Tuesday, December 31, 2002
This year, both my brothers are here for Christmas (one from Tokyo, the other, with his two small children, from California). What possessed the Tokyo Bro to suggest we make cleaning out the basement our family project this year, I can't imagine, but that is exactly what we have been doing for the past several days. What a job! But the treasures I've found! And the ludicrous junk! I've already tossed out eight - EIGHT!!! - garbage bags full of papers, magazines, brochures, maps, travel guides, etc. - and that's just the papery stuff. There is a mountain of ... other stuff ... destined for the dump and another sizeable heap destined for the Goodwill.
As a result of all this frenzied activity, I will not have to make a New Year's Resolution this year as I've taken care of the past several years' worth of resolutions in one fell swoop!
Happy New Year!
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
As my mother was pulling out onto the highway about 30 seconds away from home, someone else changed lanes and side-swiped her into the ditch. DON'T WORRY! Despite my mother's car being totalled, nobody in either vehicle was injured. The fence, however, is another story...
Luckily, here in Victoria we have very strong tow-truck guys... this one didn't even wait for mechanical assistance before he started hauling the car out of the ditch... "Look, Ma - one hand!"
Sunday, December 22, 2002
That's it for now - many elfy things to do around here! Carnillo essentially on hold for the moment... sigh... was within twenty pages of the end of the most recent draft... Best of the Season to you!
Monday, December 16, 2002
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Holy crow! That was exciting... first time I tried that, the photo was the size of a whale! And then somehow the line of photo code got in here twice... (after I fixed the size problem... then a quantity problem...) And then, as I was trying to re-upload... everything froze! So, I do apologize if you happened to stumble through here right while all THAT was going on...
Anyway... this is a photo of me inside a whale skeleton at Miracle Beach Elementary School... I'll be visiting students there again next week (MB is near Courtenay, farther north on Vancouver Island).
Ok - before I have any more near disasters here, I'm going to head for the kitchen and scrounge up something for supper...
In other news, received a package of books from the Canadian Book Review Annual as well as tear sheets for all the reviews I wrote last year. This publication tries to review every book published in Canada each year. What a job! I'm quite excited to see what the latest titles will be like -
And, in the work-related emails received today department (because this blog is supposed to be at least partly work-related...):
- message from librarian in Ontario confirming the dates I'll be available for school visits during the week of May 19th (leading up to the Silver Birch Awards ceremony)
- message from coordinator of the annual Children's Festival up in Nanaimo - sounds like they have some great stuff planned - also in May - must let them know my availability for readings in schools during the week leading up to the festival
- DELIGHTFUL message from Annick in Toronto saying my advance cheque is in the mail (for the Grandmother picture book) - this bodes well for some extra jollies at Christmas
- and, finally - a quick note from the organizers of the Author's Festival this week out in Sidney letting me know where the secret room is where authors are allowed to run and hide, presumably when the mob scenes get overwhelming....
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Continue to work on Carnillo... Freda (editor) is reading behind me, as it were - she has the first 150 pages or so and, after reading the first fifty, doesn't see any major problems. This is progress! So, I continue to plug on through the back half of the book...
On the 'wow, I'm not actually dead yet' front - Dani dragged me out to the Kids (U-16 Metro Girls) vs. the Parents Soccer Game last night! The miracle is, I can still move (albeit slowly) today! I have to say it was way more fun than I thought it was going to be! Actually, Dani has decided to take her relatively sedentary mother and whip her into shape... So, rather than letting me steep in a brew of Ben-Gay and Tiger Balm, she hauled my sorry butt off to the gym this morning! There I was able to read on a comfy recumbent exercise bike... My legs kept turning those pedals for 20 minutes but I hardly noticed because I successfully distracted myself with Basbanes', A Gentle Madness. I was feeling rather smug after that and was all ready to head upstairs to work on Carnillo in the library when Dani said - "Oh no you don't... first some weights... and some ab-work." Good grief! Next thing you know she'll be having me in training for some Ironwoman event... Not!
Sunday, December 08, 2002
1. In a preliterate society, what sort of material would this map be written on?
2. With what? Why would anyone invent any sort of permanent ink as well as the tools to apply it to an appropriate surface if nobody knows how to write?
3. What kinds of symbols would be in common use in a society where storytelling/the oral tradition is the primary means of sharing information?
Given that I need some way for groups of people not necessarily in the same room together to share information and history useful to the rebel cause, my editor made the brilliant suggestion of using some sort of quilt (think Underground Railroad, gumboot dances, etc. where one item or action takes on a completely different use/meaning within a suppressed group) to record and convey information.
This made perfect sense to me until I started working out the logistics of these story quilts. Who owns them? Who contributes to them? Do they have any magical aspects? If so, how do those magical aspects work? Were scissors of some sort invented in the Estorian/Campriano world? (if not, how will the scraps of cloth be cut into meaningful shapes... likewise for needles and thread... are there dyes? Can one have coloured cloth and thread?)
At the moment, the quilt that Dominique sees is 12 X 12 squares in dimension and is one of 1000 quilts known to exist in the world. Once all of the squares have been filled, 144,000 chosen individuals will have contributed to this recorded history/knowledge/story compilation... So, what is the significance of the 144,000 chosen in the context of this trilogy? What will happen when all the squares are filled? Will recorded history as these people understand it stop? Or will a new means of communication/recording of story/history begin?
With each decision made (and this second book introduces a whole slew of these seemingly innocent objects that are actually causing me no end of grief. I mean, who would think a quilt would cause so much trouble??????), I have to answer about a million questions and then figure out if the answers to any of those questions are actually going to cause some other problems elsewhere in the narrative.
Saturday, December 07, 2002
Thursday, December 05, 2002
Another recent read that was rather good was Cornelia Funke's, The Thief Lord. Set in Venice, this is an intriguing tale of street children who take refuge in an abandoned movie theatre and are protected and cared for by the shadowy character, the Thief Lord. Funke's book has a fantasy element completely lacking in the first two, so I'm not sure if I can find a way to include all three in the same review... not that I need to be boring the rest of the world with my musings about what I might possibly include in my column. On the other hand, what good is a blog if it doesn't bore the world with musings?
Wednesday, December 04, 2002
So, now that I don't feel the need to hide my own bibliomania, I can start planning how best to store my paper companions. On the off chance one of my family members happens to stumble upon my blog while wondering what I might like for Christmas, I wouldn't say no to a copy of At Home With Books: How Booklovers Live With and Care for Their Books so I can drool over gorgeous book cases, libraries, and reading tables. Along the same lines, Living With Books would find a happy home with me. Sigh. So many books, so little time.
Saturday, November 30, 2002
Continue to work on Carnillo - sorry if it gets boring to keep hearing that. Just imagine what it's like to keep rewriting!
Thursday, November 28, 2002
Continue to work away at revisions to Carnillo, the book that will not stop growing. Currently sitting at 62,000 words and still counting. Yikes! If the last couple of editing go-rounds have been all about adding and fleshing out, I suspect the next one will be all about cutting and hacking away some of the excess verbiage I've been labouring over for so long!
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Update on the Annick story... after another couple of drafts, we have a contract on the table! Expect to see GRANDPARENTS' DAY (title may change) in the spring of 2004! I'm very curious to see who Annick has in mind for an illustrator... Will post links to potential illustrator web pages when I hear rumours of who is being considered...
Sunday, November 10, 2002
We did, of course, make it all the way to Nevada and, once there, had an absolutely MARVELOUS time! I could, I suppose, just post all the press releases Jan wrote - which would at least be a start - but that seems like cheating. Or, I could start with the news of the day and work backwards... The news of the day is varied - Dani's injured ankle was finally well enough today that she was able to play for about 20 minutes in the second half of the soccer game against Coquitlam... Took Breezy (the half-Arab mare we bought down in Nevada and brought home with us) out for a ride this morning. She was, as usual, under-impressed with the rain. It seems she is unused to the following things: rain, trees, leaves, and umbrellas - all of which we have in abundance at the moment. This evening took the old girl a bran mash with carrots and her dose of Bute - her arthritic hock is acting up with all the dampness.
In most excellent publishing news, Annick Press is interested in taking on a picture book inspired by my Omi - stay tuned for details. Am back at work with what I hope (we all hope) is a last major revision to the Battle of Carnillo and raring to go on the next Tarragon Island book (working title: Another Tree Falls). It's safe to say that title will be chopped before we go to press. I'm highly motivated to get cracking on the book because we are still negotiating the sale of the TV/film rights to the series and the production company is expecting a four book package.
Had a wonderful time at the Women Writing the West conference in Denver a couple of weeks ago - Met some fabulous writers and attended some great workshop sessions. Can't wait to go to next year's conference in Arizona.
