Tragic Links Synopsis

“Back there at the church,” Jolene said, “I was hiding.” But Stephan, the handsome boy who lives next door to her Grandma Rose in Montreal, knows otherwise. And so Jolene divulges their family secret – the ability to time travel through time creases. But Stephan, unlike Jolene’s twin brother Michael and their grandfather, is unable to accompany her to the roaring 1920s, where she has discovered Poppy, her double. Despite Stephan’s warnings that a doppelgänger can be an omen of death, Jolene insists on spending time with her new friends in the past. In the present, inspired by Stephan, who has recently discovered his Mohawk roots, she constructs her family tree while her father researches the Quebec Bridge collapse of 1907, and her mother and grandmother resurrect an age-old feud. When Jolene’s romance with Stephan is threatened, Jolene escapes to a silent movie at a children’s matinee in the twenties. But the theatre is anything but silent when a fire breaks out and panic ensues. Overcome by her narrow escape and reeling from grief, Jolene returns home to an uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner where she unsuccessfully attempts to reconcile her mother and grandmother. Her anxiety is heightened during a visit to Quebec City when Stephan disappears. Knowing how desperate he is to meet the Mohawk skywalkers working on the bridge, Jolene, Michael and Grandpa return to the past and watch horrified as the bridge collapses. With a new understanding of family and friends, Jolene returns to Montreal where she completes her family tree, learning in the process how tragically linked to the past she really is.

Chaos in Halifax trivia

Did you know?

Although World War I was not fought on Canadian soil, the largest single explosion of the war occurred in Halifax.

Neither the Imo nor the Mont Blanc were supposed to be where they were on the morning of December 6th, 1917. The Mont Blanc was delayed on its journey from New York by a storm and the Imo’s departure was delayed due to a coal barge that arrived late for refueling. Neither vessel was able to enter or leave the harbour late on the 5th because the submarine gates, intended to keep out German submarines, were closed.

An inquiry into the explosion found that both pilots were to blame.

Help poured into Halifax from the Boston area. To this day, the people of Halifax send a gigantic Christmas tree to Boston each year as an expression of their gratitude.

Some scientists believe that the heat from the explosion was so intense that the people in the immediate vicinity of the ship were vaporized; the water in their bodies simply turned to steam and they disappeared.

A telegraph operator by the name of Vince Coleman was a hero. When the Harbour Master realized which ship was burning, he asked Vince Coleman to send a message warning incoming trains to stop. He stayed to send the message, knowing that he would die, and actually said his goodbyes in his message. Vince Colemen was killed that day, but the trains and their passengers were saved.

Scientists believe that the Citadel, which sits atop the hill in Halifax, deflected the force of the explosion and, consequently, helped save more of Halifax from complete destruction.

When I was writing Chaos in Halifax, I gave the manuscript the working title “Chaos in Halifax”. Once the manuscript was complete, the publisher asked me to come up with a title. I brainstormed more than 1000 titles for this novel (no exaggeration), but the publisher wasn’t too keen on any of them for various reasons. So finally, I sent an e-mail listing my favourite ten titles for “Chaos in Halifax”, and they all agreed that they liked the working title. I couldn’t believe it, but I like the title too.

Shadows of Disaster trivia

Did You Know?

In my mind, Frank Slide, although a horrible disaster is a slide of miracles. Here are some of the miracles that occurred that night:

Of the 100 people in the path of the slide, approximately 30 people survived.

A mining horse, Old Charlie, buried for a month in the mine’s tunnels, lived.

All of the miners working the night shift, who were completely entombed inside the mine during the slide, survived. Only one was injured. Two others who were at the entrance to the mine were killed.

On April 28th, a day before the slide, the railway construction crew in Frank pulled out. Their replacements were supposed arrive in Frank by train on the morning of the 28th, but the engineer of the train missed their stop. As a result, they were not in the camp on the night of the slide; had they been, they would have been killed.

A baby living in the path of the slide was thrown from her crib and landed on a hay bale from the stable. She was found the next morning completely unharmed, only cold and hungry.

There is another large fissure at the top of Turtle Mountain. Scientists believe that the mountain will slide again, but not in the direction of the towns in the Crowsnest Pass. High-tech sensory motion detectors have been placed on the mountain to monitor any movement.

There is so much rock in Frank Slide that the bodies of those people buried were not recovered.

The bank reported to be under the slide was not actually buried.

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Stormstruck trivia

Did you know?

