Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The sound of home after too long away.

My arrival was a little less foggy and a little more snowy than this picture would indicate, but I haven't got a better shot for now. (Once when a tiny sow-whet owl crash landed on my deck, it was into the tree on the left that he flew as soon as he had recovered...)

I have had an incredible year. And this particular season has amounted to the busiest fall I have ever lived through.

But now I am home, and ready to catch up on the mountain of things that have waited, un-done, for my return.

The only really lousy thing that's happened this year has been my computer service. After going through crash after crash of email and various other systems, the time has come to make the big change. I'm putting the PC out to pasture and going Mac, baby.

The pasture's not _that_ far away, over on the next desk, actually, since the offspring still require ready access to all their old files etc., but the main machine will be a Mac, at last.

In the meantime, if you've sent me an email to which I haven't replied ... send again, just in case. I'm only a hundred or so behind, which compared with the thousands I was chasing at the height of SiWC madness feels like easy sailing.

Thanks again to all the amazing teachers and librarians and to the hundreds of terrific teens I met on this book tour. You all made me feel so welcome -- I had a marvellous time. For those who have ordered books -- they are on the way. (I mailed a bunch yesterday, and got a note today that some had been received already. Go Canada Post!)

Also came home to the very exciting news that Ms Zephyr has been nominated for a Cybils Award. More on that soon...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Startling New Talent...

Okay...I can only note the link here, but check out this amazing new YouTube video, (a PSA against littering) filmed and directed by the most talented crew I know...

(As soon as I have an actual copy of the video, I'll upload it here -- with permission of the auteur, of course.)


Montreal and Back Again...

I am back in Toronto in my terribly posh hotel, drinking hot chocolate and contemplating a speedy but lovely day in Montreal with the effervescent, triple-hitting Bulwyr-Lytton (AND record-holding SiWC Silly Writing contest winner) Pamela Patchet. Ferried about by her most excellent husband, the fine Dr. Hamilton, I had a chance to have a quick glimpse of the old city, whilst sharing lunch with a dear friend.

It was, in fact, a great deal snowier than this stock publicity shot would imply.

I did manage to take a few more seasonally accurate pictures that I will post on my return.

I glided back into Toronto, courtesy Via Rail, to the sight of a heroically green CN Tower, leading our Engineer to leap onto the crackly pa system (circa 1930, I am sure) to announce Saskatchewan's triumph in the Grey Cup. I walked off my train in Union Station as each and every member of the Grey Cup audience descended into the subway. A sea of people...

Sadly, at this hotel, they close the gym unconscionably early for people still keeping BC hours who have been sitting on a train much of the day and need a workout. Looks like tomorrow morning will have to do.

Instead, I am drinking lovely hot chocolate WITH whipped cream, just to console myself.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Day Seven -- Lindsay at Last

Spent my day in and around the environs of Lindsay, Ontario, having arrived here last night by bus.
I left the big boxes of my books at my new hotel in Toronto to avoid schlepping them all the way up here on the bus, but when I reached the bus station, I realized I had been so efficient with my packing that I didn't have a single copy to read to the group. I dashed off to the World's Biggest Bookstore (only a block away) and bought a copy of Ms. Z so I would have something to read.
Lindsay is now a part of the City of Kawartha Lakes -- a decision six years old and yet still controversial to those who live here. My contact here is Diane Lansdell, Children's librarian at the Lindsay Public Library. A big thank you to her for ensuring I was well fed and carefully delivered to my various destinations.
I was scheduled to do two library events, which turned out to include a number of groups of local kids, and the day was great fun. I spoke to kids from the school in Lindsay, and then a group of 150 or so kids from Scott young Public School in Omemee. (Scott Young was Neil Young's father -- both were from here and Scott was apparently a very respected newspaper journalist.) The kids were very patient as we took pictures and shot video for the local media.
They were a GREAT audience, very engaged in the stories. It looks like at least one of the classes will be using one of my books for a novel study this year.

