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How often have friends and family pulled your heartstrings, inspiring a story?

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In our family, our grandparents and great-grandparents were invaluable in raising the clan. Much of our sharing time was during vacation time at the chalet north of Montreal. Here my grandfather, father, brother, and extended family members completed the interior of the contracted exterior. It became a refuge for everyone to kick back, relax, share and celebrate. All the grandsons have great memories of times playing by lakeside, campfires, nature adventures, family reunions, and the overall life of our fast-track daily routine.

It was here that our youngest Andrew, the fearless fish would plop into the lake while our eldest son Matthew, frustrated watching his brother, overcame his fear to jump and dive off the dock, thanks greatly to my father’s encouragement and guidance. My mom would be the ‘hostess with the mostest’ giving us all a break preparing meals and keeping the place tidy while we relaxed. It was during this time, my parents were bestowed the nicknames of Grandpoobee (we teased my dad that he was like Fred Flintstone with all of his wild ideas) and much to my mom’s chagrin, Nanabanana (this was not fitting to her Chanel taste). The story slowly evolved as I marveled at the support and wanted to capture the sacredness of this place and the role of grandparents.

Once this story was written I brought it to school and asked Katie Shepherd, a friend who was one of my parent volunteers to read it and let me know what she thought. ( I was lucky to teach all three of Katie’s children). A couple of months later, not hearing anything from Katie, I mustered up the courage to ask her if she enjoyed it. She gave a large grin, “I loved it and I’m illustrating it!” I was gobsmacked! Months later she gave me the watercolour illustrations as a gift. Again, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I promised her that one day we would get it published. I sent it out on one quick round of query letters and was told it would be kept on file for possibly a children’s reading anthology. Disappointed yet determined, I decided that I would pursue publishing one way or another.

Quickly life got in the way and before I knew it the story had never been published and I was retiring. At this point, I thought, carpe diem! I am not waiting any longer, I am going to self-publish the story. The story was published in June of 2017. I promptly returned to Ontario and found Katie and returned the original watercolours along with copies of the books for her new grandchildren. She emphasized that she gifted them to me. I replied that these beautiful pieces of art were her family treasures, especially given that she painted the characters to look like her son and parents. I was honoured that she allowed me to use them for the book.

Since the publication, I am always looking for four-leaf clovers. This past spring, I found so many that I stopped counting (I am confident that at this point this year I have found over 50!). Is Vancouver Island a mecca for four-leaf clovers? During my walks, when I find a patch, I often show grandparents and parents and suggest the following:

I’m on a search for something green

A four-leaf clover that is rarely seen

It is said that for those that find such a charm

That luck will stay and protect from harm

My suggestion Is that you look to your family in writing your own stories. If there are aspects you don’t care for, don’t include them and change the behavior of the characters to be more favourable. For instance, my mom was a loving and diligent mother and grandmother, but sometimes I wished she would be more playful, hence I wrote Nanabanana to have a playful nickname and spend time looking for something magical such as four-leaf clovers. The love and adventures generated from your families can propel great stories!

Flying Fairy with a Wand