the-loyalist-legacy_webToday, I welcome Elaine Cougler back to my blog. This post marks her fifth appearance since 2013 when she introduced the first of her Loyalist books. Amazing!

Elaine and I set this date a few months back to coincide with the release of her third book in her Loyalist trilogy. The Loyalist Legacy continues the saga of a little-known part of Canadian and U.S. history.

It really is a coincidence that I’m publishing this post today, one week after the presidential election in the United States where loyalties are being questioned, and some folks talk about moving to Canada. Elaine takes us back to the time of the Revolutionary War when not everyone wished to leave the British Empire. The parallels are stunning. Here’s Elaine Cougler to explain:


Who Were the Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War?

The phenomenon of Loyalists—those loyal to a certain person or cause—is definitely not new, but during the American Revolutionary War it took on a special significance. Many of the settlers in the Thirteen Colonies did not want their government to separate from the British even though they, too, experienced the bitter taste of the Stamp Act and other debilitating measures.

Today, Britain, the United States, and Canada are great allies so it is hard to believe that two hundred years ago such was not the case. My trilogy follows the story of how the Loyalists came to be and their difficult journey to what is Canada today.

These Loyalists chose to escape from the Colonies rather than be harried and hounded for their beliefs as the Patriots grew ever more powerful. Many (about half of those who left the Thirteen Colonies) went to the new land that came to be called Canada.

The British government chose to reward their choice by giving them land and the bare necessities needed to start anew but also went on to allow these Loyalists to use the initials U.E. after their names. Unity of the Empire is the strict legal meaning although today U.E.L. is often used. This is translated to United Empire Loyalist in the vernacular.

Many people wonder why these people chose as they did, a question I’ve used in my trilogy to explain John’s decision to join Butler’s Rangers (in the first book, The Loyalist’s Wife) and fight for the British. By this third book, he has not fully explained his reasons, and on his deathbed whispers the story of his youth, which caused his loyalty to remain through all the trials he and his family have withstood. Lucy and two of his grown sons are with him as he begins to tell of a certain British officer who saved his young life.


Here is part of John’s story from The Loyalist Legacy:

He followed a long line of prisoners up the gangplank and along the deck where he could see heads bobbing down into the hold; if they didn’t move smartly a sailor smacked them with a club.

“Stay by me, boy,” the harlot twisted around to whisper. “I’ll see no harm comes to ye.”

He didn’t answer. The harlot stepped into the hatch. Just as his bare foot slipped on the treacherous decking, a hand clapped onto his shoulder and stopped him. The harlot jerked to a stop also as they were still chained together. She wheeled around. “What trick is that, boy?” She gnashed her blackened teeth at him.

“Hush, woman.” A soft voice from behind John silenced her. He righted himself on the slippery decking. “Come. All of you.” He indicated the two behind still connected to their snaking line.

“Hold!” Three muskets jabbed toward the prisoners who stopped like the pawns they were in this elaborate game that had been playing forever. “Release ‘em!” Beside John the musket jabbed into his friend’s British red chest.

“I want the boy!”

“You’ll not get ‘im.” The guard pushed John toward the gaping hole and into the harlot who had stepped back up to the deck. The weight of the chain on the other two kept them both from careening down into the depths of the ship. This was hopeless, John thought, but just as he resigned himself to entering that foul hold his friend spoke again.

“Cut the chains.” He dangled a cloth purse bulging and clinking in front of the man’s eyes, suddenly glinting from more than the morning sun.

“I can’t cut ‘em. Take all four or none. Yer pick.” From behind, shouts and shoving added urgency to the situation. John had a time keeping his footing but he wasn’t going below.

With a quick glance at the angry mob the redcoat thrust the purse into the guard’s eager hand and pulled his charges out of line. No one noticed the uniformed soldier who marched the four prisoners off the ship again and along a tightly packed alley surely full of pickpockets and all manner of the underbelly life of the great city of London. Suddenly John’s feet no longer hurt, the chains didn’t chafe, and the chamber pots being emptied up and down the alley couldn’t touch him.

At a hole-in-the-wall shop with its sign—Shoemaker—barely hanging on one rusted bolt his friend stopped and dragged them all inside. “Cut these chains off,” his soldier said.

The weight of the shackles gone, John dared to hope again.

The man sent the other prisoners on their way and hauled John out the door after them but not before grabbing a pair of shoes for him to wear. He threw coins on the counter in front of the astonished shoemaker and did not wait for anything else in return.

“Put those on.” He stopped for just a moment. “Come.” He pulled John to another ship and suddenly his newly shod feet halted on the slippery cobblestones. What was this? Was he saved only to go on a different ship?


When the War of 1812 is finally over William and Catherine Garner flee the desolation of Niagara and find, in the wild heart of Upper Canada, their two hundred acres straddling the Thames River. On this valuable land, dense forests, wild beasts, disgruntled Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William cannot take his family back to Niagara, but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and the children, he hurries along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return in time for spring planting.

With realistic insights into the challenging lives of Ontario’s early settlers, Elaine Cougler once again draws readers into the Loyalists’ struggles to build homes, roads, and relationships, and their growing dissension as they move ever closer to another war. The Loyalist Legacy shows us the trials faced by ordinary people who conquer unbelievable hardships and become extraordinary in the process.


Elaine Cougler’s Website 

Find Elaine Cougler on social media:


Facebook Author Page


And read about Elaine from previous posts on my website:



Author Wednesday – Elaine Cougler (The Loyalist’s Luck, 11-5-2014)

Author Wednesday – Elaine Cougler (The Loyalist’s Wife, 10-02-2013)



CDN (book antiqua) Front Cover 6x9 JPEG Final ProofChasing Down the Night  – Crater Lake Series, Book 3 by Francis Guenette

I’m not usually a reader of novels in a series. That changed when I fell in love with Francis Guenette’s Crater Lake setting and characters. Beginning with the first book in the series, Disappearing in Plain Sight, I settled in with Izzy and Liam, Beulah and Bethany, and all the others, becoming a part of their oddly matched family as much as the stragglers who visit them throughout the three novels.

The injured souls who come to the lake and the camp on Northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, arrive with low expectations, but desperate for some type of healing. In Chasing Down the Night, characters from the first two novels, such as Dylan and Lisa, still need to find some kind of resolution from their past, but the reader is also introduced to three new residents at the camp with their own challenges to overcome. The intertwining of their lives, along with the newly hired cook from Toronto, play an important role in the unfolding of the ensuing dramas.

There’s a soap opera quality to the story line, which is carried artfully to the third novel. In the deft hands of the author, the story never degenerates into scandal or salaciousness intended to sell books. Instead, I find the intense dramas that converge on this outrageously beautiful place to be a road map for how we might all handle the mountains and valleys of our own lives.

From Izzy’s quiet determination to ignore her own grief and traumas to Lisa’s using her body to achieve her goals, lessons on coping, acceptance, and love emerge.

Ms. Guenette isn’t content to simply write a novel of people’s inability to express themselves or to cope with life’s challenges. She addresses issues of race–in this case, of tribal loyalties and prejudices–and the psychic abilities of dear sweet Robbie, who sees what no one else can. Then there’s the other injured soul out in the wild, but I’ll let other readers discover how that fits with the rest of the story in a perfect symmetry with all the wounded lives who come to the lake to heal.

I miss these characters and hated for Chasing Down the Night to end. I want more, and I want more than anything to visit Crater Lake and be embraced in the warm arms of the people who call it home.

Purchase Links for Chasing Down the Night

Amazon U.S.

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Interviews with Francis Guenette on Author Wednesday

May 25, 2015

May 21, 2014

November 6, 2013

Book Reviews of Crater Lake series

Disappearing in Plain Sight

The Light Never Fades



cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgToday I welcome back Francis Guenette, author of the Crater Lake series. She’s recently published Chasing Down the Night, the third book in the series. I loved each of the previous novels, Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never LiesI’m very pleased to turn over the reins of Author Wednesday to her capable hands.CDN (book antiqua) Front Cover 6x9 JPEG Final Proof

Writing a Series of Stand Alone Novels

By Francis Guenette

Beware of the person of one book – Thomas Aquinas

I doubt Aquinas had authors of book series in mind when he penned these words but I seem to have derived my raison d’entre from this thought – at least when it comes to writing.

Many thanks to P.C. for inviting me to appear on her wonderful blog. My guest post will delve into a sticky issue. How stand-alone must each book in an ongoing series be?

First off, let us clear up one point. There is a distinct difference between books in a series and serialized books. Each book in a series must be somewhat stand-alone. The storylines introduced should be resolved by the last page – at least resolved enough so that if the author never again laid fingers to the keyboard to continue, all would be well. Not to say fans wouldn’t be sad but such is life.

Not so with a serial. These books can leave a reader dangling over the verge of a veritable cliff and the authors congratulate themselves on a job well done. The message is clear – buy the next book if you want to know what is going to happen as the train barrels down the track towards beautiful Mary tied to the tracks.

I suppose the most important part of this distinction is that readers know what they’re getting into before they start reading.

