Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bookclubs for Kids

You know -- why should Oprah and her gang have all the fun? There is a growing interest out there in the great wide world in bookclubs for kids.

I talk a lot about Christianne's Lyceum -- just about the best place I know for bookclubs and reading and storytelling -- for kids of all ages.

In the summertime, the Vancouver Public Library offers a whole week of Canadian Book Camp. And CWC -- Creative Writing Society For Children, even goes one step further -- the kids finish each term by creating their OWN books.

Just recently read of someone in Langley, BC who has started up a new book club. A realtor by day, Anne Bishop is busy engaging kids in reading when she's not selling real estate. And the first book on her list came out of the brain of a friend of mine -- Lee Edward Fodi.

You can find an article talking about Annette and her bookclub HERE.

And if you know of another book club for kids -- why not post it in the comment section?


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Down the Rabbit Hole

Today is the Reverend Charles Dodgson's* birthday, and in honour of the man who turned lives upside down with his literature, the new tradition has become to write a blog in a way contrary to the normal style.

This is a bit tough for me, as I don't really venture anywhere near normal, so I think I'll do something I've never done before...

a commercial.

I read about FreeGeek this morning in a tweet by Darren Barefoot, and it seems like the coolest idea ever. (Apparently Darren read a profile in the Vancouver Sun today, hence his tweet. Okay -- found it -- HERE. Thanks, Darren!)

FreeGeek is a non-profit computer reuse and recycling centre who have been 'helping the needy get nerdy since the beginning of the third millennium. '

They will take any old computer parts -- working or not, in any condition -- free of charge and direct it to their volunteer programs, where it will be either ethically recycled or rebuilt and restored. Tons of stuff on their website, particularly what happens to computer bits and pieces as a rule when the Free Geeks aren't involved.

Read all about it HERE on the Free Geek website. (or if you prefer en francais...Geek Libre.)

You know -- if even a fraction of the computers in the world were treated this way, imagine the impact on the economy, the environment and the geekification of those in need.

As good a 'down the rabbit hole' concept as any, wouldn't you say?


* Oh, come ON! Lewis Carroll, of course...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gung Haggis Fat Choy

A weekend that includes Rabbie Burrrrn's 250th birthday AND Chinese New Year? Happy lunar new year -- the year of the Ox. Hope your celebrations were (and are!) safe and wonderful.

Am feeling very bummed, as I totally forgot about Toddish McWong's Gung Haggis Fat Choy celebrations on Saturday night. I'm sure a good time was had by all!

A shout out to my buddy thriller-writer Michael Slade who has a freshly re-designed website now up and running, set to horrify and edify in equal measures. Check it out!


Lyceum Info

Lots going on at Christianne's Lyceum these days.

If you are in or around Vancouver, here are a few events to keep in mind...

Upcoming Meet the Author Evenings

- Saturday February 28th, 7-10pm: Discussion of Red Dust, Red Sky with author Paul Sunga.

- Thursday April 23rd, 7-10pm: Discussion of Certainty with author Madeleine Thien.

OPEN MIC at the Lyceum

Live performance like no other! Now scheduled biweekly:

upcoming include: Friday January 30th, February 13th and February 27th

Find out more on the Lyceum website HERE: Christianne's Lyceum website.

And come out and join the fun!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Interested in Screenwriting?


My friend and colleague Anthony Dalton recommends the screenwriting classes offered by West Coast Screenwriting.

They'll be offering two upcoming weekend blitz screenwriting classes, one in Courtney and one in New Westminster. I blogged about the details on the SiWC blog site, or you can check out the West Coast site HERE.

(Dalton's just taken over as Prez of the Canadian Authors Association -- I know he'll do a bang-up job!)

* gratuitous shot of my view of the west coast -- that's Vancouver Island in the distance, over a whole lotta fog on the water...

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Kinda getting into this Twitter thing. Tweeting @kcdyer for now. Will start a Darby Twitter soon.

This is Fox, striding through a bookish wilderness. She has a fondness for real-time twitterers -- the feathered variety.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Bookbuying Etiquette

Okay, this one is for my buddy James and for all the other booksellers out there who have to endure the great unwashed who come in to buy books. (Note: There are six short videos in the series here -- all VERY snarky and sadly, too true. Now scoot!)

Tip of the pin-on sales nametag to Books on the Nightstand for posting this first!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Forrest Button vs Benjamin Gump

This is for my friend Meg, who as a writer (and thespian) shares my dislike of GIANT plot holes and themes that hammer you over the head in movies. (Also for Meg's daughter Emily, a writer of beautiful poetry...)

(Disclaimer: I have not yet seen TCCoBB. But I hated Forrest Gump.)

Thanks to boingboing for the heads up!



Edited to add -- due to a copyright claim, this vid has been taken down. Too bad -- a very funny comparison of the two plots by the same author.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Northern Voice 2009 -- Warning -- Geek-Speak Ahead

Canada's Blogging and Social Media Conference

Have been nursing SERIOUS disappointment since I found out the Northern Voice blogging & social media conference sold out in, like, TWO days. I had so much fun last year, as a speaker and as a participant. And now that Darby is blogging too -- well, we both wanted to go, man.

Turns out I misread the info on the site and Friday still had tickets available -- so I'm going! [Sticks fingers in ears to simulate moose antlers and commences happy dance...]

Yay for Twitter! (I just sent out a tweet looking for Saturday tickets. If you've got one you want to get rid of, I'm your girl. Will pay one soul, slightly used but still serviceable...)

Find out more about the conference HERE. Same venue as last year at the forestry building at UBC, February 20-21, 2009.

Will now return you to more literary meanderings.


Edited to add: For some reason they only have the HTML for the LONG moose banner on the site, and not the LITTLE moose banner, which would have worked so much better on my blog. But whatevah. At least you get to see the moose. And the rest of the info is just a click away...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Sublime Hallie Ephron...

...has a new book out!


...from Publisher's Weekly:

Starred Review. An innocent yard sale jump-starts this stunning stand-alone thriller from Ephron, author of Amnesia and four other mysteries written with Donald Davidoff under the name G.H. Ephron (and one of the Ephron writing sisters), as well as two nonfiction books. Ivy and David Rose, happily married high school sweethearts, are trying to clear out the junk the previous owner left in their glorious Victorian in Brush Hills, Mass., before the birth of their first child. Among the bargain hunters is Melinda White, a high school classmate who's also pregnant. Considered an oddball in school, Melinda worries about more bad luck after nearly knocking over a large mirror. When Melinda disappears and no one can remember seeing her leave the sale, the evidence suggests the couple murdered her. Ephron doesn't miss a searing beat as she plunges the Roses into an abyss of suspicion. A surprise toward the end provides the perfect twist to this deliciously creepy tale of obsession.

Hallie's touring across the US right now, and in the coming weeks. But if you can't be in California or Massachusetts, then hop over to Amazon and order yourself a copy HERE.

NOBODY does suspense like Hallie!


Monday, January 19, 2009

The Kid Gets in the Picture...


This is one mouthy kid.

Darby Christopher, star skateboarder and diva with a serious chip on her shoulder, can now be found with her own blog page HERE.

It's called Darby Speaks. Read it if you dare.

Can her own Facebook page be far behind?


Darby Gets Around...

A few new tidbits about the upcoming arrival of A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW...

Got a note from my friend, author Marsha Skrypuch this weekend -- the first review of the book is now in, and it's not bad...

CM Magazine Review

I chatted with my publicist Catherine at Doubelday today and all kinds of exciting things are in the works for Darby and her friends.

The book is due out March 3, 2009. More soon!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Advice from a Gentleman

Ricardo Montalban died this week, and I just saw this clip, which I thought I might post here as an homage to him as an actor. The thing that struck me, though, is how much his advice applies to writers.(Thanks to Smart Bitches for the link).

He was 88.


Thursday, January 15, 2009


Today Vancouver was engulfed again in a thick grey blanket, but here on the mountain aerie, we were above the fog ... so I thought I'd share the view.


This is facing Horseshoe Bay (which is completely engulfed). The tip tops of Bowen Island are on the right.

The moon at sunrise over Bowen:

I made a trip to Surrey today, but before I left I took a few midday shots. Here's one of the sun over Bowen.

And luckily, I made it home just before sunset. The sunset shots were taken with my Pentax 50-200mm zoom lens, so they don't have the depth of the other shots, taken on my new Sigma 10-20 mm lens. This one is facing more westerly, looking out toward Vancouver Island. Bowen is on the left and you can just see the very tops of Keats Island poking through the fog.

And one last southerly shot, Horseshoe Bay AND Bowen completely engulfed as the fire burns overhead.

I know I have more writing news to report, but for some reason it's gone clear out of my head...

I have a few more shots on my flickr page HERE. Just look for the Lions Bay in Fog set.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Questions About Getting Published?

If you are in the Vancouver area, check this out:

If you can't make it -- feel free to post any questions you might have in the comments. I'll give 'em my best shot!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Cool Author News

Cool Author News Item #1:

My writing friend (and mentor) Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch's book DAUGHTER OF WAR has been chosen as a USBBY (United States Board on Books for Young People) Outstanding International Book for 2009. This is yet another feather in the cap of this amazing and talented author. Congratulations, Marsha!

Cool Author News Item #2:

The hardest working author I know has put together a few YouTube videos of his latest endeavours. This first one is a promotion for his book FLASHMOB -- and only Eric Walters would think of a way to suit his actions to his words...

This next clip is an enactment of a scene from Eric's new book SKETCHES:

and finally, here is a clip of Eric reading from his new story ALEXANDRIA OF AFRICA. Of course, Eric being Eric -- he's reading (and dancing and feeding monkeys...) IN Kenya.

I have the coolest friends....


Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Day...

Quite a day around here yesterday. Been snowing, of course. It was raining and 4 degrees in the city, but here?

More snow.

Last night was Birthdaypalooza, a celebration of a bunch of Capricornish birthdays including author and slayer expert James McCann, author and urban haiku high-priestess Jacquie Pearce and my own. My actual birthday was spent snowed in this year, so I was pretty bummed at the thought that Birthdaypalooza was going to meet the same fate.

Decided to put the principle of feeling better through exercise into action, so I took the dogs out in the snow for a romp up the mountain. The snow was falling so hard and fast I looked more like a walking snowperson than a human, but the dogs were having fun.

We walked up in the woods above the village until the snow was really too deep to walk further. It was not until I got home that I discovered my keys missing. Left the dogs inside, retraced steps -- but the snow had filled my footsteps and there were no keys to be seen.

Returned home again to find the second set of keys happened to be locked inside the car. Dealership will not replace a key without my licence and registration -- also locked in car.

In the meantime, Seamus somehow injured his back, slipping on the ice when he was playing with Silas.

After 3 hours, BCAA came to the rescue and broke into the car, rescuing my spare keys. Spent the rest of the night in Vet Emergency with Seamus, who was diagnosed with a muscle pull. Made it home at 1:30 this morning.

Seamus is now sleeping happily, hopped up on Medicam and muscle relaxants, though he will likely have to go for a precautionary X-Ray tomorrow.

So, instead of spending birthdaypalooza discussing my Joss Whedon obsession with my equally-geek-minded friends, I spent it with Duchess the pug in her hooded pink raincoat (symptoms: vomiting, diagnosis: inability to digest proteins, prognosis: not great for the long term), Dooley the Portuguese Water dog (symptoms: gluttony -- ate a stick that stuck, treatment: an enema, accompanied by long, lowing howls of protest) and a waiting room jammed with other canine loved-ones.

