Thursday, December 31, 2009

HAP-py...oh, wait a minute...

I'm early. This has never happened. Somebody write it down. My house is pretty tidy -- at least the bits that show. My dogs are fed. I remembered mascara. The food is ready.

I have time to blog.


To tell you the truth, I'm not actually wearing a tiara. I don't own one, sadly -- though I've just remembered I did buy one for my last CWC class. Must hunt it down sometime.

[I'll never find anything again, since I tidied my house today...]

So I'm wearing my bat hat. Never go for the expected -- my motto.

Anyway -- just a final wish to you, my loyal readers. May the next year bring you joy, and may you, in turn, bring happiness to someone else. Be safe and stay cool.

Talk to you in 2010.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Eve Eve...

A busy day around these environs may preclude a blog post tomorrow, [I'm having a 'Lost Souls' New Year's party for those who haven't anything else on their dance card], so I thought I'd take a moment and post links to a few interesting items.

First -- for Spider Robinson and his wife Jeanne...a fundraising opportunity HERE. You can score an e-copy of Lawrence Santoro's LORD DICKENS'S DECLARATION, and help defray some of the costs the Robinson's are facing as Jeanne battles cancer. I read about this on Matthew Sanborn Smith's One Thousand blog, and by posting here, I'm participating in the blog rally for the Robinsons. You can do it, too!

Second -- since my link to the graphic of 20 Things That Happen in One Minute has proved so popular, here's another that caught my fancy today. From my beloved boingboing, of course, here is a graph that compares the cost of printer ink to the costs of other precious liquids [including blood, vodka, crude oil and more...]. Let's just say that there is a reason some people call printer ink 'black gold'.

And finally, one of the writers at whose [metaphorical and thus far electronic] knees I have long worshipped -- the amazing Jo Bourne -- muses about The Odds of Getting Published...and what a person can do to improve 'em.

So there you have it -- a whole lotta link love to end 2009. And now...let's watch for that Blue Moon tomorrow night, shall we?


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Time...

Ah, the Christmas season. Filled with family joy. Time together.


As an individual who has spent no small amount of time thinking about how to deal with time [meta-time?], I came across a new way to look at time the other day. Ever thought about what happens over the course of a single minute on our planet?

250 babies are born, 113 of whom are born into poverty.

Lightning strikes the earth 360 times.

5 earthquakes rattle the planet.

The average person on earth earns $0.013 [That's just over a penny.] And Oprah Winfrey makes $523.
[To be fair, this is peanuts compared to what Nike makes in the same time period].

Anyway, for a very cool graphic of 20 or so things that happen in a single minute on earth, take a look at this link, courtesy of Mother Jones's Marian Wang.

And enjoy every little minute of the holidays, wouldja?


Pee Ess....

Speaking of time, I just found out today [via the dear @linda_grimes] this year will end on a Blue Moon. More on that soon....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Was Going to ... about CWC Winter Camp and all the Winter Follies...

but then I got tired.

So instead, I offer you this marvellous little snippet, told in a voice made to mesmerize, of the truly horrible torture that is Christmas to one, special man...

With thanks, of course, to Neil Gaiman.





Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Take on Holiday Feelings...

My friend, author Kate Coombs has done a lovely holiday posting on her book blog Book Aunt.

Kate's is an awesome blog, and well worth following, but I found this post particularly moving, especially for those for whom holidays bring less than joyous memories.

A collection of welcome stories for the holidays -- from a slightly different perspective.



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Crazies

Holiday madness a bit ramped up this year, so for your viewing pleasure...

Jack finds his way onto ... the naughty list:


Sunday, December 13, 2009

N Dub Rocks...Solid

I'm quite, quite sad to report that this week marked the end of my experience as a Writer in Residence at New Westminster Secondary School. I took on this gig when the amazing writer Meg Tilly moved away, and generously recommended me to teacher-librarian Sarah Wethered.

[Ed. Note: The photo of the school here is the only unaltered one of this posting -- all the others have been adjusted to obscure the kids' faces.

It was a sweet gig from the start -- amazing teachers to work with [Traci Cave and MJ Hunt, along with Sarah] and creative, funny, talented kids [primarily Ms. Cave's senior drama class and Ms Hunt's Creative Writing class].  Together we worked on the 'Rock Solid' project -- an anti-bullying dramatic production put on by the students of N Dub Secondary for kids in the feeder schools of the area.