A series of novels can be loosely knit together or tightly woven. I see my books as falling close to the tightly woven side of things. Even so, I aim for stand-alone status. A good analogy would be to an ongoing TV series. Viewers coming in at season three or later will have to do a bit of guesswork but a well done TV show will provide enough backstory to keep all who watch in the loop.

Agreement on how much backstory is necessary is mixed.

After reading Chasing Down the Night, a reader said, “I didn’t have a clue who Tim and Marlene were.” Soon after these characters were mentioned, I included a line that went something like – no wonder Lisa-Marie loved boarding with them when she was in high school. A reader felt sidelined when Brigit comments that Izzy has a lovely daughter and Izzy thinks that she will let that comment slide. Going into book three without having read the second book in the series, Sophie’s parentage is left deliberately vague. This is true to who the characters are; that is the first imperative for the author. And this bit of tension results in a delicious eye-widening when the truth becomes obvious.

Wearing my reader hat, I have often jumped into a series partway through. I enjoy the guessing game tensions that ensue. My curiosity drives me to find out if my suspicions are right by buying and reading earlier volumes. Jamming my author hat on, I am profoundly thankful for reader feedback and take seriously the comments. The next time I’m back at Crater Lake writing book four, I may decide to add more clues.

To make sense of the third book in my series – Chasing Down the Night – is it necessary to have read the first two? No. My editor and I agree on one point – give only enough information to pique the reader’s interest but tell no more than is required to move this particular story forward. Is a finer understanding of the characters derived from reading all three books? Definitely.

I don’t guarantee that readers starting the Crater Lake Series after book one will enjoy an effortless read but the breadcrumbs laid out along the paths are there. I do promise a story worth the energy it takes to put the puzzle together.

Francis Guenette - author photoAbout Francis:  Francis Guenette has spent all of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their off-grid, lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor and researcher. Chasing Down the Night is her third novel in the Crater Lake Series.

Read other Author Wednesday features with Francis Guenette

Author Wednesday 2013

Author Wednesday 2014

My reviews

Disappearing in Plain Sight

The Light Never Lies

Purchase Links for Chasing Down the Night

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada






cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Canadian author Margaret Kell Virany, who writes romantic historical books based on her life and that of her parents. Her books include A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Voida love story, between an English young woman and a Canadian young man, set during World War I. Kathleen’s Cariole Ride is set during the same time period.Kells cover pic

Welcome, Margaret. Tell us a little bit about yourself as a writer. How do you envision yourself in this role?

Lover of life, language and literature. Note-taker, journalist, editor, author. I write. Little things turn me on, like scraps of paper in a keepsake box and the memory of strawberry socials, harvest suppers and silver teas. The act of being a witness, a record-keeper, a storyteller, and the one who remembers has always excited me. I feel like I am part of a wider community. My ideal is to help others “see eternity in a grain of sand” (William Blake) and gain access to the best truth we have. As the historian, Sallustius, said in 4 A.D, “What happened is what always happens.”

I love that. It’s very poetic, which is very fitting based on your style of writing. Do all your books have a common theme or thread?

Yes. Love is my theme. It comes in various specialties:  the romantic love of a young couple, parental love, filial love, family bonds, charity, love for other human beings, and the all-embracing divine love brought to earth and presented as an ideal by the Gospels. For me, it was a personal pilgrimage of going home to my parents after finding their love letters had been left in a keepsake box, surely for some purpose.

What a wonderful and powerful perspective. Why has it been so important to explore this theme of love? 

If people don‟t get or give enough love, they go searching for it, and a good book can be their voyage. When I was coming of age in the fifties, it was still a bit of an anomaly for a woman who had children to work outside the home. Women, like my mother, came out of a world, both deprived and romantic, that had untold, inestimable influence on the direction of children, husbands, and society. Such love practices inspired the line, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” (William Ross Wallace, 19th century Indiana poet)

That’s a perfect quote to express what you’ve done in your writing. What‟s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

“Virany‟s account of their (her parents’) adventures … is riveting. (She) has the natural gifts of a born storyteller who keeps you caring about the characters no matter where they are. When the Kells finally return to civilization the pace of the narrative doesn‟t flag.” From a review by Ellen Tanner Marsh, New York Times bestselling author

I’d be very proud of that review as well. Very nice and I’m sure rewarding. How did you choose the title, A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void?

