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A Minute of Time with Larry Verstraete

0af604035b5121092813cda8ad865055_sThis time around I asked fellow Anita Factor writing group member, Larry, the following two questions:

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was enrolled in a correspondence writing course at the time.  For our third assignment, we were asked to write an article for a children’s magazine.  I figured lightning would be a fascinating subject for kids.  While doing research on the topic, I encountered a story about a weird demonstration conducted by Benjamin Franklin in 1750 that involved zapping a turkey with a powerful jolt of electricity.  Things didn’t go as planned.  Franklin accidentally touched one of the connections and was sent flying.  The loud bang and flash of light produced by the discharge reminded him of lightning. The experience led him to his most famous and dangerous experiment two years later – launching a kite in a thunderstorm to test the properties of lightning.

Image result for accidental discoveries verstraeteRight off, I realized that I’d found writer’s gold – a true story so odd and fascinating that properly told, it practically guaranteed the reader’s attention. I abandoned my earlier subject –  lightning – and wrote about Franklin and the turkey instead. Then, as I worked on my course assignments, I wrote other science stories with similar mixes where mishaps, mistakes, and unusual circumstances ultimately led to major breakthroughs. By the end of the course, I had a sizeable collection – enough for a decent book. Scholastic published the manuscript under the title The Serendipity Effect. Years later, it was revised and reissued under its present title: Accidental Discoveries: From Laughing Gas to Dynamite.

What are you reading now?

Image result for The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings: How to Craft Story Openings that Sell by Paula MunierRight now, I am reading a reference book called The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings: How to Craft Story Openings that Sell by Paula Munier, a top literary agent.  The book covers much more than just the first chapter, but also what should happen after the beginning.  Munier writes with clarity and wit, and she includes numerous examples drawn from a swath of genres.  On every page, I find insider tips and valuable information.  I’d recommend this book to everyone who writes fiction whether they be novices or seasoned veterans.

Please connect with Larry:

Website/Blog: The Footloose Writer
Facebook: @larry.verstraete.author
Twitter: @VerstraeteLarry
Instagram: @larryvrstraete
Pinterest: @Larryverstraete
LinkedIn: Larry Verstraete
Goodreads: Larry Verstraete

Bio:
Larry Verstraete began writing for youngsters while he was still teaching.  He is the award-winning author of 16 non-fiction books for young people and one middle grade novel.  His most recent release is ‘Dinosaurs’ of the Deep: Discover Prehistoric Marine Life (Turnstone Press, 2016), a book about the Western Interior Seaway and its exotic creatures. Larry is a frequent visitor to schools where he shares his enthusiasm for reading and writing with students, teachers and parents.

A Minute of Time with Jodi Carmichael

jodi author pic

Award-winning author, Jodi Carmichael, is a fellow founding member of the Anita Factor writing group. She was the first of our group (with the members at the time) to be published with her middle grade novel, Spaghetti is Not a Finger Food (and other life lessons). We were all so excited for her!

Jodi is a spunky bundle of energy who is always excited about something writerly. She works hard at her craft (especially plotting cartoon-1817570_640) and writes wonderful stories with her natural brand of humour. I rarely see Jodi without a smile, so contagious.

I asked Jodi the following two questions:

What was the last book you finished? Would you recommend it?Image result for a monster calls book cover

The last book I read was, A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. It had me with the first line. “The Monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.” How could anyone not love this opening. I highly recommend it and don’t forget to read the note the author included about writing the novel. To me, this made this story all the more special.

Do you base your fictional characters on real people?

I don’t typically base my characters on real people, except when I do! What an answer. Until my most recent novel, my characters and their stories were complete fiction. The book I am now working on is loosely based on my Grandfather’s mysterious World War 2 years. His war records keep getting resealed, which made me wonder, why? What did he do that is still so top secret? From there, my imagination took flight.

Please connect with Jodi:

Website: www.jodicarmichael.com
Twitter: @Jodi_Carmichael
Facebook: Jodi Carmichael
Instagram: Jodi Carmichael

Bio:
Image result for forever julia book cover
Jodi writes for kids and teens of all ages and is the award-winning author of young adult novel, Forever Julia and chapter book, Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food. She is currently working on an action packed middle grade novel that is full of mystery, clairvoyance, and double agents.

 

A Minute of Time with Larry Verstraete

Larry and I actually met as members of a writing group. Prior to the Anita Factor, we were both involved with Vast Imaginations. After a few years, the two groups amalgamated.

0af604035b5121092813cda8ad865055_sWhen Larry and I first met, he was already an award-winning, established writer of several non-fiction books for children. He joined our writing group as he was writing his first middle grade novel. A few years later, Missing in Paradise, was published, with recognition to boot.

We often joke within the Anita Factor that in amongst a bunch of “Anitas,” Larry is our one “Anito!” As a retired teacher, Larry is observant, patient and thoughtful. He cares about his friends and will always lend a listening ear. He was a supportive sounding board for me during  my ridiculously stressful 2016. I treasure his friendship.

