin’?”
I hadn’t, and I knew she was lyin’ but I didn’ press.
After that day I started noticin’ changes in my sweet Hannah.  Not too long after she began even to look different.  I watched with my heart breakin’ as her glow slowly faded, turnin’ white and then just plain sickly.  Her hair, that shiny smooth hair I so loved to touch, became coarse and wiry, thin even.  Her fine dimple I saw less and less.
I really got to worryin’ when I started to see all her carefully chosen outfits seemin’ suddenly to sag over empty space, and I realized my girl was shrinkin’. 
“Hannah, are you sick?  We should go to Doctor Theodore.  He’ll whip things up.”
But it never did any good.
It took me awhile, like I said, I’m no genius, but eventually I realized Hannah was disappearin’ after our meals, all sly like.  The last day’ a this I did some sneakin’ myself, followin’ her t’ward the basement washroom after tellin’ her I was goin’ out for a stroll.
Throwin’ up she was. Regurgitatin’.  And through the open crack’ o’ the doorway, I had seen she had brought it on herself by stickin’ a toothbrush a darn ways down her throat.
I was horrified.
She cried as we drove along in the pick-up toward Doctor Theodore’s office, all the way beggin’ me not to tell others and sobbin’ that she had been doin’ it for me.
“For me,” I cried, and it was the first time I had ever spoken to her in anger.  “How, in any way, would you makin’ yourself sick be any help to me?  How Hannah?  Can you answer me that?”
Oh, did the look on her face grieve me.  Shame, embarrassment, hurt, I could hardly look into her sunken eyes, so changed had they become.  But because I loved her so dearly I steeled myself against the desire to give in to her pleas, for I knew she was in trouble.  And I was scared.
God woman, I love you so much.  Why would you get to doin’ such a thing?  Was it to get skinny?  Was that it?  Were you doin’ it to look all rake-like, like this ol’ pole?”  I tried t’ smile but darned if it weren’t hard to do.  “You said you were doin’ it for me, but don’t you know by now I don’t want you that way?  Why, from the beginnin’ I’ve loved you large.  I love to wrap my arms around your big body Hannah, to feel your warmth.  You are the most beautiful woman I have ever known, and I’m not talkin’ it’s the inside that countsYou are beautiful; you, the way God made you, the way you can’t help but be, and I love you now as I did the very first day I met you.”
I had been watchin’ the road as I spoke, tryin’ hard not to speed in my panic to see the Doc., and so I was right startled when I glanced t’ward her and saw the cloud’ a darkness that then hovered over her face.
It was a look’ a hatred if I’d ever seen one, and comin’ from her, my darlin’ angel Hannah, I felt I were drownin’.
All you!” she screamed.  “You made me think all these cursed years that I was beautiful, some rare treasure brought up from the bottom’ a the sea.  You who made me think my struttin’ all around town with my slim, handsome husband was a fine thing, when all along, I’ been the joke’ o’ the town!”
My hands gripped the wheel with white knuckled strength. 
“Graham,” she continued, sobbin’.  “Do you remember that day at Sammy’s, the day you asked if anything was wrong and I said no?”
I did.
“I lied.”
I’d known.
“While you had gone Graham, Joey came and asked if I was done, I wasn’t, but he had known that already, hadn’t he?”
“What are you talkin’ about?”  My right foot pushed further t’ward ground.
That’s good,’ he said to me, with this terrible, greasy ol’ grin.  ‘Because we’ve got a whole cow yet in the back for you, all topped off with whipped cream.  How ‘bout it, Wide Load?’  I s’pose I turned red then.  Because then he said, ‘you must color like that in the bedroom eh Hannah?  I really did always wish to know how a straw manages to screw a grapefruit.’  And then they laughed, Graham.  There I was, surrounded by all those familiar faces, and not one was left unsmilin’.”
There was rage then, as I had never before experienced, and so red was that anger that I hurt.  I kept seein’ her as I had that day we first met, the way she had shined with laughter and shy smiles. 
I didn’ even see the moose ‘til its legs were beatin’ at my face, at hers.  I thought, I must be dreamin’, but then came all these strange lights and eerie sirens, strange voices too, and I thought, not a dream, a nightmare.
But it wasn’ a nightmare, at least not in the sleepin’ sense, and it bein’ but four nights ago, you all know it.  I see tears in some’ o’ your eyes as you sit with your meals waitin’.  And you Joey, what’s on your face, guilt?  Or regret for havin’ lost your mask?
I came here straight away because you all deserve to hear first.
She’s dead.
I hope the truth of it sits upon your wretched souls forever.   Yeah, I get it, a skinny man and a fat woman; hilarious.  So amusing we must have been.
Go to hell.
I’ll never see that dimple again.  I’ll be cold now.
You can finish your cursed meals.  I hope every swallow is drenched in shame.

