Category Archives: Uncategorized

Half An Hour Later In Newfoundland

When I was growing up in Toronto in the 50s and 60s, we always heard the announcement on the CBC TV news that it would be broadcast at “Ten O’Clock, Half An Hour Later in Newfoundland”, which I thought was rather curious, not knowing anything at the time about time zones throughout the world, let alone in Canada.

But now, at nearly 70-years-old, I’m beginning to live life that half an hour later – but actually half an hour earlier than the rest of Canada and the Caribbean – as we’ve just moved our Canadian residence to St. Bride’s, Newfoundland!

This, for us, was yet another adventure in our lives, much like when we first went to Bequia (1989) and decided to buy land (1992), build a house (94-96), and move there permanently (1996), but we were so much younger then …

This new adventure began as so many great adventures seem to do, when our (almost) lifelong friend, Patricia, who was born and grew up in Newfoundland, and now shares Bequia with us during the winter months, said, “You guys! You need to come to Newfoundland and see the province!” So we did just that in June of this year, along with Sue, another Bequia-Canadian friend, and we fell in love with the place! We had been looking at properties for sale and found a listing that really appealed – the morning we returned to Ontario! It was a hundred-plus-year-old traditional saltbox-style in a small town at the far end of the Cape Shore, one of the very few places, Patricia had not driven to during our tour of the southeastern part of the province. So we put our faith in the real estate agent and made a sight-unseen offer two days later that was accepted by the sellers within 2 hours. What could be wrong with the place? we thought, but at least we knew we were getting 1.8 acres of land along with the house, so we figured that alone was worth what we were paying for the house.

Photo of house in the original real estate listing.

And, as it turned out, NOTHING was wrong with the house! We discovered, after the fact, that there was even an old barn on the property, although it does need some work to bring it back to what it once was. (I’m thinking here it could become a “book barn” … ) And the piece of property is lovely, former farmland, plus there are views of the ocean from the house. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Back to the adventure part of this story … Dennis returned to Bequia and it was left to me to wrap up everything in Ontario, once we closed on the house in Newfoundland at the end of July. I informed Fisherman’s Cove and our friends there that we would be leaving the park at the beginning of September, I listed the trailer for sale – miraculously selling it within a week, receiving what I had really wanted for it! Then the other Bequia Sue, who had stayed on in NL, came to Ontario and the trailer to help me pack the place up. After she left, I shipped a number of boxes out to our new house (mostly books … go figure). Then Dennis arrived in Canada and helped load up our car for the drive to Cape Breton to catch the ferry boat on to Argentia … just a half-hour drive up the coast from our new home.

Best laid plans though, eh?

We had organized our trip so we could stop and visit friends along the way (most of whom had either been to Bequia to visit us or owned a house there) with the intention of arriving in North Sydney the night before our 5:30 p.m. departure on the ferry the next day. Dennis had booked a spot for our car and a berth for us (that ferry is a 14-hour trip to Argentia), but the day before we were to leave our friends’ house in Nova Scotia, we received an email telling us that ferry crossing had been cancelled, due to mechanical problems, and we needed to rebook. Dennis got on the phone and managed to secure a spot on the Wed. evening ferry for our car and a berth for us. So we reserved a room in a North Sydney B&B (with a view of the ferry wharves, as it turned out) to stay for three nights. We were bidding our friends adieu and preparing to leave their house on the Sunday morning when we received another email. That second ferry had also been cancelled! In fact all ferries to Argentia had been cancelled, likely for the rest of the month. Dennis got on the phone again and managed to find the last spot available for our car on the Monday midnight ferry to … Port Aux Basques! This is the 7-hour ferry that runs year-round, but docks at the far-western part of the island – meaning we had a full 900 km./2-day drive to get to where we had bought our new house, in the south-eastern part of the province! We also couldn’t get a berth for the overnight trip, as they were all taken, so we made do with the “lounge” where, fortunately everyone else was also sleeping the trip away. But because our car was one of the first to be loaded on the ferry (the value of driving a smaller vehicle!), we were almost the first off the next morning.

From our seats in the ferry lounge, we’d watched the sun rising – Beautiful! – so we were driving in full light by the time we left the ferry wharf and began the next part of our journey on the Trans Canada Highway. As Dennis said, we were entering Terra Incognita (a term used in cartography for regions that have not been mapped or documented) for us, and we were overwhelmed with the scenery and the beauty of this new-to-us province! We likened it to scenery along a combination of highways we’d driven in British Columbia and Northern Ontario, but with a lot less traffic and places to stop for gas … we had filled up the tank on our way to boarding the ferry. I had booked a hotel room in Gander in advance, which proved to be the perfect place to stop for the night. We continued driving the next morning and, when we reached Clarenville, we began to recognize places, as we’d driven that far earlier in the summer with Patricia. Our next stop was the gas station at Whitbourne to finally meet our real estate agent and pick up the keys for the house. Then we headed down this road …

… arriving at St. Bride’s and our new home only two days later than we had initially planned.

And speaking of travelling, Dennis has already returned to Bequia. I will be following at the end of October, but I’ve already booked a return flight to Canada in April after Easter, travelling straight through from Bequia to Barbados-Toronto and St. John’s this time. I have a space booked close to the airport in St. John’s where I will store the car for the winter. In theory, I’ll arrive in April at 2 p.m., take a taxi to the storage place, pick up my car, shop for groceries, and drive 2 hours to St. Bride’s and the house. A neighbour has agreed to look after the place for us over the winter and will have it ready for my return in the spring.

I now have the car registered in Newfoundland with a new plate, I’ve just received my driver’s licence, and am hoping to get a new health card before I leave. We’ve been working hard at changing over our address, but still have a few more of those to complete.

As for the time spent travelling here in Sept., when most of the “adventure” took place … aside from cancelled ferries, a 2-day wait for the rebooking that entailed a surprise-extra 900 km drive, plus the threat of Hurricane Fiona within a week-and-a-half of us having moved into the new house … getting here and setting up the place was a piece of cake! (We got off lightly with that hurricane. Friends who we visited along the way were not so fortunate, and the town of Port Aux Basques where we had driven off the ferry just two weeks before was devastated by the storm!)

Anyway, all-in-all it was a good adventure, the best kind of adventure (feeling like Bilbo Baggins a bit here, although no dragons were involved during our adventure) as we ended up at HOME in the end. I managed to get one of the new plates for my car with the slogan “Come Home” and I really do feel as though that’s exactly what we’ve done! The people in this town, and throughout the province, are so welcoming, and we truly feel as though we’re part of the community already. (“Oh, so you’re the people from Ontario who bought Old [or “Long” as some call him, to differentiate from “Short” Willie who used to own the house across the road from ours …] Willie’s house!”) Plus the St. Bride’s Public Library is just next to our property, down by one corner of it. I could walk there across the field, but my neighbour warned me, “That’s a marshy bit down there. You don’t want to be walking through that field!” So I have to take the longer route along the road for now, which means an extra 5 minutes! I have never in my life lived this close to a library! The librarian is related to one of my other neighbours (this place is like Bequia where everyone seems to be related!) and constantly invites me in for a chat. Plus that relative of hers delivered a complete turkey dinner for Thanksgiving that his wife had sent down the road to me. Knocked the socks right off of me! We’ve also received fresh-caught cod and fresh-dug blue potatoes (that our neighbour has been growing on our property … we told him to carry on and grow cabbages next year, too!), and free-range chicken eggs from another neighbour.

So as you can tell, this is the best move we ever could have made! No scary surprises in this house (everyone tells us, “You got a good solid house there! It was always well-kept!”) … other than the amount of furniture that came with it. And the barn we didn’t know we had also purchased along with the 1.8 acres of land. The barn needs work, but we do not need it for living in right now, so we’re good.

