Another milestone on my writing journey. I just completed the eight draft of my latest novel, Illusion of Wings—actually it must be my ninth since I kept on going back to change things while I was writing out my query letters. I had to finally put my pen down and tell myself it was enough… no more editing. We’ll see. Is a novel ever really finished? In any case, I have time to tinker around with the manuscript. The publishers take forever, if at all, to respond. It takes six to eight months or more for them to get back to you. I had one contact me after almost five years—luckily it was to offer me a contract. That’s why I send out simultaneous query letters with the mention that I will advise them immediately of any changes in the status of my submission. But these publishers are flooded with new submissions every week. They need to take the time to properly access each manuscript––not an easy task with few employees and limited budgets. Illusion of Wings, is a working title. What I consider to be a suitable title might appear strange to a potential publisher. I have yet to imagine what the cover would look like––that’s certainly not my specialty. But I do have time to think about it now that I’ve started sending out submissions. I’ll be posting my main characters’ backstory soon and hope to get any comment you can spare. Here is a short blurb:
Ailis, a 17 year-old indentured servant, is desperate to get her freedom. But escaping her master in Louisiana of the 1750s could get her whipped, branded and placed in stocks. Her plans are put on hold when her master sells her to a Montreal merchant to pay off a debt. She sails from New Orleans on a large frigate disguised as a cabin boy where she’s able to use her skills as a healer to treat the sailors. Once In Montreal, she continues to use her medicines to help people while serving her demanding mistress. Her plans of escaping to freedom are rekindled when she befriends, Reine, a black slave who harbours the same dream as her. Not long after, she meets up with Phil, a sailor she met on the ship, and starts making plans to leave the fortified city. She discovers that both her master and her mistress are hiding a secret which, if exposed, can lead to their downfall. Is she willing to go against what she believes in to negotiate her freedom? When one of the servants under her care dies, she’s accused of murder and imprisoned. She must find a way to avoid the gallows—but at what price?
The ebook format of my novel, The Daughters’ Story, has been released at several vendors. Hopefully, that will help with the sales, but at the end of the day, the reviews, good and bad, will be the determining factor as to whether the book will survive. Putting it through an extravaganza of promotional stunts will give it visibility and with that, maybe a handful of willing readers, but if none of them bother to comment on what they read––not something that comes natural––the book will have had its moment of fame and slowly disappear.
As writers, we put our hearts out there, hoping someone will listen, feel, rethink life, get angry or throw the book across the room. We want to touch someone’s heart or hit a nerve. An emotional reaction indicates the book has changed a reader’s life in some way, and perhaps it happens, but if the reader never gives any feedback, the author misses out on how to use their writing to maintain that vital writer-reader connection.
I’ve done what I could for the novel and now… time to roll up my sleeves and focus on my latest work.
Moving along… the advanced reading copies are out and heading for those who will read and hopefully review my work. They might like it… or maybe hate it.
Too much back story… characters not credible… pace too slow… weak structure… ending too abrupt… I’ll have a panic attack trying to come up with what I did wrong.
But maybe they’ll connect to the main character, Nadine––fingers crossed––and forgive all the flaws in the story. Nadine is banished to a home for unwed mothers in 1950. She’s 15. Her baby daughter, whose father is shrouded in secrecy, is put up for adoption without her permission. Vowing to reunite one day with her daughter, she cuts all ties with her dysfunctional Irish and French-Canadian Catholic family whose past is cluttered with secrets, betrayals, incest and violence.
As writers, we are dependent on the reader’s reaction to our work. Some will enjoy the book and review––or not. Others will make sure to comment if they don’t like something about the story. Both positive and negative reviews help to make the book visible to others. Without reviews, the book disappears.
It should be released May 1st, but it’s available for pre-orders which will arrive at the end of March.
Finally… the rewrites (numerous) are completed, the cover has been crafted and my novel is now ready for pre-sale at the publisher’s site. Amazon will only publish in May but the books will be ready on the publisher’s shelves by the end of March. It’s been a long journey but the time has come to wish it Godspeed and let it go.
Nadine is banished to a home for unwed mothers in 1950. She’s 15. Her baby daughter, whose father is shrouded in secrecy, is put up for adoption without her permission. Vowing to reunite one day with her daughter, she cuts all ties with her dysfunctional Irish and French-Canadian Catholic family whose past is cluttered with secrets, betrayals, incest and violence.
It’s now October 1970 in Montreal. Following two FLQ kidnappings, Ottawa proclaims the War Measures Act and sends the army into Quebec. These staggering events indirectly bring about a reunion between Nadine and her daughter Lisette, now 20 years old and embittered after being bounced from one foster home to another. Eight months pregnant, Lisette and her partner Serge, who is close to the FLQ, need money and see Nadine as a possible source.
A family saga with World Wars I and II, the Great Depression and the October crisis as backdrop, The Daughters’ Story tells the unsung, yet intensely passionate, tale of women whose unquenchable need to belong drives them to survive and thrive despite cruel conditions.
