Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Thank you, Victoria!

Thank you very, very much to all those who filled out ballots and voted me Favourite Children's Author - 2006! Attended the M Awards held downtown in Victoria this evening and received the award (a fancy plaque rather than a sculpted trophy... I will post photos of both - you can decide which you like best!) The only bad thing was that the other contenders are good friends - Penny Chamberlain and Sylvia Olsen were also nominated and certainly either one could have taken top honours! Way to go, Sono Nis Press for being the publisher for all three of us! Diane sure knows how to pick 'em!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Excitement in Authorland

Various developments in the world of books... (other than the banning of Power of Lucky, of course - sheesh - who would have imagined that a single word would cause so much trouble for a Newberry winner?). Closer to home, in the world of my books, received the draft of the Karen Brain biography back from the editor. Minor changes throughout - nothing serious, BUT - the question remains - how long with the final book be? IF Sono Nis decides to go with the shorter format (48 pages) it will be back to the cutting board for me... Final page length depends on print quotes (currently being procured). Meanwhile, I'm to insert all the photos and write all the captions so we can see exactly how the text-to-image ratio looks. Adding images and captions will give me more to cut later on...

The first draft of the vet book will be with the editor for a bit, which is fine - gives me a chance to get some research happening on the ranch title, finalize photos for the vet text.

Meanwhile, over at the racetrack, the marketing people and some buyers are having some issues with the title 'Behind the Scenes at the Racetrack.' The concern is that the title suggests our intention is to introduce small children to the world of parimutuel betting. In fact, the book is really about racehorses - where they come from, how they are trained, what their lives are like at the track, what happens to them after their careers are over. So, an eleventh hour (as far as I know, the book has already been sent to the printer) decision has been made to change the title of the book. Yikes! I can only imagine the trouble this is causing at head office, for the marketing people, for the bookstsores that have already ordered the book with the original title... The new title? Racehorse: Behind the Scenes. The vet book now becomes Horse Vet: Behind the Scenes. And so on. Which does put the emphasis back on the horse, which is a good thing. My goodness, it's all so stressful. But, it will all work out fine as long as lots of people buy the books! Hint. Hint. Know any horse lovers out there? You can't start planning for Christmas too soon!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Manufactured Landscapes

Quite the productive day yesterday - finished up the first draft of Behind the Scenes With a Horse Vet and sent that off to the editor. Spent a bit of quality time with my horses and wrote up a list of shots/dialog to be filmed on Tuesday when I see Karen again. And, last night, saw Manufactured Landscapes, the Jennifer Baichwal film about the photographic work of Edward Burtynsky. Here is one of his photographs taken at the Three Gorges Dam Project in China where whole cities are being dismantled and more than a million people relocated to make room for the world's largest reservoir. Visit Burtynsky's website for many, many more stunning landscapes that have been created by people. The film is powerful. Burtynsky's photographs potent. I couldn't help thinking (as we drove home in our gasoline-filled car) how isolated we are from so much of the devastation we (collectively) have brought to our planet. Anyway, a really interesting film with an unforgettable opening sequence (shot in a Chinese factory).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Olympic Dreamers

Here's a little video meant as a triubte to (and good luck message for) Karen Brain. The biography is still with the editor, but with any luck I will have that back soon so I can move forward with the editing/rewriting process. I had a lot of fun making the mini-movie and have plans for several more (including at least one more about Karen, probably telling a bit more of her story).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Cybils - Winners Announced

And the winner is... (or, more properly, the winners are...) listed here on the Cybils website. Congratulations to all the winners - and, a special congratulations to Melanie Watt for walking away with top honours in the Fictional Picture Book category. Scaredy Squirrel is a big hit with my relatives (young and old) and certainly deserves to win!

Friday, February 09, 2007

My Kind of Movie

In a rare foray to a LATE show, attended a documentary tonight that I thoroughly enjoyed - STORE. Here's the short blurb from the website:

What would you pay to hang onto the random stuff you've collected throughout your life that you want to keep but it doesn't fit in your house? Many of the people I met chose to pay in excess of $40,000 for tangible memories.

It seems like there a storage complex on nearly every corner. What is everyone hanging on to and why? Speaking of complexes, every time I try to get rid of something, I hear myself saying I'll need it as soon as I get rid of it." "There's nothing wrong with it." "It was a gift," and so many more justifications. I needed to know if I was alone in my attachment.

In STORE, we 'pass the baton' and tell our stories in concert. Rather than focusing upon a few detailed stories, we share a few details from a lot of stories. In short, we discuss why simply having is so important to us all.

Anyone who knows me (and who has fallen over my stuff...) will be chuckling at this point. But, yeah - the filmmaker saw straight into my heart! One of the great pleasures of attending world premieres of films (and tonight was the official premiere for STORE) is that one gets to meet the director. In this case, Cami J. Kidder (who wrote, directed and produced the picture, and is a first time feature director) was in attendance. She stayed behind after the screening to chat and answer questions. And, yes, she still has stuff in a storage locker.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Bayside Middle School

Bayside Middle School has been hosting their annual Reading Week for ten years or so, each year instroducing every student to authors, illustrators, and storytellers. Over the years I've presented writing workshops, author talks, and 'Lunch With the Author and her Pony' sessions... This year all the Grade 8s (about 250 of them) gathered in the multi-purpose room while I told one of my favourite stories in the King Arthur series - The Marriage of Sir Gawain. Thanks are due to librarian Vivian Hicks and all the staff and students at Bayside who make this such a fun annual event! Hope to see you again next year!

Movies, Movies Everywhere!

I LOVE the Victoria International Film Festival, look forward to it every year, and never have enough time to see all the fabulous films that flit through town! To put ourselves in the mood last week, we went to see Children of Men - which was very good - riveting and disturbing. NOT light entertainment and not exactly fun, but well worth seeing. So far at the film festival, I've attended a couple of panels for filmmakers (hard though it is to believe, film is an even wackier business than publishing!) and seen two movies - The Gymnast (in honour of Dani's lost career) and Singing Down the Bones (in honour of poets everywhere). Tonight we're seeing a double-header - Fido (because everyone needs a zombie around the house) and Babel - just because it's supposed to be great (not part of the festival, it's playing tonight at Cinecenta).

All of this filmy inspiration is helping to drive along my own filmmaking endeavours... watch this blog for details (and perhaps some tantalizing Utube clips!)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ebay My Life?

Now I like ebay as much as the next guy (did you know there are people who will buy unused Starbucks coffee cards? Canadian designs are particularly popular, apparently - not so many of them around), but have you heard about the guy in Wollongong who has sold his life? Not only does the winning bidder get the basics like his name and phone number, he also becomes the proud owner of a repertoire of six jokes and a fractured relationship with an ex-girlfriend. If the sale goes through (the top bidder at $7500 is presumably someone who has no life...) Holt (or the ebayer formerly known as Holt - who will he become after he's sold his life?) wants to make a documentary about the process. Now that's a movie I'd like to see!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Well it has certainly been an exciting week around here! Highlights included an evening at the Polo Club listening to Dr. Nick Shaw talk about horse worms...

receiving an M Award nomination (for Favourite Children's Author), learning that Trouble on Tarragon Island has been short-listed for a Willow Award (Saskatchewan Young Readers Choice Awards), and seeing the final layout of Behind the Scenes at the Racetrack (which we will see one, final time at blueline stage).

The Cybils panel has commenced judging the Fiction Picture Book category. Here's the list of finalists selected from the looong list of 111 nominees...

Emily's Balloon
Written and illustrated by Komako Sakai
Chronicle Books
A bittersweet glimpse into the mind of a toddler who has befriended a yellow balloon.

Learning to Fly
Written and illustrated by Sebastian Meschenmoser
A simple book with an important message, this is the story of a penguin who wants to fly and his friend who helps him. The humorous illustrations add to this message about dreams and friendship.

Scaredy Squirrel
Melanie Watt
Kids Can Press
An anxious squirrel, who is most comfortable staying in his familiar surroundings and sticking to his rigid daily schedule, is surprised when the unexpected occurs. The illustrations and the text features add to the humor.

Waiting for Gregory
Written by Kimberly Willis Holt; illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Henry Holt and Co.
A young girl, living in the whimsical, imaginative world that only Gabi Swiatkowska can create, anticipates with great excitement the birth of her cousin, only to grow increasingly confused by her family's peculiar responses to her questions about exactly how and when the baby will arrive.

Written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
a clever book-within-a-book that uses expressive collage and mixed media to tell the tale of a curious rabbit who finds real-life adventure in addition to the information he expects when he checks out a library book about wolves.

I must say, we are having a good discussion about what makes a great picture book! Selecting a winner from this list is not going to be easy!