Friday, November 1, 2013


THE WARNINGS: the latest edition to my e-book publishing is now up on Kindle and Kobo! 

(I want to thank my daughter Christine for doing the amazing work of organizing the text for e-publication once I had them converted - and for uploading all six of my previously published novels onto Kindle and Kobo. My other job was to rework the original covers for fun and interest.)

The next one we are working on is "The Dark Garden." Another (all new) cover for that one!

Quick summary of The Warnings: Rachel's mother has walked out for good, and Rachel's former hippie-farmer dad has dumped her with her Great-aunt Irene and Irene's elderly friends, "The Fossils", who live in a dark mansion in the oldest part of the city. They set up a bedroom for Rachel in the attic of the house; then seem to spend most of their time shadowing her everywhere. Why? Rachel is full of anger - and fear. Before arriving she was having frightening flashes of second sight warnings. Now, in Irene's old mansion, she is sure something bad is about to happen ... and it involves her and her father and the crazy old people in Irene's house.


Toronto Star

"The normal confronts the abnormal in an utterly absorbing way."

Kirkus Reviews

"Buffie creates a wonderful tension between her hard-bitten heroine
and the eerie scenes she confronts, while John the attic inhabiting ghost is as fully realized a character as (her aunt) Irene and the other oldsters. ....satisfying and mistily spooky.

"Buffie has written a wonderful supernatural mystery. Highly recommended.

School Library Journal

"....this is a compelling story, complex in themes, but fast moving and 
easy to read. Fans of Buffie's first novel will not be disappointed 
in this one, with its surprising and satisfying climax and conclusion." 

And don't forget: the books below are now all available on both Kindle and Kobo!

The Watcher

The Watcher

 Quill and Quire

Emma is a familiar Buffie heroine, a child psychologically at risk, seeking her place in things and finding it through the aid of the fantastical. The sub-themes of alienation and belonging are underscored by Emma's entrapment in what her mother describes as the "Borderland", that sometimes dangerous space between childhood and adulthood. Buffie, winner of the Vicky Metcalf Award, depicts the game world in a vivid and almost painterly fashion. She weaves such a sophisticated fantasy that it isn't entirely clear which characters we should be rooting for. Although this might prove disquieting for some, Emma's powerful need to watch over her family is an overridingly compelling premise from beginning to end.

National Post

 ... Buffie confidently creates an entire world of fantasy. ... It allows Buffie to establish the importance of game playing as the metaphor that dominates her story: games with often outrageous rules, and players with roles hardly known even to themselves. In some ways, It feels like Lewis Carroll with the Queen of Hearts in full control. Like Alice, Emma is confused and distressed, but Buffie shows that Emma and even her family never really escape the rabbit hole. From a world centered on humans in the opening chapter, Buffie skillfully navigates step by step from the solid ground of a world governed by gravity and expected behavior and understanding, to an existence where Emma can't separate dreams from reality. Taking her fantasy from Norse and Anglo-Saxon mythology, Buffie adroitly conjures up this confusing world going back and forth from worldly adventure and fright to supernatural powers. 


From ominous beginning to tense climax this is a page turner. 

School Library Journal

Filled with suspense, adventure, and colorful characters, this story will appeal to readers of Franny Billingsley's The Folk Keepe (Atheneum, 1999) and will entertain fans of the genre. While a familiarity with Celtic myths is not necessary to enjoy the story, those who know the tales will delight in finding fresh interpretations of characters rarely brought to life in children's literature. 

 Children’s Literature 2000

A terrific story with just enough ties to reality and Faerie to make us suspend disbelief.

Napra Review

Buffie's way with words ... lend quirky insight into suprahuman existence and keep the reader engaged to the end.


Fans of Buffie's earlier work and those readers enticed by the title ... will find this book hard to put down.

Once again, Winnipeg writer and artist Margaret Buffie has taken seeming ordinary people and thrust them into a bizarre, magical world to create a frightening and intriguing story.

The Seeker

Quill and Quire

Emma Sweeney, a 16 year old Watcher who doesn't know who she really is, was not supposed to have bonded deeply with her Earth family. But as she watches her adopted mother die, Emma vows to find her missing sister and reunite her entire family, now far-flung across the worlds.... Buffie also invents beautifully imagined worlds, exquisite villains, and a cast of delightfully improbable quest companions, including Cill, a sweet pile of walking leaves. Emma wants to see the world in black and white but Buffie weaves in shades of grey, which puzzles her protagonist. Against the grey, our hero obsesses about whom to trust. Who are her real friends? And most critically, can she trust her own instincts? The answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. The ending which is tied up without being strangled, intriguingly raises as many questions as it answers.

