Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Molly Brant, Mohawk Loyalist & Diplomat" Lives!

Coming soon!

Available April, 2015.

Exciting News!! Last week I learned the production schedule for the publication of my latest book, Molly Brant, Mohawk Loyalist & Diplomat. 

It's been nine long months since I met the deadline for submitting the finished manuscript to Dundurn Press, my publisher. The contract between us had been signed early in January, 2014. I am really looking forward to getting back to work on it. I'm confident that Molly's story will come alive for me once more. She was a totally fascinating woman.

My editor tells me that the copy edit begins January 5, 2015, and that I will have the week of January 16–23 to review and approve of any changes. The book goes into design January 30th, and I will be able to review the typeset manuscript between February 6–13. This is the stage where it really starts to look like a finished book.

Late last summer, when I re-read the manuscript, fearing after all that time I might have forgotten what I'd written, I did a bit of fine tuning and began a list of subjects for the index of the book. The editors will complete the index, matching subjects to page numbers, February 20–27.

Then, it's off to the printers on March 9th. Further updates as I receive them. Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Finding Robert Louis Stevenson

Town of Saranac Lake
On a recent trip to Saranac Lake, NY, our favourite vacation spot in the Adirondack Mountains, I toured the Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage & Museum. Its four small rooms contain the world's finest collection of Stevenson memorabilia.

When I think of Robert Louis Stevenson I hear my dad reading Treasure Island to us as children, but I also remember some of Stevenson's poetry, particularly My Shadow, the first verse of which I still know by heart.

"I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head,
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed."

The Baker farmhouse. The Stevensons rented the section on the east side.

Robert Louis Stevenson rented part of this house, then owned by the Baker family, in 1887 when he came to Saranac Lake seeking a cure for what his doctors thought was tuberculosis.

In 1884 Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau had founded the first successful sanatorium in the US for the treatment of TB at Saranac Lake, and the town became the Pioneering Health Resort in the 1870s. Thousands of TB sufferers flocked to Saranac Lake for the tuberculosis cure, which featured lots of fresh air, a nutritious diet, a positive outlook, and long hours spent resting outdoors, even during the winter when they bundled up and slept outside on the porches.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1850, Robert Louis Stevenson was the acclaimed author of Treasure Island (1883), Kidnapped (1886), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1886). He was already famous when he sailed into New York Harbour from Bournemouth, England, bound for the clean mountain air of Saranac Lake.

Stevenson's writing desk in the cottage.

While he was living in Saranac Lake, Stevenson wrote twelve essays as the Scribner's series The Master of Ballantrae and The Wrong Box. 

RLS's smoking jacket, a sprig of heather in the pocket. 

Fireplace in the Stevenson cottage. Although RLS spent many hours writing in bed,
propped up on pillows, the mantle on the fireplace is scarred
  where Stevenson left cigarettes burning.  

Stevenson's wife Fanny found the mountain air very cold, and she writes of going to Montreal "to buy extraordinary garments made by the Canadian Indians."  She returned with buffalo skins, snow shoes, and fur caps.

"Louis wants to have his photograph taken in his, hoping to pass for a mighty hunter or sly trapper. He is now more like the hardy mountaineers, taking long walks on the hill tops in all seasons and weather." He also enjoyed skating on the ice of nearby Moody Pond.

A seasoned world traveller, it is said of Stevenson that always fancied himself a hunter, although he also dreamed of living in the South Seas. He prospered financially from his writing, and when he died in 1894 at the age of forty-four, he was living in the Samoan Islands.

Under a wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie,
Glad did I live and gladly die,

And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from the sea.

And the hunter home from the hill.

Requiem, by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Haileybury, ON and The Hardy Boys' Connection

Haileybury Marina on Lake Tamiskaming.

Earlier this month we took a road trip through Ontario's "Near North," stopping one night at Haileybury. We knew nothing about this small town whose main street runs steeply downhill to Lake Tamiskaming.

I'd been intrigued by the sign on the way in, informing us that Haileybury was the home of Leslie McFarlane (1902–1977), the author of the first books in The Hardy Boys mystery series.

At breakfast the next morning our friendly host at the motel was able to tell us more about his town.

McFarlane grew up in Haileybury, the son of a school principal. The youth went on to become a respected journalist, author, playwright, screen writer, and film director. But  he is best known as the man who wrote The Hardy Boys. 

In all, there were fifty-eight volumes in the popular series, beginning in 1927. The books were written by various authors, all using the pseudonym "Franklin W. Dixon". McFarlane wrote volumes 1–16 and 22–24.

As a kid I loved the Hardy Boys books. They, and the Nancy Drew series, got me hooked on reading.
My father read us the classics, but I loved Frank and Joe Hardy. These were the books I read by flashlight under the covers.

Others might consider such books formulaic junk, but at least I was a kid who was reading. And that's a habit that's lasted all my life.

Pioneers' Monument, Haileybury ON

Before we left Haileybury we strolled its picturesque waterfront on Lake Tamiskaming in early morning sunshine. In the park at the marina a sculpture called "Pioneers' Monument" caught our attention. Sculpted by Ernie Fauvelle, it depicts a man on the shore handing a child to a woman who is waist-deep in the water.

The story behind it is that in 1922 the town stood in the path of a raging wildfire that went on to consume 650 square miles. Fanned by strong winds, the fire destroyed 90% of the town of Haileybury on October 4, 1922, all within 3–6 hours.

Only Lake Tamiskaming saved the inhabitants who fled their homes and ran for the lake, getting as far out into it as they could. After it was over, 3500 had been left homeless and eleven people died. It was one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A writer's curse

An evening view of Lake Ontario off Shoal Point
It appears the rain is over. This morning pale sunlight filters through the clouds on the last day of August. I sit on the deck of the cottage and watch the waves roll in and crash on the shore, pushing weeds and sand off the lake bottom. Already the youths who look after the grounds are raking the beach. The raft off shore dips and bobs.

I am trying to read but I'm watching and listening. I think this is the curse of being a writer. Why must I always find words for what I am feeling? Always the urge to record my experiences — the sound of the breeze rustling the willows, the gentle clink of the shells in the wind chimes we've hung off the end of the deck, the thunder of the waves. Why can't I just relax and let things happen around me?

If you are a writer, can you relate? Can you put your pen down and just breath? Perhaps this doesn't happen in this age of technology, when people no longer carry notebooks and pens with them for recording what's around them. A curse? Or a blessing?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Remains of Sir John Johnson Return Home

Sir John Johnson, Molly Brant's stepson, a champion of Native causes, and Molly's life-long friend.

Sir John Johnson, 1742–1830

 (Click on the link above to view a video clip from CTV Montreal on the return of Sir John's remains to his beloved home.)

In 1791 Lord Dorchester, Governor of the two Canadas, recommended Sir John Johnson as first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada. Because Sir John had supervised the crucial settlements of Loyalists on the upper St. Lawrence and the Bay of Quinte, everyone expected that post would be his. In fact, Sir John had already named to his Executive Council two of Molly Brant's sons-in-law, Captain George Farley and Dr. Robert Kerr.

But instead of the obvious favourite of the people, Sir John was passed over and John Graves Simcoe was chosen as Upper Canada's first Lieutenant-Governor. Deeply disappointed, Sir John took his family away to England where they stayed for four years.

When he returned to this country Sir John was appointed to the Legislative Council of Lower Canada (Quebec), and he took back his position as head of the Indian Department.

One of Johnson's many residences was on the south shore of the St. Lawrence at Mont Saint Gregoire. (It was here the his remains were recently interred, see news clip above.) Sir John named his home "Mount Johnson," after the Mohawk Valley house near Amsterdam, NY where he was born. He and his wife Polly Watts, daughter of  wealthy New York parents, raised a large family.

Interestingly, before marrying Polly, he'd had a common-law relationship with Clarissa Putnam, a farmer's daughter who had been deemed by Sir John's father, Sir William, not suitable to bear his grandchildren. The couple had two children however, and Sir John and Clarissa maintained a fondness for each other for the rest of their lives. Their daughter Peggy came to live with Sir John after the death of Polly, looking after him till his own death in 1830.  

You'll find more stories about Sir John and Clarissa in Molly Brant, Mohawk Loyalist & Diplomat to be released by Dundurn in April, 2015.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sneak Preview! Molly Brant a British Spy?

August 5th, A Pivotal Day in the Life of Molly Brant

To be released by Dundurn Press, April 2015.

Molly Brant, Mohawk widow of Sir William Johnson, one of the most influential white men in 18th century New York, had taken their children and moved back to her native village of Canajoharie after his death.

There, a loyal supporter of the British monarchy, Molly began watching the movements of one of her neighbours — General Nicholas Herkimer. Through her surveillance she learned that he was planning to take the entire Tryon County militia to aid in the defence of Fort Stanwix, already under siege by British forces and their native allies.

On August 5, 1777 Molly sent a native runner to warn her brother, Joseph Brant, that the rebel militia — some 800 strong —  was on its way.  

After the bloody encounter that ensued, the Americans were more than ever convinced that Molly Brant was a spy for the British. Subsequently, they harrassed her, threatened her, stole her cattle, even murdered her foreman, until she and the children were forced to flee for their lives.

Stay tuned for further previews!
 Molly Brant, Mohawk Loyalist & Diplomat

Monday, July 28, 2014

Keep Smiling and Be Prepared

Author Eric E. Wright & I shared a table at Word Northumberland in 2013.

Sometimes, in spite of doing everything right — having a well-thought out and attractive display, using clear signage and balloons to draw attention, having bookmarks printed with all your covers and contact information —  your sales at the local art festival are dismal. Almost non-existent, in fact.

If the public doesn't come, nothing works.

This is what happened a couple of Fridays ago. It didn't just happen to me; none of the other artists did well. The riverfront venue was perfect, the day full of warm sunshine and cool breezes. But the people preferred the carnival atmosphere and they stayed on the main street with the food vendors, the musical acts, the racks of bright summer togs, and the guy making balloon animals.

Thankfully, experience has taught me to be prepared for such occasions and I had taken along two pieces of writing to work on, printing them off the computer the day before so that I could read them over and make revisions by hand. The organizers of the art festival had suggested we artists be demonstrating our craft for the public, and as it happened I had five long hours to do just that.

So, it wasn't a total bust. I did meet several interesting people, and I made good headway on editing two manuscripts.

Write on!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Radio Interview

Recently I was interviewed about my writing for the radio show The Word on the Hills on Northumberland 89.7 FM.

Here is the link where you can hear me chatting with Felicity Sidnell-Reid and Gwynn Scheltema, co-hosts of the program.

The interview is in two parts, each lasting about 10 minutes. They conclude with a short reading from Mary Pickford and Growing Up Ivy,  two of my books.

In the first section we talk about the benefits of belonging to writers' organizations, my love of researching the subjects for the biographies, and what influences my writing choices.

Part 2 deals with writing for children and the place reading had in my early years. Doesn't everyone love to talk about their favourite books? It's surprising how many of us writers were influenced by the same great books.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Big Reveal!

Here is the first look at the cover of my next book, Molly Brant, Mohawk Loyalist and Diplomat (Dundurn Press, Spring 2015.) The publisher's design team emailed it to me earlier this week. I think it's stunning.

The photo of John Boxtel's sculpture of the bust of Molly Brant was taken by Mark Bergin. The book is one in Dundurn's popular Quest Biography Series.

Seeing for the first time the cover treatment for a new book is always exciting, as every author knows. I'll never forget the day I received the artist's rough for my first novel for young readers, Help Wanted: Wednesdays's Only.

In those days, twenty years ago now, one received these things in the mail. Opening that big, brown envelope to reveal Greg Ruhl's wonderful coloured illustration is still one of the highlights of my writing life. The thrill of anticipation never gets old.

Happy National Aboriginal Day to all my First Nations friends! Here's to you, Molly Brant.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Family Meals: Rituals and Traditions

When I was growing up, my mother always prepared a big meal for a  one-o'clock Sunday dinner — a roast of some sort, usually beef, less often pork or lamb. As a treat for my British-born father, the roast beef would occasionally be accompanied by Yorkshire pudding. There would always be at least two different kinds of vegetables, as well as potatoes that had been added to the roast pan and were served brown and crispy on the outside. We could also expect a dessert of pie or trifle. Tarts and cake were reserved for our evening tea. My mother would have spent all Saturday afternoon baking, while she listened to the radio broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera Company from New York.

The only downside to that fabulous meal would be the scene of devastation in the kitchen, the mountain of dirty dishes that awaited my teen-aged sister and me. The Yorkshire puddings alone had resulted in blackened muffin tins, encrusted with baked-on food. These were the days before no-stick cookware. And the roast pan? I learned quickly that if I complained enough I might just hear, "Just leave it to soak, dear."

My parents would take their coffee to the living room to relax, while my sister and I would battle it out over who would wash and who would dry. We were forbidden from flicking wet towels at each other — tea towels were kept clean and never flung over the shoulder to pick up hair or worse (gasp) dandruff. I do remember getting in a few swipes with the dish-mop, though. Our dad, by this time, would have retreated into his garden.

Mom finally settled on a system where the one who did the drying waited until the dishes had been washed, stacked in the rack, and laid out on clean tea towels on the counter before entering the room.

Sunday dinners were served in the dining room, the table set with a table cloth and napkins. There were plenty of rules when it came to eating in that household. No elbows on the table, no pushing peas onto your fork with your fingers, no feet on the rungs of the chair.

I admire my mother for sticking to the tradition of the Sunday family dinner where everyone sat down at the table together. We didn't always make it easy for her. I also appreciate that our parents taught the five of us proper table manners, how to set a formal dinner table, and how to handle a knife and fork.

We all make our own rituals and, good or bad, the formal Sunday dinner disappeared fairly early in my own household. Along with a few of the rules, although not the table manners.

The most valuable lesson I learned at my parents' table was the importance of family regularly sitting down together to share a meal and conversation. Whatever day of the week it happens to be.

Do you have particular traditions when it comes to meals at your house? Are they harder to uphold as your children get older?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Looking Back at Past Summer Jobs

School Days

In next to no time school will be out for the summer and many teenagers will be looking for work. College and university students have been out there already for weeks. I hope all those willing to work, especially those who are depending on summer employment to help pay for their education, will find their ideal job.

Looking back, I think our own two boys were fortunate. They were never in a position of having to look for a summer job because of our family's landscaping business. Like their father and uncles before them, anyone with a strong back and a willingness to work in the dirt, the heat, and occasionally the rain, could get on. Both our sons, and a number of their friends besides, spent their summers hauling heavy rolls of sod onto the truck at the farm and then off again at the job site. "A dollar a day and all the grass you can eat," my husband used to quip.

Like many girls, I started my own summer job experience, eons ago, babysitting and selling greeting cards. Pretty lame, considering that some teens were heading away to work — for very good money — picking tobacco in Tillsonburg. They'd return just before school resumed, sporting spectacular tans, fingernails stained from the tobacco plants, and with a new-found maturity that set them apart from the rest of us, something gained from being away from home for a whole season.

We lived in Toronto when I was in grade 10, and one summer I got a job in the gift-wrapping department of the Robert Simpson Co. at their big downtown store. It didn't hurt that my uncle was the manager of the china department there. That job experience led to my being hired to wrap gifts at Christmas time at the exclusive Creed's Furriers. That experience itself is worthy of another blog at another time.

After moving to small town Ontario, I worked one summer and again at Christmas at Chainway, a sort of low-budget Woolworth's. I was paid 42 cents an hour. But I loved it. It was staffed by kids not much older than I was, and it had a bulk candy counter where sampling did not appear to be frowned on.

My final high school summers were spent as a playground supervisor. That job appealed to my "inner teacher." I loved planning each day's activities to include quiet and active games, trips to other playgrounds, and especially lots of messy "arts and crafts."

What were some of your most memorable summer jobs? Did any of them enable you to learn skills you still find useful today?

I can still wrap an attractive present, and I can tie a round-turn-two-half-hitches knot with one hand. In fact, I have to admit I'm a little sorry those handy gift bags we buy today have made the art of gift wrapping obsolete.

Till next time.

photo credit: <a href="">Enokson</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

How Do You Stand On Standing Ovations?

Edward Tudor, the prince, meets Tom Canty, the pauper and street urchin.
On Sunday I went to see our granddaughter in The Prince and The Pauper, a production of the drama class at her high school, where she is in the arts program. She's also a member of the concert band . . . proud Grandma here . . . but that's a topic for a future blog.

The play was wonderful, full of energy. I'd forgotten all but the basic plot of Mark Twain's classic story of switching identities. The dialogue was at times poignant and then, very funny. Both audience and players were obviously enjoying themselves, and the young actors delivered their lines without a hitch. Granddaughter's role was a small one; she is only in her first year of the program, a "minor niner." There'll be bigger roles to come for her.

The set was perfect, and the period costumes were amazing, both street urchins and royal courtiers. In fact, the royal crown and King Henry's jewels looked quite authentic.

All in all, it was a fun production, and the cast got a well-deserved standing ovation after the final curtain. And why not? I don't go along with the theatre purists who insist that standing ovations should be reserved for the likes of the late Pavarotti or the Broadway cast of . . .  (you fill in the blanks here). Do you agree?

Why do we choke up with emotion at delivering a Standing O? I think it's because we feel the love, and that audience at the school, many of whom were parents and grandparents, was bursting with pride and love for those young drama students.

Bravo! I say

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Small World

Three years ago I wrote a biography of Laura Secord. Currently, I am working on Molly Brant's story. Again and again I am struck by the same cast of characters that appear in the lives of both these women.

It shouldn't surprise me, I guess.

Both biographies are about Canadian women whose lifetimes overlapped by twenty-one years.  It's inevitable that the same figures in British, American, and Canadian government would turn up in both. Governor Guy Carleton and John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant-governor of the province of Upper Canada, for example.

But there are also a handful of other notables who cross story-lines between Molly Brant and Laura Secord — the Mohawk Chief John Norton, half Cherokee, half Scot; the ill-fated British General John Burgoyne; and William Johnson Kerr, Molly's grandson who fought in the War of 1812, the war in which both Laura and her husband performed acts of courage.

Molly Brant died in 1796, one year after twenty-one-year old Laura Ingersoll and her family arrived in Upper Canada, but Molly's younger brother, Joseph Brant, appears in both biographies. Richard Cartwright was a Loyalist living in Cataraqui as was Molly. Coincidentally, Cartwright married the sister-in-law of Laura Secord. I had discovered him when I wrote Laura's story, and then there he was, a prominent business man in Molly's world.

It's interesting to encounter historical figures who wander in and out of both stories. It's a small world. And in those early days of the province, even smaller.

Till next time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Triggering Memory

A rushing river, between North Bay and Petawawa.

Watercress and Walking

A freshet runs from the woods and through a culvert under the trail where I walk. Tender young weeds wave in the current on the other side.They trigger a memory. Another walk, this one with my father. We stand looking at a stream that runs under the sidewalk. My father has come here on purpose, to gather watercress for his sandwich.

I hadn't thought of that scene in decades. Or watercress either, for that matter. Funny how that happens, isn't it? When your mind is cleared of all the other dreck, something triggers a memory. A scene, perhaps, for a story. This is one reason why I like to walk.

Around here, spring is the best time for walking on the trail that I prefer. There's a cool breeze off the Bay and the sun is giving off some real warmth. It's been a long, hard winter. Now that the ice and snow have gone, little streams of water are everywhere. The ditches on both sides of the trail are full. Here the bushes are just starting to bud out, and the willows wear greenish-yellow haloes.

 There are sounds all around. A robin rustles through the dry stalks at the edge of forest looking for nesting materials. A killdeer warns of my approach. From the distance comes the sound of a train whistle, the clatter of the crew up on the highway, busy filling potholes. Down at the edge of the water a man is using a power washer on his boat, and someone else revs up a chain saw. Everywhere broken tree limbs tell of the ice storm and high winds.

But the Bay is fairly calm this morning and the swans have returned, puffy white clouds on the blue water, imitating the sky.

The muse returns.

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Reading from Laura Secord, Heroine of the War of 1812.

At the close of a course on DIY Web Design at the Quinte West Library, Peggy provided a reading from her book. This little video was a "made-in-class" effort, put together following the final session of DIY Web Design, conducted by Jacques Surveyer. It's far from perfect, but it was done on the spur of the moment, with no previous preparation. Sure, it would have benefited from something other than overhead florescent lights, maybe a cosier background — a comfy chair next to an end table sporting a vase of flowers, perhaps — rather than a blank wall. But it is an example of what is possible once you master a few techniques in designing a website.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Letters from Readers

Letters from students at a Winnipeg school.

It's been a few years since I've received fan mail from students who are reading my books. 

Back in the days when I wrote novels for the middle grades, I was fortunate to have three of them nominated for the Silver Birch Award. Students participating in the program would often write to the authors whose books they were reading to say they were going to vote for their book as the favourite. 

Sky Lake Summer was the first of these books for me, and in those days before email, the letters would come in big brown envelopes sent by the schools. The Path Through the Trees was the last. 

Last week I received letters from a grade 5–6 class in a Winnipeg School. They had been reading two of my books in class. Treasure at Turtle Lake and The Deep End Gang.  

I am grateful to Scholastic Canada Ltd. for including these books in one of their literacy packages,  Moving Up with Literacy Place (4 to 6), which means they're still being read in the schools. 

I love the honesty of kids of this age. If there are parts of the book they don't like, they tell you. You can usually spot the letters where the teacher has given a little coaching. Who was their favourite character, and why? What inspired the author to write this book?

Several of the letters in this recent batch are hand illustrated, sometimes using themes from the story. I appreciate the extra time spent in producing these.

Like all my "fan" mail. I will keep these missives and treasure them always. And now I must get busy and answer each one.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Honours for Laura Secord

Dundurn publisher Kirk Howard, Vice President Beth Bruder, me,
& the Honourable Dave Levac, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario

It was one of those nice surprises to learn last August that my book, Laura Secord, Heroine of the War of 1812, was one of seven titles Dundurn Press sent to be considered for the 2013 Speaker's Book Award. I put it out of my mind, and I was pleasantly shocked to hear from the publisher himself in November that the book had been nominated. You can read about that on my blog post of November 9, 2013.

The Speaker's Book Award is an annual award "that recognizes works by Ontario authors reflecting the diverse culture and rich history of the province and its people."

This year the awards ceremony was held March 5th in the Legislative Building at Queen's Park, amid much pomp and ceremony. There was a briefing first, while the audience arrived, where the authors of the eleven shortlisted titles got to meet each other and the selection committee, and then we were introduced to the Speaker, the Honourable Dave Levac, a most personable man. 

Then we were led by uniformed guards past the seated audience to the chairs reserved at the front of the dais. The selection committee members introduced each author to the audience and each one in turn, accompanied by one of the guards, mounted the stairs to the dais where the Speaker presented us with our medals. Finally, the winner, Charlie Angus, was announced.

To have come this far, even to have our books chosen in the first place meant we were all winners. Afterwards, we were feted at a reception in the Speaker's apartment, a suite of rooms on the third floor set aside for such occasions.

It's hard to wind down after such an evening. Long after we'd taken the taxi back to our hotel and I'd unpinned my orchid corsage and hung up my medal, I basked in the fleeting fame. A lasting memory.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Writing In Winter

Pathway to reach the birdfeeders.
No one in this part of Ontario will argue when I say it's been a long, cold winter. Even today, nearing the middle of March, we're digging out from another sixteen centimeters of fresh snow.

Unless you're into winter sports there hasn't been much that's been good about the weather this year. Except it's been perfect for staying indoors and getting some writing done. Consequently, my book is now finished. There wasn't much else I could do with my time.

The deadline for delivery to the publisher is March 31st, and while the snow fell and the wind whipped it into enormous drifts, I finished the manuscript by the end of February. Since then, I've written the acknowledgements, compiled the bibliography, and as I read the story through (aloud, for all the nuances, and slowly, to catch the typos) I'm checking that I've included all the important events in Molly Brant's life for the chronology.

The chronology, which is an added feature in all Dundurn's Quest Biographies, appears in two columns, with events in the life of the subject on one side, and events in Canada and the World that took place at the same time, in the other. Readers tell me it helps put the story in context for them.

The chronology and bibliography go at the end of the book, just ahead of the index. I've been jotting down index subjects all through the writing of the book. Next week, I'll assemble the list of illustrations I am proposing and prepare the table of contents.

It feels good not to be rushed at the end. Once I've emailed everything to the publisher I'll be ready for Spring. Bring it on!!