stillpoint

musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

animals of The Write Spot 3

This edition of The Write Spot is all about cats, dogs, raptors, chickens, and the memory of a very good horse.

"But wait," I hear you asking. "What's with all the critters? Isn't The Write Spot about the many and varied places where writers write?" 

Why, yes. Yes, it is. And I hope you've enjoyed meeting the twenty-four authors who've visited so far as much as I have. It's been great fun getting to know the talented women behind the books and I have more exciting guests lined up for the coming months. (Why not subscribe to stillpoint by email to be sure you'll never miss a post.)

Meanwhile, the cats, dogs, raptors, chickens, and horses are part of a celebration marking the first anniversary of The Write Spot. You see, beyond a mutual love of reading and writing, it soon became obvious that my author guests share with me a deep love and respect for animals. Some of us keep companion pets, others bring animals to life as story characters, while still others take inspiration from animal encounters in the wild. I invited everyone back to celebrate this common thread in our lives with a three-part series called Animals of The Write Spot. So far, we've met a Santa-loving Maine Coon cat, a Husky with one blue eye and one brown, a window-peeking mama duck, and many more! I've included links at the end of this post in case you missed them but first, please enjoy Animals of The Write Spot, Part Three:




This winsome lad with the gentle brown eyes is Nico, the nephew-dog of Canadian author Joanne Guidoccio.
Here's Nico's story as told by his Auntie Joanne:

"We’re getting a Rottweiler, part Shepherd." My heart sank at those words, but I couldn't say anything. It wasn't my house, and I wouldn't be taking care of the dog. Having spent most of my adult life in condos, I have lived the life of a pet owner vicariously through my brother Tony, who has owned dogs of different breeds. I especially liked Fanny, the beautiful poodle, who is no longer with us. As for the larger dogs, I tend to take distance.

I assumed that would be the case with Nico, who has grown to his full height and weight of 120 pounds. Definitely a force to be reckoned with and the best of guard dogs. I was pleasantly surprised...

Playtime with Zora, his Boston Terrier sister, can be loud and sometimes alarming to watch, but they are the best of friends and have lived amicably for almost ten years.

Nico has a gentle, respectful side. Often, I will find him at my side, watching and waiting to be acknowledged. When my mother was alive, he would position himself at the side of her wheelchair, quietly standing guard and appreciative of the food gifts she often bestowed. I marvel at his ability to plop himself down and rest, amid the bustling noise of a holiday get-together. A Zen dog? Visit Joanne Guidoccio's Write Spot.



Meet handsome Phil the palomino, out for a ride with a young Susan Fox – who hasn't changed a bit!

"I don't currently have a pet because our living and travel situation isn't appropriate for it. As a kid, I had a cat and then two great dogs, but the animals that have always held a special place in my heart are horses. Yes, I was the cliche horse-crazy girl. I took English riding lessons and also rode Western with my dad when we took family holidays. Here's one of the horses from back in those days – a gorgeous palomino gelding named Phil. I've been thrilled to use my love of horses in my Caribou Crossing Romances series from Kensington. It's amazing how childhood passions can linger into adulthood and have a significant impact." Visit Susan Fox's travelling Write Spot.


photo by Priscilla Iezzi
Author, falconer, and professional animal trainer Rebecca K. O'Connor says her office doubles as an animal overflow room. "If I'm raising a hawk, fostering a parrot, or have any other strays, they come join me in my office as my temporary muse. And of course, there are dog beds so that my Brittanny spaniels can stay close to the action." Check out Rebecca K. O'Connor's Write Spot.  


Meet Tiger Henry, the cat who adopted author Karen McCullough and her family. (This photo shows him snuggled up with Karen's youngest daughter.) Karen shared this touching story:

"A few years back (okay, quite a few), I noticed a cat hanging around our back yard. He was a rather average looking orange tabby except that he had a strange snaggle tooth that stuck out of the jaw. He was a quiet, gentle, sweet animal who loved cuddling up to people, and didn't seem to want to be anywhere else. My kids were already sneaking him dishes of milk behind my back, so I bowed to the inevitable. His timing was good. Our beloved dog had died a few months earlier at a venerable old age. We couldn't bear the thought of another dog so soon, but we were ripe for adoption by a sweet-natured cat.

