This summer, with wildfires burning in our area and the acrid stench of smoke filling the air, my husband and I decided we needed to get away, and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories was the place to go.
After a drive of 1,424 Km. (885 miles), we crossed the McKenzie River and soon saw the rocky outcroppings of the Canadian Shield. This massive chunk of bedrock, covering half of Canada, is more than 3.96 billion years old, and is some of the oldest rock in the world. Covered with moss and multi-colored lichen and interspersed with stunted black spruce trees, the subarctic Taiga is awe-inspiring. The countless lakes, wide-open skies, and glittering northern lights, brought back wonderful memories of my childhood.
My old hometown of Yellowknife has changed. Almost twenty thousand people inhabit the city, as opposed to the 6000 folk when I lived there. Housing developments teeter on top of massive rock mounds and high rises dot the skyline.
But even though the narrow streets are busy, there’s still something exciting and definitely northern about the bustling town. Some of the old buildings remain…the old post office, the Gold Range Hotel, the weathered log cabins of Old Town, the colourful houseboats and floatplanes on Great Slave Lake (the tenth largest lake in the world), and the swarms of blackflies waiting to attack.
By the time we returned home, we’d driven a whopping 3452 Km (2,145 miles), but the trip was definitely worth it. Though we didn’t escape the smoke. The air at home is still murky and flecks of ash fall from the sky. It’s been quite a summer.
Writing’s a tough business. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. From that fateful moment you sit down at your desk and type that first word, you’ve begun a hair-raising roller coaster ride of emotions.
The high of completing that first draft; the low when you finally work up the courage to submit your work to a publisher or editor and you wait and wait and wait, and finally six months later, you receive a form rejection. Bruised, you submit again in the hopes the first editor was wrong. Another rejection. And another. Each one chews away a piece of your soul.
But you persist, doggedly pursuing the dream of a becoming a published author. You attend conferences, take on-line writing craft courses, revise and polish your manuscript until you’ve almost memorized every word.
And then, if you’re lucky, you receive the call from a publisher requesting your manuscript. Oh, the unbridled joy, the thrill that you’ve finally made it. Visions of making the best seller lists dance before your eyes. You walk a little taller, smile a little brighter.
But the roller coaster ride isn’t over. The struggle for your novel to stand out from thousands of others involves mind-numbing hours promoting your book on social media by blogging, tweeting, emailing, and instagraming.
This constant drive to success is wearing, but there are lots of positives: the interesting people you meet, the friends you make, the glowing reviews your book receives, a second contract…
Is it worth it? Hell yeah! I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. If you have the desire to write a book, go for it. Climb aboard that roller coaster and enjoy the ride.
As I write this post, fourteen thousand people in my area have been evacuated from their homes due to out of control wildfires. My family is on evacuation alert. The main highway south to the rest of the province is closed, and heavy smoke fills the air and ash falls from the sky. A steady stream of water bombers and helicopters with water bags attached roar overhead. Everyone is nervous and worried about neighbours and livestock.
My heart bleeds for the people who have been evacuated. Some have had to travel six hours through fires to reach evacuation centers in the north. My husband and I have packed our photographs and valuables, and friends who live in a safer area have them in safekeeping. Our suitcases and important documents are packed and sitting by the door. We’re ready to leave at a moment’s notice should the need arise.
My son is a wildfire fighter. He’s been working nonstop with little time to eat or rest since this disaster started. He and his fellow fire fighters are giving everything they have to save our area from total destruction. They and the heavy equipment operators and emergency personnel are true heroes.
These past few days have been stressful, but there are golden moments…the countless people who’ve stepped up and helped those in need. The evacuation centres are inundated with volunteers and donations of food and supplies. Once this is over, and we get a chance to assess the damage, the Cariboo spirit will prevail, and together we’ll get back on our feet.
For thousands of years, people have believed deities use trees as dwelling places. The early Celts, Romans and Egyptians all believed in tree spirits. The Japanese believed kodama (spirits) inhabited trees. The practice of touching wood stems from the belief spirits living in trees were listening to our conversations. The expression ‘knock on wood’ calls upon tree spirits for protection from misfortune or a thank you to the tree spirits for bringing good luck.