  School Library Journal (USA)

Emma is a headstrong, appealing narrator, and Buffie uses her first person perspective to smoothly provide background for readers unfamiliar with the first volume. The characters have depth and complex motivations, keeping the protagonist and readers guessing about who her true friends may be ... this is a good choice for sophisticated fantasy readers, with strong appeal for gaming fans looking for a darker, more complex story than Diana Wynne Jones's "The Homeward Bounders".

 American Library Association

Buffie's ability to keep the story moving without a lag in the action also helps this book to stand on its own. A welcome choice for fantasy buffs.

The Finder

 Childrens' Literature 2004

As the third book in the acclaimed trilogy,"The Watcher's Quest", this book rejoins Emma for the most dangerous quest of the series. We watch Emma flawlessly follow Joseph Campbell's stages in hero quest as she answers the call to adventure, undergoes trials, discovers her father, (actually that was in the Seeker! MB) has a death like experience, and ...(I've left this bit out as it gives away too much of the plot!MB). All this is with the help of her friend and sometimes love, Watcher Tom ... The Finder is an intriguing and well-written conclusion to "The Watcher's Quest Trilogy". Fantasy lovers will enjoy this book, but they would be well advised to begin at the beginning of the trilogy. 

This is definitely the best of The Watcher's Quest books. The action is breathtaking, and moves quickly from one situation to another. But more than that, we feel for Emma - her anger, her pain, her love - as she struggles to find herself and to deal with her emotions. As with all the Watcher's Quest books, the worlds are vividly imagined and the characters interesting. Mom's rating - 5 wands! - 
Canadian Materials 2004

In this complicated, cunning finale, Emma Sweeney is sent to spend a week with her human family on Argadnel, another world.... Video game players will revel in this book's fast paced action, leaps into the unknown, character morphing and setting meltdowns. Heroes with "magickal" powers, characters described in infinite detail, and the excitement of competitive gaming will attract both boys and girls who long to be the honourable hero who succeeds in the face of almost insurmountable odds through gritty determination and dogged persistence, not to mention a little luck ... There are many (countless) other characters each more weird and wonderful than the last....The intricate connections between these players of the Game are extremely complex ... Strong themes of the necessity of discovering one's own identity and persisting in the face of danger and defeat dominate this novel. The powerful pull of family love, though, is ultimately the basis of Emma's success, as she completes her tasks to save her family and to discover who she really is.... a satisfying and compelling story.

 Gov't of Saskatchewen Learning Resources 

This third book in The Watcher's Quest trilogy can stand alone...The adventure brings into play all of Emma's experience and her wits, as well as assistance from others. The fast-paced action includes character morphing and setting meltdowns. The powerful themes of discovering one's own identity and persisting in the face of danger are dominant. The enduring strength of family love that gives Emma the power to fulfill her quest is refreshing.

School Library Journal 

 This is a well-written and exciting adventure ... a rollicking story with plenty of aliens, danger and conflict for fans of the series.

Books in Canada

(Angels Turn Their Backs) is a gripping, intelligent novel and Buffie’s readers will likely be willing to follow her in this new direction for the sheer enjoyment of reading her excellent prose and getting to know her original, thoroughly modern characters. 

 Quill and Quire

Margaret Buffie plunges us deep into her heroine’s first full-fledged crippling panic attack. ...You’re on the edge for this kid from the word go. 


...The author masterfully weaves diverse elements into a flowing and believable first person narrative, leaving the reader feeling that one has discovered a special friend.

The Globe and Mail

Buffie’s preoccupation with things heard but not seen, seen  but not heard, is not absent in this very readable, psychologically acute novel.

Simcoe Times Reformer

Buffie has written a wonderful book about a girl caught up in agoraphobia. This novel is a must read! 

To go along with my own published e-books above,  there is 
Kids Can Press's e-publication of my first novel ...


Children’s Book News

Who is Frances Rain? is a thoroughly absorbing young adult novel filled with characters who are bound to intrigue teenagers. It’s full of the resonance of Canadian summer, the mystique of forest and water, and is sure to linger in the reader’s mind long after the last page is turned. 

Quill and Quire

Who is Frances Rain? is as distinctly Canadian as the intoxicating lure of silent woods and wind-whipped lakes. The textures of the narrative and the well-rounded characters are just as haunting as the ghosts Lizzie finds on Rain Island. It’s a ghost story with much to reveal to the thoughtful reader about the turbulent emotions at work within families. It’s a novel that makes us grateful for a strong new voice in Canadian literature for young people, a voice we’ll want to hear again soon.

