Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Dale McGladdery

Aside from being a WebWizard after my own heart, Dale McGladdery is also a film buff. In addition to his Group 42 Drupal Blog AND his Digital Doodle Pad blog, he is a founding (and participating) member of the crew of AFTER THE CREDITS.

No surprise, then, that he's got a few insights to share with his Top 8 Films of 2008 -- and with a writing link, too boot!

All films are written but few contain writing craft. I don't mean they're all lacking in craft! Well, some are. I mean few show details of craft only a writer can truly understand.

In no particular order, here are my top 8 movies containing references or insights only a writer can truly appreciate.

  • Finding Neverland

    The story of how author J.M. Barrie was inspired to create Peter Pan. Not only is it a wonderful story, it captures the creative process in action.

  • Adaptation

    A bizarre, self-referential story that had me laughing out loud many times. Only a writer can truly understand the emotions this protagonist is experiencing!

  • Stranger Than Fiction

    A man begins hearing a voice narrating his life and discovers someone else is the author of his story. It's a cool premise, a so-so movie, and a wonderful study of what goes into a story. This is also the only Will Farrell performance I've ever liked, so don't shy away because he's in the movie.

  • Starting Out in the Evening

    A wonderful, bittersweet movie about a dying author trying to finish his last novel. Contains many moments only a writer can appreciate as well as making one think about what goes into a good story.

  • Wonder Boys

    Sometimes you just need to start over.

  • Lady in the Water

    M. Night Shyamalan's story execution is ham-handed but I loved the underlying premise of solving the "real life" conflict by treating it like a story. A fun exploration of plot dissection. Check out Unbreakable for a subtler blending of "real life" and story.

  • Shakespeare in Love

    A bit of a stretch but good fun around the topic of inspiration.

  • Becoming Jane

    Another stretch, but somehow it belongs on this list. It also gives me a highly dubious excuse to mention The Jane Austen Book Club, a movie that wraps the study of the relevance of literature in everyday life into a series of romance stories.

I'd also like to give an honourable mention to Scribes, a documentary on storytelling set at the 2003 Surrey International Writers' Conference. Although Director Rusty Nixon didn't quite pull off his story arc, the interviews and presentation excerpts are golden! Worth the watch for anyone wanting to improve their writing craft. [Editor's note: I am actually in this movie. It is my one and only film credit in IMdB. And, sadly, I am forced to report to you that my face really DOES look fatter on camera....]

Did I miss one of your favs? Please leave a comment! I'm always looking for good movies.

Want to read more? Check out Dale's movie blog and podcasts HERE.

And I see on his Digital Doodles site that he has just put up a list of Reasons Why Christmas in Vernon Rocks. Two lists for the price of one! Check it out HERE.

Thanks for taking part, Dale!


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Catherine Duthie

Cate Duthie is a writer, blogger, bookseller extraordinare -- and one heckuva book reviewer. Her blog is chock full of interesting, insightful commentary, and an awesome resource for reliable, carefully crafted reviews.

No surprise, then, that her Top 8 for 2008 list outlines a few of her favourites...

Cate's Top 8 Reads of 2008
(posted as part of
kc dyer's blog series - Top 8 of '08)

1, The Mask of Night by Tracy Grant When your favourite author (and unwitting mentor) gives you a draft of her next book to read, it definitely makes the list. When it fulfils all your hopes for a great next chapter, it shoots to the top.

2. How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard An interesting and entertaining piece of literary theory.

3. Manwatching by Desmond Morris Most-helpful-book-for-writers-without-being-specifically-geared-to-writers.

Oh-ho-ho...very interesting, eh? Care to read a little more? If so -- hie yourself on over to Cate's blog HERE -- and enjoy the rest!

Thanks for taking part, Cate!


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Linda Gerber

Scooting back down south, we come to amazing YA author Linda Gerber, who currently lives in Ohio. Linda is one of my favourite writers, and with titles under her belt including DEATH BY BIKINI and DEATH BY LATTE, who could resist? (I'm pleased to report that DEATH BY DENIM is not far behind!) Her blog is filled with fun ideas and give-aways -- a very popular read.

Linda has lived all over the world (since I've known her, she's lived in Finland, Japan and the US...and I do believe she is plotting some new adventurous destination right now...) and is always open to new experiences. Here's a small taste of her guest-post:

Linda's Top 8 New Discoveries in 2008.

1. Blog parties. Love them! I hosted a couple to celebrate my last two book releases and have participated in many more. They're a great way to connect, share the love, meet new people and have fun. And you don't even have to get out of your pajamas to party!

2. Scrivener. I'm a Mac user, but I had never though of using this software until this year when I heard from other authors how much they love it. Perfect for organizing and laying out the story.

3. The Mentalist. My sister Trish introduced me to the series just this fall. I quickly caught up with season 1 online. Smart, funny, and Simon Baker = awesomeness.

Ah. Simon Baker. Well, I can tell you that if you check out Linda's blog HERE ,you'll not only get to read more, but you'll see the picture she's posted of Simon. Or, if you like, skip on over to her fantastic website HERE.

Thanks for taking part, Linda! I loved reading about your new discoveries.


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Deborah Anderson

Deb Anderson, a writing buddy of many years standing, has generously agreed to take part in this guest blogging extravaganza.

Deb lives in the beautiful Kootenay region of British Columbia, (this is a pic I took at dusk, driving through Castlegar this fall) where she works full time, is a full time mom to four beautiful kids, keeps a blog...AND writes books.

A font of organizational ability, she is also one of the wisest, kindest people I know. With all the demands on her time, I know it's tough for her to find the time to write, so I am pleased to see she is sharing this particular list today...

8 Greats of 2008 That Kept Me Writing

1. Chocolate

2. Tea

3. Mochas

4. Accountability partner, Susan Adrian

5. Fear of dying before publishing

6. Internet/Library/Writer's Forum

7. Passion for my subject

8. Desire to quit my 'job' to live my passion

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Deb! (I particularly relate to #5....)

If you'd like to read more of Deb's blog, you'll find it HERE.


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Kirsti Anne Wakelin

From the New York City agent to the Vancouver city illustrator -- Kirsti Wakelin.

Kirsti is the most tech-saavy artist I know -- she maintains at least two personal blogs, oversees the CWILL BC blog and was the guiding light behind the recent CWILL website overhaul as well. She has answered my endlessly moronic questions with a patience beyond her years. On top of her kindness to geeky authors, one look at her blog or her website will show you her incredible talent as an illustrator.

Here is just a taste -- be prepared to be blown away...

Kirsti Wakelin's Top 8 Travel Moments

I spent most of the year holed up in my studio where nothing exciting but work happens so there wasn't much 8 of 08 fodder there. I didn't have time to read even half of 8 books or venture out to 8 unique restaurants (we have our staple 2 or 3), and there aren't 8 tv shows worth mentioning. I'm sure I saw a few good movies, but I'm a very tough critic. Besides, I can't remember what I watched last week, let alone at the beginning of the year.

However, I did spend a month in Scotland, Wales and Paris this summer and it was the highlight of my year. So I decided my 8 of 08 should be some of the most memorable, enjoyable or inspiring events from my trip (in chronological order). I'll warn you though, I'm not the fun kind of traveler that gets up to all sorts of exciting and unbelievable shenanigans that make for wild and crazy stories. I'm the kind of traveler that spends part of a hike crawling around on a Welsh hillside in the sheep poo photographing sundews.

8 Painting on a cliff above crashing surf at Yesnaby

7 Watching puffins barrel in for awkward cliffside landings on the Brough of Birsay.

6 Being hit by a falling (and deceased) hedgehog while driving between Kirkwall and Finstown.

5 Walking over, around and through viking village remains, standing stones, neolithic subterranean homes and burial mounds all around Orkney.

Skara Brae

4 Pimms on the lawn under a sunny Orkney sky and gin and tonics on the lawn in sunny Wales - both in the company of fantastic, generous and funny relatives.

3 Riding in Wales and feeling as if it were mere days rather than years since I was last on a horse.

2 Exploring Dartmouth (during a torrential downpour) to see where my grandmother grew up.

1 Painting in le Jardin du Luxembourg all afternoon while the sun slowly sank and turned everything gold.

Thanks so much for this peek into your trip, Kirsti! If you'd like to see more of Kirsti's fantastic art, you can dive into her blog HERE.


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Janet Reid

Staying with our international theme, now we're off from the left coast to the right with an entry from agent Janet Reid. Janet is an agent with the FinePrint Literary Agency in New York City, where she specializes in mysteries and off-beat literary fiction. She is also an avid blogger and tweeter and generous sharer of advice regarding all things literary. Need to know how to send a query? How to format a manuscript page? Janet's blog has it all.

Now, let's have a quick peek at her list, shall we?

8 Things I Loved in '08.

1. My spiffy new Kindle leads the list. Are you sick of reading my gushing posts about the Kindle? I've yapped enough about it here previously that I'll just say this now:

I wouldn't have bought one as soon without Kristin Nelson leading the way. Kristin has been a friend, colleague and sounding board for years. When she bought one, and showed it to me, and told me how much she valued it, I got one for myself. Thanks Kristin!

2. Google reader. I subscribe to 144 blogs. I follow all my clients, and as many of the trade oriented blogs I can find like bookstores, editors, other agents, and interesting observers of the scene. The ONLY way I can do that efficiently is by using Google reader. I know it's helped me help my clients. If you're not on Google reader, I encourage you to do so.

3. Twitter. I use Twitter for a very specific purpose. I stay in touch with my clients by a gossamer thread. It helps me know what's happening in their lives that's important (things like the death of a dog, death of a close friend, two bombs, and a lot of snow!) without them having to email me.

It's also been invaluable for early news. I don't use it to market myself, or do much actual business, but it's been extremely useful for what I want it for.

I started using Twitter because I read a post on DorothyL from someone who was excoriating all the new fangled things they thought were a waste of time. I realized I didn't want to dismiss something as useless unless I'd actually tried it. Twitter turned to be very useful. I tried a couple other things that weren't, but the key was I tried them first. Sort of the like Spinach Principle: how do you know you'll loathe it unless you've tried it.

Want to read more? The rest can be found, along with a ton of great advice for writers looking to be published, HERE on Janet's blog. Or check out her website HERE. Both are must-reads.

Thanks for joining in, Janet!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Rose Holck

Another international entry here, from my friend writer and teacher Rose Holck, who hies from just outside Seattle. Rosie specializes in fiction writing (and judging, as she is one of the famous SiWC Writing Contest Assistants), but in her off time, enjoys blogging about a libation or two.

In the spirit of the season, Rose has seen fit to share her Top 8 drinks of 2008.

Where to begin....?

Here are my top 8 beverages of 2008.

1. Veuve Cliquot Brut Yellow Label -- Perfection bottled. This is a blend of 50 - 60 Crus (growth places) and, therefore, is non-vintage. The grapes used in this Champagne are Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. Its consistency over time is amazing. In the flute, it is a beautiful golden color with tiny, pearl-like bubbles and the scent is divine. Dizzying, almost. Taste? Intense white fruit flavors followed with notes of toast. Yep. Toast. No, not toasted Wonder Bread. Toast as in the very best toasted homemade bread. Mmmmmm. Each sip echoes the last. My favorite Champagne/Sparkling Wine. Ever.

2. Napeequa 05 Malbec Reserve -- My husband and I enjoyed this one with our Christmas dinner (Rib Roast, Yorkshire Pudding with gravy and vegetables). The beautiful deep garnet color, rich dark red fruit scent, and the sweet, soft tannins on the finish make this a joy to sip. This is one of my favorite wineries. Check them out here. I love visiting their tasting room (it's very close to my cabin). Winemaker David Morris is frequently there and is wonderful to chat with. (Plus, he's always got Beecher's Handmade cheeses on hand, which my kids LOVE.)

3. Hot Buttered Rum -- I have to give credit for this one to my friend Kreekie. She inspired me to try her mom's homemade HBR batter and it is the BEST! Great for snowy nights, which we've had enough of... It's made with vanilla ice cream, butter, brown sugar, super-fine sugar, and spices (I used cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves). Melt it all up and put a good couple of blobs in the bottom of a mug. Add a shot of white rum and some hot water. Top off with whipped cream. YUM. Freeze what you haven't used -- it keeps forever (not that it will be around that long).

4. Red Hook Longhammer IPA -- Oh, get yourself a growler (half-gallon to-go jug) of this stuff. Good, good. Nice and hoppy. Very drinkable. My favorite beer. Check it out here.

Okay, okay -- that's enough to tantalize, for sure! For the NEXT four, you'll have to read on HERE.

Thank you, Rosie! A whole range of choices to try in 2009.


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Pamela Patchet

Who better to follow the sly and sexy CC Humphreys than the wickedly funny and on-point writer Pamela Patchet?

Pamela has had stories published in the Globe & Mail and many other local and national publications and she is a multi-year winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Literary Competition (the funniest contest around). She is, hands down, the best story-teller I know.

Pamela is also an avid blogger, and as A Novel Woman, she shares both stories that will make you laugh until you weep and astonishingly beautiful photography.

Never one to do anything half-way, our Pamela has come up with not one, but TWO Top 8 lists. Let's have a wee peek, shall we?

I had to think about what I was going to blog, photos, books, movies, food. I decided to talk about some of my favourite reads.

But if I were doing food, it would be:

1. Homemade crackers with Cyprus Flake sea salt and sesame seeds

2. Crab rollups with wasabi

3. Lasagna with hot Italian sausage and Secret Sauce

4. Potato and corn chowder

5. Laura's chocolate flourless cake

6. Italian almond macaroons

7. Nana's Irish Soda Bread

8. Poutine and steamies (I'm being honest here)

(I have recipes for all but the last entry. For #8 you'll have to come visit me here in Montreal and then I will FORCE myself to go out with you and order some from La Belle Province.)

Okay, favourite reads of 2008...

Aha! Interested in Pam's favourite books of 2008? If I tell you that her number one spot goes to a David Sedaris book...will you be surprised? Well, linger no longer, dear reader -- find out more HERE at Pamela's blog.

And perhaps one day, if you are very, very, lucky, she will tell you the story of David Sedaris, myself...and the placenta.


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger CC Humphreys

I can always count on Chris Humphreys for a bit of swashbuckling, so here he is to add to our Top 8 of '08 event with a few of his own top moments.

And now...over to Chris:

Chris (CC) Humphreys Top 8 of '08:

Beer: Hand-pumped Harvey's Sussex Bitter (The Holly Bush, Hampstead, London, UK)

Book (Non-Fiction): The Buddha in your Mirror - Woody Hochswender.

Book: (Fiction): Three Day Road - Joseph Boyden.

Film: Tell No One.

Theatre: A Man For All Seasons (I know, I was in it!)
[Editor's note: And I went to see it -- fantastic!]

Day: Wreck Beach, sometime in August. (Yes, I was. Everything.)

Drink: Cuba Libre, that day on Wreck.

Food: Caramelized Onion Tart with pimente d'espelette, (Pastis, Vancouver)

Hmmm. As a true Englishman should, you'll notice he differentiates between his favourite 'beer' and 'drink'. And there are a few entries here that I wouldn't mind hearing a bit more about....

If he cares to expand on these subjects -- I'll make sure you hear about it here first! (He didn't get that 'McSteamy of SiWC 2008' nickname for nuthin', you know...)

Sadly, Chris informs me that his computer has recently bitten the dust, which has put a crimp in his own blogging, but if you'd care to read more...his blog is HERE and his website HERE.

Thanks for taking part, Chris!


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Fiona Bayrock

Along with Deborah Hodge, Fiona Bayrock is here today representing the non-fiction writers in our midst. I think 'prolific' must be Fiona's middle name, as she has published at least fourteen books and many, MANY articles on subjects as wide-ranging as fish farts (yep -- you heard that right!) and icebergs.

Fiona also writes a regular blog, Books 'n Rocks, featuring terrific non-fiction books for kids.

When I asked her to participate as a guest blogger, Fiona sent me the following whimsical list...

My Eight Favourite Winter Things:

Lazy snowflakes—when looking out the window feels like I'm living in a snow

The rhythm of boots crunching and squeaking during a winter walk.

Making a snow angel.

Bright nights.

Cozying under a quilt with a cuppa and good book next to the wood stove.

Northern Lights.

Frosty eyelashes.

The drip, drip, drip promise of spring.

Thanks for taking part, Fiona!

If you'd like to read more about Fiona Bayrock, (and who doesn't want to know more about fish farts????) check out her website HERE.


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Laura Bradbury

Oh HO -- the Top 8 now takes on a little savoire faire with the introduction of a European flavour (tinged with the Canadian, of course).

My friend Laura Bradbury is a transplanted Canuck, who lives with her French husband and three beautiful daughters in Burgundy. Together they manage vacation property in France, and Laura blogs about the experience regularly in her Grape Journal.

When I asked her to take part in this little social experiment, she agreed, and has decided to talk about her upcoming relocation to the land of her birth.

Let's peek in on her musings, shall we?

Haven't had much time for watching TV, tragically ditto for reading, however one big realization that has been dominating my psyche (the part that isn't occupied with trying to prevent Clem from choking on plastic horse poos) as 2008 draws to a close is that in 2009, only a few days away, we are taking the big leap and are moving back to Canada.

I love France, I believe I will miss France and the people I love here like an arm that has been cut off, but here are 8 favorite things that I am really looking forward to about moving back to Canada (besides being closer to my entire family, which is of course a given);

1. Driving along the waterfront and seeing how the ocean is different every single day.

2. Having my friend Andrea live just up the street.

3. The fact that my girls will learn art and music and sports in school, instead of just academics.

4. Hearing the Sea Lions bark during the winter.

5. Beachcombing with a Latte in hand.

Read on to discover the rest HERE:

I will be thrilled to have Laura back on this side of the Atlantic, though her daily account of life in France is something I shall sorely miss. However, something tells me her adventures with her three little maids will still give her lots of blog fodder, even back on Vancouver Island.

Thanks for joining in, Laura!


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Deborah Hodge

deborah hodge

And the Top 8 of '08 -fest continues, today with Debbie Hodge's entry. Though she is a many-times published (and hugely beloved author) this has still been a big year for Debbie -- she has a new book coming out in her 'Who Lives Here?' series, (FOREST ANIMALS, due out in February from KidsCan Press), she started her own blog AND has a couple of gorgeous grand-babies to celebrate.

Debbie has decided to highlight her top favourite blogs of 2008. Let's have a peek:

As a relatively new (and keen!) blogger, I thought I'd post my list of 8 Great Blogs that I've enjoyed over the past year. In no particular order, they are:

1. Alice's CWIM Blog
Alice Pope is the editor of the wonderfully informative Children's Writers and Illustrators Market, published annually.

2. Children's Book Biz News
Anastasia Suen is the talented author of 110 books, and the writer of a series of blogs. This one gives you up-to-date info on US editors, agents and books.

3. Miss Snark, the Literary Agent
Although this blog has gone "dark", you can read the archives which are full of funny and interesting anecdotes about submissions to a "snarky" literary agent and her amusing replies.

Want to find out more? Well, then -- read on....

I love Deborah's choices, and am always adding new blogs to my Reader. Thanks for joining in, Debbie!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Vicki Pettersson

This post is a special treat, because Vicki doesn't blog any more! But she's breaking with her blog moratorium to join us here and talk about her 8 Top Procrastination techniques, since there is no better way to procrastinate... right?

But before we take a peek at her inner thoughts, let's just take a gander at her outer self, shall we?

Which to choose, which to choose?

The babe cover shot?

How about the hot Las Vegas city author shot?

I can't pick my favourite, so they both go up.

I knew Vicki Pettersson's pixels as a member of the CompuServe Writers' Forum long before I met her in person, but I can tell you she lives up to her billing on the page and in person. A Vegas showgirl for ten years, she traded in her mirror ball and high kicks for a laptop and the New York Times best seller list. She's also a mama to a busy 3 year old....and we all know what THAT does to one's writing time!

Vicki's Zodiac urban fantasy series stars Joanna Archer, and with three books in print and her latest slated for production in 2009, when you pick up her books you will be guaranteed a breath-taking read filled with non-stop action.

But that doesn't mean our girl Vic doesn't have to work at getting all that fabulosity down on the page. Sometimes things just get in the way.

Let's hear it in her own words, shall we?

I don't actually blog anymore. I find it's a great way to feel like I'm working without actually doing so, and anyone who knows me also knows how, well, anal I am about focus, and discipline, and doing the work. So when Karen asked me to be a part of her Top 8 of '08 series, I naturally …

jumped all over it. (A guilt-free avenue of procrastination should never be passed up!)

So, here follows my top 8 ways to procrastinate online in '08:

1. Gmail.

I love All Things Google. But I especially love my gmail account, where I get the Times delivered every morning, I can view threaded messages, easily find past - even ancient - emails via subject or sender, and create and organize folders to make myself feel oh-so-organized. There are other buttons and levers that you can push and pull to varying, but entirely kickass, effect, but I'm not outlining them here. That would be procrastinating … and I don't actually work for google.

2. Playing with my new Mac.

Oh, the iChat. The iPhoto. The fact that I push a button and it actually iWorks. No booting up, no delay (thus, less procrastination!). And the awesome Scrivener software - this year's best tool in my writing toolbox - is only compatible with Mac. I'm more efficient because I'm a Mac user. I love it so much I even bought stock in Apple once the economy went belly up. This company is going to support my work life and put my kid through college!

3. Google Reader

Another google product, and the way I keep up on friends and colleagues in the writing world. It's great because I can take a quick break from writing - usually while stuffing my face with something wholesome and nutritous like shoestring potato chips - and I don't actually have to contribute to the cyberworld. Sometimes it's fun to be a voyeur.

4. Facebook

Man, was this one unexpected! But it's also quick and I've managed to catch up with people I'd never thought to hear from again. I understand that Twitter-ing cannot help but be far behind, but so far I'm resisting. I have resolve of steel, I tell ya.

5. Drudge Report (

I get to feel smart and stay up on world events on tabloid-like headlines alone. How great is that?

6. Decorno (

This is porno for the home, my friends. A blog, it goes to my reader, but I regularly peruse the archives for ideas and advice I'll never use on and in my own home. It's nice to dream, though — and I love to see how other people live.

7. My message board (

I'm still getting used to the idea that people allow me into their minds by reading my books, but there are others who've let me into their lives, and this is where they hang out. To be honest, I'm pretty much just a mascot. These people talk, laugh, play and keep it a great place to hang out, something I've missed since my days on the Books and Writer's Forum. I hang out with these readers in lieu of a blog, answering questions as they arise rather than trying to anticipate or plan what people might want to hear. After all, that was the example I was given by Diana Gabaldon on the forum, so that's what I'm comfortable with. Plus, I've made some awesome friends.

8. Scented Glossy Magazines (

Also a blog, this is the ultimate, most mentally fattening way that I currently procrastinate. This is my online alternative to reality tv, but it's faster. It's the best of the trashiest, most mindless shows dissected by someone who can think, write, and who makes me laugh. Though it's the mental equivalent of cotton candy, SGM doesn't adhere to my ass, therefore I don't have to work out, which creates even more time for writing. Now that's efficiency at its finest.

Great suggestions all, Vicki. Thanks for sharing them. And now... it's back to work for you!

For those who'd like a little more info, check out Vicki's website HERE. A little spooky, a little desert...see you in Vegas, baby.


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger James McCann

The posts are coming in fast and fierce as our Top 8 of '08 feature continues. Next we have guest blogger James McCann; author, teacher, mentor and undead expert. (Which reminds me -- those of you with zombie-leanings could do worse than follow the 12 Days of Zombie Christmas Comic series, illustrated by Sean Bieri , that is currently running on the blog.)

James's undead tend to the vampiric and lycanthropic varieties, though, and DAWN, the third book of his Rancour series will be debuting in the new year.

For his contribution, James has decided to highlight his Top 8 favourite moments of 2008. Let's peek in on those, shall we?

Author and friend kc dyer asked if I would “guest blog” for her to summarize my “Top Eight of 2008.” This list could be interpreted any way I want.

I’ve decided to summarize the top eight moments of 2008. This was a crazy year for me, with so much happening that I feel as though a decade has passed. It was the first year for me as a self-employed writer, although I still wound up pulling my share of shifts at Vancouver Kidsbooks. Well, perhaps this is the time to start my list.

At number 8:

This would have to be the sequel to Bat Man Begins, The Dark Knight. It was much anticipated and lived up to the hype. Heath Ledger was an amazing Joker, and I do believe that his performance will be remembered as one that would have taken his career to new heights.

At number 7:

My old home in East Vancouver was becoming more and more unlivable, what with balconies falling from the building and car bombs exploding in the parkade. Thankfully, author Tiffany Stone and her husband Carmen were renting a suite elsewhere - and now I have a safe, quite place to write and work.

At number 6:

When my PC finally died (during a workshop in Korea, no less) it was time to change computers. After watching the ease with which Lee Fodi used his Mac, I decided it was time to change loyalties to a new brand. Now I am a Macbook user, and love it.

Read more....

I was going to run a formal author photo of James, but one glance at this last shot and I saw the futility of running any other picture of him.

You can read more of James's Top 8 HERE. And take note -- James has just moved his blog site, so you'll need to update your RSS feed on your Reader.


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Welcome to the second of my end-of-the-year Guest Blogs, this time with author Tanya Lloyd Kyi at the helm.

Tanya is an active blogger, mother of two, member of CWILL BC and author. You can read a little more about here HERE, or check out her blog when you follow the links below. She is a writing powerhouse, having published ten books since 2001.

Tanya's chosen to make her Top 8 of '08 list a list of her personal heroes. Let's have a look, shall we?

My Eight Heroes of '08

I wasn't planning to blog until the new year, but fellow blogger
kc dyer e-mailed to ask if I would do a Top 8 of '08 list. She left the topic up to me, and I've chosen to list my personal heroes of the year. When I told Min, he said, "But CNN already did the heroes of 2008." Well, I'm pretty sure mine won't overlap too much with CNN's.

Here they are:

Shirley Case A 30-year-old Canadian aid worker, Shirley was killed in Afghanistan this year. She used to work with my sister at Recreation Integration Victoria, and was in Afghanistan to set up education opportunities for children with disabilities. The thought that someone would be killed while doing something so kind makes my bones shrivel.

Simon Jackson I interviewed Simon a few years ago for Canadian Boys Who Rocked the World. He launched the Spirit Bear Youth Coalition as a teen, determined to help save the habitat of B.C.'s kermode bears. And when I interviewed him, he was talking to Disney about a movie. I was sceptical. Disney? A Spirit Bear movie? Well, it's in production. Congratulations, Simon!

Read on...

Thanks for being a part of this end-of-year blog extravaganza, Tanya! You've got me thinking about my own heroes...


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Marsha Skrypuch

Only a couple of days left in the year, and it's time to take stock. What better way to do that than to gather together one's friends and listen to a few stories?

This is the first of a series of posts authored by guest writers who are just as crazy about blogging as I am. I've asked them to give me their 'Top 8 of '08', and then left open the category for each to explore. To start things up we have author Marsha Skrypuch.

To define Marsha as an author (not one, but TWO novels published in 2008: DAUGHTER OF WAR and CALL ME ARAM) is kinda like defining a tornado as a 'little dust-up'. She is an inventor, a librarian, a speaker, a listserv manager, a decorated Ukrainian hero, the co-founder of Author's Booking Service and the author of many books for young people. But she will always be, first and foremost, a passionate advocate of good writers and writing.

I first met Marsha many years ago in her role as section leader of the KidCrit and Writing For Young People sections of the CompuServe Books & Writers' Forum, and we have been friends ever since. Fitting, then, that Marsha has chosen to highlight her Top 8 up and coming writers. Here is the opening of Marsha's blog post on the subject. To read her choices in their entirety, click HERE.

Following the lead of my dear friend kc dyer, here is my top 8 of 08. She told me it could be any favourite 8s, but this is a year of many extraordinary new writers, and here are 8 of them:


The hands down most promising new writer of 2008 is kidcrit's own Hélène Boudreau! Speak about an over-achiever! Having her first book published in 2008 wasn't enough for her. I've lost count, but I think she had four! Three were with Crabtree Publishing and one is her first novel, Acadian Star, published by Nimbus. Congratulations, my dear!!!

Read on...

Thanks for starting things off for us, Marsha. Stay tuned for more Top 8's of '08!


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Time to Take the Tree Down?

Holy canoli. Just saw this on boingboing. Thanks to Xeni for posting!

Video was put up by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

from Seamus,

and Silas Ermineskin

and me (the only one of the three of us who can actually type.)

May your every wish come true.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Firefly Christmas Eve...

For my buddy James, whom I hope makes it safely to Winnipeg on this snowy day, and for any and all of you Firefly lovers out there ... a little Serenity for you on Christmas Eve!

[Great job Alanna Torres, whoever you might be!]


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Books -- Not Just for Giving....and a pictoral of a Canadian Winter Day

Reading through Defining Canada, (the Dundurn blog), I found these remarkable sculptures , done by the incredibly talented paper artist Su Blackwell. If you click through the other stories, you can see a plethora of Other Things To Do With Books, presumably AFTER reading them...

We have had a couple of astonishingly beautiful days here on the normally gloomy West Coast, so for the remainder of this post, I will let the pictures tell the story...

We took the dogs up into the woods, and Seamus stopped to make a snow angel.

Step One: Find a nice deep drift and wallow in.

Step 2: Ensure Face and Body suitably snow-covered.

Step 3: Pause to show noble profile, before bounding off to follow dog brother.

The result. Can you see the snow-dog angel?

Look really hard....

More snow tonight.

According to climatologists, this will be the first coast-to-coast-to coast Canadian white Christmas since 1971. I think that may have been the year I was born...