Crafty Wednesday – more thank-you cards

I did a few more thank-you cards for our Words In The Flesh participants. For those of you who may have missed last week’s post, this Friday (February 1st), the Manitoba Writer’s Guild will be hosting a fundraiser at which we have asked local personalities to read a brief selection of our choosing.  There will also be music provided by The Riel Gentleman, a local band. It’s shaping up to be a fun event, so if you happen to be in the neighourhood and want to join us, contact me for tickets, or pick them up at McNally Robinson Booksellers – only $20 each!

Okay, on with the crafty stuff! 🙂

Thank-you Caboose

photo taken at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, Manitoba

Thank-you Ross House

photo of Ross House Museum, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Thank-you windmill

photo of the windmill at the Mennonite Heritage Village, Steinbach, Manitoba

Each card has a photo taken at historic sites in Manitoba, approximately 2″ x 3-1/2″. The first two cards were embossed with the Cuttlebug and ‘Victoria’ embossing folder. The stamped images on the Ross House card were from the ‘Rue des Fleur’ set from Stampin’ Up.

The tulips in front of the Windmill were stamped using a two ink process. I used ‘Ink Spots’ from Stampin’ Up, beginning with the red for the blossoms and then the green on the stems and leaves before stamping it on shiny paper. I cut around them and used pop-ups to raise them on the page.

Guild appreciation

made by & photo ID







Like the previous cards, they all have the same note of appreciation on a background of paper coordinated with the front of the cards. On the back is my ‘made by’ logo and a note about the photo.

I hope the recipients all appreciate the cards as much as we appreciate their participation. 🙂


Sunday Un-Interview

Since I don’t have a real interview ready to share with you, today, I thought I’d interview all of YOU! If you feel like answering any of them, use the Comments section or answer it/them on your own website and leave a link so my followers and I can read it/them. 🙂


Questions for fellow writers:

1. What is the most important piece of advice that you’ve been given about writing, or your favourite quote about writing?

2. What is the one thing you must have with you while you’re writing (besides your computer, or pen & paper!)?

3. Where is your ‘writing nest’, the place where all the magic happens?


Questions for fellow crafters:

1. Describe one of your favourite creations.

2. What tools did you use when creating that favourite work of art?

3. Of all the types of arts & crafts (scrap-booking, painting, up-cycling, sculpting, etc) out there, what would you like to try, some day?


Questions to fellow bloggers:

1. Describe the post you’ve written that’s been viewed the most since you started blogging.

2. What do you think makes a successful blog?

3. What are your favourite topics to blog about and what topics do you avoid?


Well, I hope you all play along. I can’t wait to read your answers! 🙂

PS. If anyone out there would like me to interview them for upcoming posts, please leave your name in the comments and I’ll be in touch. 🙂


Food For The Gods by Karen Dudley – a review

Food for the Gods

I interviewed Karen Dudley back in September before her big book ‘Food For The Gods’ came out in print. I was there for her launch and had a wonderful time. Her story is a humorous romp through ancient Athens, following the escapades of Pelops, whose father, Tantalus, chopped him into stewing meat and literally served him up as food for the gods. Horrified, the gods put Pelops back together, minus his shoulder which was eaten by the goddess Demeter. He now sports an ivory ‘chip’ on his shoulder.

As did the gods, Karen Dudley has re-created Pelops, giving him a passion for the culinary arts. She has concocted a designer of delectable delights, infusing him with a flare for fixing fabulous food. All of the best houses in ancient Athens clamour for his roast lamb.

On occasion, Pelops comes across some of the gods, disguised as regular folk, who try to give him a helping hand, but inadvertently cause him more harm than good. However, when calamity occurs at one of the symposiums he caters, not even the gods can change the bad luck that befalls him. A hostile competitor harasses him, as does a creditor to whom he owes money. Havoc ensues and Pelops struggles to reverse his ill fortune.

Karen manages to seamlessly weave history into this story, giving the reader a feel for the time period, the customs and the scenery. There are also unique little bits, like advertisements, recipes, and advice columns in between some of the chapter breaks. One never knows what they’ll find when they turn the page. Her characters are memorable and the gods are sometimes less than perfect. Her humour had me bursting out-loud laughing, at times, and the mystery is intriguing. I have read all of her bird-named mysteries and love her Robin Devarra character. Pelops is just as charming and I look forward to reading more about his culinary exploits in the future. 🙂

Crafty Thursday

Sorry, folks! I was too busy playing with Grandson yesterday to post about my crafting over the past week. We had a wonderful time, although the little guy will not sit still for more than a minute – literally! Even when he’s at the table eating, he does not have a motionless moment. I don’t remember my kids being quite that active, but then, I was a lot younger with a lot more energy than I have these days! There were a few extra-cute things he did that I’d like to share before we get on with things. One was the way he used the fireplace bellows as a guitar while he sang along, ‘strumming’ the brass decoration on the front of it. I think we managed to catch him in the act with the video camera, but he’d stop or turn away whenever he saw it in our hands. Another thing was his reaction to the cat’s laser pointer. If we brought the light close to his toes, he’d back away, obviously a little nervous about what the red ‘bug’ might do to his foot! Finally, he got up the nerve to ‘catch’ the dot with his hands. We’d turn off the light and say, “Yay, all gone!” He looked so proud of himself. 🙂

Okay, enough about the Grandson and on with the crafts. 🙂

Next Friday, the Manitoba Writers’ Guild is holding a fundraising event called Words In The Flesh. We’ve lined up a variety of local personalities to come and read for a few minutes. Not anything that the members have written, for the most part, but we’ve come up with a few selected passages that should amuse the audiences, like bits from ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’, children’s books, naughty parts from Carol Shields’ book ‘Larry’s Party’, etc. We also have a band lined up to play during intermission. It’s going to be very entertaining and we hope this event will draw attention to the writing community, maybe getting us a few new members in the process.

So, what does that have to do with today’s craft? Well, I volunteered to make the thank-you cards for the participants, incorporating local scenes into their design. I have made five of them, so far, with another five (at least) to go.

berries at MHV

Picture of rain dripping off berries, taken at the Mennonite Heritage Village

flowers at MHV

Picture of flowers taken at the Mennonite Heritage Village

Big House thank-you

Picture of the Big House at Lower Fort Garry

Skinner's thank-you

Picture of Skinner’s Restaurant at Lockport, Manitoba

St Andrews thank-you

St. Andrew’s Church on the Red River, Manitoba

Inside, I have created the thank-you part . . .

Guild appreciation

. . . and on the back, I have my ‘made by’ tag and identify what the picture is and where it was taken.

made by & photo ID

Each card is unique, as you can see, but they all have a base card of cream card stock. Each card’s dimensions are 5-1/2″ x 4-1/4″. I’ve used one of Cuttlebug‘s Fancy Frames to cut out a section for the photos to peek through. For others I’ve simply cut out a window the size I needed. I’ve embellished some with buttons, ribbon, brick-a-brack, and twine. On one I added a stamped, heat-embossed rose painted with my shiny paints. On another, I stamped flowers and stems, then glued on some Flower Soft flocking. There’s no limit to what can be done, depending on your store of embellishments and paper selections. 🙂

If you happen to be in Winnipeg on Friday, February 1st, around 7 p.m. and would like to join us for our literary event, Words In The Flesh, you can pick up your tickets at the McNally Robinson Booksellers at Grant Park Shopping Centre or contact a member of The Manitoba Writers’ Guild (call me!). We’re hoping it will be successful enough to make this an annual event. 🙂

Sunday Interview #27 – Gabriele Goldstone

Good morning everyone! I have another Canadian author to introduce to you, today. Gabriele Goldstone wrote ‘The Kulak’s Daughter’, based on a true story. To read my review of her book (if you haven’t already) you can find it here. I’d like you all to give her a warm welcome. (Resounding applause and enthusiastic whistles!)

Hi, Gabriele, would you please tell my readers a little about yourself?

Hi! I’ve spent the last twenty-odd years focused on raising my three kids while working as a letter carrier. In my BC (before children) life, I travelled (spent a year in Europe), studied, (have a master’s degree in German lit and a B Ed.) and dabbled in writing. The one constant in my life has been reading. It’s how I connect and make sense of the world. 

I understand that this story is based on true events. What made you decide to write The Kulak’s Daughter?

Back in 2000, some distant relatives sent my mom a calendar with photos of ‘the old days.’ I’d never before seen an image of my mom as a young girl. What really caught my attention was that my mom found the photos too painful to look at. In fact, she hid the calendar under a tablecloth and I’d have to sneak a peak at the photos when I’d visit, without her knowledge. Eventually I made copies of two of the photos. I was so intrigued with the pre and post exile images and just had to know the details. Gradually, and gently, I got the story straight. It was difficult to watch my mom re-live what she had repressed for so many decades.

