Lily Iona MacKenzie's Blog for Writers & Readers

MY BLOG POSTS COMMENT ON SOME ASPECT OF WRITING & READING.

The Ripening
The Ripening:
A Canadian Girl Grows Up

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Tillie’s grit and ability to face life’s challenges are inspiring, the seeds for later discovering her artist self. Tillie takes readers on a wild ride. Join her if you dare! "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Curva Peligrosa
Curva Peligrosa

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

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FLING!
Fling!

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

"Fling! is both hilarious and touching. Every page is a surprise, and the characters! I especially loved Bubbles, one of the most endearing mothers in recent fiction. A scintillating read."

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
Freefall
Freefall :
A Divine Comedy

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" These fascinating characters will fill your imagination, defying expectations about aging, art, and what truly matters in life. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
All This
All This

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" Indicative of the title, the poems in All This range from the conventional lyric/narrative that captures an intense moment of emotion, an epiphany glimpsed briefly out of the corner of the eye, to the more experimental. "

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
No More Kings
No More Kings

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

" A wildly inventive, consistently engaging, and amusing comic novel, but under its bright exterior lurk darker undertones and truths.... "

Each finely crafted poem in this powerful collection comes alive on the page while she traces the days’ journeys with a painter’s eye, a musician’s ear, and the deft pen of a poet.

Lily Iona MacKenzie Books
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Tag: writer Page 1 of 2

Meet the fascinating Bonnie Lee Black, a writer who created the award winning blog THE WOW FACTOR!

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be in conversation with the lovely Bonnie Lee Black, a woman who has been Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon, Central Africa, who has conducted an independent economic development project in Mali, West Africa, and who has been a professional writer and editor for over 40 years. She currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico,

Here is Bonnie’s bio:

Bonnie Lee Black earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University in Los Angeles in June 2007. An honors graduate of Columbia University in New York (BA, Lit./Writing, 1979), she has been a professional writer and editor for more than 40 years and an educator in the U.S. and overseas for over 30 years.

Join Guest Author Pat Taub in this interview and meet her muse!

On my blog today I’m talking to Pat Taub, a family therapist, a journalist, a writer/host for the Syracuse NPR station program “Women’s Voices,”a  writer for Key West Magazine, and a writing teacher. Pat explains how her memoir, The Mother of My Invention, helped her make peace with her troubled relationship with her mother.

How Are Writers Like Travelers?

My husband and I like to travel when we have the time and money. We’ve managed to visit St. Petersburg, Moscow, the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Marrakech, Fes, Rabat, Istanbul, the entire Aegean/Mediterranean coast off Turkey, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and many other countries.

Find out how a Canadian Girl in Training (ha!) becomes a famous writer (ha ha)

Find out how a high school dropout, Canadian Girl in Training, and single parent moved from Calgary to San Francisco and eventually became a published author! Lily Iona MacKenzie reveals how the lines between characters and author can become blurred!

Penpodcast.com is a place for authors to share their work and process with the world.

Learn from Per Petterson, the writer’s writer

I’ve gone bonkers over Per Petterson’s writing. Born in Norway in 1952, Petterson was a librarian and a bookseller before he published his first work in 1987, a volume of short stories. His third novel, Out Stealing Horses, became an international best seller. Since then, he has published three other novels, which have established his reputation as one of Norway’s best fiction writers.

The Writer as Traveler

mosaic-200864_1920My husband and I like to travel when we have the time and money. We’ve managed to visit St. Petersburg, Moscow, the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Marrakech, Fes, Rabat, Istanbul, the entire Aegean/Mediterranean coast off Turkey, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, and many other countries.

A Writer’s Evolution

write-2448159_1920

I’m standing on the street outside the Crescent Confectionary in Calgary, the city where I grew up. The place is lit from within. A couple sits at a table next to the window, eating. I feel like the little match girl, on the outside, looking into this place where I once worked. When I was thirteen, I went with Chester, my stepdad, to the Confectionary, and he asked Mr. Larson, the owner, to give me a part-time job. Chester bought all of our food there on credit, paying the bill when he was flush.

Does Blogging Denude the Blogger?

blog-1027861_1920Full disclosure:  I started this blog so I would have a “writer’s platform” I could show agents and potential publishers.  But it doesn’t come without a cost, and that is one’s privacy.