Toronto Star

Who is Frances Rain? will probably be devoured by its young adult readers in one sitting. It deserves to be; this is an excellent book.

Publishers Weekly

Buffie’s story is moody and atmospheric – the lake and the island are pungently, perfectly evoked. Lizzie’s encounters with ghosts are beautifully handled, with just the right balance of eerie and emotional moments.

Horn Book

Superb tension, suspense, and mystery. 

And Tundra's publication my latest novel Winter Shadows:

American Library Assoc Booklist Review

The alternating narratives are gripping, and the characters are drawn with rich complexity; even the stepmothers are finally humanized. Readers will be pulled in by the searing history of bigotry as well as the universals of family conflict, love, and friendship

Quill and Quire Review

Vicky Metcalf Award-Winner Margaret Buffie returns with a breathtaking novel
 that is part realism, part time-travel fantasy and part coming of age tale.

Canadian Materials

The past setting of this novel is simply stunning. Buffie immerses the reader in the cold, the food (and the effort it took to find and prepare it), the influence of the church, and above all, the intermingling of the Scottish and native and English cultures in the settlement near Selkirk, MB. She is clearly sympathetic to the native/Metis wisdom and connection with the land, using many Cree words (that are both easily understood in context and explained in a glossary).....Buffie is a master of the ghost story... 

For more information on these books and the awards they received, please click on "About me" and also on each individual book title on my home page.

Friday, July 12, 2013

NEWS ABOUT MY NOVEL "WHO IS FRANCES RAIN?" is up on Kindle, Kobo and Nook!!

You can now get a copy of Who is Frances Rain? as an e-book online priced under five dollars. Very happy it is finally up.

I've been on holidays for awhile and will soon be back on my blog for the fall and winter. Hope you are all having a wonderful summer wherever you are!

The e-book cover is 20th anniversary edition, as seen below.



Here are a few photos of my summer at my own "Rain" lake!

"My Canoe" Photo by Margaret Buffie

Ready to head out and take photos!

"Loon feather" Photo by Margaret Buffie

"Mist Rising Fast" Photo by Margaret Buffie
"Dark Island Mist" Photo by Margaret Buffie
"A clear morning..." Photo by Margaret Buffie


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Phrases and Origins


Part Two of Phrases and Origins

Here are three more common phrases we use, but rarely know their actual origins. All, coincidentally, begin with the letter "T"!

Three sheets to the wind - this phrase is used to mean that someone is thoroughly drunk. It is a seafaring expression, but oddly enough, the word sheets does not refer to the sails, as you might imagine.

We landlubbers might expect that they are, indeed, the sails. They are, in fact, ropes -- or sometimes chains. These ropes (also called lines) are attached to the lower corners of the sails, to hold them in place.


HMS Unicorn by Harold Wyllie, 1851-1931

Coiled sheets or lines.

The sheets in the photo above are used to control the movable corners of the sails.

The chain running diagonally up and right from the bottom-left of the photo below to is the fore-lower-topsail sheet. Some of the sheets or lines to bigger sails are made of chain to handle the heavier loads.

 E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897 explains where the drunkenness reference comes from in this phrase in his "Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898:"

“Unsteady from over-drinking, as a ship when its sheets are in the wind. The sail of a ship is fastened at one of the bottom corners by a rope called a “tack;” the other corner is left more or less free as the rope called a “sheet” is disposed; if quite free, the sheet is said to be “in the wind,” and the sail flaps and flutters without restraint. If all the three sails were so loosened, the ship would “reel and stagger like a drunken man.”

His example used in fiction is: "Captain Cuttle looking, candle in hand, at Bunsby more attentively, perceived that he was three sheets to the wind, or, in plain words drunk.” Domeby and Son, Charles Dickens

The phrase today is usually spoken of as 'three sheets to the wind', you can see in the example above and below, that the original was, in fact, 'three sheets in the wind'.

A quote from Pierce Egan's Real Life in London, 1821: "Old Wax and Bristles is about three sheets in the wind."

It appears that sailors at that time had a sliding scale of drunkenness; three sheets was the blind drunk stage; tipsy was just 'one sheet in the wind', or 'a sheet in the wind's eye'. An example appears in the novel The Fisher's Daughter, by Catherine Ward, 1824:

"Wolf replenished his glass at the request of Mr. Blust, who, instead of being one sheet in the wind, was likely to get to three before he took his departure."

There was probably some reference to "two sheets in the wind", but I suspect if if a sailor was now breathalyzed at two sheets, he'd be fined for drunk driving!

Robert Louis Stevenson had Long John Silver use a form of the phrase to plead "not guilty" of drunkenness to Captain Smollett. Silver says: "Maybe you think we were all a sheet in the wind's eye. But I'll tell you I was sober..."

To a "T" - To say something is "to a T" means that something is exactly or precisely so. That it is perfectly... 'to a "T"'.

A much older and obsolete phrase itself: down to the least particular.

So what is the origin of this phrase?

It is pretty certain that "to a T" did not originate with the drinking of tea, or using a tee in golfing, or wearing a t-shirt.

The one thing that most experts on phrase origins seem to agree on, is that "To a T" involves the letter T -- as in T being the first letter of a word. And the word they seem to agree on is the word "tittle". Really!

What?? Yes, because "tittle" was in use in exactly the same sense - for at least a hundred years before "to a T" appeared.

In 1607, in a play by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, called Woman Hater, a characters says, "I'll quote him to a tittle". Meaning he will quote him exactly as he spoke.

One could argue that "to a T" nowadays often refers to how clothes fit as in ... That dress fits you "to a T".

So, if you are still focused on 'T-shirt', a kind of casual "shirt" of American origin (which refers to the shape of the garment in question) you would be wrong. At first sight, this seems to be a rather appealing explanation. However, it is important to remember that t-shirts are a 20th C invention and "to a T" had being used for at least 200 years by then.

'T-square' has been brought up as an alternative, because it is a precise instrument, but there is no evidence that links it to the phrase, according to the experts.

It is thought that the phrase "to a T" is derived from the word tittle because long before "to a t" became popular, the phrase "to a tittle" was used for exactly the same meaning.

The phrase "to dot one's i's and cross one's t's refers back to this phrase.

So we're back to tittle. And what exactly is a tittle?

A tittle is a small distinguishing mark, such as a diacritic or the dot on a lowercase i or j. A tittle is a small stroke or point in writing or printing, and is now best remembered via the term jot or tittle.

Jot" and "tittle" continued to be used in the 16th century English Bible translations (beginning with William Tyndale in the 1520s). Many still know these terms from the King James (1611) translation -- "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

So, based on this Biblical "tittle," meaning to focus on tiny details, people began to use the expression "to a tittle," and other later variations of it, to refer to something done very precisely (that is 'to the smallest detail').


So while there is no absolute proof the circumstantial case, 'to a tittle's' derivation would probably stand up in court as 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.


Take it with a Grain of Salt - To take a statement with 'a grain of salt' or 'a pinch of salt' means to accept that statement, knowing, also, that you must maintain a degree of skepticism about its truth.


Here are a couple of examples of how it's used:

"Remember to take everything he says with a grain of salt. He doesn't always tell the truth."

"I could tell they took our explanation with a pinch of salt. I was pretty sure they didn't believe us."


In ancient times, salt was a rare and very expensive commodity. And it was thought to have magical powers. It was thrown over the shoulder for good luck, for example, and was also used as a seasoning. Even more interesting, they sprinkled salt on foods that they thought might be poisoned.

If you are interested in food history, it is almost impossible to do it without hearing about Pliny the Elder, repeatedly. Pliny is to the history of food what a favourite spice or herb is to your best culinary creations ... essential.

Pliny’s Naturalis Historia, 77 A.D shows clearly that Pliny believed that salt could be an antidote to poison. Threats of poison were to be taken "with a grain of salt," and for some reason were considered less of a worry!

From Naturalis Historia:

"After the defeat of that mighty monarch, Mithridates, Gnaeus Pompeius found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own handwriting; it was to the following effect: Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day."

The Roman general, Pompey (48 BC) believed he could make himself immune to poison by swallowing small amounts of different poisons, and he did this with a grain of salt to help him swallow the poison.It is believed the salt was not the antidote, but was taken merely to assist in swallowing the poison. Clearly, by then, he did not believe the salt would save him from poisoning.

Now here's a catch! The Latin word salis means both "salt" and "wit," so that the Latin phrase "cum grano salis" could be translated as both "with a grain of salt" and "with a grain (small amount) of wit." That throws a bit of a wrench into it, doesn't it?? But I believe, as do the pundits, that 'take it with a grain of salt' is the most likely one.
Oops! Spilling salt is unlucky. I wonder why??