Sunday, December 28, 2014

Posting comments is less of a hassle now!


This is to let you know that I have once again reworked how comments can be put on this site and now it very easy to do!

You will notice "No Comments" or "1 comment" or "5 comments" in the blue box after each of my posts. The words "No Comments"  is confusing people making them think I don't want comments!

Please click on "No Comments" to make a comment - also click if it has a number before Comments. It will pop up and you are ready to go. You can write in it immediately. If other comments are there, just scroll through them  and you will see "add a comment" after the last one. 

After you write your comment, click the box below that says "I am not a robot". This stops those evil little computer robots trying to sell something on my blog!

All you do next is choose an identity. 

1) Name/URL - which is the most common way and easy to use. You don't need to put in a URL if you don't have one (or even if you do!). Just put in your first name and click "Publish your comment". Done!!

2)Anonymous is easy to use as well. Exactly the same as number 3, but you don't need to give a name. Although you can add one in the text if you wish.

I will definitely give a reply as it shows up in my email as well.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The black and white certainties about writing....

"The black and white certainties about writing - is that there are no black and white certainties about writing - except the print on paper." Margaret Buffie


They're fancy talkers about themselves, writers. If I had to give young writers advice, I would say, don't listen to writers talk about writers or themselves. Lillian Hellman

Beware of advice - even this. Carl Sandburg

The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress. Philip Roth

Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reasons the opinions of others. Virginia Woolf

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce the sound he hears within. Gustave Flaubert

Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough. Flannery O'connor

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. 
G. K. Chesterton

Easy reading is damn hard writing. Nathaniel Hawthorne

And one of my all time favs
I just sit at my typewriter and curse a bit. PG Wodehouse

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"When witches go riding....

"When witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers, ‘tis near Halloween." Anonymous       

Happy Hallowe'en!

Pixie, kobold, elf, and sprite,
All are on their rounds tonight;
In the wan moon's silver ray,
Thrives their helter-skelter play.

Joel Benton

Yoshitaka Amano, The Endless Dream

Men say that in this midnight hour,
The disembodied have power
To wander as it liketh them,
By wizard oak and fairy stream.

William Motherwell

Illustration by Samuel Arava

“Suddenly the day was gone, 
night came out from under each tree and spread.” 

Ray Bradbury, The Halloween Tree

Cover Illustration for Ray Bradbury's "The Hallowe'en Tree"

Monday, October 13, 2014


I often say Autumn is my favourite season. Not even sure why. But it is. People respond to Autumn in a myriad of ways. For some it is the time of golden wheat and harvest, a time of gathering together for thanksgiving,  for some  the simple pleasure of watching the turning of the leaves  - but for others it is a lonely season, triggering depression and fear of change. 

For me it is a complex season of deep pleasure and sadness. Sometimes I love this spice-laden-baking; garden-herb-gathering; leaf-kicking, pumpkin-pie-trick-or-treat time.

But it is also, for me, a time of melancholy memories - remembering those dreaded returns to the prison of the classroom; the worries of "fitting in" again; of knowing that my mother - a single parent - would be gone far more than she was in the summer, holding down two jobs all winter.

Those memories seem far away in spring and summer. Despite loving so much about Autumn  (now, after a summer at our cabin with family and children and noise and sunshine as well as mornings of quiet solitude in my canoe and afternoon walks in a sun-streamed green forest), it also means a return to the city and back to my focused writing and a new set of obligations. 

My new novel takes place in October. I am watching Autumn closely this year. Its beauty, its mellowness, its many moods, its skies that are made up of   that blue that is so impossibly blue; its mist laden mornings; its heavy frost nights and warm afternoons; as well its angry winds that tear leaves from the trees and bowl them down the street and fling them through the air; those winds that whistle and moan against my old house's windows. I am also trying to record its baffling melancholy. 

Perhaps, to me, what I like most about autumn is that it is like turning a page, preparing for a hopeful change, the same way the leaves turn to gold and then fly away in readiness for a new spring.

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The  maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I be old-fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.
 "Nature XXVI, Autumn"
Emily Dickinson 1830-1886

Simeon Solomon 1840-1905) 

O Wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being
Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792-1822

Simeon Solomon 1840-1905

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.
"The Autumn"
Elizabeth Barrett browning 1806-1861

 (Lydia Cassatt) by Mary Cassatt: 

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.

Johnny Mercer
Much-recorded song Autumn Leaves. 
Originally a French song Les Feuilles Mortes 
with lyrics by poet Jacques Prevért.