"We learned a little later that Tiger Henry had belonged to a young man with serious disabilities. He'd gone into a home that didn't permit pets, so a neighbor several houses up the street had agreed to take him. They already had several cats, though, who didn't take kindly to the newcomer and ran him off. The neighbor was relieved and thrilled that we were willing to take care of Tiger Henry and had no problem with his previous owner coming to visit him occasionally." Lucky Tiger Henry! Visit Karen McCullough's Write Spot.


Banjo, Sydell Voeller's little boy tuxedo cat on the left and Nutmeg, the sleek female kitty on the right, are as different from each other as they can be – even though they came from the same cat shelter in Oregon. Banjo is a sweet little gentleman who likes to explore, but in a laid back way. Nutmeg loves to play and is as quick as a bolt of lightning.

While totally bonded to each other, they still have an occasional misunderstanding, especially over who gets to spend the most time with their human mom. While Sydell tries to keep things fair, the cats often have different ideas.  "This is almost like raising my two human kids all over again," Sydell says with a chuckle. Visit Sydell Voeller's Write Spot.




Author Tracey J. Lyons adores her chickens. "Now I know they are not the usual pet," she says, "but I take great comfort in listening to my hens clucking away in their coop. There's nothing more satisfying to me than collecting eggs from the hen house every day. What better pet can there be than one who actually gives you something in return for your love and affection?" (Very true, Tracey. I'm a chicken lover, too.) Visit Tracey J. Lyons' Write Spot.



Meet Gabby and Poppy, two appropriately named Labs who make their home with mystery author Cathy Ace. "Gabby has been with us for twelve and a half years, Poppy for ten and a half. When we got Gabby, we already had a yellow Lab named Howie and a black Lab named Winnie. Howie was a bit of a howler and Winnie a bit of a whiner. I should have known when I named Gabby that she'd turn out to be a very "talkative" dog who has many unique sounds (all of which I understand) and Poppy? Let's just say she's hardly ever still, never walks but runs or bounds... popping about the place like a bullet from a gun! It seems names matter whether for dogs, or characters in books." Visit Cathy Ace's Write Spot.



"Keesha and Mojo allow me to share a house with them, feed them, and cater to their every whim," says cozy mystery author Linda Wiken, aka Erika Chase. "If you live with a cat, you know what I mean. These two are the inspiration for Brie and Edam in A Killer Read; they have their own methods of 'editing' my work at the keyboard; and they offer unconditional approval." 

Linda also shared a photo of herself with her grand-dog, Khloe, taken at the ocean in Victoria, British Columbia – a spot Linda thinks is one of the most inspiring places in the world. (I agree!) Visit Linda Wiken's Write Spot.



Here with the last word (as usual), is my own mostly sweet but sometimes sarcastic Sam the Cat. He's been my faithful companion for fifteen years and, as you can see, he takes his job as my writing assistant very seriously. Did you know he named himself? Here's Sam's story.


Want more animals? Check out these lovelies!




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About The Write Spot:
I've always been fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes. Whether it's backstage photos from my favourite play, a peek into the kitchen where a chef is working her culinary magic, or simply a glimpse through an uncurtained window into a stranger's private world, there's an undeniable thrill of discovery, a sense of secrets shared. It's no surprise, then, that I'm immensely curious about where other writers do their work. I've blogged about it before in this post about my own 'write spot' and so enjoyed the comments, I was inspired to launch a regular feature here at stillpoint. Watch for The Write Spot every other Wednesday and join me as I discover the many and varied places where writers write.


stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington





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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Samcat takes over...


Cheryl here. I'm taking some vacation time this week  off to see a play at the Stratford Festival, visit some galleries, eat some lovely meals (washed down with some very good wine), and just generally catch up on my rest and relaxation. I've asked Sam, my faithful sidekick and bookshelf cat, to keep an eye on things here at stillpoint and maybe tell you a tale or two. Take it away, Sam, the blog is all yours. Be good!


Really? Isn't that just like a human? She not only leaves me home alone but expects me to do her entertaining, too. Hmph. Like that's ever going to happen. But I guess you can hang around if you want. As long as you're quiet. Just sit over there in the corner and try not to be annoying while I find something to do. 

Ahh, look at all these beautiful books. I like the way they smell, especially when I ... oops!