By J.M. Lavallee

Monday, 1 September 2014

Baie Qu'appelle?

Homemade cloudberry jamCC BY-SA 3.0

What is the name of this berry?...

Ah the bakeapple, a delicious treat.  Well known to many Canadians, unknown to many Canadians.  Why is that?  Perhaps because of it's many titles. It does (did you know) grow throughout the Northern Hemisphere across the planet.

Scientifically known as the Rubus Chamaemorus, this bright and tart berry was (and still is for some) an important staple food along the Lower North Shore of Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador.  Because the temperatures there are ideal for the bog growing, fleshy fruit, the rubus chamaemorus germinates in abundance, creating fields of color in late summer, brilliant, sun-catching orange upon deep and light green foliage.  The berry first appears as a small white flower, morphs into a red and yellow berry, then typically ripens in late July when it has developed its signature orange and softness.

So what of its numerous titles?  Cloudberry, knotberry, low-bush salmon berry, aqpik, averin, and as I grew up knowing it, the bakeapple.  Usually we name things for a reason, we don't say 'redberry' when we speak of a 'blueberry', so most of these labels I comprehend, but what of bakeapple?  The berry is sometimes baked in desserts, but it certainly does not look or taste anything like an apple, baked or not.  And where is this name most popular?  Along the Lower North Shore of Quebec, and in parts of Labrador and Newfoundland.

What is the name of that berry? Some historians say the answer to this question goes way back, and begins with the exact same question.

Here's the theory:  When early French Settlers visited those eastern shores of Canada, a question was often upon their lips when mingling with the native communities of the area.  This inquiry was "Baie qu'appelle?"  Translation: "What is the name of this berry?"

I can picture it.  These strange looking visitors arrive and enjoy displaying and naming all they've carried with them.  They take to naming the things familiar to them too, sharing their words with those lending an ear.  And then a finger is pointed.  It extends toward a sunny mesh of orange berries, common to those watching, listening.  "Baie qu'appelle!" the man exclaims, over and over, as he bends and picks the small fruit.  He moves the berry under the nose of the closest native, "Baie qu'appelle!"

Perhaps later these native to Canada playfully mimicked the new words they'd learned, and one of those was Bakeapple.  How many tiny ears might have been listening?  And later still, perhaps more French settlers visited, and to them, with berry in hand, the natives say "bakeapple".

I love this tale.  Perhaps this is truly why, mainly in Quebec, we have since called our beloved orange berry, the bakeapple.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Being Coaster: Round 5 strip 1

Don't forget, you can view Being Coaster from
the beginning by clicking the 'Comic Strip Being Coaster' tab above!

Friday, 29 August 2014

The Wishing Stone and Other Myths Hard Copies

Mr. Bill Anderson holds a printed edition of
the Wishing Stone and Other Myths in his cabin on Gull Cliff

Did you know you can order hard copies of the Wishing Stone and Other Myths: Learned on Gull Cliff Island?  Just email Morning Rain Publishing your mailing address, contact info, the title of the book you're looking for, and the amount of copies you're requesting!  They'll take care of you from there.

Click here to go straight to Morning Rain's Contact Page...

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Missing Strip from Being Coaster Round 4...

To read the comic from its beginning, simply visit the 'Comic Strip Being Coaster' tab above.

