Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Red Hare Family Restaurant

Excerpt from Chapter 3 before paid edits :-\ and after online corrections :o/

Imagine an early Muskoka summer of 1973

The Red Hare was a weekly dining spot for the Fletchers.  The Young and Fletcher children had grown and the parents had become good friends.  They would still gather for Sunday brunch after mass.  Despite their original agreement, Carl refused to take Matthew's money when his family ate there over a decade after Matthew completed the renovations. 

Sometimes Father O’Reilly would drop by for a coffee and cookies. Mrs. Johnson would stay for a quick tea after she dropped off Sera from her care while the rest of the Fletcher family had been at church.  She would then leave shortly after to return to her bedridden husband, Peter. 

Sera, Dela, Gwen and Amy would wander upstairs to the Young’s apartment so they could play dolls or beauty parlor.  Over the years, Amy and the twins enjoyed sitting for hours gossiping, brushing each other’s hair, applying nail polish and scheming ways to annoy the boys.  Nine year-old Sera didn’t care for the strong odor of the nail polish or the constant chatter of the older girls so she would retreat back downstairs with the adults.

One day she made her way down to the dining room where she wandered from table to table, breathing in the aroma of sawdust and fresh paint, gazing at the newly mounted prints of flowers, birds, dragons and other creatures. 

Jenny Young stopped beside her on her way to the kitchen for a fresh pot of coffee.  She was an attractive woman whom Sera rarely saw out side of her waitress attire.  She always had her silky black hair tied back neatly or in a bun.  Jenny performed her work gracefully and with a smile.  Being third generation Chinese-Canadians, she and Carl spoke English with barely an accent.
“You like the Zodiac, Sera?”

“The what?” the girl responded, awaken from her colourful, fantastical reverie.

“The Chinese Zodiac.  The animals that represent each year in the twelve-year cycle.”

“Sure.  I think the paintings are cool.”

"You do, eh?  Well, come with me young lady," She led Sera to a table in the back corner and stood with her in front of it. 

“This is your year, Sera.”

“My year?”

“The Year of the Rabbit. The year you were born - in 1963.”


“That was the year we opened the restaurant.  That’s why it’s called the Red Hare.  Red for good fortune and Hare for.. Rabbit, the year of the rabbit.”

“Neat,” responded the girl.

“You were only a small baby in your Mother’s belly when we had our party that year," her eyebrows lifted as she recalled, "It was a very snowy night. We were worried no one would show up.”

“Yes, I remember Dela and Gwen telling me that. It was their first buffet experience and they got to meet Amy.  Mom and Dad have some photographs in our parlor.”

“It was a very special night and the start of a good friendship between your family and ours.”

Sera smiled up at the lovely Mrs. Young who was dabbing at tears in her eyes. She smiled back and sniffed,  “We are very happy to know you and consider ourselves very lucky.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Young.  I like your family too.”

Jenny patted Sera on the shoulder and continued to the kitchen.  When she returned with an orange soda and a couple of large picture books, she found Sera still standing in front of the Rabbit booth.

“Here, Sera,” she said smiling as she directed the girl to sit down, “Why don’t you sit here and read while the 'old folks' are talking?  This can be your special table.  We will reserve it for you every Sunday.”

Sera obliged, smiling at Jenny's pretty face then down at one of the books she had set on the table.

“This is a book about the Chinese Zodiac.  Amy used to read it when she was your age.  I’m sure she will be happy if you read it while visiting us.”

Sera ran her pudgy hand across the smooth, colourful book cover.  She slowly opened it and gently flipped the pages.  She was greeted by lovely drawings accompanied by Chinese and English text and a few crayon scribbles. The latter, thought Sera, were likely made by Amy.

“Thank you, Mrs. Young,” she said looking up.

“My pleasure, Sera. Here’s a soda to keep you refreshed and a couple of quarters for the music box.”

The girl looked up with a broad grin, “Wow, this is great.  Thanks!”

Mrs. Young continued with her work and stopped from time to time at the Fletcher’s table to join in the conversation with Marie, Matthew, Mrs. Johnson, Carl and the boys.

Sera was so engrossed with the illustrations and text in the Zodiac book that she barely noticed when Fathers O’Reilly and Vinoletti entered the restaurant.  She pumped a quarter into the jukebox and turned up the volume as much as she could to hear “Summer Breeze” over the adult voices and continue reading uninterrupted.  That was until a large body approached and blocked the natural light from the front windows. 

“Hello, Sera,” said a familiar voice.

“Hello, Gio,” she responded without looking up.  She reached for her soda, took a sip from the straw and set the glass down again. 

There was moment of silence.  She flipped the page gently.  The shadow did not move.  Sera breathed in deeply, looked up and forced a smile.

Father Gio Vinoletti was still there in his largeness, planted in front of the booth, gazing around at the new paintings by each of the booths then back again to the one above Sera’s. 

“A rabbit.  Hmmm,” he pondered then looked down at her, smiling.

“It’s one of the twelve Zodiac signs,” she responded then returned to the book.

“Ah.. I see.  One above each booth.  Twelve booths.  Those Young’s are a clever couple.”

“Yup, I guess so....” she responded then took a sip of her soda, still looking down.

“So… which one is your favourite then?”

Sera rolled her eyes, corrected her manners before looking up blankly at Gio and forced politeness,  “I guess I’d have to say the Hare A.K.A the Rabbit since that was the year I was born.” 

"Ah, yes."

Jenny approached the table with a mug and a coffee pot. 

“Hello, Father Gio.  So nice you could drop by today!  Here, sit down and have a coffee.”

Gio responded, “Thank you Mrs. Young.  I’d like that.” Then paused asking, “Sera?  Is it okay if I join you?”

Sera’s inside voice was screaming “No! No! No!” but proper manners forced out a “Yes, you may, Father.”

He expertly squeezed himself between the bench and table, positioning himself across from Sera and facing the kitchen. 

Mrs. Young said as she headed back through the swinging doors, “I’ll bring some almond cookies for both of you.”

“Thank you!” called Gio after her, slightly leaning over to the aisle.  He smiled at the flapping door.  He sat upright, leaned back and smiled at Sera. 

Sera kept reading as he added the cream and sugar to his coffee and stirred it with the spoon. 

Why was he always smiling at her?  Creepy, she thought. 

- end - 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Illustrating my ideas

A few weeks ago, I had dinner with some artist friends.  They listened intently as I attempted to describe the plots and characters from my hopeful novel.  One agreed to create some drawings based on my cover design ideas.  We met every couple of weeks to review the sketches and agree on changes.  She is a patient, creative friend :-} 

On Friday, I picked up the final copy of the favourite one.  Here is a scanned version.

Thanks, Yohanna.

It represents the sadness and loneliness that Sera experienced while missing her lost friend and working out her own philosophies on life and death. One way she coped was to choose the year of the rabbit as one to provide new hope with the arrival of her newborn nephew, Harry.

The next Year of the Rabbit will soon be upon us.  I am not a superstitious person nor affiliated with any organized belief system.  I do respect ancient wisdom and traditions.  2011 will be a hopeful and ambitious year for me, a rabbit hopping into the crossroads of life. 

Vertical Rabbit?

This is rather coincidental yet follows the rabbit and wine themes in my story.

As a complimentary gift at a holiday party this weekend, each attendee received a Metrokane Vertical Rabbit.  A what? you ask...

For the first few minutes, we shared in humorous (and slightly drunken) confusion while we figured out its purpose.  After more examination and reading the instructions at the bottom, we concluded that it was a high-end corkscrew.  It's cute and all with the rabbit-shaped head and handle for ears.  I look forward to using it over the holidays. 

MetroKane Wine Accessories:

There are no live rabbits featured in my novel yet there is plenty mention of wine :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Loss of a rail line connecting communities for hundreds of years

I caught this in one of the news feeds today.  It seems like a sad era where we seem to value speed and the almighty automobile over the clean reliability and communal qualities of rail travel. 

Snippet from CBC News:

"Communities in the Ottawa Valley are facing the loss of a rail line that has connected them for more than 100 years.

The Ottawa Valley Railway, which runs around 400 kilometres from Sudbury to Smiths Falls, is currently out of use and is set to be dismantled by its owner, Canadian Pacific Rail."

Full story:

As I have mentioned in other posts, I have fond memories of trains.  They feature often in my hopeful novel during happy and sad occasions

Sunday, November 14, 2010

How to Plant a Tree

I allowed myself an artsy outing this afternoon and had another "first".  A Facebook friend had invited me to a poetry reading held by his publisher for him and another poet at Mother Tongue Books.  I hadn't been to that book shop yet so thought it would indeed be a nice Sunday afternoon outing.  It was.

After chatting with interesting people and listening to the readings, I took a few minutes to explore the many colourful book cases.  One small book called to me.  It was a plain, creamy white hardcover with an illustration of a tree and little person titled "How to Plant A Tree - A Simple Celebration of Trees & Tree-planting Ceremonies." It has lovely illustrations and short sections of informative text.  The only complaint is that the text is kind of small!  This is going to be a challenge for bus reading.

If you are a regular visitor to this blog and have read excerpts, you will remember that Trees play an important part in my forthcoming novel.  On an impulse, I purchased this lovely discovery in addition to two poetry books. I even insisted that one of the poets autograph hers.

Some day.. some day... I may allow my novel to be seen on the printed page.  If I do, my publisher of first choice knows that it must be on recycled paper.  I want to share a story but I want to be responsible with the resources I choose.

Thanks for visiting and reading my posts.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Working on a cover design

I had dinner with some artist friends this past week.  While sipping coffee after a healthy meal, my friend J and I went over some of my ideas and rough sketches for the novel's cover art. 

