Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallow's Eve...

How are you spending this spooky night?

My current weirdness-in-progress is a step back into high fantasy, with a little history and a lot of ghosts thrown in for good measure. A slightly re-worked excerpt of it is to be found here, on Linda Gerber's blog, to celebrate this eerie day. She's run spooky stories all week, and I believe if you leave a comment, you'll be eligible for one of her Freebie Friday gifts...if you make it in before the witching hour.

Earlier this month I spent a long time trying to photograph a skull by moonlight -- sadly, to no avail. Instead, I offer you a shot of a most excellent house on Calton Hill in Edinburgh. Calton Hill is the site of much mystery and mayhem on Hogmanay each year -- first night rather than the night before All Saint's Day. It is well suited to today's post all the same, since said wip is set in and around the environs of this, one of my favourite cities in the world.

Happy haunting...


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Spooky Doings...

My dear friend and colleague, Linda Gerber is currently celebrating Hallowe'en by running a series of scary stories in her blog. I have re-worked a little episode of the current work-in-progress and submitted it for her approval -- it should appear sometime this week.

In doing so, I remembered that the last time I blogged for Linda (in September, she sez, hanging her head) I was supposed to make a draw for one of my books. In the spirit of better-late-than-never, I hereby proclaim Lucile (of Book Spot) the winner. Drop me a line at, Lucile, and I'll send you a copy of MS. ZEPHYR'S NOTEBOOK.

Are you keeping up with all the doings now that SiWC is over? Check out the blog at the conference site for all the latest, including winning entries to Lisa Rector's Young Writers' scholarship, folks looking to join writing groups and new pictures of the conference.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Survived It...

Holy Crow.

Back home after Surrey. Nearly comatose. Things are _busy_ when I cannot find time to blog, man. I'm pretty sure I had fun, but I think I won't remember until tomorrow. I just have to say -- I feel so privileged to be associated with SiWC and the people who make it what it is. It is truly unique.

I will be doing tons of blogging on the site over the next few days. If you were unable to make the conference, take a peek over there if you are interested. Just a little taste of the fun that was had.

First -- sleep.

Then? Write.

I'll fit the other stuff (email, unpacking, laundry, re-acquainting with offspring and menagerie) in somewhere.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Share The Wealth

Insanity time -- the week before the conference. A few things to note:

Got my galleys in last night (a day early, ho ho). A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW is on its way!

Last week I was thinking (and writing) about poverty.

Just read about this -- and if life slows down enough (and I'm hoping it will), I'd love to go:

"Share the Wealth"
Libraries Across Borders invites you to their gala Fund- raiser:
"Share the Wealth" on November 1, 2008 at 7 p.m. Alma Van Dusen Room, VPL, 350 West Georgia Street.

Help libraries in need in developing countries and here in First Nations Communities in BC. Find out about the 20 projects we have assisted. Learn how you can help. Share the Wealth!

Please register by October 30, 2008.

Sounds very cool.

Blogging more as I can!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Email Sins

I love my gmail. It has saved my life, working on the Surrey conference, and just in general. It filters most of the mondo amounts of spam I receive with ease.

But it also enables me to enumerate my sins.

I sent 107 email today.

Received only a paltry 37.

I'm a little tired of email at the mo...

The conference is now a week away, the onslaught is in full force, and I'll just ride this tsunami until I crash to the shore on October 27th or so.

See you on the other side!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blog Action Day -- Poverty

I wrote an essay on poverty for the Defining Canada website on Blog Action Day -- today, October 14th, 2008. A chance to open the dialogue on a subject too often missed, particularly on an election day here in Canada.

I've just heard that the turn-out for this latest election exercise may well have been the lowest yet -- and exercise in futility, some might say.

But...I am an optimist. I'd like to think that this gives us a chance to look at what we have, what we value, and what we want for the future. My daughter got to cast her vote today for the first time as an adult -- I'm proud that she stepped forward and took the risk that her opinion might make a difference.

On this day of world-wide internet discussion, let's turn our eyes to the things that our new government can do in this country to combat poverty. How about starting with clean water -- what about a goal of no 'boil-water advisories' on reserve lands in Canada? What about finding ways to ensure every Canadian has a safe place to sleep at night? And what if we forget about the government altogether for a minute and look at the way that we each might help the fight against poverty every day. It's more than markets, up or down or roller-coastering. It's people who make the difference.

Ask yourself why we take for granted that since there always has been poverty, there always will be.

Speak out.



Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thanksgiving, happily

Much to do today -- cooking, decorating for Hallowe'en, SiWC readiness work that won't pause for a holiday...but first, a word of thanks.

To Wired Magazine for publishing the story, and to Jay Walker for caring enough about books to have a library like THIS.

A word of thanks, also, both to Smart Bitches and boing boing for directing me to the Wired story.


Friday, October 10, 2008

A Closer Look at a New Novel

Galleys of WALK arrived today. Due back in one week.

Nose currently to grindstone....


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Writing in Fall

Took this shot a couple of days ago, standing outside my office window just before a decent windstorm hit. A whole new season is here...and it means business.

This has been a beautiful fall, and I was so lucky to spend some of it in the Kootenays. A big shout out to all the kids I met on my travels last week -- it was great to make your acquaintance.

This picture also reminds me of the feeling I get when I'm working on my latest project. I'm glad to be writing this at last -- too much has stood in the way until now. But maybe that's a good thing, because the ideas have had a chance to ripen, and are ready to split open and spill their luscious, rotting contents onto the page.

More soon...


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hey East Coasters!

Call for Submissions to the 32nd annual Atlantic Writing Competition

WFNS invites aspiring Atlantic writers to send unpublished manuscripts by
December 5, 2008.

For over three decades, the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia has been
challenging writers in Atlantic Canada to explore their talents by sending
work to the annual Atlantic Writing Competition for unpublished manuscripts.
Since 1976, more than 500 prizes have been won by novelists, poets,
non-fiction and children's writers. Many of today's best known writers
first tested the waters and placed in the Atlantic Writing Competition,
including Ami McKay, Lesley Choyce, Budge Wilson, Lynn Coady, Lulu Keating,
and George Elliott Clarke.

The competition encourages writers to write for existing markets and is
judged in five different categories: poetry, novel, short story, children's
picture book and YA novel. Submissions are accepted from anyone (at least
16 years old) who has been resident in the Atlantic Provinces since June 1,
2008. Published writers may not enter in a category in which they have been
published or produced.

Each entry is judged by professionals working in the field, with short
individual critiques returned to participating writers. Cash prizes ranging
from $50 to $200 are awarded to the top three submissions in each category
at a not-to-be-missed Gala Celebration of Writers and Writing in September,

No manuscript will be accepted without a completed entry form and fee
($15/entry or $10 WFNS member/student/senior for all categories except
novel, where the fee is $25/$20). For complete details and to obtain a copy
of the required entry form, please visit HERE


For further information, please contact:

Susan Mersereau or Jane Buss


Susan Mersereau

Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia 902 423 8116


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

October Madness


My internet crashed tonight.

Panic ensued.

Luckily, the problem is now solved, but once again, I am behind where I should be. However, I've got the contest shortlists done...still have to contact some authors, send the entries to the judges and get the prep work for the anthology underway.

October is SiWC month, and no mistake -- every waking hour has one too many jobs to get done.

Just put up a big blog here about the Masque on Saturday night (October 26th, of course). Hope to see you there!

* gratuitous shot of fall in Fernie, BC


Monday, October 06, 2008

SiWC Contest Time Again....

I could never do this without the amazing contest assistants Kathy Chung and Rose Holck.

We all share the same ailment, however...

For SiWC updates, be sure to check the blog on the site -- lots happening these days!

More soon -- after I get a little more reading done.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

True Believers...

My colleague, author and playwright Dennis Foon is a part of an upcoming production called TRUE BELIEVERS.

In his own words:

MY ACID TRIP is a man's look back at his first hallucinogenic experience, and how that illuminated the hidden truths about his immigrant family, their secrets, and the day his great uncle got a boiled potato stuck in his mouth.

From the Solocollective website:


three monologues by Dennis Foon, Lorena Gale, and Ian Weir
directed by Camyar Chai, John Cooper, and Rachel Ditor
set and lighting design by Yvan Morissette; sound design by Alexander Brendan Ferguson; stage manager, Noa Anatot
Featuring performances by Mercedes Baines, Jennifer Clement, and Todd Thomson

Oct. 29 -- Nov. 9, 2008 (opens Oct. 30)
Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island, Vancouver BC

Three unique tales of finding, losing, and having faith. A Jewish man struggles to find his own place within faith. A family secret leaves a middle-aged woman on the brink of losing it. An aging soap star reaches out to her fans in her final and greatest performance.
Well-known Vancouver film, theatre, and television veterans -- Gemini Award-winner Dennis Foon, Governor General Award-nominee Lorena Gale, and Gemini Award-winner Ian Weir -- return to the stage.
Don't miss this incredible evening of dynamic one-person plays by three of Canada's most respected playwrights.
When faith is the question, the answer is everything.

Tues- Sunday, 8 pm, Sat. Matinees, Nov. 1 & 8, 2 pm, Pay-What-You-Can Preview: Oct. 29, 8 pm
OPENING: Thurs. Oct. 30, 8 pm,

2-for-1 shows Sat. Nov. 1, 2 pm and Tues. Nov. 4, 8 pm
Tickets: $22/$15, Single Tickets and See Seven Pass Holders Reserve thru Tickets Tonight: 604-684-2787


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Kootenay Tour -- Fernie -- Last Day

Fernie's lovely library ...

I have weather karma -- no denying. I spent the last day of my tour in Fernie, under clear skies and beautiful fall weather, and then flew home into the deluge.

Huge thanks to Emma for making my time in Fernie terrific, and to the kids who made me feel welcome and at home.

A few memories of my stay in this beautiful Kootenay town:

The vistas, courtesy of the Rocky Mountains...

The Elk River, which runs through town and gives its name to the valley in which Fernie nestles.
And, of course, this sign made me feel like I was back in Lions Bay!

Now I am back, happy to be home; grateful and delighted to have been able to meet all the kids, teachers and librarians on this tour. Thanks again to Leanne Strang of the Kootenay Library Federation for organizing everything and making it all possible.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Kootenay Tour -- Cranbrook, Day Five

Stayed at the CPR B&B ---and that is CPR, as in Canadian Pacific Railway, not Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation. Amazing place -- was built to house the family of the CPR supervisor more than 100 years ago. It has been lovingly restored by Rose & Don, who made me feel very welcome. (And, in addition to the shot I posted yesterday, as you can see here, there was a second chandelier in my room.)

First view of the Rockies from Cranbrook -- no snow yet!

I was supposed to meet librarian Deanne Perrault at the Cranbrook Public Library, but as I was loading my car with books at the B&B she walked by me on the street and stopped to say hello.

We had a great time driving around the city together and visited both Parkland Middle School and Laurie Middle School.

Many thanks to Deeanne, and all the teachers and kids for making my visit to Cranbrook such a cheery one.

Here's a peek at the Cranbrook sunset that sped me down the road to Fernie...


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Kootenay Tour -- Trail and Salmo, Day Four

Started my day by meeting librarian Lori Reiberger at the Trail library, which can be found inside the big civic arena in downtown Trail. (The giant Cominco smelter pictured above looms large above the arena.)

Lori and I travelled to the wonderfully-named Glenmerry School, just outside Trail. Big thanks to Glenmerry Librarian Louise Sidley and all the great kids who welcomed me so warmly to the school. After answering as many questions as they could think up, it was time to say goodbye. Lori pointed me in the right direction, and I zoomed off down the highway to tiny Salmo.
This is the Salmo Museum, to be found in the same building as the town library, where I met Tracy Therrien. Tracy and I drove to the lovely new Salmo Secondary School, where I had a chance to talk to almost the entire student body.

Salmo School librarian Sue Bakken rounded up all the kids and we had a great time talking books, reading and writing, with a few gruesome Plague details thrown in for good measure.

Many thanks to Tracy and Sue and all the kids of Glenmerry and Salmo Secondary for making this such a great day.

The day finished for me with a drive across the Kootenay pass to Cranbrook, where I was met with yet another amazing chandelier...and more on that tomorrow!


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

We Interrupt This Tour...

Okay, so this is aimed at Americans. But to all my American and Canadian readers -- I think it's still worth watching, if only to see Sarah Silverman's sub-shirt bra-removal skills.

(The registration thing is different here in Canada, sure -- but the message is the same.)

October 14th ...what are YOU doing?

returning you to regularly scheduled Tour programming...

Kootenay Tour -- Kaslo and Nelson, Day Three


This is the best time of year to be in the Kootenays. But don't just take my word for it...

Let me say this -- Kaslo is one beautiful place.

This is the view I got when I woke up...

Not bad, eh?

I stayed at a very funky B&B -- the Beach Gables, in the Victorian Room, (which lived up to its name).

I think I need to show you the chandelier above my bed...

Funkedelic. And not the last of the chandeliers on this trip, as you will see.

I woke up early, so I spent an hour touring the village. They are currently restoring the Kaslo Hotel, which was one of the locations where Japanese Canadians were interred after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. A sad and remarkable place. Kaslo is also the resting place of the original SS Moyie, a stern-wheeler who plied the waters of Kootenay Lake for nearly 50 years. It's replica chugs around the Glenmore Reservoir in Calgary, but the real thing is here as a museum on the lake.

After my tour I headed off to meet the kids from Kaslo School at the town library. It's in the basement of the town firehall, which also happens to be ...

the old jail.

It was an ideal spot, nice and cosy and the kids had some great questions. A lot of fun!

The library itself looks pretty conventional, but if you peek in the back, things look more like they used to.

Here's a picture of the librarian, Eva Kelemen, in the 'dark cell'.

A very medieval sort of place, if you ask me...

Thanks to the teachers, librarians and kids of Kaslo for making me feel so welcome.

After Kaslo it was on to Nelson, another funky (though slightly larger) Kootenay town. Here I spoke to the kids at Trafalgar School -- a great group.

Big thanks to Nelson librarian Joanne Harris for the escort to the school -- on her day off!

After Nelson, I hit the road to Trail, BC, home of the Cominco smelter, and site of my first Wednesday appearance.

More on that tomorrow.


Great Day -- No Connection

Another fantastic tour day, but my internet is not working here at the B&B in Cranbrook, so I'll double post tomorrow night to make up.