"Autumn Leaves" 
Georgia O'Keefe 1887-1986

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou mayest rest
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

"To Autumn"
William Blake 1757-1827

Guiseppe Arcinboldo, 1527 -1593 

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have
it to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.
Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862

"The Pumpkin"
Bartolomeo Bimbi 1648–1723

I lift void eyes and scan 
the sky for crows, those ravening foes, 
of my strange master, Man. 
I watch him striding lank behind
 his clashing team, and know
 soon will the wheat swish body high
 where once lay a sterile snow;
 soon I shall gaze across a sea
 of sun-begotten grain,
 which my unflinching watch hath sealed
 for harvest once again. -
"The Scarecrow"
Walter de la Mare

"Wheatfield with Crows"
Vincent Van Gogh, 1853-1890

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
 Stand shadowless like silence, listening
   To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
      Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
   Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn;--
       Thomas Hood (23 May 1799 – 3 May 1845)

The Garden of Saint Paul’s Hospital (‘The Fall of the Leaves’)
Vincent Van Gogh 1853-1890

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.
Willliam Cullen Bryant, 1794-1878

"Autumn Sun" -
Edward Cucuel 1875-1964

The tints of autumn...a mighty flower garden 
blossoming under the spell of the enchanter, frost.” 
John Greenleaf Whittier1807-1892

John Atkinson Grimshaw 1836-1893

Copyright Photo, Margaret Buffie, 2014 October Frost1

Copyright Photo, Margaret Buffie, 2014 October Frost2

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My new Korean cover for WINTER SHADOWS!

The girls appear younger than my characters, but this is not uncommon on Asian youth covers. Even though Beatrice from the past (the "ghost") is of marrying age, my Canadian publisher explained to me that the cultural differences involve a different kind of cover in Korea. 

Other than that, I think the mood of this cover and the artwork is really lovely!

I didn't notice at first that they are standing on Beatrice's journal. I love that!

Monday, August 18, 2014

I have been at my summer cabin for most of the summer. I have no access to the internet there. But I will soon be home and ready to catch up on news and info! Here are some of the photos I took this summer.

"A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." Henry David Thoreau


Photo Margaret Buffie © 2014

Photo Margaret Buffie © 2014 

Photo Margaret Buffie © 2014

Photo Margaret Buffie © 2014

Photo Margaret Buffie © 2014

The Dark Garden is NOW available as an ebook on Kindle and Kobo! Hopefully, this fall it should be up on iBooks as well. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dark Garden News!

The Dark Garden is NOW available as an ebook on Kindle and Kobo. Hopefully, this fall it should be up on iBooks as well. 

Some reviews for The Dark Garden:

Buffie gives us a ghost story, a story of growth and a mystery, and interweaves them so skillfully that the passions and fears almost meld the living girl with the dead one. Buffie has quickly become one of the most accomplished writers of this genre. Vancouver Sun

A first rate blend of ghost story and problem novel about Thea, 16, struggling to recover from traumatic amnesia after a bike accident. Buffie creates a tightly knit, evocatively written, and lushly (but chastely) romantic thriller. The protagonists - living and dead - are distinctly characterized; a once beautiful, now weed-choked garden is simultaneously setting and symbol of lost happiness. vivid sensory writing makes the fluctuations in Thea’s state of consciousness perfectly convincing. Kirkus Reviews

(In the Dark Garden) both the reader and Thea are confused by the dual worlds of her dominant family and the lure of the garden. Gradually and ever so skillfully, Buffie reveals more of the nature of this traumatized family. The character of Thea is superbly developed through the eyes of others and her own questioning of things around her. There are times when all of us wonder who we are, where we fit in, and how we can cope with our present situation. Discussing Thea’s plight may reveal things teens face in their lives and want to unravel. I am always impressed by how easily the transfer is made when discussing powerful books, from situations the character faces to those we face in our own lives Ronald Jobe The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy

 The sixteen-year-old narrator of this novel begins her story in an unexpected way: she dies. Not physically, we soon learn, but metaphorically, as she is suffering from traumatic amnesia. "They ask again and again-do I remember Thea? Her parents? They tell me that Thea is name-Thea Austen Chalmers-Goodall....I don't know her. I am certain I could never have been Thea A usten Chalmers-Goodall." Buffie meshes a realistic tale of lost identity and family conflict with an intriguing supernatural plot, using the overgrown garden behind Thea's house as the link between the two. Wild passions and black rage in the ghost story about Susannah Lever, killed in the garden decades ago under mysterious circumstances, are offset by Thea's deeply felt adolescent struggles with the weird, frazzled strangers who are her parents and by her budding romance with Lucas, the neighbor's psychic gardener. As Thea slowly gains more understanding about why she has become involved in a drama from Susannah's past, she is able to start piecing her own life back together. Throughout the book, Thea maintains a strong sense of herself, a certainty that is continually tested by her family's expectations and by a murdered woman's memories that Thea can't be sure are not her own. ... The plot's twists and turns are challenging, but descriptive language, believable characters, suspense, and humor make The Dark Garden a satisfying read.    HORNBOOK

