Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sitting in Kingston in the Sunshine

...feeling just a little melancholy. I just dropped off a student I know (who shall remain nameless, but is fuzzily pictured here at her favourite dinosaur exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York) for her first year at university.

To counteract any latent emotion, I'm trolling my Reader before getting down to work on the vast mountain of email that has accumulated over the past couple of weeks. I just finished reading a lovely story called The Gadgey by Alan Campbell, a fantasy-writing Scot.

If you're in the mood for a taste of the fantastic scribed (in my humble opinion) in the richest of the world's dialects, give it a go. You won't be sorry.

Link love to John Klima at for directing my eyes to this just when I needed it.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Does This Look Like the Face of Someone Who Knows Where They Are Going?

Everywhere I go, people ask me for directions.


I have been asked directions in Portland, Toronto, New York, Calgary and Vancouver in just the last couple of months alone. Rural Ontario last November. Kamloops, BC. Red Deer, Alberta.

And I just don't get it. I am virtually always lost. This is my last day in New York, and on this trip I have been lost or headed off in the wrong direction so many times I cannot count them.

You'd think my non-existent sense of direction would hang about my person like a shroud. And yet...

In the past 4 days, I have been asked directions at least a dozen times. Once, I had a map on me and was able to help the person get where they were going. [success!] But the rest? Nada.

Usually the best I can offer is to be lost together, but I have actually stopped offering that -- not because creepy people have taken me up on it, but because the direction-asker generally rolls their eyes and runs off to ask someone else. I must have an honest-enough face for the initial inquiry, but perhaps my appearance becomes increasingly untrustworthy as the conversation continues. Or maybe my karmic shroud of lost begins to shine through my eyes.

I want to tell these poor souls that I make my living being lost -- and that I like it, in fairly small doses, when it doesn't involve dark alleys. (Actually, I rather like dark alleys, now that I think of it. A lot of potential in dark alleys...)

But I digress. Tomorrow I'm off to Toronto, and I can guarantee you that someone will ask me how to get somewhere. I guess I should just consider myself lucky that they aren't telling me where to go!


*It's the final week for the SiWC Writing Contest! Check out my blog here for more details, or click on the SiWC contest page to find out more.

Spark Returns

SPARK, the CBC technology show hosted by Nora Young, has returned to the airwaves for the fall season. The Spark blog this week features a photo of the (nearing world-famous) Silas Erminskin with canine brother Seamus in hot pursuit for their chase segment. An apt choice, I'd say!

Check it out here: Spark Blog.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

On the Road Again

Blogging from Calgary here, on a quick stop en route to take my loin-spawn (credit the hilarious Janet Reid for _that_ one ) off to university. It will be a circuitous journey, involving a trip to New York and Toronto before we alight in the land of Parent-Free-Post-Secondary. She's celebrating, I'm not yet openly weepy, so all is well. I'm hoping to connect with the aforementioned clever and talented Janet when I hit the big city, as well as jamming in enough touristy endeavours to last me until my next visit. No sleep for four days!

I heart New York.

But in a quick look home, I thought I might post a few pix that my son, He-Who-Is-Revelling-In-The-Absence-Of-His-Sister, found last night when researching the possible heritage of our youngest canine family member. I can't see any resemblence myself...

The bad dog.

The BC Black Wolf.

The BC Black Wolf in winter.

The BC Black Wolf eats his wading pool.

No resemblance at all....


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quick Round-Up

Gosh -- one sick kid and my blog posts just fall off the map.

A quick one tonight, then -- yesterday I spent the day with my trusty sidekick Dale McGladdery as we interviewed two of the presenters for SiWC 2008 -- Lee Edward Fodi and Michael Slade.

Both these guys are charming and the interviews went very well. As a bonus, Slade has agreed to let us do a special-edition video-blog (to be shot in September) of him telling a couple of his favourite stories. Should be a lot of fun!

In other news, Silas had a go at my camera tonight when I turned my back for a minute, and upset his owner _severely_. He is now the proud owner of three separate jail cells -- one in my bedroom, one in my office and the latest in the back of the car, but he still manages to find a way to leave a toothmark or two.

The camera survived, but it's lost its just-like-new sheen and now fits in with everything else I own -- battered, but well-loved.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Editor Sees the Light, Moves West

Barry Jowett, the man who plucked the query letter for my very first novel from his slush pile AND edited my first four novels at Dundurn (therefore wedging himself permanently into my heart) has recently left his position in Toronto. He and his wife Catherine have moved to Invermere, where SHE will continue to work in the medical field and HE has set up a new editing business.

Barry's new company is called Invermere Communications, and he will be offering a variety of services to writers and businesses in BC and beyond.

These services will include:

  • Contract Assessment (particularly useful for un-agented authors)
  • Project Evaluation from Sample Pages (50 to 100 pages)
  • Full Manuscript Evaluation
  • Editing of Manuscripts

Barry is working on setting up a website, but he doesn't have it up and running just yet. I'll post the address here when he gets it up and running. In the meantime, if you are in need of his editorial expertise, you can email him at

I also happen to know you can find him on Facebook.
Go ahead -- friend him! He's new in town!

Barry was a GREAT editor and a huge asset for Dundurn and I'm sure everyone there is in mourning. But come on ...the man has seen the light, moved to BC and is going to make his mark here -- bonus for those of us west of the Rockies.

All the best to Barry and Catherine. Welcome to BC!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

When Writers (and Illustrators!) Bowl

Twinkly in the toe department, but the scores...?

...not very pretty.


Accompanied by illustrator Kirsti [my bowling hand's a bit rusty from drawing too much]Wakelin, author Dan[I can break 100] Bar-El, author James [I am not a werewolf] McCann, and author-spawn PTD [he of the giant feet]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


From the 'Ain't It Cool?' department...just heard through the grapevine that Canuck author Arthur Slade (and try saying that out loud five times really fast...) is giving away a free ARC of his new book, JOLTED.

Here's the scoop from Author Arthur himself:

To celebrate the Canadian launch of JOLTED: Newton Starker's Rules for Survival, I'm giving away an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) of the book. You could read the book before anyone else (except me, and my editors, my agent, and a few reviewers, the postperson, and my wife). The book will be released to the public August 19th (March 2009, though, in the US of A, sorry). JOLTED is all about a young man who must spend his life dodging lightning. He goes to a survival school in Moose Jaw to learn how. He also has a magic pig for a friend. Doesn't everyone?

All you have to do to win the book, is answer this skill testing question: what does it feel like to be hit by lightning? The most creative answer will win. And for 2nd and 3rd place I'll give away a softcover copy of my novel MEGIDDO'S SHADOW.

Full details can be found at Art Slade's website:


And to close, a totally gratuitous picture of the dog who doesn't get a whole lot of attention these days, since he hasn't (in the past week) eaten anybody's sunglasses, the garbage bag in the car, the top off a $25 bottle of red wine, a selection of books, the latest Macleans magazine, his bed (3 times), nor a single piece of furniture on the deck.

It's nice to have _one_ good dog.

(Good boy, Seamus. Have a cookie...)


Monday, August 11, 2008

Trying Hard to Cheer ...

...for all the Canucks in China. The swim team is breaking Canadian records all over the place -- 13 at last count -- but this is bringing them nowhere near the podium.

Canadian athletes are so polite -- yesterday Leighanne Hobson stood in the pouring rain, her lips blue and shaking, to answer the CBC reporters questions on her 17th place finish. And today, 57 year old Susan Nattrass teared up as she talked about failing to advance in her 6th Olympic Games, but she held it together for the cameras.

Go team Canada!

Speaking of Canadians, I just last night finished Robert J. Sawyer's terrific book ROLLBACK. Sawyer has won every spec fiction award out there -- the Hugo, the Nebula and the Campbell (the only Canuck to have done so) and he's racked up a ton of other awards to boot.

ROLLBACK, itself a Hugo AND a Campbell nominee, is the story of a scientist, who in pursuit of a conversation with the denizens of another galaxy, is offered the gift of life -- a rollback of 60 years -- to give her more time to complete her task. When things go awry, both she and her husband are faced with the biggest dilemma of their lives.

It's a great read, and I loved every Canadian nuance that Sawyer worked into his setting and his characters, from listening to the CBC to being stuck at Union Station waiting for the TTC. It's fantastic to see spec fiction stories emerge out of a Canadian landscape and Sawyer is a terrific story-teller.

He'll be at SiWC 2008 this fall, where, along with the usual workshops and panels, he'll be offering a Master Class AND a keynote speech.

I'm really looking forward to hearing him talk about his craft.


Sunday, August 10, 2008


The second episode of the SiWC podcast is now up on the website, with author James McCann standing on the SiWC Soap Box this week. You can find it, along with a photo of the crazy-haired interviewer and the cheerful and calm interviewee perched on a tree branch near Lumberman's Arch in Stanley Park here.

Thanks so much to Dale McGladdery for his behind-the-mike wizardry and to James for his patience and for being a great inaugural interview subject for me.

(Here's hoping the interviewer can polish her delivery a little in upcoming episodes...)


Blog-al Gazing...

You know, I almost never look at my own blog. I mean, I write the thing, of course, and I get a copy of the posts on my Reader, but it's RSS, man, and I almost never hop over to the blog page itself to look at it.

(I don't read my books after I've written them, either, apart from a little segment here or there for a public appearance. Can't bear to see all the places I've gone wrong, I guess...)

Anyway, in discussions today with my favourite web-wizard Dale McGladdery, I discovered that more people than I are negligent of their blogrolls, and some are removing them altogether. I try to share the link-love with everyone I talk about in the blogs I write, but almost always forget to add them to my blogroll.

So, today I ditched the thing altogether. And I like it. Less distraction on the main page. I'm actually planning to re-situate all my writing posts onto my website (I'll keep this site for blathering about all the other stuff going on), but from now on, I think all the love's going to come from my links instead of my roll.

Fewer calories that way.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

National Essay Contest -- Deadline Extended

Just realized I posted this to the SiWC blog, but forgot to post it here.

Call for Submissions

First Person Narrative National Essay Contest
Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives

This Year’s Topic ~ Once I Was A Child
Essay Length ~ 2000-2500 words.

1st prize $500.00
2nd prize $300.00
3rd prize $200.00

With a special prize of $100.00 for Best Under Nineteen

Prizewinning essays to be selected by award winning author and Giller Prize nominee
Wayson Choy and by Sarah Sheard
writer and mentor with Humber School For Writers

Extended Submission Due Date ~ September 30, 2008
Prize Winners announced ~ December 15, 2008

Entries should be previously unpublished, typed, single-sided, and double-spaced with your name, address, telephone number and story title on a separate sheet. Parent/Guardian signature required for anyone under 19. Forms can be found on our web site. Entry fee is $25.00 payable to Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives by cheque or online at Free for anyone under 19.

Send your stories to
Managing Editor, The Archivist
106 Walpole Avenue
Toronto ON M4L 2J3
or to

The contest is open to all ages and all backgrounds.

All entries will be considered for publication in Keeping Our Stories Alive, Volume 1, A Journal of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Questions? Contact Jennifer Coffey at


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Don't Get Me Wrong...

I love a good award announcement. But to counteract the hideous, press-release quality of the previous blog post, I think a nice sunset shot of the moon might be in order.

I love my home.


Canuck Kid-Lit Award Finalists Announced

Finalists Announced for TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
Prestigious $20k prize celebrates most distinguished
English-language Canadian children’s book of the year

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (Toronto, August 6, 2008) — The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) and TD Bank Financial Group (TDBFG) are proud to announce the finalists of the 2008 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award for the most distinguished book of the year. This annual award recognizes excellence in Canadian children’s literature with a $20,000 prize.

This year’s nominated titles will captivate the hearts and imaginations of children (and adults!) everywhere. Readers will be introduced to the young Sherlock Holmes and the crime-ridden streets of 1867 inner-city London; 11-year-old Elijah, the first African Canadian child to be born into freedom in Buxton, Ontario, a settlement for runaway slaves; a young girl named Kate who is fraught with jealousy after being selected by artist John Singer Sargent to be a model for a painting, only to be replaced; a young bat named Dusk who can not only fly, but see at night using echo vision; and young Louise, the little sister who pesters her older brother so much so that he wishes she would just disappear… and she does!

All books, in any genre, written by a Canadian for children ages one through 12 were eligible for the award. Entries were judged on the quality of the text and illustrations and the book’s overall contribution to literature. The winner will be announced at a gala at The Carlu in Toronto on November 6, 2008.

The finalists for the 2008 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award are:

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose: The Story of a Painting
by Hugh Brewster
with paintings by John Singer Sargent
Kids Can Press

by Kenneth Oppel
HarperCollins Publishers

Elijah of Buxton
by Christopher Paul Curtis
Scholastic Canada

Eye of the Crow: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His First Case
by Shane Peacock
Tundra Books

Please, Louise!
by Frieda Wishinsky
illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books

JURY MEMBERS: Maya Munro Byers, owner, Livres Babar Books, Montreal; Theo Heras, Children’s Literature Resource Collection Specialist, Lillian H. Smith Library, Toronto Public Library; Dr. Dave Jenkinson, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba; Dr. Ron Jobe, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia; and Norene Smiley, author, Pugwash, Nova Scotia.

Jury comments on the finalists for the
2008 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose: The Story of a Painting by Hugh Brewster with paintings by John Singer Sargent
“An outstanding information book... Beautifully written and produced, with a fine balance of illustration, biographical and historical detail and insight into the creative process, all through the viewpoint of a child whose humanity makes it true.”

Darkwing by Kenneth Oppel
“Darkwing continues Oppel’s reputation for creating textured, engrossing animal societies that win generations of fans. The exceptional writing is filled with descriptive details, emotive connotations and visual sightings that give a richly plotted, fact-filled glimpse into this prehistoric world.”

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
“Tears of laughter and sadness commingle as Curtis immerses readers in the daily happenings of the nineteenth century Ontario community of Buxton whose inhabitants are slaves who have escaped from the United States. This novel engagingly and dramatically brings to life a little known segment of Canadian history.”

Eye of the Crow: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His First Case by Shane Peacock
“Historical fiction at its finest! The plot, speculating on the childhood adventures of Sherlock Holmes, is well-constructed, fast paced and embedded with details. Superb characterization is accompanied by witty dialogue and the author’s love of vivid descriptive words.”

Please, Louise! by Frieda Wishinsky, illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
“A gem of a picture book delighting in the warm relationship between brother and younger sister. Lively watercolours explode across the pages adding detail and humour to the powerful simplicity of the text. The words sing as they are read!”

* * * * *

About the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (
The Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) is a national, not-for-profit organization, founded in 1976 to encourage, promote and support the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian books for young readers. The CCBC’s programs, publications and resources help teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents select the very best for young readers.

About TD Bank Financial Group Community Giving (
TD Bank Financial Group's Community Relations program supports education, health and the environment, with a focus on children and youth. TD Bank Financial Group sponsors five flagship programs – TD Canadian Children's Book Week, TD Canada Trust Scholarships for Community Leadership, the Children's Miracle Network, TD Summer Reading Club and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation – as well as a host of national, regional and local children's programs across Canada.

- 30 -

For more information contact:
Charlotte Teeple, Executive Director
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre
Tel: 416.975.0010


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sea to Sky Landslide Update

In the interests of journalistic integrity, as soon as I heard the Sea to Sky had opened again after the big slide by Porteau Cove, I had to go see for myself.

Knowing that my readers are intent on every detail, I spared no expense and visited the site by both land and sea to get the most thorough viewing. (Nothing I won't do for my blog readers. I'm just saying.)

First, a reminder of how things looked on July 30:

This is a section of the Sea to Sky about 10 minutes up the road from Lions Bay. A few minutes before midnight on July 30th, the cliff-side came down, narrowly missing the back of a Perimeter bus heading north on the highway.

This is what the slide area looks like now, approaching from the waters of Howe Sound.

Peter Keiwit Sons is the highway upgrade contractor, and having their equipment nearby sped the process of clearing the debris.

A bit closer and you can see the digger is still in place.

The rest of the highway continues to be quite a mess, with blasted rock, closed lanes and detours all over the place.

Typical scenic view....

But the slide? This is what it looks like now...the repairs begin at the orange pylon.

The tiny flicks in the rock face here are the remains of the rebar that had been driven in to the rockface to stablize it.

Not exactly successful.

Here is the section of repaired asphalt and the new tracks.

An unperturbed observer -- couldn't care less about rocks, just looking for a decent salmon...


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Signs, Signs...

Really enjoyed my walk through Portland yesterday.

The MAX (the LRT in the region) stopped travelling across the Steel Bridge yesterday, as a re-build is under way. This is a shot of the Steel Bridge, with the traffic restricted to two-wheel and two-leg variety.

Instead, the MAX people were offering a shuttle service, but the day was nice so I walked, and was the happier for it.

Early Saturday morning gave me a fine appreciation of some of the very unique signage around the downtown area of the city.

This huge brass bell under a pagoda roof apparently rings without warning.

Made in Oregon.

This is a Japanese-American park, with a scattering of standing stones that are very lovely.

I liked this one in particular, which had the five Ws scattered across its surface.

Scattered around the city downtown are tiny brass fountains, cheerfully burbling away.

And, of course, the bicycle stand outside Powell's, the store that dragged me inside and wouldn't let me go...


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Summer Dream Redux

Last Saturday I spent a lovely day at this year's edition of Summer Dream Literary Arts Festival, sponsored by Pandora's Collective. Bonnie Nish and Sita Carboni organize and run this amazing day.

Saturday was filled with readings, stories, poetry...all things literary. The sun shone more than it did last year, people came to hang out at Lumberman's Arch and a good time was had by all.

Here is a shot of Tiffany Stone telling the story of Tyrannasauras Wrecks, an absolutely smashing poem for kids from her book BAAAD ANIMALS.

Here is poet Bernice Lever, baseball cap in place, reading a story as an 8 year old boy. She also read her own poetry and stories, AND had the grace to climb a hill and sit against a tree for a podcast interview.

This is SiWC Webmaster Dale McGladdery, who after tirelessly producing a series of podcasts, (with Bernice Lever, James McCann and Anthony Dalton) set up and taped several presentations.

Here's a peek at the Canadian Authors Association table, with authors Margaret Hume, Jean Kay and Ben Nuttall-Smith enjoying the day.

For more pictures of this terrific day, check out my Flickr page, under Summer Dream, 2008.

Back to my conference in Portland. More on that soon!


Friday, August 01, 2008

Willamette Horror...

Ha. Misdirection, of course.

Flew in to Portland this morning, and I am live-blogging here, surfing on the Sheraton's free Wi-Fi, while sitting in Luke Ryan's Deconstruction of Horror workshop. It's great, so far. (Luke is now talking about progressive disfigurement in horror movie villains. Cool.)

I'm here for the Willamette Writers' Conference. Great fun so far.

Portland itself has been lovely. VERY civilized arrival at the airport this morning, climbing out of the 9-row turbo-prop into a lovely airport (rated the nicest in the US, apparently) to the tinkling sounds of a piano being played by a musician-composer. Awesome.

Incredible architecture, too -- interesting to look at, engaging aurally and the two or three people I spoke to were very friendly and helpful. Go Portland!

More soon.