Tag Archives: Canadian authors

Interview: K.L. Ditmars, Canadian author

Author K.L. Ditmars

K. L. (Kelly) Ditmars is a Canadian writer of inspirational fiction, whose debut novel, All That it Takes, released January 2021. The opening chapters of All That it Takes won a Word Award in 2020 in the unpublished fiction category—a promising endorsement!

Welcome, Kelly, and congratulations on your new release! What is your book about?

My book is a fictional story about Julia Bowen whose husband is murdered.  As she navigates her grief she discovers that he died at the hands of a human trafficking ring which she attempts to expose. It is also about her spiritual journey and how the people that help her in her efforts against the trafficking ring also help her come into relationship with God.

What sort of research did you need to do for a subject like this?

To realistically address the issue of human trafficking, I read a lot of books about the human trafficking issue in Canada.

I also have friends who have worked in anti-human trafficking efforts for decades, so I was able to draw on their experience through interviews.

One of the main characters lives on a boat. I live on an island where a segment of the population lives aboard their boats, it wasn’t too difficult to find friends of friends to interview.

Two characters in the story were veterans of the Canadian military service and shared an experience as peacekeepers during the Rwanda genocide. To research this, I read a lot. Two specific books written by General Roméo Dallaire, the Canadian commander of the peacekeeping mission during the genocide, regarding his experience in Rwanda and dealing with post-traumatic stress: Shake Hands with the Devil and Waiting for First Light.

This list is just a tip of the iceberg of research resources I used while writing my book. But it is a good start for anyone looking to read more: klditmarswriter.com/resources.

Do you remember the first germ of idea for All That it Takes?

Most definitely. The beginning of this story came from a dream. In this dream I was fleeing from a friend’s house into the forest behind their home. Of course, when I woke up, I had no idea why I was fleeing. I immediately wrote it down. A month later I had written 52,000 words and had a rough first draft of All That it Takes.

Wow, that’s a fast start! Do you have a favorite character in the story?

Yes, Charlie is my favorite character, I had fun writing him and using him as a vehicle to share God’s love. A close second is Angus, the Irish wolfhound.

Glad I’m not the only writer who loves the animal characters as well as the humans. I see this is book one in the Where Can I Go? series. Will the next book continue Julia’s story or what connects the books in the series?

Yes, the next book will continue Julia’s story as she helps bring the human trafficking ring to justice. It will also be a thriller based around the real battle faced by law enforcement and the legal establishment to charge and convict human traffickers. The whole series not only sees Julia’s efforts against human trafficking, but also her spiritual journey, as she discovers a God who is present through it all. Her spiritual journey begins with an introduction to faith in God and coming to the understanding that God is with us and we are never apart from him. Even though we may not realize his presence, it is always there.

His presence makes all the difference. Can you share any special God moments you experienced working on this project?

I wrote a lot of Charlie’s faith journey from my own experience and when I did it caused me to look back at my own life and see God’s hand. I think writing this story was an affirmation of God’s faithfulness in my own life.

How long have you been writing? And what got you started?

I have memories of writing stories when I was a little girl, of course I don’t have any of those early scribblings, I’ve moved too many times in my life for them to have survived successive purges. A lot of my early writing experiences involved writing stage plays in church. It was my church youth group and creative ministry departments at the churches I’ve attended throughout my life that encouraged and fostered this aspect of creativity in my life.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

I still feel I am a beginning writer as this is my debut novel.  I guess I would say, keep writing, keep improving your craft. Take classes, learn from people and authors you admire and who are further ahead in the publishing journey. Go to conferences and mingle with fellow writers and authors.

Figure out what you have to do to make it a reality. I remember when I went to my very first writers conference in 2015,  I had a reality check regarding all the things on top of writing that an author has to do. It’s a little daunting and overwhelming at times but basically, it’s an ever-evolving machine to not just write books and stories but also to make sure that they come to be noticed out there in the world and to find their place on the shelf next to other writers.