That sounds really hard, but I’m glad you managed to hear her story. There are many things I wish my mom had told me before she passed on. Finding pictures of her afterwards brought up many questions about her childhood that she never discussed.

Would you please tell us a little about the story line of ‘The Kulak’s Daughter’?

The story happens around 1930 when Stalin forces landowners (the kulaks) off their land and exiles them to remote parts of the Soviet Union. It was part of his First Five Year Plan and set the stage for the Holodomor. The protagonist, eleven-year-old Olga, is based on my mother. The story is told through her eyes. It’s a story about surviving loss and moving on.

The Kulak's Daughter back

Could you please tell me about the family picture on the back of the book? When was it taken? Is it your mother’s family? Did the little boy die on the way to Siberia?

The back photo is my mom in the back right corner. The youngest, on my grandmother’s lap, did die enroute to Yaya, Siberia. I did a Nov 11/12 post on what happened to her other brother. He was reported missing Jan. 1/44 in the war. I just got confirmation of it in the last month. So, yeah, I’m figuring out my family’s story because when I was growing up it wasn’t talked about and I always wondered what had happened to my grandparents.

I’m glad you’re still finding out facts about your family. I hope you eventually discover answers to all your questions. 🙂

What kind of historical research did you have to do for this story?

I read many books, studied maps, and carefully listened to my mom’s stories. I also talked to other people with similar backgrounds. In 2004, I visited her childhood village. That trip let me add realistic sensory detail to the story.  It was a profound experience both for me and for my mother. I was also able to read (with a translator, of course!) former KGB files and learn firsthand what happened to the rest of our scattered family.


That’s fascinating!

I didn’t quite overhear the conversation you had with someone at the last book signing regarding the rock you had with you. Is it from your grandfather’s windmill, like in the story? I’d like to learn more about it.

Fedorowka 03

In [this photo] with the white van, we’re visiting the village of Federofka (my mom’s home village) and asking to speak to the oldest woman in the village because she might remember 1930 and my mom’s family.


She does!

Then in the photo (below) she’s guided me to the rock base of my grandfather’s windmill (which was dismantled and the wood used to build the new collective manager’s office.) And yes, I have a piece of that granite base which I held and I think it helped me to write.


Fedorowka 08

Wow! To have a tangible piece of that history is so cool!

How long did it take you to write the novel?

I’d written bits and pieces – anecdotes that my mom had shared – throughout a couple of years. One of these pieces, I sent to the Writers’ Union annual short story competition – and it was short-listed. A contest judge, in his critique, suggested that the story should be part of a longer work. So I worked at completing the stories as a complete narrative. Once I got going, the novel poured out of me over the course of a couple of winter months. It was a wonderful experience. After that, I struggled with several re-writes. I’m one of those people who find revision harder than the first draft. It might be partly because I’m so darn insecure. In the first draft I’m just letting the story happen. In subsequent drafts, I’m paying more attention to what other people (like readers, editors, etc.) think.

I’ve met so many insecure writers. I think we all have a little voice inside us saying we’re just not good enough. It can be hard to beat back that voice and let our confidence shine. I’m glad you had the courage to send your story off to the publisher. 🙂

Speaking of that, what was the publishing process like for you? Did you need an agent?

I never tried for an agent. Instead, I started with the big name publishers (naive!) and collected six rejections (including a lovely invitation to re-submit by Atheneum in NYC that I should have followed up on!)  The work then caught the interest of a small publisher down in Texas. I re-wrote the story into a first-person narrative, at their request, before it was accepted. Unfortunately, my experience with the small American publisher was not a positive one. It took five years for the book to get published and then the publisher closed down. I’m still grateful, though, that the book came out while my mom was still alive. She died in 2011 at the age of 92.

That is a very familiar publishing story. I think it’s great that your mom was able to see the book come out in print. 🙂

Are you working on anything else at the moment? If so, would you be willing to give us a sneak preview? I’d understand if you are superstitious about revealing too much about a Work In Progress.

I have a stand-alone sequel to ‘The Kulak’s Daughter’ that I’m about to send out. (Originally, Blooming Tree was going to publish it.) The story’s set in the former East Prussia in the mid 1930s. It’s a story about transition – in my opinion, one of the most difficult stages of life.  I’ve also got a ghost story and a brain injury story that I want to shop around. Trouble is, every time I get a rejection, I shrivel up and it takes me months to get my courage going again. Writing is hard on insecure people!

Whenever I hear about the effect rejection letters have on insecure writers, I remember a quote I read on Rachelle Gardner’s blog. Hope this helps:

“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘To the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address.’ Just keep looking for the right address.” by Barbara Kingsolver 🙂

What words of wisdom do you have for other aspiring writers?

Wisdom? Ha! Let me see. Read, write, connect with other writers, and never stop trying. Seriously. This is a tough business and persistence really does work. Now if only I could take my own advice!

Are there any social media sites you’d like to share with us?

I subscribe to a variety of online blogs. (Great way to procrastinate!)  My current three favorites would be: The Children’s War, 
All News, No Schmooze, 
and CanLit for Little Canadians

I’ve been avoiding Facebook and Twitter, preferring to spend my spare time reading off-line material.

Do you have any final words before we close?

Life is short. Enjoy it and don’t be so hard on yourself. Read the books you want to write. Write the books you want to read. Follow your passion, not someone else’s.

Wonderful advice! Thank-you for taking the time to chat with us, Gabriele. 🙂

Review of The Kulak’s Daughter by Gabriele Goldstone

The Kulak's Daughter

If you like historical fiction, you’ll love ‘The Kulak’s Daughter’ by Gabriele Goldstone. It’s based on a true story and although it’s aimed at younger readers of the Young Adult market, it is still entertaining for older readers, as well.

The blurb on the back of the book states:

Olga likes little things – especially the tiny apples in the orchard in the spring, or her baby brother’s little toes. But when her family is labeled ‘Kulak’ and exiled to Siberia, she starts to hate little things – especially the bedbugs that overrun the barrack at night, or the lice that carry the dreaded typhus. Suddenly Olga’s little world is overwhelmed by Stalin’s big plans.

Gabriele nails the tension, the fear and the tragedy of the era. Her main character, Olga, experiences the gambit of emotions from elation at getting a beautiful doll for her eleventh birthday, to grief at leaving her home and dog when her family is branded ‘kulaks’ and sent into exile.

One part that gave me chills was this scene, described by Olga:

“It won’t be long before they come back to take me, for good this time,” Papa says this quietly. matter-of-factly, after he’s pushed his dinner late away.

I see that even he can’t finish his food.

“Papa? You didn’t . . .” Marthe’s noticed, too.

I cover her mouth.

“I’m a kulak. They don’t like my kind.”

Kulak is a Russian term meaning ‘tight-fisted’. Stalin used the term for affluent farmers and peasants who would not turn over their produce, livestock and lands for the ‘greater good’, in other words ‘Collective Farms’, which were supposed to increase food production for the urban populations. Those who did not go along with the Bolshevik policies were taken from their homes and sent to Siberian work camps. Many did not survive. Those who did live were permanently scarred by the experience.

The Kulak's Daughter back

Another scene describes how Olga feels while talking to her best friend:

“Olga, we can’t be friends anymore. My mamma says I should have nothing more to do with you.”

Marissa’s words feel like a slap, their iciness a visible cloud between us.

Having a friend say that is like a knife to the heart. To lose a precious friendship because of something that’s beyond your control would be hard for a child to understand. I remember when my own mother told me not to be friends with someone she considered a bad influence. I defied her and would sneak out to meet with her anyway, but in Olga’s case it’s the friend herself who is ending the friendship. That is so harsh!

When describing her painful exile, Olga states:

My hunger sits in my stomach like a hard rock of pain.

How many young people in North America know that kind of hunger? While there are probably too many, I would think that the majority of school kids today would have trouble imagining it or the cold Olga felt in that poorly heated, uninsulated building where they were forced to live after leaving their home.

I highly recommend ‘The Kulak’s Daughter’ to anyone who is interested in a child’s perspective of the time of Stalin’s communist rule. It is heart-wrenching and eye-opening. Gabriele really does a wonderful job of presenting the emotions and difficulties of the time. Olga is a very sympathetic character, despite her typical childish self-centered moments. She is a child, after all, and she brings history to life. Her story should make most kids in North America today realize just how lucky they are. 🙂

If you want to get to know Gabriele and the story behind the story, tune in on Sunday for her interview. 🙂

Awards! (and Crafty Wednesday)

J. Keller Ford has passed along 4 awards that she herself received. As usual, I am very honoured to be chosen to receive them. Thank you, Jenny! I will pass them on after  telling some random things about myself.

This award I got before Christmas, so this makes 4 stars I’ve earned out of the possible 6:

Screen Shot 2012-12-31 at 11.11.32 PM

This one is very pretty:

and this one is ‘lovely’:Screen Shot 2012-12-31 at 11.10.21 PM


The one above seems to require me to tell some facts that my readers may not know, yet (and that my blog is ‘great’). Since I got a few awards in 2012, that could be rather hard. Let me see…

1. Next to card-making, a favourite hobby of mine is putting puzzles together, including 3D puzzles. I have a working puzzle clock in my dining room and a talking puzzle (R2D2) on the wall unit in my living room. The hardest puzzle I ever did was one without flat edges, golf balls and tees on a background of grass. (See below)

2. I like antiques. I can’t afford them but I do have a few lovely pieces passed down from my grandparents and love to watch shows where they feature old things, like Antiques Roadshow and Pawn Stars.

3. I nearly became a widow 3 times. It’s a good thing Hubby has 9 lives like a cat!

4. I am addicted to books and can’t walk into a bookstore without buying at least one book. (This probably comes as no surprise!)

5. I hate housework – I’d much rather be crafting, writing, or reading.

6. I discovered, while vacationing in Florida with my family back in 2000, that I love the thrill of riding roller coasters.

7. I’ve been parasailing (and loved it) even though I am afraid of heights.

I now open up these award to all those who have been loyal followers and all those I follow. Please know that I appreciate each and every one of you who have read, liked, and commented on my blog. Also, I want to offer this to all those blogs that I have been following. I would not be following YOUR blogs if I did not love reading whatever it is you have to say. I consider them all to be ‘great’, ‘lovely’, ‘shiny’, and ‘the best’.

Now, on to the Crafty Wednesday . . .

Above, I mentioned another of my passions. I suppose putting puzzles together has an element of crafting to it, since a lot of the puzzles I’ve made I have also glued together so I could display them on my walls. Here are the ones I mentioned above:


a working clock puzzle


The hardest puzzle I've ever made

The hardest puzzle I’ve ever made

R2D2 & the tower from Lord of the Rings

R2D2 & the tower from Lord of the Rings

Here are a few of the shaped puzzles I have done (my favourites – dragons, of course!):

gold dragon

red dragon


blue dragon

My latest acquisitions, given to me at Christmas, were a 3D Hobbit village and the tower from Lord of the Rings (above).

Hobbit village front

Hobbit village side

These are only a few from my collection. I hope you liked them. I might post more pictures another time. 🙂

Write A Story With Me

It’s been a while since I mentioned ‘Write A Story With Me‘, but for those of you who are interested, Part 26 (mine) is now up and running on Jennifer Eaton’s site.

There have been several different story lines going on:

– the fairy story with Jenelle and Janosc, queen and brother of the queen, who have gone off in different directions

– Marci’s story where she has picked a leaf from the Gleaming Tree and given it to the fairies, but was seen by her malicious sister, Bethany, who has poisoned Marci, unknowingly causing all kinds of trouble for their father

– the forgotten older sister who has become a soldier and is currently following her father’s ship with the sick Marci inside

– and the pregnant mother who’s going into labour while her entire family is off on a secret mission with their enemy, the fairies, to save Marci and she cannot risk The Establishment finding out. What will she do?

To catch up on everyone else’s bit of the story, head on over to Jennifer’s website, where she has listed all the participants with their stories. Here’s the latest installment, written by me:

Jenelle had heard rumors that ‘the girl who brought us the leaf’ was in trouble. After completing her first round of queenly duties, albeit reluctantly, she now had the chance to slip away and see things for herself. If she could do something to help, she needed to repay her debt.

Heading straight for Marci’s window, she eased the unlocked casement forward just enough to squeeze through into the dark room. It appeared no one was home.

Suddenly, Jenelle heard a moan coming from the parents’ room. She peeked in and saw Natalia on the floor beside her bed, holding her huge belly. Understanding dawned and Jenelle hurried out the window to the home of an elderly woman down the street. Morana was old enough to remember the before-time, old enough to know the fae folk were not the enemy The Establishment believed them to be. She was also a midwife.

“Sorry to disturb you on this blustery night,” Jenelle whispered in Morana’s ear.

The old woman rose, rubbing her arthritic joints. She reached for her glasses on the nightstand and peered at the glowing figure before her.

“What is it, my dear?” Morana asked in creaky voice.

“I need you to help someone in trouble and, please, don’t ask any questions or tell anyone what you’ve done.”

The old woman nodded as Jenelle helped her into her cloak. With a few words, Jenelle wove a spell into the fabric so Morana would not be seen by the night patrol.

Please drop by next week to see what happens next. I can’t wait! 🙂

Sunday Interview #26 – Colleen Nelson

Today, I’d like to introduce you to fellow Great Plains author, Colleen Nelson. I reviewed her first YA novel, Tori By Design, in Friday’s post. Please put your hands together and welcome Colleen. (Clap, clap! Whoot, whoot!)

Colleen Nelson

Welcome to my blog, Colleen! Please tell my readers al little about yourself.

Thanks for the opportunity to be on your blog, Susan! It’s great to see other writers making an effort to reach readers and writers through social media. 

I am the mother of two boys, and the step-mom to three kids ages 19-25. I taught junior high for ten years before going on a very extended maternity leave and now I teach preschool and write. I spend a lot of my time doing volunteer work for my community centre (I am the president at Tuxedo Community Centre) and my son’s school. I love to travel, sew and read.

What made you realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was on maternity leave with my first son, James, I decided to take a class through the Manitoba Writers Guild called ‘Writing for Children’ with Margaret Shaw-McKinnon. I need to keep my brain active, but was house-bound with my infant son. Writing became a great outlet to be creative and provided focus to my day. As soon as James went down for a nap, I found my way to the computer and spent a few blissful hours lost in my head with characters…instead of doing laundry or the dishes! I guess you could say, writing started as more of a hobby than a career.

Tori By Design

That’s kind of how it started for me, too…and who wants to do laundry or the dishes when you could be writing, right? 🙂

What gave you the idea for Tori By Design?

My husband’s work is based in New York, so we have an apartment in NYC and I’ve spent a lot of time living there. For a while, I took a leave from teaching to move out there. During that time, I volunteered at an Upper East Side private school. It was there that I started to wonder what a girl from Winnipeg would experience if she moved to NYC. 

I also love fashion, so I wrote Tori as a wanna-be fashion designer because NYC is the perfect place for a girl who loves clothes to live.

That is so cool! 🙂

How did you create the character of Tori?

Tori is a composite of two special girls in my life: my step-daughters, Sacha and Chloe, and a little bit of me. Watching my step-daughters go through their adolescence and teaching junior high school students, gave me different perspectives on what it is like to be a teenager these days. Tori has a lot of great characteristics, but she is also self-centered. Every character needs her flaw, right? My editor, Anita Daher, really helped to draw out Tori’s character arc and develop her into a well-rounded character.

Anita is such a great editor, isn’t she? She really knows how to bring out the best in our work. 🙂

Your descriptions of New York make your readers feel as if they are right there. I understand you lived there for a while. Please tell us about your experience in The Big Apple.

I absolutely LOVE NYC! It is my second home and I know the city very well. NYC has a pulse and pace that is unlike anywhere else I have ever been. Tokyo and London come close, but they don’t have the same aggression and forge-ahead attitude that you find in NYC. Living there, I worked as a docent at two museums, went to Broadway shows, lived in a tiny, crummy apartment, took the subway and discovered what makes the city so great. I love that each neighborhood has its own distinct character, from cobble stone streets in SOHO to the brownstones of the Upper West Side, no two areas are the same. The restaurants, shopping and access to cultural instituions means there is never ‘nothing to do’. The big buildings and sights get old fast and I always tell friends who visit to explore the neighborhoods to really get a sense of the city. Eat at a diner, shop at boutiques, visit the small museums and talk to people. New Yorkers are so friendly, helpful and proud of their city.

Sounds like a fantastic experience. You are very lucky! 🙂

I understand you are working on a new novel. Would you like to give my readers a sneak peek or are you superstitious about discussing a Work In Progress?

I have three in the works. “The Fall” is out in March and is about four boys and the tragic accident that shapes their lives. It is geared towards an older teen audience than ‘Tori by Design’ and is a gritty reflection of how boys deal with grief. I am very excited about it and can’t wait to have it launched!

The other two books, one is with a publisher as we speak, but I haven’t heard feedback yet, is about a small, conservative Manitoba town and the secrets that its townspeople have kept hidden for decades. As the main character and a boy from a nearby reserve begin to discover the truth, they realize that the secrets that have kept them apart, are the very things drawing them closer together.

I’ve only completed a first draft of the fourth book, but it is about a girl who seeks refuge at her aunt’s cottage after a troubled upbringing. It deals with the complex relationships women have with each other, mother to mother, mother to daughter, sister to sister. I’m looking forward to continuing to work on it this winter.

Wow! Sounds like you’ve been pretty busy – and will be busy for awhile! They all have great story lines and I can’t wait to read them! 🙂

Now, for something a little more fun – what is your favourite comfort food?

A steaming cup of strong coffee in my favouite mug is the most comforting! But chocolate is a close second! Especially chewy chocolate chip cookies!

Yum! Me, too! 🙂

What is your workspace like? (Feel free to include a photo, if you like)

I’m too embarrassed to include a photo of my messy, cramped work area. I don’t do well with an empty desk (empty desk-empty mind?) so I make sure there’s always a few piles of papers, hand lotion, a couple of library books, pens, pencils, my calendar and some photos strewn around me. Maybe it’s a chicken and egg thing: I work best when it’s cluttered, or it’s cluttered because I’m working…

That sounds very much like my workplace! lol

Who is your favourite Young Adult author?

Tough one. I read a lot but, I have to say, I have a lot of respect for William Bell because his books were able to draw in boys who weren’t inclined to read. I think that young adult male audience is the toughest one to crack. His books ‘Stones’ and ‘Blue Helmet’ were popular books with the boys when I taught.

You’re right about how difficult it is drawing the teen boys to reading. I’ll have to check out his books. 🙂

Are there any social media sites you’d like to share with us?

I have to admit, I am brutal at updating things. I have a blog at but it’s turned into an info site for people going to NYC, more than anything about my writing. For “The Fall”, I’ve started to put together  a blog with links to articles and forums about how teens deal with traumatic events. I will send you the link when I get it started.

I am also on Facebook at colleennelson547/

Do you have any last words before we close?

Thanks again for this opportunity. I know doing the blog takes time away from your own writing, but you are providing a great way for authors to connect with their audience. It’s been a pleasure!

Glad you enjoyed the experience. Thank you for taking the time to chat with me, Colleen, and may your book sales be many. 🙂

Tori By Design – A YA novel by Colleen Nelson

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Brrr! Similar conditions here, today. (Photo courtesy of wikimedia commons)

It’s a good thing it’s Friday! The weather here in ‘Winterpeg’ is pretty blustery, with winds gusting from 29 kilometers an hour up to 51 km/hour with 20 centimeters or more of snow expected (approximately 5 inches) by tomorrow night. It’s currently -12 degrees Celsius with wind chill temperatures feeling more like -22. Schools were cancelled outside of the city because of limited visibility and icy conditions on country roads, so I am sure there are a lot of hyperactive kids out there, happy to celebrate a snow day!

Since it is the perfect day/evening to stay inside and snuggle under the blankets with a good book, I thought I’d tell you my thoughts on a YA novel written by local author, Colleen Nelson.

Tori By Design

I thoroughly enjoyed Tori By Design and found it to be quite charming. While I loved creating dresses for my Barbie as a young girl, I didn’t have the desire that Tori had for becoming a fashion designer. Fortunately for her, she has very accommodating parents, who move the family to New York for a year to give their daughter the opportunity to explore her heart’s delight.

Things don’t go as swimmingly as Tori would have liked. Being ‘the new girl’ is never easy but she never considered any of the difficulties that arise. Although Tori has typical teenage moments with her parents and experiences some disappointments, she does eventually make some rather grown-up decisions.

Colleen has created a likable character in Tori and manages to bring the busy, crowded New York cityscape to life, along with the high school experience. I like that the romantic elements in the story were not as important to as Tori’s focus on her career goals, although they did come into play a bit. Overall, I would recommend this story to any young girl with aspirations of becoming a part of the fashion world.

If you’d like to learn more about the author, drop by here on Sunday for my interview with Colleen Nelson. 🙂