Sunday, October 19, 2003

How time flies...
It was quite a summer - lots of visitors (my mother isn't well so all the siblings and their offspring came to visit), lots to do on the barn, writing... This was a glorious summer weather-wise - hot, sunny, not a drop of rain for weeks and weeks. Which, of course, was part of the problem with the horrible fires in the Okanagan. Friends in Kelowna were evacuated several times. Luckily, their home was spared.
Most of September was spent working on the new book, preparing for several trips, and then, heading out of town.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Frustrating couple of days - everything seems to be a bit of a struggle. The roof of the barn has proven to be way more frustrating than I could have imagined - how hard can it possibly be to align notches in joists? Hard, apparently. Painfully slow progress on that front. Busy at Bolen Books and not so productive on the new book. Annick does not like the first draft of the Tante Margarita story, so back to the drawing board on that one! Feeling more time pressure than usual as I have to go to Vancouver tomorrow morning... The reason for the trip is wonderful - meeting up with my sister and her family and my brother and his family... All the girls in the group are going to see Cirque de Soleil (thanks to my other brother, Pete - the one who lives in Tokyo - it's sort of a group birthday present...). That should be fun! I'll be back here by Saturday, though, at which point we hope to put all able-bodied relatives to work on the barn... Winter is a coming and that roof had better be secured before the rains are upon us once again!

Monday, August 04, 2003

Wrote another four pages of War in the Tarragon Woods this morning and three more by hand this evening. Broke my own rule and allowed myself to get distracted by doing research about dyslexia and literacy in Canada. Spent several hours at the bookstore last night doing some ordering, creating TO-DO lists for the homelearners info night in September, and then started reading an interesting book put out by the IRA (International Reading Association) that provides lots of help to tutors interested in helping kids learn to read.

Down in the land of the unfinished barn, Dad and I spent several rather unproductive hours fiddling around with notching a roof support... only to discover the clear plastic roofing we want to use over the covered walkway between the stalls isn't rigid enough to hold itself up across the 2' spans we had calculated.... So, we will have to reinforce the supporting structure with 2X2s running inbetween our 2X6s... At least the horses were entertaining. From up on our ladders, we had a good view of them rolling around in their new turnout areas... Once Tony had thoroughly ground all kinds of dirt, sticks, and grass into his mane and tail, he then proceeded to give himself a lengthy scratch and massage on the large branches overhanging his paddock. Breezy was a little vigorous when it came time to lurch to her arthritic feet and wound up hobbling around in circles until she had worked out the kinks in her back end. Poor old dear.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Whenever I'm working on a first draft I inevitably come up with questions I don't know how to answer. Instead of stopping to do research along the way, I keep lists in the front of the file folder where I also keep print-outs of however much I have typed into the computer each day (ever since a terrible hard-drive crash a few years ago when I lost most of a manuscript, I print everything as I go along). Unless there's some critical piece of information I must obtain before I can continue with the story, usually I wait until the end of the first draft when I go on a big research binge (I've usually been on at least one before I even start writing the first draft). Then, I go back and rewrite the first draft, adding in all the new details I've managed to scrounge up...

Here's my list so far for War in the Tarragon Woods:
-Heather's class, teacher names, map of school, locker location, timetable, decide on classmates... TWYG?
-Find TI-2 calendar and continue
-Read rest of Skud

-logging companies - Weyerhaeuser, changes to logging methods, rationale, effect on individual loggers
-alternatives - park/protect - trade-off?
-Merv Wilkinson - selective/horse logging
-Experimental forest reserve
-RCMP on SSI - process for protestors
-jail - size/nature of facilities - arrange a tour?
-# staff - typical jobs
-jugde, court access? hearings? at what point off-island?
-schools - policy and procedures re. vandalism/persecution/hate crimes

This is why, during the writing of Battle for Carnillo I made a note to myself, "Hang from wrists for extended period to check circulation/ability to climb down rope." This is also why, in the final version of the manuscript, many of the iron rings in the prison tower walls are set at waist-height rather than above people's heads...

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

After far too many months of missing my writing group (conflict with soccer practice before Dani had her licence, various dreadful deadlines and trips since she has taken to the road), I attended a rather rousing evening with the gang. Last night was all writing exercises - by the end of the evening my arm was ready to drop off, but wow, it was so great to see everyone again and stretch those writing muscles in new directions.

Speaking of stretched muscles, finally pounded in the last fencepost of the two grassy paddocks for the horses. Breezy and Tony have much enjoyed munching on fresh, green grass while being supervised by Dani who has taken up semi-permanent residence in the hammock we rigged up under the trees adjacent to the new mini-fields.

Writing-wise, finished off an article for Kite Tales , the SCBWI LA newsletter (about authors and bookstore events), and finished the design of the new Bolen Books Kid Section newsletter (first issue will go to press, so to speak, in time for release on Aug. 1). That would be... ack - this Friday - another deadline in my life. Oh, yay!

Continue to work, slowly, on a middle grade fiction collaboration with my dear friend Jane and am waiting to hear back about an interactive CD/Online game proposal - And, of course, keep plodding along with War in the Tarragon Woods.

Also on the works in progress list, Jo's Gold, which may turn out to be Jo's Silver as the timing is all wrong for Jo's 1861 arrival in California. Well, there's nothing wrong with her arrival, but the gold rush there was essentially over. I'll either have to send her north (toward the Yukon), turn her around and have her head for Virginia City and the Comstock Lode, or perhaps stay in California but find some sort of metaphorical gold... Currently agonizing over this...

The northern woods/Tante Margarita picture book manuscript has made it as far as 'being under editorial consideration.' I consider this to be excellent news and much better than, 'no thanks.'

Other projects include several non-fiction titles for adults, all in the early stages, developing new children's programming at Bolen Books, and ongoing work on the barn/horse facilities. And then, there's the garden. Note to self: Cut the grass in the front yard TODAY!!!! It looks dreaful out there. In fact, you can't see the lawn for all the dandelions. Relatives are due to descend upon us in another week or so, so I guess I'd better stop blogging and get back to work chipping away at the mountain of work I have in front of me. Sigh. When it rains it pours! (Except in the summer on Vancouver Island when the sun bakes down on us and makes us forget those rainy, miserable days of March when it seems those grey skies will never, ever clear!)

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Today was more or less a perfect day. Worked on War in the Tarragon Woods (working title for the new book in the Tarragon Island series), built a section of fence, ate a lovely dinner I didn't have to cook (how wonderful is it to have a 16 year-old who loves to cook??), and then, this evening, went for a delightful trail ride along a quiet country road here in paradise (well, the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island, which, in the summer, is about as close to paradise as one can get...)

Alas, even as I continue to work on War, I'm also busy with several other projects. Finally, finally managed to write a reasonable version of the Tante Margarita story and have sent it off for consideration to Annick. Speaking of Annick, saw the rough sketches and mock-up of Grandparents Day - very cool! The illustrator is Benoit Laverdiere (with a couple of accents I'm not sure how to add in this text editor...) When I checked out his webiste my jaw dropped as I could not believe the editor would have chosen this illustration style to go with what I thought was a fairly realistic story. However, now that I've seen what Benoit has come up with, I'm so excited I can hardly stand it! The book's release has been pushed back to Fall, 2004, but the advance copies should be ready by next April... Cool!!

Will post more over the next couple of days about other projects in the works... Needless to say, keeping very busy!

p.s. The copies of Battle for Carnillo arrived the day before I left for Los Angeles!!! Whew! I can tell you, I was sweating bullets as one of the main reasons I was going to Book Expo America was to launch Carnillo - would have been a wee bit difficult without any books! The book looks terrific- I love the addition of the drawings. Now, all I have to do is figure out exactly what's going to happen in Book III!

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Long time no blog! I'm writing from lovely Newmarket in Ontario where I am visiting schools during the week before the Silver Birch Award (Jo's Triumph is a finalist!!! how cool is that?). During the day I chat with school kids in the area - by evening I pull out my notebook and work away at several projects.

What's on the go at the moment? Well, the update on Battle for Carnillo is that it should be here... any second now - all is done, cool illustrations completed (thanks J.A.Z.!), map inserted, cover finished... just waiting for books to arrive from the printer. They'd better get here (well, to Victoria) before I head off to Book Expo next week or I will have no advance copies to hand out when the book is officially sent forth into the wide, wide world...

Working on the new book in the Tarragon Island series as well as a couple of speeches and talks I have to give in the next few weeks... Occasionally, I give myself a break and let myself out of my self-imposed working exile to find an Internet terminal (this one is very nice - it's at the Newmarket Public Library)...

Alas, the downside of public terminals is that they are usually associated with a time limit... Such is the case with this one, so I must be quick. I promise not to wait so long between letters... after all, there is the new horse to talk about (Bony Tony) and the barn project, and various nifty trips... and... and...

All that will have to wait...