Being Coaster comes in strips of three pages.  In the past I've been posting all three at once, though because it takes a lot of time to draft these, I'm going to start posting just one page at a time.  The strip below continues and ends Being Coaster Round 4:

A Great Contest for Book Lovers

If you love reading, and winning stuff, check out this awesome contest Morning Rain Publishing is hosting.  This would make a great buddy, group, or solo project.

Make sure to share it with your friends!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Wishing Stone on Gull Cliff Island

You've studied the photo to the left.  Have you figured out what it is you see?  Imagine it fitting in the palm of your hand, fragile, crumbling, yet strong.  Very old, yet once a child's.

Let me begin here...

An island can be seen a distance off the harbour of Harrington, Quebec.  It is small, and upon it quaint buildings like country houses in miniature sparsely dot its landscape.  Locals know the island as Gull Cliff, and many, if not most, have family members who once lived there during the warm, berry bright months of summer.  The island once housed a small community of fishermen and women with their families, who owned days filled with duties and hearts filled with pride.  But as time sped forward time changed, as did the faces of those who ran about the island's meshes and pussy willow fields.  Eventually the community it once housed dwindled.  Some homes were transported over ice or sea, while others remained to be kept for pleasure, for those leisure moments which suddenly were more prevalent than they had ever been before.

This time belonged to my mother and her siblings, to her parents and their friends.  She once roamed the secret folds of Gull Cliff's rock body.  And as I visited the island this summer, taking my novel which was written for those like her, I felt the ghost of her youth flitting about me, could almost hear her youth's laughter ringing upon the wind.

It was in fact a photograph of my mother and her sister on Gull Cliff which inspired the Wishing Stone's creation.  A black and white of a time nearly forgotten by some, unknown to many others.  It was with great pleasure I walked the hard ground of the island with my children of the West skipping and roaming alongside me.  There was a sense of knowing my story began there too, as did the tales of so many others of the Lower North Shore.  And I don't simply mean that island specifically, but those beginning lands, those places of the North Shore which were to begin what became a thriving faction.  There are many.

As I investigated an old building with a gentleman by the name of Bill Anderson, who once lived on Gull Cliff and now retreats there because the island continues to give him joy, I discovered it to be the oldest that remained on the island, over a hundred years.  And what moved my heart to new heights was knowledge that the hands of my great, great, great grandfather had built it, Thomas Strickland, of whom my youngest son had been named.

As we looked upon an unfolded strip of papers, hard because they'd been long ago worked with a flour mix (in replace of glue) and pressed upon the walls as wallpaper, I was reminded of how the ease of acquiring 'things' has drastically changed since Gull Cliff's time.  The strip had been saved for this purpose.  It was beautiful in all its simplicity, breathtaking for its age.

Stepping from my great grandfather's building, I saw my sister and her husband walking toward me.  Beside them our mother was beaming.  When we grew close a hand outstretched, and curled upon it sat a tiny, misshapen shoe.  A child's shoe, a girl's shoe, and it had been found upon the site where Mum's childhood home once stood.  Remember that photo above?

Who's shoe had it been?  We gazed upon it like a treasure, for it was that.  The possible stories behind it flooded into my mind, took me away on spread wings.  Some small child had greatly missed that one shoe I was sure, some time ago.  Might it have been Mum's?  Or her sister's?  Or perhaps it belonged to a curious visitor to a site where a remembered house was no more.  We wondered, and the shoe was kept.  It now sits with my sister in her Alberta home.

I think everyone left Gull Cliff that day feeling something special within them.  It is what revisiting history does to people.  That sense that you can almost touch a time past, can just about feel a spirit of old pull forward.  It's an odd thing and leaves one contemplating, feeling whole and yet empty all at once.

One thing is sure my family felt closer.  My father and mother were there, my sister and brother, their partners, their children.  My own husband and children too.  Could old great grumpa Tom feel us there?  Might he somehow be aware that his blood was then reaching out to him, thankful for the sweat he'd once spilled... for us?  We were.  We are.

The Wishing Stone and Other Myths: Learned on Gull Cliff Island, written in Alberta Canada, written about the Lower North Shore of Quebec, now understands its namesake.