Suppose I should get to those edits from the publisher soon...

Distraction:  Crazy for Papercrafts
I found this blog today.  Sooo cute, with their Year of the Rabbit calendars and drawings!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Excerpt from Chapter 12 - before edits

It was after dinner when Georgette located Gio in the greenhouse, trimming rose bushes and humming “Lavender Blue”.   She had already checked in on Sera and shared a glass of wine with his parents. 

He heard her heels click-clacking on the stonework outside as she approached the door, then the tap-tap-tap of a shoe against the door.

“Knock, knock!” she called lyrically.

“Come in,” he sang back to her.

“Mais, my hands are full,” she replied sweetly.

He turned and reached for the door handle.  Through the frosted glass he could see her womanly silhouette, standing with one hip positioned higher than the other, both arms bent slightly and each hand holding a wine goblet.

As Gio opened the door, he breathed in sharply when he saw her wearing a dark blue summer dress, tied at the waist with a white satin belt.  Her hair was pinned up with just a few copper curls dropping to the side and back of her neck.  As she smiled, her slightly sunburned face crinkled, revealing crows-feet around her twinkling, aging eyes.

“Georgette,” he said softly, “You look beautiful this evening!”

She smiled, cocked her head to one side and inquired coquettishly, “Just this evening?”

He chuckled and stood aside to let her in.  She handed him a glass of red wine, “From the recent batch.  Your parents wanted your opinion.” She sashayed inside and stood near his workspace.

“Thank you,” he said with a bow, “Err… merci, mademoiselle. Grazie.”

“De rien,” she cooed.

Gio sipped slowly, rolled his tongue around in his mouth then swallowed.

“So, what is your opinion?” she asked.

He set his glass down on the table in front of two large plant pots, leaned his lower back against the table and said, “It’s great.  It’s perfect.”

“That’s it?” she chuckled as she stepped closer.  She looked at the pots on the table.

“What are you working on, Gio?  What are these? They don’t look like rose bushes,” She slid in for a closer look.

“Just a project I started a few years ago,” he replied softly then took her wine glass and set it down beside his. 

“So… how is the wine?” she insisted. 

He extended his right hand to her. She accepted.  He pulled her closer and enveloped her with his arms, one around her shoulders and the other around the small of her back.  She put her arms under his and around his back.

Gio buried his face in her hair, breathed in then let out a big sigh, “It was worth the wait.”

Despite her womanly experience, she trembled.  He pulled her closer, her hip pressed against his thigh. 

“Are you cold?” he asked.

“No,” she looked up at him, smiling, “Just nervous.  I feel like a young woman.”

“I feel like a man…  a free man,” he sighed and squeezed her gently against him.

“I can tell,” she quipped, “Whatever that is in your pants is starting to hurt me.”

“Oh, that,” he laughed, “No.  No, that’s … something I wanted to show you.  I guess this is a good time.”

“Really?” she smirked, leaning back slightly.

- End excerpt -

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10-10-10 is a big wedding weekend

Here's wishing good luck, health, happiness and perfection to people getting married today!

Numbers mean perfection in some cultures, and that means weddings
CBC News
Last Updated: Friday, October 8, 2010 | 2:49 PM ET

"Wedding chapels, churches and banquet halls around the world are booked solid this weekend as couples look to the numbers 10-10-10 in search of wedding perfection.

10-10-10 may be a perfect wedding date, unless you're still trying to rent a limo.  Many have planned for Sunday — Oct. 10, 2010 — years in advance.  "

Full story:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Halloween night - Sera loses her friend

Excerpt from Chapter 6 (my text before edits by a paid service)

Halloween night 1974.  The happy celebrations of the youth group Halloween party are interrupted as Gio is called outside by Georgette.  She has stowed away Victoria and Margaret MacDonald in her car and asks him to help them find refuge from an abusive home.  He agrees to send them to Toronto where his sister will meet them and take them to safety.  

Eleven year-old Sera, dressed as a witch, had been eavesdropping at the party and snuck into the car.  She is distraught to learn her best friend is going away.  Halloween night will never be the same again. 

Readers get a taste of the blossoming romance between Gio and Aunt Georgette. 

Warning:  Contains swearing.

Inside the hall, Gio quickly gave instructions to Perry and the twins, leaving in them charge, telling them to make sure everything was turned off and there were no burning candles before they left.  They could worry about the cleanup the next day. 

When he arrived at his car, he saw that Georgette had already helped the passengers transfer themselves and what little baggage they had. 

"Thank you, Gio."  She whispered, staring him in the eyes as she handed him the keys.  Impulsively, she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek.  “Thank you.”

He didn’t want her to let go.  His impulse was to wrap his arms around her waist and shoulders, to pull her closer to his body.

One of the car doors opened and closed again.  It caught their attention briefly then Georgette turned back to the priest.  "You're a good man."