You can actually see tree spirits if you visit Cottonwood Island Nature Park in Prince George in Northern British Columbia. In 2005, Elmer Gunderson carved fifteen faces into the outer bark of three hundred year old black cottonwood trees along the meandering, shaded paths along the Nechako River.
The intricately carved human faces are the size of a human hand and blend in with the tree’s rough bark. They portray trapper’s lined faces, Indigenous elders, old women, and other whimsical characters.
Over the years, some of the trees have been washed away or windstorms have felled these massive trees. Weathering has faded the carvings, but twelve remain. Part of the fun is finding the faces. They’re like hidden gems peeking out of the gnarled bark as if the spirit inside the tree is alive. If you venture into these woods, don’t forget to knock on wood, just in case the tree spirits are watching.
Cottonwood Island Nature Park
I’ve canoed since I was a child. I’ve paddled lakes of all sizes and rivers that ranged from easy flowing streams to raging rapids. In all that water, I’ve never tipped my canoe.
That all changed last week when my husband and I, and some friends, paddled down a remote wilderness river. The air was chilly but the river was beautiful. We floated past shores lined with giant cottonwoods, thick willows, and dense evergreen forest. Moose foraged along the shores, ducks and geese hid their young in the reeds, and eagles soared overhead. Rounding a bend in the river, my husband put down his paddle to take pictures. In minutes, the fast current swept us too close to shore. The next thing we knew we crashed into a sweeper (a tree jutting into the river), and the canoe flipped.
The first icy plunge took my breath away. We were wearing life jackets so we weren’t going to drown, but my concern was for my elderly dog. She was stuck under the canoe and terrified. If she got away, she wouldn’t be able to swim for long. I grabbed her and held her tight. The water was over my waist and the current swept my feet out from under me, but I managed to make it to shore and set the dog on dry land. Somehow, my husband held onto the water-filled canoe, though much of our gear floated down the river.
Our friends paddled like mad and retrieved most of our stuff, and they started a fire on a gravel bar. We managed to turn the canoe over and grabbed our dog and climbed back into the canoe, and paddled to the gravel bar and the hot fire where we changed into dry clothes.
Other than a few bruises, wet clothing, some missing equipment, and damaged egos, we survived. Had it not been for the quick thinking of our friends, the situation would have been much more serious. Moral of the story…never travel alone.
Today I’m a guest on Kayelle Allen’s Romance Lives Forever Blog showcasing my latest release Bitter Legacy. Please stop by and take a peek. Leave a comment if you’d like.
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Thrilled to announce that I just received a contract from The Wild Rose Press for my fourth romantic suspense. I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been.
My road to publication has been long and filled with many ups and downs. I submitted my first manuscript by mailing the first fifty pages to a dozen mainstream publishers (yes, that long ago), and then waited for the responses, which more often than not took months. Usually, the rejection was curt and impersonal, but I took heart from those few editors and publishers who took the time to offer suggestions on how to improve my writing, and I persevered. I’ll never forget the day I received an email from The Wild Rose Press offering me a contract. I did a happy dance, and celebrated with a glass (or two) of wine.
I can’t say enough good things about my publisher. They work hard to ensure we authors feel like we’re part of the team. They offer chats where we can learn more about our craft and this ever-changing, complicated industry. They’re open to communications and respond quickly and efficiently to any queries. No wonder they’ve been voted Top Publisher for the pasts several years.
I signed my first contract on June 3, 2015, and two years later I’m onto my fourth published book. Who would ever have thought it possible? Now I get to begin the process all over again. Yes! Thank you The Wild Rose Press.
Wow! It’s been quite a week. My latest romantic suspense published by The Wild Rose Press was released today, (wild cheering!) and the reviews keep coming in. I’m so grateful for the fine folks who take the time to read my books and write a review. It’s always wonderful to hear what readers think about my work.
Follow the links below to read the latest reviews of Bitter Legacy: