Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Music and Musings

Last night, my friend Kathy – the gifted musician who played at my book launch in March – invited me to hear her play in an orchestral concert downtown. The evening was a double treat, as the concert took place in one of Halifax’s beautiful historic churches, Fort Massey United, where I’d never been before.

History geek that I am, whenever I attend an event in an old church, I make a point of arriving early to explore the building and read the memorial plaques on the walls. In particular, since I began Shattered I’ve been seeking out the plaques in memory of soldiers who fell in the Great War.

Every old church in the country has these memorials. Out of a total population of eight million, Canada sent over six hundred thousand young men and women to the Great War and more than one in ten didn’t return, so that’s not surprising, but I got a surprise at Fort Massey. It has three plaques in memory of five brothers who died overseas between 1914 and 1918. Four of the Stairs boys were killed in action over the course of the war, and the fifth, who had earned a Distinguished Service Order, died of influenza less than two weeks after the Armistice was signed. I stood there looking at the names on the tarnished brass and wondered how their parents were able to go on living.

Then I settled into my seat for the concert. As the orchestra sent Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’ ringing into the rafters, I counted my blessings. I suppose part of the poignancy of old tragedies is that there’s nothing we can do about them but imagine.

Lest we forget.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summertime and the Living is Easy

Hello, long time no see! Here's a little eye candy treat to begin. This is Colin Hemsworth, my inspiration for Liam Cochrane.

Time to catch up. It has been a while, hasn’t it? Our Nova Scotia non-spring has rained itself away, and now it’s summer.

We spent the Canada Day weekend at the cottage. The weather was fine, the lake was wonderful for swimming and the Terrible Tollers were in heaven, though poor Chance paid the price yesterday. He forgot that he’s not a pup anymore, and keeping up with Echo left him sore and tired, but today he’s his usual self again.

I’m still teaching, as my Grade 10 students have not yet finished their courses due to their late start in the fall. It’s fun having the school more or less to ourselves, doing math over coffee and discussing Canadian history over lunch. I’m not sure what September will bring, but I know I will sorely miss these girls whenever we part company. They make teaching worthwhile. The slower pace is nice, too, as I spent the last half of the winter and spring juggling teaching and evening tutoring. That’s the main reason for my spell of silence here. Something had to give.

I’m plugging away on revisions with Shattered. The second half of the book needed a major overhaul. I hope to have it submission ready by the end of the month. Then, it’s on to the children’s novel. It will make a nice change, I think.

This morning, I re-read the three chapters I have written of Nathan Munroe’s book, likely the last in the Wallace Flats series. I couldn’t help grinning. There’s something about Nathan that always makes me smile, and Colin McShannon does, too, scrappy little Yorkshire terrier that he is. Each of my book people has stolen a corner of my soul. That’s why I write.

My fitness program is progressing as well – 15 pounds down and, ideally, another 15 to go. Slow but steady wins the race. It’s nice to be able to wear some clothes that haven’t fit me for a while.

A good number of my RWAC chaptermates, including Donna Alward, Kelly Boyce and Julia Smith, just returned from Nationals in New York. I won't confess to a tinge of envy – I’ll admit that I’m absolutely green! Check out their blogs for the scoop on the Big Apple.

People of Blogland, I hope you’re having a great summer. What are you up to?