Workspace Wednesday welcomes Gail MacMillan

I am so pleased to have one of my local buddies, Gail MacMillan, join me today for Workspace Wednesday. And when I say “local”, that’s relative. Gail lives on New Brunswick’s north shore, while I’m way down here in Fredericton. But we’re fellow NBers, fellow romantic suspense authors and fellow dog lovers.

Gail’s Bio:  A three-time recipient of the prestigious Maxwell Medal, Gail MacMillan is author of twenty-two books. A graduate of Queen’s University with post graduate work in Expository and Narrative Writing at the University of Western Ontario, Gail has had numerous short stories and articles published in Canada, the United States, and Europe, several of which have won awards. Her three books about Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers (the first co-authored with Alison Strang) have met with excellent reviews and are selling well worldwide. Two of her canine books, Biography of a Beagle and Ceilidh’s Quest have won Maxwell Medals from the Dog Writers’ Association of America in NYC as the Best Dog Books in their category in 2002 and 2007 respectively. Gail also writes romantic suspense.

Welcome, Gail! Take it away!



GAIL MacMILLAN: Thank you, Norah!

When Norah invited me to be her guest on one of her Workplace Wednesday’s spots I was delighted.  Then, as I read more and more about her celebrated guests’ workplaces and saw more and more of their well-appointed and even glamorous writing areas, I began to panic.  I have no such designated place. In fact, I’m more than slightly nomadic in the locations where I choose to write. So, after giving the matter consideration, I decided that honesty is the best policy.  This is my workplace story.

I’ve always written from the time I could first form letters into words so I’d have to say my first workspace was my bed where I sat huddled against my pillows in the glow of a small lamp scribbling in secret long after lights out.  These tales I hid under my bed, afraid to admit to anyone that I dared to attempt to emulate actual authors.  Authors, I believed, were next to the gods on Mount Olympus with their gifts of conjuring stories out of thin air in an absolutely enthralling fashion. I had no right to try to attempt to enter their exalted realm.

But I continued to be a closet (or under the bed one) writer for years.  When I married my husband Ron he discovered my secret addiction and insisted I join a writer’s group.  That did it.  Spurred on by that enthusiastic gathering, I wrote at every possible moment, my favorite spot being the front steps of the two room shack we called our camp in Tabusintac.   I filled notebooks and every scrap of available paper with stories and even short novels.   I bought a second hand manual typewriter and began to write boldly, openly at the kitchen table where any passing neighbor might come upon me.  Third page headlines in the Moncton Times after my first book was published dubbed me the kitchen table novelist.

Later, in attempt to find a quiet place to write, I set up shop on a wobbly-legged card table in a corner of our unfinished basement.  When the kids were finally all in school, I moved my shaky writing centre upstairs to our bedroom.  There I wrote two more books and a bunch of short stories for religious (now called Christian, I believe) magazines.  And just before I moved again, I began to write the dog stories that would take me in a whole new direction.

Two years later we finished our basement.   This remodeling included a small office for me behind the furnace and the room where we were to store our winter’s supply of fire wood.  Thus isolated, I felt I’d be undisturbed to write and write and write.  My husband, bless him, in support of my elusive dream, even built me a beautiful roll top desk that took him an entire winter to complete.



It didn’t work out.  I soon discovered my imagination couldn’t flare locked away below ground level behind several cords of hardwood with only one small window.  I found myself holding a tablet or notebook on my knee in various brighter, more convivial locations.  Later I’d force myself into that cube in the basement where, thanks to a modest inheritance, I now had a miracle machine…a self correcting typewriter…to transcribe my stories.

These days, a laptop accommodates my moods and fancies.  Summers at our cottage in Tabusintac, I set up in the gazebo out back where I have a lovely view of fields and trees, birds and squirrels, and the occasional fox.  When the chill of late October drives me indoors, I once again become a kitchen table novelist.



Winters in Bathurst I mostly write at the dining room table (apparently you can take the table away from the girl but you can’t get the girl away from the table).  From my vantage point I have a lovely view of both my backyard and the street in front of the house.  My dogs are my associate editors, always ready to tell me when it’s break time, waiting patiently when it isn’t.



My office sits alone and uninhabited except for floor-to-ceiling, well-filled book shelves, filing cabinets, and bulletin boards.  We’ve moved the beautiful roll top desk upstairs to Ron’s office.  The expensive typing chair my doctor insisted I needed to keep arms and shoulders pain-free sits gathering dust in front of my old desk top (which still comes into play whenever the laptop is ailing).  I really should be sitting in that chair, in the book-lined office, isolated from the rest of the house and neighborhood, working like a rented mule, but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it.  Instead, I sit at the dining room table, then sometimes in my grandmother’s rocking chair in the living room and dream up handsome heroes and unstoppable heroines, often in pj’s and slippers.



I admire the other authors who have been Norah’s guests.  How organized, how professional, how in control they all are.  Maybe someday when we finally build that sunroom we’ve been talking about for years, I, too, will settle down in a single location.  But until then, like the Littlest Hobo, I’ll just keep movin’ on.


Thank you, Gail! My favorite thing? That sweet pug. Is he the star on the cover of Holding Off for a Hero by any chance?



Here’s another of Gail’s romances, set in the wilds of northern New Brunswick.



She also has some wonderful, award-winning non-fiction books about dogs, like this one:



Okay, now it’s your turn. Please leave us a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of Holding Off for a Hero.



29 Responses to “Workspace Wednesday welcomes Gail MacMillan”

  • Lynda Hixson:

    Thanks for bringing Gail into reality for me. I was lucky enough to get her book on Tollers from a dear friend. I was in Nova Scotia visiting my friend for my birthday. I was so happy to receive Gail’s book and then to visit one of my toller heros Jim Jeffery. He has autographed the book for me as a rememberance of a wonderful birthday.
    My husband bought me an ereader and had Ceilidhs story loaded for me.
    I so enjoy Gail’s writing.
    This little glimpse makes me think that we would be good friends if we had the chance to meet.
    Keep up the good work Gail …..

  • Gwen Sturgeon:

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading Gail’s workplace history which is written in the same captivating style as her books. Even though we have been good friends for many years, I still learned more interesting facts about her. I have enjoyed reading her books over the years and am always am waiting for the next one. Anyone will be able to find a book just for them as her books encompass such a wide variety of setting and situations,usually with a dash of humour thrown in for good measure! I am proud to call such a sincere and talented lady my friend!

    • Lovely comments, World traveller. Thanks so much. It’s wonderful to have such a great if unofficial PR lady. Your never failing support and interest is greatly appreciated. Hope to see you soon.

  • Loved your blog, Gail. Even though I have an office I find I have to write in different locations as well. The dining room table, the deck outside in summer or a local cafe. I bet the other authors on Norah’s blog who have great offices are as nomadic as we are.

  • Whatever you’re doing Gail, don’t stop. Your stories are wonderful!

  • Margaret Pennington:

    Gail, No matter where you write, keep them coming! I’m always looking for more of your books. I’ve sent this link to my daughter and friend so they can enjoy this Workspace wednesday as well.

  • Really interesting blog, Gail. There has not been a book, magazine story or article that I have read of yours that I have not enjoyed immensely. The book on The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever you co-authored is the best and most informative book ever written on the breed. I love your novels as the are Canadian oriented, with real places and many have real names which makes them relaxing and a treat to read. Keep up the wonderful work you are doing and it has great fun to have you for an email friend. Joan Trask

    Love the picture of the gorgeous Fancy and Bruiser.

    • It’s great to have a friend who not only loves the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers as I do but also horses. Thanks to you and all the wonderful equines at the Trask ranch, I’ve had many hours of enjoyment.

  • Judy Fayle:

    Really enjoyed this blog. It is so real that I actually visualize you, your dogs and finding your place of comfort. Keep up the great work, for it is enjoyed by many!

  • Kristine Galbraith:

    Hi Gail….haven’t thought about the Littlest Hobo for the longest time 🙂 Heading north to Queensland (Oz) this weekend and have Rogue’s Revenge loaded on the iPad to read. We will get to Canada to visit you one of these days….Luv, Kris

    • Good for you! Lots of Australian travel. Hope the NSDTR’s are well and enjoying the trips. Tollers love to travel. Maybe a bit of Littlest Hobo in their blood. Enjoy “Rogue’s Revenge” and don’t let the cover be too misleading.

  • Very nice Gail! Love your dogs!

  • Awesome post… great space, and beautiful dogs 🙂 I recognize the clock on the wall… i have an identical one ~



    • Thanks for commenting, Renee Ann. My “associate editors” and I spend a lot of time thinking under that clock. I think my grandmother’s chair has some sort of magic story making powers.

  • Good evening, Gail.

    I am Marg Pennington’s friend and also grew up on Queen Street, that’s 74 Queen Street, Chatham, NB. You lived just down the street from my family. I have watched with great interest your love of writing, your love of dogs etc., and want to congratulate you on all your success at doing what you love. My great love was teaching, so I know what it’s like to make your living, doing something you love. My sincere congratulations on all your success, and wish you many more wonderful years of writing. Elizabeth Lloyd [MacKinley]

  • Lori Gallagher:

    I love your writing companions, Gail! Thanks for sharing all the interesting information.

    • I enjoy my canine editors so much,Lori. And when I get too chair-bound, they’re always sufficiently thoughtful to let me know it’s time for a walk. Thanks for commenting.

  • Marianna Palmer:

    Loved reading all about your writing places as it brings our hearts together to a common place of our own, especially Tabusintac. I have never read books that keep me so involved, so excited to read the next page. A lot of dog stories shared on our walks, the kindness you have shown toward all animals and the love stories in your latest books are just super! Always anxious to get the new ones. Keep up the good work as you are also enjoyed by my mother and many others in this area. Say hi! to the puppies!

  • Doris:

    Hi Gail, I’m late! I love your post. I understand what you mean as to where you feel the urge to be able to write. It is nice to have a husband that understands and keeps you writng. Love your special dogs, Doris

  • Thoroughly enjoyed reading Gail’s workplace history which is written in the same captivating style as her books. Even though we have been good friends for many years, I still learned more interesting facts about her. I have enjoyed reading her books over the years and am always am waiting for the next one. Anyone will be able to find a book just for them as her books encompass such a wide variety of setting and situations,usually with a dash of humour thrown in for good measure! I am proud to call such a sincere and talented lady my friend!

Leave a Reply