Sunday, November 30, 2008

Super Saturday

Had an amazing day yesterday. First I got to meet my writer friends Trudy and Kathy at Nancy Warren's Romance writing workshop -- a fundraiser for Breast Cancer research that was a great deal of fun.

Then last night I got to see the closing night of an astonishing production of Amadeus. Stellar performances (Go Saliari!), got to hang with my good friend Meg AND eat her most amazing cheese popcorn. What could be better?


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give-Away Heads Up and more...

A FOUR book give-away is to be had right now over on the SiWC blog, so hop on over there and leave a comment. We're looking for the book you are most thankful to have read.

You'll notice I didn't answer this one, as I actually have NO idea which book I would choose. I have so many favourites -- I just don't know. Books that inspired me, enslaved me, enraptured me... it's just too tough a question for me. But hopefully not for you! To qualify, you'll need to make your choice and leave a comment by Friday, November 28th, 2008 at midnight.

And I can't believe I'm doing this, but...I got tagged by the devilish A Novel Woman, after she was tagged by the dastardly Grape Journal, both of whom requested a list of six things you may not know about me. Just to prove I refuse to follow the herd, my twist is to list six artists who are currently knocking my socks off in their respective fields.

And since I simply cannot force myself to tag someone else, I invite anyone who would care to participate to do so and send me a link in the comments.

And so I bring you : Six Sock-Knocking Artists...

Sherman Alexie ...Author & Playwright

His website is HERE.

Tim Minchin....Musician

Peter Dyer & compatriots .... Documentary Film Makers

Amanda Palmer ... Musician

Sandra Bilawich ... Sculptor

Sandra's website is HERE.

And Cory Doctorow ... author, speaker, iconoclast, boing-boinger

Cory's blog is HERE.


Pee Ess... I'm kinda into Neil Gaiman in a big way these days, too, but he's got enough good press without me. Oh -- and Mervyn Peake, too, but he's ...well, he's dead.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nits & Notes

Lots going on, so a little link-fest to catch up.

Nancy Warren's Breast Cancer Fundraiser is this Saturday. Get tips on writing romance, while supporting a great cause! Vancouver Public Library from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm, November 29.

I get to go to a play that same night -- am really looking forward to it!

Just finished Sherman Alexie's THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE STORY OF A PART TIME INDIAN. Amazing, incredible, emotional, wonderful book. I adored it. I insist you read it. You will NOT be sorry. (You may cry, but you will NOT be sorry.)

Office still not done, but better. One can only hope.

And, more about this soon, but...

In an interview from the North Pole, a jolly man in a red suit was quoted as saying, "My elves may not get toys made in time for Christmas. They are too busy reading."

This holiday season, why not follow the elves' example by giving the gift of storytelling?
Together for the first time, three of BC's most popular children's authors are promoting adventure, history and magic for all ages at:

Once Upon a Huckleberry Bush
4387 Main Street, Vancouver, BC
Sunday, December 14th

Known as the "Wizard of Words" or simply as "Mr. Wiz," Lee Edward Födi has been writing and illustrating stories for middle readers about magic, monsters, and mystery for as long as he can remember. When he is not chronicling, he spends his time teaching creative writing workshops to kids or travelling the world to explore castles, mazes, tombs, and other places hidden between the cracks of here and there. (

kc dyer is the author o f a number of books for young adults that are published in North America and the UK and enjoys sharing some of the greatest grotesque moments in history with large groups of high school students. Most days she can be found sitting at her desk, surfing the time-space continuum, looking for the perfect word. (

Growing up on the icy plains of Manitoba, James McCann spent most of his time as a teen reading comics and playing Dungeons and Dragons. He is the author of the YA sensation Rancour (first released in 2005 with a second edition due in 2009), Pyre (2007), and Dawn (Summer 2009). Unlike the creatures of the night of which he writes, he lives peacefully in the daylight with his Shih Tzu, Conan. (

And finally...

Incredible sunset tonight -- red sky at night...does that mean sun tomorrow?


Monday, November 24, 2008

Cleaning Out My Office

...and it's a painful, painful process.

A shot of the fall sunshine through the trees to take my mind off the job.

Actually, now, I think it's time to stop and go write for a while.

Will clean up more tomorrow.

[Who's with me?]

My boy has been searching the internet for wolf-dog puppies, inspired by a sign we saw at the dog-walk this week. They all look like this...

only bigger.

The only consolation is they couldn't possibly be badder...


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tar Sands Discussion

(picture by Itzafineday [Tavis Ford], subject to creative commons license)

Just got the following press release regarding the development of the Tar Sands in Northern Alberta. As a resident who lives along the southernmost fjord on the west coast of North America (Howe Sound), I have a BIG fear of tankers in this fragile shoreline area.

Here's a chance to learn more:

Tar Sands: The Dark Side of the Boom
BC-Wide Speaking Tour on the Impacts of the Tar Sands on Communities in Alberta and BC

Please join us for a very important panel about the largest industrial project in history that has been devastating the environment and communities in Alberta. This enormous development is expanding across the continent with little to no regard for the eco-systems and communities that lie in the path of its infrastructure.

Speakers include:

Mike Mercredi - Member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, speaking about the front line struggles of the indigenous community in Fort Chipewyan agains the tar sands industry.

Jessie Kalman - Tar Sands Campaigner with the Polaris Institute, speaking about the social and environmental impacts of the tar-sands.

Will Horter - Executive Director of Dogwood Initiative, speaking about how the support infrastructure based and proposed in BC affects current and future tar-sands development. (Speaking in Vancouver, Victoria, Comox and Nanaimo)

This Tour is being organized, endorsed and supported by the Council of Canadians, the Polaris Institute, Canadian Union of Public Employees BC, the Seirra Club, the Dogwood Initiative, Greenpeace, Check-Your-Head, Institute for Citizen Journalism, Tar Sands Free BC, North Coast Enviro Watch, Western Wilderness Committee.

Check out for more information.

Tar Sands Tour Dates:

Monday, November 24
Venue TBA

Tuesday, November 25
Heritage Hall, 3102 Main St. (7pm)

Thursday, November 27

Collonade Room,
Coast Canadian Inn
339 St. Paul St. (7pm)

Monday, December 1
Florence Filberg Conference Hall,
411 Anderton,Courtenay (7pm)

Tuesday, December 2
Vancouver Island University—Nanaimo Campus
Room 109 - Building 356,
900 Fifth Street (1pm)

Wednesday, December 3

The BCGEU Hall,
2994 Douglas Street (7pm)


East Side Culture Crawl

Had a great time yesterday wandering the streets of the city, checking out a tiny sliver of the selection of work done by artists, artisans, craftspeople -- an astonishing array that was simply impossible to take in over the course of a day. My sore feet attest to the fact that I did my best to try!

This is Ruth Schueing at the small loom in her office of The Big Green House, a studio on Heatley. Ruth only does small weaving projects on this loom (she was working on a new scarf), but her specialty is to make photographic quality weaving using a special loom that lifts individual threads one at a time to weave pictures into the fabric. I didn't know what a binary process weaving is -- many thanks to Ruth to take the time to set me straight on weaving.

The East Side Culture Crawl has grown in its sixteen or seventeen years of existence to a point now where more than 300 artists participate in a wide variety of venues scattered all over East Vancouver. Every kind of art you can think of is represented, in every possible setting, from formal gallery to kitchen counter. (I actually found the MOST amazing clock adorning the wall of one artist's kitchen...)

The artists welcomed visitors into their studios, galleries, homes and workplaces to showcase their efforts.

I've never been able to pull together a day on the right weekend to attend the crawl, and have always longed to go. Yesterday was a rare gorgeous day and I so enjoyed my chance to walk the streets and explore. I even found fall leaves still clinging tenaciously -- none of those in my neck of the woods, still -- so it was a real treat.

Just how much is that doggie in the window, anyway?

Find out more about the culture crawl HERE. And if you have a chance today and are floating anywhere in or around the Lower Mainland -- go take a peek at the explosion of creativity that underlies this city.

If you'd like to see a few more of my shots, you can find them on my flickr page HERE.

If you look carefully, you might even see my new clock...


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cinephile Strikes Again...

Mountain biking madness...

[Please note that no mountain bikes were harmed in the production of this video...and hardly any bikers at all, really...]

Little Brother

Okay, so I've been a boing-boinger since I figured out how to use a feed-reader, and thus a big fan of Cory Doctorow's for quite a while now. From what I've read, Cory's an interesting guy and I've always enjoyed reading his posts. I'm particularly taken with his view of Creative Commons, and enjoyed reading his rants on the subject over the years.

I was hoping to hold out on LITTLE BROTHER, Doctorow's YA novel until it came out in paperback, but at Meg & Shelley's Orca book launch last week, I succumbed and bought the hard cover.

Man. Money well-spent.

I was up until 2 am last night, finishing the story. Quite un-putdownable, I have to admit. LITTLE BROTHER is a near-future, dystopian look at what happens when the rock of terrorism meets the hard place of human rights. It's a bit of a polemic on the whole hard-line response to the war on terror; pro-technology but anti-information over-load, and owes a lot to the thought processes one Eric Blair incited in a young Doctorow mind, after reading 1984. Fast-paced, exciting and thoughtful at the same time. I really enjoyed it.

If you check out THIS LINK, you'll find a FREE downloadable version of the text of LITTLE BROTHER, in any number of readable formats, as set up by his many fans. Why does he give away his book for free, when he clearly also needs to sell it to make a living? Here's his explanation -- and it ties in closely with his views on Creative Commons.

Okay -- off to get a glimpse of a few other artists at work. More soon!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sad News -- VSW Suspends Operations

Just got this notice this morning:


Dear Friends of VSW:

With great regret, we announce the suspension of operations of The Victoria School of Writing. Competition from other writing programs and persistent difficulty in filling positions for the all-volunteer board have necessitated this unfortunate move. We did not make the decision as a result of a crisis but with clear analysis and a bank account in the black. We ran a successful summer school and fall program of courses and our reputation remains solid. Our exit will be graceful.

We deeply appreciate your support over the thirteen years since the school's founding. The school has benefitted from your gifts of time and money as well as your enthusiastic participation in workshops, courses and literary events. We hope you have benefitted, as well, from your association with the school.

If you have questions, please visit for the names and phone numbers of VSW directors available to answer them.

Thank you for your understanding. We wish you much success with all your creative endeavours.

The Board of Directors

(blog author's note -- the photo illustration is mine, not the VSW's. I'm sorry to see them go!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Coquitlam & Surrey

Busy day yesterday. It was Literacy Day at Hillcrest Middle School in Coquitlam, BC, so I hied myself over there for a chat with the Grade 8 classes.

I had two groups to talk to -- the first had more than 100 kids and the second ...maybe around 60 or so. For such large groups, they were beautifully behaved and I was made to feel very welcome!

Many thanks to librarian Pam Fedoruk and all the kids and teachers at Hillcrest for a fun day.

After a short trip home, I headed back out, this time with Surrey as my destination. Surrey's become my second home in the Lower Mainland over the past few years and it looks like things will continue that way for a while. Yep...I did it.

While I'm talking about the SiWC blog, we are having our first book giveaway over there, and it's really easy to be eligible to win. Hop on over and have a peek!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Romance in the Air?

Just in from a walk with my boys (2 canine, 1 humanoid) through a rare sunny November afternoon. I love coming upon surprises like this small rock sculpture, tucked in among the sea of leaves. There may still be yellows and reds in parts of this country, but on this side, we're back to a monochrome palette of evergreens.

I blogged about this event yesterday on the SiWC site, but for those who didn't see it, my friend and colleague Nancy Warren is offering a splendid fundraiser in the guise of a romance-writing workshop.

Here's the full scoop:

Learn to Write Romance and Support Breast Cancer Research

Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 29, 2008. Award winning author Nancy Warren is giving a workshop on how to write romance. The course will run from 9:30 to 1:30 at the Vancouver Public Library, Main Branch, 350 West Georgia in the Peter Kaye room.

Suitable for all levels, from beginner to multi published, the workshop will cover the essentials of a love story, character development, plotting from the inside out, the heroine's journey, and marketing your work in today's
publishing climate. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask your burning questions. But wait, there's more! The first five people who register will have the opportunity to have the first page of their romance work in
progress critiqued by Nancy. This will be done during the workshop, but anonymously.

Proceeds from this course will be donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Cost for the four hour workshop, including door prizes and other goodies, is $40.

Register online at

Or by calling 604 985-1480

For more information email Nancy at

Sounds pretty cool, eh? I'm going to try to make it myself. Hope to see you there!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Little Musical Interlude...

Apropos of nothing more than the pure, sweet enjoyment of children's voices...

This guy has to be the coolest music teacher ever -- and he's clearly a HUGE fan of Tori Amos, as can be seen on many of the other videos his group has put up on YouTube.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Book Launch Fun

Last night I had a great time at the latest Orca book launch, held at Vancouver Kidsbooks. I love going to book launches (especially when they are not my own!). No pressure, get to hang with my friends AND have someone read to me? Not to mention the added bonus of heading home with an awesome stack of new reading material.

Last night was no exception. I had a little trouble with the *&$# bridges, which meant I was 20 minutes late for pre-launch sushi with Meg, but once I'd met her, scarfed a little sushi and headed over to the bookstore, all traffic issues waned as the fun began.

Five authors (including one author-editor) were fete-ing their new novels, of whom are two my especial pals, so it was a great night for me.

I enjoyed listening to excerpts from Kim Denman's new novel SPIRAL, and Robin Stevenson's TEN THOUSAND SHADES OF BLUE, (I meant to high five Robin for her excellent taste in chromatic titles -- but I forgot...) as well as editor/author/emcee Sarah Harvey's THE LIT CLUB.

Meg Tilly read from her new Orca Soundings novel FIRST TIME.

Of all the pictures I shot, this one is my favourite -- Meg is standing to one side, quietly waiting her turn as she is introduced. Then of course, when she takes the stage, she disappears into her character and we were all pulled into the white Toyota Echo along with Hayley and her friend Lyn. I NEVER miss a chance to listen to Meg do a reading. She is magical.

Shelley Hrdlitschka captured the audience in her own way, discussing the parallels between the world of Unity in her new novel SISTER WIFE and those of Bountiful, a polygamous community, long a source of controversy in British Columbia. She wrote her story from the varying points of view of three separate characters, but it is Celeste, the young girl destined to be married at 15 whose voice captured me.

I cannot wait to read these two novels.

And, of course, the beast must be fed, so a few more books made it into the TBR pile that teetered on the car seat beside me all the way home. I bought DEATH BY LATTE, by Linda Gerber (have already had to promise to read fast and send to my girl, as she is a huge Aphra fan...); Cory Doctorow's LITTLE BROTHER (because, hey -- I've been a boing-boinger for more than a year now. I was going to hold out until it came out in paperback, but...well, I'm weak); Karen Autio's new sequel to SECOND WATCH called SAARA'S PASSAGE and Sherman Alexie's THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN (just 'cause I've wanted to read it since it came out).

Now, if you'll excuse me -- I have some reading to catch up on...


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Susan Pieters

...has written a lovely allegory I just posted on the SiWC website here. If you've been to Surrey, you may recognize some of the players, but mostly what I loved about the story was the feel of the thing.

Surreyland ...there's no place like it.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008


...tonight is Hycroft, the Very Cool unveiling of most of the new fall line-up in the way of BC Children's Literature. It takes place at Hycroft House, near the UBC campus.

My new book will miss the deadline by 3 months, and I am swamped to the ears with work, so I will be absent from the festivities for the first time in several years. Instead, I am helping proofread my daughter's King Lear essay, via Skype. And working on some last-minute research for A WALK THROUGH THE WINDOW.

Tomorrow night I'll be at the Orca booklaunch of a number of new titles, including Meg Tilly's FIRST TIME and Shelley Hrdlitschka's SISTER WIFE. I'm excited!

I'm going to have to miss the Surrey Public Library's 2008 YA Contest Award Night, though, and I regret that. I love meeting up and coming young writers and Surrey School District produces some amazing talent. Best wishes to all the participants...


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Death By....Penguin?

One of my oldest writing buddies, Linda Gerber, is blogging this week over at the Penguin USA blog. She's talking about Aphra and her 'DEATH BY...' series.

Now's your chance to pop by and ask her a question!

Here's the link:

Linda Gerber's Penguin Blog.

(No actual penguins were harmed in the writing of this post)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oh Black Water...

...keep on rollin'!

Water's back -- and black. Problems at the pump and we're on a boil water advisory.

But our boil water advisory will last until our village works crew fixes the problem. Then we'll go back to the clean, delicious-right-out-of-the-tap water we are used to in my little mountain village.

Harking back to an earlier rant from another site on another day, not everyone else can say the same.

In this 2008 report, more than 1700 communities in Canada have had to boil their water for safety and potability this year alone. Many First Nations communities live under a standing boil-water advisory.

There's something wrong with this picture.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Water, water...

It's pouring. Has been for days, tho' we had a single beam of sunlight this afternoon for a brief moment, appreciated only when it was gone, of course.

The rain is raining all around, but no water floweth through my house pipes. We lost our water a couple of hours ago, in the way these things often happen in this wilderness aerie in which I reside, without warning, or fanfare.

Just gone.

The difference between knowing one's water is about to be shut off and having it just stop all really comes down to the toilets. Preparedness is everything.

However, not for nothing am I hardened denizen of this mountain hamlet. I've just schlepped two bucketfuls of rain barrel water up three storeys to allow the upstairs toilet to continue to do what toilets do.

And now we wait. Last water outage? Five days.

And, apropos of not much, in this election season, don't forget the Municipal variety -- November 15th in this neck of the woods. Think my water will be back by then?


Saturday, November 08, 2008

SCBWI Visit and Ghosts from Conference Past

Had a lovely conversation today with some of the members of the local SCBWI chapter -- the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. New president Ken Kilback invited me to speak and I really enjoyed chatting with the group of both new and experienced writers. I've known Ken for years through his attendance at the Surrey International Writers' Conference, and it was a lot of fun to meet and exchange ideas with this group today. Thanks to Ken and Diana and Loretta and all the rest for inviting me ...AND taking me to lunch!

Debbie Hodge was the afternoon speaker, and it was great to touch base with her and tell her how much I enjoy her blog. She's just back from Shanghai, and if you'd like to see some fabulous pictures -- head over here: Deborah Hodge's Blog.

And just since I am feeling a little nostalgic for All Hallow's Eve... Here's a shot of what my end-table looked like during my stay at SiWC 2008...


The New Love of My Life...

At first, I loved him only from afar...(well, I still do, really), but at a distance, and scoffingly, as PC to the much hipper Mac. But since his recent book has emerged, and he has spent some time on my dear Boing Boing -- we have become closer.

And tonight, when I heard his TED talk...well, let's just say I am fully, inalienably smitten.

Raise a glass of vodka (preferably from a crystal skull) to...John Hodgman.

John Hodgman speaks of love, lost time and aliens for TED.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

The One I forgot to put a title on...

Collection of thoughts.

I'm very glad I took this shot yesterday, up the mountain above the village hall where I take my gym class.

Today the snow is obscured and the colours are gone as we go through the reality of a typical Howe Sound rainfall. Walking outside is like walking under water, and I've had to postpone my weekly dog walk with my friend Meg and her dog. When she is not walking dogs with me, she becomes the famous author Meg Tilly, and next week marks the start of a new tour (she's doing the Canadian Children's Book Centre's tour this fall -- hooray!) AND a book launch for her new story FIRST TIME.

I'm excited because I haven't read her new book yet, and a new book by Meg is something to be celebrated. This one is for the Orca Soundings series, so she'll be launching with other Orca authors, including Sarah Harvey, Kim Denman and the most wonderful Shelley Hrdlitschka.

I can't wait!

Things are hopping for my own upcoming book, A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW -- I got a glimpse at the new cover last week, and this week will take a final look at the galleys and make my suggestions for the cover copy. It's getting closer!

As for writing, I've got two main projects on the go right now -- the sequel to the adult mystery satire I finished this year, and the first of what I hope will be a five book series, set in the UK. I need to find a word for this -- don't like Quintology... how about a Quintych? I also have a new Darby book due before next summer.

So in the end I guess, rainy days are the best, because they keep me inside, writing -- in body, anyway...


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hallowe'en Redux

Amazing day today. Had a great writing conversation with someone who stands to give me some decent insight into one of the characters in a story I'm working on.

Also finally had a chance to download some of the pix from our graveyard this year. The fog machine was a great addition....

And here's a look at the rodent-muncher and his compadres who graced our front door.

Of course, he looked MUCH spookier in the dark...


Monday, November 03, 2008

Saara's Passage by Karen Autio

Here's a new book by my friend Karen Autio. It has an absolutely stunning cover, which for the life of me, I can not get to reproduce check out the SonoNis website to see it for yourself.

Saara’s Passage
Historical Novel for Children / Sequel to Second Watch
Karen Autio

ISBN 1-55039-168-2

“What is the purpose of my life?”
That’s a big question for any age, but especially for twelve-year-old Saara Mäki.
After surviving the Empress of Ireland shipwreck, she is trying hard to forget her horrifying experience. Saara roller skates with her best friend, enjoys her new baby cousin, and can’t wait to star in the school play!
But as the First World War looms, tuberculosis strikes her family, and Saara’s next passage takes her into entirely unfamiliar waters.

To learn more about Saara’s Passage, click here

Congratulations, Karen!


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Guest Blogging with the Novel Girls

This post has been removed at the request of the subject.