Friday, February 26, 2021

I'll Be Back Next Week

This week did not go according to plans, 
so I'll be back next week with a post.  🤞🤞🤞 

Have a great week!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Friday, February 19, 2021

A Good Day for a Little Humor!

Last week I shared my extensive National Geographic
and DNA results.
As kind commenter remarked:  "Wow! That is a lot of detail.
Do you have the traditional Irish gift of the gab?"
She has a point:  My Irish DNA may be expressing itself.

Thanks to all of you who waded through.
At least you're not Terry who has many nicknames for me, including "Overboard Louise."
He's been dealing with the fallout of my discovering I'm almost as much Irish as Scottish.

I haven't had much time to spend on genealogical research
because I've been busy with my memoir.  Yes!
All that work that I did during NaNoWriMo in November is pushing me forward.
I'm happily slogging on!

I have indulged in looking at funnies online.
Here are a few of my favorite that I came across:
Some are ancestry related,
and some reminded me of my family and friends.

A Message for My Siblings

For My Brother Roy
who is currently flying through a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle
that is taking up his entire dining room table! 

For My Sister Donnie

For My Sister Barb

For My Sister Bertie

For Debra

For Adam

The Plan for next Friday is a return to the North.
Fingers Crossed.
Have a great week!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Friday, February 12, 2021

What the Hell? Who am I?

Months ago I spit into a small, screw-topped vial
containing a preservative solution and sealed it in a small box.
Then I chased down the receding mail truck and handed it to our mail lady.
It took a long time for Ancestry to analyze my results,
and when they arrived, I was shocked.

Let me tell you right up front that I'm not adopted, illegitimate, or have unexpected siblings,
but my results convulsed my cherished family tree and made me question who I am.

The Double Helix Structure of DNA

This wasn't the first time I had my DNA analyzed.
Since I couldn't contribute to the gene pool by having children,
I thought the least I could do was participate in Phase Two
of National Geographic's Genographic Project, Geno 2.0.

The Genographic project was an exciting and ambitious attempt
to determine our human origins and to trace our migrations as we populated the earth.
How could I not contribute my DNA to the effort to map humankind's genetic history?

Almost half a million people from more than 130 countries
participated in the first phase of the  Genographic Project.
This provided an unprecedented look into humankind's journey.

The second phase, Geno 2.0, provided deeper insight into our genetic history
by examining DNA samples for nearly 150,000 DNA identifiers or markers.
These markers revealed rich ancestry-relevant information.
(Source:  National Geographic booklet Geno 2.0:  Your Story.  Our Story.  The Human Story.)
By the time National Geographic retired its Genographic Project,
1,006,542 individuals in over 140 countries had participated in the project.
Individuals were classified by "assessing their proportions
of genomic ancestry related to nine ancestral regions: 
East Asian, Mediterranean, Southern African,
Southwest Asian, Oceanian, Southeast Asian,
Northern European, Sub-Saharan African, and Native American."  (Wikipedia)

I'll bet many people like me were most curious about their individual origins.

Joining the Human Story
Myrtle Louise MacBeath
with her parents, Sara and Don MacBeath
March 1950
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

National Geographic's results were less surprising to me
than Ancestry's, but none-the-less fascinating.
National Geographic compared my DNA affiliations with those of the nine world regions.
They used my entire genome and could see
my mother and father's information going back six generations.

The data showed recent and ancient genetic patterns in my DNA
due to human migrations and mixing over thousands of years.
National Geographic pointed out that the results 
didn't necessarily mean that I belonged to these groups,
but that these groups were a similar genetic match.

So here goes!

My Regional Ancestry (500-10,000 years ago):
First Reference Population:  German
Second Reference Population:  British (England)

German                                     British                                       Me 
46% Northern European           49% Northern European           44% Northern European
36% Mediterranean                  33% Mediterranean                   37% Mediterranean
17 % Southwest Asian             17% Southwest Asian               17% Southwest Asian

My dominant Northern European component likely reflects
the earliest settlers in Europe, hunter-gathers who arrived over 35,000 years ago,
while the Mediterranean and Southwest Asian components reflect early farmers moving
into Europe from the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East over the past 10,000 years.

