In Celebration of Local Authors

In Celebration of Local Authors

White Pines Launch Gala Invitaton

Do you ever wonder how many writers are in your community?

This is a perfect way to find out. Join us in celebrating the new White Pines Collection.

I will be reading a brief, family-safe scene from To Render a Raven (I know they’re hard to find in my books.) Books will be available to borrow!

I love that the library is supporting local authors. Come and celebrate along with us. Please let me know if you can come or RSVP with the library. 




The Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong

The Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong


Photo from radish

I had the pleasure of meeting Kelley Armstrong last weekend at Creative Ink. She is one of the most talented and generous writers I’ve met yet. I learned so much in her three-hour master class that I’m still considering. The discussion there actually prompted a complete revision of the next book I’m writing. In a good way. I also went to a panel she joined on “Elevator Pitches” — sell your book in the time it takes to travel between floors. I wrote one for the book I’m currently working on and pitched it to her when we met for our “blue pencil” appointment. She took out one word and liked the rest. When she read the first scene of my draft, she gave me nothing but positive comments and solid suggestions for how to improve. This is what a writer needs.

I started reading her “Cainsville” series two weeks ago and am surprised by similarities between it and my Hollystone mysteries series. Both are urban fantasy. Both are murder mystery. Both are written for adults—she writes some seriously edgy scenes! Both feature faeries and Celtic myth. I started with Book Two, so now I must go back and read Book One. They’re written as stand-alone novels, so I had no problem following along. I’m just hooked now and want to know more. I want to see how the characters progress from beginning to end.

My review of Kelley’s latest Rockton book appeared last week in the Ottawa Review of Books. You can click the link or read it here.


Who is The Watcher in the Woods?

Book Four in Kelley Armstrong’s Casey Duncan crime series follows fresh on the heels of Book Three; in fact, it’s so fresh the bodies are still decomposing in the woods. Without divulging too many spoilers, one of the men who pursued the serial killer in the last story is shot in the back. A bullet is lodged near Kenny’s spine and there are no surgeons in Rockton—just a butcher who was once a psychiatrist. 

Intent on saving Kenny’s life, Detective Casey Duncan and Sheriff Eric Dalton fly secretly to Vancouver to appeal to the best neurosurgeon they know: Casey’s older sister. They must sneak her into town for security reasons. Of course, in a town the size of Rockton, it’s hard to sneak anybody anywhere. The introduction of April as a major character opens up Casey’s family history and peels more layers from her backstory. But the sisters’ relationship is tenuous as April is about as gifted and gregarious as “House.” 

Rockton is a town built on secrets. Imagine living in a place in the middle of the Yukon wilderness. A place that is not on a map or visible by plane or satellite or hooked up to the Internet. A place hidden from the world. Imagine that everyone who lives there, all two hundred of you, have been brought here for a reason. Refuge. You’re either a victim of crime or a criminal yourself. The butcher may have murdered his entire family. The madam who runs the bordello may have ripped off the elderly for their life savings. Your neighbour may have been a hit man for the mob. It’s an idyllic prison, of sorts. Even our fearless detective is hiding out for a reason: she is a killer. Not a “line of duty” kind of killer—a “woman who went looking for a man with a gun in her pocket” kind of killer. 

Into that mix, throw a man who claims to be a U.S. Federal Marshal in search of a fugitive. Let him track down the hidden town, watch from the woods, then come in bold-faced and search among the townspeople for his target. Idealism turns to chaos. Everyone is certain the marshal is there to drag him or her back to face justice. The marshal claims the person he is seeking appears normal but is criminally insane—a description that fits several of Rockton’s residents. But he won’t reveal who he’s hunting. Now, what would happen if the marshal was found murdered? If indeed he is a marshal. How difficult would it be to determine who shot him?

With a police force of three, a volunteer militia, and an unreliable council who deals out its own brand of justice, anything can happen. In the previous book, the leader of the council was removed. I won’t tell you how that happened. But, the new leader is adversarial and just as sketchy as his predecessor. 

The romantic sub-plot takes a back seat in this book. Now that Casey and Eric have settled into their relationship, Casey focuses on protecting her newly-adopted town from itself. She suspects everyone of murdering the U.S. Marshal, except her boyfriend. Even her estranged sister, who appeared in Rockton at the same time as the man, is suspect.

And then there are the hostiles—residents who’ve left Rockton to take up residence in the wilderness. Intriguing and terrifying, these shadow-creatures are something between reavers and zombies. With just a hint of humanity, they appear when least expected. In this book, Armstrong throws in a delicious twist that makes us wonder how they evolved—or rather devolved. Fodder for another sequel? Please.

Armstrong’s clean, tight, present-tense narration propels this crime thriller through rock-strewn paths to the big reveal. With a town like Rockton, and so much more to learn about Casey Duncan and her partner, Eric Dalton, this series could go on indefinitely.

from the Ottawa Review of Books, March 2019 


My Thoughts at Thirteen

My Thoughts at Thirteen

Wendy grade 8

Going through old papers and memorabilia, I ran across two pencil-scrawled smudged pieces of lined paper—my grade eight speech. I’ve typed it here as I wrote it.

It’s interesting for me to look back and hear my thoughts at thirteen. I was innocent then. Going to church with my father, obviously believed in God, was probably studying for my confirmation in the Lutheran Church.

That never happened.

A year later my world imploded and God did not survive the Father-Daughter War.

But, what I see here is my mini-INFP voice coming through and the genesis of the writer/poet. Decades later, I’m still looking for answers to these questions, though not in the bible. And I’m still asking “Who am I? Why am I here?”

I’m glad that I preserved something of who I once was. Although that little girl still exists, she has changed drastically. Experience does that.

Grade 8 Speech (12-13 years old)

Mr. Sellers and Class.

“Why are we here on this earth? What are we to do while we are here? What happens to us after we die? Is there something greater than us? What is re-incarnation? Does re-incarnation really happen?

Even the great professors and scientists of our era cannot answer these questions. The people of our so-called ingenious world, who have worked vigorously inventing A-bombs and hair bleach cannot answer these questions. Great doctors and philosophers cannot answer these questions. They have made up theories. The Earth people changed through the ages from amoeba to reptiles to apes and finally to human in the form of cavemen. All we can do is have faith.

Should the religious point-of-view be mixed with scientific theory? “Faith of our Fathers. Holy Faith.” All we can do is have faith and believe. The religious opinion cannot even fully explain why we are here and what will happen to us after we die. We cannot obtain straight-forward answers to these questions from the Bible. We do know however, that we are here and while we are here we are to do God’s will. But what is God’s will?

It states in Luther’s Catechism, we are to fear and love God, our highest superior, and love our neighbour, which is everyone in the world. These are also the two greatest commandments God gave through Moses.

What happens to us after life? A children’s verse tries to answer this question.

“I am but a stranger here. Heaven is my home. Earth is but a desert drear. Heaven is my home. Danger and sorrow stand round me on ev’ry hand. Heaven is my fatherland. Heaven is my home.”

What is this heaven? The dictionary says heaven is “the atmosphere; the dwelling place of God; the home of the blessed; God himself; supreme happiness.” Living on this earth now, we are either living in heaven or hell. Heaven is being with God and hell is without God. After we die, our soul or the spiritual and immortal part of us continues either being in heaven or hell. Heaven is a feeling towards God or to be with God—not a placid place in the atmosphere made of fleecy clouds, the entrance being gates of pearl, and strangely inhabited by angels dressed in white and playing sweet music from their harps.

I sometimes wish it was.

However, we must not let our dreams and wishes get too far-fetched. When we die we will be buried in the ground and the immortal part of our being, our soul, will go to God wherever he is.

As for the question, “is there something greater than us?” a children’s hymn tries to answer this. “God is great and we are small, but we on his name may call. When we fold our hands to pray, he hears every word we say.”

Yes, there is something greater than us. God, whom we worship in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. God our creator. God, the supreme being who created man and woman with his own breath of life. Who was lonely and wanted something and someone to reign over. Our great God of love and salvation. But God is not always pleased with us, although he always loves us. When we are disobedient as Adam and Eve were, and when we are tempted by evil and we do evil; that is when God is not pleased. But redemption is possible by admitting defeat and going humbly to God asking for forgiveness.

We are born. We live a normal lifespan of seventy-five years. We die. We go to heaven or hell. Will we have another opportunity to relive our life? Will we come back as another human, animal, or plant? To live life’s problems over again? If you can answer yes to both of these questions then you believe in re-incarnation—to be made over again. The Bible does not mention anything about re-incarnation. However, after the Day of Judgment, we may come back to Earth.

Can the Bible, which people have been studying and reading for millions of years be wrong? One big lie?

If so, there are going to be many disappointed people in the world. The statements I chose to present to you today come from the Bible.

Will we live from day to day or will we die and float away?

If we are good upon this earth, will afterlife be another birth?

Life on Earth is one big question—to die or live, God only knows.

We are curious human beings, but no one knows where we will go.



Thin Air by Ann Cleeves

Thin Air by Ann Cleeves


I’ve been a Shetland fan for the last few years and have watched all three seasons on Netflix (multiple times) but I’d never read any of Ann Cleeves’ novels.

I chose Thin Air (which is book five in the Shetland series and not on Canadian Netflix) mainly because it was available at my library, and it was in paperback. I like paperbacks best. They are lighter to read in bed.

The woman’s writing blew me away. Reading Ann Cleeves is like being wrapped in a silky merino wool blanket. I can see why there is a cue of holds for her novels. I couldn’t wait to snuggle down in my bed every night and immerse my mind in her comforting prose by the light of my pink salt lamp. I don’t know exactly what it is about her style that affects me so much. Perhaps, it’s the detail.

I’m going to assume that, like me, Ann Cleeves is quite visual. She paints pictures so true-to-life, I feel like I can see what she is seeing in her mind, and what our hero, Jimmy Perez, is seeing in his. As a detective, Perez is a keen observer. He’s not romantic and flowery, (though he’s certainly charming and loveable) but he’s genuinely interested and his mind is always spinning around the murder case. In this passage, he goes to London to speak with the victim’s mother:

She led him into a wide hallway. The walls had been painted a deep green and there were pictures everywhere. The art was unfamiliar. Some looked like prints of cave paintings, scratched images of animals and birds. Primitive, but also amazingly lifelike. There were photos of strange dwellings growing out of hillsides, a collage made from scraps of woven cloth and two large abstract oils. He would have liked to spend more time with them, but she’d already moved on and had settled on the windowsill in a room that seemed half-sitting room and half-study. There was a desk and the walls were hidden by bookshelves. In one corner an armchair was covered with a batik throw and next to it stood a coffee table made from animal hide. There was a glass on the table and Perez thought that she’d been sitting here when he’d phoned the night before. Now she was framed by the window, so she looked like a piece of art herself. The background was a small courtyard garden, where the sun had been trapped by a brick wall. In the corner stood a tree covered in pink blooms in a pot.

Naturally there is a murder. Two, in fact. And a tie that binds the victims. There is also sea, shifting fog, ferries, and stone cottages. And most importantly, a legendary ghost. Peery Lizzie. A ten-year-old girl who got lost in the fog and drowned in the flooding tide in the 1920s. Was it murder or an accident? Was Peery Lizzie lured to her death? And how is she connected to our recent victims? However she succumbed, it is the ghost of Peery Lizzie who helps our detectives unravel the murder.

Because no one ever really disappears into thin air. Do they?