What? You know I did that on purpose, right? I mean, how else would a cat choose a book to read? But... yawn! This story is making me sleepy. And I don't like the way you've been reading over my shoulder. Get back to your corner!

Hmm... Herself seems to have left the iPad on my footstool. Maybe I'll look at some pictures...



My, what a handsome cat. Haven't I seen you in the movies? Was it Catsablanca? The Great Catsby? The Clawedfather? Yes, I'm sure that was it. 



Care to join me for a snifter of catnip?



Oh. Are you still here? Then I'm afraid we have a problem. You've seen too much. Before I can let you leave, I need you to make me a promise. Place your right paw over your heart and repeat after me: "Everything that happened when the cat was home alone will remain our little secret. Forever." Right? Right. 

And now I think it's time for you to go. 



Now I lay me down to sleep...



Shhh. (Close the door on your way out.)



Permalink: Sam takes over...


stillpoint is (usually) the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington, but this edition has been brought to you by Sam "the boss cat" Harrington. Meow.









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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

animals of The Write Spot 2



The Write Spot began in July of 2015 with a simple question: Where do writers write? Since then, I've had the pleasure of meeting two dozen talented authors who've generously invited us into their personal writing spaces and shared their stories. It's been great fun getting to know the women behind the books.

Beyond our mutual love of reading and writing, I've discovered we also share a deep love and respect for animals. Some of us share our homes with companion pets, others bring animals to life as story characters, while still others take inspiration from animal encounters in the wild. I've invited all twenty-four authors back to celebrate this common thread in our lives with a three-part anniversary series called Animals of The Write Spot. Part one featured a splendid batch of dogs, cats, and even a few pelicans! Click through if you missed it. But first, please enjoy Animals of The Write Spot, Part Two:



Meet Trooper and George, handsome grand-dogs of Canadian mystery author Brenda Chapman. (If there's an award for cutest ears ever, my vote goes to Trooper!)


Brenda says, "While I do not have a dog myself, I’m lucky to have two daughters who do. I’ve become the puppy-sitter, happily helping out now and then in my daughters’ busy lives. Lisa’s pup Trooper is a four-month old Corgi and I currently mind him two days a week. Julia’s dog George is mainly Maltese but I don’t see him as often since they both moved to Toronto last year. The two dogs have not had a chance to meet yet and I’m looking forward to the day!" Check out Brenda's lovely Write Spot.



Mystery author Sandra Carey Cody gets a bit misty-eyed when remembering the many pets her family has loved over the years. "They’re all special in their own way," she says, "and they’ve all added something special to our lives." Now that Sandy and her husband are empty nesters, this fierce beauty is the love of their lives. Missy is a rescued road-drop cat, who obviously considers herself a mighty hunter. (She's really a sweetie, not fierce at all!) Visit Sandra's Write Spot.



This gorgeous boy with the heart-melting eyes is Monty, who makes his home with author Louisa Treger. She says, "Monty lies on the floor of my study while I write, or under my desk; he is the sweetest and most undemanding of companions. Through his constant presence, he has become almost part of my creative process." See Monty in glorious colour and check out the awesome South African view from Louisa's Write Spot.


Meet Nixon, a sweet girl who's very lucky indeed to have mystery author Anne Cleeland as her grandma. Just look at that doggy birthday treat! Anne tells me Nixon was a very small puppy in a Mexican pet shop when her daughter Aidan rescued her, many years ago. Since Aidan was living in a dorm at the time, the doggie-grandma had to step up and take her in, and now that Aidan has her own family, they share custody. "Nixon is named after the surf wear company, not the former president," says Anne. "It’s a generational thing." Apparently Nixon never takes a good picture, because she always views the camera with extreme misgiving. (I know how you feel, Nixon.) Visit Anne's Write Spot.



Romance author Sheila Seabrook shares her spacious backyard in Alberta, Canada with an assortment of ducks, bunnies, moose, deer, and a cute wee chipmunk that races around the yard. Moose have been known to wander right up to her veranda and several deer show up (mostly at night) to munch on the cedars. This mama duck came to visit in the spring and stayed to build her nest. She seemed to enjoy peeking through the family room window – keeping an eye on her humans, I guess… or maybe wondering where writers write! Once mama's eight ducklings hatched, the little family paddled around Sheila's pond for a few days before moving on. "We have another duck that we think is sitting on a batch of eggs," says Sheila, "so hopefully we'll see more ducklings soon." Sheila was my first guest at The Write Spot.



