Wednesday, April 30, 2008

All Hail the Cherry Blossom

Yesterday we were all trapped at the top of our driveway by a wicked triple-decker hailstorm. You can get a bit of a feel for the pitch of the driveway in this shot, taken just as the third round of hail was beginning to stick.

Living on the side of a mountain is a risky business when there is hail involved.

Needless to say, the bus was missed, and ultimately I had to shovel away hail in order to get the car down and haul my avid offspring off to the schools they adore.

This shot is blurry, but my camera was having trouble finding a bouncing hail chunk to focus on...

So instead, perhaps we'll zoom in on this, a cherry blossom with the temerity to grow out of the side of the trunk of the tree, instead of up in the branches with all her sisters.

Hang on through the hail, sister!

The weirdest things paralyze my writing day. I've always got a million things going on, and have learned that to get anything done, I pretty much have to work within the gaps. But today writing time was sacrificed to other things -- ostensibly unnecessary, but there, nonetheless.

Here's hoping for a few more words tomorrow.

And no hail.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Messin' with the Moon

I posted a moon shot a week ago or so, taken the night before the official full moon in April. This shot was taken the following night -- or more properly, the morning of the following night. I wasn't happy with any of the shots I took, actually. This may have something to do with the fact that it was 4:00 in the morning, and my focus is never the best at that hour, somehow.

Anyway, I messed with it a little, bumped the saturation levels and the contrast, and this version is a little closer to what I saw that morning. Still fuzzy, but come on -- how much clarity have YOU got at that hour of the day?


Vancouver writer Karen X. Tulchinsky is celebrating the selection of her novel THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES LAPINSKY as this year's One Vancouver, One Book selection. Just to show Karen X. that we forgive her for setting the story in Toronto, here's the scoop on her celebration reading:

Join award-winning writer Karen X. Tulchinsky as she reads selections from her critically acclaimed book, The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky.
7:30 p.m. Alice Mackay Room, Lower Level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia St.
Seating is Limited .

The Vancouver Public Library describes this story as 'A knock-out novel full of heart. Discover
the hopes, dreams and pain of the Lapinsky family in Depression-era Toronto in this poignantly universal yet unique story of a close-knit Jewish immigrant family.'


Local cool dude Todd Wong (aka Toddish McWong ) sent me a link to some of the great pictures he got at the BC Book Prize Gala the other night. This is a stalker-shot I got of Todd at that self-same event, as he stood, unaware, with Walter Lew. Walter apparently flew in from California that day to celebrate Rita Wong's nomination (and subsequent win!) for her book of poetry, FORAGE.

Another of Todd's projects is his involvement with the preservation of the Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver. You can check out the shots he took at the April 25th event here.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Just One More Book

The folks at the wonderful podcast site 'Just One More Book' are nearing their 350th episode, and they invite you to stop by and listen to an interview with one or two of your favourite authors. Lots to choose from!

On the home front, I have finally paddled (at last) through 'The Island of the Day Before' a fine example of what an editor friend of mine calls Literary Wanking) and am now going through my TBR pile for something light, sardonic and sassy. I'm ready for a laugh...


Sunday, April 27, 2008

On Prizes and Tofu and Pictures Untaken

Attended the BC Book Prizes bash last night for the first time. It was held at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. The food* was pretty good, the people were great and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

*I am forever amused at how often at events like this that the vegetarian meal includes tofu. It's like a prerequisite, somehow. It's weird -- like an omivore's view of what a veggie must eat. Tofu and portebello mushrooms.

One time, on an airplane (long ago, when one was still served meals on airplanes) I was served my vegetarian meal, consisting of a slimy slice of raw tofu, unrinsed, on a white bun sodden with brine. Remarkable.

I can, however, report, that last night's tofu was very nice. As was the portobello mushroom...

The final results of the BC Book Prize contest can be found here.

Perhaps it sounds trite, but with such an incredible group of talented writers, I really feel that the nomination is the thing (though perhaps the winners might not agree). And the winners? The readers, of course. Get yourself to a book store and pick up a few of these remarkable titles.

I wandered the place with my camera, but didn't get a lot of pictures I was terribly happy with. The place was very crowded and it was hard to get a clear shot. If included a couple here, and will post a few more over on the CWILL BC blog. Here is one I liked of author Julie Burtinshaw with Joy Gugeler (editor-in-chief with Suite 101).