In my years spent studying English literature at the University of Toronto, I noticed certain things about classics. I wanted to do things that would identify my memoir as that category of book. Fortuitously my family name, Kell, is the same as that of the most famous manuscript of ancient western civilization, The Book of Kells. Millions of tourists go to look at it in Dublin each year, so it would have a familiar ring even for those who couldn‟t pin it down. Beginning the title with “A Book of …” gave it a serious, nonfiction tone. My literary background also led me to load my title with words that had multiple meanings and associations which would give clues to the type of content inside. My parents lived their married life as if it was book. There is an ancient concept of life being one‟s “book of days.” For dates and event, I leaned on my parents‟ daily diaries. The title could also refer to the Bible, the book that most guided my ancestors and parents. I hit the jackpot, I felt, when I discovered that the root of the name Kells was, according to some scholarship, a synonym for all Celts, the dominant tribe who inhabited the region north of the Mediterranean Sea in 500 B.C. This was generic; anyone with a name with the “Kell‟ prefix is one of the tribe so the word should have wide appeal. Another meaning for “kell‟ was a hair net or covering and that was an appropriate symbol for my upbringing as a minister‟s daughter. My title might make people think it was a family history, which it partly was, at least for the most recent four generations.

That’s fascinating. I’m always interested in the creative process, so how did you decide to write this book? 

I wanted to write it as a romantic novel while sticking rigorously to the facts as I knew them or was able to reconstruct them by careful logic. It should have a beginning, middle, climax and end but these should not be superimposed. They should emerge from what I could find out; the story must be allowed to tell itself. It was a test to see whether the literary structures I had been taught really worked. I had to discipline myself not to make things up. I already had on my hands a self-described knight and lady who had rubbed shoulders with real prime ministers and princes. They courted and treated each other accordingly. I did not have to manufacture their raw emotions because I had their seventy-two authentic love letters from the 1920s. I had been blessed by a bonanza in a keepsake box; I just had to call forth my muses to elicit it and do it justice.

Here is a beautiful quote I just received as a comment on my “About” page on my blog. “Memories are a nursery where children who are growing old play with their broken toys. Kells is an extraordinary book, presenting the extraordinary story of extraordinary people living in extraordinary times.” John W. Bienko

That is lovely. I’m so glad you stopped by today, Margaret. Yours is a unique story and one worth telling.

MargoncanoeAbout Margaret Kell Virany from Margaret:  Born on a farm on the northern fringe of Toronto, I got a degree in English Language & Literature and married my Varsity heart throb. Early employment was at the Toronto Telegram, Maclean-Hunter and freelancing for the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Star, and Montreal Gazette. My most fun jobs were as professional public relations secretary first of the Montreal YMCA and then of the Toronto YMCA, and as a program organizer of CBC-TV’s first live nationally televised conference The Real World of Woman (1961). Following a move to Canada’s capital region, I became editor/co-owner of the weekly newspaper in my home town of Aylmer, QC and had the busiest, best career of a lifetime. Upon discovering the keepsake box full of love letters, journals and photos my parents left, I published A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void. It records my family’s lives and my uneasy coming of age as a minister’s daughter. Then I wrote Kathleen’s Cariole Ride recounting my parents’ transatlantic courtship and adventures living on a Cree reserve in the north. At the 2012 Centennial Conference honoring the literary critic, Northrop Frye, I learned that my notes of his lectures would be among those posted on the fryeblog, available for public download. This success brought me back to the day when I dropped out of college for a year and learned shorthand on my very first job, as a receptionist at the ‘Tely’.

Click below for links to Margaret’s books and website:

Cozy Book Basics


Amazon Author Central

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Book Review Friday – The Light Never Lies

Click on cover for Amazon page

Click on cover for Amazon page

The Light Never Lies is the second in the Crater Lake Series by Francis Guenette, and last fall I read the first in the series, Disappearing in Plain Sight (click here for the review).

What a pleasure to come back to the stars of that first novel and watch as they interact with each other and the new characters that come to Crater Lake and the secluded landscape of Northern Vancouver Island, Canada .

There’s so much to love about Guenette’s writing and storytelling ability, including landscape descriptions, characterizations, and diverse conflicts.

The characters are all my friends now even if I don’t really like some of them all of the time. They are flawed; they are immature; they are secretive; they are unkind; they are human. Somewhere along the way, Guenette manages to take their flawed personalities and turn those around into positive assets. The conflicts are inner ones within both of the novels in this series. If the characters can overcome the past traumas and neglect, they will be able to soar higher than ever before. But the tension of the novel throbs with questions about whether they can survive or not.

Within the characters, I find bits of myself and others in my life. That’s what makes The Light Never Lies so compelling. Even if I don’t like some of the behaviors, I still want to be a part of the book club and the baseball team. I want an invitation to Izzy’s house for a dinner prepared by Alex and Christina, both new characters who add another element to the whole concept of family as put together by Izzy and Liam.

Izzy is my favorite character, and even though on the surface she seems perfect—beautiful, smart, accepting—Guenette gives her insecurities as she deals with her father Edward who’s come to her to spend his final days. I want nothing more than to sit with Izzy in her garden and sip on a glass of wine as the moon rises above the lake.

In this new novel, Guenette adds another dimension through the child, Robbie, wise beyond his years, and in the baby Sophie who gives them all a touchstone. Robbie’s life hasn’t been easy thus far, but his internal understanding of the world and its tangled connections shows the reader how a soul at peace can be accepting of just about anything.

I’m in awe of this talented storyteller and the rich characters she has created. The Light Never Lies is definitely character-driven novel where seriously flawed people find themselves facing ordinary circumstances where they must cope or fail.

From the metaphysical abilities of Robbie to see light around and within people to the exploration of tribal rights and insights, Guenette has woven a rich tapestry using threads created from a variety of colors and textures. Learning to let go and love others unconditionally and without reservation stand as strong messages in this novel.

Even though she manages to find resolution for the major plot lines, Guenette leaves room for the next book in the Crater Lake Series.

If you enjoy character-driven dramas that allow characters to explore their flaws with the hope of redemption always a step away, then you’ll enjoy this second book in the series. While each of the novels can stand alone, I recommend reading both of them in the order written. Why deprive yourself of missing one single second of sheer immersion in life on Crater Lake?

Disclosure: I received an Advanced Review Copy of The Light Never Lies in exchange for an honest review.

Author Wednesday – Francis Guenette

typewriter.jpgIt’s Author Wednesday time once again. I’m so excited when I can welcome back a favorite author because she’s published a new book. Today I welcome back Francis Guenette who visited for an interview in November, and whose book Disappearing in Plain Sight, I reviewed back then as well. It is with great pleasure to bring Francis back for another interview, this time to discuss her new novel The Light Never Lies, a sequel to her first novel, both of which are contemporary fiction that deal with family issues and romance. The Light Never Lies - 3-D bookcover

Before we begin the interview, Francis is offering some prizes to celebrate the release of The Light Never Lies. Two softcover copies of The Light Never Lies will be mailed to the lucky winners. One for the blog host who achieves the greatest engagement with the post and one commenter – a name of a commenter drawn from a hat which includes all commenters on the blog tour. So please comment freely to win your copy. And look for my review of The Light Never Lies on Book Review Friday.

Welcome, Francis. It’s so wonderful to have you back for Author Wednesday. Let’s tell readers a bit about your new book. What’s the one sentence pitch for The Light Never Lies?

If Disappearing in Plain Sight, the first book in the Crater Lake Series, was about how a group of people get over a devastating loss and move on with their lives, The Light Never Lies is about the messiness that is the inevitable consequence of moving on.

Yes, we must deal with those messes! How did you choose the title? Was it the title from the very beginning?

There were a few common themes that emerged early in the writing process – a young boy’s special ability, the play of the light on water, and how light relates to photography.

How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published product?

The book took one year. Here’s how that year broke down: two months doing research, notes and outlining; three months on the first draft; a month to let that draft rest; a month to do rewrites; two months working with my editor; two months of proofreading and final changes; and an intense month of formatting and preparing for publication.

You did well to keep to such a tight schedule. What is the message conveyed in this book?

Starting over is always possible, people do change, relationships can be rewritten and redefined and the concept of family is one we create as we go.

Those are some of my favorite messages as well. Explain how this book was conceived in your imagination.

Since The Light Never Lies is a sequel, most of the characters were already there, fully-developed and waiting for me to write the next chapters of their lives. I saw so much more conflict and ultimately growth for them. I started to examine the hard-fought ground they had gained for themselves in the first book so I could rip it out from under them. Being a writer is sometimes a cruel endeavor!

That’s the truth, but what fun it is to allow our characters to grow. What type of research did you do in the writing of this book?

With The Light Never Lies, I wanted to bring the reader right into the sawmill-woodlot operation and the organic bakery. I had to delve deeper, with research into each of those settings. I also did research for a particular character who had been a Native activist throughout most of his life. The places I wanted him to have been and the things I wanted him to have done needed to line up with his age and his appearances in other characters’ lives. This character needed to be able to speak convincingly about those places and situations.

I can tell readers that your research shines through in this book. Who or what is the antagonist in your book? Did you enjoy creating this character?

Both my books are written from the perspective of several characters. Depending on the reader, the protagonist and thus the antagonist shifts. In the interest of brevity, let’s assume Lisa-Marie, the feisty yet troubled and, at times, troublesome teenager, is the main character. She is the character who appears on the first page of both books, so there is a good case for her being the protagonist. In the first book, that meant Izzy, the poised and self-assured trauma counselor was the antagonist as she stood in the way of Lisa-Marie getting the guy of her dreams. In The Light Never Lies, the antagonist role shifts from Izzy to her new partner, Liam. He was once Lisa-Marie’s friend, but now he stands in the way of her primary desire to get back to what she considers normal. He is constantly calling her to a responsibility she doesn’t want to assume. I must admit, I do enjoy creating the drama and heartache that goes on in these characters’ lives. All for a good cause, mind you. It’s so nice to pull the characters back into the light – a bit older and wiser.

Interesting – I’ll have to think about that as I finish the book. Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in this book.

My favorite scene is when two of the secondary characters, Maddy and Jesse, say goodbye. They have both been residents of nearby Micah Camp, a facility for troubled foster kids trying to get on with their lives, and they’ve had an intense relationship. A parting of the ways was inevitable. Even the thought of that scene makes me feel weepy.

What else do you want readers to know about your new book?

The view that inspires the writing

The view that inspires the writing

If you haven’t read Disappearing in Plain Sight – no problems. The Light Never Lies is a stand-alone book, but expect to be hit with a large number of characters at the start. Rest assured though, everyone is necessary and all story lines tie together and find resolution by the end. Both books will make you laugh out-loud and sniffle now and then. You’ll come away from the reading wishing you could know these people and visit the fictional setting of Crater Lake. But since you can’t do that, you might consider a vacation to the northern end of Vancouver Island for a little taste of what you’ve experienced.

I’d love to visit. The setting is beautiful in both of these books, but I really want Izzy’s house. I’m so happy you stopped by again, Francis. It’s always a pleasure.

Francis Guenette - author photoAbout Francis: Francis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor, and researcher. The Light Never Lies is her second novel. Francis blogs over at and maintains a Facebook author page. Please stop by and say hello.

Click here for Amazon page for The Light Never Lies (U.S.)



Blog Disappearing in Plain Sight


Book Review Friday – Dying to Know

DyingToKnow-resizedChristina Carson writes important books with huge messages. After I read Suffer the Little Children, I thought about her deft portraits of human despair when a life is lived without connection to others.

Living a life in balance and without judgment recurs once again in Dying to Know. In this novel, Ms. Carson uses health as the vehicle for expressing her themes. She also examines the way we hide our true feelings in check, even from those closest to us. There are times when communication on the very basic and level playing field of childhood friendships doesn’t work unless both sides are willing to come forward with the masks removed.

Dying to Know showcases five friends who’ve been together since ten years of age. They’re now “thirty-somethings” and know very little about one another until the main character, Callie, explores her own mortality, and the way she views herself and the world around her.

Her call to conscious living brings discord to the group. Through their various reactions, Callie is able to assess her relationship with them. Three of them are annoyed and then angry with her decisions and acceptance of her dis-ease with herself. Most of them are narcissistic, but Callie doesn’t see this side of them until she begins questioning her view of the world. One of the members of the group, Sue, is unable to hear and accept Callie and in that closing down, Callie is able to walk away.

I read once that there are certain people who will pass through our lives for a specific reason, but they may not linger with us for life or any set time. They will pass out of our lives when the reasons for their presence disappears. This occurs in Dying to Know. Callie is in turmoil about Sue until she stops and examines her gut. Her gut tells her what is the right thing to do.

The setting of Vancouver, British Columbia, brought back fond memories of a few days spent in this lovely city. But Carson also goes deep into the landscape of Canada drawing pictures of a majestic natural world. Making the main character, a photographer and illustrator of inspirational books made for a perfect vehicle to express the messages in the book.

The group of childhood friends continues and expands as each member finds his and her own way to the truth. I bookmarked so many places in Dying to Know, it’s difficult to choose the most important one. The messages stayed with me after I put it down and remain etched in my brain days after finishing it.

The book reminded me of a way to live that incorporates living in balance with nature and the world swirling around me. We act from fear whenever we go into imagining what could happen or what could go wrong, leaving us immobilized to move forward.

Perhaps this statement from Dying to Know expresses the most important gift I received for reading this novel, “Judgment is the servant of fear; the heart of love has no interest in comparisons.”

See Christina’s guest post on Author Wednesday. She gives more insight into her writing choices.

