Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Halloween 2022


I always fuss over what to buy for handouts. I’ll never forget the year I bought juice boxes, and what my granddaughters said about my handout choice. Juice boxes? Nana, you actually bought juice boxes for Halloween? I thought it was a great idea. I still do. But I didn’t buy them again. If any of you know of a healthy snack that’s an appreciated treat, let me know.

When we lived in the country we didn’t have many children come to the door trick-or-treating. At a discount store I purchased colouring books, crayons, little crafts, and fun toy thingies. I invited the children in to pick out what they’d like. It really didn’t go over as well as I’d expected. Back to the sugary treats.

This year when I bought cans of pop I wondered if kids still drank cream soda, orange crush, and root beer (they do! Root beer is the favourite), bags of candies (next year I won’t get any licorice), wee boxes of smarties, those little chocolate bars – which  I had to re-stock before the 31st  (eyeroll) – and  boxes of potato chips. I second-guessed myself as I put them all out on folding tables in the foyer. I’ll give the smarties and little bars to the toddlers, pop or chips to the older ones. Then I considered giving out a few candies with a can of pop, some chocolate bars with the chips… And so it went.

That night it took only a couple of trips to the door for me to change my mind about everything. This is

Friday, October 28, 2022

My Imaginary Friends

 I miss the people from the pages. Do other authors feel the same about their characters? They must. We get inside their heads, and that’s as close as you can get to anyone. Someone questioned this point, though. Do we get inside the heads of our characters, or do characters live inside our heads? I firmly believe in the former. There were days when I needed to write but, uh uh, their voices were silent. But then my characters were always very much in control. Of everything. It was all I could do to keep up. To a non-writer that probably sounds crazy. Think what you will.

At a book club meeting to discuss the Newfoundland series, one of the members thought it was hilarious the way I pondered – in the same manner they did – how a character might react in a different situation. You talk like you don’t know these people any better than we do. You made them up! I prefer to think of it as giving them life. Whatever. Okay, maybe I do give my ‘creations’ too much lead and that’s why I never know what will happen next. I’m definitely a pantser, not a plotter.

Yes, I miss the gang from Old Broad Road and On The Rock. Who wouldn’t? Sylvia Kramer, especially. It was the whole lifestyle that she’d built for herself in Newfoundland that I admired. We became quite close over the time it took me to write these novels. I might have connected more solidly with Sylvia

Monday, September 05, 2022

Fireside Collections Review: Old Broad Road/On The Rock by Phyllis L Humby


A Fireside Collections book review

When 63 year old Sylvia Kramer showed up in Chapel's Cove, Newfoundland she was far from ready to embark upon another love affair. That, however, is exactly what happened. Still in shock over her recent divorce from husband Paul, after what was perceived to be a marriage rooted in love and respect, and estranged from her adult children and grandchildren, Sylvia was broken and in need of an escape. A one way ticket to an east coast destination is what Sylvia seems to need; a place where she would be embraced by warmth and friendliness, eclectic people and unknown dialects, new delicacies waiting to be explored. A healthy dose of the North Atlantic is indeed the tonic that brings new life to Sylvia but evil lurks in all corners of the world and Sylvia is certainly forced to endure her share of the worst, plunging her into a tailspin of depression and doubt and experimentation with unorthodox coping strategies. Old Broad Road and On The Rock by author Phyllis L. Humby is the two part, two novel story of one woman’s will to survive and to make sense of her seemingly senseless world. 

On Route 60, I pulled the truck over and walked to a bench at the shoreline. My breath quickened at the natural beauty of Conception Bay as I gazed across the horizon. The drizzle had ended and the sun was remarkably warm. I removed my jacket to soak up the rays and then stretched my legs out in front of me until I settled into a relaxed position. My eyes grew heavy.   

