I’m an Author Accelerator Certified Book Coach!

Dear Vi,

Panta Rhei. Life is flux, and ain’t that the truth? If you’ve visited the website lately, you’ll have noticed a few changes. Well, a lot of changes actually. A new URL, for one. A new business, for another!

I started the Covid year by enrolling in the very robust and highly esteemed Author Accelerator book coaching program, and last month I received my certification. Oh my gosh, I can’t tell you how excited I am!

I am back on the horse! I’m back in the world, learning and doing! I’m a Certified Author Accelerator Book Coach!

And…I’m terrified! Starting a new business enterprise on the cusp of turning 60? Oh, my gosh, don’t even get me started.

ButPanta Rhei!

Take a naturally occurring coach-in-the-wild, someone who has a knack for something and a lifetime of training in cross-over skills with an affinity for the written word and the desire to work with writers, train them in methods and best practices and voilà! What do you get? Magic. Book Coach magic.

Okay! I know you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about. Just what the heck is a book coach, anyway?

A book coach (or writing coach) is a professional editor, a mentor, and a cheerleader for writers at any stage of the writing process.

A book coach:

  • acts as a sounding board for creative ideas
  • guides the writer to reach their writing goals
  • is invested in the writer’s project but also in their writing journey
  • often works with the same writer for months or years

I work with writers, helping them get their stories out of their heads and onto the page. At the moment, I’m concentrating on fiction. However, I’d love to work with memoir as well and am currently studying memoir coaching under Jennie Nash in Author Accelerator.

If you’d like to check out my brand new website, I’d love to see you there! Heads up, it’s not 100% finished yet – one page at a time, right? But today I’m taking a deep breath and shouting out olly olly all come free! Here I come, ready or not!  

https://www.nitacollinswriter.com

A Bookcase Quilt for Jade

Dear Vi,

I wanted to show you the quilt that I made for the daughter of a very dear friend two years ago. I’d made Jade a baby quilt when she was small, but she was turning 12 in 2018. Not a little girl anymore. It was time to make her a quilt that would carry her through her teens.

I don’t know what took me so long to post these photographs. This quilt is two years old, now!

Jade loves to read, if you haven’t guessed already.

I had so much fun choosing all the fabrics for the book spines and making things to put on the shelves! Everywhere I went, I had my eye out for just the right scrap or piece of trim.

There are a lot of things to look at in this quilt.

As I created each shelf, I imagined Jade laying on her bed with a book, or examining the quilt and discovering all the treasures I’d sewn into it.

I even tried some techniques I’d never done before. Broderie Perce, anyone? Broderie perce is a technique where each flower is cut out separately, laid out as you please, then sewn together to create a picture. In this case, a bowl of roses.

I put the bowl of roses on the shelf for a very specific reason. When I first told Jade I was making her a new quilt, she asked me for a “roses” quilt. Which she obviously didn’t get. This little bowl is a nod to that request.

The conditions weren’t the best the day we set out to photograph it. The light was all wrong, it was windy, the browns of early spring hadn’t yet given way to the colours of summer…

We did the best we could.

Someday I’m going to make one for myself!

Until next time…all my love.

Quilting during Covid-19

Dear Vi,

I wear a lot of hats, as you know, but the one I turn to in times of stress is quilting. I think that’s because quilting is something I can do that doesn’t involve sitting still. I’m a knitter, too, but when I’m feeling anxious, I can’t sit in one place for very long, and knitting – while meditative – requires me to sit in a chair for extended periods of time.

Quilting, on the other hand, lets me be creative in a non-static way as I move between the cutting table, ironing board and sewing machine. Sometimes I put my ironing board in the kitchen so I have to traverse my (admittedly small) house to get to it. I can put music on and bop around while arranging blocks on the design wall. Or I can turn the music off and enjoy the hum of the sewing machine if my mind is too full of news and the dire straits of others.

I’m not saying quilting is exercise…it’s more like the full-body equivalent of jiggling my foot if I were sitting in a chair with my knitting needles. Does that make sense?