The idea of public and private has shifted.  While some people still keep private diaries/journals (myself included), others are blogging their hearts out for all the world to see.  Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, chat rooms, etc., have conditioned a new generation to spill it all on the web, to not hold back.  Some even set up webcams in their houses so strangers can follow their daily routine.

Writing as an Affliction

home-office-336378_1920 (1)I was pumping hard on the exercise bike at the gym while having a conversation with the fellow riding next to me. We had introduced ourselves and exchanged backgrounds. He had just learned that I’m a published writer and was intrigued by the idea, congratulating me on the recent release of my second published novel Curva Peligrosa. I surprised myself by laughing dryly and calling writing an affliction.

Writing back to life

writer

It’s wonderful to be writing again after my daily commitment was severely interrupted by launching and marketing Fling! I felt hollow during that time, as if something vital were missing from my daily diet. What is it about writing that is so necessary for me and I’m sure for other writers?

When I sit down at my computer, or in front of a sheet of paper, another world opens up to me. It’s not unlike what I experience at night before I fall asleep. The word “fall” seems key here: during those hours, we descend into the unconscious, into another level from our surface life. While the brain may be cranking out a conglomeration of images we’ve collected throughout the day, I don’t believe that’s all we’re doing when we sleep. I think dreams are more mysterious than that explanation implies.

How do you explain the imagination and all it encompasses? How do you constrain it by rationally trying to identify its source, its ability to help us soar on the back of words and create new configurations that end up being stories or poems? You don’t. If you’re a writer, you wed memory, words, and imagination in a marriage that always surprises. And that’s what I missed during those dry days when I didn’t have access to that realm. I’m happy to be back.

Timing: Giving Birth To a Novel

I’ve completed another novel. It didn’t come fully formed like Athena from Zeus’ forehead. I’ve been working on parts of it for years, but in the past few months it has solidified and taken its final shape. As is often the case for me, it took awhile for the main character’s voice to fully emerge. It’s a little like a partial birth, if there is such a thing. Legs and arms came first. Eventually the rest followed.

The central character Tillie is the younger version of the main actor in Freefall, a work that I hope to see published soon. Freefall’s Tillie is 60 with the heart of someone much younger. Like her older self, the young Tillie is quirky and precocious and loves to wander. The working title for the new novel is Tillie: Portrait of a Canadian Girl in Training. For those who don’t know about the organization, Canadian Girls in Training actually exists, and I joined it for a while when I was young.

Of course, attending meetings was an excuse to get out of the house at night. But the real training happened on my way to and from the church where we gathered. We smoked all the way there and back. We played white rabbit, a “game” that involved ringing doorbells over and over and then disappearing. We raided gardens. And we also visited the local park where the boys were hanging out. I learned many useful things during those excursions.

And I’ve learned a lot from writing this novel. It can take years for a character and a story to emerge. It’s not unlike raising a child: there are developmental stages, and each one is important. So though at times I despaired that the work would ever cohere, it did. And it was worth waiting for.

Dear Fellow Writers/Readers

It amazes me that after all of these years spent writing in a variety of genres (novels, short stories, poetry, memoir, essays), I’m still learning about process and other writing-related things. Recently, I’ve been working on what I expect will become another novel. It draws on some of my childhood experiences growing up on the Canadian prairies. Of course, it’s no surprise to anyone that writers use such events in their fiction (and non-fiction), but I find that I get bogged down if I stay too close to the actual material.

When I’m recreating something I’ve already lived through, especially in fiction, it loses its appeal and I don’t feel any excitement in writing it. I write to make discoveries, not just to reinhabit the past. I realize that sometimes we need to revisit past events in order to make sense of them, especially in writing memoir. But in fiction, for the work to take on life for me, I must only use it as a seed that I plant and embellish through invention. If my imagination doesn’t get stimulated and involved, it’s a trudge each day to try and press forward.

In the material I’m currently developing, the main character has similar experiences to mine in acquiring a stepfather at an early age and moving to his farm. However, to recreate certain occurrences from that time bores me, especially when writing fiction. It doesn’t interest me to recreate myself in a character—though all writers do this to a certain degree, parts of ourselves inhabiting all of our creations. I need to step into a new identity and discover what makes this other personality unique.

Once I realized what was happening in my current work, I was able to let go and fly. Now I can’t wait to return each day to the manuscript and discover where it wants to go. The characters and setting are taking on their own life, very different from what I originally envisioned.