Here's another, of award-winning artist and illustrator Kathie Shoemaker chatting with nominee (and winner of the Christie Harris prize) Robert Heidbreder. Behind them stands nominee Gayle Friesen chatting with a mostly obscured author and professor Alison Acheson.

I mentioned earlier this week that the BC Lieutenant Governor's Award for literary excellence went this year to writer and poet Gary Geddes. Geddes was on hand to pick up his award (and his cheque!) from Lieutenant Governor Steven Point, pictured here. Point was piped in (to the strains, somewhat mysteriously, of Waltzing Matilda), accompanied by his wife and a very substantial man-at-arms.

More later -- I have a CWILL BC meeting to dash off to. We are planning this year's Spring Book Hatching, to be held at the Vancouver Public Library, Downtown branch on June 14th.


Friday, April 25, 2008

Cat People...

I've heard from a few. Now, as it turns out, I am not just a dog nut, but also a cat freak.

This is a shot of my girls -- Fox and Socks (in that order), in their favourite habitat, under my bed. (Please note rare, no-dustball shot!)

The girls are twins, of course, but definitely not identical. Fox has a pointy foxy face (naturally) and is quite a bit tinier than her often cross-eyed, larger sister.

They are also, unlike Seamus and Silas, terribly camera-shy, so I'll make it a mission to try to get a couple of better shots of them soon.

In the meantime, for all you cat lovers (or lovers of Engineers, for that matter), may I suggest this small entertainment:

(Link added in case embedding doesn't work...)


Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Trickster

My puppy is what these days is charitably known as a 'rescue' dog. (Read: stray) He came from the Alkalai Lake Reserve, in the Cariboo area of the province. I called him Silas Ermineskin, after a character in a series of WP Kinsella stories that I love. Apart from a little initial shyness (now a distant memory) he has been a happy puppy.

But I should have called him Raven.

Apart from the giant black ears like soft raven wings that he has not yet managed to grow into, he is a trickster of the first water.

Today was an easy day -- all he stole was a loaf of bread, and since the bread had first been first stolen by Seamus (his complicit canine companion), really -- how can he be held to blame?

Yesterday he ate a large section of trellis that had been erected to prevent his escape from the deck. I would have documented it, but he left it lying all over in pieces, sharp staples facing up, as he and Shameless wrestled amongst the debris. I needed to pick it up fast before any paws were punctured. No time for photography at a moment like that.

I like this picture of him. I took it while I was on the roof a week or so ago, and he was not quite sure how I got up there. So he sat down to watch me and figure it out.

I expect to find him up there one day soon.


A couple of notable events on the local literary scene....

First, I got a note from Alan Twigg today. Alan publishes BC Book World and keeps an on-line directory of all BC writers. He is also a prolific author, and his latest book FULL TIME: A PRIVATE INVESTIGATION OF SOCCER is launching shortly. This looks like a great story -- among other things, Alan recounts his experiences playing on an over-50 soccer team from Vancouver as they travel to the south of Spain to play a team of ex-professionals. The book is published by McClelland & Stewart.

Also heard from the Victoria School of Writing today. They have opened registration for their summer session, to be held July 20-25th, 2008. Instructors this year include Steven Galloway, Sarah Leavitt, Curtis Gillespie, Rita Moir, Rosemary Neering, Kathy Page, and Susan Stenson.

The only one of this illustrious crew with whom I have personal acquaintance is Steven Galloway. He has been a presenter at the Surrey International Writers' Conference for the past couple of years. He teaches creative writing at UBC and has just published his third novel, THE CELLIST OF SARAJEVO. Based on the true story of a cellist in the Sarajevo orchestra who played Adagio in G minor for 22 consecutive days in the crater where a mortar shell killed 22 of his neighbours in front of his home, Galloway weaves the story of fictional characters living through the terrible fall of their city. The novel sounds fantastic. He'll be a marvellous addition to the Victoria group.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Word Gluttony -- ReDefinition Expression

The BIG Word...

So, fellow CWILLer Kirsti-Anne Wakelin blogged about The Big Word project today, and I'm afraid I have been totally hooked.

I picked a few words that I think might define what I do, like, say the

maybe with a or two,

during the Black


or even the ...

And, if I have to stay in the present, hanging out with cool teachers like Abbie

Or maybe taking A WALK THROUGH THE to look at in Canada's .

See what I mean? Sometimes one word just ain't enough...


Monday, April 21, 2008

Suntree, Science's Favourites and Umberto

I took this picture last month.

It was a brief glimpse of March sunshine, in the woods above my house. I tried fading a little of the colour from it to get the result you see here. Reminds me of the cold, spring sunshine -- strangely enough, more of which we appear to be enjoying today...


A week ago or so I posted a discussion about favourite books.

Just read a piece posted on Boing Boing by David Pescovitz, citing a listing of prominent scientists and their favourite books. I agree with DP that checking out the favourites of these luminaries is fascinating (though I do think Alison G. copped out)...

1. Farthest North - Steve Jones, geneticist

2. The Art of the Soluble - V. S. Ramachandran, neuroscientist

3. Animal Liberation - Jane Goodall, primatologist

4. The Foundation trilogy - Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist

5. Alice in Wonderland - Alison Gopnik, developmental psychologist

6. One, Two, Three... Infinity - Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist

7. The Idea of a Social Science - Harry Collins, sociologist of science

8. Handbook of Mathematical Functions - Peter Atkins, chemist

9. The Mind of a Mnemonist - Oliver Sacks, neurologist

10. A Mathematician’s Apology - Marcus du Sautoy, mathematician

11. The Leopard - Susan Greenfield, neurophysiologist

12. Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior - Frans de Waal, psychologist and ethologist

13. Catch-22 / The First Three Minutes - Lawrence Krauss, physicist

14. William James, Writings 1878-1910 - Daniel Everett, linguist

15. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Chris Frith, neuroscientist

16. The Naked Ape - Elaine Morgan, author of The Aquatic Ape Hypothesis

17. King Solomon's Ring - Marion Stamp Dawkins, Zoologist

Here's the link to the original piece in NewScientist.

Any of the vast coterie of scientists reading this blog are more than welcome to add to this list. And for those few of you non-scientists, go ahead and admit to having a little kink or two in your personality, and let me know your favourite book about science, too.

Currently, I am reading THE ISLAND OF THE DAY BEFORE, by Umberto Eco. I'd have to call it more philosophical than scientific. Still pretty good, though...


Sunday, April 20, 2008

BC Book Prizes and a Penultimate Moon

It was a gorgeous evening for the BC Book Prize Soiree, held at the Metropolitan Hotel in downtown Vancouver last night. After a day of really weird spring weather (including snow that fell and stayed put all day throughout the city and not just on my mountainside aerie) the moon came out and gave me a chance to play with my camera settings. She's a night away from full, but politely held still for just long enough to have her portrait taken.


Back to the soiree. I arrived late due to an over-scheduled day, and by the time I got there, the party was in full swing. Loads of CWILL BC members in attendance. Here's a shot of Kari-Lynn Winters in a throng of admirers, having a great time celebrating her nomination for picture book JEFFREY AND SLOTH.

Norma Charles, seen here chatting with author and blogger Julie Burtinshaw, is a member of the BC Book Prize committee, and is celebrating the recent launch of her own new book THE GIRL IN THE BACK SEAT.

Also present was nominee Meg Tilly, celebrating the evening with a crowd of well-wishers (and her husband, Don). She looked gorgeous (as usual) but for a glimpse of her earlier hair tribulations, you may want to check out her blog. Meg will be touring the Kootneys soon, on her leg of the BC Book Prize tour. If you get a chance to hear her read from her nominated book PORCUPINE, be sure to grab it. A not-to-be-missed opportunity.

Out-going CWILL BC president James McCann can be seen chatting here with in-coming CWILL vp Crystal Stranaghan. Crystal is the publisher of Gumboot Books, a new independent right here in Vancouver, specializing in kids books.

Artist, illustrator and photographer Kirsti-Anne Wakelin was also at the soiree, here pictured looking kinda the way I do at these things...

Photography is a religious experience for both of us, though she is definitely more Canonical than I (a confirmed Pentaxian).

This is what she looks like with the camera pried off her face, here chatting with blogging whiz and all-round techie guy Boris Mann. Boris is one of the incandescents behind the amazing Northern Voice blogging and social networking conference held yearly at UBC.

Also present from Northern Voice (but sadly unphotographed) was Monique Trottier, who led the rousing 'Authors Who Blog' session. Monique's been busy getting her company re-named and launched, and she designed the beautiful BC Book Prizes website.

The BC Book Prizes will be distributed at a Gala next Saturday night. Stay tuned.


And finally, I read yesterday where poet Gary Geddes was awarded the Lieutenent Governor's Award for Literary Excellence in BC. With the award comes a $5000 prize. Geddes, a giant in the Canadian literary scene, told the Vancouver Sun: "What matters to me is not the money, but is the moral support. Nothing a writer appreciates more than some assurance from peers that you're doing a good job."

Now, I don't know Gary, but I feel compelled to protest on behalf of the many poets I do know. The money does matter! The more money directed to the Canadian literary scene, particularly toward poetry, the better. I know too many published poets who never see a royalty for their work, beyond a couple of comped copies of their own books. So, three cheers for the celebration of Canadian poetry -- may there be many more lucrative prizes awarded to allow it to flourish.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Launches, Soirees and Galas -- oh my!

Went to a lovely Orca Launch at Vancouver Kidsbooks last night. Five new books made their way out into the world in inimitable Kidsbooks style. Shelley Hrdlitschka, Diane Tullson, Annabel Lyon, Kathleen Cook Waldron, Bob Warick and Richard Van Camp had a chance to show us their new books and a good time was had by all. (Many thanks to Mr. Van Camp for his attempt to assuage the back spasm of a party-crasher with accu-pressure.)

Forgot my camera, though I may have a line on a couple of pixs. Stay tuned, will post if I get 'em. In the meantime, we can look at the beautiful cover-babe of Richard's new book. (This particular book is being distributed to every new baby born in the province this year through the Books for BC Babies Initiative -- all 43,000+ of them!)

Saturday night is the BC Book Prizes Soiree -- free to all at the Metropolitan Hotel (645 Howe St, Vancouver) from 7 to 9:00 pm.

I will do a better job of remembering to bring my camera to give you a taste of all the action.

In other news, Silas greeted my return last night having eaten my last dish scrubber and a couple of cushion-tops from the stools in the kitchen. I'm blaming my kids for their poor supervision skills. Because I can.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

At Last!

Saw my first hummer yesterday, and he even gave me a cheerful little dive-bomb on my way past.

Heard another one today.


Will try to get my own photo instead of this stock shot -- a challenge...


Monday, April 14, 2008

Querelous Queries

As you know, I have recently made the leap into Mac ownership, and while I have not cast off my old PC completely (my kids still need it for school) I have been slowly trying to move things over to the new (and infinitely superior -- have I mentioned that before?) machine.

Today I had a little problem with this, as someone contacted me to whom I had originally replied from my old machine. Not surprisingly, they hadn't received my email, and in having to re-gather my thoughts, I realized I just might have something worthy of a blog post.

So here it is.

In my line of work, I am often asked by aspiring writers for a little help here or there. Mostly this involves: "I've just written a novel. NOW WHAT??!!??"

Today, this brought me back to the query letter -- the sort that one might send off to a prospective writer or agent, depending on one's propensity for that sort of thing.

I am a big believer in query letters. One of my own query letters led to my first manuscript being plucked out of a slush pile and fitted snugly between covers. (Note: This did NOT happen over night. Not at all. But it was all the more immensely satisfying when it did happen, for the wait, of course.)

In my humble opinion, the writing of a query letter FAR outshines the old stick-the-ms-in-an-envelope-for-an-exclusive-submission form of getting one's work published.

I've done both, and let's just say that the full manuscript option was less effective. Vastly.

Anyway, when you are ready to send your newly-completed, meticulously spell-checked and in every other way perfect new baby manuscript out into the world, my best suggestion to you is to not send it anywhere at all.

Instead, write a single-page query letter. The body of the letter should include a paragraph highlighting each of the following:

1) A brief synopsis of the story. Begin this with a one-sentence hook (prolly in the form of a question) to start with. For example...

What rough beast, its hour come at last, slouches towards Bethlehem, waiting to be born?*

(In fact, this is not a hook, but instead what I think might be my favourite line of poetry EVER. Can you name the author? If you need to cheat, peek at the bottom of this post...)

2) A brief (BRIEF!) summary of your very own self -- your writing history and anything particularly quirky about YOU that might catch the interest of the letter's recipient.


3) An explanation of why you are sending this query to the particular recipient. You need to do some research for this one -- make sure you convincingly note that picking up your story will be a good business decision for their company because...(they've published/agented others of this ilk before and done well with them, or they seem to appreciate a good story and this is one, or whatever is the best reason you can come up with.)

Once you've written your letter, run off the first 2 or 3 pages of your story and send the whole thing off in a business-sized envelope to every deserving publisher/agent you can think of.

When they reject you (which they will, likely, and quite often, too, until you find the right fit), roll with it, listen to any advice offered and KEEP TRYING!

Let me just finish by saying that there are a million writing books out there that you can refer to for wonderful advice, but I would also not hesitate to recommend a good writers' conference, if you are in the neighbourhood. Of course, my favourite is the Surrey International Writers' Conference , but go ahead and look around.

You know where to find me if you have any questions.

~kc (* with apologies to Yeats...)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Peanuts (though not Purple), Perambulations and Poetry*

(*with aPologies to Peggy Atwood....)

Silas found the Stellers Jays' peanuts last week.

He liked them. Apparently peanuts taste very good with a side serving of yellow duck boot.

As a result, I put him outside on the deck with his partner in crime. He felt the need to protest.

Please note these windows had been washed the day before by my dear friend Johnny, who loves washing windows and does a Very Good Job.

However, Silas likes to leave his mark.

When the howling didn'twork, he tried a fetching smile.

And when that didn't work....

he ate a chair.

Does this expression look apologetic to you?

Silas is thinking of taking up acting.
In addition to mournful expressions, I believe he'll be a natural at chewing the scenery...


Had lunch in Bellingham yesterday with the SiWC Contest Assistants Rose Holck and Kathy Chung. (Rosie has another blog here, too. A blog-a-minute, that girl!)

The business part of our meeting went like this:
"You in this year?"
"Of course."
"Oh, yeah."
Not much standing on ceremony, I admit. But the contest is coming again, naturally, and the deadline will be September 5th this year. Check out the SiWC site for details.

The non-business part of our meeting was pretty fun, too. But since my camera was sitting on the kitchen counter, ready for dog-crime-scene documentation, I forgot it for the trip to Bellingham, so you'll just have to take my word for it.


And finally...

I just had word that Vancouver's Poet Laureate is launching his latest book. I met George McWhirter at SiWC last year, and he is a charming and highly accomplished writer. I LOVE the cover for his new book THE ANACHRONICLES, published by Ronsdale Press. If you are able to wish him well, you may do so at the Our Town Cafe (245 East Broadway, Vancouver), on Tuesday, April 22, from 7:00–9:00 p.m. This event is being held in conjunction with BC Book and Magazine Week.

Congratulations, George!


Friday, April 11, 2008

What to Choose, What to Choose...

Things are hopping around here lately. So much going on...I think I may just have to do a bit of round-up.

First, and most importantly, I have just this week fallen for the remarkable Tim Minchin, Aussie comic and musician. IF you are over 18, I might suggest the YouTube version of Inflatable You, performed at the Royal Albert Hall for a recent Think Pink Breast Cancer fundraiser.


Now, what's next?

Well, it's BC Book Prizes time, and this coming Saturday is the big soiree, held at the Metropolitan Hotel in Vancouver from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. This event is a freebie, and it's a chance for you to meet and mingle with the province's literati.

There are still a few tickets left to the actual prize night Gala on April 26th. Dinner, award ceremony and entertainment will set you back $70, but it should be an elegant evening. Fanny Kiefer will emcee.

I'll be there supporting Meg Tilly and Kari-Lyn Winters -- both friends and incredible writers.

Both of these events are a chance to meet your favourite writers up close and in person.

There's more to talk about (always...) but I am going to spend Saturday with two of my favourite writers (and SiWC 2008 Contest VIPs) KC (in upper case, this time) and RH, so I have to get ready for that.

Will report back upon my return.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Worst Nightmares & Favourite Books

My girl is at home with a migraine. I hate this. These are the worst things I have bequeathed to my children -- I would give anything to keep the headaches in my own brain and spare them the suffering. My son had one last week. His are much rarer than the girl's and generally pretty silent -- meaning while he gets the aura and a headache afterwards, he is spared the axe through the brain that characterizes my migraines, and the stroke-like symptoms that characterize the girl's.

He and I were discussing the subject (after he recovered) and we agreed that the one thing that really drives us crazy is when people use the word migraine to describe a bad headache. NOT the same thing at all at all at all.

But now my girl is home, safe in bed, trying to sleep it off, and I am working instead of sweating at exercise class. Can always go to the gym later.

In the meantime, I just read in Publisher's Lunch of a study by the Harris Group in the US. Here's the clip:

Poll Asks, Name Your Favorite Book
Harris Interactive surveyed American adults to find out "What is your favorite book of all time?" The answers:

1. The Bible
2. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
3. Lord of the Rings (series), by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
5. The Stand, by Stephen King
6. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
7. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
8. Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown
9. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
10. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

Interesting list.

I actually really hate being asked what my favourite book is. I get asked this a lot, mostly at schools when I am talking with kids about writing. My problem is, I can never narrow it down to just one or two. As my recent Jane Austen jag can attest, when I find a novel I enjoy, I frequently end up reading the author's entire back list.

As to the Harris List, I can say I LOVE a couple of books noted, I really enjoyed several others, one I have always wanted to read, but haven't as yet, and two I despise.

Can you do better than I have at answering this tough question? What is your favourite book?


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Stress-Free Blogging and Magic

Lots of chatter in the blogosphere these days about the toll that high-stress bloggers pay. This article in the New York Times talks about the recent death of a couple of high-profile bloggers who succumbed to the high-stress, low-exercise, 24-hour-a-day expectations that come from blogging for a living.

I would like to leap into the breach, here, and assure my legions of faithful readers that you need fear not for the health of your humble blogging servant. I don't do this for a living -- you'll note there's nary an ad to be found about the place -- and so for leftwriter -- the pressure's off. (Of course I do spend unhealthy amounts of time communing with my computer. When my son caught me talking to it today, he assumed that I was talking to myself, probably a good thing for both of us.)


I spent my time on the elliptical trainer today reducing my stress levels by reading about magic. Since magic is so much a part of my stock in trade, I guess it's lucky I find the subject so fascinating. Right now I am working on a re-write of DEADLINE, but it is a contemporary story and I'm feeling the pull of magic. Time travel, caves and castles, ghost stories and the lure of all things possible.

The cave in this picture can be found in the rocks behind the real-life castle I used as a rough model for Ainslie Castle in my first book, SEEDS OF TIME. This particular cave is in the west highlands of Scotland, and so startled me with its presence that I was quite unable to go inside. One never knows what will happen when wandering into magical caves...

My new Ceilidh stories will be steeped in magic. Time to dip a toe in the water again.


Monday, April 07, 2008


I just got an invitation to attend the launch of author (and sister in blogging) Shelley Hrdlitschka's new novel GOTCHA!

I'm thrilled for Shelley, (pictured here) but even more thrilled for myself (and my daughter). We are both huge fans of this wonderful author.

Shelley's book is coming out at the same time as a few other Orca titles, and these other great authors will be celebrating their books as well:

Diane Tullson has a new title: LOCKDOWN (looks exciting!)

Ann Walsh worked with Kathleen Cook Waldron and photographer Bob Warick to produce FORESTRY A-Z.

Richard Van Camp has a lullaby for newborns called WELCOME SONG FOR BABY and Anabel Lyon's new book is called ALL-SEASON EDIE.

Congratulations to all on the arrival of these new titles -- and to all the readers out there who will now get to enjoy them!


Sunday, April 06, 2008

A New (to me, anyway) Writing Contest

This was just sent to me by Jennifer Coffey -- sounds like a pretty cool contest. And check out those judges!

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
Submission Due Date ~ September 1, 2008
Prize Winners announced ~ December 15, 2008
Entries should be typed, single-sided, and double-spaced with your name, address 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.

All entries received by June 20 will be considered for the Wayson Choy Scholarship to the
Humber School for Writers (July 12-18) Summer Program.

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.


Friday, April 04, 2008

Nonsense, Really

Ah. Well, I tried to link to a picture I found on the BBC website of the oldest extant book in Scotland, (printed in 1508) but alas -- the link has failed me. So you'll just have to take my word for it -- or you can trot off to the Scotly part of the BBC website and see it for yourself. (Scotly -- aka Scottish-ish...your new coinage for the day.)

Instead you'll hve to content yourself with a shot I took from my roof the other day. That's right -- the roof. The sun comes out and the yen to go roof-climbing is just too strong to ignore. So off I went, just climbing around on the roof with the old camera, taking a few shots. This is the edge of Bowen Island to the left, with a bit of Keats Island and a teeny bit of the Sunshine Coast for good measure.

Looks calm and lovely out there, eh? Well, having kayaked that little stretch of waterway a few times, I can tell you that looks are deceiving. Wicked tidal action. Scary winds. Not to mention the wee problem I have every time I kayak. But I digress...

That's it to report for now, I'm afraid. Too much going on and too little time to keep on top of things. I am so drastically behind in email ... does ANYONE ever stay caught up with their email? Surely this is impossible, since an answered email so often begets more of the unanswered variety. I can't seem to manage it, anyway.

Email etc., will have to wait until tomorrow. It's time to return to Neil Gaiman's FRAGILE THINGS. I'm only half way into the first story, but am enjoying it enough to plough on. (Plow or plough? This one always gets me...)

I'll save coherence for another day. I'm sure it will return.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Surrey Reads & Writes

From Lois Peterson:

Surrey Reads and Writes
Connecting readers with local authors

Sat. April 12, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Panel discussion ~ Exhibits ~ Readings ~ Workshops ~ Networking ~ Door prizes.
Guildford Library, 15105-105 Avenue, Surrey
Drop by for one session, or stay for the whole day.

Presenters include:
SPL Writer-in-Residence, Mansel Robinson, Federation of BC Writers, Anthony Dalton
Diane Tullson, Heather Young, Joei Carlton Hossack, Carol Mason, Lauren Howell
Jane Hall, Lois Peterson, Lorna Suzuki, Anne Murray, LPwordsolutions, Metta Publications
Virginia Gillespie, Wendy Roberts, Rainwriters: Ed Griffin, Anna Barcos, Larry Breitkreutz
Heritage House Publishing, Ursula Maxwell-Lewis (Cloverale Reporter)

Lois Peterson presents the workshop Word by Word (1:45-2:30)

Check out the brochure here.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Once Upon a Time...

...I wrote a book, by accident, about Leonardo daVinci.

To clarify, I didn't write the book by accident, I wrote it on purpose. It was the second installment in an adventure story about a girl and her friends and her time-travelling dog, Delaney. When I started the book, SECRET OF LIGHT, I knew it was going to be set at some point during the Renaissance, but not much more than that.

One day, I was writing a scene where the main character, a girl [who, incidentally, has only one leg] fell, along with a couple of her friends, through a hole in the fabric of time. [This happens a lot near Eagle Glen School. In fact, I would hazard a guess that if the fabric of time really was an honest-to-goodness piece of material, the bit wrapped around Eagle Glen was pretty much made up of cheesecloth. Or Brussels lace.]

Darrell ends up somewhere entirely unlike where she started, with has a wicked case of time-sickness and is well and truly disoriented. She makes her way through a darkened room, only to discover she is not alone. On the far side of a very untidy table emerges the chalk-dust-covered head of a brilliant, talented and arrogant fourteen year old boy.

And thus Leonardo walked into my story, and my life.

Now, I had never inserted a person who had actually taken breath into one of my stories before this time. The beauty of fiction is the whole make-believe part of the gig. But faced with this interloper, I did what I had to do -- research, and a lot of it.

In the way of these things, further study into the life and times of Leo made him eerily perfect for the story. Common knowledge places the man firmly into humanity's cultural zeitgeist as an artist, but to his contemporaries, Leonardo was so much more. He was a renowned weapons-inventor. He designed toys for the crowned heads of Europe. And he even aspired to build a time machine. All of this [and many other wonderful and weird coincidences] fed my muse until she was fat and happy and writing up a storm.

A big part of my job as an author was to give my _character_ of Leonardo as much shape and substance as the man himself. And so, today, [courtesy of one of my favourite blog sites, Boing Boing] when I stumbled across this TED lecture, it spoke to me -- just like the face of that fourteen year old spoke to me more than five years ago when he walked into my manuscript -- and my heart. And if you ever read SECRET OF LIGHT, you can now evaluate whether I got it right ...or not.

Hope you enjoy this musing on what Leonardo really looked like.