Monday, December 15, 2014

A Brandy Hollow Christmas Memories from 1988 Nancy M Bell Come Walk With Me Again

In 1988 I wrote about Christmas at my small farm in southern Ontario. A Brandy Hollow Christmas I'd like to share it with you here. Wow, just re-typing this here has brought back so many memories.

There is nothing quite like a country Christmas, in this fast paced world it is very few of us who have the chance to live with nature rather than against it. am lucky enough to live on a small farm and experience the joys of working with the land. Recently, we sold this farm and I began to say good-bye to all the little things that are so much a part of living here. Suddenly, I realized that this Christmas 1988 I wouldn't be in my little house in the hollow. Perhaps because I won't be in Brandy Hollow for Christmas I want to share the Christmases we did have here.

The times when the snow blossomed against the living room window and laced the cedar trees, bending the woods under its weight. In the new light of morning the children and dogs make tracks across the virgin blanket of the lawn. The horses when I turn them out blow the snow up in puffs with their snorts and then roll and roll again. I want to share the special stillness there is here after a snow fall and especially a Christmas snow. Last year it came on December 23rd, but it was still a Christmas Eve snow. The sun just catching the top of the cedar and birch in the barnyard and the blue jays and the chickadees already searching for seeds. The gentle hand of the morning air sending sparkles dancing from the delicate fingers of the snow dressed trees. The warm smell of the horses and hay when I step into the barn from the frosty stillness of early morning.

The warm glow of my little living room, the sun coming in the window, a fire in the woodstove and the Christmas tree taking over the room. Every year we re-arrange the furniture so we can fit the tree in and by Christmas morning there are presents under the tree, on the tree, around the tree, and presents spilling across the floor and in front of the hearth as well. The cats just waiting for all that lovely ribbon and paper to be theirs. The lovely peace of Christmas Eve when the children are asleep and us old folks are waiting for Santa and midnight too, to see if the animals will speak to me. Yes, I still believe! The smell of the fire and the flicker of the flames against the walls. Jessie and Josh, the dogs, sleeping on the mat my grandfather made in front of the stove, joined by most of our five house cats. There is that special thrill of anticipation that comes only on Christmas Eve. The warm feeling of the love that goes with the presents. The sharing of joy in giving that special gift. The dark quietness of the night, moonlight throwing blue and silver shadows on the snow as I go out to the barn to tuck the horses in on this most special of all nights. The music of the wind in the trees and the starfire crackling in the stillness as I take a Christmas walk by the pond and take the opportunity to say my own private 'Thank You' to the spirit that created all this wonder.

There is a peace in this farm and always a feeling of love. As though this house and this land have always been blessed. But never is the feeling so strong as at Christmas. Even people who aren't sensitive to their surroundings feel this too. The goodwill seems to pervade the very air. All things find refuge here. Strays find their way to my door, both wild and tame, and human as well as animal. This is a safe place and a healing place. There is that little bit of Christmas Love here all year round.

I think one of the best things about the season is the love, the sharing, the giving. It is the one time in the year we can hug someone without embarrassing them or ourselves. Or kiss someone and say the things we think all year but never find the words or opportunity to share.

This year I'm leaving my little farm and I will miss it terribly. But I will never lose the peace or the love it has given me. And always, I'll have that little bit of Brandy Hollow Christmas in my heart. My Christmas wish for you and yours is that you will know the peace and joy that Christmas brings. An that 'all things wise and wonderful' and 'all things bright and beautiful' will be yours.

I wish you a Brandy Hollow Christmas!

Christmas Moon

Cute rescue puppy from many years ago

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Season to Be Thankful and Giving

This time of year is always so magical. And busy! :) I want to take just a moment to say thanks to all the animals who have graced my life with their presence and who have taught me invaluable lessons. They are truly the heroes we should all aspire to be.


