Happy New Year

It’s a new year and a fresh start. For a variety of reasons, I was a little slow out of the gate on my new beginning, but I’m back into my routine this week. The holiday decorations are packed up, I’ve done my annual planning for 2024 and I’m ready to get to work. That said, I’m also making sure I leave time for reading. I read 74 books last year and I’d like to surpass that number in 2024.

Right now, we’re in the midst of a bitter Arctic outflow with snow in the forecast. Some people love the cold but I am not one of them, so I’ll be spending what free time I have over the next little while in front of the fire with a book on my lap. Here’s what I’m reading this month.

Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes

Skogluft by Jorn Viumdal

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen

Books read to date in 2024: 4

Happy Holidays

Today is Winter Solstice, the turning of the year from fall to winter, our grandson’s fourth birthday (how did that happen so fast?!) and the start of our own personal Christmas holiday time. Whether you celebrate quietly or with a large group, I hope the holiday season is everything you want it to be. I also hope 2024 brings you some pleasant surprises and many reasons to smile.  I leave you with a recipe for Mary’s Pecan Crescents. She always called them Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies. In Austria, they’re known as Vanillekipferl or Vanilla Crescent Cookies. They’re delicious no matter what you call them!

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Mary’s Pecan Crescents

1 cup butter, very soft

¼ cup icing sugar

1 tablespoon lukewarm water

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 cup very finely chopped pecans (I use the food processor for this step)

Icing sugar as needed to coat

Preheat your oven to 300.   Mix butter, icing sugar, water and vanilla. Gradually blend in flour and then the ground nuts to make a pastry-like dough.  Pinch off a teaspoon of dough and roll between your palms until you have a strip about 2 inches long. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and curve into crescents. *  Bake at 300 F until very lightly browned.  Gently remove from cookie sheet and dust with icing sugar while still hot.  Cool on a wire rack and dust again with icing sugar when cold to coat generously.

Makes 3 – 4 dozen cookies and they freeze well.   * Note, if you prefer, you can shape the dough into small balls rather than crescents.

My September Reads


The pear tree is loaded with fruit and we have a glut of tomatoes this year too. It’s harvest time, which means hours in the kitchen dehydrating and freezing and canning. We’re also giving fruit and vegetables to the neighbors who will still take them. Did I mention zucchini? We have those too, but not so many takers at this time of year. I’ve been thinking over the growing season, making mental notes on what I’ll do differently next year, and how I’ll restructure the newly planted herb garden to make it both prettier and more useful. That goal is reflected in one of the books I’m enjoying right now. Here’s what I’m reading this month:

The Herbalist’s Kitchen by Pat Crocker

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Bond by Lynne McTaggart

Books read to date in 2021: 67

Authors in the Classroom

I’m back at the desk after a much-needed break from writing, and students are back at their desks too.  Kids heading back to school always makes me think of books and literacy. There are many wonderful worlds waiting to be discovered within the pages of books, and one of my joys as an author is sitting down at my computer and bringing those worlds to life.

I also enjoy doing school visits.  It’s an opportunity to reach readers of all ages (and maybe convert a few non-readers in the crowd). I love talking about writing and creating and publishing. I never forget to stress the importance of persistence and revision. Mostly I like to inspire others to find and nourish their own creative well.

When I was in Grade Four (yes, that’s me circled above), I knew I wanted to be a writer. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind. But I had no idea how to become one. I don’t think I even realized authors existed outside the pages of their books. Well, they did then, and they still do today. Only these days it’s a lot easier to find one willing to go into schools. It’s a great opportunity to leave our fictional worlds behind and meet characters who talk out loud instead of only in our heads.  And whenever I talk to kids I always wonder if maybe, just maybe, I’m talking to an author-in-the-making.

With Covid still in the mix, it’s a little harder to do in-person school visits, but I am available for virtual classroom visits. If you’d like to arrange one, feel free to drop me an email. And if you’d like a little more information on what I have to offer, check out the bio link here on my website and click on author talks.

See you at school!

My January Reads

Every year, I track how many books I read. Since Covid forced us to spend more time at home last year, I expected to read more titles than usual. But that didn’t happen. I read only 70 books in 2020, and I’m usually well above the 80 book a year mark. While I regularly buy books, I also borrow heavily from the library, and our library was shut down for months because of Covid. I looked at borrowing e books but I don’t like to read on my phone, and I didn’t have a tablet.  Well, now I do. I didn’t need another piece of equipment, but I did need to communicate with my dad who is in care and struggles to use a phone. Being able to borrow e books from the library only added to the tablet’s appeal.  Just one month into the new year and I’ve already read more books than I had at this time last year. Here’s what I’m reading this month.