We’ve been taking lots of photos and videos during the time we’ve lived here! Here’s a link to my YouTube channel where you may view some of the videos.

I’ve even seen two green flashes at sunset here – something I had to explain to my neighbours who thought I was making up this phenomenon. As one said, I’ve lived here all my life and have never heard of this before! Then he told me about a man, he’s dead now, who used to tell stories that no one could ever figure out whether they were true or what he’d made up. Maybe I too will eventually become one of the “characters” here in St. Bride’s … That writer-lady who thinks she sees green when the sun sets. No green flash in this sunset photo, but this is what I see from my kitchen window most afternoons.

And here’s a photo of the house I particularly like, one showing the sun rising.

Ignorance is Far More Expensive Than Education

From Tim Baker …


True story:

About two months into my senior year of high school I was in my Architectural Drafting class reviewing one of my drawings with the teacher. After we finished, he asked me what my plans were for after graduation.

I didn’t think it was necessary to tell him that my plan was to buy a Harley Davidson and tour the country, so I told him I didn’t have any.

He suggested I go to the guidance office (it’s probably called something like the “career center” these days) and speak to my guidance counsellor about college. Specifically, one in Boston called Wentworth.

That night I came home from school and announced to my mother that I was going to college.

I will never forget the look on her face when she said “Who the hell is going to pay for it?”


I couldn’t really blame her. After all –…

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MarySmith’sPlace ~ The Celebration

My thoughts are with the family and legions of friends around the world of author Mary Smith who died on Dec.25, 2021. It was my great pleasure over the years to read Mary’s books and promote them on my blogs. Mary Smith will always have a place on the Authors-Readers International list. She will be sorely missed.

Mary Smith's Place

We will be celebrating Marys life.

The public memorial celebration for Mary will be held at the Ernespie House Hotel, Castle Douglas on January 14th 2022 at 1.30pm, following a short private cremation.

Kindly email us at as soon as possible if you are able attend to help us ensure a safe event. On Mary’s request, there is no formal dress code.

We hope you will be able join us for a celebration of Marys life, in person or watch the live stream online at:

Jon and David

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22 Days in the Life of The Beatles

From Tim Baker … I’ve added my own thoughts about this to the comments section of his original post.


The recently-released documentary “The Beatles – Get Back” is all the rage these days.

As a lifelong Beatles fan I couldn’t wait to see it. Now that I have, I’d like to offer some thoughts on it.

*SPOILER ALERT* The band breaks up…

First things first – I said in a Facebook post the other day that people who know how much of a Beatles fan I am might be surprised at what I have to say. If you saw that post and came here expecting me to say that my love of the Beatles has been misplaced and I’ve suddenly come to the realization that they aren’t all that – you may as well stop reading now because that just ain’t happening.

The Beatles are still the greatest band that ever was and ever will be. Did I need 7+ hours of behind-the-scenes footage to reinforce that…

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Keith Black … A Child of the Beach in Toronto Remembers

I did not know a boy named Keith Black when I was growing up in The Beach neighbourhood of Toronto. I had never even heard his name, in fact, until I saw the listing for his new book on the Beach Metro News Facebook page. Then I read his bio in that article and realized that, while Keith is six years older (nearly a lifetime difference when you’re kids!), we had a lot in common, having grown up in the same east-end Toronto neighbourhood at approximately the same time. We are both Boomers, after all!

Keith Black in the 50s.

We were born in the same hospital (East General) and had both attended the same schools (Williamson Road Public and Malvern Collegiate). Plus we did a lot of the same things kids at that time did in The Beach. I was primarily interested though in the fact that Keith had written this book but had not yet published it in print or eBook format.

Keith and his older brother, Rick.

So I contacted him directly to ask about his plans for publication, and we quickly discovered that our families had lived only two blocks away from each other (almost just round the corner, in fact), and we both had older brothers named Rick who were the same age – and were, indeed, friends of one another during the 50s!

So I offered to help Keith get the word out about his book to my blog readers. I know there won’t be a great deal of interest out there in the wide world in a book about a specific neghbourhood in Toronto, let alone one that takes place during the 50s, but I am still in contact with many old friends from that time – some of whom still live in the old ‘hood! I trust they will all find Keith’s stories very nostalgic and a wonderful reminder of days gone by.

Me in the 50s with my older sister Betty and brother Rick.

On a personal note, I have written several short stories set in The Beach based on my time growing up there, which was in the 60s. My need to write about this neighbourhood was very strong, so I understand Keith’s desire to write down his own experiences. It’s amazing though how universal all these stories are, especially to us Boomers!

For the complete story about Keith Black and his book, as well as links to weekly reprints of the book’s chapters, please see the article Former resident’s book looks back on growing up in the Beach in the Fifties by Alan Shakleton that ran in the Beach Metro News on July 14, 2020.

A Child of the Beach in Toronto Remembers the 50s
by Keith BlackFrom the book’s back cover:

“Everyone has to grow up sometime and everyone has to grow up
somewhere and I am delighted that I did it in the Fifties and in the Beach.”
Keith Black, who was born in 1947 provides a sparkling narrative about
what it was like to be a child during the 50’s in the Beach area of Toronto
at a time when the streets teemed with children.
As we watch the children play and roam far from home, we also meet
some of the residents, shop in some of the long-forgotten stores, dine in
the restaurants, and remember some surprising events such as a blazing
gun battle on Queen Street and the year everyone received updated
Even if you are not familiar with the neighbourhood, there is something
here for you. As Keith says in the Introduction, “if you remember mello
rolls and Murray Westgate, it doesn’t really matter where you lived”. Or
Chum Charts, or The Yummy Man, or Al Boliska, or Nash Metropolitans,
or cap pistols, or The Happy Gang. And the list goes on.
BOOM. A book not just for Baby Boomers, but also for their kids and
grandkids as they try to understand what it was that molded this
fascinating but often peculiar generation.

The printed form of the book is now in stock at Great Escape Books on Kingston Road, and the stock has been re-supplied at City Books on Queen St. and on the Danforth. A copy can also be ordered directly from the author at kandjomemee (at)

Blogger’s Books: Susan M. Toy

Thanks so much to beetleypete – UK blogger Pete Johnson – for featuring me and my books on his blog today! There’s also a mention of the Authors-Readers International series I have been running here since Dec. 2019!


Today I bring you not only a book by Susan, but also a complete list of the many authors featured on her website. Susan is a writer, a former publisher’s representative, and blogger. Originally from Canada, she is now based on the idyllic island of Bequia, in The Grenadines. She has more than one blog, and is incredibly supportive in her efforts to promote fellow writers and bloggers.

This is one of her books, part of a series she has written based on life on her island.

Here is the short verson of her own bio.

I have been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and a promoter of fellow authors and their books through my company, Alberta Books Canada. I am also an author and publisher, under my imprints, IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts. Through Alberta Books Canada, I represented authors directly, helping them find promotion for…

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Online Writing and Reading Festivals – Part 1: When Words Collide – Calgary

This is Part 1 in a 3-part series about annually held writing and reading festivals that have moved online this year. The good news is that these festivals are now open to readers and writers all over the world!

(Link to Part 2 and Part 3)

For this first part, I asked Randy McCharles, the brains and driving force behind the very first WWC held in 2011 to tell us about the Calgary festival. I took part in this conference during its early years in Calgary, providing displays of books by Alberta authors in The Book Room. The conference was always sold-out every year, making for crowds of readers and authors, publishers and promoters, gathering together.


