Sunday, July 29, 2007


I meant to post before midnight, but it's suddenly tomorrow. This happens a lot, somehow.

I am going dark for a week to finish the final draft of DEADLINE. Don't know if it will sell. I hope so...but, you genre and all that. Who knows?

I'll likely still be around here -- a writing thing, after all, but putting work stuff on hold for a few days to get this thing done.

In the spirit of things I won't be doing, here is a picture of what my house looked like the morning after a little Ms. Zephyr Gets Released celebration I had a couple of weeks ago. I forgot to take a picture of it before the party, of course, or during, when the candles brought a little magic to the night outside. In this shot, Seamus is very kindly offering to help me with the dishes. Since it's pretty hard to get good help with two teenagers in the house, I may take him up on it this week.

Friday, July 27, 2007

One Week to SiWC Contest Deadline

Have you sent in your story yet? There is still time!!!

Here are the guidelines in a nutshell. (For more detail, go to

Submission Rules and Guidelines
All submissions must contain original material, and may not have been previously published, accepted for publication, or have been a winner in another contest prior to the August 3 deadline.

2007 Contest Categories
Each of the following four categories has a first prize of $1000 and an Honourable Mention prize of $150.

1. Storyteller’s Award: short stories 3,500 – 5,000 words

2. Non-fiction Award: maximum length 1,500 words

3. Poetry Award: one poem per submission; 36 lines max.

4. Writing For Young People Award: short stories, max. length 1,500 words.

Standard manuscript format - double-spaced, typed, one side only of white 8-1/2 x 11" paper (letter-sized), each page to include title and page number only. No staples, please. Poetry may be single-spaced.

Blind submissions - the author's name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript except cover page.

Include a cover page listing the writer's name, address, email address, phone number, entry title, word length, and award competition category.

In addition to hard copy, all entrants must be able to submit their work by email if requested.

Entries are also accepted by email. Please follow the submission guidelines as noted above and copy your submission into the body of your email. Send your email to .

Attachments will be deleted, unread.

Send your cheque or money order for $15 per entry to Surrey Conference Centre, Unit 400, 9260 - 140 Street, Surrey, BC, Canada, V3V 5Z4

No entries will be returned. If you want the receipt of your entry acknowledged, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: All entries must be received at the addresses noted above by 4 p.m., Friday, August 3, 2007. No late entries will be considered.

Winners will be informed by October 1, 2007. Prizes will be awarded at the Awards Ceremony on the first evening of the Conference, Friday, October 19, 2007. Winners will be listed on the conference website in the week after the conference.

Writers under 18 years of age should check out Surrey Public Library’s Young Writer’s Contest.

And the best of all luck to those who enter.


Jeffrey and Sloth...

...get a great review!

The Georgia Straight's John Burns reviewed my friend Kari Lyn Winters picture book this week -- check it out at

Kari is a multi-talented person -- founding member of the Tickle Trunk Players, playwright, actress, teacher and one of the most cheerful and upbeat people I know. A month ago we taught together at the CWC summer camp. It was there that I was the lucky recipient of the first reading of a new Jeffrey and Sloth book -- a most excellent story that some clever publisher should snap up right away.

Congratulations, Kari!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

SiWC Registration Opens Tomorrow!

July 26th, 2007. The big day -- registration for the Surrey International Writers' Conference opens up. Our brochures came back from the printers today -- if you want one, email me at and I'll make sure you get one. Or better (and faster) still, check out the website at and you can download your very own copy.

It's accurate to the time of printing, but as with any human endeavour, things will likely change a wee bit by the time October rolls around. The website is the surest, most accurate source of info at any time.

This also brings us closer to the deadline for the Writer's Contest associated with the conference. One week and a day away-- August 3, 2007. Entries are starting to pour in -- more than $4000 in prizes to be won.

For the best detail, check out the website, but if you have any questions, feel free to fire them at me with wild abandon -- and I will answer in kind, I'm sure.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Bridge

Stayed up far too late last night watching a documentary called 'The Bridge', and then reading the end of 'Deathly Hallows', discussion of which will be left to another day.

'The Bridge' is the end result of a year of filming, day and night, at San Franciso's Golden Gate Bridge. The film-makers caught 23 of the 24 suicides that took place there in 2004 on the more than 10,000 hours of tape they shot. Very disturbing, and somewhat controversial -- but I'm very glad I watched it. Much food for thought: were the film makers exploiting the last, black moments of the people who chose to end their lives by jumping off the bridge? The executive producer Eric Steel admits to lying about the reason behind his filming in order to get permission to shoot his film around the bridge for a year. Was he glamourizing the deaths to fill his own pockets?

My take is that the film deals sensitively with a very bleak subject. It doesn't offer facile answers, but looks at the lives, families and friends of a half-dozen or so of the people who died that year. And a look at the interviews (included on the disc) of the people who worked on the film shows that they thought deeply about the subject matter they were filming. All of them had access to the suicide prevention line and made use of it.

The question they were left with was why money hasn't been set aside to put up jump-barriers on this bridge -- by all accounts one of the most common sites of public suicide in the US. A person jumps off the Golden Gate an average of once every fifteen days. There have been more than 1500 suicides since the bridge was built. It makes me wonder about the Lions Gate bridge...

I took the picture above when I was in San Francisco in April this year.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

8.3 Million...

...copies sold of Harry on the first day, according to a report I just read from Scholastic US. Wonder how Raincoast did? CBC reported that more than 7,000 people attended the Vancouver Kidsbooks event at Van Deusan Gardens alone.

Wonderful news for all, especially the readers.

But remember, [she sez, still waving her Potter Pooper Placard] -- when you've closed the book on Harry...

And now, since I am making myself sick on Hot Tamales (the candy variety -- not the savoury) I will head back to reading Harry. I am only on Chapter 12...


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Potter Poopers

...that's what they called us. The 'Potter Mock-Protest' made the CTV news last night for a brief appearance, where James McCann and I tried to make a case for Canadian authors who have books coming out in the Summer of Harry.

I thought it was pretty funny, until I realized (by Googling) that the joke has been made many times before. And in our case, it was not even applicable, since the three of us (James McCann, kc dyer & James Bow) are all actual fans of JKR and her magical creations.

Here's a shot of James McCann at today's dampish but still fun Summer Dream event in Stanley Park. James is parked beside our 'Potter Mock-Protest' poster, wearing his 'Ministry of Magic approved' t-shirt (demonstrating that the Ministry, at least, knew we were on-side...)

But, when you've closed the book on Harry...consider reading one by a Canadian, okay?

This was my first drive-through of Stanley Park since the devastating storms of last winter. The devastation of Prospect Point was mind-boggling. The power of that November wind was truly awesome. I was so gob-smacked by the wreckage that I forgot to take a picture.

The east side of the park remains almost untouched, though, and it was there Summer Dream took place. Did two readings of Ms Zephyr today, and added a brief return to SEEDS OF TIME in the children's tent. The rain held off for most of the afternoon, but returned to a deluge by 5:30 or so. Had a chance to reconnect with some old friends, so it was a fun afternoon in the end. Thanks go out to Bonnie Nish and Sita Carboni of Pandora's Collective for organizing and overseeing such a successful event.

As further proof of my Positive Potter Point-of view, here is a shot of the two beautiful witches I took to the launch last night -- one of whom has been planted on the couch all day today, blissfully reading the final installment.
The other witch had to work this afternoon, but at the moment, she is reading, too.

And to finish -- a picture of a group of rowdies at the Canadian Authors Association table before the rains returned -- writers Anthony Dalton, Gordon Mumford and Bernice Lever (doing her bit to promote literacy by flashing her Word on the Street T-shirt).
More proof that Canadian writers continue to thrive despite the Potter juggernaut!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Protest Moves Forward...

...word today of an impending interview tomorrow with CTV regarding the mock Potter Protest scheduled for this Saturday at the Summer Dream Literary Festival in Stanley Park. And James Bow has been garnering attention on the same topic from his end of the nation...check out his blog (Bow, James Bow -- it's off on the side-bar there, if you need the link.)

And, of course, amid all the hype of the leaked pre-releases and spoilers, I am running from anything that smacks of Harry in the press right now. I want to find out what happens when I read the book myself the first time!
But after you close the book on Harry -- consider picking up a book by a Canadian author, will you? (That IS the point of the protest, after all...) We have the most incredible selection of writers producing books for young people -- and BC is a particular hotbed.

If you can't think of a BC writer off the top of your head, you might try having a peek at the CWILL BC website at or even try moseying on over to Alan Twigg's encyclopedic site of BC authors:

A reminder that Summer Dream is coming up fast -- this Saturday, in Stanley Park, near Lumberman's Arch. For the whole scoop, check out Pandora's Collective website at and find out all the cool stuff that Bonnie Nish and Sita Carboni have in store.

Hard on the heels of Summer Dream will be the collective book launch of 'Ms. Zephyr's Notebook' and 'Pyre'. More details as soon as I have 'em.

It's back to regular weather here -- cool and rainy. Hopefully summer will return in time for the weekend. Here's a shot of what it looks like around here when the weather cooperates...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Got a Reader Yet?

Reading Tip of the Day:

Not sure if I am preaching to the converted here, but if you've got a long list of blogs you like to check in on periodically, but not enough time to do it -- a Reader is a must.

I use Google Reader, myself, but there are other choices out there. Essentially what a Reader does is collect up the RSS feeds from your favourite blogs and brings them all to one spot. So, everytime one of your favourite bloggers posts something new, your Reader will collect up the feed and deposit the post in your own special spot.

I could never understand how people had time to read blogs. I currently have [checking] 37 subscriptions to blogs I enjoy. Some of these are BIG blog-post generators (Galley Cat, and the late, lamented Miss Snark are good examples) and some belong to friends who only post once in a while.

Doesn't matter. Either way, whenever they do post, the reader gathers up the feeds and sends them to my account. If I want to comment, I can click on the post and be delivered directly to the blog. I check my reader once or twice a day -- maybe 5 minutes a session. If I had to hunt out all those blogs individually, it would take hours.

Let me know if you have a reader you like better than Google's. It's good to know what's out there.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Canuck Authors Protest Potter

Making the rounds of various media outlets across the country...


In a cross-country effort, three Canadian authors are joining hands to celebrate writing for young people by promoting their books on the weekend of the release of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows".

“Other people write books too, you know.” That’s the message James Bow, an Ontarian writer of fantasy novels for young people, hopes to get across with his one-man picket beside the midnight line-up of fans waiting to get their hands on the last book in the Harry Potter series.

Bow, wearing a wizarding hat and a “will write for food” placard, will be stationed outside the Toronto independent bookstore Another Story, as it opens at midnight to accommodate eager muggles. He will return the next day at noon to read from other novels and sign his own.

In Vancouver, authors James McCann and kc dyer will launch their latest novels at the Summer Dream Literary Arts Festival in Stanley Park "in defiance of the Potter juggernaut".

"As a writer of books for young adults, I know how much my industry owes to the imagination of J.K. Rowling," says dyer. "I discovered Harry just after the second book was published and am a huge fan. But we'd like to use this occasion to bring attention to some of the other wonderful books that are being published for young people in this country."

Both McCann and dyer are affiliated with Children's Writers and Illustrators of BC (CWILL BC), an organization that helps promote writers and illustrators of books for youth in British Columbia.

These tongue-in-cheek protests, are designed to bring attention to Canadian books children and young adults could read once the final page turns on Rowling's Harry Potter epic.

Who:James Bow, author of "Fathom Five" (the Dundurn Group)

kc dyer, author of "Ms. Zephyr's Notebook" (the Dundurn Group)
James McCann, author of "Pyre" (Simply Read Books)

When: Friday, July 20, 2007 - 11:59 p.m. - 1:00 a.m. EDT (James Bow)Saturday, July 21, 2007 - noon - 1:00 p.m. EDT (James Bow)

Saturday, July 21, 2007 - 1:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. PDT (kc dyer, James McCann)

Where: Another Story Bookshop, 315 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto (James Bow)
Summer Dream Festival, Lumberman’s Arch, Stanley Park, Vancouver (kc dyer, James McCann)


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hot Stuff

Hello Faithful Readers of the Ether...

Hottest day of the year here today -- 37, which has thrown all of we heat-wimps from BC completely off our game. This kind of weather belongs to places other than our little bit of temperate rainforest.
A bit of a tossed salad tonight, with tidbits from Various Aspects of a Life Over-busy.
Attended a screening of HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX tonight. It was fun to watch with lots of good effects and a real Harry smootch to boot. But all secondary plot-lines were excised in favour of the main, which was a bit of a shame. I wanted to see more Tonks and Lupin, more Hagrid, and at least a glimpse of Rita Skeeter. But alas -- I guess a running time of 138 minutes was long enough for the producers. Too bad, though, as one of the two teenagers I attended the screening with was not a reader, and she was quite confused by the opening of the movie since she hadn't read the story.

Love the movies, but they can't touch the books. Not exactly a surprising sentiment, coming from me,I guess.

Working on plans for launching Ms. Zephyr's Notebook this month. In one special event, James McCann and I will be celebrating our new books (and all things CWILL) at the Summer Dream Literary Arts Festival on July 21st, beside Lumberman's Arch in Stanley Park. Summer Dream is a fantastic event, hosted by the Fabulous women of Pandora's Collective, aka Bonnie Nish and Sita Carboni. Because the event is in Stanley Park, we will not be selling books, but will happily sign any that are brought in from elsewhere. (Both PYRE and MS. Z. are now available a bookstore near you!) Watch this space for more details soon.

Have now finalized details for the SiWC brochure and sent them off to the Most Talented Laurel Hickey (of 2morrow Writing & Document Design) who will work her magic and ready the thing for printing. In celebration, I'll be sending out a notice 2morrow (sorry, Laurel!) to the SiWC listserv, announcing the names of two new editors who will be attending the conference this year.
Just to confirm -- registration for the conference opens July 26, 2007 and the SiWC Writing Contest closes August 3, 2007. Check out for further details.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

SBH Revisited

A short note only tonight, as I am feeling the effects of a late night Lions Bay celebration of Ms. Zephyr's Notebook last evening...
(Watch this space for exciting news of upcoming launches, as Ms. Z and her Notebook make it out into the world.)

To the subject at hand:

Had a splendid meeting today with the planning committee of the illustrious and successful CWILL BC Spring Book Hatching. We had a look at the things that worked and the things that can be done better and came up with some fabulous ideas for the next event.

The best news for those of you who may have missed our June event is that you don't have to wait another year. We are doing it again this fall!

More info on the Fall Book Harvest as things develop.
Writing Tip of the Day:
It's hard to get much writing done when one's dog chases the local bandit into the nearest maple tree. One's dog, in fact, delerious with a combination of joy and frustration, insists on a vocal celebration/war chant that minimizes the concentration required for writing to a most remarkable degree.
Nevertheless, the bright eyes shining from the tree somehow make it all worth while.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Beauty of The Game and The Ugly Censor

From CWILL BC member and Most Excellent Writer Alison Acheson:

Calling All Hockey Poets;

Coteau Books invites submission of poems both new and previously published, for its Fall 2008 anthology of hockey poetry for young people, aged 8 - 12. We are looking for poems which capture the nature of our national game, both on and off the ice. Which are, as often as not, lively and funny, but which, at the same time, respect, and even challenge, the intellectual and emotional capacity of this age group. Language and form, in other words, will be considered equally with content. We are looking for poems for and about girls as well as boys, and poems that speak to the cultural diversity that makes up the game of hockey in this country. Ultimately, we'd like the collection to reflect hockey at various levels - local association and street hockey, the NHL, professional women's associations, moments of national accomplishment, the rink-rat life for youngsters, the fun of house hockey, and the challenge of rep. hockey - the minutiae of the game we love as well as the "big picture."Submission deadline is October 15, 2007. Fees are $50 for original poems, and $25 for previously published works. Please mail hard- copy (paper) submissions only, to: Steve Scriver/Alison Acheson, editors, Breakaway! Anthology, c/o Coteau Books, 2517 Victoria Ave, Regina, SK S4P 0T2 For Coteau contact information, please see our web site: (please note, poems should be in English, and poets Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents).

In other news -- as a stand-in for the Writing Tip of the Day, a few words on censorship.

Nikki Tate, Vancouver Island resident and prolific scribe of stories for children and young adults has just had one of her books banned by a school librarian in Kindersley, Saskatchewan.

From The Province:

Victoria author's book banned for use of term 'bazoongas' Saskatchewan school doesn't want kids reading slang term for breasts (Story by Adrian Chamberlain, CanWest)
A popular Victoria children's author is crying censorship after a southwestern Saskatchewan school banned her novel, Trouble on Tarragon Island.

At issue is the book's reference to "bazoongas" as a slang word for breasts. The librarian who pulled the novel at Elizabeth School in Kindersley, Sask., also objected to a mention of "saggy" breasts and a description of a bullying incident.

The librarian is said to have deemed the book 'inappropriate' for children in the K-Grade 7 school.

Nikki's book came out in 2005, and has been a successful seller until now. As a writer, Nikki has been nominated for many awards including the Red Maple, the Chocolate Lily and the White Pine.

In a similar situation, last year CWILL BC author James McCann had not only his book, but himself banned from a group of schools in Mission. James's book, RANCOUR, has werewolves and vampires adventuring through its pages. He lost a week of school visits when a small group took offense at the content of his story.

When books are forbidden to children by (usually well-meaning) adults, as in these two cases, it feels to me a little like these folks are shooting the messanger. We'd all love a world where there were no bullies and where flashpoint issues like drug use and abortion were clean-cut and simple. But that is not the world we live in.

It is important to protect our children. Innocence disappears all too early. But taking away books with sensitive subjects doesn't solve the problem. Books are a way for children to explore their feelings and ideas at a safe distance from the issue. Stories allow children to examine a problem, roll it around in their brains, feel out the issues -- without necessarily having to live through them. Storytelling is a safe means to share the commonality of experience, and is one way kids can figure out their own value systems.

There are links to reach both Nikki and James on the left side of this post. Feel free to send them a word of support!

And finally -- the raspberry jam of last night was a sweet success. Eight jars completed by two am this morning. An earlier night tonight, I think.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Making Jam

This has been a Very Bad Day. It started off well, but...

At this moment, I find myself in the position of trying to count my blessings. Never a good sign. The biggest blessing at present is that there are a mere 3 minutes left in this day. And then it will be another day and a chance to start again. A fresh start. (Note: Incurable optimism is a necessary genetic component of any fool who might think they could possibly make a living out of wrestling words down onto a page.)

In a further effort to put the day behind me, I am currently boiling jam jars. When things go wrong, make jam. (I actually haven't made jam for five years or so, having adopted the credo only an hour ago. But I'm sure things would have improved had I thought of it earlier.)

Writing Tip of the Day:

Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts to remain cloistered until the latest project is done, life creeps in between the pen and the page. Or the fingertips and the computer keys. At times like these, it's important to remember that while running away from one's cares and responsibilities rarely works -- it doesn't hurt to try. Maybe you should just bolt for awhile. Otherwise, you might end up making jam in the middle of the night. What kind of responsible person does that sort of thing? Just run away. It's safer. Plus you might end up doing something worth writing about -- or fictionalizing, at the very least.

I was interviewed today by a newspaper column writer on the subject of censorship, but I will save all my deep thoughts on the subject for tomorrow -- a new day. Hopefully a safer day.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Pictureless Post....

Am sitting at an incredibly foggy-screened terminal in a faceless little internet cafe in Abbottsford, BC. My laptop computer is refusing to acknowledge any access to wireless on the campus, so I have hied myself down here to quickly catch up on my email and any other electronic excitement to be had. The woman on the other side of the counter has a severe disease I can only hope is past the communicable stage. The thrill of the hunt for internet access intensifies!

First class at the CWC Summer Camp today -- great fun, much imagination in the 16 grade 6 students who are in my class. Tonight they are learning circus tricks and dramatic movement, all of which will add deep resonance to their writing tomorrow, I am sure. They are a lovely group, but I am sorry to say that the meatballs at the dinner table (combined with the lack of internet) sent me fleeing to town. Found sushi and this place, so all is well.

Will take a few pictures tomorrow, but today have failed miserably, so this post will have to go unillustrated.

Writing Tip of the Day: Today with my CWC group, we worked on developing character and all the little things that allow for a greater dimensional depth. However -- for the purposes of the stories we are writing together, it mostly boiled down to identifying the primary goal of the character and then planting a giant PROBLEM in the way. Nothing like a decent problem to see what a character is really made of...


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Here's to the tree...

...who gives its life blood so that we may sweeten our pancakes, and then, in its death throes, drained of chlorophyll -- donates its scarlet image to the flag that celebrates our nationhood.

Thanks, mighty sugar maple! And Happy Canada Day to all. 140 years a nation, and still in the first flush of our youth. Remarkable.

From maples to apples -- or more properly, Apples. My computer is driving me crazy these days and I am considering switching teams and moving to a Mac. Anyone with words of wisdom on this front is welcome to share. My sister, a serious journalist (unlike her more flighty sibling) has always had one, and I believe the time has come for me at last.

I'm off to CWC Summer Writer's Camp and will try to blog from away, if I can find a connection.
But before I go -- a new feature: writing tip of the day. Let's see if we can do that with a bit more style...
Writing Tip of The Day

Hmm. Not many options for striking change of title...
Regardless -- let's move to the tip. Every writer needs a good thesaurus. And no, I'm not talking about the one built into Word. I have quite a pile of them on the shelves over my desk. A few of my favourites: Roget's Pocket(of course), The Oxford Thesaurus, and goofily enough, The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate. Whatever your need (and lately mine seems to be 'tip of the tongue' syndrome, when the word I want is ...almost ... there), if you are a serious writer a thesaurus should be one of your most basic tools. If you have a favourite you'd like to share -- let me know!