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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.

Read more…

“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.

Read more…

Thoughts on Plants and People

December 11, 2020

As I strolled through the garden, I admired the deep green leaves of the thyme, parsley and creeping phlox, indeed some strawberry leaves were still vibrant and green. They contrasted sharply with the bare branches of plants that had long lost their leaves when temperatures dipped below zero.

I wondered what allowed some leaves to survive while others succumbed.

Then I wondered if people were like plants: some endured and thrived in hardships while others perished in a light frost.

The pansies still blooming beneath a thin layer of snow on December 10th.

Thyme, strawberry and dandelion still green on December 10th.

Winter is only 11 days away, yet these plants are still green. Given the lack of daylight, they’re probably not growing at any rate. They’ve endured temperatures as low as -5 degrees Celsius, freezing rain and snow.

My lettuce — the first time I planted a fall crop — is doing well. I cover it with a small frame with plastic. It’s doing fine, but there’s not much growth. I doubt it will survive the below -10 temperatures we’ll get soon.

Lettuce undercover. Photo taken December 8th.

The lettuce under the cover.

The garden never fails to entertain. I love being in it in every season.

A Novel with a Slow-burn Romance: “Seeds of Life”

December 4, 2020

I’ve read many reviews where readers express their dislike for books where it takes forever for the couple to come together. They call this a slow-burn romance. However, I’ve read just as many that express the same dislike for insta-love stories where the couple meet and are instantly in love within the first chapter.

This insta-love sort of happens in A December Knight, though it is not as quick as the first chapter. Two weeks into the relationship, the couple, Jan and Delanie, are madly in love. This is quick as far as I’m concerned.

I believe in love at first sight, but I know this doesn’t happen with most relationships.

Personally, I like writing a mixture of books. Some have insta-love and others have slow burns. I also write some where the speed of love falls somewhere in the middle.

For Seeds of Life, I wanted the romance to take its time. I wanted to nurture it through shared experiences. The couple in this novel are new to romance, so in one minute, they like each other and in another, they like their freedom more.

For those who love insta-love, this book may not satisfy them. For those who love slow burns, well, I think you will love this.

Actually, I’m not certain they’ll stay together. Is that a spoiler alert? There are many forces pulling them apart and at 70,000 words, they have decided they’re better off single. Let’s see where the next 30,000 words finds them.

I’ll finish writing Seeds of Life by December 31st. It will go into the cellar to ripen for at least four months. I’ll haul it out in the spring, give it a read and see where it stands. I hope to publish it in October 2021.

The first raw, unedited chapter is on its book page here: Seeds of Life. The word count appears daily in the right-hand margin.

eBook Sale

The eBook for the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes is on sale for 99 cents until Sunday December 6th. That’s a $4.00 savings. This sale is only in Canada. You’ll find it at Amazon.ca.

Have a great weekend, and remember, Be kind to your future self.

“A December Knight” Takes Place in the Year…

December 1, 2020

There is no year mentioned in my Christmas romance novel, A December Knight. However, it definitely didn’t take place in the last five years. I wrote the story in November 2015, so it was contrived from that viewpoint from little ol’ Nova Scotia that is thankfully 20 years behind the rest the world.

Cell phones are in use, and they’re not plugged into a battery pack hooked to a vehicle, so it’s after 1995. The 18-year-old in the story has a cell phone and can text, but the general population is not addicted to their phone. From a quick search, the first text message was sent in 1992, but that was crude from computer to phone and no reply could be issued since phones were incapable of sending texts.

Body piercings, tattoos and unnatural hair colours were rare, so they stood out in public. In some places in Nova Scotia, they still do cause heads to turn.

Digital picture frames were all the rage. I’ve never owned one, but I recall when my mother—who is technology challenged—received one for Christmas from a well-meaning family member.

Photoshops were still shops customers who wanted to make prints from negatives visited to get their roll of film developed and printed. These shops sold digital cameras, but many other stores were also starting to sell cameras on a large scale.

Jan Cooper, the main character in the story, manages a camera shop, so these details are important.

The Sears Christmas Wish Book, the one Emmie searches through to find the doll in question, is still published. This catalogue teased and entertained children from 1933 to 2011. It was resurrected in 2017, but once again returned to the tomb of time. This indicates the story was before 2011.

I recall the many hours pouring over this wish book as a child, dreaming of what I might get. Long before Christmas day arrived, it was tattered with pages torn out and would-be gifts circled with pen or marker. In its golden years, customers knew ordering from Sears meant quality. However, by year 2000, that promise had been broken. Perhaps because things came marked “Made from China” instead of “Made in Canada” or “Made in the USA”.

The Welcome to Cole Harbour – Home of Sydney Crosby sign at the corner of Caldwell Road and Cole Harbour Road stands. It was put up before I moved from the area in 1996.

A December Knight takes place in a simpler time, before politics dominated every conversation and before identity politics divided the landscape. It’s about work, financial security, family and the smell of a real Christmas tree in the house. It’s about realising dreams and having the courage to follow them. It’s about finding love in the chaos of snowstorms, Christmas rush and retail madness leading up to the big day.

If I had to guess, I’d say the story takes place in 2004. It was a time when my kids gathered around the television to watch Frosty the Snowman and The Year Without a Santa and made snowmen in the backyard. It was simpler and better than the social media world of today.

A December Knight arrives just before Christmas.

“Seeds of Life”: Word Count Reaches 60,000

November 27, 2020

The draft for my first dystopian novel, Seeds of Life, has reached 60,000 words. 60,480 to be exact. Approximately two thirds of the story has been written.

All the characters who play a major role in the story have been introduced and have all met. At the moment, their personal conflicts attempt to tear the small group apart. They don’t realise they’ll have to band together to fight an even bigger threat to their well-being.

The year is 2050. After a major set-back, society is struggling to provide the basic things, such as food and shelter, and they’re working to recreate major technology that had provided basic conveniences, such as electricity.

Sounds strange, but it’s not really. Everyone can flick a switch to turn on a light, but many don’t know how to create electricity, built components needed, deliver the electricity or construct a lightbulb. It’s like a car: many people can drive one, but not everyone can tear apart the engine and rebuild it. These days, some don’t even know how to change the oil.

Finding a survivor who knows how to create electricity and then finding the components is a challenge when everything is lost and everyone is focussed on finding food for them and their family.

Civility has prevailed, and the barbaric actions of desperate people have faded into history.

The major parts of the story take place at Ravencroft, County Regal, where society exists under the monarch system of government. This felt like a natural progression, given the small population and small area governed by the individual. The whole of North America is governed this way, with hundreds of rulers spread across the continent – or at least this is what the residents of County Regal believe. At this point, only 28 years after the Devastation, there’s not much contact with far-off locations.

The Devastation was world-wide, so all societies are dealing with establishing a stable population with the basic needs of life. No one has any time for war… Or do they?

The first raw, unedited draft for Chapter 1, Scene 1 is found on the book’s page.

How do I feel while fasting?

November 24, 2020

In my post on Friday (What is Autophagy?), I provided basic information on the health benefits of fasting, which includes autophagy. I explained I was shooting for a 3-day fast.

Let Me Explain Further

I’m aiming for a 3-day fast. I need to work up to that. Thursday and Friday, I did my first 27-hour fast. When I ate early Friday evening, I didn’t feel like I was starving. I was a little hungry, but because I had worked outside all day, I was tired. I’m renovating the goat barn, so there was lots of cutting, hammering and hauling wood.

Knowing I was working on this project all weekend, I opted to eat Friday night and have two meals each day. I didn’t want to exhaust my body. By the time you read this, I’ll be into another fast. My goal is to go from Monday 6:00 pm until Wednesday morning with only water and a few herbal teas.

How do I Feel?

After 12 hours of fasting, I feel like I usually do upon waking in the morning having not eaten since around six o’clock the night before: satisfied.

On the first day of fasting for 18 hours, I start to feel freer from my skin. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but the nearest I can explain it is ‘nothing feels tight’. I’m not talking about clothing. Perhaps it is due to some fluid loss, so maybe inflammation has decreased.

After the second day of fasting 18 hours, the noise in my head disappears. This has been very helpful given that besides the craziness that is happening in the world right now, life in my circle is a little chaotic with my oldest child moving back home, animals being added to the realm, my mother changing nursing homes and all the little things that can go wrong, like the thermostat in my truck sticking open.

The lack of noise in my head settles my brain. It slows things down and allows me to focus on the task at hand. Solutions come to me easier because there’s no static, and my brain takes time to consider the options.

There’s a calmness even when things go crazy around me and people get emotional. It’s like I’m listening, but I’m not reacting immediately with my own emotions.

Sleep is a dream. I normally sleep well, but sleeping while fasting is like being dropped off the edge of the world and floating in nothing with only a few dreams to entertain the part of my brain that stays active.

Sharper Minds

Fasting is supposed to sharpen our ability to think. Throughout the ages, those in the know have fasted to solve problems and to expand the thought process the well-fed brain is incapable of doing.

How long will this week’s fast go? I’m shooting for 30 hours.

99-cent Sale


The Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes

Until Friday November 27, 2020, the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes will be on for 99 cents at Amazon. Unfortunately, this is an Amazon Countdown deal and only available in the United States and United Kingdom.


Be kind to your future self.