Mystery author Vicki Delany travels a lot and doesn't have a pet right now – her beloved dog, Shenzi, passed away a few years ago. But Vicki's love for animals shines through in her writing. Whether it's Charles the opinionated library cat in the Lighthouse Library series (written as Eva Gates); Norman the hard-working RCMP tracker dog in the Constable Molly Smith mysteries; or Matty, the loveable St. Bernard puppy in the new Year-Round Christmas cozy series, Vicki writes about dogs with humor and compassion – and readers fall in love. That's Mattie, up to his puppy-style mischief under the Christmas tree on the cover of We Wish You a Murderous Christmas. Visit Vicki's Write Spot.



Kathye Quick sent me this photo of a handsome trio, named Webster, Duffy, and Peggy. The only trouble? Kathye is not an animal person. Don't worry, though, Webster is on the job.

"I certainly don't wish any ill will," says Kathye. "I'm just not willing to take care of any animals. Selfish, I know, but you have to give me points for honesty. As the gods would have it, all of my sons love animals and have several. I would politely pat each one on the head and go into another room when visiting. Then came Webster. He's the biggest dog in the picture. He followed me everywhere and slobbered on everything I owned, but for some reason I didn't mind. For some reason l could not resist his tongue-hanging-out greeting, folded ear, and doofy walk. Don't know why, but I like him. Maybe there is hope for me yet. Now, as the sign on my car proudly proclaims – I Love My Grand Dogs!  Visit Kathye's Write Spot.



Meet Sugar the Bichon Frise and her sidekick Vanilla the Cockapoo. Heidi Ashworth tells me these two sweeties are an integral part of her family. "Sugar keeps all of us on schedule, waking us up each morning with a shake of her collar. She comes to me when I am writing at my computer and nudges me in the thigh when it is time to pick up kids from school. She seems to know how everyone is feeling and is always on hand to lick tears from your face or to crawl into your lap. Vanilla's human is Sugar, which irritates Sugar to no end. Vanilla's job is to sleep by the side of my disabled son each night and to accompany me when I bring him his medicine each morning. She is a drama queen with big, floppy ears which she comically flings from side to side when she is nervous or excited. The two of them are much more fun than the sum of their parts and we are so lucky to be their humans."

Readers, did you spot the violin in that photo of Sugar? Talk about a talented dog! True, it only has one string, but Heidi says we ought to cut Sugar some slack because she's just a beginner. ;-) Visit Heidi's Regency-romantic Write Spot.





Oh, and my own dear Sam the Cat says you should be sure to come back for Animals of The Write Spot, Part Three… Watch for it here on August 17th.














About The Write Spot:
I've always been fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes. Whether it's backstage photos from my favourite play, a peek into the kitchen where a chef is working her culinary magic, or simply a glimpse through an uncurtained window into a stranger's private world, there's an undeniable thrill of discovery, a sense of secrets shared. It's no surprise, then, that I'm immensely curious about where other writers do their work. I've blogged about it before in this post about my own 'write spot' and so enjoyed the comments, I was inspired to launch a regular feature here at stillpoint. Watch for The Write Spot every other Wednesday and join me as I discover the many and varied places where writers write.


stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington





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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

world between the covers...


As a child, I had a lively pen pal relationship with my Dad’s Aunt Win who lived in a cottage near Newquay in Cornwall, England. The two of us exchanged dozens of letters over the years and I like to think we knew and understood each other as well as any niece and great aunt could across such a distance.

Win was a great lover of books and reading and made it her mission to foster that love in me, as well. She'd send me a book for every birthday and another one at Christmas – beautifully bound classics starting with Black Beauty and moving on to Dickens, Bronte, and Austen.

Win encouraged me to share stories in my letters and she wrote tales of the Cornish life and landscape in return. We never had a chance to meet in person, but from her kitchen table in Myrtle Cottage, Win fed my love of reading and gave me the confidence to believe in myself as a writer.  



A few weeks ago, just for fun, I typed the old familiar address for Myrtle Cottage into Google search, hoping to find a street view of the area. To my surprise and delight, the exact address turned up as a bed and breakfast. I've written to the owners, hoping to confirm it really is the same house Win wrote to me about all those years ago, but I haven't yet had a response. What fun to imagine visiting Cornwall and staying in the very place Aunt Win so loved. Talk about a writer's dream come true!



Who inspired you as a reader or writer? Share your story in the comments.



Wondering where you've heard that before? The title of this post is a quote from Notes on the Art of Poetry, a poem by Dylan Thomas:

"I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books,"


stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington



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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Write Spot: Tracey J. Lyons

Have you ever wondered where your favourite writers do their work? Look no farther than The Write Spot, a bi-weekly author series spotlighting the many and varied places where writers write.

My special guest for this twenty-fifth edition is romance author, Tracey J. Lyons. An Amazon Top Ten bestselling historical romance author of the Women of Surprise series, Tracey sold her first book on 9/9/99! Her books have been translated into several languages and are available in print, digital and audio formats. Tracey lives with her husband in New York's Hudson Valley region. She has appeared on the award winning Cox Cable Television show, Page One, and on the stage of Lady Jane's reading salon in New York City. She holds membership in Romance Writers of America, American Fiction Christian Writers and Novelists Inc. A true upstate New Yorker, Tracey believes you should write what you know. Her historical romances are all set in the New York State area. Tracey considers herself a small town gal who writes small town romances.

This is Tracey's bright and spacious Write Spot:


Welcome, Tracey! What makes this The Write Spot for you?

This is my third home office relocation, but by far my favorite spot. Situated right outside my bedroom door I only have to tumble out of bed and I'm at my desk in seconds. I really like having a window to look out, though this one peers into my neighbor's side yard. So some days I feel like I'm playing I-spy!

Sounds like the perfect set-up. After all, people watching is a very important part of every writer's job. ;-) 

Other than your computer or laptop, what's the one thing you couldn't be without in your Write Spot?

I love having a few favorite photos near my desk. This one, from the Chatham Book Store, Chatham, NY signing where my book is featured right next to Bill Clinton's in the front window, still cracks me up! 


I remember the day of my signing this woman comes running into the store thinking she was going to be seeing Bill Clinton. Imagine her surprise when she saw it was only little old local author Tracey Lyons sitting there! And, no, she didn't stay for my signing.

What are you working on now?

Right now I'm in the middle of planning out the next two books in the inspirational historical romance series that has its first book, A Changed Agent, out right now. And I'm toying with an idea for a sweet, but sassy contemporary series.

Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Come visit me at my website, traceylyons.comdiscover all my books in one convenient spot on my Amazon Author Pageand connect with me on social media at:
Twitter: @TraceyJLyons
Goodreads: Tracey_J_Lyons



When schoolteacher Elsie Mitchell meets rugged William Benton on a train platform in Albany, it appears they have nothing in common. He isn't the sort of fellow a proper young woman of the 1890s would ever speak to, much less become involved with. But when she arrives at her small town in the Adirondack Mountains, Elsie is offered a job as caregiver for this mysterious out-of-towner's niece and nephew, who've been tragically orphaned. Heartbroken for them, she accepts.

Unknown to her, William is an undercover Pinkerton agent posing as a lumber-company foreman. He's never wanted family – his work is too dangerous. Yet as Elsie transforms his house into a home and he spends time with the children, he feels drawn to family life – and to Elsie.

As a good Christian, Elsie is troubled by William's secrets…though she does find him intriguing. And when a sinister figure from her past arrives, Elsie and William will have to trust in faith and newfound love to protect their unlikely family from danger.








About The Write Spot:
I've always been fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes. Whether it's backstage photos from my favourite play, a peek into the kitchen where a chef is working her culinary magic, or simply a glimpse through an uncurtained window into a stranger's private world, there's an undeniable thrill of discovery, a sense of secrets shared. It's no surprise, then, that I'm immensely curious about where other writers do their work. I've blogged about it before in this post about my own 'write spot' and so enjoyed the comments, I was inspired to launch a regular feature here at stillpoint. Watch for The Write Spot every other Wednesday and join me as I discover the many and varied places where writers write.


stillpoint is the blog of Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington

   



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