Perhaps this explains my strange affinity for the Assyrian Collection in the British Museum. 
Ancient Nimrod calls to me every time I set foot in London.

Ancient Nimrod in Assyria Beckons
British Museum, London, UK
September 10, 2018
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

As you may know, all living women have a direct maternal ancestor
who was born some 180,000 years ago in East Africa.
Mitochondrial Eve is the root of the human family tree,
and she generated two lineages known as L0 and L1'2'3'4'5'6.
Each lineage has a different set of genetic mutations that its members carry.

Eventually the L1'2'3'4'5'6 lineage produced the L3 Branch
on our common family tree about 67,000 years ago.
While many L3 members stayed in Africa, some dispersed in different directions.
My distant L3 ancestors migrated north and were the first modern humans to leave Africa.
They created two macro-haplogroups (M and N) that populated the rest of the world.

Basically a haplogroup is an ancestral clan that tells
where your ancestors came from deep in time.
At the risk of over-simplifying very complicated
and sometimes controversial migration patterns,
I'll generalize that the Macro-haplogroup M Branch wandered east throughout Asia
and the Macro-haplogroup N Branch wandered north into Europe.

The Peopling of Eurasia

My "ancestral clan," the western Eurasian Branch,
migrated across the Sinai Peninsula about 60,000 years ago,
having followed the Nile basin out of Africa, 
likely because of its reliable water and food resources.
They probably co-existed with other hominids in the eastern Mediterranean region
and western Asia, such as the Neanderthals, hence my 2.0% Neanderthal DNA.

Thousands of years later, descendants of my N Branch group followed migrating herds
into unexplored territories surrounding the Middle East.
Eventually they roamed north out of the Levant, crossed the Caucasus Mountains,
arrived in southeastern Europe and the Balkans,
and went on to populate the rest of Europe.

Of course, I had to have a complication in my family tree, the R Branch.
This group, dating back to 55,000 years ago, migrated all over the place
including into areas where the N Branch roamed.
In all likelihood, the N and R lineages radiated out of the Near East together,
and geneticists are currently trying to sort out the tangled mess.

About 41,000 years ago, descendants of my R Branch formed the RO Branch,
a group that lived throughout West Asia.

Descendants of my RO Branch gave rise to my ancestors, the pre-HV Branch.
Its members lived around the Red Sea and throughout the Near East,
with its highest numbers in Arabia.

Over several thousand years, my pre-HV ancestors gave rise to
the HV Brancha west Eurasian haplogroup found in Turkey,
the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia, and the Republic of Georgia.  

Caucasus Mountains

My H Branch of ancestors descended from my HV Branch about  28,000 years ago, 
and it washed into western Europe as a wave of migration,
bringing with it significant innovations in tool making, preparing skins, and woodworking.

Around 15,000 to 20,000 years ago, my H Branch of ancestors 
retreated into the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, and the Balkans
because colder temperatures and a drier global climate caused the last Ice Age.
After the ice sheets began their retreat about 15,000 years ago,
my ancestors quickly moved north again and recolonized western Europe.

National Geographic indicated that the highest percentage of the H Branch
currently found in Europe is in Ireland where the line makes up 61% of the population.

Heatmap for H ~ National Geographic Genographic Project.

Somewhere among my rambling deep ancestors, I picked up 1.4% Denisovan DNA.
According to, "Modern humans and Denisovans likely met
for the first time in Eurasia some 40,000 to 60,000 years ago,
after Homo sapiens began their own migration out of Africa."

As for those shocking Ancestry DNA results?
Throughout my life I have proudly proclaimed my Scottish ancestry
on both sides of my family, MacBeath and MacDonald.
My family's clan connections could people a Roll Call of the Clans
at the Antigonish Highland Games in Nova Scotia,
the oldest continuous highland games outside of Scotland.
Somewhere a smidgen of French and Dutch snuck in.

The ancient home of my MacBeath ancestors
is the western coast of Scotland and the Hebrides Islands. 