"We'll see.  I still have to get them onto the train without being noticed."
~ ~ ~

While in the CP Rail parking lot, Gio instructed the MacDonald’s to get dressed properly and fix their hair as well as they could in the darkened back seat.   He went into the train station to buy tickets and make a telephone call to Isabella.

Up until now, Sera sat quietly beside Victoria who held hands with her mother while they waited in the car. 

"Victoria," Sera began, "What's happening? Are you going away?"

"I don't know, Sera.  Mommy?"

Mrs. MacDonald touched her eyebrow and wiped her eyes on the sheet.  She only nodded and sobbed in response.

Gio came back to the car and sat in the driver's seat.  He had canned drinks, sandwiches and cookies with him.  "The next train for Toronto leaves in twenty minutes.  What good timing," he sighed as he turned on the little interior light.

He turned and handed the drinks and sandwiches to his two passengers, "Here, these will hold you over until you arrive in.... holy shit!  Sera?  What are you doing here?"

The familiar green face appeared from the shadows, above what he thought was one of the duffel bags.  "Uh... hi, Gio."

"Oh, Jesus!  Sorry!  Dammit! You shouldn't be here."

"I...I.. was curious why you and Auntie Georgette were talking.  I snuck in to the car."

Victoria started crying, "Please don't make her leave, Father Gio, please!"

"Of course not, Victoria," he sighed, "I won't.  I can't.  Not here.  Shit!"

From the distance, they heard the sound of the approaching train horn. 

"Get your bags ready and tidy up.  We'll go in just before they finish boarding."

"Can I come too?" asked Sera.

"No.  Sera.  No.  You will stay in the car.  I will take you home afterwards. Understood?"

"I guess."

A few minutes of silence passed before Gio turned off the interior light and spoke, "It's time."

Sera grabbed Victoria's arm, "Victoria! I....I... don't want you to go.  I don't want you to leave.  I...I..."

Gio had opened the back door to help Mrs. MacDonald with her bags.  His heart was in his throat.

"Sera, you will have to say goodbye and let Victoria go."

Victoria gave a big hug to her friend.  She was still holding her magic wand. 

"I'll miss you Sera.  We'll write, okay?"

"Okay," responded the witch between sobs.

"Here," said Victoria, handing her the magic wand, "I don't know why I had this with me still... You can keep it."

Sera grasped the wand, "Thanks..."

Gio pulled Victoria by the hand and put a woolen hat over her golden locks.  He bent over and said to Sera sternly, "Stay in the car.  Got it?"


He slammed the door then rushed the MacDonald's to the station, slipping past the lobby and heading straight to the train.

Sera sat alone in the car, twirling the wand around in-between her fingers.  She got up on her knees to look out the windows so she could see what was happening.  Her eye caught her ghastly green reflection in the rear view mirror. 

She stared into her own eyes.  She raised her left hand and slowly waved the wand back and forth in front of her face.

"She's gone.  She's disappeared..."

Wave, wave, slowly back and forth.

The lonely train blew its horn and howled its way out of the station.  Gio trotted back to the car and lowered his hefty body back inside.  He turned to the side and glanced back at Sera who was sitting quietly in the back corner, staring ahead and hugging her knees. 

"Are they gone?" she asked softly.

"Yes, they're gone."  he answered, "They will be staying with some good people near Toronto." 

"When will I see Victoria again?"

Gio closed his eyes and breathed out slowly, "I don't know."

"What happened, Gio?"

Gio paused, searching for the right words for an eleven year old to understand, "Mr. MacDonald was hurting Victoria and her mother."

"But he spoiled her, he gave her gifts and toys all the time."

"He did, I'm sure, Sera.  He didn't give her the gifts of trust and protection that a parent should give a child."

"I hate him."

Gio only nodded in agreement.  He was tired and winded.

Sera started to cry, "I wish he was dead."

~ end excerpt ~

Monday, September 6, 2010

Writing the Synopsis

One local publisher has already agreed to look at my manuscript (provided to him on CD - I couldn't justify killing any trees yet...)  Since he and his editing staff  read an earlier version of chapter one and have heard about the characters and themes through our conversations over the past year, I didn't include a synopsis. 

Now is the time to buckle down and write one. 


A bit of Googling came up with a couple of sites with tips:

 Here we go...

Friday, August 13, 2010

A child is born

I hope readers enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 7 and share my feelings on the joyous occasion of the birth of a child. Although it's a hot day in August, consider for your imagination, a cold February night in 1975. 

Begin excerpt: 

Gio left Marie, Georgette and Matthew to deal with the teenagers and headed quietly to Amy's room.  It was a good thing her roommate was heavily sedated with the commotion of the two families in and out this evening. 

He stood in the doorway, watching as Sera held her nephew in her arms, gently rocking him back and forth.  Gio's heart swelled with pride and sorrow. 

"He's so cute, Amy." Sera sniffed, "He's so beautiful – and hairy!"

"Yeah, he is beautiful, isn't he?" Amy responded weakly from her bed, already dozing off.

"What are you going to call him?" she sniffed again.

"I didn't even think about that.  How stupid to not even think of a name yet. I'm just sooo tired..."

"Oh, don't worry, something will come to you soon," Sera turned her loving gaze to the slumbering baby, "Right, hairy boy?"

The nurse slid past Gio to retrieve the baby and take him back to the nursery. Sera protested at first then gave in to her authority.  Amy had already fallen asleep and could care less. 

The nurse expertly bundled him back up into a tightly wrapped package.  She swept him into her arms, walked towards the visiting area and stated, "All right you people, it's time to move out.  Come back tomorrow morning at eleven."

"Yes, nurse," said Gio. 

"Have a good night, Father."

"Bless you, Dorothy."

Sera pulled the blankets up over Amy's petite body and kissed her on the forehead.  As she headed to the door, she subconsciously reached for Gio's hand and clasped it in hers as they headed down the hall for one last peek through the nursery window. 

"Isn't he beautiful, Gio?"

"He is, " He replied fighting back tears as he gazed at the rows of bassinets.

"He's so small, so helpless - but so loud!"

"They can be that way."

"I finally have a little brother - well, nephew.  This is going to be fun."

Gio turned to look at her smiling face faintly reflected in the nursery window.  It was the first time in months that he had seen her happy. 

"He's going to need someone special like you to watch out for him."

"Oh, I will. I love him so much already!" she sniffed., “I feel a special bond with him.” 

"Considering you were there when he was conceived, yes?"

Sera turned quickly to look up at him.  She blushed thinking she was in trouble but when she caught the smirk on his face and glint in his eyes, she relaxed.

"That's right," she quipped, "Plus, he was born the same year as me."

"What's that?"

"The year of the rabbit.  With all the bad things that have happened the last few months, I'm looking forward to this year.  Things can only get better, right?"

He paused to recite some memorized scripture for the occasion then stopped, "Sure, Sera.  That's a good way to look at it.  This baby's birth and his development are things to celebrate in hope and love."

"Does he have to be baptized? Can be even be baptized if he's a ..." she whispered closer to him, "bastard?"

Gio placed his large hand on her shoulder and led her back to where the family was waiting, "That's another bridge to cross another day, okay?"

- End excerpt -

Thank you for reading :-)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

If it wasn't for celibacy...

It was an interesting coincidence on a cold winter's night that I tripped upon Frank Hegyi's book cover for "If it wasn't for celibacy, I would have been a priest".  It jumped out at me while I viewed a list of books by members of the Ottawa Independent Writers.

I stole the opportunity to speak with Frank about his book before a working group meeting in February.  I asked him about it and shyly mentioned that one of the main characters in my novel is a priest - a priest who encountered carnal temptation early in his career.  Frank gladly pulled out a copy of the book and offered it to me as a gift - although I insisted twice on paying him. 

The book is a collection of Frank's essays on Religion, Politics and Life. When time permitted, I really enjoyed reading his insights. I found myself nodding in agreement with many of his observations and views.

Frank is a calm, quiet man with an extraordinary history of overcoming obstacles.  He is also a cancer survivor who co-wrote and published "Death can wait. Stories from cancer survivors" along with Roslyn Franken, Jacquelin Holzman and Max Keeping.

Although he is not representative of my target audience, I hope I can return the favour by offering him a fresh, printed copy of my novel this winter. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Excerpt - Parish picnic

I thought it would be enticing and refreshing to include an excerpt from Chapter 2, during the parish picnic and where Gio tries to console a sad and angry Sera.  Imagine a fictitious beach somewhere along Georgian Bay way back in 1970. 

Begin excerpt:

As Gio was setting up his basket, organizing his fishing gear and wrestling with the lawn chair, he heard a sweet voice from behind. 

“Aren’t you going to swim, Father Gio?” inquired a voice innocently behind him.  He turned to face Gwen, her freckled cheeks and crooked smile.  Her red-orange hair was waving in the breeze like licks of long, unruly flames. 

“No, my child.  You wouldn’t want to see ME in a swimsuit.  I’d scare all the fish – and maybe even the ladies.”

“You’re funny,” she giggled, “Okay, then.  See ya!” and she was off in a puff of beach dust to join the others.

Gio raised and lowered his arms to feel the late June breeze cooling the wet spots under his arms and on his back.  He smiled and nodded as people passed by and greeted him.  His scouting gaze met that of Marie Fletcher’s.  She smiled and waved with her right hand then lowered it to lightly grasp her side.  With her left, she pointed towards the milkweed patch near the trees.  He nodded and waved back in acknowledgment. 

Gio retrieved two cans of Canada Dry Ginger Ale from his cooler, grabbed an opener, his straw hat and proceeded in the direction of the patch beyond the border of a few birch trees.  He stumbled slightly over stones and tree stumps then stopped.  He listened to the sound of the breeze rustling through the treetops and realized how refreshing it was.  It almost sounded like the water of the Georgian Bay lapping at the nearby shore.  He felt soothed by the song of wind and water.   He breathed lightly then stopped all activity at the sight of the little girl. 

