Monday, 2 September 2013


I awoke with a feeling of anticipation and a sick feeling of guilt - always the guilt. Today we were slipping away to Niagara Falls for some family time and a much needed mental rest for me.
BUT (and this is a big but) my book was not yet finished and my deadline was looming. Like the Angel of Death awaiting my last breath, my self-imposed deadline weighed heavily upon my shoulders.

Then I heard sneezing, followed by tell-tale whining. My 3-year-old son wrapped his arms around my neck when I scooped him out of bed and I felt the unmistakable smear of snot on my cheek as he cuddled close.
He was sick.
Next I heard his twin sister. "Mama, I'm awake," she called out, her sweet voice oddly distorted.
She was sick too.

So, to cancel our trip or not - that was the question. Our hotel was paid for and tickets to Niagara Safari were non-refundable. We decided to take a chance. Amidst sneezing, whining and reams of Kleenex we packed the car.

The 'Street of Fun', Clifton Hill, was a welcome distraction and the fun-house drew nasal shrieks of delight from our heavy-lidded twins. But it was clear they were not feeling well so, after a stroll by the falls, we decided on an early dinner and bed, our fingers crossed that tomorrow would be better. The Rainforest Cafe was on our walk back to the hotel and the kids were instantly mesmerized by the fiber optic star ceiling and the animatronic robots of jungle animals and insects that came to life every few minutes. 

Then our daughter vomited; an endless stream of projectile barf that was truly unbelievable. As restaurant patrons recoiled, our waitress - a bright smile pasted to her face - reassured that this 'happens all the time' and placed giant orange cones around our table to warn of the Danger.

Back at the hotel we gently deposited our sleeping daughter on a bed of towels, an improvised barf bucket close by her head. At 3 am I awoke to the wondrous sound of my son's giggles. He was sound asleep but his infectious laughter rang through the dark room. Weird. Upon investigation, we found he'd wet the bed - flooded it in fact. Not a laughing matter at 3am.

With the bed stripped and fresh sheets tucked in, we settled back in. But for me sleep was done. As I listened to the ancient air conditioner cough and sputter, my mind roiled and I reflected on the last several months.

My book - book two, my sequel, Lost to the Mist - hovered at the forefront. Unfinished pages taunted. The familiar sick feeling started in my stomach and spread through me.

I'd released book one, A Thistle in the Mist, in January. Buoyed by a shimmering cloud of success and without a shred of forethought, I publicly announced the forthcoming release of book two for August - a mere 8 months later.

Had I known how the next eight months would unfold, I would not have made such an hasty vow.

In February my twins came to the conclusion that naps were optional. Gone were my two precious hours of writing per day. I began to sleep, drink and eat in unhealthy doses of panic with furious bursts of forced writing far into the night. My mom came to the rescue and offered to babysit each week for a full day of uninterrupted writing. But a health scare for her and a slew of doctor's appointments quickly nixed that generous offer. March flew past and in April my twenty-one-year-old son moved out and into his own apartment. Before the dust settled, the revolving door opened and my twenty-two-year-old son moved home. With no direction and no job, I worried for his future and helped him put together a resume. The end of April brought my first book signing - a night of success and a renewed focus for book two. A sense of urgency filled me and throughout May book two began to take shape. As before, with book one, thoughts of Meara and the highlands of Scotland were never far from my mind. June brought with it the green of summer and I returned to the lake to pursue my love of dragon boating. I was flattered and excited to receive daily emails from my readers asking for a confirmed release date of book two. I continued to delude myself and strove to complete my book by August. At the end of June a job offer literally fell into my lap - a job that would help my family and lighten our financial worries. This new job included marketing and promotions  and drove a huge dent into the hours I'd set aside to write. I loved the job but agonized over the loss of my writing time. 
Then a few weeks ago the true meaning of my life lurched into perspective. My twenty-one-year-old son showed up at my door. His face was bruised, scraped and swollen. My heart dropped. I went numb as he haltingly confessed to crashing my car. I'd lent him my car while his was in the shop. My car was gone but my son stood before me. Alive. And he felt so good in my arms. I went to the crash site and stared at the telephone pole that stood just a few feet from where my car had come to rest. In that moment I knew an angel had been sitting on my son's shoulder - and on mine.

