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I was interviewed by Allan Hudson at South Branch Scribbler

January 10, 2021

First Question

When we visit your website, we find a wonderful collection of fantasy novels. What inspired Northern Survival and the other romance titles?

My Answer

Northern Survival

While I’m a fantasy-writer at heart, there were several stories begging to be told that didn’t fit that genre. Some stories nagged at me for years before I wrote them down. Others, such as Northern Survival, came to me in mere seconds, and the need to record them was stronger than writing my fantasy series.

I also believe stories that include romance as an added feature appeal to me greatly. I enjoy seeing the interaction between would-be couples and their struggles to become one. While my fantasy novels are all about forces trying to conquer one another, mystical creatures, magic and adventure, there’s a lot of romance going on. The attraction (or lack of) between characters often drives them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise.

This romance weaving through stories is what I loved most about Star Wars and the Indiana Jones movies. It kept me turning the pages of The Wizard’s Ward by Deborah Hale and Under the Same Sky by Genevieve Graham.

To read the rest of the interview where I share a memory from my childhood and answer questions about my fantasy novels, go here: Author Diane McGyver of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Practise makes progress; there is not such thing as perfection.

The Ancient Practice of Making Bread

January 5, 2021
tags: ,

Making bread has been a tradition for centuries. How many centuries? When I googled it, I found this: According to history, the earliest bread was made in or around 8000 BC in the Middle East, specifically Egypt.

This could mean those who built the Great Pyramid more than 10,000 years ago may have been the first bread makers. Where had they come from? Advanced societies, such as Atlantis, where they probably made bread for centuries before that, but all that history has been destroyed.

Up until about 70 years ago, one could literally live off bread and water, but the high processing of the grain that goes into today’s bread is far less nutritious than it was decades ago. With all the good stuff removed to make bread soft and white and bad stuff added to fortify it, it’s more like junk food and would never sustain life.

The ingredients listed for our local Ben’s white bread are:

Enriched wheat flour, water, sugar, yeast*, vegetable oil (canola or soybean), wheat gluten*, salt, vinegar*, soybean flour, calcium propionate, sorbic acid*, soybean lecithin. * ingredients may vary.

Canola and soybean are two of the worst oils to consume. While this processed bread contains 12 ingredients, real bread needs only five: flour, water, yeast, butter and salt. It doesn’t need a sweetener to feed the yeast, so honey (or sugar) can be left out. However, I put a dab of honey in mine.

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Magic in 2021

January 1, 2021

Over the past week, I’ve been re-reading the first several chapters I’d written for Within the Myst, book 2 in the Mystical epic fantasy series. Since I have been writing non-fantasy for the past eight months, it took my brain a few days to switch into the fantasy mode.

To help make the transfer from contemporary stories to fantasy easier, I dove into subjects that align with fantasy. One of those topics was the energy around stones. If you’ve ready the books in the Castle Keepers series, you know I strongly suggest the stones gifted by Isla of Maura have magical qualities.

This journey led me to a few blogs I’d never visited and to topics I’d either not researched extensively or ones I hadn’t uncovered before. One of those blogs was The Magical World of G. Michael Vasey. Gary is the author of more than 40 books and writes about metaphysics, paranormal and magic, amongst other things.

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Diving into Book 2 of the Mystical Series

December 29, 2020

With Seeds of Life buried in the backyard to ripen over the next four months, I’m diving into my next project: Book 2 in the Mystical epic fantasy series. More than 20,000 words have already been written, and the first scene of the first chapter has been posted to the book’s page: Within the Myst.

This book picks up three weeks after Beyond the Myst ended. It opens with Ob Ryder Somerled in his cell and being summoned to meet with the Elders. The characters who will tell the story include:

  • Willow Asuwish – daughter of Floriana (nee Kintale) and Jack Asuwish
  • Acacia (nee Asuwish) Elrick – Willow’s sister
  • Wynter Storm – servant at Castle Cothromach, friend of Willow
  • Ob Ryder Somerled – a picket who lives at Muighland
  • Sigwin Darroch – sailman at Argosy Sails on Nautics Path, Cothromach, who befriended Willow
  • Gloriana Kintale – Willow’s aunt

This story will

  • follow Willow into the Land of Ath-o’Lea, the place she entered when she passed through the Myst.
  • follow the Asuwish family as they discover the true history of their home Cothromach
  • follow Gloriana as she searches for her life mate

The story will reveal some of the secrets of the Myst and the motives behind the green dragon attacks. Updates to word counts will appear in the right-hand margin.

Recipe: Carrot Cake

December 25, 2020
This carrot is ready to walk away.

This year, I grew an abundance of carrots. I grew them in the multi-sowing pattern: three seeds in one hole. If you’re like me, you’ve been taught since your first steps in the garden to either drop one seed in the hole or (since this is carrots), scatter them and when they start to grow, thin out the weaker seedlings to give the carrot lots of room to grow.

Well, that’s not how Charles Dowding does it, and I’ve been watching his videos and following him for almost two years. He puts three seeds in and grows carrots (and other vegetables, such as onions) in clumps.

My experience with this has been extremely interesting.

I can’t say these deformed characters were the result of multi-sowing or the organic seeds I had sown. However, these are the most interesting carrots I’ve ever grown. My onions sown with this method grew normally.

More on this multi-sowing method and Dowding in a future post. This post is about carrot cake.

