Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Interesting Things ...

...found around the house in the woods after nearly six days without power.

-> Sticks stolen from fireplace by dog, taken to previously dark room and chewed to bits
-> the horrific aftermath of a single pink popsicle left behind in a warm freezer
-> candlewax in the most interesting locales. I mean -- Everywhere.
-> pine needles in the beds
-> dirty laundry on every flat surface
-> cereal bowls near the fireplace
-> top half of 60' tree with a trunk diameter of 18" on top of son's now presciently-named tree house (missed actual house by comforting margin of eight feet or so)

I should be writing, but instead I am off to buy groceries as we currently have NO Food, due to the storm, of course. Tonight -- I write.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Holy Windstorm, Batman!

I have detected a worrysome trend in the content of this blog. Canadians have a peculiar affinity for discussions related to all things climatological. This stems from the undeniable commonality we all share in the buffeting, pummelling and general abuse we suffer as a nation at the hands of old lady Nature. It's also a relatively safe, polite topic of conversation. So, while it will be back to regularly scheduled programming for tomorrow, today the word of the day is WEATHER.

There has been nothing safe or polite about the weather around these parts over the last few weeks. And a particularly bad storm has kept me from my worship at the sacred shrine of computer for nearly six days now.

Last Wednesday, our little village was slammed by a rain and wind storm that shattered trees, brought down wires, clogged our water intakes and created chaos that has lasted nearly a week. Winds gusted to 125 kph. Waterspouts danced across the whitecaps on Howe Sound. Thunder (in November!) roared. It was a beautiful storm, but it closed the highway to the village for an entire day and brought down the wrath of the trees upon us in a big way.

It's easy to forget how vulnerable we are to the elements. That a little puff of wind could create such havoc has been a not-so-gentle reminder. Time to review the emergency supplies and systems.

We have been warned.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Rains


This month is a tough one, no matter how you look at it.

First the good news. I just read Neil Gaiman is 46 as of ...I think... yesterday. Quite a stunning development, actually, because I have become sort of used to being older than everyone, and it turns out he is actually older than me. By a couple of m0nths, anyway. Take that, Sandman! (However, I do believe he may suffer from terminal immaturity -- I recognize the signs from those I exhibit myself -- and therefore has my permission to remain a Boy Genius for as long as he likes.)

But other than Neil's news, November is tough, because, as you may have read earlier -- this is the month of the Big Push. And this year's Big Push is on a previous back-burner project now called (for working purposes) DEADLINE.

DEADLINE is a whole new ballgame for me, in spite of the fact that I have been noodling with the thing for almost six years. It's a contemporary mystery, aimed at adults. i'm hoping it will be the first of a series. And it's turning out to be a little cheeky, and both a little politically satirical and incorrect.

Standing in the way of the Big Push on DEADLINE, has been one scary mother of a storm. Here in the deep woods of the temperate rainforest on the side of the mountain, we have already welcomed Lady Rain. But when Madame Wind came to pay her respects, she distributed her calling cards all around the neighbourhood. She took the power away, knocked down a few trees and left a number of Trecherous Puddles in Dangerous Places.

This sort of behaviour on the part of Lady Rain and Madame Wind tends to put a bit of a crimp in the writing habits of your humble servant. And this, in point of fact, puts a further crimp in the word count.

However, your humble servant Pushes on, still busily scribbling on her laptop, and when the thing dies -- in her notebook. So when Madame Wind returns, perhaps even as soon as this evening, the Big Push will continue. I'm hoping a reasonable draft of DEADLINE will see the light of day by the end of this month. Optimistic? Perhaps. We shall see...

And now, a new addition -- Books recently perused:
Today I had another look at STORY by Robert McKee. Always find something interesting between THOSE covers. Still reading ARTEMIS FOWL: THE OPAL DECEPTION by Eowyn Colfer. Have now officially thrown SATURDAY by Ian McEwan across the room.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

David Sedaris comes to town...

Last night David Sedaris came to Vancouver for his first public speaking engagement in Canada. He is the last speaker of the Vancouver Readers & Writers Festival season. Somehow his visit flew under my radar long enough for the event to sell out before I could get a ticket.

I couldn't let that happen.

He was set to speak at 8pm, so I showed up at the Chan Centre at about 5:30. Brought my current wip to work on while I waited, warm gloves and my dog.

Got there before they'd even put the lights on at the Chan. Seamus stayed in the car. =)

But the box office was open, and they set up a line for stand-by tickets. I was first in line -- and I got my ticket. A very gracious woman sold me the ticket her husband was unable to use and we both enjoyed Sedaris enormously. Even better live than on NPR!

The man is a tiny, imperfect genius -- the best kind, to my mind. He read several of his stories, including a piece that is about to run in the New Yorker. (I _live_ for the weeks that there is a piece by Sedaris in the New Yorker.)

The audience was packed, but the man stayed until every last person had a book signed if they wanted one. This was _hundreds_ of people. In person, at the signing, he was generous and a little shy, and took his time to address everyone. A shining star in the strange and often bizarre world of readers and writers. I must remember to add his name to my list of incredible writers whom I have heard read their work aloud.

Books I bought include HOLIDAYS ON ICE (a huge favourite of mine), and DRESS YOUR FAMILY IN CORDUROY AND DENIM, and ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY.

My idea of a perfect night out.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Big Push

Ah, November.

Last year at this time, I stopped the work I was doing on my Canadian historical fiction story (since completed as A WALK THROUGH THE WINDOW) and put a big push on to write a story that had been chewing in my brain like worms through wood. That story will be published this spring (May -June, 2007) as MS. ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK. I'm thrilled by this, as the story is quite different than much of my other published work. It is a story aimed at contemporary teens -- no magic or time travel. More on that soon.

But November is here again, and this time, my the first book in my latest series is getting put aside, so I can give WISHFUL THINKING the big push. This is another departure, as this story is a bit of political satire wrapped up in a mystery. It's also aimed at adults. I've had it on the back burner for almost five years, but now it's going to get the November Treatment.

We'll see if we both survive.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Writers Who Speak

Surely all writers speak? =)

At some point in their lives, anyway.
But today I am thinking about listening to writers read and talk about their work. I kinda specialize in this form of listening. I crave it -- hearing other writers' views on facing the demon blank page. Listening to how they go about crafting their magic. Hearing the stories they tell.

I have heard some mighty fine writers speak in my time and they've all given me something -- something of the process, something of the agony involved in ripping open the writing vein and bleeding the story onto the page.

Interestingly (or perhaps not...), I have also heard from a great number of writers whose often incredible prose does not easily make the translation to comfortable oral communication. I remember listening to one thriller writer who, when called upon to read a fragment of her work, read the entire excerpt in a monotone. No preamble or unnecessary chatter. Just a drone of words like the sound of a dyspeptic bagpipe.

Now, I love reading aloud. I do it almost every day, just for fun, mostly. And I love to be read to, to be spoken to, by someone who cares about the oral tradition of storytelling. And -- Man -- I love the words. But the words and the voice together sometimes make magic.

Here, in no particular order, are just a few of the writers I have heard weave their particular brand of magic:

Jack Whyte, Roddy Doyle, Alexander McCall-Smith, Diana Gabaldon, Ian Rankin, Bernard Cornwell, Marsha Skrypuch, Michael Slade, Anne Perry, Eric Walters, Bill Richardson, Robert Munsch, Shelley Hrdlitschka.

I may have to add a few as I ponder further. Who is on your list?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Home from Away...

Back at last from the Surrey conference (SiWC), always an absolute highlight to my year. I'm still dealing with the aftermath, and will post more over the next few days, but I do have to say I think this was my favourite conference yet. I've been attending since 1998, first as an aspiring writer and later as a published author. The conference has been a huge source of information and inspiration for me and so many other authors over the years. For the speakers, it is a great way that writers and editors can give something back to their community. For the agents who attend, it is a trolling ground for fresh voices and new talent. Nobody facilitates this magic mixture as well as the gang in Surrey. Hats off to the whole crew!

More specifics soon -- but first comes unpacking and LAUNDRY.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

SIWC Writing Contest

For several years now, I have coordinated the Surrey International Writing Conference contest. It is one of my favourite parts of the whole conference. Writers from all over the world submit their work in four categories -- Poetry, Non-Fiction, Storytellers Award (Fiction) and, new this year, Writing for Young People.

Today I took the anthology we have compiled of the winning entries to the printers. It will be ready for the big announcement on Friday night -- and this year's winners will have giant, thousand-dollar smiles on their faces.

But the best part is the cachet that comes with the award. This is an awesome writing credit -- winners and runners-up are selected from a hugely talented pool of writers. So best of luck to all who entered -- and sharpen your pencils for next year!

For more information on the SiWC writing contest or on the conference itself, check out www.siwc.ca


Tuesday, October 17, 2006


... to my weblog. The subject is writing, the right way, the left way -- whatever way you want to take it. Enjoy!