Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring Book Hatching, 2008

Spent much of the day emailing presenters who will be attending this year's astounding Surrey International Writers' Conference. Will soon be able to go public with the roster and some of the plans for the conference...but not yet.

I can say it will be held a week later than usual, October 24 -26, 2008, with (a stupendous selection, but you didn't hear it from me, of) Master Classes on Thursday, October 23, just to lead things off.

One other endeavour I am working on right now is the compilation of a list of authors and illustrators for this year's Spring Book Hatching. Featured books will have been published in 2007 and 2008, and will be put on display in a wildly enjoyable afternoon June 14, 2008. The event takes place at the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library -- exact location within said library to be announced shortly.

As soon as I have a complete list of participants, I'll be sure to post them here.

And to finish -- just because I can...

Have you ever seen a blonde sausage?

Check out the one on the right.

Okay, maybe you have. But have you ever seen a sausage yawn?


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Quick Follow Up to Earth Hour

Lotsa chit-chat in the blogosphere and elsewhere about true benefits vs bandwagon jumping liberal guilt-assauging effects of Earth Hour last night.

Personally, I think the best thing to come out of it all is the chatter itself. Awareness raised, attention elevated -- talk is a good thing.

Check out what fellow author and political blogger James Bow has to say.

As for me, my stickler son insisted that we flip off the breaker instead of just turning off the lights, so I put aside the re-write I'm working on for an evening of conversation by fire and candlelight (which suited the snowstorm raging outside).

It was lovely.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's Getting Dark around here...

Got your candles ready?

Earth Hour is tonight! But instead of going green, how about trying on a little black?

We're going dark in about fifteen hour without power to help raise awareness of global warming and all the issues that go with it.

Join in -- why not?

And once you've done -- email me your stories. What did you do when the power was off?


Friday, March 28, 2008

At Last!

According to the CBC today, the University of Melbourne's Centre for Eye Research (and published in the March Issue of Investigative Opthamology and Visual Science) declared there is NO link between nerdiness and wearing glasses.

The study (and yes, you can read it here: not only indicates that people who wear glasses are NOT automatically by definition, nerds, but...

researchers found a small but "significant" association between glasses-wearing and agreeable personalities. (Only in twins, mind you, but we four-eyes will take what we can get.)

So there you have it. Glasses do not a nerdling make.

But -- uh -- maybe someone should have told this 15 year old ...


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Literary Tour for Freedom of Expression

Check out the following event, sponsored by PEN Canada and The Vancouver Readers & Writers Festival:

a literary tour for freedom of expression

Saturday, April 5th 7:30pm

Suggested Admission - $10

Advance Tickets (604) 689.0926

The Firehall Arts Centre,
280 East Cordova St

Featuring readings by
Jalal Barazanji Afua Cooper Hadani Ditmars & Sheng Xue

For more information contact:
Vancouver International Writers
Festival (604) 681-6330 or
PEN Canada www.penca

PEN Canada Launches Words Without Borders, A Cross Country Tour for Freedom of Expression

PEN Canada is taking its literary reading series Readers and Writers on
the road featuring an exciting line-up of established Canadian writers alongside members of PEN Canada's Writers in Exile Program. Words Without Borders features authors from around the world who bear witness, speak out, and write about both local and global political issues. The tour runs from April 3rd-5th in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

The five writers participating in the tour are David Davidar, head of
Penguin Canada, and author of The Solitude of Emperors; Afua Cooper, award-winning poet, author, and recording artist selected by Essence Magazine as one of 25 women who are shaping the world; Jalal Barzanji, a Kurdish writer and poet from Iraq who is now the City of Edmonton-PEN Canada writer in exile; and Sheng Xue, a poet, journalist, and member of PEN Canada's Writers in Exile Program who left China after Tiananmen Square.

In Vancouver, the tour will be
joined by Hadani Ditmars a journalist, photographer and author of Dancing in the No-Fly Zone.

Words Without Borders, Calgary
In Partnership with WordFest: Banff-Calgary International Writers Festival 403.294.7462 Thursday April 3rd 7:30pm, Ticket Price $10 (suggested admission) Central Library, John Dutton Theatre 616 Macleod Trail Southeast

Words Without Borders, Edmonton
In Partnership with LitFest 780.498.2500 Friday April 4th, 7:00 pm Ticket Price $10 (suggested admission) Sales at Tickets on the Square or 780.420.1757 Milner Library Theatre No.7 Churchill Square

Words With Out Borders, Vancouver
In Partnership with The Vancouver International Writers Festival 604.681 6330 Saturday, April 5th 7:30pm Ticket Price $10 (suggested admission) The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova St Advance Tickets 604.689.0926 (*) David Davidar will not be participating in the Vancouver reading

Author Bios:

An ethnic Kurd from Iraq, Jalal Barzanji is a recognized poet and journalist who had a long literary career before he was forced to leave the country in 1998. He was imprisoned from 1986 to 1989 because of his writings. In Iraq, Barzanji edited several magazines and worked at many cultural organizations. He has published hundreds of articles and poems about human, cultural and women's rights. He has published six books of poetry and fiction: The Dawning Of The Evening Snow (1979, Jamour Publishing, Kurdistan of Iraq); Unwarm (1985, Rashid Publishing, Baghdad); War (1996, Gew Books, Kurdistan of Iraq); Holy Rain (2002, Kurdish Ministry of Culture); Memory of a Person Under the Wind (2006, Badrxan Pubisher, Kurdistan of Iraq) and On going back to Birth place (2007, Mnara, Kurdistan of Iraq). Barzanji served on the board of the Iraqi Kurdish Writers' Union and was executive director of the Culture Department of the Culture Ministry in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Since coming to Canada, Barzanji has continued to write and has published several volumes of poetry in Kurdish. Barzanji is currently PEN Writer in Exile in the City of Edmonton.

Afua Cooper is an eminent and award-winning author, historian, poet,
curator, performer, cultural worker, and recording artist. A recent winner of the Harry Jerome Award for Professional Excellence, Afua was also chosen by the editors of Essence Magazine (Oct. 2005) as one of the 25 women who are shaping the world. Her most recent history publication The Hanging of Angélique, The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montréal was nominated for the 2006 Governor-General's Award in non-fiction. Afua recently completed The Young Phillis Wheatley, a fictionalized account of the life and art of the eighteenth-century Black poet Phillis Wheatley, and the Young Henry Bibb, based on the early life of the Black North American antislavery advocate. Her poems have been anthologized in national and international publications, and translated in several languages. She has published five books of poetry including the award-winning Memories Have Tongue. Afua's newest book of poetry is Copper Woman. Also a dynamic and riveting performer, Afua has participated in numerous events across Canada, the Caribbean, the UK, the United States, and West Africa. Known as a proponent of the African-Caribbean poetry genre, Dub poetry, Afua has fused together the scribal, literary, musical, and performative aspects of that artfrom in her performances. Her first solo recording Sunshine is as collection of poems for children. Her latest poetry CD is Worlds of Fire: In Motion. Afua founded the Committee to Commemorate and Memorialize the Abolition of the Slave Trades (CMAST)

David Davidar was born in Kerala, India, in 1959. He is a graduate of
Madras University and Harvard, where he obtained a diploma in publishing. After working as a journalist and while still in his mid 20s, Davidar founded Penguin India with a budget of just US$10,000. The company published a mere six titles in 1987, but later became one of Asia's biggest publishing houses with revenues running into millions. Davidar's first novel, The House of Blue Mangoes, published in 2002, is a sweeping epic, which chronicles three generations who witness major events in the history of India. Not wanting to take advantage of his publishing connections, Davidar sent out the novel under a pseudonym, only coming clean when an agent expressed a wish to meet the author. The book was a critical success and has been translated into 16 languages. It was also a New York Times Notable Book in 2002. In 2004, Davidar transferred to Penguin Canada where he orchestrated a similarly remarkable turn-around in the company's fortunes. Authors that Davidar has published include Salman Rushdie, Kiran Desai, Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, Rohinton Mistry, William Dalrymple, Shashi Tharoor, Philip Roth, Zadie Smith, Khaled Hosseini, Hisham Matar and Alice Munro. His new novel, The Solitude of Emperors, was released in September, 2007.

Journalist, author and photographer Hadani Ditmars' work examines the
human costs of sectarian strife as well as cultural resistance to war, occupation and embargo. Hadani's work, which has taken her to Beirut, Iran, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Zanzibar, Guatemala, Colombia, Egypt, Ireland, Indonesia, Italy, India, Jordan, Tunisia and Uzbekistan, has been published in the New York Times, the London Independent, The Globe and Mail, Newsweek, Time, Macleans and Ms. Magazine and broadcast on CBC and BBC radio and television. Hadani has been a regular CBC Radio's Dispatches contributor since the show's debut in 2001. She was also a regular current affairs commentator on Rogers OMNI television program The Standard. Her best selling book Dancing in the No Fly Zone (chosen by the Globe and Mail as one of 100 best and most influential books of 2005) recounts her time in Iraq from 1997 until the fall of 2003 and is one of the few recent books on the troubled nation that covers pre and post invasion reality. Hadani's next book focuses on her return to Israel/Palestine and Lebanon a decade and half after her first sojourns there.

Sheng Xue grew up in Beijing. She moved to Canada soon after the June 4th
Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. In 2000, she won the Canadian Association of Journalists Award for Investigative Journalism and the National Magazine Award, for an investigative report on the lives of Chinese boat refugees published in Maclean's magazine. In 2001, Sheng Xue investigated China's most prominent smuggling case and published a book (in Chinese), Unveiling the Yuan Hua Case (2001, Mirror Books, New York). China's Propaganda Ministry immediately banned the book. Sheng Xue has been writing poetry and prose for many years, over a hundred of which have been published. Sheng Xue's article, "The Unbearable Heaviness of Being", was collected in The Exiles Who Did Not Die (2005, INK Publishing Limited, Taiwan). The book collected thirty-nine articles of Chinese authors in exile. Her prose stories "The Bloody Morning" and "Light up a Candle Please" were collected in Poetry and Tank (2007, Chen Zhong Publishing House, Hong Kong). Sheng Xue is a member of the Editorial Board of June 4 Poetry, a collection of poems commemorating the June 4th Movement.

Me again. We sponsored a PEN Canada 'Writer's Chair' at SiWC in 2007 -- where a chair was prominently displayed to honour a writer who has been imprisoned for his work. PEN does a great job of trying to give those writers whose voices are denied them a place to be heard.


SFU Summer Publishing Program

Suzanne Norman, coordinator of SFU's Summer Publishing Workshops is spreading the word:

Trying to get a foot in the door of publishing?
Trying to get that promotion?
Need to hone your editing, production or design skills?

Registrations and applications are now being accepted in Canada's premier publishing education program: Simon Fraser University's Summer Publishing Workshops.

Keep pace with the dizzying changes in the publishing industry. Work with the top publishing minds from across Canada and the US to hone you skills in all areas of publishing: books, magazines, editing, design and production.

One and two day seminars will quickly get you up to speed in topical issues, trends and needed skills. Immersion and intensive workshops in book publishing, editing and design plunge you deep in the process with hand's on training by the best in the business.

In 2008, more than 100 faculty, and approximately 450 participants, will come to SFU Vancouver in the downtown core for 38 workshops in books, magazines, editing, and design.

At the Symposium on the Book, crime writing aficionados and literary fiction connoisseurs alike will be stimulated and engaged in this year's Symposium on the Book as 10 of Canada's top experts on all aspects of crime writing and publishing delve deep not only into the techniques and mechanics of writing crime, but into the role and place of 'genre' writing in Canada.

Call now for more information: 778 782 5241


*This is actually the emblam for the science and engineering faculty at SFU, but I couldn't find one for the summer writing program. Perhaps I should have just posted a picture of a grassy hillside on campus...

Brunch for Books

On Sunday March 30th, award-winning author Kari-Lynn Winters will present her picture book JEFFREY AND SLOTH at the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver
for Raise a Reader's Brunch for Books.

