Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fan Fiction

I have a million things to do. At least a hundred thousand, anyway. So why am I drawn to reading one particularly bad Fan Fiction writer? It's a truly sickening feeling -- makes me angry to even read the stuff. And yet, I can't seem to drag my eyes away.

Maybe my anger stems from the mockery fan fiction makes of imagination. Has anyone yet made a legitimate defence of this excreble pastime? I'd love to read it, if its out there.


Friday, March 23, 2007

ZEPHYR Copyedits Redux

Edits are due on Monday, which means a Sunday-night latest deadline.

Looming, of course, the way deadlines do.

The way the whole editing process works goes something like this -- once the book is accepted and all the contract details ironed out, the editor takes a look to see that the thing generally makes sense. During this substantive phase, he or she (in my case, he) is looking at the forest, not the trees. (Though the truth is, he will likely make a few tree-ish observations, scraping a little moss here and trimming a few branches there, just because he is fond of horticulture. He is _born_ to horticulture. His blood runs sap. One must just accept these things as given and move on.)

The work is then sent back to the author who takes a deep breath, surveys the forest and either pronounces it good or runs away and throws self into nearest lake. Either way, for a book to emerge at the end, the author must ultimately send the manuscript back to the editor with changes made or, at the very least, discussions entered into.

The next step is the one this particular book and I are in at present, both of us having survived the substantive edit remarkably intact. The copy editor (generally, though not always, a different soul from the substantive editor ) examines the trees right down to the leaf (and in some cases, to the cellular level) to ensure not only that every i is dotted and t crossed, but that the formatting is consistent and correct throughout. This latter is because the next step sees the budding book move into the design phase and the designers like to have all the pesky formatting issues clearly established by the copy editors well before-hand.

This particular book has been quite a challenge for any number of reasons. The story does not develop in a linear fashion, and yet must still make sense as it unfolds. The format of the book is unconventional, certainly compared to my earlier books. The biggest design challenge we've had, in terms of text, anyway, in the earlier work was to include, in SECRET OF LIGHT, a copy of Leonardo's classic mirror-writing signature. MS. ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK, by contrast, is filled with memos, post-it notes, journal entries, correspondence written on various styles of letterhead, report cards, missing person's reports and so on.

More on this and other Zephyr-related vagaries soon. I have edits to finish...


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Copyedits for Ms. Z

Received the copyedits from my intrepid editor Barry Jowett for MS. ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK today. A looming deadline to get the book out by the end of May will necessitate a very quick turn-around, so the leisurely days of strolling the streets of San Francisco are melting into memory. Nose to keyboard is the new reality.

Ah, well. It is where I am happiest, after all.

I am very interested to see how this particular endeavour will appear between covers, as it takes an absolutely different form than any of my previous books. Am strangely excited by the prospect.

Had a picnic with my son and watched Casino Royale, tonight, as some bonding time was in order after recent trek to distant lands. Can safely say that Daniel Craig makes a truly fine Bond.

Still chugging through the Palin diaries (after brief abandonment to enjoy Burroughs), and have added Dorothy Parker to the nightstand for dipping.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Running With Scissors

Still here in the City by the Bay. Read RUNNING WITH SCISSORS in one sitting yesterday, when I should have been writing. Everything I've read about Augusten Burroughs says that he is one of the funniest men in America. He's been compared with David Sedaris (of whose writing it is no secret I am Seriously Enamoured). But I actually found his story terribly sad. Good book. Sad story.

In other news, we rode bikes through the city and across the Golden Gate bridge today. Lunch in Sausalito in the sunshine, while San Francisco spent the morning cloaked in fog.

A beautiful day.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

City Lights

I am in San Francisco, and have been for a few days; celebrating spring with my daughter. I hadn't planned to blog about it until we'd mande it home, but we had an exciting literary experience today that deserves sharing. Meaghan's teacher told her about City Lights bookstore, which we visited today. Miss Chamberlain officially rocks for sending us us to this very cool venue for books. One of the oldest bookstores in the city, and the oldest exclusively paperback bookstore in the country. (I do have to add that we found ourselves forced to buy a couple of hard-covers there, today, too...) This bookstore was founded around the time the Beat poets were making the scene here, and these is a quite fetching poster of a naked, hirsute Alan Ginsberg adorning one wall. I bought a Dorothy Parker compendium and RUNNING WITH SCISSORS by Augusten Burroughs. My girl bought a copy of 1984 and a book about the plague ravaging London, the title of which escapes me at the moment.

We've spent the past few days walking our feet to the bone around this beautiful and amazing city. More to come over the next few days.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Stomach Ache...

Yep. I have one, so this post will be short. The cause? Just watched BORAT with my children. I haven't laughed so hard over a movie in years. Sascha Baron Cohen has no shame, but he also has the one thing that any good comic should kill for: no fear. He is frighteningly brilliant at putting himself in harm's way, using humour to probe some very sore spots on the Western psyche. A lovely piece of film-making.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Writing Contest Changes

Spent a good portion of the day mulling over writing contests. One of the myriad tasks that make up my life is overseeing the writing contest for the Surrey International Writers' Conference. After fifteen years, the time has come for an overhaul, as the contest's popularity has outstripped its resources. The board has agreed to some changes, and behind the scenes, they are underway. Most importantly, watch for a new deadline. In order to accomodate the changes required to make this contest all that it can be, the deadline has taken a great leap forward into the formerly lazy days of summer.

Watch for all the news coming this month (I hope!) on the website, which can be found at

Speaking of websites, I spent another chunk of day making a few changes in my own. If you'd like a peek, you can check it out at

If, however, you're anxious to view the new material, you might need to wait a few days to allow my uber-cool web-techie Bryan Hoff time to work his magic. Bryan has done my website work from the very beginning, and he always does an amazing job. If you'd like to see some other examples of his work, you can check out

In other news, I have discovered to my horror that the confession scene for DEADLINE has stretched into a nine-page historical treatise. Am mulling my options. If one only had access to a slightly-less verbose villain...

Oh, and my apologies to Sir Tristram, late of the Bloodless Revolution book I mentioned a couple of days ago. He is, in fact, a Stuart (tho' he may in fact also be a Wunderkind; he's a pretty good writer for a young fella). And the book is pretty good so far.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Surrey's Getting Closer...

Gathering my forces for a large email blitz over the next few days. The line-up for the 15th Annual Surrey International Writers' Conference is almost complete. When it is, all will be unveiled on the website:

I can say that the presenters we have coming this year are simply outstanding. I'm very excited to see this all begin to coalesce.

Also working on the upcoming launch for CWILL, June 9th. We're hoping the Spring Book Hatching will be an on-going event.

More soon!


Thursday, March 08, 2007

CWILL -ish Thoughts

Attended a most excellent meeting of CWILL BC tonight, where author and Tickle Trunk player Kari-Lynn Winters, whose first book is coming out in April, conducted a discussion on the subject of writing plays. She brought along the most esteemed Dennis Foon, well-known in his own right for not only establishing the Green Thumb theatre group in Vancouver, but authoring numerous plays, television prorams, films and a scad of marvellous books along the way. Also adding her wisdom was Irene Watts, late of Citadel Theatre in Edmonton and now of book and playwriting endeavours in Vancouver.

Left with a feeling that perhaps, indeed, the play's the thing.

Have completed the edits on the forthcoming MS. ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK, continue to toil on DEADLINE (and who in this line of work doesn't, one might parenthetically add...), plan to tweak A WALK THROUGH THE WINDOW, have had a simply marvellous idea (inspired by my beautious daughter) for the first Ceilidh book and am germinating an inkling of a play for teens.

This is what I get for deserting the blog for a month. Back with a vengeance, it would seem.

Continue to read Palin's Diaries from the 1970's and also had a look through the prologue of my new book by Tristram Wunderkind called something akin to: The Bloodless Revolution: A History of Vegetarianism.

And now to sleep.