Not only is the book, made to appear as if you’re reading into a tree, beautiful, but so is the story. Well-crafted, thought-provoking, and and at times touching and profound. Willow tells her adult son, “You don’t belong to me, I belong to you.” How true to life! Our parents’ spirit stays with us even after they leave us, making us smile, cry, look into ourselves, and shape the journey of our life. Highly recommended read.
Creating an About file is always a struggle for me. There’s nothing extraordinary about my life. I am grateful to be born in Canada where devastating hurricanes, flooding, and earthquakes aren’t commonplace, and where a visit to the hospital doesn’t involve working till the age of 95 to pay off the cost. I’m immensely grateful to have a roof to protect me from the elements, and enough food and water to keep me relatively healthy. Ordinary is a need for me––I don’t crave fame, fortune, great adventures, and neon lights.
Writing is sharing an emotional and spiritual connection between writer and reader. I have written many poems and stories through the years but a lot of them haven’t survived my weeding process. If the content of a piece is limited to a me experience, it won’t survive very long. If it connects beyond the ego, it has a better chance at survival. The poems and stories that appear in this blog aren’t written in cement. Some will disappear when I don’t feel that flutter when I reread them.
I’m from a small village in southern Quebec. I retired from teaching primary school to make time for my writing.
My novella for children, Culloo, was published by Pemmican Publications in 2014, and Baraka Books published my literary historical novel, The Daughters’ Story. My latest novel, Illusion of Wings, is currently being assessed.
Besides writing and reading, I try to find time to practice Yoga, to bake, and to create soaps, salves and tinctures concocted from the medicinal plants in my gardens.
This is a heart-breaking story, both in terms of Afghanistan’s history and the people who were made to suffer because of religious dogma and political strife. The two protagonists, Marian and Laila, are forced to marry the same sadistic, woman beater, Rasheed, and live a life of terror and hardship. The domestic violence and cruelty depicted at the hands of this abusive husband were so brutal, I had to take a breather at times before continuing my reading. Luckily, not all the men in the story were painted with the same brush.
Afghanistan’s political scene is presented starting from the years of the Soviet takeover of the 1980s to the period following the bombing of the Twin Towers and the Taliban invasion. It seemed a little surreal for me to read about Afghan people watching the same horrifying footage of the plane crashing into one of the towers as I also had back then.
The terrible hardships suffered by the people of this war-ravished country, especially the women, are gut-wrenching. But overall, it’s a poignant story where love and hope triumph over evil. I left a part of my heart with these people and admire their great courage.
Intriguing, educational, and certainly nothing our history books in school ever focused on. Loved the main character, Eoin, whose hesitancies and fears brought real history to the forefront. A great blend of Irish-Canadian history and fiction which should have its rightful place in the classroom.
Michael Crummey’s Sweetland, is the story of an older man’s struggle to retain his independence in a world that requires strict adherence to a social network for survival. Moses Sweetland, the main character, is named after Sweetland, the small fishing town he lives in. The reason why they share the same name becomes apparent at the end.
The setting is a remote island off the southern coast of Newfoundland where the residents all know each other as well as everybody’s family history dating back to their great-great-grandparents. Nobody locks their doors at night and they all look out for each other. The once abundant cod has been over-fished and commercial fishery, the foundation of their way of life since time immemorial is no longer a viable way to make a living.
The government has offered the residents an attractive compensation package if they relocate. All accept… but Moses Sweetland refuses to leave the home he’s lived in all his life. He manages to trick people into thinking he drowned and remains on the island by himself with no way of contacting the outside world.
That’s when his troubles begin. Resourceful as he might be, his resources are dwindling and he doesn’t have the same energy (at 70 years old) as he once did. He comes to realize that the people he figured he could live without are the ones he longs to be with. The memories of them become alive and he struggles with what is real and what is imagined. As much as he loves his island and his independence, he cannot live without human contact. He must come to terms with his own death as well as the inevitable destruction of his physical world. Nothing is permanent, both Sweetland the man, and Sweetland the island, will eventually disappear.
The characters are unique, loveable and witty––Moses Sweetland will stay with me for quite a long while. The past, present and ‘imagined’ are flawlessly interwoven. A wonderful, thought-provoking read!
The reading of Edith Wharton’s ‘The Age of Innocence‘ was long overdue for me. I admit I found the beginning a little tedious with the never-ending list of characters, the detailed description of New York City’s elite society at the end of the century with all its traditions, rituals and judgemental morality. The story follows Newland Archer’s, the POV character, struggle to live up to the expectations set up by his bourgeois family and marry the sweet, conventional, May Welland, while secretly longing to run off with Countess Ellen Olenska, a married woman who defies the status quo.
Family and social expectations conflict with Newland’s and Ellen’s wish for a more passionate life away from the rigidity of high society. Newland must choose, his wife or his lover. His choice will determine the path his life will take.
We meet up with him years later, widowed and father of three children. The memories of his emotional struggles are still with him. Is there regret, or the urge to start over where he left off?
The ending is both thought-provoking and poignant. This wonderful story, written over 100 years ago, is still prevalent today. Life’s demands have a tendency to erode the passions and struggles, which in our youth we were ready to die for. All that is left is the memory of a beating heart.