The journey will never be forgotten.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

A sample reading from the Wishing Stone and Other Myths, on CFBS radio

Check out the link below to hear me on CFBS radio, reading chapter one from the Wishing Stone and Other Myths:  Learned on Gull Cliff Island.    I get very nervous during interviews, and knowing I was being recorded here set me to shambles!  Sound a little flustered, but it was such a privilege to have CFBS interested in helping me spread the word about my novel.  Hope you enjoy.

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Wishing Stone Book Tour: Day 12

It was day twelve of the Wishing Stone Book Tour, and the day before the Chevery Come Home Year Celebration.  From Blance Sablon a charter had been arranged by family and friends making their way to Chevery from 'up above' (communities North of it), because, with no highway to Chevery, air fees are high. Filling a plane with eighteen people cut those hefty dues by more than half.  With this extra cash in our pockets and a spirit that raised the already cloud grazed roof, our roots drew us closer, and our smiles grew wide.

It's difficult to describe the emotions which swept through me as we soared over the familiar land I hadn't seen in over twelve years. I was both elated and sad. I was sentimental. Below, the rock, the soil, and above all, the ocean of my youth awaited. God knew I'd missed it, and he knew I still loved it.  But I wondered, how much had it changed? What if those intimate spaces I'd grown to feel, no longer moved me? I'd no longer know who I was were that the case, because the Lower North Shore had shaped me.  But though my worry grew wings they did not have time to spread.  We landed in Chevery and the world once more shrank. Home again, tears stung my eyes, and my children were with me, my husband.  This was something new in memories which were old, and I'd embrace it.

We were welcomed by old friends and family with lobster and music.  The best sort of hug anyone could ask for.  Guitars, accordion, spoons, foot stomps, and an array of local voices carried us through the night, and my childhood heart reawakened.  It was magic in its real sense, and I silently thanked the Wishing Stone because in truth, it was what brought me home.  The book had granted a wish I hadn't known I'd uttered, and I'm glad it did.

There were a few things about returning to my childhood home after so long which proved hard to swallow. One being that all things change.  While the song of the sea rang the same tune and produced in me the same sense of longing it always had, I witnessed a great change in the land and its climate, and the effects of such difference.  Beaches I'd once walked are now reshaped and unfamiliar, and trees stretch higher in the sky, but it was the flies (Dear Lord), the flies, which were nearly unbearable.  Is it the new heat, or the (sorrowful) lack of bats and dragon flies? I don't know, but they were awful.  This, however horrid, was not the most difficult of changes.  It was seeing older friends up in age who I knew I'd likely not see again, and seeing one friend from my childhood ruined from drink, and nearly unrecognizable. But that, I suppose, is the way of things.

I can't possibly recap the entire trip, as the organizers of the Come Home Year Celebration did a great job of keeping us all quite busy.  But, seeing that this blog is supposed to reflect my writing, I will share with you the news of my Chevery book signing, the Wishing Stone's visit to Harrington Harbour, and my family's reunion with lovely Gull Cliff.

These things I will keep separate from this write-up, as this one has proved personal.  I hope you don't mind. The Wishing Stone's return home, coming up!

Friday, 18 July 2014

The Wishing Stone makes it home TONIGHT!

We've traveled all the way from Grande Prairie, Alberta, but tonight the Wishing Stone will return to its home.  To the town who's history it has been loosely based upon.  Tonight the Wishing Stone will fly to Chevery, Quebec for it's Come Home Year Festival.  There, the book will be reunited with its history, and later visit the island of it's title... Gull  Cliff.

Please keep posted for more!

The Wishing Stone Book Tour: Day 10

We at last made our way back to Quebec's Lower North Shore; first stop Blance Sablon.  We made our way to Middle Bay, making a stop at Bells Amour for mussels (of course).  What a lovely mussel farm!

Though the fog rolled in black on the day of our Middle Bay chapter reading event, we still saw a few brave faces, and sold many books besides!

Thank you to the people of CFBS radio for recording and then airing my reading that night. It generated a lot of interest and positive feedback, which is just what a young and green author like me loves and requires!

