Linda G. Hill

Life in progress


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6 Things I Learned from my First Book Signing

As you might be aware, I had my first ever book signing event last weekend in Kingston, Ontario–the city where The Magician’s Curse takes place. The lady in the shop where I bought my rose asked me if I was nervous. I said without hesitation that I wasn’t. And I really wasn’t–I’ve worked in retail many times throughout my life, and selling my own book didn’t seem that different. Besides that, I feel at home in a book store. I lurve them.

But like most things, the first time we do something is usually a learning experience. Right? Here are the things I learned:

  1. Smile at people and don’t be afraid to take the initiative to speak to them first. Otherwise, chances are they’ll just pass you by.
  2. Chocolate Kisses™ may seem like a good idea to have on the same table as a romance novel, but make sure to stress the “chocolate” part when offering one to a man who’s standing beside his wife.
  3. Bring something to take the lint off of a black top hat.
  4. Do what you can to advertise ahead of time. This is particularly difficult when you’re signing books in a store that’s a long way away from where you live: be inventive.
  5. Don’t do a book signing when there’s another major event in town that features a bunch of authors whose names are more popular than yours. (I’m looking at you, Kathy Reichs.)
  6. If you’re going to spend hours sitting beside a book written by an offspring of Stephen King, make sure it’s Joe Hill (particularly if your last name is Hill).

By the time this post goes live, I’ll be getting ready for my second ever book signing event. If you’re in the area of Belleville, Ontario today (October 8th, 2017), please stop by Chapters between noon and 3pm. And get a Kiss. A chocolate one.


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A Haunted Visitation

July 19th, 2013: My trip to Kingston was interesting indeed. With so many strange goings-on, I can’t help but wonder if I somehow ended up in my own novel. Without giving too much away, this is how it went:

The Hochelaga Inn was much as I expected. Built in 1879, it has been well-preserved not only in its physical appearance, but for its ambiance as well.

A Welcoming Prayer

A Welcoming Prayer

Peace and rest, however, although perhaps wished upon me by the Management and Staff, were not what the Inn itself had in store.

Having not a great deal of money, but wishing to take an extended weekend away, I booked the cheapest room in the Inn for the first two nights, (Saturday and Sunday) and the Tower room–the most expensive–for one night (Monday).

My first night didn’t include much sleep. Three times during the course of my slumber, I was awoken by the fire alarm, which was situated on the ceiling beside a spinning fan, for no apparent reason. When I asked about it at reception the next morning, because I thought there might have been a problem in another room, they said they had no idea what had happened. Unfortunately, I was told, the Tower room was booked for that night, otherwise they’d have moved me in there early. So I gave back my room key with an assurance that I would be moved to another room for my second night at no extra cost.

The conversation between the two ladies I had spoken to at the desk, overheard after I walked away, went something like this:

“Her fire alarm went off three times last night.”

“Wooooo …” in a ghostly voice.

Okey dokey then.

Later, when I arrived back at the Inn after spending a lovely day wandering around Kingston and getting burned to a potato chip by the sun, I was handed the key for the Tower room.

“We were able to move you up there a day early,” the lady said without further explanation.

The house wants me in the Tower, I thought.

I happily I went up to my room to take a few pictures before dark.

The lower part of the tower.

 

The view from the top

It was a long day and I didn’t feel like doing much, so I sat on the bed with my feet up and watched a movie on my laptop. I didn’t bother to turn on the lights, and by half-way through the movie (The Brave, with and by Johnny Depp if you’re wondering) it was dark. That was when my friend decided to come along. I didn’t take a picture of my friend, and in fact I’m quite proud of myself for not throwing my laptop across the room. Let’s just say he had eight legs and appeared to be the size of Jaws as he scurried across my screen.

My second night didn’t include much sleep either. I think my camera catches quite well the state my eyes were in by Monday morning:

blur

A lovely blurred view from the lower tower window

I spent most of Monday driving around town. I went to the VIA Rail station, where my two main characters disembark after having met on the train, and I was able to record many small details such as the waiting room seat colours and the fact that there are sliding glass doors on both the back and front. I drove from there to where my story is set–where I imagine the house to be–to see how long the journey would take, as well as noting different things they might see on the way.

When I got back ‘home,’ the first thing I did was look for the spider. There was no sign of him whatsoever.

Yay! I thought. I’m going to get a good night’s sleep!

HA!

So I was downstairs talking to the lady at reception again after having spent a few minutes poring over a framed blueprint of the Inn, from 1920 when they were hooking up the electricity. The house had changed quite a bit, and we were having a lovely discussion about where the rooms were and the staircase that wasn’t there any more etc.. when she mentioned the ghost.

“There’s a ghost here?” I asked, my eyes like saucers, I’m sure.

“Yeah,” she said. “We’re part of The Haunted Walk of Kingston. You should go on it.”

All righty then.