Motto: Conjuncta virtuti fortuna
Motto Translation: Good fortune is allied to bravery

The ancient home of my MacDonald ancestors
is the west highlands of Scotland and the Hebrides Islands.

Motto: Per mer per terras
Motto Translation: By land by sea

I'll spare you the rest of my Roll Call of the Clans!

Well, my shock is that I'm only 49% Scottish!
Those ancestors DO hail from the Scottish Highlands and Islands,
the outer Hebrides, and the Isle of Skye.

But Ancestry indicates that I'm 41% Irish!
The news convulsed my cherished family tree.
Who the hell am I?

Someone close to me has been chortling
there was a leprechaun in the woodpile somewhere in my past.  
(And that someone is definitely Irish.)

The remaining 10% of of my ethnicity includes
5% from Northwestern Europe, 3% from Germanic Europe, and 2% from Norway.

I broke the news to my siblings:
Donnie, I have shocking news...
Bertie, I have some shocking news, shocking to me, maybe surprising to you...
Barb, I have news that's going to shock you...
Roy, sit down.  I have bad news...

Wow!  It didn't rock their worlds like it rocked mine.
Not even my brother Royal Stewart MacBeath.

Barb and I got into a heated debate
over the origin of the leprechaun in the woodpile.
I'm going with our Grandfather MacDonald's line.
She's going with our Great Grandfather Pratt's line.

Barb's going to have her DNA done by Ancestry too.
She suggested that perhaps she and the rest of my siblings
have different DNA from mine, more Scottish.
I reminded her that she's the one who's been nicknamed the Milkman's Daughter.
She says she's a throwback to the Pratts and that my Scottish genes
were altered by the survivors of the shipwrecked Spanish Armada.
Aren't sisters fun?

But we come by our vigorous discussions legitimately.
I'll never forget my mother firing a raw egg at my father,
because he was singing "The Campbells Are Coming" to tease her.
I think it was his line, "The Campbells are coming, MacDonalds are running," 
that prompted the egg splattering on her target. 
A little later we all sat down for a peaceful scrambled egg breakfast,
although my father couldn't resist humming a few provocative bars here and there.
I wonder what my parents would think about potential Irish origins? 

We Five
Louise (Me), Roy, Barb, Donnie, and Bertie 
Boar's Head Lighthouse, Tiverton, Nova Scotia
August 3, 2015
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

This ancestral setback of mine bears digging into.
I'll keep you posted (depending on what I find out ~ LOL!)

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


Friday, February 5, 2021

"The Window" by Dave Cole

Happy Friday, Everyone!
Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. released a new book on Tuesday,
Dave Cole's excellent young adult novel The Window.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Dancing Lemur Press,
so I'm happy to support a fellow author in DLP's author group.

This creepy paranormal book is perfect for young adult boys, but girls will enjoy it too.
As a retired teacher who's read countless books aloud to elementary-aged kids,
I know a winner when I see one, and this book is a winner.

The Window grabbed me with the first two lines:
"I was fifteen when I saw my best friend die.  Although if I think
about it, I was fourteen when I saw him die the first time."

I flew through the 166 pages of this coming-of-age novel
with its unnerving supernatural twist.
Fifteen-year-old Brian Bingham is confronted with more than
the death of his best friend JK during the worst year of his life:
his grades are tanking, his parents are warring,
and he is falling in love for the first time.

The prospect of someone as clumsy and insecure as him 
asking someone as confident and beautiful as Charlotte 
out on a date is terrifying to Brian.  But with JK as
his enthusiastic wingman, he has no choice but to plunge in.

I like how Dave's prose flowed as I read,
his words carrying me from page to page.
The characters, their challenges, and the setting
had an immediacy and authenticity that I appreciated.
Dave has a knack for blending expository information
into the narrative seamlessly.
The story had a timeless quality about it: 
It could take place today, years ago, or in the future.

I don't care how old you are, the sight of a mysterious window
where no window exists is irresistible.
I'd look through it; wouldn't you?
Unfortunately, as we story lovers know, knowledge of the hidden,
the inexplicable, and the compelling usually extracts a cost.
Is the tragedy unfolding in "The Window" predestined
or can Brian change the future?  Only time will tell.