To all the animals who have graced my life
With their love; with their presence
I say thank you

You have taught me to live in the moment
You have taught me forgiveness
And that love can heal anything
If we let it

The greatness of your heart and your courage
Has made me weep and made me smile
My Spirit within is humbled by
The Spirit in you

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hard to Believe Another SiWC has drawn to a close

As promised, here is the latest from my Surrey International Writers Conference 2014 experiences. The weekend goes by so fast it brings me up short when I realize it's Sunday morning and time to get ready for the last few classes of the conference. Seems like only a few hours ago I was heading for Jack Whyte's master class clutching my three pages of manuscript for class discussion. This class is always a highlight for me, only 12 people in the class and 12 excerpts from their manuscripts to be discussed. So many wonderful learning experiences come out of this exercise. As always a lively discussion ensued. Jack is bluntly honest about whether he likes something or not, which is a great help, because you know where you stand.

Friday night is costume night. This year the theme was Secrets, Lies and Bad Guys. Black Jack Randall of Outlander fame showed up, as did Belatrix LeStrange complete with Dark Mark. Carol, the Betty White of the North, was hilarious as Madame Zamboni with her crystal ball. My character, Mata Hati (big red hat LOL) gifted Madame Zamboni with a jeweled bra (actually a belly dancing skirty thing, but it worked) Afterward, I am privileged to be part of small group who has a natter with Jack Whyte over some scotch and Dundee Cake. Saturday flies by, pitches, workshops, lunch, dinner, amazing keynote speakers. Saturday night is also book signing night. The presenters and other authors gather in the Fraser Ballroom and await the hoardes who come to see Diana, Jack, Michael Slade, Anne Perry and the other highly successful authors present. Those of us who have less high profiles smile at the crowd and visit with those who stop by our table. I was pleased to be beside Sara Durham with her wonderful witch hat prop and werewolf mask. It was a blast. By far the most people lined up to have Diana sign her Outlander books. Some fans had literally armfuls of the books in the series. Diana is unfailingly gracious with a smile for everyone. The darn woman looks great in every picture taken of her (and there were many) and from any angle.

The workshops were varied and there was something for everyone in every genre. A host of volunteers ensure the event runs smoothly every year. Saturday night was also launch night for Jack Whyte's new release The Guardian - the story of Andrew Murray. Jack presided over the event with his usual panache, reading a few passages from the book. While the official release date is November 4, attendees of SiWC 2014 got to purchase the book and celebrate early. The room was jam packed, spilling out into the hallway. Slainte! Here's wishing Jack much success and many more books to come!

Once I transfer some photos from my phone to the computer I'll upload some so you can see my magnificent red hat!

Till next time


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It's October! Time for my fav conference SIWC2014

Well, it's that time of year again. The nights are drawing in, Mabon is over and we're sliding down the darkening days toward Samhain. All Hallow's Eve or Hallowe'en. Just as an aside, I hate it that they've taken the apostrophe out of Hallowe'en. it should be there as the word is a contraction of All Hallow's Eve. But enough of my ranting. LOL Every year near the end of October Surrey School Board hosts the Surrey International Writer's Conference. It's a wonderful weekend full of excitement and positive energy. The conference is for writers, everyone there is an author, some published, some not, some just embarking on the journey. I just approved my ad for the program, it's quite lovely, if I do say so myself.
I'm taking part in a Masters Class with Jack Whyte on the Thursday afternoon. It's a fun session, where each person submits 3 pages of a WIP. Jack reads it out loud and then everyone discusses it. I find it a great help to discover what works and what doesn't in a particular scene. I sent in the ending of my Jack The Ripper novel, No Absolution. I created my own Jack character, cobbled together from the profiles of different suspects and liberally spiced with my own interpretations.

SIWC 2010 with Jack Whyte for a Blue Pencil session

I'm not sure where this one will find a home as it is a departure from what I usually write. I have a Blue Pencil session with Michael Slade and I'm hoping he can tell me if what I've done is working or not. It's always a fantastic weekend and over before you know it. This year the theme for Friday Night Costume Dinner is Spies, Lies and Bad Guys. I'm going as a spy. Not quite sure how that's going to go, but hey, it's fun.

Well I am sad summer is over and my flower garden is a distant memory now, I have Surrey to look forward to and before I know it... it will be Alban Arthan and the light will begin gaining strength again. The Oak King gives up his rule to the Holly King on Mid Summer's Eve and takes it back again on the night of the Winter Solstice. This is the underlying theme of my WIP titles Oak King's Daughter, Holly King's Consort. I'm three quarters of the way through that one, but it's been on the back burner for awhile. Maybe time to dust it off and start adding some words LOL

If you are looking to connect with some great writers think about joining me in Surrey every October for the Surrey International Writers Conference.

My 2012 Flapper Costume

2013 Evil Editor Costume

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Snow in September?? Are you kidding me?

It's been a few crazy days here in southern Alberta. Big late summer snow storm. Yes, SNOW! It has decimated the fall gardens and many trees have lost huge limbs. We had a brief power outage but all is well. The horses spent the nights in the barn, but braved the snowy days. Miss Emily hates to be locked in her stall, but equally hates sleeping in windy snowy weather. She is quite the princess. Some of the sunflowers were twelve feet high and they seem to have survived, the smaller ones are crushed under the icy snow. The sweet peas are still bravely blooming through it all and the pansies are turning their sunny faces upward through the white stuff.

Max isn't sure he really wants to go out and play in the snow. He's giving me the "look".

What a difference a day makes. Below are before and after the snow pictures of the garden flowers.


Sweet pea and tiger lilies.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, wherever you are and bask in the sun.

Till next time...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Review for Laurel's Quest

I just received the review for Laurel's Quest which is posted below. Thanks to Anita Davison I also have a screen shot with Laurel's Quest in the side bar ad. Nice to see Laurel getting out and about so to speak. Laurel's Quest will be on Amazon Kindle Countdown in the US from September 8th to 15th and in the UK from September 19 to the 26th.

As promised her is the new review:

Laurel's Quest

Teenager Laurel reluctantly travels to Cornwall to visit Sarie, a family friend she has never met, but all her instincts tell her she should be at home in Canada with her mother who is dangerously ill. Her teenage angst and overwhelming feelings of rejection and loss are portrayed clearly by the author and I felt quite motherly towards Laurel, who clearly needed to be at home at such a time.

However she is soon drawn into the local politics of a Cornish village and its conflict among schoolfriends and neighbours. This is partly due to the fact Sarie is believed to be a local witch and her influence over Coll, Gort and Aisling, three young people who befriend Laurel, is frowned on - or maybe envied.

Coll introduces Laurel into the folk lore and traditions of West Cornwall on the train even before she arrives, so by the time she encounters her new hosts, talk of witches and magic is already part of her experience. Homesick and worried, Laurel is at her lowest ebb when she meets a White Lady at a rock pool who sets her a quest which ensures her greatest wish will come true. Laurel is not only that she needs friends to complete this yet to be revealed task with an enigmatic outcome. What exactly is the White Lady promising?

Laurel is a typical teenager in that she swings between happiness and despair. She also has a defensive streak she cannot control and her method of handling the local bully is to take a stick to him! Ms Bell takes the reader into a fantasy world of piskies, magical stones and pagan traditions, some of which I have never heard of, and I lived in Cornwall for several years! combined with some unpleasant adult behaviour the youngsters come up against. The author certainly gives Cornwall a unique and mystical character which is compelling to read as Laurel takes on the challenge set her.

Anita Seymour Davison

If you have a chance please drop by Laurel's Quest page on Amazon.

Laurel's Quest

The second book in the series A Step Beyond is available in eformat on Amazon right now as well. This story takes a step away from Laurel and follows Gort's story line.

Until next time...keep reading!

Monday, August 25, 2014

New Beginnings

Well, lot's happened this year. I have left MuseItUp Publishing and am now published by Books We Love. Laurel's Miracle is now published under the name Laurel's Quest and is available in both ebook and print. Books We Love did a print run so it's not print on demand which means the big stores can order it. A Step Sideways is not A Step Beyond. See the great covers below.

I'm excited about the new opportunity. On a personal note, I just got back from an Alaska cruise with my husband. It was great, saw tons of whales and eagles. Lots of rain and mist. I seem to be the Lady of the Mists. Last September we went to Cornwall, UK and it was misty and downright foggy most of the time. Still had a great visit though. Then on to Alaska and yes...more mist and rain. Liquid sunshine, better to think of it as liquid sunshine rather than liquid snow. Winter will be here soon enough. Even now the days are drawing in. It's just getting light at 6:30 in the morning and the dusk is heavy by 9:30 at night. The long slow slide down to Winter Solstice is well under way. The sun is rising and setting further south each day.

More soon