Sunday, April 24, 2016

Do you go in caves?

Underground, over the waves, or along the trail - visit 

  Nova Scotia's Inspirational South Shore

The Atlantic coast line offers a multitude of shops, restaurants, sightseeing locations and beaches for visitors and locals alike. They inspired my layout and buildings for Caleb's Cove--the setting of my first series--The Caleb Cove Mysteries. Whether you are a spelunker, a cycle fan, or a water baby, there is something for you.

Under the ground

Caves play a big part in Book #3 - Came Home too Late due out in June 2016.

Caves, islands and beaches line the shores of Nova Scotia and the South Shore has an abundance of all three. Tancook Island, featured in last week's blog in one of the islands. Below are two of the attractions that portrait the feeling and history of the area. Whether you want to go under ground or over the waves, this area offers something for all. If you want a more leisurely tour, try one of the several bike routes available.

Hayes Caves Near Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

"One of Nova Scotia's most interesting geological features, long known to local area teenagers, lies hidden in the gypsum cliffs of South Maitland: Hayes Cave. Hayes Cave is one of only two known caves Kris and I could find any information on, but what a doozy!" 

  (Both quotes  and picture are from TrailPeak's review of the Hayes Caves)
"Exploring Hayes Cave made me wish there were more interesting places like this in the province-- off the beaten path. It helps to remind me that there is still plenty to see in Nova Scotia if you're willing to get dirty."

The Ovens, Riverport, Nova Scotia

The sea is a power beyond the comprehension of many. Over the decades the Atlantic ocean has carved caves into the cliffs at Riverport, Nova Scotia. Take the tour and experience the
roar of the ocean and the power of waves.

Browse the Shops 

Stop along your way and browse for gifts for friends and memorable items for home. Stroll through the antique shops and stop for tea or ice cream in one of the shops. Chester and Mahone Bay offer a great selection of antique, art and gift stores.
 The Village Emporium gift shop is located at the corner of Queen & Pleasant Streets in the seaside village of Chester, Nova Scotia. Surrounded by an eclectic variety of local businesses, breathtaking scenery and friendly residents, we are proud to be a member of this thriving community.

The Village Emporium
11 Pleasant Street (Corner of Queen)
Chester, Nova Scotia

(FYI - You can buy my Caleb Cove Mystery books here.)

 Suttles & Seawinds

 466 Main Street, Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

This Nova Scotia outlet is one that I've liked for over three decades. Their items represent cottage industries and local crafts. Their story is inspirational. Check them out by clicking on their name above.

Over the waves

 Creaser's Cover Boat Tours
Riverport, Nova Scotia

  Start in historic Riverport, settled in the 1600's. Sail the ocean, search for whales and get a taste of salt air. Captain Tom Drake and crew are ready to take you sailing.

"The "Sea 'U' Rattley" is a 43' Coastal Fishing Vessel, which was launched in September 1996. The vessel is equipped with state of the art communications, navigational and safety equipment which has been government inspected and approved. (Quoted from the Creaser's Cove Boat Tour Web site found by clinking on the name.)"

On a bike...

Bikers will enjoy the 119 km long Rum Runners Trail running from Halifax to Lunenburg.

 Find all you need to know at 

Nova Scotia Bicycle Tours -Freewheeling Adventures

WHAT'S YOUR CHOICE? Or would you like to try it all?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fictional World Building

How to build a fictional world?

1) Ask your characters what type of community they want.
2) Find inspiration in places with ingredients your character likes.
3) People the world with family, friends and enemies.
4) Provide jobs on main street; homes on side streets; add beaches, parks or bowling allies as required
5) Draw a map of the village or town.

For Caleb's Cove, I looked to Nova Scotia's south shore islands, ocean-side markets and beaches. I sprinkled in hurricanes, boats, history and ghosts.

 Inspiration #1 - Greater TANCOOK ISLAND, Nova Scotia


Writers can be inspired by characters or an event, but as the story evolves the characters need a place to live. Setting is a character is it's own right and often dictates direction in the story. Some writers set books in real places. In a large city, this works. However, using a smaller, limited population creates privacy issues and limits events. The solution is to create a fictional community to showcase the story. Caleb's Cove in Came Home Dead and Came Home to A Killing is a created community inspired by three real-life geographical locations including TANCOOK ISLAND.

Although a contemporary setting is easier to create than a fantasy world, it's still necessary to define geography, to understand and remember the residents' philosophy and to know who in "town" your characters can trust.

Inspiration # 1 - Tancook Island, Nova Scotia, Canada 

Three real locations provided inspiration, visuals and ambiance for Caleb's Cove. However, all people and story events are products of my writer's imagination and other than the awesome ocean setting, bear no connection to any real person in the three background communities.

Tancook Island started it all. I've had a fascination with Tancook for decades. My sister-in-law's mother worked on Little Tancook and I loved her stories and the name. At eight I thought it a great setting for a mystery and wrote (longhand in a Hilary Scribbler) The Mystery on Tancook Island.

Accidentally, or at the bidding of  my unconscious, my first published novel is set on an island off Nova Scotia. Additional details and ideas for Caleb's Cove came from Tancook and two other Nova Scotia locations. To follow Tancook Island on FB for some great ocean shots, go to: Tancook Island on FB
For more on Nova Scotia visit: Nova Scotia's South Shore.