Wise words. Thank you. Is there a particular song or scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Worship music for me is a huge influencer. Worshipping God and loving him through music and declaring his worthiness of his place in my life has always been a vehicle to really hear him speak to me. It puts me in a place where I can hear his voice and seek direction and just nurture that love relationship with him. So, no one song in particular, just the act of worship has made a difference.

There is one verse from Deuteronomy that seems to come to mind more often than any other.  Chapter 5 verse 29; “Oh that there were such a heart in them that they would fear me and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!” I come back to this verse quite often when I struggle with bad choices that I’ve made and circumstances I find myself in. It grounds me in knowing God has my best in mind, and always will. His commandments are there to give me direction and purpose, that I might live the best life possible and be an example and hopefully influence those around me.

I can hear God’s yearning over us in that verse. Now, for something a little lighter, to finish: Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or tea?

Definitely chocolate and definitely tea.

I have always loved chocolate.

As far as coffee goes, I have never developed a taste for it. I have had sips of coffee throughout my life but could never get past the bitterness.

It was only in my early 50s when I actually had my first cup of coffee. I was in Bulgaria and visiting a monastery with a group and we were offered coffee. I have been a missionary and we were taught that if someone offers you something you graciously accept it. So, that afternoon in Bulgaria, sitting in the courtyard of a beautiful monastery, I drank my first cup of coffee. I even took a picture to prove it. It was thick Turkish coffee, but served in a small demitasse cup and laden with sugar, which helped me finish it. I can still taste that bitter flavor to this day, and I hope I never have to drink another cup of coffee again.

Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

The mountains, ocean and the mild climate on the west coast. I grew up in northwestern Ontario, and lived a number of years in Alberta, so I have experienced the frozen Canadian winter for much of my life. The rainforest climate here, despite the cloudy wet days in winter, make a lush green background to living that I am enjoying at this point in my life. My mother use to always say, ‘you don’t have to shovel rain.’

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever done?

I think the most unusual thing I’ve ever done involves travel. I’ve been a missionary and lived and traveled to a number of countries, but in 2012 during my undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria, I went to Bulgaria. I participated in a three-week field school in which we documented, through photography and drawing, frescoes in medieval churches in the Balkan mountains. It was fascinating and educational and in a part of the world that I had never been to and I still long to return to.

Where can readers find you?

I have a website www.klditmarswriter.com where you can learn about my books and my writing journey.

Author Bio:

K. L. (Kelly) Ditmars was born in Kakabeka Falls, ON Canada, and has lived in several provinces since. She has lived and traveled to several countries both as a Christian Missionary and as a curious human soul. To support her traveling habit, she has worked in various industries and occupations throughout her life, from part-time catering to clerking in the Supreme Court of BC. Kelly completed a degree in Medieval Studies at the University of Victoria. She now lives in Victoria, BC where the adventure of life and her writing continues. All That is Takes is her debut novel.

Kelly loves to connect with her readers. You can find her on the following platforms.

www.klditmarswriter.com

Instagram

Facebook – I have a private Facebook Group called Readers of K.L. Ditmars. I have a live event every Sunday (6:00 pm Pacific) where I talk about my writing journey. This is a new platform for me and I am enjoying this new means of engagement with my readers. Readers can join it via my Author page, through the link provided.

ORDERING INFORMATION:

All That it Takes is available to order through your local independent bookstore (with the exception of Chapters/Indigo in Canada).

Book details:

Title: ALL THAT IT TAKES

Author: K. L. DITMARS

ISBN: 9781777410100 (paperback); 9781777410117 (ebook)

ONLINE ORDER LINKS:
Amazon.ca – Kindle & Paperback
Chapters/Indigo KOBO – eReader – Canada
Amazon.com – Kindle & Paperback
Barnes & Noble – Nook eReader & Paperback USA
Amazon.co.uk – Kindle & Paperback
Amazon.com.au (Australia) – Kindle & Paperback
Angus & Robertson ebooks – Australia

Review: All the Devils are Here, by Louise Penny

All the Devils are Here, by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books / St. Martin’s Press, 2020)

Armand Gamache is one of my fictional heroes. As a homicide investigator he has seen more darkness than most, but he also believes that, to quote the author, “goodness exists.” Perhaps that’s why I’m so fond of him and comforted by his presence on the page. I’ve grown fond of the other recurring characters too.