I could see myself, arms outstretched, walk to the water's edge. Cautiously hop from rock to boulder. The blue sea lapped around my feet. The water crept up my legs past my knees. It stretched up my thighs and circled my hips, the silky surface luring me to its depths. My feet drifted off the rocks. My body submerged into the mysterious wet underworld. The icy water warmed me as I succumbed to the zenith of serenity. 

 (Old Broad Road)

In this two part series, Humby crafts a beautiful story that is masterfully written in the first person. In many respects,

the story has an “Eat, Pray, Love” feel with the main character Sylvia embarking upon a voyage of self discovery and new beginnings.  Though there are some heartbreaking incidents throughout both books that test Sylvia’s resolve,  this amazing piece of Canadiana is more about how love and friendship can conquer all. It is very much a feel good story that the reader just won’t want to put down and the tragic events are just part of that story. Humby also pens beautiful descriptions of an outport lifestyle that would be the envy of any writer. Her descriptions are factually accurate and truly invite the reader to become part of the story. Likewise, the author creates a wonderfully diverse cast of authentic characters that are as colourful as the jelly bean row houses located in old St. John’s. Instrumental to the development of the story and to Sylvia’s own personal development, the characters are funny and joyous, humble and adventurous. They are a wholesome mix of hearty Newfoundlanders (and some “Come From Aways”), a group I secretly wished to be a part of especially when they got together for celebrations and dinner parties.

Old Broad Road and On The Rock by Phyllis L. Humby is the story of one woman’s love affair with a place and with people who are just good for the soul. This book will leave you laughing, smiling, and crying and definitely booking your next adventure to Newfoundland. Phyllis L. Humby lives in the municipality of Lambton Shores, Ontario. She is the author of Hazards of The Tree, Old Broad Road and On The Rock published by Crossfield Publishing.

Book Reviews shared from firesidecollections.blogspot.com

Friday, August 26, 2022

Cathy Marie Buchanan marks anniversary

Cathy Marie Buchanan’s Facebook post this week celebrating the thirteenth anniversary of becoming a published author brought back warm memories for me.

It was during her book signing tour for The Day the Falls Stood Still when she popped into a small local library on an escorted trek around the city. During the author’s impromptu visit, the librarian mentioned my manuscript!

I was at the stage of giving up. Discouraged by query rejections, I was ready to burn the manuscript, convinced I’d never find an agent or publisher. This librarian, who had generously agreed to read my manuscript, felt moved by my novel and must have still been under its spell. Whatever she told the New York Best Selling Author prompted Cathy Buchanan to hand over her phone number with instructions for me to call her. Can you believe it??

Of course I phoned, but not before rushing out to purchase her book. I read it thoroughly and appreciatively, gulped, and dialled her number. During our thirty minute conversation, she offered

Monday, August 08, 2022

Old Broad Road and On The Rock – Inside Scoop

The novels Old Broad Road and On The Rock are written in First Person Point of View. This might account for why some readers associate the protagonist Sylvia Kramer with me, being the author, and her life with mine. But this series is fiction and not based on any drama or characters in my own personal world.

Here are my answers to some of the most frequently asked questions: 

Q: Why was it important for your main character to share your love of cooking?

(throat clearing) I love eating, but cooking…not so much. It’s true that in both Old Broad Road and On The Rock, Sylvia Kramer effortlessly throws together spectacularly delicious meals. One reviewer even warned people not to read these books on an empty stomach. I love it! If you were salivating reading about the meals, imagine how it felt doing the research. Of course, I’d sampled many of the Newfoundland and Labrador delicacies during my vacation there.

Q: How long did you live in Newfoundland?

I’ve never lived in Newfoundland. It was through my several pleasurable vacations in the province that I was inspired to write Old Broad Road and subsequently On The Rock. As a sidenote, I'd never visited Chapel's Cove, NL, which is the setting of these books, until after I'd written them. I'll always remember how I felt standing on Sylvia's beach for the first time. It was a profound and magical moment.

Q: Do you have tattoos?