When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers

August 14 to 16, 2020

Since its humble beginnings in 2011 as a regional literary festival set in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, When Words Collide has grown to become the largest festival of its kind in Canada, attracting speakers and attendees from across the country and from around the world. Each year in early August, attendees look forward to three days of presentations, discussions, and workshops celebrating the written word. With almost 200 presenters participating across a dozen concurrent tracks of programming, there is always something of interest each hour of every day. And if you do take a break in the program, there is a book room, an art show, and several areas to engage in social activities. Past speakers have included Tasha Alexander, Kelly Armstrong, Peter V. Brett, Rachel Caine, Diana Gabaldon, Guy Gavriel Kay, Faith Hunter, Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Robert J. Sawyer, and Jack Whyte. Like many festivals and conventions, due to the coronvirus pandemic, When Words Collide 2020 has been postponed to 2021. In its place, on August 14-16 there will be a free virtual festival consisting of 5 tracks of programming. This festival is open to the public at no charge, and no registration is required. Just drop in and attend any virtual sessions that appeal to you. Also this year as part of our online festival, we are hosting the 2020 Aurora Awards, honouring the best in Canadian speculative fiction. When Words Collide is 100% volunteer run. Organizers, presenters, and helpers all volunteer their time and talents to make this non-profit festival a top-notch networking experience for booklovers. For those considering attending for the first time, past festival programs are available on the web site to offer a feel for what happens. If you are a lover of books and enjoy networking with authors and other readers, maybe When Words Collide is for you.

Attend free from anywhere in the world on the When Words Collide website.

The only aspects missing from this year’s conference will be … the live audiences!

And the book room and vendors market …




Promotional posters from previous years of the

When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers!


And when I set up a special display of my own novel, Island in the Clouds, at the festival, I had the great pleasure of attracting these three similarly tropical-clad gents!


I even met a Klingon at one of the festivals! You just never know who is going to show up at When Words Collide!!


Self-Isolated Blogging: An offer

From beetleypete …


With doom and gloom all over the news, and a lot of very worried people unable to get out even to go to work and socialise, I am trying to think of something positive to offer via the platform of blogging. Facebook and Twitter can be a diversion, but they are also sadly also packed with negatives, scams, and sometimes downright meanness and offensive remarks.

So, back to blogging. Here is my offer, which is of course completely free, and has no catches.

(To contact me for any of these, use )

Guest Posts.
If you are writing more than usual and hoping to reach a new community or a wider audience, send me a guest post to be published here.
Under 2000 words please, with a short personal bio, and a link to your site.

Book Promotions.
Many people may now have more time to read, so if…

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There’s something for every writer in this little volume

Here’s more information about a new book by Kevin Brennan just released that will be an asset to all writers, both beginner and published.


Of course he says that, you might say. He’s trying to sell some books.

But it’s actually true. My two writer pals and I get deep into the weeds on the process of writing and publishing novels today, but the nice thing about this book is that it’s not like the typical writing manual most of us have binged on. It’s a conversation. And much of the time it’s funny and entertaining as it dishes out the how-to bon mots.

So even if you don’t think you’ll learn anything new, trust me, you’ll feel like you’re right there in the middle of the three-way chat. You’ll agree with us sometimes, disagree sometimes. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry.

And it’ll cost you just 99 cents.

Grab the ebook today. It’s always worthwhile to hear from other writers who are going through the same meat grinder you are!

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Hey Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Here’s a follow-up blog post from Tim Baker (who I have promoted on my Authors-Readers International series here on this blog) to his earlier post with exciting news about his novel “Unfinished Buriness”!


Have you ever wished you had gotten involved with something big while it was still small?

If so – this is your chance…

First – some background;

My novel Unfinished Business (released in June, 2013) has long been praised as the perfect story line for a TV series, and while I didn’t write it with that in mind – I’ve always known it.

Unfortunately, I’ve never had the time, resources or know-how to get it to that next level.

Until now.

I was recently asked by a friend, who works in the movie business, why none of my books have been made into movies yet.

The answer, I told her, is simple…in order for somebody to make a movie from a book – they first have to know the book exists. I went on to tell her about Unfinished Business and its potential as a great TV series. I explained…

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