Author Wednesday – Christina Carson

typewriterWelcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Christina Carson, author of Suffer the Little Children and Dying to Know. I featured Christina in 2013 and reviewed Suffer the Little Children. I love reading her blog, and recently I had the pleasure of reading Dying to Know.

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My review will be published later this week. I’ll only say that the book resonated with me, and I’m walking around the house spouting some of her wonderful insights.

Welcome, Christina!

The Backdoor Writer by Christina Carson

I’m what I call a backdoor writer. I didn’t write from the get go, using my first crayon to craft a story. I didn’t study literature but trained instead as a scientist. I didn’t think of myself as a writer until I was almost 50. And I didn’t start writing to become a writer, but rather to record a period of my life that had meant everything to me, but was over and would never replay. I wrote to document the stories of that time, the people who filled them and capture the love, hilarity, and true friendship I knew there.

I was a product of the civilized establishment of east coast United States before I left home and ended up in a “frontiersy,” wild, northern Alberta settlement to raise sheep. I stumbled into a life I never knew existed, hard but poignant, rough but tender, comical and real. The life exposed me to the good and the ugly of who I was. When I put the stories of that time on paper, I realized not only could I write, but I also loved doing it, and it was then my life as a writer began.

Long before my farming years, I had become disgruntled with day-to-day living. Too much of how I’d been taught to live didn’t make sense. I began looking for something I couldn’t even name that might bring meaning and purpose to a life that felt increasingly empty. My fifteen years of farming intensified that drive, for its demand for honesty and resiliency gave me a different taste of life. What haunted me most, however, were the big questions: who are we; what are we; why are we here? I called my endeavors human cosmology, for rather than religion, truth was what I sought to know.

Today I write books that reflect my continuing desire to explore life. I write fiction because I’d like the reader to live the story as if it were true life for them too, give them an opportunity to journey along with the characters and garner their own insights. Characters fascinate me. When readers include my characters in a conversation and talk about them the way they would an old friend, I feel I’ve succeeded.

Take Dying to Know, for example. Callie Morrow is a 36-year-old professional photographer who, having never challenged herself in any area of her life, suddenly sees it could now be over before it even began. Having watched her mother die of cancer using the traditional route of treatment, when Callie is diagnosed with the disease, she uncharacteristically takes a stand against that route, tentatively offering, “There’s got to be another way.” She shocks her childhood group of friends and disturbs all around her with her seeming irrationality, except for her Chinese friend Mary Chang and her Inuit artist friend Joe Kuptana. With the help of the worldviews these two people bring to her life, she starts a journey for which she had no map or sense of direction.

It took me three years to write this book so that it would offer a realistic portrayal of someone coming to understand health and well-being from a completely different paradigm yet continue to make sense to a reader who might not have entertained such concepts prior. My characters had to be thinkers in their own right, but unexposed to alternative views of the nature and laws of life. They also had to represent the reactions my readers might have toward Calli and her quest:  amazement, disgust, curiosity, resistance, intense fear and abandonment. I wanted to make a place where each reader could fit in, move along with the group and perhaps make discoveries for themselves.

I am a writer. I don’t write to entertain; I write to inspire. I don’t encourage spectators. I want the reader to root for themselves as much as for the protagonist and experience new ideas, uncommon relationships and a deep sense of possibility before one of my novels comes to a close. For 40 years, I’ve been exploring life. My novels give a reader the opportunity to do the same in the company of friends.

IMG_0140 resized-framedAbout Christina Carson: I am 68 years old and  have worn many caps and walked many roads. I started in research as a scientist even before graduation, then taught in nursing for a number of years, owned a masonry contracting business with a mate and worked at that and building houses. I went on to farm. I am a creature of the land and love animals. That life was a dream until it ended. I then went on to become a stock broker, which I hated, and then the aimless period began with intense doubt and chaos. I was there for years making it up as I went along and spending a great deal of time afraid and despairing.

I will forever consider Canada my home, but I returned to the states in 1996 after 30 years in Canada to marry a man I met in Vancouver where I lived for five years.  He and I are perfectly suited to one another in intent, direction and integrity and as for the rest, we play that by ear.

Book Info: I end up in the genre of literary fiction by default. I don’t come close to fitting into any of the other proffered boxes. Adventure and philosophy – when are they going to stitch that together in a genre?

Christina, I so agree with you about the genre types offered. I made up my own–environmental fiction–but usually end up in literary or contemporary fiction. Thank you so much for offering us an insight into how and why you became a writer. Your passion for the craft is evident as well as your intent of showing your readers there are other paths.


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Twitter: @CarsonCanada


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Book Review Friday – Disappearing in Plain Sight

Disappearing in Plain Sight - coverDisappearing in Plain Sight by Francis L. Guenette (see Author Wednesday interview with Ms. Guenette) is a beautifully executed novel about wounded souls attempting to heal and find their path in a life that hasn’t been kind—so far. The wounded bodies and minds converge in one lovely and isolated spot on Crater Lake on Vancouver Island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. It’s the ideal spot to disappear in plain sight.

The title reminds me of times in my own life when I felt as if I was melting into the corner as life went on around me. It’s not a pleasant state unless done by choice.

One line in the novel resonated with me, “When people talked and gathered he simply disappeared.”

The main characters inhabiting the less social side of Crater Lake disappear in plain sight, and no one even notices.

No one notices, that is, until they all come together in plain sight of one another, and there in the safe cocoon of Crater Lake, they are all finally able to offer their pain, sympathy, and kindness to one another.

Ms. Guenette meticulously describes the scenery, particularly the home and gardens of Caleb and Izzy, where a door always stands open. I saw myself in that setting, entertaining in the gardens, holding book club discussions in the living area, and drinking wine in front of the small fireplace set on one of the decks overlooking the lake.

The point of view shifts from each of the main characters allowing the reader a full view of all the perceptions, misconceptions, and relativity of opinions based on the hurts and secrets of lifetimes touched by far too much sadness.

However, in learning about the characters, I became lost in their stories and rooted for all of them, most of whom are underdogs. Even the seemingly perfect Izzy garnered my sympathy for her life of unspoken desires and motivations.

The tension builds as love triangles and quadruples entanglements intensify. Unrequited love explodes as the layers of love peel away.

Life continues beating its heart even though we might disappear in plain sight at times. However, the tree that falls in the forest really does make a noise, and in the right place in time, others come running to help as happens in this novel. One of the characters says, “We don’t give up on each other anymore. . .” and that is the ultimate lesson of this novel.

Disappearing in Plain Sight reminds me that it’s never too late to start over and things in the short term that seem utterly hopeless turn to gems in the long run if only we see it through those times when it simply seems we’ve disappeared.

I recommend this novel that delves deeply into the human psyche and soul to give hope to all who only have to turn the page to become immersed in life at Crater Lake.

Click on photo to go to Amazon page

Click on photo to go to Amazon page

Book Review Friday – Suffer the Little Children

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Suffer the Little Children-resized

Don’t let the title Suffer the Little Children steer you away from this novel by Christina Carson. A friend of mine saw on Goodreads that I was reading this book. She usually likes the same type of fiction I do, but she was a bit frightened about the title. I assured her she had nothing to fear from this beautifully crafted novel set in Alberta, Canada.

One thing is certain. Ms. Carson loves the setting and creates a painting with her descriptions of an isolated, yet wholly stimulating life in the bush. Unconditional love exists in this world – between the animal kingdom and humans. It’s the humans who have a bit of trouble when it comes to practicing unconditional love with those closest to them. Ms. Carson makes Timber, her dog, and Spook, her horse, characters in this book. They become the symbol of what we strive for, but somehow when pride and emotions play chess with the people on the board, unconditional love seems to be impossible to achieve.

The author displays a healthy respect for and acceptance of wildlife, despite dangerous encounters with the most beastly of bears, the grizzly.

The “little children” who suffer in this novel do so because of the judgments and conditions adults put on “love.” Through a native family, lessons on love and acceptance of the past help the other characters move forward in their lives.

The main character, Anne, learns her lesson well, which allows the suffering to end.

Anne states, “I believe that every child, whether fifteen or fifty, longs to hear from his or her parents those words that say ‘I am sorry for all I did that hurt you.’” Anne realizes this as she helps her neighbor’s daughter, Little Bit, deal with the betrayal of her parents, and as Anne herself works to restore her relationship with her daughter.

Suffer the Little Children teaches life lessons, such as this one:  “If you’re willing to have something new come about, you must be equally willing to let go of how it’s been.”

It also shows that the natural world provides a map for leading fulfilling lives.

Ms. Carson’s descriptions are vivid enough for me to imagine Anne’s home and the massive bush of Alberta. The lure of nature leads the characters to the answers for all the questions lying within their hearts.

If you love multi-faceted plots with a majestic landscape providing a backdrop for the characters, then you will love Suffer the Little Children. You might even learn a little bit about living a sustainable and simple life filled with the only thing that matters:  love.”

Suffer the Little Children is available on Amazon in both eBook and paperback editions.