In the midst of the chaos and confusion on the night of November 9th, some of the bodies of the sailors from the Charles S. Price, which overturned,  washed ashore wearing life preservers from the Regina. Noone knows what happened in the tempest on Lake Huron to produce this scenario.

Most of the ships that sunk during the Great Storm have been found by divers and it is interesting to note that the shipwreck of the Regina remains anchored near the American side of Lake Huron.

The diary of the Regina’s captain was recovered, intact and legible, a year later when his body washed ashore. It was frozen solid, but when museum staff thawed it, they were able to read the entries. Unfortunately, no entries were made in the final few days of the storm.

One sailor’s body was identified by his father as John Thompson, who had been aboard the Carruthers. A funeral was held; however, John arrived home in the middle of his own funeral service, having changed ships and waited out the storm in Toronto.

A seaman by the name of Milton Smith, was troubled by strong premonitions prior to the departure of the Price and left the ship, thereby escaping disaster.

Goderich was once visited by the queen, who declared it to be Canada’s prettiest town. I haven’t visited all Canadian towns, but Goderich is a beautiful place, built around a central octagon and full of beautiful old homes.

Offside trivia

Did you know?

Offside was the first novel I wrote. It is loosely based on an actual event that happened in Calgary, Alberta, when I was teaching.

My editor for this novel did not watch or know hockey. This presented a problem when it came to editing the hockey parts of this novel. However, she was married to a famous bank robber, who had been a junior hockey player. She suggested that her husband, who was serving a jail sentence at the time, edit those parts and so, parts of Offside were edited from jail.

The original title of this book was Hooked, but another book for young adults with that name was published at the same time. As a result, we had eight hours to come up with a new title. It was a stressful day.

One on One Trivia

Did you Know?

One on One came about because of a character I created in Offside, a goalie. He was a minor character, but he became so alive that he threatened to take over any scene he appeared in. Eventually, I couldn’t keep him quiet and had to write him out of Offside. Years later, I decided he deserved his own story and wrote One on One.

The technical engineering information about completions rigs and sour gas wells came primarily from my husband who is an engineer.

One on One was originally twice the length. I had to edit this book many times.

Goalies fascinate me. I interviewed many goalies at many different levels when I wrote this book. I also attended the triple AAA tryouts in Calgary and was even mistaken for a scout, with my notepad and pen, once.

One on One Excerpt

The hockey questionnaire was the subject of lunch conversation the next day, the guys arguing over hockey’s greatest players. Gerry leaned towards Sean. “So far this year, I think K.J. and Rudy have been my biggest inspirations,” he joked.

Sean thought about that. A guy could, he supposed, choose to be inspired or not inspired by just about anyone – influenced too. The thought struck him like lightning igniting a forest fire. It was up to him to decide if he’d let his dad influence him or not. He was the one who had to make that choice.

The revelation swept over Sean leaving him feeling positive and energized. All through his afternoon classes, he returned again and again to the same invigorating conclusion. Even Gerry noticed his newfound optimism when they met at their lockers after school. “What’s with you? You get electrocuted in Physics?”

“No, but I’m glad that project’s done. What a monster.”

“Yeah, my folks are glad too. They weren’t really keen on my breaking a bunch of new sticks.” He pulled his Cougars jacket on, the snaps closing, then popping open across his chest. “I’m looking forward to a Mustangs jacket.”

“Me too,” said Sean, sliding his long arms into sleeves that no longer reached his wrists.

Gerry’s pupils jumped. “Why do I have this feeling that you’re going to be awesome tonight?”

Sean had the same feeling as soon as the rink came into focus through the eye slits of his mask. He felt great during the drills and anxiously awaited the scrimmage. Pete was sitting out so the nets belonged to him and Levi for the whole game. The guys were hustling and making a point of taking their men out of the play. Levi looked solid, but just before half time, Darren slid the puck between Levi’s legs on a three on two. Sean stopped everything the guys threw his way, despite the fact that there were virtually no whistles. Midway through the first half, he’d stopped a total of sixteen shots and another six by the end. Sweat clouded his eyes as he removed his fiery mask and looked up at the clock registering no time. Satisfied, Sean skated off the ice.

It would have been a remarkable night if they hadn’t cut Jared.

“I heard you had the edge on Levi tonight,” his father said, coming into the kitchen later that night while Sean was spreading a large dollop of peanut butter over two slices of sourdough bread. “Now if you can just work on bringing your play up to par with Pete’s.”

“They let Jared go.”