This is the one series I’ve persisted in reading despite the profanity and the times when the darkness gets a little too grim for me. In their own ways they’re stories of hope. Of second chances, restored relationships. Light in the darkness.

The context of the title is the Shakespearean quote, “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”

The Gamache novels are mysteries with a strong focus on the characters. This time, instead of the serene and peaceful Quebec village of Three Pines, All the Devils are Here is set in Paris. A reader who knows the city will find an extra bonus, as the author has gone to great lengths to familiarize herself with the subtle nuances that bring it to life on the page.

Another thing I appreciate about this book is the evocative language. Some of my favourite lines:

Where else would you find darkness but right up against the light? What greater triumph for evil than to ruin a garden? It wouldn’t be the first time. [Chapter 1, 1%]

What’re you going to focus on? What’s unfair, or all the wonderful things that happen? Both are true, both are real. Both need to be accepted. But which carries more weight with you? [Chapter 1, 2%]

Séverine Arbour stood at the door, her face set in a pleasant smile with a base note of smoky resentment and a hint of smug. [Chapter 2, 4%]

Until he saw the stain on the floor. And the outline of the body. Like skin around a hollow man. [Chapter 31, 63%]

All the Devils are Here is the 16th Gamache novel. This is a series you could start here, but it’s well worth beginning at the beginning. That way you’ll understand the character relationship nuances. For more about bestselling author Louise Penny, visit louisepenny.com.

[Electronic review copy from the public library.]

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Hidden Secrets: Sale Pricing + You’re Invited!

I posted earlier how happy I am that Hidden Secrets (Green Dory Inn Mystery #2) is one of three suspense novels short-listed for The 2020 Word Awards. Here’s a link to that post, which tells you more about the other two finalists: )

In celebration, the ebook version of Hidden Secrets is on sale for 99 cents this week (ends June 14, 2020). This link will take you to international links for Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Nook: books2read.com/hidden-secrets.

One unexpected side benefit of The Word Awards ceremony not being held in a conventional venue is that readers can join the live-stream and enjoy the action! 

Winners will be announced Saturday, June 13, at 7pm EDT (that’s 8pm here in Nova Scotia). Here’s a link to a time zone converter if you, like me, struggle with doing time conversion in your head. 

You are invited to join in if you can. You might find some good new summer reads! 

The livestream will be available on Facebook and YouTube. A little before start time, head to The Word Guild Facebook page or The Word Guild YouTube page.  Can’t stay for the whole celebration? Check out the schedule to see when you’d most like to join in: 2020 TWA Celebration Program.

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Hidden Secrets Short-listed for Canadian Award

Hidden Secrets is one of three novels short-listed in the suspense category for The 2020 Word Awards (for work published in 2019).

Hidden Secrets short-listed for The 2020 Word Awards

Also short-listed are:

Scars, a novel by Kevin Dautremont, M.D.
Scars, by Kevin Dautremont, M.D.

Vigilant, by Sara Davison
Vigilant, by Sara Davison

I haven’t read either of these novels yet, but I’ve met both authors, and their work is highly respected. Hidden Secrets is in good company. The beauty of this is that when the winning book is announced, I can either celebrate for my “imaginary friends” if it’s my book or celebrate for one of my real-life writer friends (at least acquaintances!). Win-win!

The 2020 Word Awards winners will be announced June 13, 7pm Eastern Time (8pm Atlantic) online via livestream on Facebook and Zoom. It’ll be free for anyone to tune in. Link details TBA.

For the complete short-list, visit The Word Guild’s Media page and click on the short-list announcement link.

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Review: The Road to Happenstance, by Janice L. Dick

The Road to Happenstance, by Janice L. Dick

The Road to Happenstance, by Janice L. Dick (Tansy & Thistle Press, 2020)

A whimsical town, a host of quirky characters, and events that seem to conspire to keep Matthew Sadler from leaving once he arrives by “happenstance.”