I was lucky to have had the opportunity to read and sign out of the Interpretation Center in Middle Bay Quebec.  The building, previously the Middle Bay school, is a treasure, and I'd recommend any who venture that way to take time to stop and visit. The history within is rich, and beautifully displayed. The antiques there, shared by the community, emanate tales from the past, and local folk art inspire.  A definite must see.

Middle Bay proves a place doesn't have to be big and busy to have character.  While the pretty homes here may appear at first glance secretive, once a door opens one soon discovers those inside have opened arms and smiles that shine.  Thank you Middle Bay for embracing the Wishing Stone!

The Wishing Stone Book Tour: Days 8 & 9

Unfortunately, time got faster on this leg of our journey, and we were unable to visit Pictou-Antigonish as we'd originally hoped.  The road stretched ahead and we had to catch two ferries, because the great ambition of the Book Tour was to get the Wishing stone home... and that destination goes by the name of Chevery...

While we could not visit libraries throughout our time
in Nova Scotia, we still had tonnes of fun, and took many snaps as we traveled.

Wishing Stone Book Tour: Day 7

The librarians of the Fredericton Public Library were wonderful hosts during our reading and signing there.
We enjoyed the children's section with its forest of books theme; I even got to read upon a toadstool!  Was very nice seeing a few fellow Coasters turn up for the visit, and just as lovely seeing the Fredericton faces that piled in.  Many children attended the event, and enjoyed crafting paper dolls just like Dot and Sara did in the Wishing Stone and Other Myths.

From Fredericton we made our way to the quaint Regional Library of Cambridge Narrows, where the librarians pampered us with homemade treats and local book talk.  So much volunteer work goes into this library, we were astounded by the many programs as well as variety of literature made available to book lovers.  It was a pleasure meeting new and old friends in New Brunswick, and we all wished we'd had more time available for touring.  Alas, the road called and again we were off, on our way to Nova Scotia...

The Wishing Stone Book Tour: Days 4, 5, 6

The Wishing Stone enjoyed visiting the Coaticook Gorge during our stay in the Eastern Townships of
Quebec.  The heights were exciting as well as breathtaking, the view thrilled, and the caves were damp and enjoyable spooky!  After achieving an adrenaline rush, Wishing Stone capped the day with a giant, Le Place soft ice cream, satisfyingly dipped in chocolate sauce; Oh My.

And nothing but the best for vacationing Wishing
Stone.  Day 5 found the read pacing the greens, golfing in Greenville with friends.

Day 6 brought a farewell BBQ which meant goodbye Quebec, and on to New Brunswick!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Wishing Stone Book Tour: Day 3

Last evening the Wishing Stone visited the North Hatley Public Library and enjoyed a great turn out of kids and adults alike. But receiving good company wasn't the sole joy of the evening. This library is an absolute dream, a gorgeous little abode. I fell in love with the place, and now have ideas for changes in my home back in Alberta.

To a room packed with friendly faces I read the Wishing Stone's first chapter. Once done, I then made my way to a lovely lit fold of the library where I proceeded to sign books upon a fashionable antique settee (so spoiled). While the adults purchased their copies of the Wishing Stone, those children in attendance shared their skill in the art of paper doll making, a great hobby of book characters Dot and Sara.

I'm grateful to all who made their way to the library last evening, and hope the Wishing Stone will be enjoyed by each.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

The Wishing Stone Book Tour: Day 2

After an entire day of travel, chilling by the pool was exactly what we all needed.  The Wishing Stone Book Tour:  Day 2 was one for the family, spent laughing, splashing, and enjoying BBQ treats. The hardest part of this leg in our adventure, however, was convincing the Wishing Stone to keep from the water... 

Tonight we will be visiting the North Hatley Public Library to do a chapter reading.  We will have print editions of the Wishing Stone, make sure to visit for your copy!  Check in tomorrow for more!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Book Tour Day 1: Grande Prairie, AB to Montreal, Quebec

Our Book Tour began with nothing other than a good old Tim Hortons coffee (Mocha to be exact), before heading to the Grande Prairie Airport. Everything ran smoothly, and the service, all around, was great! The Wishing Stone had quite the time...