The only silver lining to this came this morning, when one of my neighbours delivered my keys to my door. From what we can figure out, they must have been thrown up by the snowplow sometime in the night and found on the bank beside the road.

Birthdaypalooza success at last.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Auntie Kate Reviews Books

My cyber-friend, author Kate Coombs, has just got her new book review site Book Aunt up and running. Kate is the author of THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS and THE SECRET KEEPER. The sequel to the first, called THE RUNAWAY DRAGON is coming this fall.

Kate is an incredible story-teller herself, and I've relied on her book reviews for years, so it's a real treat that she's going public with her opinions. Make sure you add Book Aunt to your Reader!


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Year New Book New Promo

There's talk today on the CWILL BC blog's Tuesday Tell-All about book trailers. My first and only experiment with making a book trailer is the one below -- an amateurish attempt at best. I was trying to find some shareware music for it, and stumbled over my iTunes copy of Melissa's song -- this will definitely have to change when I do a proper job, but for now, I kinda like the beginning strains...

I have a few other ideas up my sleeve -- going to start a new Facebook page for the heroine of my new series (her name is Darby Christopher), for one, and perhaps give Darby a new Twitter stream for another, since she's a techie kind of chick.

I'm working on these ideas now -- will post here when they are ready to go.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Kootenay Rememberance

This fall, the people of the Kootenay region of British Columbia took me into their hearts and homes and schools when I did a book tour through the area.

These are a few of the shots I took at the time.

This past week the small town of Sparwood lost eight young men to an avalanche.

To honour their memories, a memorial was held earlier today in Sparwood, with thousands of the same warm hearts who welcomed me in attendance, to say good bye.

You can read about the memorial on the CBC news site HERE.

Two trust funds has been set up for the young families of the men who died.

From the District of Sparwood website:

Two Trust Accounts have been set up for the Sparwood Avalanche Victims Families.

The accounts are both named
"In Trust -- Sparwood Avalanche Victims"

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
5080 003 5077425

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
03070 010 7573138.

Donations can be made at any branch of either bank, or by going on-line and donating to the above accounts.

My thoughts go out to all the people of this wonderful area -- and to the families and friends of those who experienced this terrible loss.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Diana Gabaldon

This is it ... the final Top 8 post of the bunch.

And who better to deliver the coup d'grace than the marvellous Diana Gabaldon?

Blogger, author of the OUTLANDER series, the LORD JOHN series and a new and eagerly anticipated Thomas Kolodzi mystery, Diana is also mother to three beautiful kids, a selection of other fauna and a Most Excellent Cook. Today, she shares with us her 8 favourite recipes of '08.

(This is Diana, accompanied by her son Sam Watkins, both suitably -- and rakishly -- arrayed for the 2008 Surrey International Writers' Conference Masque.)

Without further ado, Diana's post:

Top 8 of '08

I had some difficulty coming up with a good list, largely because I like all kinds of things (dachshunds, murder mysteries, Audi SL6's, hickory-smoked barbecue…), but not necessarily eight of any of them.

On the other hand, I do like to eat. And cook.
So here's a list of my favorite eight recipes. As time allows over the next couple of weeks, I'll actually post said recipes, but for now—I spent eight hours today driving to and from Indio, CA, to pick up my new dachshund puppy (name still up for grabs, though it might be Homer), and am consequently about to head for bed.


Happy New Year!

Care to read the actual recipes? Well, for that you will have to head over to Diana's blog, to be found HERE, and aptly titled Voyages of the Artemis.

Thanks for sharing with us on a day you acquired a new family member, Diana!

And deep thanks to all my friends, colleagues and compatriots who took time out of your busy schedules to guest blog here on leftwriter. Your lists have brought tremendous enjoyment to all who have read them and have provided a fitting night cap to the departing Old Man 2008.

Welcome 2009 -- let the new experiences begin!


Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Kathy Chung

Kathy, my dear friend, is a writer, mother, teacher, classic Celtic beauty and valued Surrey International Writing Conference Contest Assistant. Was she does not do yet is blog -- though I'm sure I'll grab her and reel her in one of these days...


[taps toe]

[taps toe again...]

Well, that was quick!

Here is a guest post from the new blogger, Kathy Chung, highlighting her top 8 locations of the year:

  1. My living room, where I was sitting when I wrote ‘The End’ on my first completed manuscript in June, read the winning entries of the storyteller category of the SiWC writing contest, and cuddled with my family.
  2. The tiny, West Highland village of Shieldaig, where I walked in the footsteps of my ancestors and sat in the very lounge where my great great grandmother lived and worked for most of her adult life.
  3. Gateway Theatre, where my shy little girl radiated total confidence in her annual ballet show in front of 500 people. She amazed me.
  4. The playing field outside Fort William, at the Lochaber Highland Games, where I listened to a high school pipe band play “Scotland the Brave” and marvelled that I was finally there and completely at home.
  5. YVR [code for Vancouver International Airport, of course...] for all the comings and goings, including our departure for Scotland.
  6. The Sheraton Guildford Hotel in Surrey, BC, where I spent my annual favourite weekend at the SiWC.
  7. Victoria, because one of my favourite cities is home to my best friend and a host of happy memories.
  8. My email inbox – not technically a place, I suppose, but a significant location nonetheless where I found friendship, ongoing conversation, and daily enjoyment of the people I am lucky to have in my life.
Thanks, Kath! I knew you had it in you!


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Top 8 of '08, with Guest Blogger Anita Daher

Happy New Year!

More on that later...first, let's take a peek at YA author Anita Daher's Top 8 of '08. Anita is a writer, speaker, horsewoman, editor , mother to two beautiful girls -- and wearer (as you might suspect) of many hats. Here's her contribution to the fun:

Because of the nature of my writing—thrillers for teens and middle grade readers, often involving crimes—I draw inspiration from real life news stories that happen around the world. During my daily troll of favourite news sites, I occasionally save stories in an idea file for possible future use. Here are eight stories—with actual headlines, searchable headlines in case you want more detail—that caught my eye in 2008:

1. Driver dodges landing plane; his second close call with aircraft in 25 years

A man who dodged the “Gimli Glider” when he was eleven, almost had another plane land on top of him as he drove along a highway just north of Winnipeg. “Gimli Glider” is the nickname given to a Boeing 767, which glided to a safe landing on an abandoned Gimli, MB airstrip after running out of fuel east of Winnipeg.

* Unlike the stories below, this is not a crime story, but is of extra interest to me because my father worked for Transport Canada out of Winnipeg at the time of the 1983 Gimli Glider incident (one day after my birthday, btw), and was one of the first called in to investigate the scene.

2. Inmate escapes German jail in box

A convicted drug dealer escaped from a jail in Germany by mailing himself out in a parcel. “The 42-year-old Turkish citizen - who was serving a seven-year sentence - had been making stationery with other prisoners destined for the shops. At the end of his shift, the inmate climbed into a cardboard box and was taken out of prison by express courier.”

3. A dejected widower's unwitting slip into gangland

A lonely, depressed, blues-loving grandfather meets a new friend in a bar, and unwittingly becomes a gunrunner for the man’s son—a member of a notorious street gang. He pled guilty, and served time. Later, while testifying as witness at a gang member trial, a judge proclaimed that he was not guilty, because he had no knowledge of what he was smuggling. The man still listens to blues, but misses the friend—the man he thought was his friend.

Care to read more? Let me tempt you by saying that one of the top crime stories of the year actually involved Anita herself! Check it all out HERE in her blog.

Thanks for playing, Anita!