Sunday, June 26, 2011

Follow the Rabbit

On Friday, June 24th, The Year of the Rabbit had a quiet, public debut.  You can read about the public speaking adventures in the Deep Blonde Thoughts blog.

"Florence" will perform another reading at an event on June 29th.  

Do you want a taste of the Rabbit?  (in a word sense, that is...)
Thanks for hopping by!  


Saturday, June 25, 2011

No Stranger to Trains

In The Year of the Rabbit, readers will encounter the mention of trains.  Yes, the towering Canadian Pacific Rail trestle over the Seguin River had an influence on my own childhood in the 1970s and on the lovable character, Sera Fletcher.

For Sera, trains passed through giving children something to observe with counting their boxcars and an opportunity to wave at passengers. It was a treat if somebody saw you and waved back.  Trains also took people away and left lonely gaps in her life. 

I have a fondness for trains as a preferred form of land transportation. I look forward to taking more trips around my province, into Quebec and some day... a romantic journey across Canada.  In the meantime, I will have to be satisfied by catching the occasional story or movie with a train theme.  

Thank you for reading this far.  Sample some excerpts from the novel.   Buy the book :o)


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Good Father

So, Father’s Day is coming up on June 19th.  This event has been low-key in our household for the past seven years.  There has been no attempt at a replacement. 

I can imagine how it must feel for some families to celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in a home divided or where one parent has passed away. 

In the novel The Year of the Rabbit, we are introduced to Matthew Fletcher, father of Sera and her older siblings.  Only a handful of people had been aware of Sera’s true paternity.   After Marie passes away, her hidden letter of confession reaches Matthew via an unlikely  messenger.

I like to think of Matthew Fletcher as an ideal husband and a good father.  He was gentle and loving with his children.  He was forgiving of his wife’s wild behaviour.  He performed honest work as a carpenter and cabinet maker.   He also reached out to others in his community.  I think I wrote about my ideal man o_O.

His son Daniel on the other hand, helped to make baby Harry but conveniently disappeared from the scene after he was born.  Sure, he sent money to help support his child financially but he chose not to return to Seguin Sound or marry Amy.  She as well was not eager to marry him.  She had found another lover.  Harry was about to be raised in a non-traditional family.

I’m posting this well in advance to Father’s Day because of a technology article I came across a couple of days ago.   For Father’s Day 2011, GeekDad is asking you to join them as a willing participant in the Disconnect to Reconnect Campaign. The event is being promoted by author Phil Cooke, who is challenging dads across the country to disconnect your digital devices for 24 hours and reconnect with your family.

Since the novel takes place in the early 1970s, I think that’s a great idea.  No Internet.  No cell phones, web sites, Twitter or Facebook.  Just make sure you have read this post before Sunday.  Share it with others.  Make a comment. 

To all the good fathers out there, have a wonderful Fathers’ Day.  Enjoy your time with your family. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thanks to a True North Friend

My friend Alberte mentioned the novel in this week's Bits and Bites column on True North Perspective. She also mentioned the June 24th Arts Night at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa. 

Thanks, Alberte!

I look forward to this speaking opportunity, to share "why I write" along with visual and musical artists.

How do you like them apples?


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Even in an online world, the daily mail has its place

I agree with the headline from CBC News. Yes, we are in an era when we can communicate with family and friends, pay bills and perform banking tasks online.  When it comes to personal letters, I have to say that - depending on the nature of the letter -  I prefer receiving a handwritten one over an email. 

"There's something very special about receiving something in the mail, and it's something people may have forgotten in an era of email..."

In the news June 3, 2011:

The Canadian postal service and exchange of letters are featured often through the novel.  Travel back to a time when there were no personal computers, Internet or email.  Not even a cell phone!  Relax.  Enjoy...


These excerpts are posted in honour of Canada Post, the organization, their workers and the valued services provided. 

Excerpt 1:  After Sera convinces Carl Young to allow pregnant Amy to come back home

The next Friday, the Fletchers received an envelope in the mail with an invitation to the Red Hare Anniversary Party in February.  Inside the bright red card was a folded note in Jenny's handwriting. 

"Amy is coming home on Saturday. We’re planning a Chinese New Year party for next week.  Please ask the girls to drop by to discuss decoration ideas.” 

Your friends,
Carl and Jenny."

Marie broke into tears, leaning on Georgette for support while standing by the kitchen sink.   The twins were ecstatic. 

"That's tomorrow!  Amy's coming home tomorrow!" squealed Dela hugging Gwen. 

"What changed his mind?" asked Marie, dabbing her eyes. 