For me, that’s the main pleasure of writing in any genre: if I don’t learn something new, then it’s tedious and not worth my time or my reader’s. Writing needs to be about these voyages into the unknown where we make visible what has been hidden. It’s like fishing, lowering our line into the waters of the unconscious and snagging who knows what.

 

 

The Writer as Detective

I’ve been thinking recently how writers are like detectives. They need to be constantly observant, picking up clues from what people are wearing, how they gesture, the words they speak, the way they interact with others. They study others’ facial expressions and what they suggest, storing away the data in their memory banks or taking notes in a writer’s journal that they’ll refer to later.

Detectives need to ask questions, the right questions, without arousing the suspect’s suspi5d9cf373-e31c-400e-9fe0-1655625ab9b2cions. Writers are also usually operating undercover in this way, querying their family members, friends, and acquaintances on unfamiliar subjects, building up their store of knowledge.

A good detective, like an amateur psychologist, also is skilled at looking beyond surfaces, trying to discover the hidden meanings in words, expressions, gestures, aware that most things have multiple meanings. Beneath each innocent remark a slumbering reality can lurk, a subtext to the surface narrative.

Conflict is something that draws both detectives and writers. They know it leads to drama and clues that can help resolve questions about the people involved and the dynamics between them. They’re skilled, then, in piecing together a narrative from a series of events, paying attention to details most people miss: the silver skull & bones cufflink on the surgeon’s dress shirt; slight variations in a person’s story that offers clues to his/her motives.

Detectives and writers love ferreting out the truth and revealing lies. They’re constantly discovering new things in their surroundings, training all their senses to be alert to nuances. But in their quest,     they also need to be subtle and try to blend in. It’s their subjects that they shed the spotlight on, not themselves.

 

Pen-L Press will be publishing my novel Fling in 2015. A wildly comic romp on mothers, daughters, art, and death, the book should appeal to a broad range of readers. While the main characters are middle-aged and older, their zest for life would draw readers of all ages, male or female, attracting the youthful adventurer in most people. Though women may identify more readily with Feather and Bubbles’ daughter and mother struggles, the heart of the book is how they approach their aging selves and are open to new experiences. Since art and imagination are key to this narrative, artists of all ages would find something to enjoy. And because the book crosses many borders (Scotland, Canada, the U.S., and Mexico), it also can’t be limited to a specific age group, social class, gender, or region.

My first fan letter for Fling came from an 80 year-old woman who lives in the tiny village of Christina Lake, B.C. My son, who also lives there, had given her my manuscript to read. She said, “I just wanted to express to you how very much I enjoyed your writing.  I started it and didn’t stop till I had read it all.  I very much like your style and your subtle humor. Thank you for a most enjoyable read. I can’t understand why it hasn’t been scooped up by some publisher. But I know that it will be. In my estimation I know that it is excellent literary work. I am a voracious reader and have been since grade 4. I remember my first book was Tom Sawyer and I have never stopped since then. I go through 4 to 5 books a week.  We are so fortunate here at the Lake now.  The Library staff in Grand Forks come out here every Wednesday. I have become very fond of the young lady who comes out. She provides me with all the award winning books and orders others for me. Again I want to express to you how very much I enjoyed your manuscript.  Have patience my dear….it will be published to wide acclaim I am so sure.” —Joan Fornelli.

Here is a synopsis:

Feather, an aging hippie, returns to her Calgary home to help her mother, Bubbles, celebrate her 90th birthday. Bubbles has received mail from the dead letter office in Mexico City, asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, left there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing. Bubbles’ mother, Scottish by birth, had died in Mexico in the late 1920s after taking off with a married man and abandoning her husband and kids.

A woman with a mission, and still vigorous, Bubbles convinces a reluctant Feather to take her to Mexico so she can recover the ashes and give her mother a proper burial. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it.

Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey with their colorful Scottish ancestors, creating a family tapestry. The “now” thread presents the two women as they travel south from Canada to San Francisco and then Mexico, covering a span of about six months. “Now” and “then” merge in Mexico when Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their antics.

In Mexico, the land where reality and magic co-exist, Feather gets a new sense of her mother. The Indian villagers mistake Bubbles for a well-known rain goddess, praying for her to bring rain so their land will thrive again. Feather, who’s been seeking “The Goddess” for years, eventually realizes what she’s overlooked.

