stillpoint

musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

world between the covers...


As a child, I had a lively pen pal relationship with my Dad’s Aunt Win who lived in a cottage near Newquay in Cornwall, England. The two of us exchanged dozens of letters over the years and I like to think we knew and understood each other as well as any niece and great aunt could across such a distance.

Win was a great lover of books and reading and made it her mission to foster that love in me, as well. She'd send me a book for every birthday and another one at Christmas – beautifully bound classics starting with Black Beauty and moving on to Dickens, Bronte, and Austen.

Win encouraged me to share stories in my letters and she wrote tales of the Cornish life and landscape in return. We never had a chance to meet in person, but from her kitchen table in Myrtle Cottage, Win fed my love of reading and gave me the confidence to believe in myself as a writer.  



A few weeks ago, just for fun, I typed the old familiar address for Myrtle Cottage into Google search, hoping to find a street view of the area. To my surprise and delight, the exact address turned up as a bed and breakfast. I've written to the owners, hoping to confirm it really is the same house Win wrote to me about all those years ago, but I haven't yet had a response. What fun to imagine visiting Cornwall and staying in the very place Aunt Win so loved. Talk about a writer's dream come true!



Who inspired you as a reader or writer? Share your story in the comments.



Wondering where you've heard that before? The title of this post is a quote from Notes on the Art of Poetry, a poem by Dylan Thomas:

"I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,"


stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington



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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Write Spot: Tracey J. Lyons

Have you ever wondered where your favourite writers do their work? Look no farther than The Write Spot, a bi-weekly author series spotlighting the many and varied places where writers write.

My special guest for this twenty-fifth edition is romance author, Tracey J. Lyons. An Amazon Top Ten bestselling historical romance author of the Women of Surprise series, Tracey sold her first book on 9/9/99! Her books have been translated into several languages and are available in print, digital and audio formats. Tracey lives with her husband in New York's Hudson Valley region. She has appeared on the award winning Cox Cable Television show, Page One, and on the stage of Lady Jane's reading salon in New York City. She holds membership in Romance Writers of America, American Fiction Christian Writers and Novelists Inc. A true upstate New Yorker, Tracey believes you should write what you know. Her historical romances are all set in the New York State area. Tracey considers herself a small town gal who writes small town romances.

This is Tracey's bright and spacious Write Spot:


Welcome, Tracey! What makes this The Write Spot for you?

This is my third home office relocation, but by far my favorite spot. Situated right outside my bedroom door I only have to tumble out of bed and I'm at my desk in seconds. I really like having a window to look out, though this one peers into my neighbor's side yard. So some days I feel like I'm playing I-spy!

Sounds like the perfect set-up. After all, people watching is a very important part of every writer's job. ;-) 

Other than your computer or laptop, what's the one thing you couldn't be without in your Write Spot?

I love having a few favorite photos near my desk. This one, from the Chatham Book Store, Chatham, NY signing where my book is featured right next to Bill Clinton's in the front window, still cracks me up! 


I remember the day of my signing this woman comes running into the store thinking she was going to be seeing Bill Clinton. Imagine her surprise when she saw it was only little old local author Tracey Lyons sitting there! And, no, she didn't stay for my signing.

What are you working on now?

Right now I'm in the middle of planning out the next two books in the inspirational historical romance series that has its first book, A Changed Agent, out right now. And I'm toying with an idea for a sweet, but sassy contemporary series.

Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Come visit me at my website, traceylyons.comdiscover all my books in one convenient spot on my Amazon Author Pageand connect with me on social media at:
Twitter: @TraceyJLyons
Goodreads: Tracey_J_Lyons



When schoolteacher Elsie Mitchell meets rugged William Benton on a train platform in Albany, it appears they have nothing in common. He isn't the sort of fellow a proper young woman of the 1890s would ever speak to, much less become involved with. But when she arrives at her small town in the Adirondack Mountains, Elsie is offered a job as caregiver for this mysterious out-of-towner's niece and nephew, who've been tragically orphaned. Heartbroken for them, she accepts.

Unknown to her, William is an undercover Pinkerton agent posing as a lumber-company foreman. He's never wanted family – his work is too dangerous. Yet as Elsie transforms his house into a home and he spends time with the children, he feels drawn to family life – and to Elsie.

As a good Christian, Elsie is troubled by William's secrets…though she does find him intriguing. And when a sinister figure from her past arrives, Elsie and William will have to trust in faith and newfound love to protect their unlikely family from danger.








About The Write Spot:
I've always been fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes. Whether it's backstage photos from my favourite play, a peek into the kitchen where a chef is working her culinary magic, or simply a glimpse through an uncurtained window into a stranger's private world, there's an undeniable thrill of discovery, a sense of secrets shared. It's no surprise, then, that I'm immensely curious about where other writers do their work. I've blogged about it before in this post about my own 'write spot' and so enjoyed the comments, I was inspired to launch a regular feature here at stillpoint. Watch for The Write Spot every other Wednesday and join me as I discover the many and varied places where writers write.


stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

   



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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

a blog-iversary


Ten years ago today, on July 13th, 2006, I nervously hit 'publish' and launched my first post into the vast and mighty sea called Blogger. We didn't make much of a splash that day, but we did float, and that little post has been quietly anchoring stillpoint ever since. 

To mark the anniversary, I'm bringing short-but-sweet Post #1 back for an encore...




Thursday, July 13, 2006:  Sam in Kannon's Garden

escape

unwind

relax

seek

peace

stillpoint   .

Kannon/Kwan Yin keeps watch over the bubbling fountain in this shady corner of my balcony garden. It's my favourite spot for reading or just being on a hot summer day. Sam, my cat companion, agrees.


If you've ever wondered about the meaning of my 'kannonsgarden' URL or the 'stillpoint' name ... now you know.

Over the years, this blog has evolved into an eclectic collection of personal stories, observations, and interviews. But the shady balcony corner is still my favourite spot, and handsome Sam is still keeping me company. In fact, I think we'll head outside right now. There's a comfy chair, a mug of tea, and a good book calling my name.

Many thanks to everyone who reads, shares, comments, and encourages me to keep on writing  a few of you have been with me from the start. Here's to the next ten years!






Permalink: a blog-iversary


stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

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Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The Write Spot: Linda Wiken

Welcome back to The Write Spot, a bi-weekly author series spotlighting the many and varied places where writers write.

My special guest for this twenty-fourth edition is mystery author Linda Wiken, aka Erika Chase. Good to have you with us, Linda!

A former mystery bookstore owner, Linda turned her computer to writing. As Erika Chase, she has penned five Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries. And these days, under her real name, Linda Wiken, she writes the Dinner Club Mystery series. All are from Berkley Prime Crime.  Linda also writes short stories and is part of The Ladies' Killing Circle, a dangerous gang of dames who have put out seven mystery anthologies. Linda was honoured to be shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada for Best Short Story, and for an Agatha Award from Malice Domestic for Best First Novel. She is owned by two Siamese cats who allow her to pursue her passion for chorale singing, and the eating of chocolates!

Linda's Write Spot


What makes this The Write Spot for you?

It’s The Write Spot mainly because it’s a room with a view. :-) I look out at tree tops and morning sun (which sometimes isn’t too helpful when trying to see the screen, I must admit).  

This dedicated office space is on the second floor of my home, a small room with two desks (one for writing; one for other things, such as paying bills and other personal matters), and bookcases along two walls. The room is bright and cheerful no matter what the weather, and that’s a great boost to the writing mind!




Love the leafy view, and I see your gorgeous Siamese cats enjoy the bookcases, too. :-) 

Other than your computer or laptop, what's the one thing you couldn't be without in your Write Spot?

My books! I love being surrounded by books. Many are reference and research books but the majority are for inspiration. Just looking at a cover or picking up a trade paperback gives me such a feeling of well-being and incentive, I could write forever. Or until dinner time, at least.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on the third book in my Dinner Club Mystery series, from Berkley Prime Crime. The first one, Toasting Up Trouble, was released yesterday (yay!) and I handed in the second one, Roux the Day, in May and it will be out next summer. The title of the third is, Marinating in Murder. You heard it here first! I'm having such fun with these characters and especially the cookbooks. I'm a cookbook junkie and this allows me to have my fill.

Thanks for the scoop, Linda! Love the titles. Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

I love to connect with readers. My website is lindawiken.com. I can also be found at my alter ego website, erikachase.com

My Twitter handle is @LWiken; also @erika_chase. And, I make regular appearances on two wonderful blogs – Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, and Killer Characters.


Linda's latest, Toasting Up Trouble, from Berkley Prime Crime was released yesterday (July 5, 2016). Get it while it's hot!

A delicious new cozy mystery series featuring the Culinary Capers Dinner Club – who are fearless when it comes to cooking up new dishes and putting the lid on crime...

Event planner Jennifer "J.J." Tanner has a full plate, but that's the way she likes it. First, it's her turn to choose the recipe for the next meeting of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club, a gathering of foodie friends who experiment with entrées for their creative and gastronomical pleasure. Second, she's organizing an Italian princess party for the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a high-tech millionaire.

But one thing J.J. didn’t plan on is that the caterer for the event – hotshot chef Antonio Marcotti – would end up murdered the night of the party. Or that she'd end up being a prime suspect after having had a heated argument with the unscrupulous chef. Now it's up to J.J. – with help from her fellow Club members and a handsome if mysterious private eye – to turn the tables on the real killer...


And don't miss the latest from Erika Chase… 

The author of Book Fair and Foul reconvenes the Ashton Corners book club to solve a murder in their own backyard…

Bob Miller, retired police chief and member of the Ashton Corners Mystery Readers and Cheese Straws Society, is stunned by the arrival of his twenty-one-year-old granddaughter, Darla, whom he has never seen. Bob has been estranged from his own daughter for decades and hopes to make up for his absence in Darla's life. But some of the ladies of the book club find their Southern hospitality strained as they question the motives behind this sudden reunion.

After a dead man is found in Molly Mathews's backyard, their concerns grow more serious. Lizzie Turner saw Darla arguing with the stranger the day before, but when the police question her, Darla proves to be an unreliable narrator. It's up to the book club to uncover the real story . . . before another victim is written into the plot.






About The Write Spot:
I've always been fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes. Whether it's backstage photos from my favourite play, a peek into the kitchen where a chef is working her culinary magic, or simply a glimpse through an uncurtained window into a stranger's private world, there's an undeniable thrill of discovery, a sense of secrets shared. It's no surprise, then, that I'm immensely curious about where other writers do their work. I've blogged about it before in this post about my own'write spot' and so enjoyed the comments, I was inspired to launch a regular feature here at stillpoint. Watch for The Write Spot every other Wednesday and join me as I discover the many and varied places where writers write.


stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

   


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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

a memory of elephants...


". . . graceful as a baby elephant . . ."

I wasn't meant to hear those words. But after weeks of practicing the five positions and struggling – unsuccessfully – to make my demi pliés and grand pliés bear any resemblance to Madame's graceful movements, her stage-whispered comment to Mom brought my ballerina dreams to a stumbling, bumbling end. I was five years old.

As Mom and I walked home after that fateful lesson, she tried her best to cheer me with talk of the joys of tap dancing. I barely listened. Instead, I thought about the elephants in my story books, Babar and Celeste. I thought about the elephants I'd seen at the zoo and on television. I liked elephants. I liked elephants a lot. Maybe this wasn't so bad after all.

Back home in my room, I stood in front of the mirror and frowned at the girl who stared back at me: a chubby child with curly blonde hair that would not be tamed, scuffed ballet slippers, and a too-snug black leotard. I thought of my friend, Judy: she who always looked so perfect in her pink tutu and matching slippers; she with the long legs, long neck, and sleek dark hair twisted into a tidy bun; she who never flubbed a plié. Okay. Well. Elephants had big, tap-dancey feet, didn't they? I swapped the leotard and slippers for shorts and sandals and ran downstairs to tell Mom I'd be okay with tap lessons instead of ballet.

Looking back, I realize Madame's heartless comment in that final ballet class was the lone rogue in a lifetime of happy elephant moments. I seem to encounter them everywhere.

As a child, Saturday mornings meant new episodes of Circus Boy on TV. I'd imagine myself into the stories. Wearing that coveted pink tutu at last, I'd turn graceful pirouettes on Bimbo the elephant's back, and never, ever flub a plié. The crowd under the big top always cheered.


My grandmother kept a collection of elephants in her sitting room. Fascinated by their wildness and their strange searching trunks, I'd cozy up in the big armchair and imagine myself walking through the jungle with the herd or perched between a massive pair of ears as we travelled a dusty road. Grandma once told me a gathering of elephants is called a memory. A memory of elephants. I like that. I like that a lot.


When Grandma passed away in 1966, these two gems from her collection came to me. The little one is cast bronze, the larger is ebony. Given its nineteenth century origin, there is a good chance the tusks are real ivory. In Grandma's time, ivory was a coveted curiosity. The thought of how it was taken makes me terribly sad.



Over the years, my herd has grown. Carved from stone or wood or sculpted in clay, each little elephant has its own unique personality. Most found their way to me in antique shops, galleries, or pottery studios but this gilt-eared cutie was a gift. (Thanks, Wendy!) He always makes me smile.


A few years ago, I tried to call it quits. Life in a one bedroom condo demands moderation and there was, I told myself firmly, no room for more elephants. That was before I met this gorgeous big girl, created by Toronto raku potter Zsuzsa Monostory. I went back to the gallery several times before finally admitting we were meant to be. She was my retirement gift to myself and I've named her Thembi, after a real Botswanan elephant and a fictional Ontario lake.


And what, you may ask, has an African elephant to do with a Canadian lake? Twenty years ago when I was researching and writing Sparks Fly, a friend put me in touch with a young Canadian float plane pilot who shared his experience of life in the north and the risky business of flying in the wilderness. At the time, his fiancé was working on her thesis project with an elephant foundation in Botswana. He travelled there with her – bush pilots are always in demand in Botswana – and was able to meet and interact with the foundation's elephants, Jabu, Marula, and Thembi. It was an experience he described as the most awe-inspiring of his life. When I needed a name for the fictional northern lake in Sparks Fly, I chose Thembi as a nod to his favourite elephant and as a way of saying thanks. I've lost touch with my pilot, but the foundation is still active and doing good work. You can meet the elephant trio and see photos of the real-life Thembi on Facebook at Living With Elephants. 

It's been over a year since raku Thembi took her place as The Last Elephant in my collection. There is still absolutely no room for more elephants. Of course, that's never stopped me before.


Afterword: The tap-dancing lessons were short lived. I adored my shiny, patent leather tap shoes and the clack-happy sound they made when I walked. But walking isn't dancing, and the coordinated rhythm that marks a hoofer was never going to be part of my skill set. So … I decided to take up figure skating, instead. Elephants on ice! I imagine you can guess how well that turned out. 

Eventually, I found my niche and now my fingers do the dancing – across the keyboard. No fancy footwear required. As I write this, I'm wearing a floaty summer dress. It may be more muumuu than tutu, but it is pink. And even better, it's patterned with row upon row of happy, dancing, graceful baby elephants.






stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington.


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