Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Special Literary Event

See You in September

Word Northumberland is the name of a special literary event to be held Spetember 7th in Cobourg, Ontario. I will be among several authors signing books and chatting with the crowd.

Here is the official invitation:

Join us in a celebration of writers and readers at

Word Northumberland

September 7, 2013 from 10 am. to 4 pm.

At the Historic Firehall Theatre, 213 Second St. Cobourg.
Free admission.

Local writers, publishers, retailers and libraries invite you to :

•discover great books
•meet talented authors; listen to short, entertaining readings
•learn about literacy events in your community
•find answers to your questions about writing and publishing

•view beautiful cover art and illustrations

 Here is the link to the Facebook page for the event.
This is where you'll find out all the exciting details as they unfold and the schedule for special readings. Come and stroll through our venue at the historic Firehall Theatre in Cobourg. We hope to see you there!!

Seeking Molly in Early Kingston

Plaque in St. Paul's churchyard, Molly Brant's final resting place. 

On a recent research trip to Kingston, Ontario, I spent some time walking about that historic city. I was seeking out spaces through which Molly Brant might have moved during the time she lived here, from 1783–1796 — the location of the church she attended regularly, the first St Georges Anglican Church, the barracks where she and her family lived until their house was ready. Nowhere was Molly easier to imagine than at the site of her former home, on the banks of the Catarqui River.
Bust of Molly Brant at the Rideaucrest Home, built of the site of Brant's home.

While in the city, I was fortunate to be able to visit professional archaeologist Susan M. Bazely at her home so that we could talk about Molly. I left there with a map of the city of Kingston on which Sue had kindly marked the various places I must see in order to trace Molly's story.

After the Treaty of Paris in 1783 the proposed boundary between the newly independent United States and Canada was drawn through the middle of the lower Great Lakes. It was looking as if Carleton Island, Molly's home at the time, was going to become part of the States. The island is located in the St. Lawrence on the other side of Wolfe Island, close to the American mainland. To take its place, a new military port began to develop at Cataraqui.

The old French Fort Frontenac on the west side of the Cataraqui River was in a dilapidated state, but temporary barracks were built within it for the garrison troops. And it is here where Molly and her family were housed for a while.
Reconstruction of the northwestern bastion of old French Fort Frontenac. In the background, across the street, are the gates of today's Fort Frontenac .

Governor Haldimand ordered any houses or sheds that could be moved from Carleton Island be taken to Catarqui. Sue Bazely described to me how these would have been pulled across the ice of the St. Lawrence in the winter.  It's not hard to imagine what a spectacle that must have been for the early residents of the town.

Legend has it that part of this house, on the corner of Gore and King Streets in Kingston, may have been brought over the ice from Carleton Island to Catarqui  after 1783.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Imagining Scenes

Last Tuesday I joined another writer for an event that was called "A Literary Adventure." After reading some brief selections from our books we invited the audience to participate in a discussion about what they'd just heard and about writing in general.

There was one question that I found especially interesting. And original.

I'd told the group that while writing Laura Secord, Heroine of the War of 1812 the publisher had told me I was free to dramatize certain events in Laura's life — as long as the event had actually happened. The book begins with a scene I created around what I felt must have been a traumatic event in young Laura's life — the day she learns that her father has made arrangements for her six-month-old baby sister, Abigail, to be adopted, to be taken from the family home to go and live with relatives.

Laura's mother, Elizabeth, has recently died, leaving four little girls. Laura, aged eight, was the eldest. It is a poignant scene, the child rushing outside where the baby's cradle has just been loaded into the horse and cart that waited in the road, hoping to say one last goodbye. ". . . to kiss again the rosy lips and breathe in the baby's sweet, milky scent."

The question was: How much did you know about the event that you chose to dramatize before you wrote it?

Well, I knew that the baby's name was Abigail and that she was adopted when she was six months, and I knew the names and ages of Laura's siblings, the date of Elizabeth's death, and that the baby was adopted by "the Nashes." The rest — Laura recalling her mother's last days, her Papa turning Laura back to the house so that she could "Run up and check that we haven't forgotten anything," were all imagined.

That scene always draws a response from my readers. Writing little scenes, almost as if I were watching them on a stage, helps breathe life into the characters. Let me know what you think.