Swing my burdens away

swinghairRecently I had my hair cut. I’d been growing it for months and it had gotten quite long. My hair grows thick and heavy (both a blessing and a curse) and I’d simply had enough of the weight of those long locks, so I decided to chop chop. My hairdresser, Ellen, convinced me not to go completely short though, to leave enough length to be able to still tie it back on hot days, and suggested she take off about three inches.

Almost immediately after she made the first cuts, I felt lighter. I swung my head this way and that. It felt good to be so less encumbered.

On my walk the next morning, with my hair swinging in the breeze, it occurred to me that the feeling of lightness I was experiencing could be a metaphor for the sense one experiences when they let go of their burdens and concerns. I have been weighed down with various stresses and worries of late, finding it a challenge from day to day to put anxieties aside and mindfully experience life in the moment. As unlikely as it may seem, swinging my hair made me feel better, as if I was flinging my stresses away while the lightness of my hair helped my mind to feel less weighted.

I know this is a temporary feeling, and quite fanciful. The matters causing me stress don’t disappear just because my hair is shorter. My hair will grow again. But for now, when I feel troubled I will simply swing my hair this way and that, and I will feel better.

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Back in the author’s chair

homeworkaI’ve been on a long hiatus from writing, from posting blogs, from doing anything close to being “authorly.” For many months I have allowed life to get in the way of my muse. Travel, guests, weather, family, painting, music–I can come up with any number of justifications and they would all be valid. However, if I am to be completely honest, I must own up to the fact that I simply did not sit myself at my desk, tune out all distractions, and write.

The main difference between people who accomplish things and those who don’t is the actual doing of what it takes to attain their goals. Once upon a time I was that person who did what it took, who was disciplined about writing, who worked diligently on completing novels. But lately (heck, this whole year! How did it get to be October already, by the way?) I’ve been one of those people who only think about writing that book, who goes to the computer to write and spends hours doing anything but.

This morning I resolved to decide if I want to write another book or not. It was time to pull out my writing folder, read through the nineteen different first chapters I’ve written, pick one, and get to work. (Yes, I have the beginnings of nineteen novels in my folder. A few have as many as 50 pages into the story. And some of them are pretty good, if I do say so myself.)

So I’m back in the author’s chair and we’ll see where it takes me.


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So long Nicole

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-1-17-32-pmIt almost seems like old news even though it was only four days ago, but I thought I’d share a bit about our experience with Nicole (you remember that category 3 hurricane that hit Bermuda on Thursday?). We were without electricity for three days, so I’ve only just now sat down at my computer to post a blog.

Thursday was a scary, unsettling day to be sure. In the beginning when Nicole first arrived, we still had power and Internet. It was both comforting and entertaining to stay in touch with fellow islanders via Facebook to keep track of how things were going on their part of the island. And we had a Facetime chat with our granddaughter and daughter, which was a great distraction from the howling winds and torrential rain.

Our power went out mid-morning. Having lost contact with the world outside our walls, we sat tight in the house while the wind and rain wreaked havoc around us. Little air circulation, because of course we couldn’t open any windows and no electricity to power the ceiling fans. The storm shutters were closed, so the light in the house was gloomy. Not a fun day; however I did manage to read a whole book. I would have started another but my iPad’s battery died.

When the eye was upon us, after about 4 hours, we had some relief. It’s kind of eerie how everything suddenly goes silent after noisy howling through our fireplace and the cacophony outside. We were able to go out and get some air, see what damage had occurred in the first half, connect with the neighbours who were also outside for some air. After about an hour, the wind started picking up again and we all went back in for the second onslaught, which on our side of the island was worse. By 5:00 it was over and we opened the shutters and windows. 

We went for a walk along our little road. Here are a few photos of the mess Nicole left behind for some of our neighbours:


img_2629    img_2639

The next day we spent a few hours cleaning up the debris around our house. We moved the kayaks back outside, swept up the patio, paths, and steps, washed the windows, walls, car, and scooters. This is what a car looks like after a hurricane (and the walls and windows of houses too!), full of bits of leaves, twigs, grass, all glued to the surface with salt water spray from the ocean.


Outside there is now a lovely aroma that reminds me of autumn in Ontario, that scent of fallen and decaying leaves. With the temperatures having cooled, and the humidity broken, it actually feels and smells like fall.

Our electricity (and running water) were finally restored Saturday night. And now, other than all the extreme pruning that nature did to the foliage and the cleanup that still needs to be done, it’s hard to imagine that we were in the midst of a category 3 hurricane four days ago. Life is pretty much back to normal. 

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Waiting for Nicole


We are preparing for a hurricane today. Nicole is expected to pass right over Bermuda tomorrow, and already the winds are picking up. There is a tumultuous energy around the island as people get ready to be assailed with up to 100mph winds, torrential rain, and storm surges. I’ve lived through a few hurricanes since moving to Bermuda and getting ready for one has become somewhat routine, but what is not routine is the unsettled anticipation of the storm. In many ways it is invigorating, that energy prevalent around us, both from people working to prepare and from the wind blowing the trees around and freshening the air.

Still, my enthusiasm for these storms has waned. During my first hurricane I was excited to experience it, wanted to photograph and document all aspects of it, but now I’m jaded, can’t wait for it to be over, anticipating the aftermath of recovery. I’m not looking forward to losing power for several days, taking away phone and Internet, not to mention water (it is pumped to our houses electrically).

In the days preceding such a storm, there’s a weird effect I experience that friends have told me they do as well. Focusing on anything but the hurricane becomes difficult, as if our minds are being scattered by the wind. I feel unsettled and disquieted.

Nonetheless, we must get ready for Nicole.

How do we prepare? We stock up on non-perishable foods. We make sure we have lots of drinking water. We fill our bathtubs and containers with water. We get our camp stoves out, and our candles and flashlights. We nail plywood over vulnerable windows and doors, or tape them, or latch down the storm shutters. We move everything from outside–patio furniture, plants, kayaks–to a safe place where the wind can’t pick them up and blow them about. We stock up on books to read, games to play, and wine. We charge up all our devices. We make sure our friends and neighbours are prepared and help them with anything that needs doing. The lucky ones with generators make sure they have enough fuel to power them.

And then we sit and wait and listen to the wind howl…

However, right now it’s a breezy morning — no hurricane yet — and I am going for a walk before I can’t any more.


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Now Available in Print!

I had indicated that I’d post an update when my books became available in print. They did so shortly after publishing as e-books, but in the midst of the Plein Air painting week and building a tree (see my last two blog posts) I forgot all about doing so.

Now I’m here to tell you that the books are available as both Trade Paperback (just in time for Christmas!) and ebooks. Here are a few places where you can buy them:


Amazon.comAmazon.ca, Barnes&Noble, CreatespaceChapters-Indigo,


Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Barnes&Noble, CreatespaceChapters-Indigo

Feel free to post a review of the books on some of these sites, if you haven’t already done so. More reviews mean more exposure. Thanks!

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Building a tree


I belong to an art group that meets every Friday morning at one of the members’ homes. We paint, sketch, talk, drink coffee, eat treats–it’s my favourite morning of the week. Last week we chose to put down our pencils and paint brushes, and pick up drills instead. We had each been collection driftwood on the beaches around the island, and this was the day we were using it to make driftwood trees.

Although we had our individual ideas on how we wanted our trees to look, and we worked independently in that regard, we also worked together–figuring out the best way to drill (and we learned that having the drill set to ‘reverse’ does NOT work!), how to balance the wood, how to balance the look. Caroline’s yard was a hubbub of activity and noise. And at the end of the morning, we all had lovely trees to take home with us. Here are some photos of the process:

First we laid out our wood along the length of the post we were using to plan out the tree:


Then we drilled. A hole in the base to insert the post, then holes at the balance point for each piece of driftwood:


Threading the driftwood on the post in gradually decreasing lengths to give the shape of a tree:


Here’s the group of us behind our forest of trees in various stages of completion: 12314384_991762997529848_8704384473525771907_o

And here is my beautiful finished tree, decorated with bits from (and about) the sea. I love it, and plan to keep it up year round: IMG_0937

(Thanks to Isobel White for most of the photographs.)

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A Week of Painting

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 12.05.27 PM

(Photograph by Grace Webber)

Last week I participated in the  Bermuda Plein Air Festival. What an exciting, intense, and tiring week. Fifty-eight artists (local and from abroad) gathered to paint at various locations across the island. I felt honoured to be in the company of so many talented and professional artists. Plein Air painting, which is the style of painting outdoors, can be a challenge because of all the elements you have to deal with that aren’t issues while sitting comfortably indoors with a brush in hand. For example, there’s the weather. One day we had extreme winds that almost blew over my easel, and then it started to rain; not a good thing to happen when painting with watercolours. Then there’s the location to paint–to get the right composition on another day, I stood on a slope for several hours. That was hard on the feet and back. And of course, the light changes. A scene with beautiful shadows can suddenly change when a cloud moves in, or a boat on the water turns in the breeze, giving a completely different view than the one you are painting. When I was painting in town, a scooter I was putting in my scene disappeared when its owner hopped on and rode away!

The Plein Air Festival also included convivial meals with the group, workshops and lectures, and wonderful camaraderie. The culmination of the week was an exhibit of everyone’s work at the Bermuda Society of Arts gallery, with prizes for best watercolour, oil, pastel/acrylic, and best in show. I didn’t win anything (I didn’t expect to!) but I was excited to discover that two of my paintings sold.

Painting every day for a whole week taught me things about technique and style. I plan on painting a lot more frequently than I’ve done in the past, because, like writing, the doing of it has become something I need.

Here are the results of my efforts for the week:

Painted on Sunday at a property called Elysium:


Monday in St. Georges:


Tuesday at Botanical Gardens:


Wednesday at Castle Point:


Thursday in Hamilton was a quick art competition–paint it, frame it and hand it in in 4 hours:

IMG_8051Friday at Dockyard:





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A New Chapter

tmp blue closed

Last month my publishing house, Turquoise Morning Press, closed its doors. I’m sad to lose such a wonderful advocate for my books. Owner and publisher Kim Jacobs was a dream to work with, as were the editors and staff. My disappointment about this closure is about more than having lost the vehicle by which my books go to press; it was a little like the breakup of a family of authors who supported one another under the guidance of a parent-like publishing house.

Unfortunately, one of the effects of the closure is that all books published by TMP were taken off the marketplace. This means that, unless the authors find another way to publish them, readers can no longer buy them. I pondered long and hard about what this meant for my career as an author. I don’t yet have a completed manuscript for my third novel, so the timing isn’t right to seek a new publisher, but I still want The Unraveling of Abby Settel and Breathing Space to be available to readers.

I decided to explore the world of self-publishing. After traversing a big learning curve, my books are once again on the marketplace. With the new releases, I decided to give both books a new look. Designing new covers was one of the more fun aspects of the process (and also part of the huge learning curve).

New Abby Cover Final

New BS Cover Final

What do you think of the new covers?

Currently the books are accessible only as eBooks, but they will be available as print books sometime in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.




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Should an author blog?


You may have noticed that for the past few months I’ve seldom blogged. I could make excuses like I was too busy or life got in the way, but the reality is that I just didn’t feel inclined to blog. I believe my writing time should be spent on penning my next novel rather than writing posts that do nothing to advance that project.

I do recognize, however, that technology and social media has changed the relationship of writers to readers. I remember when a novel stood on its own, irregardless of who wrote it, because the story, the characters, and the language was all that mattered. One of my favourite quotes, and one I agree with, is from Daphne du Maurier: “Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard.” However, today’s authors must create an online presence as well as write good books. They must interact with their readers through all kinds of social media; people want to “friend” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Writers must interact online, post blogs, do blog tours. In essence, today’s authors have to do all kinds of writing that does not further their writing.

I acknowledge that since I am a little-known author, it is in my best interest (and that of my books) to cultivate my online presence. So I have a website, I post on my Facebook Author Page  (sometimes), I set up a Twitter account (although I seldom tweet), and I have this blog. Yet, despite my commitment to my author career, and despite common sense telling me to get on with what needs to be done in support of it, I still participate very little in the social media game. Is my lack of posting a form of rebellion? Perhaps.

I’m curious: Do you think authors should blog regularly? Is it important to you to be able to interact online with an author?


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Book of the Month?

BreathingSpace-layers final-2Woo hoo! BREATHING SPACE is up for Book of the Month at LASR! If you feel so inclined, I would so appreciate you voting for it. Thanks in advance!

Vote here.

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