From there I went to a bar. Okay, I went to a restaurant. But must say I indulged just a little. As it turned out, I was sitting on the patio waiting for my bill when a strange looking man wearing a black cape and holding a lantern (click on the Haunted Walk link above for a visual) exited the building that housed the restaurant. He stopped and stood not six feet away, waiting. It took me a few seconds to realize he was the tour guide for The Haunted Walk. (Like I said, I’d had a few.) So I thought it might be fun to talk to him.

“Excuse me, are you guiding the Haunted Walk tonight?” (All right, all right. Maybe I was sloshed.)

“Yes,” he replied.

“I’m staying at one of the places on your tour: The Hochelaga.”

“Yes, that is one of the places we visit,” he said politely.

“Would you like me to put a sheet over my head and stand at the window in the Tower?”

I thought he was going to blow a gasket.

“YES!” he exclaimed, all but jumping up and down in excitement. “The people would love that!”

So guess what I did?

 

DSC00436

At dusk. I turned on the lights in the Tower so they would glow.

After the people left (they actually pointed at me, standing at the very top window at the front, looking down) I turned on the lights and went outside to take a picture of the most incredible Hochelaga Inn.

And that night? I slept like a baby knowing the ghost was safely tucked in bed.

Spooky, no?

Spooky, no?

To this day the spirit of the place haunts me. My characters, whose footsteps I was privileged enough to walk in, are with me in a way they weren’t before. The sights I saw are imprinted on my vision, deep and immovable. I’m lucky to have been able to visit the wondrous settings from which I was able to tell my story.

If you’d like to visit The Hochelaga Inn, click here for their website. I highly recommend it for its ambiance, its breakfast, and for the experience of sleeping in such a beautiful old Victorian mansion.

My Gothic paranormal romance, The Magician’s Curse, which is set in Kingston and features a house that is inspired by The Hochelaga Inn, is available on Kindle, Kobo, and in paperback on Amazon, as well as on the shelf in the Novel Idea Bookstore at 156 Princess Street in Kingston.

Here are some more photos of The Hochelaga.

 


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One-Liner Wednesday – The Temptation of a Masochist

Blunt Hair Studio, Kingston

Blunt Hair Studio, Kingston

I was sorely tempted to go into Blunt Hair Studio last weekend, just to see if they’d say, “Holy shit, you went out in public looking like that? For God’s sake sit down and let us do something with your hair!”

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Anyone who would like to participate, feel free to use the “One-Liner Wednesday” title in your post, and if you do,
you can ping back here to help your blog get more exposure. To execute a ping back, just copy the URL in the address bar on this post, and paste it somewhere in the body of your post. Your link will show up in the comments below. Please ensure that the One-Liner Wednesday you’re pinging back to is this week’s! Otherwise, no one will likely see it but me.

NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, like Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

As with Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS), if you see a ping back from someone else in my comment section, click and have a read. It’s bound to be short and sweet.

Unlike SoCS, this is not a prompt so there’s no need to stick to the same “theme.”

The rules that I’ve made for myself (but don’t always follow) for “One-Liner Wednesday” are:

1. Make it one sentence.

2. Try to make it either funny or inspirational.

3. Use our unique tag #1linerWeds.

4. Add our very cool badge to your post for extra exposure!

5. Have fun!

#1linerWeds badge by nearlywes.com

#1linerWeds badge by nearlywes.com


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Kingston WritersFest

It’s the time of year again for the Kingston Writer’s Festival! I bought tickets for seven events this year, one of which was last night at the Grand Theatre.

I had the pleasure to attend an interview with Annie Proulx, of Brokeback Mountain and The Shipping News fame, and Emma Donoghue, who, most famously so far, wrote both the novel and screenplay for Room. Both lovely ladies talked about and read from their newest releases, Barkskins, (Proulx) and The Wonder, (Donoghue), and I must say both books sound fascinating.

The best part of the evening, for me as an author, was when they talked about writing. I nodded my head when Ms. Donoghue said that if she were to describe where “home” is for her, it would be her laptop. Both authors agreed that when writing a novel, they live there inside it. It’s true for me as well. Emma also told a funny story about when she was writing Room, how she used her young son to figure out the logistics of escaping a rolled-up rug. I did the same, using my son to help me figure out the intricacies of a certain magic trick in “The Great Dagmaru.”

It was wonderful to be able to relate to two famous authors on a professional level – as professional as it can be to use your offspring as a prop, that is. And, of course, to be in the presence of greatness.

Most of the events I’ve signed up for to come are more for the sake of learning. A few are on the subject of writing non-fiction, in anticipation of putting together my memoir on parenting a Deaf child. I hope to update you all on how things are going throughout the weekend.


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“Armed with will and determination, and grace, too.”

I may sound like a broken record, and for that I apologize. It’s the Canadian thing to do, eh? But I feel the need to record this both for myself and on behalf of my fellow Canadians.

There is no power equal to that of music. It brings us together and gives us, as humans, a connection that crosses all barriers. As one who has traveled the world for the privilege of hearing it live, I can attest to this. It’s one thing to listen to it on the radio, or on your home stereo, knowing that you can replay it a million times, but that’s light years from standing before a stage, surrounded by not only the sound but the energy, the vibration, and the unique experience that is being at a concert. It must be that, times ten, for the performers.

So we come to the point. The Tragically Hip. In case you somehow missed the news, their lead singer, Gordon Downie, was diagnosed in May with terminal brain cancer. Their final concert last night at the K-Rock Centre in Kingston was a one-off like none other. I watched as Gordie stood on stage with his eyes closed, absorbing the sound, the experience, just as I have so many times. Living in that moment because that moment was all he had, and all he will ever have. I pray he wasn’t in pain, that the adrenaline was enough. We, as a country, watched as he bravely did what he does best. If he’s like me, he shared with us what he loves the most besides his family – the power of music.

He spoke about The Hip’s third performance in Kingston, 28 years ago, when six people attended the show. Last night it’s estimated that 11.7 million Canadians watched their final performance. It wasn’t enough for me to watch it after the fact: I needed to feel the undeniable connection of my country, my Prime Minister who was there at the concert less than an hour from where I live, and of course, the band.

This video, choppy as it is, shows a moment at the end that will stay with me for the rest of my life. As someone on twitter said last night, we watched a man who is dying. With Courage and Grace, Too.

Grace, Too

He said, “I’m fabulously rich, come on just let’s go”
She kind of bit her lip, “Jeez, I don’t know”
But I can guarantee, there’ll be no knock on the door
I’m total pro, that’s what I’m here for

I come from downtown, born ready for you
Armed with will and determination, and grace, too

The secret rules of engagement are hard to endorse
When the appearance of conflict meets the appearance of force
But I can guarantee, there’ll be no knock on the door
I’m total pro here, that’s what I’m here for

I come from downtown, born ready for you
Armed with skill and it’s frustration, and grace, too


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#SoCS – Date

Sitting here waiting for The Tragically Hip to take the stage in my beloved Kingston for the last time. Myself and many Canadians have a date with them tonight. Even our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau is at the concert, along with 6,000 people inside the arena and 25,000 standing right outside watching it on a big screen. Above is the live stream on Youtube, if you’re interested in catching any of it.

That’s it for me. As many have said over the last week. As of 8:30, August 20th, Canada is busy. Cheers!

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Find SoCS here: https://lindaghill.com/2016/08/19/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-aug-2016/


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Song-Lyric Sunday – The Tragically Hip

I’m breaking from Helen’s theme on Song-Lyric Sunday today because what I want to write about is time-sensitive.

I’m not much of a Tragically Hip fan. I never have been. But what the band is going through right now affects me. It has the potential to affect all music fans, regardless of preference. You see, a few months ago, when The Tragically Hip announced their final tour, they also came out with the news that their lead singer, Gordon Downie, has brain cancer.

Over the years, The Tragically Hip have become a Canadian icon, every bit as much as David Bowie was to England. Yet they chose to handle the same disease differently. Some would say Bowie did it right, not allowing his fans to fawn over him during his final days. Those same people might say The Hip announced Gordon Downie’s disease as a publicity stunt. But I would have to disagree. The same number of people would have bought tickets to their “final tour” (in brackets because we know what that usually means) and perhaps some of their most loyal fans would have waited until they came out of retirement. As it is, it doesn’t seem they will.

Imagine.

On August 20th they will walk off the stage for the very last time, in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario. The venue, the K-Rock Centre on Tragically Hip Way. How difficult will that be for both the band and the fans? I’m in tears just thinking about it, because even though The Tragically Hip isn’t “my band,” it will happen to every one of them, eventually. Because of the timely announcement, the CBC will simulcast the concert countrywide.

To one of Canada’s greatest bands. I salute you.

Wheat Kings

(Lyrics from Google Play Music)
Sundown in the Paris of the prairies
Wheat kings have all treasures buried
And all you hear are the rusty breezes
Pushing around the weathervane Jesus

In his Zippo lighter he sees the killer’s face
Maybe it’s someone standing in a killer’s place
Twenty years for nothing, well, that’s nothing new
Besides, no one’s interested in something you didn’t do

Wheat kings and pretty things
Let’s just see what the morning brings

There’s a dream he dreams where the high school’s dead and stark
It’s a museum and we’re all locked up in it after dark
Where the walls are lined all yellow, grey and sinister
Hung with pictures of our parents’ prime ministers

Wheat kings and pretty things
Wait and see what tomorrow brings

Late breaking story on the CBC
A nation whispers, “We always knew that he’d go free”
They add, “You can’t be fond of living in the past
‘Cause if you are then there’s no way that you’re going to last”

Wheat kings and pretty things
Let’s just see what tomorrow brings
Wheat kings and pretty things
Oh that’s what tomorrow brings

Written by Gordon Downie, Gordon Sinclair, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois, Robert Baker • Copyright © Peermusic Publishing