Category Archives: Writing and Publishing

Debra Purdy Kong’s Review of Mayne Island Skeletons


Debra Purdy Kong’s Review of Mayne Island Skeletons.


Its Over: I’m a NaNoWriMo Winner


I submitted my 50,001-word novel today.

I started writing on November 1, with a setting and a character.  The setting was Montreal in 1967.  The character was a twenty-two -year-old woman, who becomes a private investigator. I decided two other things about her.  She would be driven by a need for Justice and she would have an overdeveloped sense of smell.

With just this to start with, I dove in and wrote the first chapter.  I decided to write in the third person, but in a few places I would write in the first person.  That was when she was a woman in her sixties, writing in the present time.  I liked her right away.  She had spunk.

I found myself doing research every day.  I needed to check out fashion, music, vehicles, police uniforms, Expo 67, Metro, names, geography, even firearms, and much, much more.  I learned a lot.

My most challenging part was writing the felons.  I had to force myself to make them more violent and unscrupulous than I was comfortable with.

I write books for pre-teens, my Magda of Mayne Island Mystery Series so this novel, written for adults, was challenging for me.

I’ll let some time pass before I go back and rewrite this book, I think.  Idon’t know if I’ll be interested in writing for the adult market in the future.  I’ll have to wait and see.

Kathryn Poulin reviews Mayne Island Skeletons on MysteriesEtc


I don’t normally review children’s books however Mayne Island is very close to where I live so I knew I would find the book very interesting.  The story brings me back to my childhood when I loved reading the Enid Blyton mysteries and the wonderful adventures the children in her stories had.

Harvey’s adventure starring Magda her preteen sleuth is a great book for children to read.  I love the location, Mayne Island, and I love the writing style of the author.  The children in the book are active, they are not glued to electronics.  They are inquisitive and mostly they show great character traits as they show the value of friendship.

Highly recommend this great read for preteens!

Magda’s Mayne Island Mystery – review by Denise Dunn


Having been honoured by my dear friend Amber Harvey’s request that I preview and critique her first novel for children, Magda’s Mayne Island Mystery, I read it together with my ten-year-old grandaughter.  We had fun in Magda’s island world watching the fictional yet believable characters deal with both life’s easy and tougher challenges.

This island setting is familar to my grandaughter and I. We recognised the charm of the place in Amber’s quietly inserted descriptions.   Like all good stories, the tale is universal – something like blaming others solves no conflict, look to your own feelings and needs.  Again, it’s quietly inserted, no moralising, no shoulds or ought to’s.

Alas that first granddaughter became a teenager and was already into vampire stories when Amber’s second book in the series Mayne Island Aliens was published.  I enjoyed it on my own.  Now my second granddaughter is coming up to the age for Magda so I have an excellent excuse to read them again!  Happily there will be three mysteries to enjoy with the publication of Mayne Island Skeletons.  I look forward to hours of reading with my grandaughter snuggled beside me.  But I might just sneak a read first when I get my hands on a copy of Skeletons because I can never let a good story sit on the shelf.

PS Like a good elder I read one of those vampire stories, just to check ‘em out and have to admit I might well have been attracted at thirteen!

Denise Dunn

full-time grand-mother, social activist and retired teacher-librarian

Review for Amber Harvey for “Skeletons”


Amber Harvey’s third book in her Magda series is well-paced and well-written, and a charm to read. Although Ms. Harvey retains a flavour particular to Mayne Island, where she lives, this story could occur in any small community.

Ms. Harvey’s love for, and knowledge of, children is apparent in all her books and she has a firm handle on her young characters who, although they display typical childish traits, are also shown to have compassion and caring for their peers.

In all, Skeletons, is another delightful story from Amber Harvey, and I look forward to the next chapter in her characters’ lives.

Celia Leaman

Author of Mary’s Child

September 16, 2011

The Craft


‘The Craft’ can refer to many things.  Wicca and Freemasonry are both known as ‘The Craft.’  The craft I refer to here is the craft of writing.

I’ve always been a writer, or at least as long as I was capable of putting pen to paper and constructing meaningful sentences.  I discovered one summer when all my friends were on holidays or away at camp that the only way to dig myself out of the pit of boredom into which I had fallen was to write.  It was then, in my pre-teens, that I began writing my first novel.

I have written several novels since then.  My first few attempts were never completed.  The next few were.  I’ve self-published three and am working on a fourth.

What I’ve learned over the years is that just like any craft, the practitioner has to build the best article (let’s call it a table) they can and go on to learn better techniques so that the next table is even better.  It is a waste to build the same table over and over.  Learn from your mistakes, learn new techniques, and build a better table the next time.  Each table can be better than the one before, but the earlier tables can be serviceable, functional, sturdy pieces of furniture, but without the style that a later table might have.

Take courses in your craft; get together with other writers and edit each others’ work; read what other writers have said.  My favourite book on writing is still Stephen King’s On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft.

We have to keep on practicing our craft.  Never give up.  If you want to be a writer, write.  Learn your craft.  Practice your craft.  But keep on writing.