Thursday, May 29, 2008

Surrey International Writers' Conference

...Newsletter went live today.

I may have mentioned before in this space that one of the things I do when I am not writing is coordinate the above-named conference. This job, while being a joy and a privilege, also eats my head upon occasion. And right now is a particularly busy time.

The remarkable Dale McGladdery, webmaster extraordinaire, has been working like a madman to update the SiWC site. Things are looking good, and if you want a sneak peek at some of the names of presenters, you can look here.

But it is nowhere near complete, so keep checking back. Dale is adding new content every day, including the names of a whole whack of other presenters. (I use the term collectively, of course.)

The BEST way of keeping track of all that is going on with SiWC is to grab the RSS feed that we will be running from both the newsletters and the new blog. But wait! It's not set up yet. Will be soon, though. So grab it then. When? I'll tell you.

So really, you are likely to hear it here first.

To finish, a gratuitous photo of my new canine nephew Ronan. My sister assures me he is not really this angelic when awake...


Wednesday, May 28, 2008 my life

Dennis Cass, I am going to read your book.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ready? Set... Shoot!

So, after our little incident with the pie this weekend, we began the process of shooting our CWILL BC video.

This endeavour is intended to bring the faces of CWILL BC members to the world -- physical evidence that when you ask a CWILL author or illustrator to come to your school, don't expect someone to show up who is just going to read a story...

The shoot took place under the generous auspices (and roof) of Christianne Hayward, at her Lyceum.

(This is the wonderful Susan from the Lyceum, ever-patient and helpful...)

The place was a sea of banners,


and raw, blistering talent.

Pam Withers was there with her kayak. Tanya Kyi with her beautiful daughter Julia AND her blue jeans.

This is a shot of hands-on scientist Shar Levine working her experimental magic.

A whole pile of other authors and illustrators did their respective things, live and in person for our studio audience.

The whole thing was captured in all its digital glory by film maker Sally Jorgenson.

Next we're going to get down to the editing, pull in a few other clips from CWILLers too far afield to attend, and by sometime this summer...

I think we may have ourselves a little movie.

Thanks to all who shared the faith and came out to be a part of the adventure!


Monday, May 26, 2008

CWILL BC Executive Farewell

I have been VP of the Children's Writers and Illustrators of British Columbia for two years. During that time I have worked with a hugely energetic and enthusiastic group of people and it's been a lot of fun.

Next month, I shall retire back into the shadows to allow the new members of the executive to take over. The main reason I've stuck with the job over the past couple of years, however, is the persuasive power of this man:

This is James McCann. Nice smile, eh? He's the president of CWILL, and the guy that talked me into taking the job of VP. I like to think I've brought a little vice into the workplace over the past couple of years, but I'm not the only one.

One of the reasons James and I get along so well is that we really agree on food. First of all, we both love to eat. And I may be a vegetarian to his unrepentant carnivore, but we both know what we like.

As a result, almost all of the meetings we hold involve food. We've eaten sushi all over the city, drunk hot chocolate and coffee in endless cafes and never turn down a trip to Granville Island that involves lunch.

But closest to our hearts has to be...this place.

True Confections. A dessert-lovers dream.

This particular location is in Kitsilano, on the corner of Broadway and Alma.

On the days we meet here for lunch, we don't actually eat lunch. As a matter of fact, I don't eat breakfast on those days, either.

My love is the mile-high chocolate cake. NOT quite as good as the espresso chocolate cake, of the late lamented Capers in West Van. But close.

Very close.

One piece of chocolate cake can provide more than enough calories to compensate for two, perhaps nutritionally more sound, but infinitely less fun meals.

James, (remember him?) however, lives not for chocolate cake.

His love is the pie -- banana cream, to be exact.

So, just yesterday, James and I hauled all the folks helping to organize the upcoming Spring Book Hatching down to True Confections for our final planning meeting.

Look at how keen this group is...intensely discussing their plans. Kirsti Wakelin, Jacquie Pearce, Kathie Shoemaker, Lee Fodi, Joan Stuchner. Hardworking authors and illustrators, giving up their Sunday afternoon in the sun to meet with us.

But wait! Who is that on the end?

And what is that in sitting on the table front of him?

Remember that nice smile from the beginning of this post? Let's take a closer look, shall we?

Just look at the glint in those eyes.

He might be smiling, but it is the smile of the cat about to pounce on the canary....

The smile of the pirhana, gliding above the plump perch....

The smile of the cannibal, poised above the fleshy foot of the unwary tourist...

...wouldn't you say?

(Please note decorus bottle of Diet Coke, which does NOT belong to the banana-cream-pie-devouring maniac, but to the sedate chocolate-cake-eating vegetarian. What? You see an incongruity in Diet Coke and chocolate cake? I can't think what you mean...)

Back to more important things.

Let's just take a closer peek at that slab o' pie, shall we?

That is one BIG piece of pie.

(For those who earlier objected to the Diet Coke, please note the extra-large Root Beer float that is being consumed along with the banana cream pie. Technically the float was Lee Fodi's fault, but James managed to choke it down, all the same.)

In all fairness, everybody ate something. Jacquie enjoyed a berry crumble, and Lee ate some huge confection, too, along with his own root beer float.

I think Kathie had tea.

Kathie is the _class_ of the organization.

But nonetheless, we got all the loose ends for Spring Book Hatching tied up, did a little planning for the video shoot that was to take place a bit later in the day, and...

James finished his pie.

This may have been our last executive meeting at True Confections, but since James and I are about to storm the Western provinces with our (aptly named) Chocolate & Chat tour this summer...

I think True Confections hasn't seen the last of us.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Film Making Time

After a brief meeting to ensure all is in order for CWILL BC's upcoming Spring Book Hatching Event on June 14th, spent the rest of the day shooting footage at Christianne's Lyceum for our CWILL BC promotional video.

Thanks to all the brave members who showed up to be a part of this maiden effort!

We have a script, we have footage, we have a cinematographer (Sally Jorgenson) and we have a plan. It remains to be seen how all these elements come together.

I'll keep you posted.


[Photo credit to Gabriel Suarez (Lake Pleasant, MA) through Creative Commons license at Open Photo.]

Friday, May 23, 2008

To Bee...

...or in this case...not.

Or once was, but no longer.

An ex-bee. Should be pushing up the daisies, etc.

I just had to post this, because, well...

He was the biggest dead bee I have ever found. (I use the word 'he' loosely, you understand...)

I mean -- here he is beside a penny.

He DWARFS the penny!

Is this not the biggest ex-bee you've ever seen?

Look at the size of the shadow he casts...

Big Bee, little bee -- what begins with B? <------- literary allusion, justifying post in some kind of oblique, twisted way that only the author (and perhaps her sister) might understand.

[This post is primarily directed at those of you who are regular readers of Neil Gaiman's blog, and are therefore accustomed to the odd bee-andering post. With apologies for all puns...beeg and small.]


Thursday, May 22, 2008

We have a Winner!

Last week I put a little contest up on Linda Gerber's blog to celebrate the advent of her new book DEATH BY BIKINI. Mine was (in true Canuck fashion) the only snowy beach scene, so (in part to compensate) I asked participants to comment by sending in the name of their favourite beach.

The results were amazing -- beaches from all around the world. Thanks to all for participating!

And the winner of a copy of MS ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK is...


So Daniel, if you just send me an email with your mailing address at, I'll get a signed copy of this book off to you right away.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Whole Lotta Shakin...

Board meeting in Surrey today to further the progress of this year's SiWC conference. The website is looking incredible, and will be available for public viewing (in all likelihood) within the next week. The text for the brochure is coming together and soon, soon, soon I'll be able to lift the curtain on the names of the presenters for this year.

*** is the press release for Spring Book Hatching, 2008:

Just in time for summer reading, the Children’s Writers and Illustrators of BC (CWILL BC) is pleased to announce the second annual Spring Book Hatching, a special event to celebrate the release of the latest books by local authors and artists.

Spring Book Hatching will be held June 14, 2008, from 1-3 pm in the Peter Kaye room and lower level at the Vancouver Public Library. This free event promises to have something for every young reader, with picture books, juvenile fiction, and young adult books all being showcased. The afternoon will feature live presentations, free autographs, displays, door prizes, a book sale and—best of all—the chance for lovers of children’s literature to meet their favourite BC author or illustrator.

We have some incredible, award-winning authors and illustrators in this province,” says CWILL BC president James McCann. “We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to gather so much of our local talent together in one room. Last year, this event was an incredible success, and we can’t wait to show the public what we’ve all been up to since last year.”

To date, the following authors and illustrators are scheduled to appear at Spring Book Hatching: Caroline Adderson, Sue Ann Alderson, Ann Alma, Dan Bar-el, Lillian Boracks-Nemetz, Julie Burtinshaw, Kristin Butcher, Izabel Bzymek, Norma Charles, kc dyer

Lee Edward Födi, Dayle Campbell Gaetz, Patricia Godwin, James Heneghan, Shelley Hrdlitschka, Vi Hughes, Melanie Jackson, Katarina Jovanovik, Shar Levine, Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Laura Langston, Meomi, James Mccann, Gina Mcmurchy-Barber, Michelle Mulder, Rachel Dunstan Muller, Maxwell Newhouse, Cynthia Nugent, Jacqueline Pearce, Robin Stevenson, Crystal Stranaghan, Joan Betty Stuchner, Nikki Tate, Meg Tilly, Kirsti Anne Wakelin, Irene Watts, John Wilson, Kari-Lynn Winters, and Pam Withers.

CWILL BC is a lively group of published writers and illustrators for children. With close to 150 members across British Columbia, we exchange information about creating literary works for young people, we support one another and we help promote our books. Our volunteer, cooperative organization also communicates with other arts groups, schools and libraries in BC and Canada. Spring Book Hatching is hosted by CWILL BC, Pandora’s Collective, and the Vancouver Public Library.



And not only that...

Fellow Compuserve Books & Writers Forum denizens will know the names of Carol Spradling and Jennifer Hendren. Carol has a new book coming out this month (it's called COST OF FREEDOM, and is being released digitally by Wild Rose Press), and Jennifer is celebrating with a book give-away on her blog. Check it out!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Seamus Finds a Stick

Seamus is 3 now, and he's a pretty good boy, most of the time. And like the bulk of his species, he has a great fondness for sticks. He likes to bring them to me on our hikes.

But, sadly, these days, we no longer hike alone.

No sooner does a dog find a decent stick to chew on, when what should come sneaking out of the shadows but ... the Trickster.

Rapid head movement is no deterrent.

The Trickster just rolls his eyes and moves in for the kill.

Seamus puts up a mighty struggle. After all, he is still bigger than Silas -- AND outweighs him by about 20 pounds.

But alas...

The Trickster has speed on his side.

What's a golden to do? We are made for love (and food), not speed.
(You'll note I say 'we'. Let's just say I identify...)
Once again, the Trickster prevails, leaving the Golden boy, gasping and wheezing in the dust.

Luckily, all is forgiven after a big drink from the stream.

**This episode of DogBlog brought to you whilst your humble blog author is in plague-recovery mode. Please expect a return to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow...**


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Typing Between Coughs...

The other night I was invited to speak with The Novel Knickers, a book club at Christianne's Lyceum of Literature and Art in Kitsilano.

I was there to speak about my novel Ms. Zephyr's Notebook -- and I must say I had a fabulous time.

The group was made up of 11 or 12 avid readers and their parents, and they all ensured I had a wonderful time, sharing thoughts, observations and questions about my book. The treats were splendid (I even got to take home Purdy's chocolate!), the conversation sublime. Many thanks to Christianne Hayward and her marvellous staff for hosting such a wonderful evening. And thanks to all for putting up with my alternatingly squeaky and gravelly voice.

Posts are flying fast and furious over at Linda Gerber's blog, in celebration of her new book DEATH BY BIKINI. You can check out my guest post here -- and if you leave a comment, your name goes in a draw not only for a personalized copy of MS. ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK, but for a bunch of other prizes, too.

I noticed that one of the early winners was sister writer, photography nut and blogger extraordinaire A Novel Woman -- who also, I recall, seems to have remarkable luck when it comes to winning things.

Not much else going on around here. I am currently stricken with some dreadful plague, the details of which I will spare you. Am trying to work with the SiWC's amazing webmaster (and Drupal genius) Dale McGladdery to help get our new site up and running, and pull together the 2008 brochure to deliver into the hands of designer and web genius Laurel Hickey...but mostly I am coughing, napping and reading PG Wodehouse.

I have to send out a huge thank you to sister scribe Meg Tilly for stepping in to take on a big speech off my germ-laden hands. Thank you, Meg!

And to finish, here is one of my favourite recent pictures of my own little mermaid, doing one of the things she does best -- the backstroke.

Just last weekend, she got her triple A (provincial standard) time in 100m Back, a feat which has made us all very proud.


Thursday, May 15, 2008


One of my most amazing author friends, Linda Gerber, is launching her new book this week.

She is celebrating this exciting event with a cyber-beach party on her blog.

I'll be a guest blogger over there (I think my post goes up tomorrow).

She's giving away tons of prizes this week, including an Ipod shuffle, so for a chance to win, hie on over to her blog and check it out!

You also have a chance to win a copy of my book, MS. ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK -- the winner will be announced here, too, on Thursday, May 22.

Check out Linda's new book -- it's fun in the sun!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Clean Running Water

I've just had a shower. Pure luxury. Warm water, shampoo, shaved legs -- the whole bit. I've been without running water for 26 hours, due to a little problem re-routing the pipes on my street. Now, as is the case with these little problems, nobody knew about it before it happened, and thus I didn't leap into the shower in anticipation before-hand. Let's just say that at 9 am yesterday morning, after my exercise class with the incredible Stan -- I really needed a shower, but water was nowhere to be found.

In my little village on the side of the mountain, we've had our share of boil-water advisories, so dealing with bottled water is nothing new. But this time, I had no water at all, meaning that to flush a toilet, I had to go out to my rain barrel (which I thankfully didn't drain last week -- even though I intended to, as it was looking pretty grungy) and fill a couple of buckets to dump into the toilet tank.

But the pipes are now hooked up, the water is flowing and all is well. Even the toilets are merrily flushable, with clean water (and no leaves) shushing down the drain.

All I can think about are the people in Burma (Myanmar) post-cyclone and the others in China post-earthquake. Not many hot showers or flushing toilets being enjoyed there.

If you haven't made a donation yet, I'd like to make it easy for you. Here's a link to the Canadian Red Cross site.

From this single link you can direct your funds toward the campaigns they have for Burma, China and other areas in need around the world.

Another choice is Medecins Sans Frontieres, and once again from this Canadian site, you can direct your donated funds as you choose.

Enjoy your next shower!


While I was in the shower, I very sweetly left my dogs in the kitchen, since it is raining outside. They have lots of shelter outside, but heck, thought I, let 'em stay in. Now, as you, my cherished readers well know, I've learned my lesson with puppy Silas. I cleaned everything off the counters before heading upstairs. Both dogs were lying contentedly on their respective beds.

I came back down to this:

You will note Silas is still contentedly on a bed -- only it is Seamus's bed, since his own is now eaten. This is bed number 4 consumed by Silas.

Oh -- and I forgot my toothbrush, by the sink. Rather than lugging the water upstairs to my bathroom this morning, I brought the toothbrush down to the kitchen sink.

I call this shot 'Toothbrush Reconstructed'.

My dogs are now outside.


Monday, May 12, 2008


A short one tonight -- I just finished a big re-write and my brain is watery, digested, hemorrhagic porridge. I haven't answered any of my email, my boy spent most of last night coughing (so he is much more tired than I) and I remain consistantly behind in everything.

Nonetheless, I feel compelled to tell you about this contest, since there is a mere three weeks left to the deadline...

The deadline for the Victoria School of Writing’s Flash Fiction contest is May 31, 2008. First Prize is full tuition to the summer intensive five-day course, a $635 value. Second Prize is half the cost of tuition ($318) and Third Prize, one-quarter the cost ($159).

Eligible entrants are to be 19 or older. The work can be fiction or non-fiction, and only a maximum of 300 words. The entry fee is $12.

Complete contest details can be found here.

For some inexplicable reason, Blogger will not allow me to post a picture this evening. All the more for tomorrow, then...

Good night.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mama's Day

I generally find manufactured holidays like this one pretty darned hideous, but have done my best to persevere, and have managed to survive this one just fine, thank you. I have nothing but love for the two creatures who put me in the position of motherhood, so will cling to that thought (and the beautiful flowers and chocolate) instead of sticky Hallmark sentiments.

In celebration of the day, I'd like to give a shout out to Shelley Hrdlitschka -- one of the loveliest and most gracious mothers I know. Shelley's new book GOTCHA! recently found its way into my hands. I finished reading it this week, and a great read it was.

GOTCHA! is the story of a game played in the final year of high school -- a game that starts out as a lark, but ends up markedly changing the lives of just about everyone involved. The story grabbed me by the throat and left me riveted -- I couldn't put it down until I finished.

Shelley is the author of a number of incredible stories including KAT'S FALL, SUN SIGNS and (one of my all-time favourites) DANCING NAKED.

Do yourself a favour and grab her latest -- or any of her earlier works. You won't be disappointed.


Hot off the presses --the Stellar Award was just announced, and Diane Tullson's novel RED SEA was the winner. Congratulations to Diane and to all the winners of the Red Cedar Awards, also announced this weekend.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

On Teaching, Writing, Conferences and One Sweet Baboo

Where to begin....

I've been running on too little day for all those things needing my attention, lately, so will try to catch up here a bit.

Let's start with a shout out to James McCann's CWC class, who welcomed me as their guest-teacher last week. We talked about escape and time travel and had a wickedly competitive game of pictionary with words from the very funny (very Dalh-esque) YOU ARE A BAD MAN, MR. GUM, by Andy Stanton.

These shots (deliberately anonymous) were taken as the kids spent time on their own writing projects. By the end of the session, each student will have written a novel to call their own.

On Wednesday night, I had a great time participating in a panel discussion on the subject of writing for young people. The evening was put on by the Canadian Authors Association, and fellow author (and CWILL BC members) James McCann and Meg Tilly were the other panel members. We had a packed house, and the questions from the audience (and from most excellent moderator Jean Kay) drove the evening. Two hours went by in a flash. Thanks to all the CAA exec for their warm welcome!

While we're on the subject, one of the things on my agenda for this summer is to attend CanWrite, the CAA AGM in Edmonton this year. Conference coordinator Suzanne Harris and her team are going to put on a great show.

And to finish, for now -- allow me to formally introduce Ronan:

You've seen his picture before, but now that he is actually home in Calgary, I can proudly proclaim him as my newest canine nephew -- cousin to Seamus and Silas Ermineskin. (Silas is currently in the doghouse [both literal and figurative] after eating the steering wheel of the vehicle in which he was reposing during the lacrosse game today. Pictures to follow.)

Of course, Ronan will never do anything like that.

Isn't he a beauty?


Thursday, May 08, 2008

It's Late

...and I have so much ground to cover. And cover it I will -- but in the morning, I think.

We lost power/telephone/cable/internet here in my little village this week, and I'm afraid to say it was All My Fault. And yours, [sez she, never afraid to share the blame when possible] .

I posted a random pic of the highway (aka my driveway, since it is the only way in or out of this place, save by water or air) and made a blythe (and yet somehow callous) comment on the progress -- or lack thereof -- of the upgrade.

That night, the blasting went awry, rock faces were blown away, trees and greenery were smithereened -- and along with them went the telephone and cable wires.

And thus, you find me, dear readers, in a position to blame only myself (and perhaps you, if you are willing to share) for the fact I am behind in posting and email and everything.

Almost everything.

Lack of internet means that the re-write progressed much more than apace. Am nearly ready to send it out to a small group of my fiercest critics, long cultivated (by poking them with sharp sticks and so on).

Even without technology, the words march on.

Tomorrow is a big blog day. Prepare yourselves. Much of import to export, so to speak. Discussion of my day with James McCann's CWC class. Analysis of a Most Excellent Canadian Authors Association panel with the very same James McCann and the very lovely Meg Tilly.

And I will not neglect the usual wildlife and weather reports, along with much more.

'Til then, dear readers -- I bid you good night.


Monday, May 05, 2008

Teaching Day

Stepped in today for James McCann, and taught his Creative Writing class. I've worked with these kids before -- they are terrific writers. We had a lot of fun today.

Pix and more tomorrow. I'm pooped!

(Apropos of nothing, this is a shot of the current state of construction on the Sea to Sky. It's a long way from done, yet.)


Saturday, May 03, 2008


...are so hard, man.

Objectivity is impossible.

But, trying to see the positive... I am more than half-way done. I have a full day tomorrow to work.

Oh, and Mad Boris just got himself elected as Lord Mayor of London.

I think that alone warrants a return trip!

And since I haven't mentioned the Trickster for a few posts, here is a shot of him sleeping. You'll notice he sleeps with his eyes open.

Always thinking, this boy.


Pee Ess -- these are supposed to be MY eyes, at the top, not those of Mad Boris. I'm quite sure he uses Visene.

Friday, May 02, 2008


As I may have mentioned once or twice in this space, I live on the side of a mountain, overlooking the southern-most fjord on the mainland west coast. (Not sure I've ever actually thrown the fjord bit in -- but it's true, so there you are. Or more properly, here I am.)

I do not live here alone.

Along with the human members of my family, assorted canine and feline hangers-on and general riff-raff, I am lucky enough to coexist with a few others, all of whom can lay a longer claim to this mountain home than any of the above.

The bear-sighting signs have gone up this week. A sedate collection of deer have been wandering around, and two friends of mine have spotted a bobcat recently.

My own personal treat today came in the form of a nest full o' baby jays -- with faces that only their mother (and as you will see -- their father) could love.

First of all -- in defense of my photographic skills (admittedly amateurish at best) -- apart from the first, these pictures were taken through a pane of glass. There was no other access to the nest, unfortunately, so I've done what I can to bump the saturation and contrast to help with the viewing.

This lovely laurel hedge is perched near the front door of my friend's house.

(This, sadly, is the last shot you will see not taken through a filter of glass. Enjoy it while it lasts.)

Lovely piece of shrubbery, eh?

It's got a secret...

The nest is situated right below my friend's deck, so I contorted my body into strange shapes in order to try to capture the contents on film.

These are the results.

This was my first view of mama jay. Here on this side of the Coast Mountains, we do not technically have Blue Jays, though, as you can see, they are indeed Very Blue. They are actually known as Steller's Jays, named for the very ornithologist who also lent his moniker to the Steller's Hawk.

But I digress.

Mama was pretty fluffed up in her nest, looking strangely inflated when viewed from this angle.

I wonder why?

I didn't hear a sound, but just as I was about to wrap up the photography session for the day, suddenly someone else had appeared in my viewfinder.

These jays are notoriously noisy birds, who will yell and scream and stomp their feet when their human admirers are a little slow with the peanut toss. (Strangely similar to my own offspring, somehow...)

But as parents? Quiet as a whisper.

Dad brought the food, and suddenly it was obvious the nest held more than I had seen at first glance. Dig those pink beaks!

These babies are not beauties. Pink, with eyes that bulged hugely without opening, and perhaps the faintest tinge of blue to their heads...

But, man -- were they hungry!

Check out the tongue on the one being sat upon by his sibling!

Then as silently as he arrived, Daddy Jay left. Mama gave me the 'show's over' look, and fluffed herself over her babies again.

Come back another day, she said.

So...I will.