And then, there’s something indescribably delicious about creating something that fills the need for both beauty and function. If quilting isn’t a creative outlet that has saved my life, it’s certainly one that has saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

Quilting is like gardening…and like knitting… and like writing. You start out with an empty piece of ground, a blank piece of paper, a skein of wool, a stack of colourful fabrics. And then you create.

There’s a certain feeling you get when you straighten your back after pulling weeds, transplanting seedlings, deadheading flowers…when you cast off the last row and put your needles down…when you step away from the keyboard, breathless after writing the final scene…A feeling of wonder as you pause for a minute and admire the beauty you’ve created.

What’s your creative outlet during this stressful time?

Columbia Ice Fields, Jasper National Park
photo by Nita Collins Quilt: Garden Party by Blackbird Designs

Six things Mr. Rogers said that help me cope with Covid-19

Dear Vi,

Do you remember Mr. Rogers and his neighbourhood? In every episode, he wore a sweater that was knit just for him by his very own mother. I just love that.

He once said something very wise that many of us, (especially writers, knitters, and quilters!) know to be true: “Solitude is different from loneliness, and it doesn’t have to be a lonely kind of thing.” He also said: “How many times have you noticed that it’s the little quiet moments in the midst of life that seem to give the rest extra-special meaning?” I try to keep this in mind during the call for social distancing during this Covid-19 crisis.

He also said: “There are times when explanations, no matter how reasonable, just don’t seem to help.” I heaved a great sigh when I read this, because we are in the middle of one of those times right now, eh?

“The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.” I think if Mr. Rogers was here today, he’d tell us that there are a few helpful things we can do during this difficult time. We can keep track of each other; make a few more phone calls; write a few more notes; help our friends and neighbours who are truly alone feel a little less lonely. We can make sure we are doing our part to keep things calm by repeating facts instead of rumour, and by letting kindness rule instead of frustration. “There are three ways to ultimate success: the first way it to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”

 Mr. Rogers also advised that: “All of us, at some time or other, need help.” So please – if you need help, ask someone. And if someone offers to help, say yes. It’s okay. We all need help sometimes. Even me. Even you.

Stay safe. Stay busy. Stay creative. Take this time to make yourself your very own comfort quilt to wrap up in, because boy is it stressful out there right now. Mr. Rogers would be the first person to applaud you for it. And please, if you’re lonely and just want someone to chat with, pick up the phone and give a friend a call.

How are you coping? I hope you’re okay.

If you want to see Mr. Rogers, you can visit him at MisterRogers.org.

The Weather Outside: Frightful and Delightful

Dear Vi,

While my friends on the west coast are enjoying a bit of a cool and rainy summer, here in Dawson City, Yukon things have been quite delightful. Well, for the most part, anyway.We did go through a couple of weeks of being choked by smoke from forest fires, but thankfully no longer. Now we are enjoying cool mornings, blazing hot afternoons, and evening thunderstorms.There’s something shivery and delightful about being cozy inside while the storm rages at your door. Especially when you’re living in a tin can (er…travel trailer) as we are.Thunderstorms also make for great photography.Unfortunately, they also make more forest fires.Have you enjoyed a good crack and boom thunderstorm lately?

A Stearman Biplane in Dawson City, Yukon

Dear Vi,

I believe I have not yet told you what brought Kelly and I to Dawson City last summer…and what brought us back again this year.

This is it – a vintage Stearman biplane. She’s a beauty, eh? Kelly was hired to ferry her from Ontario to Dawson last summer.

It was a long trip because the airplane has a very short range.

Also, the it’s an endurance test for the pilot. The trip was done in 33 legs, 44 hours flying in total. He averaged two legs per day, if that helps put it into perspective.

A ground crew followed along below, with extra avgas in the back. She does like to guzzle the gasoline.

This particular craft was manufactured in 1942 as a WWII trainer.

 

She was given a paint job over the winter. Now she shines in the Great River Air colours of blue and cream.

At long last, Kelly has landed his dream summer job…giving rides in a vintage biplane in the skies over Dawson City.