In the hotel room, as the air conditioner protested loudly and my family slept peacefully, I came to some realizations.
There are things in life you cannot change. I cannot change the number of hours in my day. I cannot change the fact - nor would I - that I have six children who need me each and every day. I cannot change the fact I need a day job to pay the bills. And I cannot change the fact that my deadline has come and gone.

Today I am so thankful to have my family. My car is gone but it can be replaced. My son is still here and he cannot be replaced. The most important things in my life are my family, my friends and my writing. I didn't finish my book on time but I WILL keep writing. Despite my best intentions, I know I have disappointed my readers and I have disappointed myself.

And so I have come to understand I must have been insane - am INDEED insane - to think I could write an entire book in eight months. But as most writers would agree - writing takes a certain degree of insanity. To quote Edgar Allen Poe: 'I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.' 

As I embrace the insanity of my life, I'd like to apologize to my readers who have been patiently waiting.

Christmas is my new goal and though I cannot predict what the future holds, I will endeavor to complete my story by then.

Thank you.


Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Knock on Wood

"Wow, another hundred!" I say as I watch free copies of my ebook A THISTLE IN THE MIST 'fly off the shelf'. But I instantly regret saying it aloud and feel compelled to reach over and rap my knuckles on the wooden table. Have I just jinxed my downloads?

And yesterday when I told my mom I have never experienced writer's block, she grabbed my hand and forcibly marched me over to her dining table to 'knock on wood'.

Mom and I come by our superstitions honestly and so it is natural for me to include them in my writing. As a child I remember my wee Scottish great-grandmother scolding me for opening my umbrella before I stepped outside. She told me I would poke someone's eye out with the tip but I knew by her darting eyes and wringing hands she felt it was just plain bad luck.

My kids know they are not allowed to open umbrellas in the house - at least not in front of their eccentric mother. Another thing we are all deathly afraid of (okay probably just me) is breaking a mirror. SEVEN YEARS BAD LUCK! SEVEN! That's a lot of bad luck and the only way to get rid of the curse is to put the broken pieces in a paper bag and throw them into a river. I've never had to do this and I hope I never do because I pity the person who has the bad luck to step on jagged pieces of my broken mirror when they are
peacefully wading in the creek. 

And watch that salt shaker. Oh my God! Did you spill it? Is it the left or right shoulder? And killing spiders? Good Lord!! Do you want it to rain for days? What are you trying to do to me?

Okay, I'm not completely crazy. Some superstitions are just silly. Is walking under a ladder really asking for something bad to happen? Well I have walked back and forth under ladders and nothing bad has ever happened. Climbing up a ladder, however, seems to be a more hazardous undertaking. Have you ever missed your footing, slipped down a ladder with a loaded paint can, dumped the blue paint on your beige carpet and skinned your nose on a rung? No? Me neither.

And how about black cats? I had a beautiful black cat named Toby when I was a kid. He must have crossed my path hundreds of times and I had a wee kitten that was black as midnight. Neither one of them brought me anything other than a few scratches and lots of cuddles. But the little guy did get hit by a car - maybe I brought him bad luck.

As I wrote A THISTLE IN THE MIST, I came across a Scottish culture steeped in superstition. For instance it is bad luck to have a black cat in a room where a wake is taking place, or to see a funeral procession on the way to your wedding or to cross two knives on a table. On the flip side, it is good luck to place silver in a newborn baby’s hand as it will bring great wealth to them in later life and you must touch iron if you see or even hear evil and if you are a bride you should put a silver coin in your shoe and wear a sprig of white heather.

I am having a lot of fun researching Scotland and its superstitions for my second book but in the meantime I am going to obsess over my free downloads for the rest of the day. Hey look at that! Another hundred - gone for free! FREE! That's right, folks - twelve years of hard work - FREE! At this rate this independent author is going to be loaded in no time!

Seriously, folks, free or paid for, I am grateful to each and every person who takes the time to read my story, send me comments and messages and leave me reviews. After all, that is why I write.

Knock on Wood!

PS Did I mention A THISTLE IN THE MIST is FREE? (May 22 - 24 then it's back up to $2.99!) Download your FREE copy right HERE from or HERE from or HERE from

Monday, 29 April 2013

My Book Signing or 'How I Almost Lost My Nerve'

It was 7:15pm - 1 hour and 15 minutes since I had set up my little table. I had sold 2 books to one person. And that person was my old college buddy. Things were not looking good.

My table looked perfect. My books were set at just the right angle. My trusty pen was ready. My welcome sign, that I'd laboured over for two days, was undeniably Scottish. The yellowed photo of my sweet, little great-grandmother added a little ambience and my hair hadn't wilted. Yet.

But I could feel the sweat starting to roll down my back and my smile was starting to quiver. Shoppers politely looked just above my head as they glided by on their way to the racks and racks of jewellery.

My book signing - the night I had obsessed over for days - was here. I sat nestled in amongst sparkling display cases of silver bracelets, rings and necklaces at Silverside, an upscale jewellery store in Port Perry, my hometown. It was Diva Night - the night when scores of ladies were on the prowl, chatting and giggling along with their shopping cohorts. The lovely staff smiled at me every once in a while as they busily served the rush of clients. And I felt invisible.

"Think we can sneak out without anyone noticing?" I whispered past by cardboard smile, to my wife, Jen.

"Don't worry. It's still early," she whispered back, patting my hand under the table.

Then, quite literally, the dam broke.

Suddenly I was signing my books. I was chatting with avid readers. I was talking about my story. I was an author at my book signing! I don't know what changed, but the rest of the evening was a blur of memorable moments.

My old neighbour, the kindest dairy farmer I have ever met, and most certainly on the other side of eighty, drove up from his daughter's home to see me and purchase my story! I hadn't seen him in thirty years and he took me back to a time of innocence and freedom.

As children, my brother, Danny, and I regularly visited Mr. Aldred's milkhouse for some friendly chatter and two pails of milk. The milk was fresh and good and priced just right for our family of six. I remember one wintery evening just after dinner. Mom made tea for herself and Dad and realized we were out of milk so Danny and I were sent on a mission to obtain more milk before their tea cooled. We raced down our long drive and arrived, panting, just before Mr. Aldred left the milkhouse for the evening. With a grin and chuckle he filled our pails and Danny and I hurried back across the highway, mindful of Mom and Dad waiting with their steaming tea. We reached the top of our drive and in perfect, synchronized, slow motion we slipped on the ice, landed on our butts and watched in horror as the milk drained away. I peered back over my shoulder at the darkened milkhouse of our jolly neighbour. He was no doubt settling in for a nice dinner with his family and we had no money left for more milk. Danny and I stood slowly and peered into our pails. We each had about two inches of milk left in the bottom - just enough for tea. With puffs of breath whitening the air before us, we trudged up the driveway and tiptoed into the kitchen where our parents patiently waited. We anticipated trouble and knew we were in for it. Our mumbled explanation was met with silence and Dad's stern face. Then in a hysterical voice, Mom said, "Well, no sense crying over spilt milk!" Even Dad laughed. 

Seeing Mr. Aldred after thirty years was an incredible moment. Feeling warm and fuzzy, I restocked my books and settled back in my chair. A young girl hovered nearby and circled my table. When at last she made eye contact, I smiled and offered her a bookmark. She grinned and said, "I'm not going to buy your book but I LOVE your boots!" Well, that made me laugh. My boots are pretty cool though I have just about worn them out. An hour before the signing, I sat in my living room while my son crazy-glued the soles back on. After pulling his thumb free of the glue I stood and realized my boot was glued to the carpet. After giddy laughter, I yanked it free, polished them up, confident that no one would notice my boots amidst my shining books.