Children under 5 are invited to participate for free and $5.00 from each brunch will be donated to the Raise a Reader campaign.

Participants also receive a complimentary copy of Jeffrey and Sloth, which Kari-Lynn will sign at the event.

Brunch is at 11:30 am, with the reading at 12:30p.m. Call 604-691-1991 to make your reservations.

(A reminder that Kari-Lynn's book is up for the BC Book Prizes this year -- this is a wonderful chance to meet this sky-rocketing young author!)


Monday, March 24, 2008

This and That

Ah -- spring time in Canada!

Today on the Wet Coast, we've had sleet, snow, freezing rain and brilliant sunshine.

And yet, we must count ourselves lucky for a mere 3500 km away, the weather has a more tenuous hold on the denizens of the east.

For my dear friend the Novel Woman, I post an update of my neighbour's cherry tree, in response to her Easter weekend cottage photo, which you can find here:

Spring will come again to Montreal, dear NW, I promise!

I am in the middle of finalizing the SiWC roster for this year, and simultaneously trying to set up the brochure for publication. I also find myself amidst another rewrite of DEADLINE, tightening the focus and removing the many extraneous plot complications that somehow (without my cooperation) manage to insinuate themselves into my work. (In my defense, this may well be a reflection of the extraneous plot complications of my life...). AND, I am expecting to receive the edits for my new book any day now, adding extreme urgency to these other tasks.

Yet, somehow, I am stricken by the need to post the following ...

Step one -- find decent mud puddle. Drink contents.

Step Two -- launch sneak attack on unsuspecting sibling, previously relaxing and minding his own business. Note aggressive ear positioning.

Step Three -- savage sibling mercilessly, to mutual delight.

Step Four -- pause to catch breath.

Step Five -- leap back in to finish the job.

Step Six -- ensure photographer is still paying attention.

Step Seven -- one down, who's next?

~kc, back to work....

Saturday, March 22, 2008

MacBook Update

As many of you know, I finally took the leap into the MacPool this month. For a writer who has struggled her whole life under the PC yoke, this was pretty much akin to achieving Nirvana.

It has not been a total walk in the park, however. I am having to get used to new software, plus converting email, address books and the gazillions of files I have on my PC -- well, let's just say it's a job that may never be finished.

My son took this shot as I was setting up the new beast a couple of weeks ago, and you can see single, all-seeing eye of the peripheral hard drive that I got at the same time. The hard drive works with Time Machine, and is a thing of beauty. When my machine is at home, I plug it in and it backs up everything new I've done while I've been away. If I can figure out how to back up the files in my PC onto this hard drive, it might save a bit of worry in case the old machine ultimately crashes (which I expect it to, daily).

I'm planning to start all new projects on the MacBook and go from there. I've also invested in new software called SCRIVENER, designed to help writers collect their scattered thoughts in one place, and particular to Macs. I'll let you know how it works.

In the meantime, if you have any tips or tricks for me --I'm listening!


Friday, March 21, 2008

Vantage Point

A brief post for this Good Friday evening. Went to see Vantage Point tonight for a lark. The first 3/4 of the movie wasn't bad, apart from the requisite wild-eyed (and paper-thin) standard-issue terrorists, and a really, really high body count. The suspense level was pretty good, though, until the jingoism settled in over the final half hour or so. Not a good sign when there is scattered laughter from the audience in response to hackneyed dialogue and implausible action.

Ah, well. It was a good cast -- surprising to see Sigourney Weaver (looking marvellously her real age -- way to go, Sigourney!) in such a small part. It was nice to see William Hurt again. Forrest Whittaker was a bit wasted in his role, but I always love watching him, regardless. And Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox did yeoman's service, both playing just enough against type to keep it interesting.

And to end on a softer note - in honour of the first full day of spring, I give you --

a passel of puppies.

These lads and lassies are but two days old, and need to remain anonymous for now. All will be revealed in good time...

In the meantime, I defy you to resist their charms.

Happy Springtime!


Thursday, March 20, 2008


Fresh greenery in the woods above my house!

The happiest of vernal equinoxes to you all. The day is grey, so I think it unlikely that we (on the west coast anyway) will have any hope of equal daylight to night. But behind those clouds, the sun is there somewhere, doing its thing -- let's hope to some good effect.

My yoga class has been cancelled for spring break. I miss it...

A few musings. Yesterday was five years to the day of the Iraqui invasion. I marched for peace before-hand to no effect, beyond leaving me with the feeling I had at least the opportunity to air my views publically. Things continue to heat up in Tibet and the debate of to boycott or not to boycott rages over the Olympics. I remember the boycott of the Moscow Olympics -- the disappointment of the athletes who were forbidden to go, but I understand the idea of trying to make one's voice (no matter how small or distant) heard.

And yet -- whenever I think of these giant, unsolvable, insurmountable issues, I am reminded that they are merely standard human fare, writ large. When someone stomps off from an argument, it so often results in little more than the drawing of lines in the sand. I like the idea of keeping communication open, somehow. And I think how easy it is to see the faults in others without taking the time for a closer examination of self. I read an interesting article this week in the New Yorker on the history of the use of water boarding (often referred to as "the Water Cure") by American forces back to their engagement in the Phillipines in the 19th C.

Spring is a time of new beginnings, and the optimist in me still holds out hope we can, as a species, if not correct the wrongs we have committed, at least look deep into ourselves before we repeat our mistakes.

And after that small aberration into the current contemplative state of my soul, I leave you with a shot I took last night of my puppy Silas, having just (with great relish) consumed his own bed.



Tuesday, March 18, 2008

An Author of Good Breeding

Miriam Toewes has come to town. The author of A COMPLICATED KINDNESS, A BOY OF GOOD BREEDING, and THE SUMMER OF MY AMAZING LUCK is here in Vancouver for a brief writer-in-residence stint at the University of British Columbia.

Her arrival was feted last night by a large group of well-wishers who gathered at Christianne's Lyceum of Literature & Art in Kitsilano. As is usual at Christianne's fantastic venue, there was great food and drink and lots of mingling for all in attendance.

The event was sponsored by the Swayze Agency (this is literary agent Carolyn Swayze laughing with Miriam) and the place was packed.

My one regret is that I didn't get a picture of Kris Rothstein's Moose skirt. I am heart-broken about this, and can only hope that I will get invited to another event where Kris will see fit to wear it again and I can properly document the skirt in all its glory.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Paddy's Day

Last year on this day I was standing on the streets of San Francisco with my daughter, taking in the St. Patrick's Day parade. To kill the pain of that memory (clarification: the memory is not painful -- the fact that I am not there again this year is...) I hereby post the inaugural embedded video for this blog.

I can't think of anything more appropriate to the maturity standards of the author. Hankies out -- Enjoy.


Sunday, March 16, 2008


I just finished 'CAUSEWAY', a memoir by CBC journalist Linden MacIntyre. The first couple of chapters didn't grab me, but soon I got caught up in the story of the building of the Cape Breton causeway as it wrapped itself around the events of MacIntyre's growing up.

This picture is taken from an old tourist souvenir postcard of the causeway in 1955. Prior to its construction, ferry service was the only way Cape Breton Islanders travelled to the mainland. This umbilcus was supposed to change everything for the people of Cape Breton, and some would argue life has never been the same since.

MacIntyre's beginnings are fascinating -- his grandparent's first language was Gaelic and his paternal grandmother never did learn to speak English. The parallels he draws of the building of the causeway and the end of the rare, very 19thC sort of existence lived by many Cape Bretoners makes a fascinating prospect.

In the end, it was a great read.

When I was doing a little research on Linden MacIntyre (and his son, CBC reporter Darrow MacIntyre) this evening, I discovered for the first time that MacIntyre senior is married to none other than CBC's Carol Off -- a favourite of mine from 'As It Happens', and before that, as a foreign correspondent for the Mother Corps. Apparently, they have been married since 2000. Carol Off's book BITTER CHOCOLATE has been on my tbr list since it came out last year. It's an expose of the cocoa industry, and I'm quite desperate to read it. No dearth of talent in that family!

Speaking of talent, I'm thrilled to have been invited to meet one of my absolute favourite Canuck writers tomorrow. Will reveal all in due course...


Friday, March 14, 2008

Highlands Fling

Had a great time at Highlands Elementary today. The place was filled with kids (and teachers) wearing pj's and carrying books. I talked with four different groups (which I think ended up being 7 classes) and we had a great time cruising through the Middle Ages and talking about writing books and reading.

By this time next year, the school will be moving into a new facility currently being built next door, so it was great to make a farewell visit to this venerable North Shore school. Many thanks for the warm welcome to librarian Mike Ewan and the whole Highlands gang!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring Break is here...

...or will be, as of tomorrow afternoon.

But there is one more day of school to get through before the joy of a spring holiday happens.

Highlands Elementary School in North Vancouver is approaching the day with undeniable sensibility. They are having Pyjama Day, with the ultimate goal of six hours spent in maximum comfort, reading.

I get to be a part of it, and though I don't plan to be sporting my pyjamas (which are not really fit for public consumption), I promise to wear something odd and flashy and well-suited to reading gory, scary and cool stories.

The image above is a copy of Leonardo's actual signature, which figures large in one of the stories I may get a chance to tell tomorrow. You'll note the signature is in mirror-writing -- not only right-to-left but backwards, as well suited that most remarkable of men.

In other news, Silas has made it through the week without eating a couch or a cushion or a wicker chair. (He did eat the dish scrubber -- for a total of three dish scrubbers now consumed -- but in terms of volume it barely rates a mention.) Part of this may be due to the fact that he went through most of the week with bare gums on both sides, but now his adult teeth are pushing through and perhaps his couch-chewing days are behind him now [she sez, hopefully...]

And on the computer front, I am afraid that Leopard OSX For Dummies will be supplanting Mansfield Park tonight. (I'm on the final book of Jane Austen's sadly small oevre. She died at 41 of tuberculosis of the liver). I'm more in need of Leopard learnin' than of a brisk walk through the English countryside, so Jane and her plucky heroines and gallant gentlemen must step aside for the moment.

Let's hope some of it sticks.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Writing Contests...

Sashayed off to Surrey today for a SiWC board meeting. Lots of HUGE talent on tap for this year, and the roster is almost ready for public viewing...

But not quite.

So while I leave you in suspense just a bit longer, I thought I'd mention the SiWC writing contest.
This is a fantastic contest -- with one of the richest prize packages for a conference-associated contest. You can check out the details for sure at, but here's a brief precis:


All entries must be received at SiWC 2008 Writing Contest, Surrey International Writers' Conference, Unit 400, 9260 – 140 Street, Surrey, BC Canada V3V 5Z4, by 4 pm, Friday, September 5, 2008.

As always, blind judging is in effect. For complete contest regulations, please visit our website at or contact kc dyer, contest coordinator, at .

Contest open to all writers 18 years of age and over. Entry fees: All categories are $15 per submission. (Please send cheque or international money order only. Do not send cash by mail.) Enter often – there is no limit to the number of submissions per writer. You do not have to attend the conference to enter the contest.

SiWC Storyteller's Award

1st Place $1000

Honourable Mention $150

Sponsored by Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte. Short stories 3,500 to 5,000 words.

SiWC Non-fiction Award

1st Place $1000

Honourable Mention $150

Maximum length: 1500 words

SiWC Poetry Award

1st Place $1000

Honourable Mention $150

One poem per submission

Maximum length: 36 lines

SiWC Writing for Young People Award 1st Place $1000 Honourable Mention $150
Short stories only. Picture books & illustrations will not be accepted. Writers under 18 years of age are encouraged to submit to the Surrey Public Library's Young Writers' Contest. Maximum length: 1500 words

And this? This is a shot of the moon hanging over Edinburgh Castle at night, taken looking across the roof of the train station (built on the site of an old loch, long drained). I had a magical research trip to this remarkable city a couple of years ago, and am feeling my familiar spring yearning to return.

My new story is set in Edinburgh. It's a ghost story, as any decent tale about this place need be.

It'll have to do for now.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Not THAT kind of sleep...

This is Delia - or more properly, this WAS Delia. She was a Cornish Hairless, and until a couple of months ago she ruled the roost at my friend Norma's house. She was at least 19 when she made her final visit to the vet, but she will live on in the new novel (first in a series of 5) I have been working on lately. I LOVED this cat -- her paws looked like the hooked claws of any respectable witch, and will do her proud as she cavorts through the new stories.

Her picture is here simply serendipitously, as I have managed to transfer only a limited number of my pix from my old computer. But somehow, her appearance suits the theme of today's blog in a morbid kind of way...

Today's MacLesson: like Delia (or perhaps unlike Delia -- I think she was ready for the journey when she finally left) my new MacBook does not like being put to sleep. Last night I did just that, only to find the patient completely unresponsive this morning. After much frantic calling of dealers and googling of troubleshooting techniques, I found a simple three-button re-boot solution (after a minute of unplugging) did the trick nicely. But from now on, to save myself (and my new machine) from apoplexy, I will simply turn it off at night.

In other news, I have to hie off to Surrey tomorrow for the monthly SiWC gathering. The faculty roster is almost in place and I'll be posting messages to the SiWC mailing list shortly. Lots of excitement for this year, guaranteed!

Had an exceedingly muddy walk through the woods with Meg Tilly and her dog Molly today. Molly is most excellently suited to thoroughly wearing out Silas and Seamus. And did I mention that Meg's latest book PORCUPINE has been nominated for a BC Book Award? We are keeping our fingers and paws crossed for her!


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Signs of Spring...

Note to all my friends in the Great White East (especially A Novel Woman, adrift in Montreal)-- Physical evidence that springtime will come again: these crocuses (croci?) have pushed their way through the muck in the woods above my house in the last day or two. Sending warm western winds your way!

Spent much of the day struggling with the computer transfer. Most things going smoothly -- managed to network the old computer and the new to the ADSL today, AND I learned how to import images directly from my camera into Iphoto. But I have still not figured out how to export/import my address book to Mac Mail. Somewhere there has to be a video tutorial for this.

I think I will break down and buy the OSX Leopard for Dummies book tomorrow. However, I am now so spoiled by the speed and ease of the Mac that when Blogger took longer than usual to load the accompanying photos, I found myself quite perturbed. How quickly we forget...

In dog news, I made some progress today with distracting the noble beast (at right) from jumping up on people at the park. I can't seem to train him OUT of anything, so instead am focusing on 'Come' and 'Sit', reinforced with bacon-bit bribery every time he looks like he might want to greet a passer-by with a leaping French Kiss (his specialty). Met with moderate success. Seamus is very excited about the new training regimen, as he is such a good boy, he also scores bacon-bit benefits. The joys of being the well-behaved big brother!

A final peek at spring -- my neighbour's cherry tree, just beginning to break into blossom...


Friday, March 07, 2008

A New Era Begins...

...with the first post on my new MacBook Pro.

It is a beautiful thing.

Is it not?

I ask you. Look at those sleek lines, that nifty titanium-coloured casing.

I am in love.

It is so fast and so not a PC that I couldn't be happier.

Of course, now I have to learn to use the thing.

I've hooked 'er up to the internet, as you can tell by reading this post. I've moved a few files over and connected my new peripheral hard drive (in itself a thing of awesome power, which works with Time Machine to back up everything at the touch of a button).

I still have a lot to learn, but in the meantime am having great fun noodling. I'm sure there are other things of great import I am to blog about today, but I can't recall any of them at the moment. Remind me if they occur to you, okay?


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Chasing my tail...

...after a quick trip to Calgary this week. Much to relate, but for now a quick word of congratulations to all the nominees for the BC Book Prizes, just announced last night.

Shortlisted titles include:

For the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize:

Adam’s Peak by Heather Burt

Conceit by Mary Novik

Radiance by Shaena Lambert

The Reckoning of Boston Jim by Claire Mulligan

Soucouyant by David Chariandy

For the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize:

The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating by J.B. MacKinnon, Alisa Smith Everywhere Being is Dancing by Robert Bringhurst

Interwoven Wild: An Ecologist Loose in the Garden by Don Gayton Phantom Limb by Theresa Kishkan

The Triumph of Citizenship: The Japanese and Chinese in Canada, 1941-67 by Patricia E. Roy

For the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize:

Forage by Rita Wong

The Incorrection by George McWhirter

Ox by Christopher Patton

Paper Trail by Arleen Paré

Soft Geography by Gillian Wigmore

For the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize:

The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating by J.B. MacKinnon, Alisa Smith Fortune’s a River: The Collision of Empires in the Pacific Northwest by Barry Gough

The Last Wild Wolves: Ghosts of the Rain Forest by Ian McAllister

The Lost Coast: Salmon, Memory and the Death of Wild Culture by Tim Bowling

Spirit In the Grass: The Cariboo-Chilcotin’s Forgotten Landscape by Chris Harris

For the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize:

The Alchemist’s Dream by John Wilson

Baboon: A Novel by David Jones

The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane by Polly Horvath

For Now by Gayle Friesen

Porcupine by Meg Tilly

For the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize:

The Day It All Blew Away by Lisa Cinar

Elf the Eagle by Ron Smith, Illustrated by Ruth Campbell

Jeffrey and Sloth by Kari-Lynn Winters, Illustrated by Ben Hodson

Pink by Nan Gregory, Illustrated by Luc Melanson

A Sea-Wishing Day by Robert Heidbreder, Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

For the BC Booksellers’ Choice Award in Honour of Bill Duthie:

The Blue Flames That Keep Us Warm: Mike McCardell’s Favourite Stories by Mike McCardell

Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs by Grant Arnold, Michael Turner

The Last Wild Wolves: Ghosts of the Rain Forest by Ian McAllister

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

Spirit In the Grass: The Cariboo-Chilcotin’s Forgotten Landscape by Chris Harris

I am particularly thrilled for Meg, Kari-Lyn, John and Nan -- all members of CWILL BC. Best wishes to all the nominees -- good luck everyone!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Jan Furst

A brief one tonight. Had a great CWILL BC exec meeting this afternoon to plan for the rest of the year, including the upcoming Spring Book Hatching.
But this blog is devoted to Jan, pictured here -- an incredible writer and human being. I took this shot the other night at the World Poetry Reading Series fete for Bernice Lever, celebrating her lifetime of achievement as a poet. Jan spotted me and raced over for a hug. He moves faster than any other 95 year old I know. Jan lives on Bowen Island and is still actively pursuing his writing career.
I was unable to attend his birthday party last month, so a belated 95th to you, Jan!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Leap Day Happenings...

Spent the day wearing green frog legs as a testament to Leap Day, in a questionable attempt at communion with all the really tall frogs in the world. The greater part of the day passed at St. George's School, a private school for boys on the west side of Vancouver. The school is located in what was once a convent -- a heritage building of grey stone with gargoyles frolicking about the corners of the masonry.

Teacher Jody Unger was fantastic -- her boys asked GREAT questions and I was made to feel very welcome. Thanks, St. George's!


Congratulations to CWILL BC past-president Pam Withers, whose latest book, MOUNTAINBOARD MADNESS, launched on Leap Day. Pam held her launch at Christianne's Lyceum in Vancouver, and presented her new book to a packed house of delighted fans. You can learn all about Pam's amazing series by checking out her website:


Meanwhile, back at the Vancouver Public Library, a huge crowd turned out to watch Bernice Lever and Ashok Bhargava be presented Lifetime Achievement Awards by the World Poetry Reading gang at their 7th Anniversary event. It was a stellar evening, and the place rocked to performances by Peruvian, Tibetan, Argentinian and Canadian musicians.
Bernice is a remarkable poet and teacher and has been a tremendous mentor to me. I was thrilled to be able to share this amazing evening with this wise woman.