Wednesday, October 8, 2014

World's Biggest Things #2

Did you know Winnie-the-Pooh was a real bear? Did you also know that he was a Canadian bear who was born in the woods near White River, Ontario?

"Pooh" was actually a black bear cub who was captured by a trapper in 1914 and sold to a soldier from Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Lieutenant Harry Colebourn of the Canadian Army Veterinary Corps paid $20 for the bear and promptly fell in love with the little black bundle of fur. Other soldiers loved him, too but, as he got bigger, "Winnie" (named after Lt. Colebourn's hometown) started knocking down tents and causing other mischief. Reluctantly the soldier gave Winnie to the London Zoo for safekeeping.

Author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher were regular visitors at the zoo and they were so fond of Winnie that he became the subject of one of the world's most beloved children's books. (You can read more of that story on the town of White River's website.)

In 1992 a statue of Winnie-the-Pooh was unveiled at a park at the side of Highway 17 and has been a must-stop for kids of all ages as they travel the Trans Canada Highway.

We stopped in for a photo op (and a pee break) on our way to Ontario this August. In the photo, from left, is Angus, Sam, Misty and Dave.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Guess the True Statement and WIN Jessica Bell's thriller, White Lady!

Jessica Bell. I've known Jessica for so long I can't quite remember HOW I know her. I'm pretty sure it's through the writing I did with #FridayFlash, when I was first dazzled by her prose. Since then I've also become dazzled by her dedication to writing, and to a book she released last year called Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle. LOVED this book and, if the idea of self-publishing has ever even crossed your mind, it's a must-read.

Unlike some people who are happy with two books (me?), Jessica has a whole raft of work for sale – two PAGES of book listings on Amazon! (I'm really impressed, I really am and yeah, kinda jealous, too!)

To celebrate the release of Jessica’s latest novel, WHITE LADY, she is giving away an e-copy (mobi, ePub, or PDF) to the first person to correctly guess the one true statement in the three statements below. To clarify, two statements are lies, and one is true:

Jessica Bell’s favourite book of all time is ...
a. Robber Bride, by Margaret Atwood
b. Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson
c. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

What do you think? Which one is true? Write your guess in the comments, along with your email address. Comments will close in 48 hours. If no-one guesses correctly within in 48 hours, comments will stay open until someone does.

Want more chances to win? You have until October 31 to visit all the blogs where Jessica will share a different set of true and false statements on each one. Remember, each blog is open to comments for 48 hours only from the time of posting.

If you win, you will be notified by email with instructions on how to download the book.

Click HERE to see the list of blogs.

*This novel contains coarse language, violence, and sexual themes.

Sonia yearns for sharp objects and blood. But now that she’s rehabilitating herself as a “normal” mother and mathematics teacher, it’s time to stop dreaming about slicing people’s throats.

While being the wife of Melbourne’s leading drug lord and simultaneously dating his best mate is not ideal, she’s determined to make it work.

It does work. Until Mia, her lover’s daughter, starts exchanging saliva with her son, Mick. They plan to commit a crime behind Sonia’s back. It isn’t long before she finds out and gets involved to protect them.

But is protecting the kids really Sonia’s motive?

Click HERE to view the book trailer.
Click HERE for purchase links.

Jessica Bell, a thirty-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, is the Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. She makes a living as a writer/editor for English Language Teaching Publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, MacMillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

Connect with Jessica online:

Friday, October 3, 2014

World's Biggest Things #1

People 'round here are obsessed with giant "things."

A couple miles down the road from me, in Vilna, Alberta, is THE WORLD'S LARGEST MUSHROOM. Last summer I made Sam pose with it. He was, like, "Do I haaaaaaave to?" and I can't blame him for whining because the mushroom was kind of lame. I mean, I haven't seen a bigger mushroom, but it wasn't bigger than a house or anything. At the most, maybe it was bigger than an SUV, but, like, a small SUV, not a Buick Escalade.

Down the road a bit further is THE WORLD'S LARGEST PYROGY. I haven't seen it yet, however. It is six kilometres off the highway and apparently six kilometres is like a trek across the Andes because I can never talk Dave into going to see the fecking thing. It's on my bucket list, though. Giant pyrogies. Mmmm. I wonder if there's a giant vat of sour cream to go with? And is there a giant fork? If not, you'd need giant fingers to manhandle that thing into my giant mouth.

Fellow Canucks will doubtless remember the Corner Gas episode in which the people of Dog River decide to build a giant "thing" to attract tourists. Their vision is to create a giant farm implement to represent prairie agriculture, and one naive resident (I think she's the mayor's grandma) suggests a hoe, but not a new hoe, a well-used one, one with dirt on it and maybe a crack from all the use it has received.

Yep. A giant hoe. A giant cracked hoe, with dirt on it.


One of the coolest things I noticed when we were moving halfway across the great country of Canada, was the overwhelmingly sheer number of small towns with giant "things." They were everywhere. Giant fish. Giant moose. Giant bugs. You name it, it was there.

This summer Dave and I drove the boys back to Ontario (after an awesome couple of months together) and, on our way home, we vowed to stop and take a picture of every giant "thing" we came across. And, lucky you, I plan on sharing all my "things" here on this misbegotten and forgotten blog!

Today's giant "thing" is, indeed, a thing. A Volkswagen Beetle turned into some kind of weird spider/bug/thing wearing a top hat. Because, you know, all giant bugs want to wear top hats. It's in front of an automotive shop outside of Kenora, Ontario.

And, oh yeah, that's my honey-bun dancing in front of the giant bug. (As you do.)

He was NOT dancing after the 534th giant thing we came across. (Whining, yes, dancing, not so much.)

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Red hot and coming soon!

Great news! My author pal, and one of Canada's best writing talents, has a new book coming out just in time for Christmas!

Wait. Didn't I sound like a TV infomercial just now? Hell yeah! I can't help myself – I'm THAT excited about Kevin Craig's new book, Burn Baby Burn Baby. It doesn't come out until December 11, 2014 (that's this year for those of you, like me, who have no fecking idea what year it is because everything since 1973 has been a complete blur), but I get to show you the cover TODAY. (Why? Because I'm special, that's why.)

And without further adieu, here it is:

Hot stuff, eh? I told ya! And if the book inside that luscious cover is anything like Kevin's other books, it'll be sizzling. Here's the deets:

Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley—the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby. The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.

I seriously can't wait. I liked Kevin Craig the minute I met him at the Muskoka Novel Marathon, but I became a huge fan of Kevin's when I devoured The Reasons. While it was written for a young adult audience, the story was so mature, so engrossing and deep and insightful, that I couldn't put it down. I'm hoping for an equally thrilling ride with Burn Baby Burn Baby. Knowing Kevin, I won't be disappointed.

You can pre-order Burn Baby Burn Baby on Amazon HERE.

Burn Baby Burn Baby by Kevin Craig

Genre: contemporary, young-adult  Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

About The Author:
Kevin Craig is the author of three previous novels; Summer on Fire, Sebastian’s Poet, and The Reasons. He is a four-time winner of the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s Best Novel Award. Kevin is also a playwright and has had eight 10-minute plays produced. His poetry, short stories, memoir and articles have been published internationally. Kevin was a founding member of the Ontario Writers’ Conference and a long-time member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR). He is represented by literary agent Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group.

Find Kevin Craig Online: