Monday, April 30, 2007

New Site for SiWC Fans

Catherine Duthie, Regency Writer Extraordinaire, has set up a chat site about the Surrey International Writers' Conference.

You can check it out here:

You can also check out the official site here:

Or -- if you have a question, you can always post a comment to this blog. I am conference coordinator this year, and if I can't answer your question, I'll find someone who can!


Galleys In...

Finished my review of the galleys for Ms. Zephyr's Notebook today, and sent 'em in just before noon.

At that point my brain turned off completely, so in spite of the mountain of outstanding work I have waiting, I took the dog out for a run along the Seaview Walk in West Van.

It was good for both of us.

Galleys have now entered the techno-age. Used to be that the publisher would send out a copy of the actual galleys, the author would carefully evaluate and make any changes required and then pop them back in the mail.

These days it's done by PDF. At least that's how my publisher does it. I ran 'em off and carried them around with me all weekend. Somebody spilled coffee all over a couple of pages last night at my son's lacrosse game. So I was grateful I didn't actually have to send them back.

Instead, I sent a list of changes, along with my acknowledgements and dedication. Haven't heard any screams of hysteria from Toronto yet, so I'm crossing my fingers all is well.

With all my conversations here about this book, I'm not sure I've ever described it. Here's what the book jacket says:

When Logan Kemp hurls himself into a rugby scrum one morning, he has no idea that by afternoon he'll be fighting for his life. Worse, the only other patient on his ward is a troubled girl named Cleo who may not be hospitalized just for a broken wrist. When all he wants is his regular life back, the thought of Cleo throwing away her own leaves Logan determined to change her mind.

Cleopatra Jones wants to design the perfect life; a teenage boy and a few well-meaning health professionals are not going to stand in her way. But Cleo soon finds that life -- and even death -- can interfere with the best-laid plans.

Both teens reinforce the walls that have kept them safe in their own worlds, but the secrets in a teacher's notebook show them how the word sustenance can have more than one meaning. Facing the biggest challenge of their lives, Logan and Cleo discover the powerful forces of redemption and forgiveness.

One of the good things about Dundurn (my publisher) is that they let me write my own book jacket copy -- so at least it's not been written by someone who hasn't read the book.

So, as you can see from this description, Ms Z is a bit of a different story than the previous three I have published. It's still a novel aimed at teens, but with a contemporary setting and theme. I'm quite interested to see how it does when it makes it out into the great wide world, as it is so different from my earlier work.

I guess I'll know soon enough.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Anita Daher Most Promising in Manitoba!

Last night, sister scribe Anita Daher won the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer at the 2007 Manitoba Writing and Publishing Awards. Anita is the author of Flight From Big Tangle, Flight From BearCanyon, Racing for Diamonds and Spider's Song. (The last two books just came out in the past week!)

Congratulations to this fine writer and to the Manitoba Publishing Guild for recognizing her abilities!


Saturday, April 28, 2007


Pretty tired tonight after rising at 5 this morning to take the girl to her swimming time trial. While other parents helped out on deck, I brought my pillow and fell asleep in the back seat of my car.

However, I have made it to about page 97 of Ms. Z's galleys. The devil, as we all know, is in the details and I am torn between feeling I am being too picky and realizing the book is worth it.

I read at least 30 of the pages while on various pieces of gym equipment while also watching the boy's lacrosse game today.

The sleep in the car allowed me to do this.

However, it appears it was not enough to allow me to continue working this evening. I'm done for the day.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007


They're here!

The galleys for my upcoming novel, MS. ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK, arrived today.

They are about 2 1/2 weeks late, mostly because this book has required more design work than any of my previous novels.

My second book, SECRET OF LIGHT, revolved around the life of Leonardo daVinci. (Interestingly enough, I believe I was writing it just about the time that Dan Brown was putting fingers to keys on his own modest endeavour of similar topic, though substantially different execution.) Anyway, the only interior design element of that book that set it apart from a conventional manuscript was the insertion of leonardo's famous mirror-writing signature. As I recall, I had trouble finding an image clear enough to allow the designers a decent shot at reproduction, and in the end, I think I traced it. So really, it was the kc dyer rendition of the odranoel. (This is not correct either, of course, as here I have just reversed the letter order and not the letters themselves...)

By contrast, Ms Z. (whose period I disagree with but have been forced by the mores of conventional Canadian usage to accept) is an internal design nightmare. The manuscript contains post-it notes, drawings, memos, report cards, letterhead, doodles, internet messaging, email, a menu (wait a minute -- I think the menu might have been guillotined...), selections from a graphic novel, doctor's orders...well, you get the picture.

Or pictures, as the case may be.

Anyway, it's now time for me to go through the galleys and make sure all is well. I had a quick look this afternoon before I had to brave the TransCanada on a trek to Surrey for a SiWC board meeting, and I was pretty happy with what I saw. There was a big problem right at the end, where two graphic depictions had been dumped instead of placed where they belong in the ms, but that is easily solved.

Over the next couple of days I'll talk here a bit about how the whole process of reviewing the galleys works. It's almost my favourite part of the whole book publishing business, because there is so much looking forward involved. A new book is a new beginning. I'm really happy with this story, so that makes it even better.

I haven't seen the final cover design just yet. The one accompanying this post is an interim design -- almost there but not quite. I'm hoping for a coffee stain and some grafitti from a friend of mine.

We'll see what I get.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New York, New York!

Just back from my first visit to the city since the mid-1980's. I am gobsmacked at how many people can live together in such a small space in anything but total anarchy. It is astounding.

This is a view of the Chrysler building from my hotel room at dusk.

My companions and I walked mostly everywhere, but the cabs we did take gave me a bit of a study in diversity. We had two drivers who originally hailed from Haiti, one from Pakistan, one from Ireland, one from Egypt, one from Tunisia and a single born-and-bred New Yorker. Cuisine encompassed Mexican, Korean, Italian, Thai and, on our last night, a piece of original Lindy's New York style cheesecake.

A good time was had by all.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Congratulations... fellow Dundurn author and Compuserve scribe James Bow. His new book FATHOM FIVE arrived on his doorstep today. If you want to have a peek, check out his blog: Bow. James Bow. The address is in the Blog sidebar.

We are slowly making progress on the SiWC website -- but if you want a hint of some of the outstanding writers who will attend as speakers this year, check out the main page at The rest of the site is not live just yet, but it's coming! Next up will be bios and pix of the presenters this year, and once the board approval has come through, a listing of the workshops will go up.

One other thing new this year is the SiWC Writing Contest Deadline. It's been moved up to August, so check it out. Still one of the richest prizes associated with a writing conference contest, and now with four categories: Fiction (The Storyteller's Award, sponsored by Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte), Non-fiction, Poetry and Writing For Children. The new dates and requirements are all posted on the website -- so get those story ideas on paper in time for the August deadline!

And just because I can, here's a picture my daughter took of a funny sign at the base of the Filbert steps in San Francisco.

If you've seen a sign you'd like to share, send it in!


Saturday, April 14, 2007

North Shore Writers' Festival, 2007

News from the Local Writing Front --

A Stellar Line-up of Authors at the North Shore Writers Festival

Back for its eighth spectacular year, 2007’s North Shore Writers Festival will bring some of Canada’s finest literary stars to our local libraries. The Festival runs April 20th – 28th at the North Vancouver District Public Library, North Vancouver City Library, and the West Vancouver Memorial Library. From stories of adventure to comedy to spoken word, there is truly something for everyone at this wonderful Festival.

Festival headliner is extreme explorer Colin Angus, who in 2006 became the first person to circumnavigate the globe entirely by human power. Over three continents, two oceans and 17 countries, Angus walked, rowed, skied and cycled a total of 43,000 kilometres during his two year expedition. During his fascinating presentation he will chat about his adventures and screen Beyond the Horizon, a film recording his remarkable journey around the world in an effort to promote environmental awareness. He and his partner Julie Wafaei, who accompanied him on part of his journey, will appear at the Kay Meek Centre (1700 Mathers Ave., West Vancouver) on Friday, April 20th at 7:30pm.

Want to tickle your funny bone? Girls Night Out, featuring Susan Juby, Wendy French, and Robyn Harding, is the event for you. Juby, raised in Smithers, Harding, born in Quesnel and Vancouver-born French all write – with some sugar but more spice – of such popular girl topics as overcoming a happy childhood, surviving adolescence, the challenges of kids, husbands and animals, and not being Margaret Atwood. Come find out where novels such as Alice I Think, The Secret Desires of a Soccer Mom and sMothering originated. These three hilarious authors will chat at the West Vancouver Memorial Library on Monday, April 23rd at 7:30pm.

Those interested in the environment and BC history will be fascinated by acclaimed journalist and author John Vaillant’s talk. Vaillant’s study The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed, a gripping narrative of beauty, mystery and destruction, began as a New Yorker article and won a Governor General’s award for non-fiction. Don’t miss Vaillant’s appearance at the North Vancouver City Library on Tuesday, April 24th at 7:30pm.

What’s the recipe for a perfect literary evening? Mix books with delicious food, of course! Mother-daughter team Dolly Watts and Annie Watts, former proprietors of Vancouver’s Liliget Feast House, have recently authored Where People Feast: An Indigenous People’s Cookbook. This sumptuous book is the culmination of a life sharing the food traditions of the Git’ksan people. Join the authors, sample their cooking and hear their stories on Wednesday, April 25th at 7:30pm at the West Vancouver Memorial Library.

Another wonderful mother-daughter team at the Festival this year is Blanche Howard and Allison Howard. Join the Howards as they launch A Memoir of Friendship, a collection of letters between Blanche and the late, great Carol Shields. Share in the celebration at the North Vancouver City Library on Thursday, April 26th at 7:30pm.

For something a little different, come to Words Out Loud, featuring spoken word artist Ivan E. Coyote and poet Kate Braid. Coyote is to CanLit what k.d. lang is to country music: a beautifully odd fixture. She performs her warm, witty stories with verve and honesty. Braid, carpenter and poet, came to writing with a desire to honour the ordinary. Her work honours the lives of those who build, fix, organize, and prevail. April is National Poetry month – celebrate by listening to these two fabulous wordsmiths on Friday, April 27th at 7:30pm at the Capilano Branch Library.

Local writers, young and old, experienced and emerging, will give listeners a taste of some hot-off-the-press writing at The Writers Next Door: A Reception. Come, listen and chat on Sunday April 22nd at 2:00pm at the Capilano Branch Library.

Aspiring writers will have an opportunity to meet with Maggie de Vries, this year’s writer-in-residence.
A versatile writer, editor and teacher, de Vries is accomplished in both children’s and adult publishing. Her memoir Missing Sarah was nominated for a Governor General’s Award, and her Tale of a Great White Fish is shortlisted for a BC Book Prize this year. She will be available to meet with writers on Saturday April 21st from 10:00am – 4:00pm at the Parkgate Branch Library; Sunday, April 22nd from 10:00am – 4:00pm at the North Vancouver City Library; and Saturday, April 28th from 10:00am – 12:00pm at the West Vancouver Memorial Library. Writers can book a free half-hour one-on-one mentoring session by calling 604-987-4471.

Returning to the Festival for its second great year is the Short Short Story contest, open to all North Shore residents. Deadline is April 10th! Winners will be announced at the Writers Next Door event.

All events are free; seats available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more details and a complete schedule of events, please visit or pick up a flyer at any North Shore Public Library.

That's it for now. I'm off to help a friend celebrate a milestone!


Friday the Thirteenth

Actually, now that I look at the clock, not any more. Have spent most of the day writing, writing, writing letters to the Most Wonderful and Exceptional presenters we have coming this year to the Surrey International Writers' Conference. It is a sad fact that, though I am many months away from the end of this letter-writing gig, I need to do a better job of cleaning up my email. I've just discovered that I have 500+ in my Sent box. Yipes. Actually about 1500+ in the various boxes. Spring cleaning ahead, I guess.

Plan to spend the weekend NOT letter-writing, but book writing. DEADLINE is living up to its name. Time to get it done and move on. Ceilidh is calling.

Speaking of my Edinburgh girl, the London Book fair is about to commence on Monday, I see. You can see more about it here:

Last year, I was lucky enought to have a peek at the gigantic event (which many people went to great pains to insist is tremendously smaller than the Frankfurt version). I had travelled to Edinburgh (my favourite city in Europe; setting of next series, starring Ceilidh Craig, as referenced above) for a little research jaunt. Whilst out for a drink with a few of the city's literary community, (a night to remember, without a doubt), I happened to mention to Ron Grosset (of Geddes & Grosset Ltd in Edinburgh, and one of aforementioned literati) that I would be in London the following week.

He very sweetly arranged an invitation for me, which was slipped in a clandestine fashion under my hotel room door when I arrived in London. So, off I went to Excel in the Docklands to see the Fair. And a wonderous event it was, with more books, publishers and agents than the eye could hold.

Of course, this year the London Book Fair represents nothing so much to me as a giant pain in the ass, since many of the the intended recipients of my letter writing efforts are currently jetting across a Very Large Body of Water with priorities other than answering their email.

So it goes. Time to read a little Vonnegut, I think, just to be reminded of how life never quite turns out as one might expect.

Oh -- and I am going to see if I can load a copy of the cover of Ms Z into this missive. Why not? (Hope it works!)


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Brantford Book Camp (for Kids and Adults)

Here's a little news about the astounding Book Camp (for kids) and Summer Writing Workshops (for adults), founded by Marsha Skrypuch, and held every summer in Brantford, Ontario:

Brantford will be holding its 4th annual Book Camp for kids this coming August.
We have upped the maximum age of participants to 14 from 12 because we have so many kids who want to return each year. In past years, we've had kids come from Oshawa, Kitchener, Hamilton and Toronto.
And this is the second year for our Summer Writing Workshops. These workshops are for published and aspiring writers over the age of 16. Last year, participants came from Washington State and Winnipeg, as well as within driving distance of Brantford. Two of our unpublished participants from last year have since received book contracts. We have upped the enrollment from 16 to 24 and have tripled the number of workshop leaders. If you know of anyone who might be interested in attending either of these writing workshops, please pass on this link:

I'd like to add you can also check out Marsha's website at (it's in the list in the sidebar, too).


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Vonnegut Dead

Just read that Kurt Vonnegut died today.

Feel totally wrecked by this news, somehow. The man was 84, and suffered a bad fall a few weeks ago, apparently. But somehow it doesn't seem right that he is gone.

His work has forever influenced me as a reader, as a writer and as a person.

So, effectively, I guess, that means that he isn't gone.

I read today that he was a POW in Germany when Dresden was firebombed. He and the others took shelter in an underground meat locker -- labelled slaughterhouse five.


Book Tour

Just today received an invite from the Canadian Children's Book Centre to tour during 2007 Book Week. I'm very happy about this, as it's my first tour with the CCBC. It will take place in a province other than my own, yet to be determined, in November.

I know writer Anita Daher has been chosen as well (and only 'cause I read it on her blog...) -- but that's about all I know at this point.

Stay tuned for developments!

In other news, I still haven't had a peek at the final page proofs for Ms. Z. Turns out it's taking a bit longer to put together than the publisher had thought. I'm really looking forward to seeing them -- I'll report here when they arrive.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Book Expo Plans

Last year, SHADES OF RED, (the final novel in my Eagle Glen trilogy) was selected by the Canadian Children's Book Centre as an "Our Choice Selection". This made me eligible to promote my new book with them this year at Book Expo in Toronto.

Travelling east for three days may, to some people, seem a little extreme in exchange for five minutes of book promotion, but some authors will do anything for a little face time. So, I'll be there. Watch for my reading at the Canadian Children's Book Centre area at around 1:20 in the afternoon. (Since I'll have flown all night to get there, you'll be able to pick me out as the only sleep-reading author present.)

Edited to add that I have just found out my good buddy Marsha Skrypuch will be reading from her book shortly after me. (I think she will be reading from ARAM'S CHOICE, her latest marvellous book.) You can be assured Marsha will NOT be sleep-reading.

More details closer to the time.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Writing Contest For Kids

Just heard this writing award has been reinstated. If you are a young writer from Alberta -- give it a shot!

You can find more information on the website for the Young Alberta Book Society at

Think you're funny?
Enter to win the Martyn Godfrey Young Writers' Award, sponsored by the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association.
Martyn Godfrey thought he was funny too - so funny he took on a student's dare to write a book and ended up writing 40! To celebrate Martyn's memory and love for reading and writing, the Young Alberta Book Society started the Martyn Godfrey Young Writers' Award.
The Martyn Godfrey Young Writers' Award is an annual, juried writing competition open to all Alberta students in grades 7 through 9.
Students are asked to submit a humorous short story (between 500 and 1500 words) along with a cover page to the Young Alberta Book Society by May 11, 2007.
Two winners will receive trips to the 2007 Writers Guild of Alberta's Youthwrite Camp in Bragg Creek, Alberta and half day visits from an Albertan author, illustrator or storyteller to their schools during Taleblazers 2007.
For full contest and entry details, please visit our webpage at http://www.yabs.ab.caor email the Young Alberta Book Society at


Friday, April 06, 2007

Easter Weekend

I'm tired. This writing business is hard work. The goal for the weekend is to hone in on the end of DEADLINE before real life leaps up to bite me again next week. A bit too much churning of the wheels today. I'm hoping for better tomorrow.

I'm sure there is more to report, but I can't remember any of it right now.

Happy Easter to all!


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Much Ado About Everything

Working like a maniac on too many projects to count right now. Let's see...

I'm awaiting the page proofs for MS ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK, due out in May. (VERY excited to see how those will look...this book is quite a departure for me.)

Last year I wrote a novel for kids called A WALK THROUGH THE WINDOW, and I've just completed a bit of a re-working of that, so I hope it will be ready to meet the world pretty soon.

DEADLINE is still teetering on the brink of completion. My current goal is to get it done before I head off for a quick trip to New York later this month.

Also working to get the 2007 SiWC line-up off the ground. This is a VERY busy time of year, as all the presenters need to be put into place (likely 55+ this year) AND all the presentations have to be readied for the production of the conference brochure. Many hundreds of emails winging through the ether as a result.

I'm also leaping into the breach for this year's Lions Bay Telephone Directory -- my one remaining annual desk-topping project.

Progress continues apace on the CWILL BC Spring Book Hatching, coming this June. It's going to be a great party! We've got nearly 30 writers introducing their new books, and prizes and excitement galore.

Let's just say my life is pretty full these days.

I'm feeling quite bereft, as I finished Palin's Diaries of the Python Years last night. It has been quite fascinating to me to read of all the goings-on behind the scenes. Has quite brought me back to my own teenage years when I could recite the Parrot Sketch et al verbatim. However, I've also found the book very inspiring from a writer's point of view. I hadn't realized just how much of Michael Palin's life has been devoted to writing. His work ethic is admirable, all the more so because of the emphasis he placed on not isolating himself through the process. Fascinating read. (I spent a bit of time chasing Mr. Palin down through his 'people' to see if he might consider attending the Surrey conference this year, alas in vain. I hold out hope for some future year, though. I think he'd enjoy himself immensely in this setting.)

Am currently trying to fill the Palin breach by reading a book called RANCOUR by CWILL president (and friend) James McCann. I actually stole this book from James last year, but this is my first chance to read it. It has an exciting premise, with promise of werewolves, vampires and teen angst. (Not sure which will turn out to be the scariest of the three...) James has a new book coming out very shortly, titled PYRE. One thing is certain -- the man has an undeniable flair for coming up with riveting titles.

I also picked up a copy of my daughter's school book CHRONICLE OF A DEATH FORETOLD by Gabriel Garcia Marquez today, whilst the girl was in her piano lesson. Got irretrieveably hooked and had to finish the story before making dinner. Simply marvellous read.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Happy April, Fool!

It's not technically April Fool's Day anymore. It's now April 2nd, and I have just finished a rewrite of A WALK THROUGH THE WINDOW. I think it's more in a place where I want it to be, now. Ready to fly out into the real world, I hope.

I have been working on this manuscript to the exclusion of everything else for awhile, so it was not until last night at roughly two-ish, that I remembered the date. All that came to me at that hour, in the messing with kids's minds department, was to turn off the power to their most loved appliances. So I searched for the right buttons to push on both the circuit breaker boards in the house, and duly disconnected the power to both the TV and the X-box. I was anticipating a lot of teen anguish over the mysterious phantom power outage that killed their appliances but not the fridge or my computer.

Of course, things did not go as planned.

First of all, my son awoke around 5 to discover his clock was not working. (I'd had to turn the power off to all the outlets in his room.) Of course, he felt compelled to wake me with this news. Strike One.

When I finally emerged from my own bed in the morning, I could hear the tv going downstairs. My daughter just arched an eyebrow at me by way of greeting. I trooped all the way downstairs to find my 'April Fool's!' note, left tauntingly taped to the circuit panel, had been defaced.

'Never underestimate my brain,' it read. 'I figured it out right away.'
Strike Two.

On the front door, she left me her own cryptic note: Happy April Fool's Day. The note was accompanied by a little sketch of a pair of boots.

I glanced out the front door to see, stepping delicately down the 45 or so steps to the street, a single shoe on every riser. Each belonging to the perpetrator's mother.

Strike Three. April brings baseball with it, too, at least to one Fool who thinks she can pull something over on her children.

Also managed to squeeze in a great planning meeting with the Most Excellent Spring Book Hatching Planning Committee today. More on that soon.

All in all a very satisfactory April Fool's Day.