“I heard,” he said, “but that shouldn’t influence…”

“Shut up!” Sean’s response took them both aback. “Look Dad,” said Sean in a voice that could only attempt conciliation, “I know you have all these connections and info and stuff, but I just don’t want to hear it.” He poured himself a glass of milk.

His dad leaned against the counter, his eyes trying to pierce Sean’s defense. “I don’t understand why you’re so antagonistic about your hockey these days. Every time I try and point out how you could improve, you get surly.”

“I don’t need your advice.”

“Oh really.” Sarcasm tainted his words. “I suppose you think you’re going to make the Mustangs playing like you have been? Your play’s been just a little inconsistent, shall we say.”

Dozens of comebacks surged through Sean’s mind, but he chose none. He bit into his sandwich and chewed deliberately, the tension in the room escalating.

“You know what they say, ‘Good is the enemy of best.’”

Sean studied his father’s face, his bony square jaw, his forehead lined with age, his thinning hair grey around the temples. At fifty, he owned his own successful company and yet, he cherished the dream of his son making the Mustangs AAA midget hockey team. There was something pathetic about it all. Sean gulped his milk. For years he had permitted his father to direct that dream in which he was the key player, but no longer.

alt

One on One Synopsis

One on One Cover

Over the years, Sean has grown to resent his father’s perfectionism and interference in his hockey. He faces enough pressure dealing with the goaltending competition to make the Mustangs. However, he’s determined to give it his best shot and do it his way, even if that doesn’t satisfy his father. After all, his father isn’t perfect. He’s being charged with negligence following a fatal accident on one of his wellsites. Is his father guilty? As Sean learns more and more about completions rigs through a science project, he begins to wonder if his father isn’t trying to cover something up. But his thoughts are on hockey and Laura, his prospective girlfriend, and relations with his father are the last thing he wants to deal with. And then he learns that, having worked at his father’s office last summer, he might possess evidence critical to the investigation. As tensions with his father reach a climax, Sean must decide whether or not he will testify against his father and what the consequences of that action might be.

Offside Excerpt

I ran my finger and thumb across the last zip-lock bag, shoved it into my ski sock and nudged my bureau drawer closed.  Finished for another week and nobody suspected a thing.   Sweeping my hand through the thin stream of light on the desktop, I checked my fingers for telltale powder streaks and clicked off the lamp. Then I burrowed back into bed, glanced at my alarm clock and groaned.  Quarter to eleven and a 6:30 practice tomorrow morning.

Downstairs, the volume of the TV suddenly increased as a commercial interrupted the news.  “Stuffed up and sneezy?  The solution’s easy…” I winced at the catchy slogan of Lise’s favorite cold remedy and mimicked the commercial.  “Stuffed up and sneezy?  The solution’s easy.  Doesn’t matter if you’re young or old.  Just mix up Sinus Minus and throw away your shyness.  For a healthy sinus, minus the cold.” I pulled my pillow down squarely over my head.

That was how it had all started.  Some muscle-bound musician, who had probably never been stuffed up in his life, had hooked my stepmom, Lise, on Sinus Minus.  From that day on, lime-green boxes in the shape of enormous noses had begun appearing in the medicine cabinets.  Inside each enormous nose were ten shiny foil packets adorned with the Sinus Minus schnoz. One small sniffle was enough to elicit some serious advice to mix it with something warm for the throat.  It was definitely one of Lise’s latest crazes, but at least she hadn’t decided to market the stuff – that was my department.  In just six weeks, I’d managed to get my entire hockey team hooked on Sinus Minus.

Offside cover

Offside Synopsis

Offside cover

Joel didn’t intend to get his hockey team, the Falcons, hooked on Sinus Minus, his wacky stepmother’s favourite cold remedy. In fact, the guys, including his best friend Ryan, got hooked on the stuff by accident. He never dreamed that they would develop a psychological dependence on the stuff, but the Falcons can’t lose when Joel furnishes the team with the Ziploc baggies of fine white powder. At first, Joel isn’t too concerned. After all, it’s just a perfectly legal, over-the-counter cold medicine. But when Ryan’s mom tries to commit suicide using a seemingly harmless drug, Joel knows that he has to wean the team off Sinus Minus. However, things get complicated when the guys lose to the last place team without the stuff and his stepmother, Lise, gets the guys involved in a Say No to Drugs campaign fundraiser. And then there’s Valerie, the synchronized skater of his dreams, whom he can’t seem to connect with. How will he ever succeed in weaning the Falcons off the stuff, without losing the championship? Offside blends Canada’s love affair with hockey and the gritty realities of legal drug use in a comic, yet serious narrative.