I pulled the last of the carrots from the garden on December 14th, the day before temperatures were predicted to drop below -10 Celsius.

I’ve made this recipe several times, starting in 2017. I found the original on the Internet and tweaked it to my tastes. The original didn’t include raisins, but I love raisins.

I’ll be honest, when I look at carrot cake, nothing in my body says, “Oh. Lovely. That looks so delicious.”

Then I take a bite, and my taste buds ignite with excitement, and I love this cake.

Carrot Cake

The last harvest of carrots this season.

In a sauce pan

  • melt 1 1/4 cup butter

In a small bowl, shred

  • enough carrots to make three cups – that’s about 4 carrots average size

In a small bowl, mix

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
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Christmas Memories: Time Change

December 24, 2020

Many years ago, when my two oldest children were five and six, they bragged that they’d be up at five o’clock on Christmas morning. I was exhausted. Sleep deprived, was probably more like it. The baby had me up all hours of the night, and the last thing I wanted was to be up earlier than I had to be.

I told the kids they were not allowed out of their room until six o’clock. Period. They agreed, and went off to bed. They shared a room, and there was much complaining before the room fell silent and they were asleep.

I set to work decorating the tree; yes, when the kids were young, I decorated the tree after they went to bed, so when they walked out in the morning and saw the tree lit, decorated and surrounded by gifts, it was the entire image of it that excited them, not just the gifts, which were few in number.

Feeling weary, I had an idea to gain me an extra hour of sleep on the morning end. This was at a time when the kids had only one clock in their room and obviously no cell phones or iPods to tell them the time.

Once the kids were sound asleep, I sneaked into their room and turned the clock back one hour. It was still dark at seven as it was at six, so I had no fear of them discovering this deviousness until it was too late.

Off to bed I went.

At 6:30 am, I got up, turned on the tree lights and prepared the room for the arrival of the kids. At exactly 6:00 am bedroom time and 7:00 am kitchen time, the kids rushed out.

These kids are now in their early 20s, and they still complain about that trick. Me, I sit back and chuckle.

“Seeds of Life” Draft Complete

December 22, 2020

On December 21st, I put the final touches on the first draft for Seeds of Life. It contains 110,733 words, which breaks down to 25 chapters that contain three scenes each, except for the last one, which has one scene, the wrap-up scene. This translates to 73 scenes.

The story is told through three points of view: Eloise of Larkspur, Hadwin the Wander and King James Proctor of Ravencroft. The scenes are fairly equally distributed, though I believe Eloise has 2 more than Hadwin and James. The novel opens and closes with her.

There was no purpose for crude language or sex scenes, so there are no F-bombs or intimate scenes. I don’t even think a character called someone a jackass. In fact, there may be no cursing at all. While I had planned to avoid using the F-bomb, the rest I hadn’t planned for. That’s the way some stories roll.

Rating this novel, I’d put it for ages 14 and up because there is some non-graphic violence. There’s no petting only a little kissing. The only time butt is used is when someone lands on it.

The year is 2050, and the major part of the story spans from spring to fall.

The first chapter in its raw form is posted to the book’s page, here: Seeds of Life.

My goal is to release the novel on October 3, 2021.

COVER: I’m working on it. The one posted here is a mock-up. I still have loads of work to do to it. This is where I finished last night before turning out the lights.

Winter Solstice – the light returns

December 21, 2020

My day will be spent marking the solstice. I will return tomorrow.

Take a moment out of today and remember the most wonderful things in the world are free and available to everyone. That includes the sunrise.

Let the light shine and remember, be kind to your future self.

Christmas Memories: Hunting for the Perfect Tree

December 18, 2020

Many years ago, in the late 70s, when I was around 12, my younger brother, a neighbourhood friend and I were hiking through the woods as we often did. I can’t recall why we were out there on the trail leading towards the railway tracks on this particular day. Sometimes it was just where we walked. I can say it wasn’t to go fishing at the river that ran under the railway because it was mid-December, and everything was frozen solid. There was more than a foot of snow on the ground. However, the path had been beaten down somewhat from our constant travels, and the light layer of snow that had fallen since the previous day didn’t slow our pace.

More than a mile into the woods, we spotted a beautiful evergreen. To my eyes, it was the perfect Christmas tree. My brother and friend agreed. Since we had yet to get a tree for the house, we decided to bring this one home.

We always carried hatchets back then, so we chopped down the tree, swung it onto the trail and began the long trek. Given the tree’s size and our size, we took turns dragging it. Once we got onto the old farmer’s road, which was partially grown in from lack of use, there was room to get two people on the tree, one on either side.

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“Seeds of Life” Nearing 90,000-word Mark

December 15, 2020
Seeds of Life

You’ve read that right. My first dystopian novel is nearing the 90,000-word mark. In fact, the word count as of 10:00 pm Monday December 14th is 87,821. If my prediction of 90,000 words had been correct, I’d be writing the final scenes right now.

However, the characters are just about to set out on the challenge this entire novel has been leading to. All those who play a major role in the outcome have arrived at Ravencroft, County Regal.

At this stage of the writing process, the minimum 1,000 words a day is unnecessary. I’m so eager to read the ending, I’m often writing more than 2,000 words per day. Now that I’m closer to the end than the beginning, I think the word count will hit 100,000.

Common Theme for My Novels

A common theme runs through almost all my stories. It’s not like I choose it; it choose me. The theme is the importance of home, family and freedom.

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