The Lemon Sisters by Jill Shalvis

Intimate Conversations with the Divine by Caroline Myss

Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson

Books read to date in 2021: 12

Happy New Year!

And so it begins! A new year, a fresh start, a blank calendar to note down dates and events and maybe, if we’re lucky, the ability to gather in groups with family and friends again, to hug them freely, maybe even to take a trip.

2021 is a 5 year which is supposed to mean twelve months of adventure, opportunities and change. Five is a potent number and the number of balance. Everything in nature is made up of five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. Five is also considered the number of human beings with our four limbs and body, and our five senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell).

In the natural world, a regular starfish has five arms, an earthworm has five hearts, and the apple tree bears blossoms of five petals. Even the apple itself, when sliced horizontally, has five seeds and a star-shaped design inside.

There were five rivers of the underworld in Greek mythology. There are five vowels in the English language and five lines in a limerick.  In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, five wizards are sent to Middle Earth to aid against the threat of the dark lord Sauron. Number five is a character in the Lorien Legacies, a series of young adult science fiction books by Pittacus Lore. The Famous Five was a series of children’s books by Enid Blyton, while The Power of Five was a series of children’s books by Anthony Horowitz.

The power of five. As I write this, the Coronavirus vaccine is starting to roll out. It looks like the general population in my part of the world will have access to it this spring or summer. About five months from now.

I’ll high five to that.

Happy 2021!

What I’m Reading

I’m hesitant to say things are getting back to normal because they aren’t. Covid-19 is still very much part of our daily lives, with all the restrictions it entails. At least that’s the case if one chooses to err on the side of science and take precautions, which we continue to do in our house.

One thing that has gotten back to (some kind of) normal, however, is our library system. In late winter, our libraries closed their doors and borrowing stopped. I’m a huge library user and the move hit me hard. I have an e-reader but it’s not compatible with the library system in our new community, so borrowing electronic books wasn’t an option for me. Given that I like my Kindle Paperwhite, I wasn’t inclined to change either, though I seriously considered it as the shutdown dragged on. Luckily, things loosened last month and the libraries here opened their doors. We can request holds and borrow again as long as we make an appointment to pick up our books. There’s no going inside, no browsing the shelves as I love to do. But the libraries have found a way to serve their community while still making it safe and I’m grateful for that. Here’s what I’m reading this month.

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O’Neal

Identical Strangers by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein

Books read to date in 2020: 40

Happy Canada Day!

July 1st will be different this year without the concerts, large street parties and especially without the fireworks (Team Sheltie is quite happy the latter are cancelled). I hope you get a chance to celebrate somehow. I’ll be away from my desk, aiming to catch the sunrise and hopefully the sunset too. We aren’t a perfect country by any stretch, but I’m proud to call myself a Canadian. Enjoy the holiday everybody!

A Writer’s Better Half

Today happens to be my anniversary and though the news of the world is grim, I’m choosing to focus on happiness. Here’s a blog post I wrote five years ago in honor of my husband. It’s as true now as it was back then.

Happy anniversary to my better half  . . .  a guy who wears a variety of hats:  Mr. Petrol Head, Dad, son and lord & master over Team Sheltie (and thank God someone is in control of those two).

The phrase ‘better half’ is something of a cliché these days. While it’s come to mean the superior half of a married couple, it originally referred to a person so dear that he or she was more than half of a person’s being. Whatever way you look at it, the intent is clear: someone who is good and true and holds a place of deep importance in one’s life.

That would be my better half. Much has been written about the wealth of support writers receive from editors and readers and critique partners and writing friends. It’s support we depend on and appreciate. But a writer’s better half is rarely mentioned. It’s too bad. They’re a silent (and sometimes not so silent) yet intimate companion on this crazy publishing journey, a journey they didn’t always expect when they took their vows. In our case, there were signs but I’m pretty sure Mr. Petrol Head chose to ignore them.

Over the years, he has offered advice and solace, he has paid the bills when my writing didn’t, he has brainstormed plots and character arcs, he’s made too many dinners to count and he spent as much time as I did with our children so I could have this career. He built a sluice box for my gold rush book, designed business cards and websites, and he gave me innumerable hugs when the journey seemed too tough to manage. He has helped me make sense of royalty statements, understand the business side of publishing better than some publishers could and he has pulled me back from the brink when I’ve been ready to press send on an irate email that needed a more tempered response.

He accepted without reservation my decision to trade a lucrative and successful job as a journalist for the uncertain and low paying job of a novelist. He has believed in me and loved me and never once complained that things didn’t turn out quite the way he expected on the career front. He is the wisdom and calm in my world.

He is, and always will be, my better half.