Our airline of choice was WestJet,  and they were amazing.  Flying us from Grande Prairie to Edmonton, and then from Edmonton to Montreal, they ensured we were safe and comfy... including the Wishing Stone.
We had a great time flying with Westjet, but perhaps the best part about our travels yesterday, was meeting up with fellow MRP authors Jennifer Bogart, Heather Grace Stewart, and Nancy Beattie!  They were so fun to chat and hang out with, and the BBQ was delightful too.  Although the rain poured sheets and thunder and lightening ensued (keeping us from the pool), that didn't stop us from having a wonderful visit!

Bring on Book Tour Day 2...

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Wishing Stone Is Ready To Fly!

We've been packing all day and now we're ready to fly!  On Westjet wings from the Grande Prairie airport we shall depart, and you can follow our journey here, on twitter @authorJMLava #WishingStone, or on  Travel with the Wishing Stone and Other Myths Book Tour, and watch to see where the book will end up next...

Because we haven't picked up our hard copies yet, we've improvised and printed the book's cover to paper.  This sheet will fill in for an original copy until we hit Montreal, but will be pasted into the book we will later donate to Chevery's Netagamiou School. Friends we meet along the way will be invited to sign the paper, and take part in bringing the Wishing Stone home.

Watch the Wishing Stone move through the strides of Canadian travel, and feel free to offer suggestions for it's next pose.

We're off to bed now, to rest our sleepy heads; tomorrow will be a big and busy day (and we can hardly wait).

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Wishing Stone Book Launch

I've been away some time and apologize.  June did not end up being the laid back, lemonade in the shade kind of a month I'd anticipated.  Instead, it was an exhilarating, nerve wracking, scatter brained month with lots to do while always remembering to be a good Mum first.

But after wrapping things up at school, writing letters until I could barely type my name correctly, and looking busy while my Mum baked tarts and steamed pudding, July 3rd rolled around and it was time to celebrate the release of the Wishing Stone and Other Myths: Learned on Gull Cliff Island.

With the help of my tireless family and friends, we rolled out the red carpet in the form of plywood and guitar strings, and the launch proved fit for an East Coast King.

The first step in any promotional event is to set the stage; and that's exactly what we did.  My brother, Justin Buffitt, alongside my husband, Ross Lavallee, pieced together the prefabricated backdrop they'd built to stand in as a sneak peek inside the Wishing Stone's main setting; Dot's home on Gull Cliff.

We were on a tight schedule, having only an hour and a half of prep time before the event would begin in the Grande Prairie Public Library, so my stress string was taught, but I had good faith in my crew. There were chairs to fold and stack, chairs to position, and food to lay out as well.  But all went without a hitch, and before long, we were making merry to tunes by some Downhome talent. Who rang the twang?  My father, Keith Buffitt, and a close family friend Clint Osborne. They drew a crowd that filled the room and soothed a nerved lady who was wearing checkered black and white.

And so the evening progressed, with two lovely Middle Grade readers greeting guests with two pails (NFLD beef buckets to be exact) filled with 'wishing stones'.  These young girls were dressed as protagonists Dot and Sara, and offered each individual joining the launch a stone for their pocket.  But not before whispering it a wish. I later announced before reading my sample chapter, "...don't count on your stone to grant your wish, however.  Instead, let it be a reminder of that wish, that dream.  Because wishes do come true, as long as we don't forget them."

We enjoyed words from the City of Grande Prairie Councillor, Chris Thiessen, who wished the novel well and spoke of the importance of community and family spirit, and from Penson Principal Jenny McAusland, who reminded all of literature's value, and the importance of keeping it alive.

And then, before returning to tunes which had brought our guests in, I stood before the crowd to speak, and read the first chapter from the Wishing Stone and Other Myths.

I was overjoyed to see people visit who were originally from the East Coast as well as from Alberta.  It was a perfect blend.  Because everyone knows a good book can be enjoyed by anyone, from anywhere, as long as that book can find its way to them.  Thank you Morning Rain Publishing, for allowing me to share Dot and Sara's story with Canada.