Fleeing painful memories, Matt and his motorcycle are roaring along the highway when a near-accident forces him onto a hidden side road. On the far side of a covered bridge, he discovers the town of Happenstance.

He’ll leave as soon as he gases up. Or after a night’s rest in the charming Happenstance Hotel. Or after he helps the elderly sisters who run the hotel. Or after…

As well as the sisters, he meets Bear, a local mechanic with some unusual turns of phrase, and Veronica, who bears a startling resemblance to his dead wife.

The longer he stays, the more he suspects a mystery behind the hotel’s troubles.

This gently-paced novel will bring smiles—and maybe a wistful longing to find a place like Happenstance in the real world.

Favourite lines:

The road was scarcely wide enough for two cars to pass, a dirt path with a scattering of gravel on top as a sort of apology. [Kindle location 30]

We got whatcha want, unless you want what we don’t got, and then you prob’ly don’t need it. [Bear, describing the town; Kindle location 50]

They came with their offerings of food to their gods of guild and duty and pity, but he would rather have been alone. [Matt remembering the visitors after his wife’s death; Kindle location 1788]

Author Janice L. Dick is known for her faith-filled historical fiction. Although The Road to Happenstance is a contemporary novel, the town’s nostalgic feel lends an impression of stepping back in time, and Matthew’s personal struggles are affected by his faith. For more about the author and her work, visit janicedick.wordpress.com.

[Advance review copy provided by the publisher. My opinions are my own.]

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Review: Bring Each Other Home, by Angelina Fast-Vlaar

Bring Each Other Home, by Angelina Fast-Vlaar

Bring Each Other Home, by Angelina Fast-Vlaar (Word Alive Press, 2019)

Subtitled “A Caregiver’s Journey,” Bring Each Other Home is a book for everyone. Most, if not all of us, will have someone in our circle of acquaintance who’ll deal with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.

While Angelina and Joe’s story is their own, the experiences she shares can make readers more sensitive to the needs of both caregiver and patient. Let us not be people who add more hurt by disbelieving, blaming, or judging caregivers if we don’t see in a brief encounter what they see in 24/7 care. Nor let us add hurt by avoiding the dementia sufferer.

Readers who are caregivers will find strength in knowing their struggles are not unique, and will be encouraged to reach out to support groups and healthcare professionals for much-needed help. [Note: caregivers new to this role and still dealing with the rawness of it all may not be ready to read this book just yet.]

Favourite lines:

“This is my child. I love him dearly. He has walked with me a long, long time. I need for you to walk with him the rest of the way.” [The author’s impression of God speaking to her, p. 76]

…gradually we began to see the treasures God always tucks into the dark places He guides us through. [p 110-111]

Angelina Fast-Vlaar writes with honesty and poignancy of the long, slow loss of her beloved husband, Joe. The narrative is interspersed with poetry and restful black-and-white photos. It’s a sad story, but one of love, faith, and persistence.

[Review copy from the public library.]

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Anniversary Sale!

Secrets and Lies has a 5-year anniversary this month.

Cake with candle and caption: celebrate!
Photo credit: Janet Sketchley

To celebrate I’ve dropped the ebook price to 99 cents until Nov. 17. If you haven’t read this one, now’s the time. Or tell your friends. 

"If you like romantic suspense with a punch, you'll enjoy Secrets and Lies" ~review by Deborah M. Piccurelli
Secrets and Lies by Janet Sketchley sale price 99 cents until Nov. 17, 2019.
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Review: Touched by Eternity, by Susan Harris

Touched by Eternity, by Susan Harris (White Lily Press, 2019)

Book cover: Touched by Eternity (A True Story of Heaven, Healing, and Angels) by Susan Harris

I was eager to read this book, since I’ve communicated enough with author Susan Harris to respect her Christian faith and her integrity. Despite the popularity of books recounting near-death experiences (NDEs) I’ve avoided them until now because I had no way to verify the writer’s trustworthiness.

Subtitled “A True Story of Heaven, Healing, and Angels,” Touched by Eternity is a memoir of the author’s three NDEs and related visions and how these events have shaped her life. A nonfiction author with an analytical mind, she relies heavily on details (including her hospital records and notes taken at the time) to anchor her personal experiences in as much fact as possible.

At the same time, the events themselves make the book as easy to read as a novel.

An experienced speaker, leader, and teacher, Susan Harris makes no claims to having touched Eternity by her own merit or strength. Instead, as one would expect with a near-death experience, her moments of greatest physical pain and weakness have been the gateways to the spiritual realm.

She writes with honesty about her personal failings and about her struggle to understand what happened and to accept the disappointment of tasting Heaven and then being returned to earthly life.

Christians can be uncomfortable discussing NDEs out of fear of drifting into heresy or false teachings. The Bible shows people being brought back from the dead, but we don’t get their testimonies of what they saw while they were gone.

I appreciate how Susan Harris finds biblical connections for many of her observations and how she’s careful to present her interpretations as her own and not as doctrine or fact. Her stated purpose in writing this book is to stimulate discussion, encourage the faith of Christians, and inspire non-Christians to seriously consider Jesus’ words about Heaven and Hell.

It’s interesting to read that in her research into other NDE accounts, she found similarities and yet differences, as if individuals were seeing part of a much-greater whole.  

Favourite line:

My whisper was hoarse, the broken kind He hears because He Himself had hung ragged on a rugged cross. [Kindle location 2284]

No matter how much or little pain we’ve endured, Touched by Eternity reminds us that it’s in our brokenness that we’re closest to God. It challenges us to take time alone with Him, to remember what He’s taught us in the past, and to obey anything He’s called us to in the present that we may have been neglecting. Our time on earth is limited, and we need to be about our Father’s business before that time runs out.

Other books by Susan Harris include Little Copper Pennies (a history of the Canadian one-cent piece) and Remarkably Ordinary. She currently hosts a television show called ETERNITY. For more about the author and her work, visit susanharris.ca.

[Review copy provided by the author. My opinions are my own.]

Cover Reveal: Unknown Enemy

Cover reveal for Unknown Enemy, Green Dory Inn Mystery book 1, releasing summer 2018 #Christiansuspense

Landon Smith vowed never to return to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Despite her faith, the memories might undo her.

But a shadowy figure has been skulking around the Green Dory Inn—seen only by her friend Anna.

Loyalty demands she stand by this woman who’s been a second mother to her. No matter the cost.

With the police unable to find solid clues, and the incidents escalating, Landon must help Anna discover the truth about the prowler and stop him. Before he turns violent.

…coming summer 2018… this one’s novella-length, about 150 pages, so it’s a quick read.

Review: Christmas With Hot Apple Cider

Christmas With Hot Apple Cider: Stories from the season of giving and receivingChristmas With Hot Apple Cider (That’s Life! Communications, 2017)

This anthology of true-life stories, fiction, and poetry from 55 Canadian Christian writers is a strong addition to the Hot Apple Cider series.

Memories from the past include tales of Canadian childhood from those born in Canada and children of immigrants making new homes in sometimes-challenging circumstances. Vignettes from the present include what Christmas might be like for the incarcerated, and Christmas celebrations with grandchildren. Short stories include a man who’s decided to live off the grid and a young woman who befriends an immigrant.

The Hot Apple Cider series are heart-warming collections along the line of the Chicken Soup books, but less sentimental. They’re all from Christian authors, but they’re not sermons. Instead, the writers’ faith is the worldview from which they draw their work.

Christmas With Hot Apple Cider is the fifth and newest book in the series, joining three full-length books and the mini-book, A Taste of Hot Apple Cider. I think it’s a keeper, that readers will turn to year after year as part of settling into the Christmas spirit. For more about the other books in the Hot Apple Cider series, visit thatslifecommunications.com/hot-apple-cider-books. For more about Christmas With Hot Apple Cider, visit njlindquist.com/books/christmas-with-hot-apple-cider.

[Review from my personal library]