I had an opportunity to ask Dave Cole some questions
about The Window, and he kindly indulged me.
I'm glad I had the chance to learn more about this talented author.

Author Dave Cole

Questions for Dave:
1.  I'm reading a review copy of The Window as I'm posing these questions.  I'm a
     retired teacher who's read a lot of books for kids of all ages.  I know a winner
     when I see one, and your book is awesome!  How does a computer scientist
     and software designer end up writing a paranormal contemporary fantasy
     for middle school/high school kids?

Like you, I’m an avid reader. I’ve also always enjoyed writing.  Working in a technical field is typically associated with being “left-brained”, but while software development does require analytical and methodical thinking, it can also be surprisingly creative. There are often different ways to solve the same problem, and developers revel in coming up with innovative solutions. 

About five years ago I accepted a role with a large social networking company in California. Before moving my family, I decided to check out the area. That turned into two years of commuting back and forth to St. Louis. It also presented me with a lot of free time.  I used the time to write a middle grade adventure series called The Math Kidsthink a little bit of Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown, with a close group of friends who use their math skills to solve mysteries.  That began my official writing career, and The Window was a result of that.

2.  The characters and the setting of The Window are so normal and authentic
     that a reader readily accepts the window as a portal into the future. How did
     the idea of the window come to you?  

I work out of my home office. One day I heard a screech of brakes and witnessed the aftermath of a near collision between car and bike. I wondered what would have happened if the driver had been a little slower to hit the brake. These accidents never turn out well for the bike rider. That thought led to “what if I knew what was coming and could have warned the driver or biker?” That thought became the premise for The Window.
3.  How did you develop the plot for the story?  Did you know how the storyline
     and its ending from the beginning, or did it evolve as you wrote?
Some writers develop the plot from the beginning, carefully storyboarding and outlining before they ever write a line of text. I’m not one of those writers! I start with a broad idea and a scene or two in my head and let the story evolve as it goes. The Window took several unexpected turns I absolutely didn’t see coming until they happened. I also don’t write from beginning to end. I had written the ending long before I addressed the middle act of the book. I loved my original conclusion, but the story went a different direction, and I was forced to completely rewrite the ending.

4.  You sound like one busy individual based on your bio.  How do you find time to
     write and what is your process?

I do keep busy, but I love the hectic pace. I was doing final edits on The Window, preliminary edits on An Encrypted Clue (book 4 in The Math Kids series) and completing the first draft of An Incorrect Solution (book 5 in The Math Kids series) all at the same time. Behind the scenes I was also working on a new novel. And did I mention I have a full-time job?

I try to write on weekends and a couple of evenings each week. Sometimes it’s only for an hour or so, sometimes I might write for seven or eight hours on a Sunday. I wish I was more consistent in my approach, but so far it seems to be working.
5.  Every author who has published a book during the pandemic has wrestled
     with promoting that book.  How do you plan to promote The Window, and do you have
     any advice for other authors promoting a book during this difficult time?
Welcome to the land of virtual book tours! I would love to do book signings instead as they are one of my favorite things to do! I was doing a signing for my second Math Kids book in Toronto. It was a big convention with book publishers from all over Canada. I felt good that my line of people remained consistent at ten or so people—that is, until I looked to my right and saw a line that wound around the convention hall and stretched into the hallway. I looked closer and it was Dav Pilkey, of Dog Man and Captain Underpants fame. Someday we’ll get back to those days.

In the meantime, my publisher has worked very hard to set me up with numerous guest blogs and virtual interviews. Working for a social media company, I’m also being quite active in promoting the book. My website is seeing quite a bit of activity these days and I have a nice cadre of loyal fans who are helping to spread the word.

6.  I love that you coach elementary school math teams!  Math literacy is as necessary
     as reading literacy.  Have you done school presentations with your Math Kids series?
     Do you have any tips for authors giving presentations at school?
I have done a few school presentations and had plans to do quite a few more this year before Covid shut things down. If I’m speaking on The Math Kids, I usually try to show them some math they have never seen before. The goal is to show them that math is not just worksheets. My biggest tip on school visits is to leave plenty of time for questions. If I’m there for 45 minutes, I’ll only plan on talking for 15 minutes and then open things up. I always get great questions from the audience, some that really make me think.