"I think I have an idea," whispered Georgette, smiling as she went to grab her coat and boots.  "I'll be back in time to make supper."

(This leads to Georgette's search for Sera at the local library...)

Excerpt 2:  Letters received with joy - and the realization of one that should have stayed hidden... 

(Eleven year-old Sera has just finished changing Harry's diaper in the apartment above the Red Hare restaurant)

They made their way back downstairs and into the dining room.  Georgette had arrived and was seated at the front, sipping coffee and reading some papers. 

“Bonjour, chérie!” she called and waved.

“Hi, Aunt Georgette,” Sera called back, standing beside her own booth.  She looked down to see two envelopes on the table.

Georgette called, “You have mail, la.”

“I see,” replied Sera, “Thanks!”

Jenny appeared out of the kitchen and said, “Here, Sera.  Let me take my grandson for a while.”

Sera released the boy with an expression of relief.  “Oooh,” she joked while she stretched from side to side, “He’s getting heavy.”

“That’s our boy,” Jenny responded and walked away kissing him on the forehead and swinging him gently to one side.

The letters intrigued Sera.  One was from Mrs. Johnson, from Vancouver.  Sera was so happy that she had lived up to her promise to write. She opened it with joy and read it over twice, line by line.  Rachelle had included photographs of her new home and gardens in Vancouver. She was very happy to be with her son, Mikail and to meet his fiancée.  Fiancée?  Wow.    

The other envelope contained a short note from Gio:

Dear Sera,

I hope this finds you well.  I have been thinking of you.  Please give little Harry a hug for me.  I am taking some time off to care for my parents.

Warm wishes to you and your family.  Have a good summer. Please write if you have time.


She grabbed the letters and walked with a bounce to sit with Georgette at the front of the restaurant.  Her aunt was reading her own mail with great interest. 

“Hmm?” she looked up to see Sera sitting in front of her and actually smiling. 

“I got a letter from Mrs. Johnson, Aunt Georgette,” said Sera happily. 

“Yes, chérie.  I know.”

“Oh, and one from Father Gio too. Kind of short though…”

“Uh huh,” her aunt smiled, reading her letter again.

“I want to write back to Mrs. Johnson.”

“Okay…” Georgette responded.  She looked up and smiled at her niece, “I think that’s a great idea, chérie.”

Sera packed her book-bag, said goodbye to the Young’s and Aunt Georgette then headed home.

Georgette sipped her coffee and read the letter from Gio again:

Dear Georgette,

Thank you for your letter of June 5th informing me of your discovery.  I was wondering when and how Matthew would learn the truth. I cannot tell you what to do.  Matthew should know although it would likely break his heart.

I feel that I am only a pawn in these cruel coincidences and circumstances. I think about Sera often and hope she is coping well.  I am glad to hear she is taking good care of young Harry.  Please keep an eye on her.

My Mother and Father are settled back in the vineyards.  Isabella visits from time to time.  Speaking of heartache, they have expressed their disappointment that they have no grandchildren now with Roberto deceased and both Isabella and I in the Church.  I am tempted to tell them about Sera but do not want to bring shame to the family name — or scandal to the Church. 

Thank goodness I have been able to take an extended sabbatical and help my parents around the orchards and vineyards.  They are getting old and feeble. Roberto’s death has sucked away their spirits.

I am saddened that Isabella has again lost contact with Victoria and her mother.  They left the shelter in March and have not returned.  Search efforts have not been successful.

I am applying for special consideration to leave the priesthood, to work as a layperson whose business produces wine and jams to be sold and raise funds for a new project. I am looking for someone who knows how to keep books, manage a growing estate and communicate with customers.  I was thinking of you, Georgette.

Please consider joining me at the Villa Vinoletti.  At least come for a visit.  I am sure that your work with the Fletcher’s will soon be done.  I miss Sera.  Can you provide an excuse to bring her with you when you visit?.  It’s so beautiful here.

Warm regards,  Love,


Georgette held the pages close to her chest and reached for her coffee.  As she sipped the warm liquid she thought, “What a good idea, to take a vacation and visit Gio.  I should write a quick note back to him.”

After she consumed her late lunch, she read through the letter a third time.  It was then that she realized Sera had already headed home and was planning to write a letter to Mrs. Johnson. 

What if…?   (teaser link to another excerpt...)

Georgette feverishly packed the envelopes into her purse and called back to Jenny. 

“Good bye, Jenny.  Au revoir.  I must go.”

“Okay,” called Jenny as she opened the kitchen door with Harry in her arms, “Bye, bye!”

“Baaaaah!” called Harry.

- End excerpts - 

Do you like what you've read so far?  Buy the book ;o)