Margaret Buffie has created another of her justly celebrated ghost stories...As Thea pieces together Susannah’s story, she also learns to understand and cope with her dysfunctional family. In learning to say no she dispels the resentment she felt at being chief cook and babysitter to a sullen 11-year-old and a regressive 4-year-old while her parents "fulfilled" themselves professionally. And as the ever-increasing urgency of the ghostly voices propels Thea towards a surprising discovery about murder in the past, the reader experiences again Margaret Buffie’s uncanny ability to create an atmosphere heavy with portent. Barbara Greenwood for City Parent

Monday, May 26, 2014

I was asked to join this blog hop about the "writing process" by my FB friend and fellow writer Kristin Butcher whom I admire for a lot of reasons. Kristin appears to have more energy in her little finger than most people have in their entire bodies!

Kristin and I have a number of things in common. One is writing, of course. We also hail originally from Winnipeg. She lives in BC and I still live here, in my home town. We both love to paint and draw. Kristin's terrific blog about this topic can be found at

To quote Kristin, "I feel like I have a foot in two canoes. I’m a prairie girl and a BCer in equal doses."

What is interesting for me about doing this particular blog tour on "process" is I get to recognize similarities in how other writers work, and yet also get to see how very different we are, too!

What am I working on? 

For my eleventh novel, I am working on something close to my heart.

I have spent many many years trying to find out where my Buffi/Buffie family came from. Thirty years at it, in fact.

During the reformation -  as protestants -  my Buffi family were forced out of Italy. They moved to the Rhineland Pfalz area (Germany). They lived there for generations assimilating with the local population. In the late 1700's the Austrian government promised free land in Galicia to skilled German farmers and artisans. Galicia was made up of Ukraine and Poland (as we now know them). 

The Kolonists' "job" was to help build up that area's badly weakened resources on behalf of the Austrian Empire. So off my family went again. They lived hard lives in Polish Galicia, but they built their farms, villages and many churches, as well as schools to educate their children. 

The next biggest move occurred the late 19th C and early 20th Century, when my family and other families in the German Galician villages lost their land and livelihoods because of Poland's determination to be autonomous. The Germans either went back to Germany or on to Canada.
Because of religious and economic pressures from the new Polish government, my family sailed for Canada and ended up in Manitoba. 

My research into immigration in Manitoba was a lot of work, but fascinating. With the help of Manitoba newspapers, archives, letters, personal written accounts (in Gothic German!) I was able to build up an in-depth view of German immigrants in Manitoba.

My story is a fast paced novel about one family facing poverty, slum conditions, prejudice, disease, untimely deaths, hard graft, and in this family's case - even a murder. But like so many immigrant families, I discovered, they brought with them a strong work ethic, as well as devout religious beliefs and a tremendous drive to succeed.

Many cards are stacked against this nearly shattered fictional family. For me, it is a very compelling place in which to be immersed every day.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

And why do I write what I do?

I have written, I suppose, in most "genres" for young people. I write the story that I feel compelled to write, and never pay much attention to genre. 

My ten novels, go from the supernatural, as in Who is Frances Rain? or The Dark Garden; to fantasies like The Warnings; and the more classic fantasy (I have been told!) of 
The Watcher's Quest Trilogy; on to hard reality as in Out of Focus; and then onto a complete departure in my last book, Winter Shadows ... the historical setting of the Red River Settlement in 1857 (although there is a time travel/ghostly theme in there as well!) 

My novels are really about young people living on the borderline between childhood and adulthood - a very potent place for a writer to explore. That borderline, which often determines when and how a child will become an adult, has always held a great fascination for me. 

My sisters and I lost our father to cancer just when I turned twelve. I went through a lot of chaotic anxieties ... with a rather - um - noisy family dynamic going on at times! ... and a wonderful mother doing her best for us by holding down two jobs. My memories between ages 12 and 18 are still vivid, confused, introspective, miserable, determined, studded with flashes of transient joy, but always charged with questions, and the fearfulness of constant change, change, change.

For an introvert, this was hard going, but it left me as an adult (of sorts!) with a rich vein of story telling to dig into!

It has also given me a deep understanding of that universal search for independence that young people face; that search for self; for the pondering of what will become of me? .... what do I have in me to be? What will help me decide my own future? This is always my main focus is in every book I write. And it is why I write as I do.

How does my writing process work?

As an painter, I always work first with a broad sketch in pencil on the canvas and my first layer of color is done in large free wheeling sections.

I become more and more detailed as I work.

In many ways, that's how I write. I get an idea - I work it out in my mind and on scraps of paper. I think  about it all the time, obsessively really, until I sense something intensely interesting is forming. When I sit down to begin, I am usually ready to get right into the first lines and the first few chapters.

Once those are written, I usually grind to a halt - and sit down and seriously begin to think and ask myself : where I am going with this story?

That is when I make an outline - of sorts - to take the jumbled ideas and possibilities in my head; and try and make some kind of organized sense of them. I know this outline will change - that it is always a fluid, movable  changeable feast (or beast! ... depending on my mood). I rarely know the ending until it happens, but I definitely need some pathways cleared of brush and tangled vines, so that I can see a few clear ways that just might get me to the end!

Once the line outline is done(ish!), and before I start writing again, I always set up a block outline of penciled empty spaces on joined pages. As I finish each chapter, I put into each "box" what characters are in that scene, the day, time, weather, the setting and of course major points of the action. These notes that I can spread out and look at as a whole, often help me see where the story should be headed.

I am probably one of the slowest writers on earth. I do rewrite as I go along, mainly to make sure it is making sense, and that I am building characters and settings, creating mood and tension, and correcting obvious mistakes. But, as with my paintings, I know the important details will be added when the major story line, tension etc are placed and the characters are really living in that story. I love that final rewrite. It takes me a while (or as my old editor used to say, "It will take as long as it takes!"), but I love the process. Fine tuning, for me, is a completely separate creative process. And it allows me the freedom to pull in details that will bring the story, setting and characters even more alive.

Margaret is an artist and writer who has written ten novels for young adults published in eleven countries around the world. Her books have won many awards and honors, including The Vicky Metcalf Award for Body of Work (Inspirational to Canadian Youth); The Canadian Library Assoc.’s Young Adult Book Award; The Silver Nautilus Award (USA); First Runner up in the CLA’s Book of the Year Award; a nomination for the Governor General's Award; and two awards for The McNally Robinson Book for Young People, among other honours. Her first novel, the bestselling Who is Frances Rain? - is still used in many classrooms across Canada and the USA. It is still actively in print and is now available as an e-book. 

Margaret's blog has a blog (Home page), and tabs that allow to you learn more about her and all her books. For a list of her awards and honours click on the tab "About me".

My fellow writers, who will be involved in the next phase of The Writing Process Blog Hop, are from Manitoba! We have some really terrific writers in Manitoba!

Brenda Hasiuk

Brenda is a life-long Winnipegger whose award-winning short stories have appeared in some of Canada’s top literary journals.  Books in Canada called her first novel, Where the Rocks Say Your Name…(Thistledown Press, 2006) a “taught psychological drama that readers will find impossible to put down.” Though marketed as an adult title, it was taught in a number of high school and college classrooms throughout Canada and was nominated for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year. Her second novel, Your Constant Star (Orca, 2014), was recently heralded by Kirkus Reviews as “a superb novel by a rising Canadian literary star.” A collection of her short fiction, Back Lane Lullaby, is coming out with Turnstone Press this fall (September 2014).She has a day job in communications with Manitoba’s largest union, and lives with fellow author, Duncan Thornton, and their two school-aged kids. 

You can learn more about Brenda by going to:

Susan Rocan

Susan is a Manitoba author with two teen novels published by Great Plains Publications. ‘Withershins’ explores pioneer life in the mid-eighteen hundreds and how a modern girl copes with the hardships; while ‘Spirit Quest’ explores the same character’s search for self-identity after discovering her First Nations roots.
‘Withershins’ was on the MYRCA list in 2009 and has been widely read by Manitoba’s student population. Susan has been asked to speak to numerous groups of students, both in the city and nearby towns, from grades four to twelve.

Susan has two Bachelor of Education degrees, majoring in Speech Pathology & Audiology as well as Elementary Education. She works part time with Special Needs students, often employing Sign Language techniques with non-verbal students.

Her blog is aimed towards other writers and readers, including book reviews and author interviews. She's also a scrapbook fanatic, which reveals itself mostly in the form of handmade cards which she likes to brag about on her blog, too. 

You can learn more about Susan at her blog at by going to: