via Writers – What Not To Say

4 out of 5 stars to It Should Have Been a by Natalie Corbett Sampson

I’m delighted to be a finalist in the poetry category of this year’s Atlantic Writing Contest.


Thanks to YA authors Don Aker, Vicki Grant and Bethany Myers for an interesting panel discussion last night at Halifax’s fantastic new Central Library. The discussion was part of an evening to celebrate the shortlisted writers of this year’s Atlantic Book awards. Congrats all!

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I’m so proud of my daughter Cat for her work with youth on tech education. If you have 3 minutes to spare, please watch her video and vote for the Creator Program!

I expected a book entitled The Shepherd’s Life to romanticize the farming lifestyle. But English shepherd and author James Rebanks tries not to overdo the romanticism. In his book, which is part memoir, part meditation and part history, he captures the tedious, sometimes cruel hardships of a Lake District winter and all the myriad difficulties of adhering to a farming lifestyle. He writes of his own early anti-intellectualism–a result of the fact he valued farm work and realized his teachers and other educated folk did not. He writes of financial worries and how modern farming and modern lifestyles are at odds with and disrespectful of the old ways. But his love for his family’s ancient way of life does shine through and illuminates his work. This is a book about the importance of family, tradition, community and attachment to a place and landscape. Rebanks is as rooted to his family farm and the Lake District’s high, grazing pastures as his sheep are. I think this is an important book that reminds us not to lose or forget our most basic human needs and values.

I couldn’t put down The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, although none of the three female narrators of the story is sympathetic, and the conclusion is not unexpected. Still, Hawkins gets away with it. I loved the London setting, the gloom of the commuting lifestyle, the voyeurism allowed by trains as they travel past suburban homes. The main character’s alcoholism and self-loathing are interesting and relatable to a degree, although she makes no effort to help herself. Ditto the problems of the other main characters. This is a book that reminds you that others’ lives are not always what they seem.

Scott in QuebecFeeling inspired and relaxed after a visit to Quebec City for their annual summer music festival. Among others, we saw the Rolling Stones, the Doobie Brothers, Boston and Nova Scotia’s own Gabrielle Papillon–all for $90 each. And Quebec City is beautiful and the people friendly. Here’s my son Scott waiting for his favorite band The Foo Fighters.

Asp of AscensionHey, check out my Q&A with Fierce Ink Press author BR Myers, who is celebrating the publication of her book The Asp of Ascension.

The book tells the story of 16-year-old Terry Hughes, the daughter of two famous archaeologists. Her family life has made Terry an expert on ancient Egypt. She loves working on sites with her parents, but then an accident kills her mother and leaves Terry disabled.

Grief-stricken, Terry moves to a new high school in the States. She resolves to get through by keeping her head down. But she soon catches the eye of cute basketball star Zach. Then Fraser, the editor of the school newspaper, learns that Terry’s father is overseeing the new Egyptian display at the museum, which is rumored to include Cleopatra’s sarcophagus.

When Fraser stumbles upon the fifty-year-old mystery of a girl who vanished in the museum and Terry’s father falls into an unexplained coma, Terry is caught up in a whirlwind of mysterious events that lead all the way back to ancient times.

Here, the author explains some of the ideas behind her new novel…

 What inspired you to write this book?

I loved reading my older brother’s comic books growing up and my favourite parts of those stories has always been the creation of the superhero or supervillain. Asp of Ascension started out as a short story based on the theme of an underdog stumbling upon a power and their choice to use that power for good or evil.

What was it about Ancient Egypt and Cleopatra that grabbed you?

I’ve always been drawn to that part of history and Cleopatra was a natural choice as the inspiration behind the asp artifact. For someone who has hardly any actual documentation about her life, there is a massive amount of works indebted to her legacy.

How did you find researching the book? 

Researching dispelled a lot of myths for me and I was shocked to discover that there is only one tablet that bears Cleopatra’s writing. After her death, all other works had her name obliterated as ordered by Octavian.

What research resources did you rely on? 

I mostly relied on information published by museums and National Geographic.

The book, Cleopatra, by Stacy Schiff was also a great resource.

Through research I discovered Cleopatra was so much more than the seductress Hollywood would like you to believe. In fact, she was a shrewd planner, meticulous with details who left nothing to chance. She made advancements in medicine, was a contributor to the arts, and invented products that are still in use today. Plus, she was a single mother with her first born from Caesar and twins fathered by Mark Antony who left her to marry Octavian’s sister … but of course he returned to her and the rest as they say is history.

The amount of lore surrounding Cleopatra gave me an endless supply of material for the book, but The Asp of Ascension is purely fictional.

I love the fact that Terry enjoys food so much. The reader can almost taste her meals! That part of the research must have been fun?

Thank you! I love Mediterranean food. I’ve never been to Egypt but I’m lucky to

live close to Quinpool Road in Halifax, Nova Scotia where there is no shortage of     restaurants specializing in that fare.

Thank you so much Carol for your interest in this story. I appreciate your thoughtful and perceptive questions.

Montreal - the cupcakes are amazingLast time I was in Quebec I discovered what great cupcakes they make. I’m looking forward to getting back for some more “research”…