7.  How did you land your contact with Dancing Lemur Press?
     Did you have an agent or did you query?
I just spoke about this topic at a writing group. I did not take the “traditional” path to publishing. First, I’ve never been able to get an agent, although I haven’t written off that option for the future. For The Window, I queried Dancing Lemur Press directly. They rejected it, but they provided excellent insight into what they liked and what they didn’t. I took their advice to heart and did a significant restructuring of the book. They were kind enough to reread the book after the modifications and chose to publish the new version. 

8.  What did you learn about improving your writing and story by working with
     an editor on The Window?
Working with an editor is great—once your ego comes to grips with understanding the editor is being constructive and not trying to crush your spirit by deleting that one line of perfect prose that took you hours to get just right. 

One of the things I learned was that there are two phases to the editing process. First is the story phase. Does the story flow well? Are the characters and settings believable? Are there any issues with the timeline? Does the structure of the story work? This is where I did my first major rewrite. I had originally written the book as a series of alternating past and present scenes. I thought this was a clever way of approaching a book that deals with being able to see into the future. What I succeeded in doing, instead, was jumbling the message. Sometimes I gave away too much of the story at the wrong time. In other cases, the reader was confused on when the scene was taking place. The editor suggested doing everything in the present and letting the story unfold naturally. Their criticism was spot on and The Window is a much better book as a result.

The second phase was more straightforward: word choices, overuse of certain phrases, tense issues, dialogue construction, and so on. My editor sent me a style guide that allowed me to find and fix many of my mistakes by myself. This sped up the process while giving me a great lesson in improving my writing.

9.  Do you have any tips for unpublished writers who are working on a paranormal
     manuscript for juveniles?
Read lots of books in your genre and age range. Read the best sellers and the ones in the bargain bin. What are the themes? What’s already been done? Where would have made changes if you were writing the same book? 

Write, write, write. Not all of it will be good, but you’ll learn more with each session at the keyboard. Get honest feedback from your intended audience. It doesn’t help to have your niece praise every word. Find readers who will give you that tough criticism. It’s hard to take but you’ll get used to it.

Finally, be patient. Be prepared to spend time waiting for responses from agents and publishers. Even after you finally get that contract, the waiting isn’t over. The process of publishing a book takes a while, but the end result is worth it!

10.  What are you working on now?

I’m working on two projects. The first is The Triangle Secret, book 6 in The Math Kids series, due out in April of 2022. The second is tentatively titled Three Weeks in October, a novel about the relationship between a dying father and his son told through the lens of their love of baseball. I also have a file of five or six other story ideas that I am looking into developing.
11.  Is there anything I haven't asked about that you would like to share about
     The Window?
Writing is a solitary endeavor, but it really helps to have a support system. Family and friends who provide encouragement. Early readers who are willing to give feedback on your books. A publisher who is willing to take a chance on you. An editor that polishes a rough stone into (hopefully) a diamond. Thanks to everyone who has been there for me throughout!

     Thanks, Dave, for your informative answers to my questions.  It
     was fun to "meet" you during this unusual time.  I look forward
     to reading more of your books.  I hope you have great success
     with The Window.

*  *  *  *  *

Young adult fiction is typically written for readers 12 to 18 years old,
but I would recommend this book for avid readers as young as 10
and to the many adults who enjoy this genre.
Choosing a book for boys to read is often challenging, 
but boys will connect with the contemporary issues in The Window.

Good luck to Dave and all my writing friends!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


The Window by Dave Cole

A dark window to the future…

Everything changed the day Brian Bingham looked out the attic window and saw something that wouldn't happen for another week. Through a mysterious window no one else can see, Brian gains a portal into the future. But the future is not always something he wants to see.

Brian has enough troubles in the present without worrying about the future. His parents are constantly fighting, his grades are plummeting, and his new relationship with Charlotte, a girl way out of his league, is in jeopardy.

When the window reveals his best friend's brutal death, Brian’s world is turned upside down. He must find a way to change the future…or die trying.

Release date – February 2, 2021
$13.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 170 pages
Print ISBN 9781939844767 / EBook ISBN 9781939844774
Young Adult – Paranormal (YAF045000) / Contemporary Fantasy (YAF019010) / Horror (YAF026000)

Dave is from St. Louis and has a degree in Computer Science. He is the author of The Math Kids series for middle grade readers. When he is not designing data center management software, he is usually reading, writing, or coaching elementary school math teams. He loves writing and his wife loves that he has found a hobby that doesn't cost money!


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

IWSG: Wednesday, February 3, 2021 ~ Flashy Pants, Wood Ticks, and Blogging Friends


It's the first Wednesday of the month,
the day that members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and writing successes
and offer their encouragement
and support to fellow writers.

To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today,
along with IWSG Founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are Louise - Fundy Blue (That's me!), Jennifer LaneMary AalgaardPatsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon

I hope you have a chance to visit today's hosts and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate a visit and an encouraging comment.

Every month the IWSG announces a question that members can answer
with advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts.

Or, the question can inspire members
if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day.

Remember the question is optional.
This month's featured question is: 
Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?
Happy February, Everyone!
Wishing you valentines and love.  💖💖💖💖💖 

When I started blogging over eleven years ago, I had no idea what blogging was. 
I actually set up my blog with my first post Retirement on August 14, 2012.
Then I lost it and couldn't find it for two months.
Neophyte is an understatement!

I discovered blogging through an old friend from junior high
with whom I had reconnected via FaceBook.
Some of you may remember Ron, his blog from sophie's view,
and his delightful four-legged companion Sophie.
Ron commented on my first post and supports me to this day.

Near Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia, Canada
August 5, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Near Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia, Canada
August 5, 2016
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

When I found my blog and posted again, Surprise! on October 19, 2012, 
Ron prodded his husband Jim to check out my blog,
and I had two commenters and two followers!
I worked up the courage to follow Jim.

Worked up the courage sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?
But I was shy and intimidated because Jim was a photographer,
and I was considering posting some "photography" of mine.

Jim and I
Point Pleasant Park,  Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
July 30, 2015
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Silly me!  Within a few posts, I realized
that exchanging comments with other bloggers was like having penpals,
but without airmail stamps and long waits between letters.
And photographer Jim and hubby Ron championed my photos. 

With four months I had connected with Noushka, Jean, Martha,
Kay, Debra, Peggy, Pat, and Alex.  Over the years,
these people have become my friends and are extra special to me.

This funny rhyming cat guy Pat was an author
who had published about twenty books (at the time ~ LOL!).
I couldn't believe he bothered to consistently comment on my blog.

Then in early January, 2014, Pat featured a cover reveal
for his blogging buddy Alex for a book called CassaThunder.
Clueless, I visited Alex's blog and left a comment,
and OMG this science fiction writer visited my blog in return!

I was a neophyte, okay?
I didn't know that there has never been a comment Pat didn't reply to,
and I didn't know that Alex was the founder of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.
(And I still don't know where CassaThunder is.
Perhaps Pat, err, the Cat was messing with our minds.  He likes to do that).

These friendly, encouraging authors were rubbing off on me,
and three weeks later I changed my profile on LinkedIn
from elementary teacher to writer and posted 
to announce I was a writer with a memoir to write.

My blogging friends cheered me on, and Pat said, 
"haha got it out there
Now all know near and far
Writer at your lair
Can give a har har."

And Alex said,
"You took the plunge! Now you are officially a writer. Believe it.
And believe you will be an author just like your sister."

In early April, 2014, I worked up the courage and joined the IWSG.
Alex said, 
"Yeah!!! Glad you finally joined us. One can never be too insecure
for the group.  Trust me. You are in the right place."

And Pat followed up with,
"that cat joined and he isn't insecure at all,
just be crazy and you are safe haha."

I opted for crazy, and a few days later posted 

I've been jumping in ever since: 
whether baring my soul, engaging with my blogging buddies,
writing about controversial topics, sharing pieces of my memoir,
reviewing books, co-hosting for the IWSG, or entering IWSG anthology contests. 

I made more wonderful friends within the IWSG and without,
among them Geo, Yvonne, Joylene, Baili, Stacy, Sage, and Rain.
I shouldn't be listing names;
I know I'm leaving out people I truly care about, my apologies,
but these special friends have been with me for a long time. 
I've lost a few too, people I truly miss,
but that sadly is the nature of blogging.

This is what I've learned:
There is a whole wonderful world of people in the blogosphere.
If you put yourself out there,
jump in and engage with other bloggers,
you will make special friends.
Some will be with you from the beginning, more come, some go,
but they touch your heart and become part of you.

*  *  *  *  *

So what's with the flashy pants and wood ticks?
Those flashy pants are vibrant neon green,
making it easier for Jack, the friendly meter-reading
protagonist in Pat Hat's recent thriller Zero Usage,
to spot the Lyme-Disease-carrying wood ticks crawling up his legs.   

Since Pat roams Nova Scotia's South Shore,
perhaps the worst place in Canada for wood ticks, 
here's a photo of the ugly little bastards that drive Pat and his protagonist Jack crazy.

Enjoy, Pat ~ LOL!

When I frequented Nova Scotian woods a long time ago, they weren't nearly as scary.
As part of the first female geology field team working in the province,
I only had to worry about moose, bears, and startled logging crews.
Jack must contend with psycho murdering drug dealers, a cannibal or three,
some alien wannabes, and way too much nasty nature.
No, in my time, nature was nice and the aliens were real.

Camaraderie at Its Best
Me, Lynn, and Elsie in the field (and a story for another day) 
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Jack is not having a good day as he falls flat on his face
in the mud while fleeing ominously snapping branches:
"Stupid tree root.  Stupid mud.  Stupid people with their stupid cottages
in the middle of nowhere.  Stupid wood ticks.  Stupid nature."

Quitting for the day, Jack hops into his two-wheel drive fair-weather vehicle
heading for home and plunges into a fight for survival instead.

As he reflects later:
"I could never have guessed the sheer level of crap I would have to go through just from setting out to read crummy meters.  And as much as I think about the what ifs, there are a few reasons I'm glad it happened.  Those reasons stayed by my side through it all.  Without those reasons I never would have survived to share this tale.  And survive we did and will. No matter the crap thrown at us by something like a simple read of zero usage."

What an intense escapade!
I'll never go into the woods again, any woods, without thinking of Jack and his battles!

Zero Usage by Patrick Hat
Google Search

I keep saying these two things when reviewing Pat's novels, 
but they continue to be true:
They are a guaranteed wild and crazy ride, and his writing is improving.

Pat's imagination has never grown up, and I mean that in the best way.
It is as unfettered, playful, curious, and creative as a boy's.  
As a result, his books are an exercise in the willing suspension of disbelief.

As Pat's writing matures, his character development deepens,
especially in his adult novels.
His protagonists may be unconventional,
but there is no confusion about where they stand.
They stand for good and fight against evil
while helping and protecting those they care for and love.

Jack is an unassuming, and pragmatic hero.
Once he makes up his mind to help people in trouble,
he'll willingly lay down his life for them.
Says Jack, " We hardly get anything we want... .  
But we live with what we have and what we've done
and we find a way to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
If not for ourselves, then we do it for those that need us."

And, as anyone who reads Pat's adult novels knows, his protagonists like Jack
will do anything within their powers, anything, to protect a  defenseless child.
I'll take Jack as my hero anytime.
Zero Usage was definitely a fun and satisfying read.

Pat and Cohort Orlin
Google Search

I wonder what Pat, egged on by his cohort Orlin, is dreaming up next?

*  *  *  *  *

Happy IWSG Day, everyone! 

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue 

1.  Willing Suspension of Disbelief:
      This literary concept originated with Aristotle in Greek theater:  "The intentional avoidance of 
      critical thinking or logic in examining something surreal, such as a work of speculative fiction, 
      in order to believe it for the sake of enjoyment."  Wikipedia