This is a very cool little town -- I am typing these words on a computer that sits under a map of Lindsay... dated 1875. It looks like a thriving metropolis, even then. I got a picture of the moon rising over snowy downtown Lindsay that I will try to post as soon as I get a chance. Thanks for inviting me!

Much writing and paperwork over the next few days, and after a side trip to Montreal, the wending homewards will commence.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sprinting Into the Home Stretch -- Day Six

Today was a transportation day. My long-suffering minder Monica was behind the wheel yet again -- once she managed to make it into her car. The doors froze shut after a night of freezing rain, and our adventures today all took place in a winter wonderland as Toronto and environs was hit with the first big storm of the year.
We made our way to Lambton Kingsway Junior Middle School and arrived only a few minutes late due to the dastardly drive. Spoke with two sets of kids from grades 6-8 -- had a great time. Am not exactly clear on what I am saying any more -- but I think coherance prevailed, as the kids asked great questions and a good time was had by all.
Many thanks to parent Julie Dreger for seeing to it that I didn't starve and for helping organize book sales!
Monica took the wheel again to ferry me north to Markham, where I faced my biggest crowd yet at Armadale Public School. We actually arrived early, due entirely to the skills of the driver, and had time for lunch before speaking to seven classes of grade 7 & 8 kids in the school gym.
The Amandale kids did their school proud and as I walked out the door, were scrambling to set up the gym for a science fair at the school tomorrow. Hope it is a great success!
Back down to collect books, drop them at a new hotel and then hop yet another bus -- this one to Lindsay, Ontario. A fond farewell and a big thank you to Minder Monica! Serious snow here in Lindsay, and I am now warmly ensconced in the Manor on Peel B&B -- beautiful old house, circa 1905 and a brilliant internet connection that has allowed me to bring my blog up to date.
Trekking through the snow to local libraries tomorrow -- more soon.

Day Five -- Go Bus Redux

Once again on the Go Bus at the crack of dawn -- this time destination King City via East Gwillimbury. Had a couple of great sessions at King City Secondary under the supervisorial eye of Lou Bruni, Librarian/English Teacher and all-round nice guy.

This logo is the motto of KCSS, and reflects pretty accurately my view of what makes a story great, too -- with a little flexibility in definition, of course.

After my two presentations at the high school, I was escorted across the road to the local library, where I put on a presentation for a group from King City Public School. Great kids -- very engaged in the story and lots of fun to talk with.

Go Bus back to Toronto in freezing rain, and then a quick walk through the city to Marsha Skrypuch's most excellent book launch for her newest novel: Prisoners in the Promised Land: The Ukrainian Internment Diary of Anya Soloniuk.

This is a beautiful book and a long labour of love for Marsha -- congratulations go out to her for this marvellous success!
Back to the hotel, where I connected with Anita Daher again, and we collectively failed to meet up with the other authors (RP McIntyre and Jeff Sinclair) who were crashing at the hotel.

Messing With the Time-Space Continuum -- Tour Day 4


An easy internet connection, at last.

I had to leave the wilds of downtown Toronto and travel to the civilized environs of Lindsay, Ontario to find it, too.

So, in keeping with the title of this post...I am actually writing this on Day 6, (or perhaps it is actually Day 7 -- it's been a long week), but I will hark back to Day 4 to re-coup the highlights.

Day Four began with a trip to the bus station for a jaunt to Aurora. I had a lovely bus driver, terribly erudite, who suggested a number of his favourite books to me as we travelled north and chatted en route. He also very kindly offered to help me with my books as I stepped off the bus, and then dumped every one of them onto the wet curb in the rain. But in the way of these things, of course -- it turned out to be good luck after all, as I sold all my books that day -- not only autographed but speckled with a little fresh Aurora precipitation.

Margaret Fleming, teacher-librarian extraordinare from Devins Drive Public School met me and my dampish books at the bus station -- and we had a marvellous time together. I can't seem to upload a picture, so here is a link to this very cool school:

I did a couple of presentations to the kids of this school -- signed postcards galore and sold afore-mentioned books. Go-Bused back to Toronto and took a walk over to the Distillery district to find incredible chocolatier-- Soma, as recommended by my minder Monica. (Their image is to the left...a store that has to be experienced to be believed.) Clearly walked too far and ate too little chocolate, as I fell asleep before I could blog. Continue to be seriously behind in email due to faulty connections.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Day Three -- Third Try....

Alrighty, then.

It appears I have the horrid internet connection problems sorted out.

Back to yesterday...

Early start. My minder/keeper/driver/organizer Monica collected me at 8 am for a trip to Parkdale Collegiate High School. This school is right off of Queen Street West in Toronto – an inner-city school with a wide range of kids from many ethnic backgrounds. Apparently a large part of the student population come from Thailand.

It seems a vivid, multicultural environment in an old neighbourhood of this city. The school itself is the second-oldest in the city, built in 1888. The library I was in, however, was a mere five years old (and apparently cost $1M).

I spoke with three English classes -- a group of grade 9 pre-IB students, a class of grade 12s and then another group of grade 9s.

Here are some of the thoughts of the grade 9s regarding their school:

  • Sasina says her school is friendly.

  • Nilaj thinks it's a cool school.

  • Javeria and Vivian agreed.
Pretty unanimous feedback! Thanks for having me, Parkdale.

At lunch, I walked along Queen Street. This part of it is loaded with Roti shops and other West Indian cuisine. Very cool shops but Queen Street is looking tired and uncared for. Yonge Street is the same -- at least downtown. Near the Eaton Centre used to be a vibrant area -- now it's a street filled with derelict buildings and strip joints. Homeless folks on every corner. It's hard to understand.

In the afternoon, I nipped down to the Market area to visit the gang at Dundurn in their new digs. (Not so new to them, perhaps, but new to me...)

Just time to buy take-out Thai to eat in the car, and then Monica scooted me (in her fabulous, environmentally-conscious Zip Car) up to Brampton for a reading at the library and an interview on Rogers Cable. (You know you've made the big time...) The cameraman was also the interviewer, and once he positioned me, I was not allowed to move, for fear I would slip out of the shot and he wouldn't know. As an inveterate hand-talker, this was no easy task, but I think it turned out all right in the end.

It was great to see Helene and Elizabeth from the forum, who braved the wilds of traffic to come to the reading. The trip to Brampton took two hours, but back to the hotel was just under half an hour -- the beauty of a traffic-free toll highway speeding our trip back.

And another glamorous day of the touring author closes -- have to be up at seven to make the bus to Aurora!


Monday, November 19, 2007

Day Three....argh

Just lost a lovely long post due to a crummy internet connection. It's been a long, busy day -- will re-post the details tomorrow.

~kc, krankily....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Day with Anita...Day Two

Met up with my friend, Manitoba writer Anita Daher last night. Anita is the author of a bunch of great books for kids and teens including (most recently) SPIDER'S SONG and TWO FOOT PUNCH. She's touring Ontario during Book Week as well, and today was off to London and environs.

But last night we went for dinner at a Nepalese-Indian restaurant on Yonge Street. GREAT food. It turned out to be the first meal of the day for both of us, so we had quite a feast. I enjoyed a whole selection of vegetarian delicacies on my sampling platter (curried chickpeas, Gobi Aloo), and Anita bravely ate goat for the first time ever.

(This is NOT Anita's goat. She insists hers was much tastier... and I can vouch it had a little less beard and almost entirely no bell.)

Today we got a little lost in downtown Toronto (which, strangely enough, has happened before), finally found bookstores, signed whatever stock we could get our hands on to sign, (Eaton Centre Indigo and the World's Biggest Boookstore now have signed copies, if you are looking for 'em) and bid each other adieu until later in the week.

If you want to get your hands on Anita's fabulous new book TWO FOOT PUNCH, which is the only fiction out there right now on the subject of Parkour (and a fabulous book it is, I might add), my suggestion to you is to order it pdq from your nearest bookstore. While you are at it, you might suggest they bring in a few extra copies -- this book was sold out on Amazon before it even officially launched -- and the bookstore owners will thank you for the sure sales that will result.

Tomorrow brings an early start and four presentations, plus one tv interview. I'll let you know how it goes...


En Route to Toronto...

November 17.

Ten to twelve PST, but already ten to three in Toronto, if I were there yet, which I am not. Instead, I’m sitting in the aisle seat of the second row of the plane. I’m lusting after the bulkhead seat, which is sitting sinfully unoccupied in front of me.

My primary entertainment of the flight thus far has been the tiny lady sitting alone by the window in the coveted row in front of me. I recognize her as being the person who was driven to the gate in a cart and then wheeled down into her seat. Her English isn’t great – her second language, but she knows what’s what. Initially the flight attendant felt compelled to explain several times the need for the seatbelt on take-off. Subsequently, every time the attendant moved away from the front of the plane little front-row lady was out of her seat, stealing drinks from the cart. Mind you, these drinks were from the ‘free cart’, but nonetheless – she knew what she wanted and no seatbelt sign unjustly lit was going to keep her from her goal.

The flight attendant, off hawking the despicable ‘snack-paks’ for sale on the flight, had to dash to the front twice to pry the large water bottle from her hand and return front-row lady to her seat. The second time, front-row lady clutched the cap of the water bottle, refusing to relinquish it until her glass was safely filled.

I am reading THE NAMING OF THE DEAD. Haven’t actually been able to read any Rankin since I last left Edinburgh – some weird kind of homesickness thing. But it’s good to meet up with Rebus again, and I find that I have missed him.


Little front-row lady is now switching freely from the aisle seat to the window -- enjoying the luxury of movement, all the better to scope out the cart. But sadly, the staff are onto her now and everything is in full lock-down.

And finally...

My final view of front-row lady is the sight of her bolting up the gangway into Pearson International, nary a wheel-chair or electric cart in sight.

You've got to admire a woman who knows what she wants.


Friday, November 16, 2007

The Tour -- Day Minus One...

Just as a little amuse-bouche before the tour, I found the following in my Google Alert box yesterday...

Brampton - In celebration of Canadian Children's Book Week, being held across Canada November 17 to 24, Brampton Library is proud to host award-winning Canadian author, kc dyer.
Ms. dyer will entertain and educate when she presents her new book Ms. Zephyr's Notebook. This free presentation focuses on teens and parents and how to cope with eating disorders, Crohn's and kidney disease, issues of self, wellness and health – and more!

When I called the library for clarification, it turns out they did, in fact, believe I was coming to speak on the subject of Wellness in Teens. Putting aside the question of whether the words 'teens' and 'wellness' can be legitimately placed in the same sentence, I hastened to reassure the librarian that I do not pretend to be a Knowledgable Health Educator, but in actuality am a novelist. A writer of fiction. A prevaricator by trade.

(My symbol du jour.....-->)

Just for the record, while Ms. Zephyr's Notebook is the story of three kids who are coping with a whole lot of Not Fun, it's not a disease-of-the-week book. Crohn's disease, eating disorders, kidney disease -- kids all over the world have to cope with these things every day.

When I wrote this book, I was interested to find out what would happen when two strong-willed individuals found themselves in a confined space; one of whom could not eat and the other who would not.

And sure enough -- sparks flew and a story was born. I'm looking forward to talking about it -- and maybe reading a little of it -- in Brampton and elsewhere on this tour. (Many thanks to Jan and Sherri at the Brampton Public library for their clear heads and generosity of spirit!)

That straightened out -- it's time to proceed with this journey.

See you on the road...


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Snow Day in Whistler

Just back from Whistler. I have to say -- deepest sympathies to anyone who has to make that drive with any regularity. It is truly brutal to do the full Sea to Sky Highway. The trip to Lions Bay is fraught with many stops and trecherous sections these days, but the Whistler and Pemberton North gang certainly have the worst of it right now. Let's send all our collective good karma out to Peter Keiwit Sons so they can get the job done expediently and safely.

Whistler Secondary was a blast. They had their first big snow last night, and I brought Seamus along for the ride, so we spent the lunch hour on a quick walk with him alternately frolicking merrily or rolling ecstatically. A born snow dog.

In the school, I worked with the Comparative Civilizations class (grade 11s and 12s), a grade 8 CAPP class, a grade 10 English class and the Creative Writing club after school. Fantastic kids plus great teachers added up to a fun day. Thanks for having me!

Book tour starts Saturday. Received my itinerary today and will be blogging where I can. I think I have thirteen presentations over five days. Will bring my running gear to help keep my brains in my head...


Wednesday, November 14, 2007


A yearly event that allows the members of CWILL BC to showcase new titles to teachers and members of the Vancouver Children's Literary Roundtable...tonight. It's a privilege to be in the company of such a fine group of writers and illustrators. Each author/illustrator was limited to a two-minute discussion of his or her latest work. Dashing Dan Bar-El (whose amazing Alphabetter Book has just been put, via the BC government, into the hands of every child entering kindergarten in the province this year) dressed up as an old Yiddish faerie, to the vast amusement of all present. Ann Walsh came down from the Cariboo with her hat and drum (but without her book). Author Kari Lynn Winters and audacious illustrator Cynthia Nugent both sang their way into our hearts. In all, 30 BC authors and illustrators strutted their stuff, followed by a smashing speech by Nan Gregory on the subject of her varied and unique writing career. Stage-managing the event with great aplomb behind the scenes and in front of the mike was illustrator (and graphic novelist) Kathie Shoemaker.

A good time was had by all.
Tomorrow I am off to Whistler to commune with the denizens of the local high school. Have to miss yoga for this -- so I plan to align my chakras and get me some mountain Zen while I am there.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Past, Present, Future and Not Tense

First of all, as promised -- PORCUPINE, by Meg Tilly. An exquisite read. It felt very much like reading a contemporary WHO HAS SEEN THE WIND. The story of Jack, a 12 year old girl with an old soul. I enjoyed it immensely.

Past Tense -- Writing.Wise event, now over and done with. Most excellent panel, a discussion that could have easily gone on all night and a great crowd. Congratulations to Maryse de la Giroday for a job well done!

Present Tense -- so many things are making me tense at the moment, I can hardly bear to think of them, let alone write them down. Tension is the new zen. Tenz...the acronym.

Future Tense -- most immediately, Hycroft tomorrow night. Then on to the next!

And finally -- let me leave you with this fine example of Seamus in repose -- definitely NOT tense.
(This picture is courtesy of the fact that I could not get Meg's cover pic for Porcupine to post. Will try another day.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

On the Queen, Water Bodies and Blogging in the Dark...

I am sitting in a small hotel room on the Saanich Penninsula -- near Victoria. Hence the Queen. The true Queen is asleep behind me in her bed, replenishing and readying herself for excellence at a swim meet tomorrow. She is here to swim (and socialize, of course) and I am here to write in my usual, hermit-like fashion.

I am the world's worst swim parent. I emerge from my cocoon only long enough to cheer on my own child and she races the clock, and then it's back to head buried in current wip. No team spirit at all, actually. Horrifying.

I have just been weeping, a little, reading Meg Tilly's blog. I first met Meg in the flesh at Book Expo earlier this year in Toronto, and we run into each other rather more often these days. I am about one chapter away from finishing her latest book, PORCUPINE, which I will review here shortly. But tonight was my first experience with her blogging persona. And I can tell you -- what you see is what you get with this writer. I LOVED reading her blog. Meg is a most interesting person, with a quite remarkable (and somewhat public) history, but what she is best at, hands down -- is writing. The Meg she writes is the Meg she is -- or as close to it as the one I've met, anyway.

All this by way of saying, if you'd like to add a beautiful read to your blog list, google yourself The Official Meg and it will take you to her website. Add her blog to your RSS feed or your Reader or whatever. Really a joy to read.

Oh, and not at all's just that Meg's youngest son is the same age as my daughter, and we are both facing the weird reality of the Impending Launch of of one's offspring into the great unknown of the real world. A truly startling phenomena, in much the way a knife neatly slicing out a piece of one's heart must be. An astonishingly sudden event, considering 18 full years have passed in what feels like a heart beat, or a hair's breadth, or wahtever space of time is faster than an instant. This is, of course, complicated by the standard social nicety one faces encompassing the general unacceptibility of bursting into tears in public places for no apparent reason, particularly in front of said offspring, now fully grown but not beyond the humiliation of parental embarrassment.

Perhaps that is what I will cling to -- she may be all grown up, but no one can embarrass her the way her mother can.

Anyway -- you must read Meg's blog. She clearly rocks not only as a writer but as a parent. And is more eloquant, to boot. (She, for example, would never use the expression -- to boot. I am quite sure of that.)


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lots Doin'

Smack in the middle of insanity season -- just bolting from one thing to the next and hoping it all holds together.

McKee was...uh -- well, I really like his book. And it was a good time for me to take the seminar -- just in time to help tie a few things up for the submission draft of DEADLINE. Let's just say old Bob is not recommended for the faint of heart. This week is more re-plotting, twisting and getting ready for the approaching onslaught.
Upcoming Events:

Writing.wise -- looks to be a fantastic evening with an amazing panel discussing all things writing. (Sue Thomas, a new media expert from the UK; Shari Ulrich, singer-songwriter; Mira Sundara Rajan, musician and Canada Chair in Intellectual Property Law at UBC; Ian Verchere, founder of Radical Entertainment, games developer and Whistler ski dude; Kaare Andrews, comic book writer and artist.) November 13, 7 pm Radha Yoga, 728 Main Street in Vancouver. You can register for this event on-line at Check the previous post or email me for details.

Hycroft -- This year's CWILL BC / Vancouver Children's Roundtable Annual Event, filled with all the new and exciting books for kids and teens produced by BC authors and illustrators. November 14, 6:30 pm, Hycroft House on McRae St. in Vancouver (just near 16th and Granville).

Then on Thursday, I'll be heading up to Whistler to hand out at the high school for the day. Can't wait -- Libby McKeever the assistant librarian has all kinds of fun stuff planned.

On Saturday the 17th, I'm off on my CCBC Book Tour of Ontario. My slice of the province will be mostly in and around Toronto -- Brampton, King City and Lindsay are also on the agenda. I'll be doing a number of public library readings and school visits. You can check out the Canadian Children's Book Centre site at for more details.

I'm bringing my trusty laptop, so I will try to keep a bit of a running commentary going.
And to close, in the spirit of Hallowe'en, or perhaps Samhain might be a better reference -- this is my friend Delia, a Cornish Rex by breed, though a trifle (one might venture to say, out of her hearing, of course) demonic by nature. I took this picture a couple of weeks ago when she wasn't really in the mood. At least 19 years old, she's not in the mood for much of anything but sleeping these days. Delia will feature (respectfully fictionalized, of course) in the upcoming Ceilidh stories, the first of which will be set in Edinburgh. I can't wait to get to work on them -- I'm ready for a little magic.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Spending the weekend with McKee...

Robert McKee, screenwriting guru. His seminar is back in Vancouver, and I am going, in spite of the fact that I have a million other things (including the last few words of DEADLINE) screaming for my attention.

This has left me a little crabby, along with the thought of having to sit still for so long -- the seminar lasts from 9:00 am to 8:30 pm three days in a row. This means juggling kids, dog and aforementioned other million items.

I`m hoping you`re worth it, Bob.
Scattered around these words are pictures from the various venues that hosted the `Chocolate & Chat` teacher appreciation events James McCann and I were a part of last month. We covered four municipalities in two days and had an amazing time at each and every stop. A big shout out to the warm welcome we received in the Strawberry Hill (Surrey), Langley and Vancouver (Granville & West Hastings) Chapters stores and the West Vancouver Indigo store. We`ll come back and visit any time -- you guys were fantastic hosts!

Looks like there might be another mini-tour in the works. More when I have further details to share.

*kc (this is NOT a typo --my tilde just died...)