Sweeping his gaze from left to right Greg checked the altered sandy strip, the docks and the rocky protrusions. The waves still arched and crested against the land, splashing through gaps in the boardwalk and sucking back to display the damage. In the harbor beyond, white caps revealed the sea’s continued turmoil. The rhythmic roar and whoosh was primal. He’d wait for calmer seas before launching the dory even if she was designed for rough waters. And you? What are you waiting for?
Tancook Island-dock in winter

Came Home Dead 

Readers, what location would you like to see in a book? 
Writers, what location inspired a book setting for you?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

12 Keys to de-cluttering

My expertise in this area comes from studying reasons for clutter and how to get rid of it. I applied these keys for myself first. Over the last three decades I have designed and taught workshops on the topic. Currently, I serve as an objective de-cluttering coach for others. (When I'm not writing.) I follow up with my clients and rarely have anyone regret letting things go.

A clear house lessens daily stress, gives joy and contributes to a more productive life. So roll up your sleeves, prepare your tools and go at it. You’ll be glad you did.

 Twelve keys to clearing the clutter

1)      Reset your attitude.

a.      Figure out why you acquire and keep too much stuff.
b.      Some of us older folk acquired the habit from our parents who had lived through the Depression. Additionally, back in the day there were no discount or dollar stores, so replacement might be expensive. But now we have box stores and corner stores and thrifts stores all over the place.

2)      Have a plan.

a.      Decide how many of things you will keep. (Pens, nails, screws, rubber bands, wine bottle openers, mixing bowls and so on.) Ten 4 inch screws are probably enough for most people. A box full—overkill unless you are a carpenter.
b.      Know where the stuff will go. Your choices: recycle it, send it to thrift stores or place it in a consignment store, garbage it, sell it at a garage sale or (deep breath) keep it.

3)      Be prepared. Gather your equipment before you start.

a.      Clear bags for recycling and the thrift store,
b.      Garbage bags for – well garbage,
c.      Boxes for your garage sale items and for your keepers. Markers to label your boxes.
d.      Laundry basket or equivalent to hold items to move to a different room.
e.      Staging area (Garage or basement) for items to go. If possible have another family member or a friend ready to haul things away the same day.

4)      Have your questions ready.

a.      Why did I get this in the first place? Is that need current?
b.      Is the item useful? Or does it just collect dust.
c.      Am I keeping this just because a friend brought it back from Ticketty-Boo Town for me but I’ll never use it?
d.      Have I worn it in the last year? Used it in the past two years? Can’t remember when I wore/used it.  (You know what to do.)

5)      Get an objective de-clutter coach.

a.      Someone who doesn't live with you and wasn't raised by you.
b.      Someone who will remind you to stick to the plan.

6)      Pick one area at a time.

a.      If you think of the sorting the entire house, you’re likely to be overwhelmed.
b.      You can do one room, or even one side of a room, at a time.
c.      Or you can use fifteen minute time-bites. If all you can do is one area a day, that’s fine. Just keep at it.
d.      Start at one spot and deal with every item you come to.
e.      No skipping around and no putting an item “down here FOR NOW.” Make a decision.

7)      Find a picture of what the room looked like when it was cleared.

a.       Put it up on the wall and keep looking at it.
b.      Remove anything that is not in that picture.
c.      If you have no picture, use your imagination and see in your mind’s eye what you’d like the room to look like. Check back frequently and get rid of anything not in the picture. (Yes, I know I said the same thing twice.)

8)      Apply a selection process.  

a.      If you have two similar items or too many items in the “keep” pile, take them two at a time. Which one do you really want to keep?
b.      Put the other one in the appropriate disposal pile. Continue until you’ve dealt with all items.
c.      Repeat if necessary.

9)      Use rewards.

a.      When you have finished your section/time bit,-have a reward. Chocolates are good as is a cup of hot tea or coffee.
b.      Whatever makes you feel rewarded. (Note: Shots might not work in the long run.)

10)   Food must go too.

a.      In the kitchen, check expiry dates on everything and dispose of outdated items.
b.      Packaged foods like oatmeal or flours/mixes you rarely use, can be tossed. (Keep an eye out for bugs.) Just because you paid good money for it two years ago, does not mean you need to keep it.
c.      Be ruthless.

11)   Keepsakes. These can be tough. (You get to keep some.)

a.      If a picture of the item will summon the memory, then take pictures and let the item go.
b.      Ask – does this fit in my house? My parents’ Duncan Phyfe dining table, ten chairs, sideboard and china cabinet did not fit in my modern home. It had to go.
c.      The small Duncan Phyfe end table fits at the end of my sofa. I kept it.

12)   Items that (might) have dollar value.

a.      Give them in their own box, and later - research their value or have them appraised.
b.      First offer them to family members. If there are no takers, sell them.
c.      I’ve seen too many beautiful items come through the thrift store after Grandma died because no one wanted them. China, yarn and quilts are the most common ones. Do your heirs a favor and deal with things now.

It’s a hard job.

But sometimes, we need to it. Remember, if you keep these ideas in mind, and clear every (now almost spotless) room in your house a couple of times a year, each time will be easier.


Good luck and let us know how you make out.