Meanwhile, Bubbles’ quest for her mother’s ashes (and a new man) has increased her zest for life. A shrewd business woman (she’s raised chickens, sold her crafts, taken in bizarre boarders, and has a sure-fire system for winning at bingo and lotteries), she’s certain she’s found the fountain of youth at a mineral springs outside San Miguel de Allende; she’s determined to bottle the water and sell it.

But gambling is her first love, and unlike most women her age, fun-loving Bubbles takes risks, believing she’s immortal. Unlike her daughter, Bubbles doesn’t hold back in any way, eating heartily, lusting after strangers, her youthful spirit and innocence convincing readers that they’ve found the fountain of youth themselves in this character. At ninety, she comes into her own, coming to age, proving it’s never too late to fulfill one’s dreams.

Fling, a meditation on death, mothers and daughters, and art, suggests that the fountain of youth is the imagination, and this is what they all discover in Mexico. It’s what Bubbles wants to bottle, but she doesn’t need to. She embodies it. The whole family does.


Writing like an Architect

Seeing Othello recently confirmed for me that being a first-rate writer requires the same kind of training that an architect receives. A typical program includes courses in architectural history and theory, building design, construction methods, professional practice, math, physical sciences, and liberal arts. Writers may not need to study math or the physical sciences, but they do need to give themselves the best liberal arts education they can find, both formal and informal. And like architects, in order to be successful in their field, writers need vision, a rich imagination. Creative writing programs can help educate us to a certain extent in terms of craft, but much of our learning must happen outside the academy. That means the direction is unsystematic and  mostly comes from within. Yet like an architect, we need to be thoroughly familiar with materials and structures, both ancient and contemporary. We also need to make friends with the unconscious.

I once naïvely assumed that I could devote one summer to writing and suddenly bloom like Athena from Zeus’ head, becoming an author overnight. It didn’t happen. As I’ve discovered since then, it takes a tremendous amount of sheer hard work, of experimenting and exploring and discarding until control over the craft emerges.

Then there are all the inner blocks to overcome, dragons that we continuously have to slay before we can claim our own voice. These include the inner critic who wails that we don’t have any talent and no one will every publish our work. It also involves all the ways we can distract ourselves from the task at hand, pencil sharpening instead of writing.

Though at times I would like to renege on the commitment I’ve made to myself, if I keep plugging along, I see progress.

 

 

Pen-L Press will be publishing my novel Fling in 2015. A wildly comic romp on mothers, daughters, art, and death, the book should appeal to a broad range of readers. While the main characters are middle-aged and older, their zest for life would draw readers of all ages, male or female, attracting the youthful adventurer in most people. Though women may identify more readily with Feather and Bubbles’ daughter and mother struggles, the heart of the book is how they approach their aging selves and are open to new experiences. Since art and imagination are key to this narrative, artists of all ages would find something to enjoy. And because the book crosses many borders (Scotland, Canada, the U.S., and Mexico), it also can’t be limited to a specific age group, social class, gender, or region.

My first fan letter for Fling came from an 80 year-old woman who lives in the tiny village of Christina Lake, B.C. My son, who also lives there, had given her my manuscript to read. She said, “I just wanted to express to you how very much I enjoyed your writing.  I started it and didn’t stop till I had read it all.  I very much like your style and your subtle humor. Thank you for a most enjoyable read. I can’t understand why it hasn’t been scooped up by some publisher. But I know that it will be. In my estimation I know that it is excellent literary work. I am a voracious reader and have been since grade 4. I remember my first book was Tom Sawyer and I have never stopped since then. I go through 4 to 5 books a week.  We are so fortunate here at the Lake now.  The Library staff in Grand Forks come out here every Wednesday. I have become very fond of the young lady who comes out. She provides me with all the award winning books and orders others for me. Again I want to express to you how very much I enjoyed your manuscript.  Have patience my dear….it will be published to wide acclaim I am so sure.” —Joan Fornelli.

Here is a synopsis:

Feather, an aging hippie, returns to her Calgary home to help her mother, Bubbles, celebrate her 90th birthday. Bubbles has received mail from the dead letter office in Mexico City, asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, left there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing. Bubbles’ mother, Scottish by birth, had died in Mexico in the late 1920s after taking off with a married man and abandoning her husband and kids.

A woman with a mission, and still vigorous, Bubbles convinces a reluctant Feather to take her to Mexico so she can recover the ashes and give her mother a proper burial. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it.

Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey with their colorful Scottish ancestors, creating a family tapestry. The “now” thread presents the two women as they travel south from Canada to San Francisco and then Mexico, covering a span of about six months. “Now” and “then” merge in Mexico when Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their antics.

In Mexico, the land where reality and magic co-exist, Feather gets a new sense of her mother. The Indian villagers mistake Bubbles for a well-known rain goddess, praying for her to bring rain so their land will thrive again. Feather, who’s been seeking “The Goddess” for years, eventually realizes what she’s overlooked.

Meanwhile, Bubbles’ quest for her mother’s ashes (and a new man) has increased her zest for life. A shrewd business woman (she’s raised chickens, sold her crafts, taken in bizarre boarders, and has a sure-fire system for winning at bingo and lotteries), she’s certain she’s found the fountain of youth at a mineral springs outside San Miguel de Allende; she’s determined to bottle the water and sell it.

But gambling is her first love, and unlike most women her age, fun-loving Bubbles takes risks, believing she’s immortal. Unlike her daughter, Bubbles doesn’t hold back in any way, eating heartily, lusting after strangers, her youthful spirit and innocence convincing readers that they’ve found the fountain of youth themselves in this character. At ninety, she comes into her own, coming to age, proving it’s never too late to fulfill one’s dreams.

Fling, a meditation on death, mothers and daughters, and art, suggests that the fountain of youth is the imagination, and this is what they all discover in Mexico. It’s what Bubbles wants to bottle, but she doesn’t need to. She embodies it. The whole family does.


On Writing Memoir

I opened the I Ching at random this morning and came up with #38, K’uei / Opposition.   The commentary says it is common for two opposites to exist together, needing to find relationship.  I realize an opposition is being set up just in the act of writing Drop Out:  my inner writer will be observing everything I do closely and recording what she finds valuable.  I’m reminded of a review of Journey into the Dark:  The Tunnel by William Gass that appeared in The New York Times Book Review:

Writers double themselves all the time in their fictions, of course.  That’s one of the reasons for writing them:  to clone yourself and set yourself out on a different path, or to reconfigure yourself as a marginal observer of your own childhood, as Lawrence does with Rupert Birkin in Women in Love, and as Woolf does with Lily Briscoe in To The Lighthouse; or to split yourself in two and reimagine one side of yourself through the eyes of the other, as Joyce does in Ulysses, and as Nabokov does in Pale Fire.

….The reason for this is that making copies of ourselves and setting them in motion in imaginary space is built in to the way minds work.  We do it all the time—when we plan for a future event, when we relive the past, when we daydream.  (July 13, 1995)

I like the idea that I’m daydreaming myself into existence, that day and night dreams, which can be in opposition, work together to make a creative entity.  I’m actually making a fiction in my memoir, just as we all are fictions, walking around.  I can’t possibly capture my whole life in these pages, so in making the choices I do and recording them, I’m altering my experience, describing a fictional “I,” transforming my life and my experiences.  They are both mine and not mine.

In fact, the act of writing these things and reflecting back on them alters that period, transforms it, just as the moon’s reflection changes what it touches, causing us to see a landscape differently at night than in the day time, under the sun’s glare.  The moons softens surfaces, embraces them.  The sun brings out an object’s hard edges and distances us from it.  It makes an object seem farther away than the moon’s light does.

In a way, I’m creating a character named Lily, just as other writers recreate themselves when writing memoir.  By organizing our pasts as we do, we eliminate a good deal, including only what fits the page limitation and what we’re willing to reveal.  Of course, this is how we give shape to a self, anyway, by uncovering/discovering it, bit by bit.  All of our personality doesn’t show at any one time.  Maybe over a long period, the different parts of ourselves will come forward and be exposed.  But we are always selecting, choosing.  When I had my sessions with A., my therapist/analyst, there were many dreams and experiences she never knew about, yet that didn’t make our work any less effective.

It’s similar to what happens when we photograph someone.  So much is left out, and we end up with an idealized (or sometimes extremely revealing) image.  If we took a dozen photographs of the person, while there would be a recognizable self in each picture, what’s captured in celluloid changes.  Usually, we only see a posed image, not a full-blown experience of another caught in natural motion.  I suppose it’s why many people prefer to choose a photograph of themselves that projects their best features, leaving the viewer with a romanticized picture of someone.