The rest of the evening sped by with much giggling and signing. Jen sat close and accepted the money and quietly made sure I spelled people's names correctly when I got caught up in conversation. Old faces and new became a blur. I shared a laugh with an old Junior Farmer buddy, hugged teamates from my old ball team and chatted with friends from high school. I laughed with a fellow dragon boater, accepted a tip from my dad and stepmother, smiled for the local paper and listened to a lovely Scottish girl who was sending my book to her mom in Scotland, who was recovering from a bout with cancer. I thanked Port Perry natives, who wanted to support a local author and finally I just about fell off my chair when my Grade Two teacher surprised me. She had read about me in the local paper. I hadn't seen her in forty years but the moment she walked up to the table with her husband, I knew her face. She told me I had always held a place in her heart and her husband revealed she had spoken of me often. Overwhelmed, I was brought to tears.

Needless to say, my debut was incredible. Thanks to Jen, I didn't lose my nerve.

Just after 10pm, we packed up. It was then I realized I hadn't eaten because of my nerves. We headed to our favourite restaurant and after two chocolate martinis and a plate of nachos, I almost slid to the floor under our table. In a state of euphoria and grateful bliss, I climbed into bed and fell asleep with a big smile on my face and copies of A Thistle in the Mist dancing in my head.

I would like to offer a big thanks to Dana Smith, the owner of Silverside and her fantastic staff  for having me as a guest and giving me a place to debut my book! And thanks to the wonderful people who sought me out, reminisced with me and made me feel very special. 

It was best night ever.


Wednesday, 10 April 2013


I am a big believer in jinxing things by being too happy.

But after weeks of writing into the wee hours of the morning and learning the ins and out of social media until my head is spinning, things are finally beginning to come together. And I am happy!

This week I made the trek into our local bookstore and asked the owner if he would consider carrying my book. With a skeptical look, he perused the back cover for what seemed an eternity. Silence makes me uncomfortable so I blurted, "It's a Scottish, historical story. It's loosely based on the life of my grandmother." Slowly, he glanced up over the top of his glasses and with an unmistakable Scottish burr he asked, "It's not like Diana Gabaldon's is it?"

I could feel the heat spread across my cheeks as I mumbled, "Well, it's Scottish and it's historical, but uh, no it's a much faster read than Diana's, or so I've been told."

He fixed me with a piercing stare and said, "I'll take three."

Three? What? Did he say he's taking my book?

Woohoo! My book - MY LITTLE BOOK - was going to be sold in a bookstore. Feeling pretty darn excited, I asked, "What do you think of me doing a book signing?" To which he replied, "Book signings are usually for famous authors  or people who are well known." 

Well, burst my bubble.

I am not famous. I am not well known. But I do want to share my story with my little hometown.

So, feeling very grateful and more determined than ever, my next stop was our local paper where I was thrilled to be given an extremely warm welcome and promise of a little mention in their next issue. My step was a little lighter as I left their office. But still, I thought perhaps I could do a bit more.

So my wife and I approached a friend of ours, a brilliant business woman, and she graciously agreed to have me do a booksigning in her jewellery store during one of the most popular shopping events in our town - Diva Night! In two weeks, I will be meeting some of my current readers and, if I am fortunate, a few new ones and I will be putting my humble little signature to paper! This is a crazy dream come true and one I am most grateful for!

And the icing on the cake came this morning in the form of an email with the word 'Winner' in the subject line. I was informed by IBD that I had been nominated and had won Indie Book of the Day meaning A Thistle in the Mist will be featured on their website, facebook page and twitter. Wow! 

So at the risk of jinxing myself, I am happy, grateful and so honoured to be in the company of so many other motivated and talented writers. I know that tomorrow someone else will take my place on Cloud Nine but for today I will enjoy it!

Many thanks to the good merchants of my hometown, Port Perry and specifically to Bill Minors of Books Galore and More, Peter Hvidsten and Maryann Fleming  at the Port Perry Focus and Dana Smith of Silverside.

Monday, 8 April 2013


Ugh, Facebook! I've been caught again. Literally busted.

Facebook - you are the bane of my existence, the source of my misery.

Okay, not really. I love Facebook. I'm IN love with Facebook. I've connected with so many old school friends I probably never would have spoken to again and it is really, really great. Facebook is also responsible for my Author Page, the page I check obsessively to catch the latest comment, the latest like.

However, I've recently been reprimanded a few times by some of my readers who feel my time could be better spent working on book two of my Scottish Mist series, A Thistle in the Mist, rather than surfing Facebook, searching for bonnie Scottish castles and landscapes to share on my page. The thing is, they are spot on. As most writers will admit, we are a procrastinating lot and having Facebook and other forms of social media at our fingertips is just a little too tempting.

But how can I keep my readers engaged if I don't update my Facebook page regularly with points of interest and fun facts? Well, I guess the answer to that is I could just buckle down and finish writing my second book. That would engage a few readers, I'm sure. But then if I don't check Facebook ten times a day, how will I keep track of what my friends are doing? How will I tell everyone that A Thistle in the Mist is now available in paperback and how can I check how many 'Likes' I've accumulated?

Speaking of "Likes", I've been sitting at 333 likes for a few days now. It's a number that keeps drawing my eyes. Then an old highschool friend (again, someone I never would have connected with without Facebook) sent me a very cool message.

He told me 333 was a beautiful, angelic number and the true meaning of a triple 3 is that I am completely surrounded, protected, loved, and guided.
All very beautiful, mystical and inspiring. Every time I visit my page my eyes are pulled to the radiance of my 333. Another number that finds me with a regularity that seems beyond coincidence is 11:11. More often than not when I glance at the clock late morning or late evening, it is 11:11. Until my friend, Doug, mentioned the significance of 333, I just thought it was an oddity - much like a lot of things in my life. With my interest piqued, I did a small bit of research and this is what I found. 

11:11 means "the Gateway". It's the doorway to your evolving self. 444 is an angelic realm number for prosperity and abundance. 555 is the number of creating positive change and forward movement and 777 is a very high spiritual number that signifies teaching or learning a more spiritually conscious way of thinking and being. Was it was purely coincidental that Doug brought my 333 to my attention? I'm not so sure.
So, although, I will be sad to see my 333 leave, I am comforted knowing 444, 555 and 777 are equally as beautiful - and something I will strive for.

And I will also strive to limit my Facebook surfing. There will always be a 'better' picture of Scotland, an awesome blog to read, interesting videos to watch and funny status updates to LOL at. But for the sake of my amazing readers - whom I would not be here without -  I will log out of Facebook and step into the world of my Scottish lass, Meara, and try my damndest to write a story worth reading.

I would love you to join me on Facebook and enable my obsession! 
Visit my website for news on my second book, Lost to the Mist.

Monday, 1 April 2013

An Ebook? Hmmm...


“So, what is it you do again?”

It’s a common question, the ‘opener’ in many conversations; the point where I inwardly cringe. 

I should be shouting to the rooftops, “I’m a writer!” but instead I find myself mumbling, “Well, I, uh, just published my first book.” This is followed by the inevitable pregnant silence, the head tilt and eyebrow raising (perhaps a glimmer of interest?), to which I find myself responding, “Umm, yes, I published it myself. It’s an ebook.” The nodding begins, the eyebrows lower and the lips gather skeptically, leaving me no choice but to explain apologetically, “You can download it on your computer or if you have a Kindle...” The eyes glaze over and my voice trails off. I sense their relief as I change the subject.

So why do I diminish what I have done?  This is the book I have poured my heart, soul and most likely sanity into. This is the book that took me years and years to write. I don’t know. Maybe I get a sense that people are immediately on guard for a sales pitch, or I anticipate the dreaded dismissal of, ‘Oh, an ebook?’, or perhaps I think they may question my credibility given that I did not publish the traditional way and my efforts have not been validated by an agent or publishing house.

Despite my insecurities, the fact is I have written, therefore I AM A WRITER!
I’ve worn many ‘hats’ over the years, from dental assistant, to fulltime mom, to daycare provider, to orthodontic treatment co-ordinator to business owner and finally, at long last, I have graduated to fulltime writer. 

My dream has come true and now the job at hand is to believe in my worthiness in this respected profession! 

 A Thistle in the Mist is my debut effort, a historical, romance thriller that came to me years ago and was inspired by the life of my great-grandmother who came to Canada from Aberdeen. It is the story of a Scottish lass and is fraught with twists and turns, murder and betrayal, love and faith; a story that will sweep you from Scotland to Canada and back again.

Meara isn’t thinking about death when she kisses her mother good-bye. But hours later she is, as her fingers slide into Mother’s shattered skull.
Feisty Meara MacDonald dreams of wedding the gallant Duncan MacLeod. But Deirdre and Sloan arrive and all that Meara holds dear is snatched away. When she finds herself catapulted from Scotland to Nova Scotia, she must fight her way back to the remains of her family; her heart and soul.

A Thistle in the Mist is currently available in ebook on Amazon and will be available in paperback soon!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Don't Make Me Kill You~With Kindness

'Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your modus operandi and change your world.'
Annie Lennox
Scottish Singer Songwriter, Political Activist And Philanthropist

When I was about eight, in Mrs. Beddows' grade three class, I remember the new kid. He was there for just a short time. I can't remember his name but there was something different about him. And if there is one thing kids seem to hone in on, it's the 'different'. So he was picked on and I watched and felt bad and felt sick inside. One day as we were getting our coats from the cloakroom closet, someone made fun of the argyle sweater he was wearing. I watched his face, the way it sagged, the way he looked sad and something 'popped' in my head at the injustice. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I do remember asking, in a very loud voice, if they knew how they were making him feel. I don't know if I made that boy feel better and I don't know if I made my classmates feel guilty but I know it got quiet. Then we all put on our coats on and went out for recess. Shortly after that, the boy moved away. 

I have never forgotten this experience, the surprise I felt within myself at coming up against my peers, the sadness on the boy's face. And it came down to a simple act of kindness.

When my boys were little, I taught them to be kind, to stick up for the kid who was being picked on. The most rewarding moments were when my children told me they had made someone feel better or when a mom approached me at the school to tell me my son had stuck up for her daughter when she was being bullied on the playground. Now, with my two-year-old twins, I am trying to teach them kindness. I ask them to look at each other's faces, to see the sadness they may be causing. Often I overhear one of them saying, "It's okay, it's okay," as they reassure one another. Little by little it seems to be working.

I have always tried to practice kindness in my own life, whether it be welcoming a new member to a team, smiling and saying 'Hi!' to a stranger on the street, letting someone, with fewer groceries, in front of me in line, giving up my seat to someone who needs it more or sticking up for the grocery girl who is being embarassed by a rude customer. Any act of kindness is an easy gift to give.  I'm afraid I have no respect for unkind people, people who set out to make others feel bad, who take out their own insecurities or unhappiness by bashing others, gossiping or making the check-out girl feel inferior. It's really not that hard to be kind. When you see someone's face light up as the result of your kindness, how can you not?

And that is why I can't help but infuse goodness, in some shape or form, into each of my characters that I write about. Whether it is my protagonist, who is feisty but kind to those whom deserve it or my villain, who shows a glimmer of softening toward children despite her evilness, I feel it is important to weave the goodness of human nature throughout my stories.

Over the past few months I have come across many writers. I've noticed the ones who are egotistical - the 'book spammers' who leave a trail of links wherever they go. I've met the ones who are downright rude, who have no problem bashing their fellow writers. But my faith has been restored by the acts of kindness shown by many of my fellow authors - all of whom I've never met face to face. Whether it be Buzz, paying tribute to me in his blog, Phil, giving me incentive with his support, kind words and advice or Keri, who makes me laugh and who willingly passes on her great ideas, I have faith there is a little good in everyone! At the end of the day we all remember the person who made us smile, made us feel great and went that extra mile.

And for those of you who are just plain mean, in the words of one of my favourite authors,

“When someone is mean to me, I just make them a victim in my next book.” Mary Higgins Clark