In my attempts to get to know my fellow writers a little better, I asked Larry the following:

What was the last book you finished? Would you recommend it?

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  Highly recommended.  Insightful, humorous, intriguing plot line, and, for something different, it also features a philosopher-dog as a protagonist.

 

What was your favourite book as a child/teen? Do you remember what it was about the book that made it your favourite?

(tough question, so many…)

The Source by James A. Mitchener

I read this 900 page book when I was 15. Mitchener sweeps through time, blending historical fact with a fictional plot and characters.  I was blown away by the way he tied so many elements about religion together.  It was my first ‘heavy’ read, and once I finished Michener’s book I went on to read other equally weighty ones with that mix of history, fiction, and challenging ideas.

(Side note: As a young lad, I don’t have many memories of books.  We didn’t have many books kicking around our house.  But as a teenager, I made regular trips to our local library so most of my favourite books come from that era.)

Please connect with Larry:

Website/Blog: The Footloose Writer
Facebook: @larry.verstraete.author
Twitter: @VerstraeteLarry
Instagram: @larryvrstraete
Pinterest: @Larryverstraete
LinkedIn: Larry Verstraete
Goodreads: Larry Verstraete

Bio:
Larry Verstraete began writing for youngsters while he was still teaching.  He is the award-winning author of 16 non-fiction books for young people and one middle grade novel.  His most recent release is ‘Dinosaurs’ of the Deep: Discover Prehistoric Marine Life (Turnstone Press, 2016), a book about the Western Interior Seaway and its exotic creatures. Larry is a frequent visitor to schools where he shares his enthusiasm for reading and writing with students, teachers and parents.

 

Unimpressed Doggie

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Keyser (front) and Basil show off their holiday spirit with their Christmas ties. Keyser’s expression however, is unimpressed. He’s so funny. They look sweet anyway!

Thanks to our groomer, Vada Club K9, in Winnipeg for the awesome accessories. I love this grooming shop. They take their time, give the dogs breaks when they need, are reasonably priced and my dogs always look and smell great when we leave.

Authentic Victorian

Today is my third, and final, post about Dalnavert, an authentic Victorian era house museum in downtown Winnipeg.

In my first post I talked about our experience with a shadow puppet show of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. My second post showcased the formal Christmas dinner. Today, I wanted to share some photos I took in the house in general.

Every single item in the house is authentic to 1895, when the Sir Hugh McDonald family lived in the home.

A baking area in the kitchen with cookie cutters:

dalnavert bakingdalnavert cookie

A waffle iron that imprints hearts, diamonds and different shapes into the waffle:

dalnavert waffle

The ladies visiting parlour:

dalnavert visiting room

A view down the stairs:

dalnavert down the stairs

A bedroom. I love those boots!

dalnavert bedroomdalnavert shoes

At one time the walls were whitewashed. When the renovations were planned to turn the home back to its original Victorian state, everything had to be as it was in 1895 — right down to the wallpaper, which they were able to gather samples of here and there from each room. Then they found the original wallpaper makers in Europe and it was replicated and re-hung. The attention to detail is outstanding.

I highly recommend you check out Dalnavert if you have the opportunity.

Umm, Which Fork?

Dalnavert is a Victorian house museum in Winnipeg, that has been restored to it’s original 1895 grandeur when Sir Hugh McDonald and his family lived in the home. Sir Hugh was the son of Sir John A. McDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister.

Dalnavert

Dalnavert table setting This is a single place setting for a formal Christmas dinner. Which fork to use? Start from the outside and work your way in right? How many courses could this be?

Dalnavert table A grand looking table.

Dalnavert pickle jar This is a pickle jar.

Dalnavert menu And the menu sits at the head of the table.

A feast for sure!

This is my second post about Dalnavert, see also my post about the reading of Charles Dicken’s, A Christmas Carol.

 

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Christmas Trees

I just love the blue on these Christmas trees, decorated at the Winnipeg Airport.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas,

a Happy Holiday Season,

and the Best in the New Year!

 

An Experience at Carnaval – Brazilian BBQ

Carnival 1

Carnaval is a Brazilian BBQ restaurant in Winnipeg. It appears to be expensive, but for the experience you get – it’s not!

carnival bbq Carnaval is an all-you-can-eat BBQ.

carnival 2 The waiters walk around with huge skewers of different kinds of marinated meat.

carnival 3 Each customer gets a two-sided card. Green means bring on the BBQ, red means not right now.

 

carnival 4 A view of Waterfront Drive from the restaurant window.

Carnaval was a fun experience that we enjoyed with friends! If you’re willing to pay a little extra for a truly exceptional experience – I highly recommend!

 

 

 

Flitting Wings

butterfly 1 butterfly 2

butterfly 3 butterfly 4

butterfly 5 butterfly 6

The flitting wings of butterflies.

Assiniboine Park Zoo, butterfly house.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
This was my first time testing my new macro lens. 100mm.

Photo Finish

horse flowers

horse photo finish

horse finish line

horses crossing finish

Assiniboia Downs Horse Racing

I love horses.

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada