The Laura Secord Chronicles

I’ve started a new story – which in the midst of this pandemic is a minor miracle for me. I’ve had no trouble writing journalism and creating news content, but up until recently, my fiction muse had been hiding in the corner, driven there by the anxious news all around me.

I’m happy to say that I’m back to writing a bit of fiction, this time a story about Canadian hero Laura Secord. Not sure what this will become, but as usual, I’m tracking my progress and research here!

Based on some research I’m keeping in mind, here are some main characters:

  • Laura Secord (nee Ingersoll 1775)- daughter to Major Thomas Ingersoll
  • Major Thomas Ingersoll (nee 1749)
  • Elizabeth Ingersoll Pickett (nee 1779, married to Daniel Pickett)
  • Mira Ingersoll (nee 1781)
  • Harriet Ingersoll (nee 1783 from Sarah’s previous marriage)
  • Sarah (Sally) Ingersoll (nee Backus)
  • Charles Fortescue Ingersoll (nee 1791)
  • Charlotte Ingersoll (nee 1793)
  • Appolonia Ingersoll (nee 1794)
  • James Secord (nee 1773) a young merchant of Queenston and the youngest son of a loyalist officer of Butler’s Rangers.

And here are some major timeline things to keep in mind:

  • Ingersoll fought as patriot during the American Revolution and in Shay’s Rebellion in 1786 earned the rank of Major
  • Met Mohawk leader Joseph Brant in NYC in 1793 who convinced him to move to Upper Canada
  • Received 66k acres in the Thames Valley in a land grant from Simcoe
  • Ingersolls moved to Upper Canada in 1795 (when Laura is 20)
  • Thomas Ingersoll joined the local Masonic Lodge in 1796 and his tavern was one of two in the area that hosted the local Masons.
  • Young James Secord joined the Masonic Lodge.
  • James Secord lived on a 200-acre farm that his family had received as a United Empire Loyalist grant given to sons of British Loyalists from America.
  • Laura marries James Secord in June, 1797
  • Secord gave birth to her first child, Mary, in St. Davids in 1799
  • 27 May 1813, the American army launched an attack across the Niagara River, and captured Fort George. Queenston and the Niagara area fell to the Americans. Men of military age were sent as prisoners to the U.S., though the still-recuperating James Secord was not among them.
  • The Coloured Corps, a militia company of about 50 Black men, serves throughout the war, including during the Battle of Queenston Heights.
  • June 1813, a number of U.S. soldiers are billeted at the Secords’ home.
  • Laura Secord makes her trek to warn the British (specifically a military detachment camped in DeCew House) about the American invasion in June 22, 1813 (when she is 38 years old)

Researching Book 5

Despite Book 4 in the Portia Adams Adventures being delayed in its release (till the fall, pandemic-allowing) you can still pre-order it right now.

And because I know how Book 5 ends and no one else does yet (sorry!) I find myself in the research stages of Book 5. What I can reveal is that Portia comes back to Canada in this book, accompanied by Annie, Bryan and of course, Nerissa.

Right now I’m reading Unbuttoned: A History of Mackenzie King’s Secret Life and I have to tell you, prime minister Mackenzie King is WAY more interesting than my 8th grade Social Studies teacher made him out to be.

Any other books about the late 1930s in Canadian history you would suggest to help me with my research?

Shortlisted for the MYCRA Sundogs Award

Wow, this is another awesome nomination for the little-calico-that-could!

The Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards (MYCRA) just announced their shortlist for 2020/21 and Pickles vs the Zombies is on it!


I was lucky enough to tour Manitoba in 2016 with the Portia series, and I am so excited to be a part of this very talented list of authors.


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Shortlisted for the Hackmatack Award

Some awesome news for fans of cats who fight zombies, Pickles VS the Zombies has been short-listed for the 2020/21 Hackmatack Award!


Past winners are some of my fav kids books, so I am thrilled to be on the list and honored to be amongst the best in the biz.

In case you didn’t know (as I did not), “the name of the Hackmatack program comes from a tree commonly found in Atlantic Canada, also known as a tamarack or larch.” It’s an annual prize picked by kids who live on the east coast, and there are four categories – English Fiction, English non-fiction, French Fiction and French non-fiction.

WICKED news eh?

Delays delays delays (but we’re all healthy!)

As I am reading on a lot of my author-friends blogs and websites, I too must announce a delay in the publication of my books. While we’re all physically isolating to flatten that curve (a policy I am 100% behind) my publisher has let me know that The Detective and the Spy is being bumped into the fall. This means Trip of the Dead and The Detective and the Spy could potentially come out within weeks of each other which is weird, but whatcha gonna do?

I’m going to sit here in my home office in Toronto and be grateful that my food and mortgage are not dependent on my fiction writing because there are a lot of fine artists out there who cannot say the same.

So, here’s to all of the amazing indie bookstores trying to stay afloat, the authors whose books came out just as the pandemic hit and had to cancel the launch parties and to all the editors and writers out there who just need to get back out there.

I see you, I will retweet you, I will order your books and I wish you all good health.

Cover Reveal: The Detective and the Spy

smoky-spyLook at this gorgeous cover for the latest Portia Adams Adventure (thanks to the fine folks at Cormorant!)

In case you’re wondering why it looks so different from the first three books it’s because we’ve graduated to the adult leagues. Portia is 25 in this book, so she’s no longer a young adult.

I’m really excited about this transition, and I hope all my fans will come with Portia and me on this new adventure!

You can pre-order The Detective and the Spy from Amazon or Indigo anytime, but it will hit bookshelves in April.


Ending the Year with Intentionality

I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions, but I read this blog post about the 10 questions to ask yourself to End your year with Intentionality and was inspired, so I went through the exercise. Feel free to do the same if you think it’s a positive way to enter the next decade – and post your links in the comments below so I can read about your plans?

1. What makes this year unforgettable?
This has been a good year in a lot of ways but when someone asks about 2019 in the future I think the thing that makes it unforgettable is my child getting their new birth certificate with their chosen gender and a new name. It’s been a long time coming and this is the year it finally officially happened.

2. What did you enjoy doing this year?
I’ve been blessed with a year of reconnecting with friends in unplanned ways – from meeting two old CBC buddies on the TTC and catching up, to going to homecoming at Western with the best group of women in the world, to finding the joy in attending a wake by hugging and visiting with other friends I hadn’t seen in years. I’m also writing a screenplay with a friend that is way more fun to do together than apart.

3. What/who is the one thing/person you’re grateful for?
Other than my child and my husband, I’m grateful that my parents are healthy and safe (as they get older, this time becomes more precious). I’m also grateful for our new (completely batty) kitten, Champlain.

4. What’s your biggest win this year?
Getting Pickles out into the world, and hearing how much fans are enjoying it is probably my biggest win this year. For a while there it looked like my zombie-fighting cat wasn’t going to find a home, but thanks to DCB and Cormorant, she’s ALIVE and on people’s bookshelves.

5. What did you read/watch/listen to that made the most impact this year? 2019 will forever be the year that a generation of stories came to an end – with End Game, Game of Thrones and The Rise of Skywalker. To be honest, I haven’t read enough this year because I’ve been focused on getting Portia 4 done, but a couple books I did manage to read and LOVE were The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline and my friend Alisha’s book, The Lost Scroll of the Physician.

6. What did you worry about most and how did it turn out?
I worried a lot (probably too much) about my kid this year, and everything turned out really well – better than expected. I worried about not finishing Portia 4 and letting down my fans, and the manuscript is in with my editors. I worried about my cousin who moved to NYC, and she’s flourishing. I worried about my sister in New Jersey, but that was about Trump, and hopefully, that threat is about to be tossed out. I worried about my husband and his sciatica (a new word we learned this year) but he’s recovering – slowly.

7. What was your biggest regret and why?
At this moment I honestly can’t think of one.

8. What’s one thing that changed about yourself?
I actively put aside my resentment for friendships that just aren’t friendships anymore. I think I spent too many years working hard to keep up friendships that to the other person were not a priority. I’m choosing to refocus my energy and time on those relationships where we’re both contributing and working to stay close.

9. What surprised you the most this year?
Learning that the people I thought were flying through life without barriers were struggling too – and that the people I thought were struggling were finding small successes and enjoying them. No one is achieving 100% of the time, and no one is failing 100% of the time.

10. If you could go back to last January 1, what suggestions would you give your past self?
Ooh. Tough one. I’d tell Jan 1. Angela to worry less, and care even less about what people thought or said when making a decision. That includes those closest to me. I go to bed when I go to bed, and I’m not answering any more questions about it. I work out when I work out and that’s no one’s business – I don’t need anyone to ‘solve’ my life. I wear what I wear and I dye my hair crazy colours. All MY choices. Whether they love it, or hate it, Angela you have to care less.

What about you guys?


A Hat for Portia

You can get this lovely hat from Weavers of Ireland:

Sometimes when you’re trying to describe something in words it helps to have a picture in front of you.

This is the tweed hat Portia is sporting in this scene I’m revising.

“I curled up the front of my grey tweed hat, admiring the black cloth underneath before putting it on.”

What tricks to do you use to help with descriptions?