There she was, sitting on an old stump, holding out her small hand.  On the tip of her fingers was a freshly transformed Monarch butterfly slowly flapping its wings in the light breeze of the sheltered patch.  Gio stood still and watched her as she connected with this small creature.  This is my child, he thought, smiling with joy.  A wild child.  An angel.  A miracle of creation.  My shame.  My  joy.  He fought back tears.

The air felt suddenly still.  Gio breathed in and out lightly.  For a moment he couldn’t tell if she was holding the butterfly up and out with her hand and small arm - or if it, through its light flapping, was trying to lift her into the air.  He smiled sadly and shook his head, realizing the logical explanation. 

He lingered his gaze on the smooth, pudginess of her arm up to her fingertips.  His heart raced and fluttered.  The butterfly leapt off of the girl's fingers and floated awkwardly towards Gio in arcs and dips, landing on his straw hat.  Sera turned her gaze to follow its flight path but frowned when she saw Father Gio standing there in his fatness, holding a can of pop in each hand and smiling at her. 

“Are you thirsty, Sera?” he called. 

Her mouth was indeed dry and she wanted to blurt out a loud “yes” but her pride allowed her to only shrug and nod her head.  Gio walked carefully through the stumps and rocks, finally reaching a boulder across from the child.  He slowly lowered his large rear end on the rock, sighing as he sat down.

“Hot day,” he stated then dug the can opener into one chilled soft drink, letting out a refreshing “Fizzzzz!”.  He handed the can to her.

“Thanks,” she said quietly.

“You’re welcome,” he replied, opening his can to fizz and accompany his response.

“Cheers, Sera,” he said lifting the drink to his lips and taking in a few gulps.

“Cheers, Gio,” she responded then observed the monarch still resting on his hat.  He winced at her persistent use of first names with him but didn’t want to start a war of wills on such a lovely day. 

“Why aren’t you out on the beach with the other kids?”

“I’m sad,” She kicked at a stone,  "I’m angry."

He took another sip, “Why is that, my child?”  As soon as he spoke those words, he realized their secret meaning.  My child.  My child. 

- end excerpt -

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Murphy's Law and reference books

Just when I am wrapping up the last few paragraphs and plan to do an edit sweep, I can't find two books that I wanted to use.  

I have somehow misplaced or loaned out my copy of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing by Barbara Florio Graham.  Time to do an extreme search and recover in the overflowing bookcases.

Within less than a day of having Sigrid Macdonald's "Be Your Own Editor - A Writer's Guide to Perfect Prose"  in my hot little hands, I left it at someone's house after a meeting today.  Arg!  Luckily, when I mentioned my problem to the author of the BYOE, she sent me a PDF copy for my use.  

It's an adjustment for me to use an electronic book as reference.  At least they're much easier to search for keywords! 

Sunday, July 11, 2010


While enduring one of the Ottawa Valley summer heat waves, I can appreciate the cool shade of a deciduous tree and the rustling, rattling of leaves dancing to a random breeze. 

I enjoy the fact that Ottawa is home to the beautiful arboretum on the Central Experimental Farm.  I appreciate that there is organization of dedicated volunteers who care about The Farm.  There is also a City of Ottawa advisory committee that provides a forum for citizens on issues related to trees and forests.  I have even attended a couple of their organized tours. 

Trees play an important role throughout the novel.  Muskoka is host to many types of trees (not just pines).  One tree of significance is the pin cherry tree growing on the Fletcher's property. 

Snippet from chapter 10 (This is shortly after Matthew learns of his late wife's dalliances and the paternity of his daughters)

By the time Georgette hobbled back to the house, Sera had just finished writing her letter to Mrs. Johnson and packed up the stationery box. Her Aunt paused to kiss her on the forehead before heading upstairs to change into her house clothes.

Sera grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl on the counter and went out to the back yard. The sun had not yet set on this beautiful evening.  She secured the apple into her teeth and suctioned it securely with her lips as she climbed the dying cherry tree.  She sat on one of her favourite limbs and surveyed her small domain.  She could see more now that the tree had less leaves.  She felt bigger and exposed now that she could not hide within the green canopy.

Georgette watched her niece from the boys’ bedroom window as she changed her clothes and brushed her hair.  It had been almost a year since she had been staying with the family.  So many changes and twists in their lives.  Hopefully things would settle down soon.  She thought about moving on.  She smiled as she recalled Gio’s offer to join him in at the vineyard.  She closed her eyes and slowly ran the brush through her curly hair.  She felt a warm wave wash over her body.

Her soothing reverie was shattered by the sweet sound of Sera’s voice calling from the tree, “Hi, Daddy.  What are you going to do with that axe?”

Georgette dropped the hairbrush and leaned into the window box to see farther down the back lawn.  Matthew was walking with purpose up the path from the shop.  He headed straight for the cherry tree, looking up at his daughter.

“Oh, my God!” whispered Georgette loudly.  She tied her blouse, slipped on her flip-flop sandals and ran towards the stairs.  The tabby cat scrambled from the bedroom doorway – as if waiting for her -, ran in front of her downstairs and raced towards the back door. 

“Dammit, you cat!  Move!” she hissed and grabbed the patio door handle.  She broke a fingernail in her rush to get outside.  “Zut! Merde!”

When she finally made it to the tree, Matthew was standing underneath it, holding the large axe with both hands.  Sera was climbing down.

End snippet.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sex, Life and Death

In addition to a potpourri of other themes, this novel touches upon those of sexuality, teen pregnancy and women's health issues.

Yes, it also ventures on the taboo subject of abortion, one that greatly affects Father Gio when he hears and has to share sad news.  

As alluded to in an earlier post, there is also a murder that doesn't seem to garner sufficient attention by authorities... 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Maynards Fruit Gums

I don't remember having Maynards Fruit Gums when I was a kid.  I do remember SweeTarts and Smarties.  And yes, I remember saving the red ones until last ;-)  Damn advertising!  It's good to know that they are removing the artificial colours and the harmful crap to which we were so oblivious. 

Now that I'm a grown up kid, I use Fruit Gums or Gummy Bears as writing treats. They provide a form of incentive to complete a few paragraphs at a time when I'm in a rut - or just plain procrastinating.  

These are likely better for me than chocolate or salty treats.  It's fun to compare and share incentive ideas with others while you're trying to work alone.  

Speaking of... it's time to revisit the murder scene...


Law of Man - Law of God

While performing my research for the Ten Commandments, I leafed through various bibles in our bookshelves and explored the world wild web.  I came upon a few credible looking web sites.  I didn't realize that there is a difference between the Catholic and Protestant versions of the Ten Commandments (or maybe I just blocked that out...)Wikipedia provides a few other views as well.  A progressive thinker may suggest they change some of the wording. Perhaps we can start with the all-inclusive Charter for Compassion

So, what's with the reference to the Ten Commandments, you may ask.  Well, throughout the entire novel, each of the commandments are broken at least once.  I thought it would provide an interesting study guide exercise in case this book makes it into any school curriculum.

On a side note, as I tap away at this Mac keyboard on a breezy July Saturday, I wonder how the Seven Deadly Sins are progressing over at Quirky B's. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Life after Death

It's a heavy topic, especially one for a child to understand.   In this excerpt from chapter 9, eleven year-old Sera just finished helping Aunt Georgette bathe her mother and witnessed her cry for more morphine.  She wants to escape from the house. Marie is dying, succumbing to the cancer that has quickly spread throughout her body.  Sera visits the workshop to inspect the casket that Matthew and Perry have made. 


The dog understood. With a whimper and a sigh he laid on the floor after the men left the shop.  His brown eyes followed Sera as she slowly toured around the workshop, touching tools on the pegboard and tapping boxes on the counters.  She put her apple core on a small table then wiped her pudgy hands on her jeans.

Ringo looked at her and gave out one of those high-pitched whines, almost as if to ask, “Can we go now?” 

Sera walked slowly, one foot in front of the other back to the casket.  She ran her small fingers over the carvings on the lid and traced the shapes of the birds and butterflies.  She walked around to the other side, wiped her hands on her jeans again then ran the left one over the cool, smooth white satin interior.  She pushed gently down on the soft pillow. 

“A pillow?” 

The sight of it made Sera feel her own fatigue, to feel sleepy.  She took off her shoes and carefully climbed into the casket; gently positioning herself to lay her head on the little pillow, her dark curls spread to the top and sides.  Her chubby hips fit snuggly against the sides.

Ringo didn’t like that.  He got up to check on Sera and whined at the side of the casket.

“It’s okay, boy.  I’m just lying down in here.  Sit!  Stay!”

The casket was definitely not comfortable for sleeping, she concluded.  She recalled the phrase “eternal rest” and “rest in peace” those grown-ups used when describing someone who had passed away.  She remembered it used when Mr. Johnson died last winter.  She remembered being sad.  She remembered seeing Mrs. Johnson crying. 

The realization hit her that her mother was not going to get better; that the cancer was still spreading and that… she was going to die. Hot tears streamed from her eyes, down the side of her face and into her ears.  She wiped them with her hands, being careful not to get any on the nice material. 

“Think happy thoughts,” she told herself, “Think happy thoughts.”

Sera imagined her mother as an ancient queen, an Egyptian queen – a goddess even – and this was her sarcophagus.  She would be buried with treasures and beautiful statues.  People would cry at her funeral and tell stories for centuries about her royal life. 

Sera touched the sides of the interior and fingered the material.  It’s like a cocoon maybe.  Like she’s going to be wrapped up again in a cocoon then turn into a beautiful butterfly angel and fly to heaven.  Can butterflies fly up that high, she thought sleepily.  How far up is heaven?  Is heaven really in the sky… I wish I could…. Zzz.

: end excerpt


Thursday, July 1, 2010

The evolution of telephone communication

As I reviewed and edited this section in chapter 11, (Darn! How did I miss those mistakes?) I thought it would be interesting to note for the impatient, mobile youth that cell phones didn't exist during this time period (1970's). 


As Gio trotted out the front door to his car, he waved at the girls.  They waved back.

Panting and slightly soaked, he sat in the driver’s seat and turned on the interior light.  He looked at his watch.  Eight o’clock.  His parents and Georgette were going to be worried.  He spotted a telephone booth across the street from the Pizzeria.  He grabbed a handful of quarters from the clean ashtray and made a dash over to the phone booth.

After negotiating with the Bell operator and pumping in a few quarters, he heard the line ring on the other end.

“Hello?” said a woman’s worried voice.

“Hello, Mama?” said Gio.

“Gio!” she gasped, “Where are you?  We were worried!”

:End excerpt

There was no instant messaging, no texting and there were no camera phones.  It seemed like a much simpler time...


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shakeup and shakedown

I caught this in the CBC newsfeeds while distracting myself from finishing the novel.

"Que. cardinal grateful for Vatican promotion"

Maybe it is time for Vatican 3.0  I tend to agree with some of the 357 comments (so far).  This one says it in a nutshell, I think:

"When an organization sees the need to change the way it does things, it brings in NEW ideas, NEW people, NEW standards.  When an organization sees the need to PRETEND to change the way it does things, it brings in the same old people with the same old standards... a shuffle."


I look forward to the day when the Church changes its view on birth control - and a few other things.  

Love Child

I felt compelled to clarify the term "Love Child" used in the proposed logline for the novel.  If you will remember the lyrics from the 1968 song by The Supremes, this refers to a child born out of wedlock.  An older writing acquaintance thought it meant something else.  I just wanted to make that clear, that this wasn't that kind of a relationship.

I realize an error in my earlier logline:  Sera wasn't born out of wedlock; she just had a different biological father. So did the twins.  Their mother got around...

Sera's nephew Harry was born out of wedlock.  Now, that created a bit of a stir in the small town mentality. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Train of Thought

I am in the last few days of wrapping up the manuscript for this gd novel.  The last two chapters need more work.  The murder scene in chapter 10 will have to wait until last.  I am running out of gummy treats (my writing reward for accomplishing a few paragraphs at a time).

This weekend I managed to collect the first few excerpts that needed response from my SMEs (Subject Matter Experts)  One is for history, terminologies and semblance of believability for sections related to the Roman Catholic Church.  I spoke with my RCC SME last night over the phone and she agreed that since this story took place between 1969 and the mid-1970's, there's room for creative license.  It is fiction, after all...

The other SME is for trains. I have a pretty good memory of the sights and sounds from growing up near TWO train tracks: one CP Rail and the other a CN line that ran along the Seguin River just below our old neighbourhood.  The one that stands out more vividly is the Canadian Pacific Rail train and the huge trestle that still spans across the Seguin River.  I need clarification the models and sounds to make the story have some historical correctness. 

One fond childhood memory I have is waving from our backyard at the CP passenger trains as they streamed through and observing if someone waved back.  If a freight train was passing through on a boring afternoon, we would count the stream of cars.

My favourite section was the caboose as that was the term of endearment bestowed upon me by my parents.  One of my ten older siblings has an interesting theory about our conception dates.  If it wasn't related to a birthday present ;-), New Years or Valentines Day, it must have been due to an early morning train passing through and waking up Dad.  If he couldn't get back to sleep or it was too early to get up, what else was a warm-blooded man to do?

Well, time to focus on the story again.  Back to more tapping away at the keyboard.  

Thanks for visiting and reading along... or just passing through.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thoughts of Huntsville and Muskoka

It has been interesting over the past few weeks hearing news about the big G8 summit held at Deerhurst Inn just outside of Huntsville, Muskoka.  

I think back to my happy days there, finishing high school, making friends, getting some valued work experience, finding love and loving the natural surroundings. Those were good times.

I wonder if that anniversary coin with the Bigwin Inn stamp is worth much by now?

These last few days of June will be dedicated to finalizing my creation of fictitious "Seguin Sound", plus the personal trials and character development of Father Gio and his unexpected daughter, Sera. 

Made you want to read the novel, eh?  See the poll to the right of this page ;-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The first post

Call me optimistic, pretentious or crazy...  but I wanted to get a start on the Year of the Rabbit blog even before the novel has been published. 

Thanks for visiting.  You can follow progress on the novel here or on the domain. I have some tidy-ups to do still. 

Now, back to tapping away at the last two chapters.  It's almost like I don't want to let go of Sera and Gio, to expose them to the world.