I spent most of my time with MJ's creative writing teams who were putting their ideas on paper, taking the idea of bullying and letting it play out using themes including homophobia, racism, mysogeny and more.

The resulting plays were fantastic, and I was lucky enough to get to watch a couple of performances at Queensborough Middle School.

 I spent half my time with my eyes on the production and the other half watching the audience. I was blown away by the way these young men and women magically combined the power of the written word and the power of performance. The audience of young students sat spellbound. They laughed. They gasped. And yes -- they even cried.

The authors' words carried power, with conviction and clarity. The actors' skills took the ideas and philosophies expressed in the plays and gave them dimension and humanity.

The dedication and hard work of these playwrights and actors translated into something amazing to watch. The plays' inner themes of friendship, solidarity, and kid power rang through to the hearts of the audience. The messages you passed on against bullying, racism and homophobia were powerful and resonan.

I'm so proud and honoured to have had a chance to work with the teachers and students of NWSS. I spent some time with a few other classes, as well, and we shared ideas and conversation and a whole lotta gory, grotesque history, as is my wont. The whole experience has given me very fond memories of the school and the kids and teachers who give it heart.

Thanks for having me, N. Dub!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

We have a Winnah!

Apologies for the delay of this post -- lost wireless and had to fight it out with ISP.

But all is well now, and the winner of a copy of a kc dyer title of choice is...

Rachelle Reese!

Congratulations, Rachelle! In your entry you said you'd like a copy of  A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW, so as soon as you email me your mailing address, I'll get it off to you.

And thanks to everyone for entering -- and to Lorna Suzuki for the great interview.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Red Bird

A quick one tonight ...

A friend of mine -- great writer -- Ev Bishop has a piece of short fiction published in Alien Skin Magazine, the latest issue.

It's called Red Bird

I still have goosebumps from reading it. Dare ya...

Congratulations, Ev!

[You can read Ev's blog HERE if you want more...and who wouldn't?]


Sunday, December 06, 2009


On this day 20 years ago, I was pregnant with my first child.

I didn't know I was going to have a little girl, but for the first time I was trying to get my head around what it was going to be like to be a mother.

I spent most of the day weeping, I recall, for the mothers of the young women lost in the shooting at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will have watched as I re-tweeted the name of each of these young women, an idea begun by @katrinaarcher. I like the idea that their names live on. My latest manuscript has as one of its themes some of the historic acts of violence against women, though I hadn't really thought about it until today.

My own girl is now in university herself. Second year, as were some of the students who died or were injured that day in Montreal. She doesn't remember December 6, 1989. But I do. And as writer Carla Luchetta remarked on my twitter feed today -- all young women at the time, regardless of where they were going to school, were changed and shaped by that day.

Ten other young women and four young men were injured at the Ecole Polytechnic that day. If you don't know the story, you can read more about it here. And just in case you didn't see them are the names of the young women who were lost that day. We cannot possibly know how much they are missed, but...

I think they bear repeating.

Annie Turcotte
Sonia Pelletier
Barbara Daigneault
Annie St-Arneaud
Michele Richard
Anne-Marie Lemay
Maryse Laganiere
Maude Haviernick
Anne-Marie Edward
Maryse Leclair
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz
Helene Colgan
Nathalie Croteau
Genevieve Bergeron


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Technical Difficulties...


Looks like the email link on my website has been dead awhile.

Apologies for not noticing sooner!

It's up and working now, so for those trying to reach me
[including those entering the contest] ...

please try again!

The email address is

We'll extend the contest deadline until Wednesday, to make up for the glitch!


Friday, December 04, 2009

When Self-Publishing Becomes Cash Grab...

I don't often rant about the publishing biz here on leftwriter, but something has recently attracted a bit of public notice, and as it has touched a nerve for me, I'd like to take a closer look.

Today's subject is the traditional vs self-publishing model.

My books are published by traditional publishers. I have to admit to starting in this business with a snobby, anti-self-publishing view. I believed people who published their own books didn't go through an adequate editorial process, they were not patient enough to go through the traditional route and they were prepared to put sub-par work out into the public, just for the sake of saying they had books in print.

I know now that while all of these things can be true to some extent, self-publishing isn't only a cesspool of the underskilled and unloved. I know of several people who make a living giving talks to large groups -- self-publishing works perfectly for them, because it allows them to get their books to the audience they want, and they have a built-in distribution system. And a know of a couple of cases where lightning has struck, and an author who has self-published goes on to get a decent contract with a traditional publishing house.

But for the most part, I still see companies who encourage self-publishing as predatory. They steal aspiring authors' dreams, wrap 'em up in a sub-standard package with little or no decent editorial input, and slap 2000 copies into the poor creature's garage, leaving them to sell the books through mercy-buys to friends and relatives. And they charge the authors for the privelege of being taken to the cleaners.

I know of _hundreds_ of cases like this. More. This is still the norm.

It is HARD to get published traditionally. It can be a brutal, soul-eating experience to have your first book published. But there is a reason for this. It's also very hard to make money as a publisher, and many, many people believe they can write books. These aspiring writers do it by the thousands every day. They write 'em and they write 'em...and the acquisitions editors at publishing houses have to read 'em.

The magic of a brilliant story, well-told is a comparatively rare circumstance. So, yeah -- it's hard to go through the process. But it is possible. [The living proof is typing these very words...]

When you do go through the traditional process, the advantages of traditional publishing -- even with all its flaws and foibles -- are manifest. Design teams for the cover. Editorial teams for the content. Publicity and distribution. All these things are missing from most self-publishing business models.

What this boils down to is that the vanity presses and self-publishing houses are in it strictly for the money. But surely even traditional publishing houses want to make money? Of course they do. But legitimate publishing houses make their money through the sale of books. Who do the self-publishing houses make money from? YOU. The self-published author.

I spend a lot of time sending the aspiring writers I meet off to writing workshops or conferences like the Surrey International Writers' Con. I hope they will have fun, meet new colleagues, learn the ropes of good writing. But I also want them to learn that if ANYONE wants them to pay to produce a book, they are not working in the authors' best interest. This includes people who claim to be legitmate agents who charge reading fees. This includes self-professed poetry journals who offer 'prizes' to poets, in exchange for the exorbitant cost of paying for the shoddily-produced book in which the poem appears. And this includes ANY so-called publishing house that charges the author to produce the books. These are NOT publishing houses. They are printers.

Sometimes the siren song of the money to be made through self-publishing lures even legitimate publishers. Harlequin Books dipped its toe into the water of self-publishing biz, recently, and the noise in the industry has been loud and clear.

But don't just take my word for it...

 Agent Kristin Nelson, Romance Writers of America & others [via Making Light] , Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers, Mystery Writers of America [via Richard Curtis].

It will be interesting to see what comes of this. The world of publishing is changing, and those of us who live within it are riding an amazing wave right now. But wherever people have dreams, there are always charletans out there, willing to take your money and not deliver.

If you are a beginning writer -- be cautious. Listen to your colleagues -- in classes, in conferences, in writing groups. Weigh offers carefully -- if they seem too good to be true, they probably are. There is no doubt it is a often a long, hard road to becoming a published author. But if you find a group of friends with whom to share the journey, the trip becomes a lot more enjoyable.

If you have thoughts you'd like to share -- do so in the comments. Let's talk about this!

And to finish? A tip of the hat to blogger/agent/author Nathan Bransford. He calls this little clip the future of publishing.

He may be right.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Guest Blog -- and a Contest...

Writer Lorna Suzuki has just posted an interview of yours truly on her website HERE.

Lorna's a real dynamo and she asked some great questions, so trot on over to her site and have a look. [She's got some beautiful stuff there -- really enjoyable to just cruise around a bit...]

As a bonus to the interview, we're also offering an autographed copy of whichever of my titles you'd like. Just to keep things interesting, I'm not going to post the rules have to read the interview on Lorna's site and follow the instructions by posting your comment below.

Contest closes December 7th -- midnight PST. Will post the name of the winner on December 8th. Remember to check back! I'll personalize the book of your choice and pop it in the mail to you just in time for holiday giving.

More soon!