Lucky: A Memoir
by Alice Sebold
A Rhinestone Button
by Gail Anderson-Dargatz
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Well, we did it. On September 11th I find myself at the public library in the twon of Winnemucca, partway through our great Nevada adventure! We have been riding sections of trail and visiting communities and schools near the historic Pony Express trail for the past several days. We've been having an absolutely marvelous time - so much so that my crew members keep threatening to abandon the motor home and stay right here!
I've been having trouble at this particular computer posting my photos, but I have managed to put a few up over on my website at this address (just follow the links to the towns we've visited...) Be careful when you navigate over there, though - use the BACK button rather than the nav bar as it seems I didn't quite catch all the links when I built my mirror site over on Tripod (the only way I could update from on the road...)
Outside the building, firetrucks are rumbling up and down the street, going to and from the memorial ceremonies marking September 11th. My crew has just returned and both Dani and Jan have taken lots of photos of the ceremonies - will try to post some over on the other website before too long...
Having a wonderful time! Wish you were here....
Monday, August 26, 2002
With my departure date just a week away, it seems my days are governed by lists. Not only my own lists, but also those sent to me via email by my good friend Jane, who will be driving one or the other of the two vehicles down in Nevada. Jane's lists seem so much more interesting than mine - they include items like a "Swiss Army knife with the full array of dental and surgical tools. That rib-spreader may save our lives." Yikes.
I should talk. "Investigate snake-bite kit" is one of the items on my list. Though it is somewhat reassuring to know that only a very small percentage of snakebites in North America are actually fatal, there are a couple of times when we will be waaaaaay out in the middle of nowhere. Survival, it seems, depends on getting to a hospital with anti-venom within two or three hours... If our vehicles break down, or one of our drivers is bitten while I'm somewhere out on the trail, or I am bitten after falling off the horse onto a pile of snake-sheltering sagebrush and have to ride two hours to find the drivers... Well, "Investigate snake-bite kit" remains on the list. Here on Vancouver Island, we have little need for such items in our first aid kits, so this particular task will remain on my To Do list until we hit the Nevada state line.
Friday, August 02, 2002
Wednesday, June 26, 2002
Sorry, btw, about the somewhat backwards order of things... my blog keeps exploding when I try to type in too long a chunk of text at one time so the events are slightly out of order... Ack. technology.
Since I last posted I've put a few more miles on this old body - to Parksville to watch Dani play in a soccer tournament, to Nanaimo to talk to kids who attend the North Island Distance Education School, Courtenay to visit with kids and pick up Pony Express letters (photos of the inside of the whale at Miracle Beach Elementary School over on the stablemates.net website), all around Victoria's lovely James Bay for the Times Colonist 10K (a group of children's writers from the area formed a group called Write on Track - again, check the stablemates website for a few pix), Vancouver a couple of times (including to attend the CWILL-BC group launch at the Greater Vancouver Public Library - what an event - it's a great chance to meet all your favourite BC authors! Don't miss it next year if you are anywhere near Vancouver...) And, let's see - oh, yes - an amazing visit to Strathcona School in Chilliwack. Every inch of the school walls was decorated with posters and drawings. One of the teachers had brought in all sorts of horse gear and the kids had made a huge map of Kenwood - very handy as I was able to show how my real life neighbourhood compares to the fictional Kenwood in the StableMates books.
Sunday, April 21, 2002
While waiting for Jo's Triumph to arrive, compiled packages for four hundred school kids in BC and Nevada (the original Pony Express Pen Pals Project grew in leaps and bounds from my original modest idea!), prepared press releases, and designed a whole new section over at the stablemates.net website.
In the middle of all that (imagine several weeks with piles of envelopes, carefully counted stacks of onionskin paper topped by the official Pony Express 2002 logo, publicity photographs, bookmarks, posters, etc., etc. spread all over my living room and dining room) kept working on The Dark Tower of Carnillo. Perhaps optimistically, I'm hoping to get the first draft done by the end of May. Hmmmm.... Also wrote articles for the new edition of The Canadian Writer's Handbook (about writing series fiction for young readers), the Island Parent Magazine Family Summer Guide, and my regular column... Travelled up to Nanaimo to speak with a couple of groups of kids who complete their studies by correspondence, as well as a really fun trip up to Campbell River to speak with students at several schools.
Tomorrow I'm heading up to Courtenay to visit with students (and to pick up the first batch of student letters bound for Nevada in September!).
After a number of delays, Jo's Triumph arrived this week - great excitement to see the new book! It was here just in time for the signing on the weekend at Cadboro Bay Books on Saturday. As usual, Burdina did a wonderful job of providing snacks, coffee, and even some customers - all required ingredients for a good signing.
The third StableMates book from Sweden arrived - it looks pretty cool. The covers are very different from the Canadian edition - the Swedish publisher has used photos instead of artwork. I have no idea which characters are supposed to be represented by the models they've used - one of them looks far too old for the stories...
That's it for now -
Friday, February 22, 2002
Also in the works, final peeks at both Jo's Triumph and Keeping Secrets at Dark Creek. Both books should be out next month - pretty exciting. The biggest excitement of all, though, has to be the progress being made on the Nevada launch of Jo's Triumph.
In September, 2002, I'll be off to Nevada to ride ten sections of the Pony Express Trail between Schell Creek and Carson City. We're hoping to launch the book in the US in conjunction with the Great Basin Book Far in Reno on September 21 (details yet to be finalized). After that, there are plans in the works to have me visit bookstores and talk with school kids in various communities between Sacramento and Los Angeles. We are also matching five BC grade five classes with five Nevada fifth grade classes for the Pony Express Pen Pals Project. I'll pick up the letters from the kids here and then drop them off (on horseback) to the kids in Nevada. I'll post more details on my website as they become available.
Last week had a fantastic trip to Vancouver to visit with students at Mulgrave School in West Vancouver. I've put a couple of photos up over at the MSN site.
Friday, January 18, 2002
This morning, lots of work on the student activity packages. I've finished those for Cave of Departure and the StableMates novel. All that remains is to type up the activity suggestions for No Cafes in Narnia and print them all (with matching crossword puzzles) on decent quality paper (note to self: need to pick up a new laser printer cartridge - I'm fading). At some point I'll also upload web versions so people can just log onto the websites and download the files. Speaking of web versions, the North Island Distance Education folks have created a wonderful on-line Novel Study to go along with Tarragon Island (I've had a sneak preview!). As soon as the website is posted live, I will post the link so teachers have access to this material. Thanks to Nancy Bowmer for her excellent work on this project!
Also in progress today - a massive file transfer from California. All those holiday pix are trickling over the Internet - estimated time remaining a mere 8 hours, 57 minutes, and 12 seconds. 11 seconds...
When I get too durned busy, I make lists to cope. Spent a bit of time this morning doing just that - creating a series of lists relating to getting the Pony Express trip organized. Yoiks. Sometimes I wonder what on earth I was thinking when I dreamed up that idea!
Oh, and one more thing. If you are interested in signing up for a Fiction Writing course online, check out the course information here. The course is scheduled to run during the month of April, 2002. Come join us - this should be lots of fun.
Thursday, January 17, 2002
Going on holidays is terribly disruptive when it comes to keeping up with such tasks as journal-keeping. First of all, in the two weeks leading up to my departure I had about eight million things to do - yet another revision of Jo's Triumph (we now have a release date of March!), writing various columns and newsletters for both the December and January deadlines, confirming several school presentations for Jan, Feb, and March, and then mundane things like Christmas shopping and packing.
After all that, Dani and I had a quite fabulous three weeks away in California and then Orlando! Boy, that sunshine is sure nice after way too much rain here on soggy Vancouver Island!
Of course, since arriving home on Sunday I've been working flat out trying to catch up with all sorts of projects and deadlines that stacked up while I was away (including, yes, yet another revision of Jo's Triumph - will that book ever go away?) One of the more enjoyable tasks was chatting with the tourism folks in Nevada as I start plotting how I might ride sections of the Pony Express route to celebrate the US launch this fall. Also lots of fun has been putting together some new student/teacher packages to go along with various novels - have a look at the new crossword puzzles posted here if you enjoy word games. Though I have a Java-script version working beautifully on my machine (where you can enter answers right on the screen), I can only seem to get a printable version going on-line. Hmph. Time doesn't permit additional fiddling, alas, so for now would-be puzzlers will have to print and use pencils - just like the olden days.
Let's see now - in other news - working hard to get my online writing courses through Malaspina College going (Freelance Writing in May and Writing Fiction in April), preparing for a trip to Vancouver to meet with Nevada tourism folks to make a formal pitch about why it would be so cool for me to ride horses across the high mountain valleys in the area once known as Utah Territory, and polishing several picture book manuscripts.
High on my list of priorities is getting some serious work done on The Battle for Carnillo - the second of the Estorian Chronicles.
Alas, all my holiday pix are still on a hard drive in California but as soon as my brother sends them to me I'll post a few so you can see what I was up to down in the sunny south!
By for now -