I think Proust was pointing to a similar phenomenon when he claimed that the narrative “I” is much different from the writer’s self/I.  The writer is creating another fictional self to speak through, and it isn’t exactly the same as the writer’s self.  I believe this happens in all writers.

It’s very useful to be reading Proust at the moment.  I’m interested in his ideas about memory, how we’re so caught up in the moment that it’s difficult to understand our experiences.  But by revisiting them in memory, we make sense of our lives.  I feel that’s what I’m doing here, trying to sort through inner and outer experiences, to understand them, to uncover their meaning.

 

Pen-L Press will be publishing my novel Fling in 2015. A wildly comic romp on mothers, daughters, art, and death, the book should appeal to a broad range of readers. While the main characters are middle-aged and older, their zest for life would draw readers of all ages, male or female, attracting the youthful adventurer in most people. Though women may identify more readily with Feather and Bubbles’ daughter and mother struggles, the heart of the book is how they approach their aging selves and are open to new experiences. Since art and imagination are key to this narrative, artists of all ages would find something to enjoy. And because the book crosses many borders (Scotland, Canada, the U.S., and Mexico), it also can’t be limited to a specific age group, social class, gender, or region.

My first fan letter for Fling came from an 80 year-old woman who lives in the tiny village of Christina Lake, B.C. My son, who also lives there, had given her my manuscript to read. She said, “I just wanted to express to you how very much I enjoyed your writing.  I started it and didn’t stop till I had read it all.  I very much like your style and your subtle humor. Thank you for a most enjoyable read. I can’t understand why it hasn’t been scooped up by some publisher. But I know that it will be. In my estimation I know that it is excellent literary work. I am a voracious reader and have been since grade 4. I remember my first book was Tom Sawyer and I have never stopped since then. I go through 4 to 5 books a week.  We are so fortunate here at the Lake now.  The Library staff in Grand Forks come out here every Wednesday. I have become very fond of the young lady who comes out. She provides me with all the award winning books and orders others for me. Again I want to express to you how very much I enjoyed your manuscript.  Have patience my dear….it will be published to wide acclaim I am so sure.” —Joan Fornelli.

Here is a synopsis:

Feather, an aging hippie, returns to her Calgary home to help her mother, Bubbles, celebrate her 90th birthday. Bubbles has received mail from the dead letter office in Mexico City, asking her to pick up her mother’s ashes, left there seventy years earlier and only now surfacing. Bubbles’ mother, Scottish by birth, had died in Mexico in the late 1920s after taking off with a married man and abandoning her husband and kids.

A woman with a mission, and still vigorous, Bubbles convinces a reluctant Feather to take her to Mexico so she can recover the ashes and give her mother a proper burial. Both women have recently shed husbands and have a secondary agenda: they’d like a little action. And they get it.

Alternating narratives weave together Feather and Bubbles’ odyssey with their colorful Scottish ancestors, creating a family tapestry. The “now” thread presents the two women as they travel south from Canada to San Francisco and then Mexico, covering a span of about six months. “Now” and “then” merge in Mexico when Bubbles’ long-dead mother, grandmother, and grandfather turn up, enlivening the narrative with their antics.

In Mexico, the land where reality and magic co-exist, Feather gets a new sense of her mother. The Indian villagers mistake Bubbles for a well-known rain goddess, praying for her to bring rain so their land will thrive again. Feather, who’s been seeking “The Goddess” for years, eventually realizes what she’s overlooked.

Meanwhile, Bubbles’ quest for her mother’s ashes (and a new man) has increased her zest for life. A shrewd business woman (she’s raised chickens, sold her crafts, taken in bizarre boarders, and has a sure-fire system for winning at bingo and lotteries), she’s certain she’s found the fountain of youth at a mineral springs outside San Miguel de Allende; she’s determined to bottle the water and sell it.

But gambling is her first love, and unlike most women her age, fun-loving Bubbles takes risks, believing she’s immortal. Unlike her daughter, Bubbles doesn’t hold back in any way, eating heartily, lusting after strangers, her youthful spirit and innocence convincing readers that they’ve found the fountain of youth themselves in this character. At ninety, she comes into her own, coming to age, proving it’s never too late to fulfill one’s dreams.

Fling, a meditation on death, mothers and daughters, and art, suggests that the fountain of youth is the imagination, and this is what they all discover in Mexico. It’s what Bubbles wants to bottle, but she doesn’t need to. She embodies it. The whole family does.


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