Monthly Archives: October 2011

Governor General Literary Awards Finalists Announced Today

Today the Canada Council for the Arts released the list of finalist for the GG Awards. I’ve copied the English Fiction list here but interested readers can get the full list the Canada Council Website.

My son gave me a Kindle Reader, just because he is such a great kid, and I think I will download a few of these titles to try it out. At first I was a little wary of the whole idea of reading on an e-reader, but my little den is overflowing with books, so I am looking at the reader as a space-saving device. So far, I have downloaded only one very small book, one I am using for research for the novel I am working on. I like that the reader is so light – easy to stick into my purse and carry with me wherever I go. It has a very long battery life, so, unlike my IPhone, I don’t have to remember to plug it in every night. I really like the search function, and the quick access to a dictionary. I think I am converted, although I still love traditional books and will continue to buy the ones I plan on keeping.

Our next book club book is The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival, by John Vaillant and I’ve got the hardcover edition because I’ve enjoyed and wanted to keep his other books. It costs more, almost double to buy a traditional book, but sometimes it’s worth it!

GG Fiction List:

David Bezmozgis, Toronto, The Free World
(HarperCollins Publishers; distributed by HarperCollins Canada)
(ISBN 978-1-44340-399-3)

Patrick deWitt, Portland (Oregon) [originally from Vancouver Island], The Sisters Brothers
(House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada)
(ISBN 978-0-88784-289-4)

Esi Edugyan, Victoria (British Columbia), Half-Blood Blues: A Novel
(Thomas Allen Publishers; distributed by Thomas Allen & Son)
(ISBN 978-0-88762-741-5)

Marina Endicott, Edmonton (Alberta), The Little Shadows
(Doubleday Canada; distributed by Random House of Canada)
(ISBN 978-0-385-66891-0)

Alexi Zentner, Ithaca (New York) [originally from Kitchener, Ontario], Touch
(Alfred A. Knopf Canada; distributed by Random House of Canada)
(ISBN 978-0-307-39944-1)

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Filed under Events and Readings, What I'm Reading

BC/Lower Mainland Chapters of the International Reading Association

On Friday, Oct. 21 – myself, with several other CWILL members will be in attendance for LOMCIRA’s and BCLCIRA’s conference, which will be held this year in Burnaby, BC.

This is a provincial PD day, so I hope to meet lots of teachers and have the opportunity to talk to them about Darkness Between the Stars, which addresses the issues of teen suicide in a direct and honest way.

As most of you know, this week, a bill calling for a National Suicide Prevention Strategy was passed in the House of Commons. Bob Rae said:

Lives lost, kids struggling with identity and bullying, young people suddenly feeling adrift and abandoned, veterans returning home from duty, older people struggling with health and uncertain of the way ahead. What we now realize is a simple truth: Suicide is not just a personal tragedy, a life cut short, an existential decision that leaves disbelief and devastation behind. It has become far more. Just as those who take their lives have no sense of the impact their decision will have on those who survive them, we can no longer turn away and pretend something is not very wrong.

It is so important that we shed, once and for all, the taboo around suicide and discuss it openly with our kids, friends and family. I know Darkness will help to get the conversation going, so I am very excited about the conference and the opportunity to introduce the book to teachers.

Also, I love graphic novels and looking forward to those presentations.

The other CWILL authors attending and their books are:

Dan Bar-El, Title: Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been?

Norma Charles, Title: Run Marco Run

Lee Edward Fodi, Title: Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah

Vi Hughes, Once Upon a Bathtime

Tanya Kyi, 50 Underwear Questions

Duane Laurence, Sammy Squirrel & Rodney Raccoon – To The Rescue

Jacqueline Pearce, Mystery of the Missing Luck

Pam Withers, Title: First Descent

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Writing News: I Now Have an Agent!

I am very excited to let everyone know that I now have a literary agent in Toronto, Ontario. I will be working very closely with Ali Mcdonald at The Rights Factory. Ali specializes in children and YA on an international level.

She has seen and commented on the first draft of my next novel, and her insight was really helpful. I am currently working hard to get the second draft into her hands. With that as my goal, I plan to write for a minimum of four hours per day and am looking forward to some quiet time at Whistler in the next month.

I’m feeling excited about this next book which explores how the choices we make when we are young impact us for the rest of our lives. Well, that’s pretty general, but can’t say much more at the moment!


Filed under Writing Tips

Thoughts on Writing and Blank Pages

It’s been difficult for me to get to my new manuscript and I realize September is gone and the first draft is still sitting, almost untouched next to my computer and although the bones of the story are in place, I have a lot more polishing to do before it is complete.

Why do writers sometimes stall out? I can’t speak for everybody, but here are my reasons:

1. Reading

I am currently reading Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami on my new Amazon Kindle and I can’t put it down. Past experience has taught me that when I am deep into my own manuscript, I have to discipline myself to put away all pleasure reading until I am tucked into bed and the day’s work is done. In fact, it’s not such a bad idea to put all reading aside while working on a manuscript. If imagination is finite, it’s better I give all of mine to my own creative process and sacrifice reading for pleasure, at least for a short period of time.

2. Sleep

I can’t write if I am sleep deprived and I’ve realized that I’ve going to bed late and getting up early. So it’s time to start refusing dinner invites, etc… and hitting the sack at a decent hour. This may seem obvious but it is not always easy to do.

3. Exercise

Well, this has gone completely by the wayside. No more excuses! Ski fit begins next week and taking a daily walk will help both my mind and body. My excuse over the last month has been that I just don’t have the time, but I realize I don’t have to go for a two-hour bike ride; half an hour is better than nothing.

4. Friends

I love my friends, but I need to be a lot firmer about my working hours. Just because I work at home, doesn’t mean I have time to talk on the phone, go shopping or visit between the hours of 8 -3pm. So, on that note, it’s time to return to cafe writing. I can get a lot done in three hours if I am just not available. It’s up to me to set the guidelines on this one, and I just have not been doing it.

5. Family

At this stage in a manuscript the house will be messy, dinner might not happen and those tomatoes outside may die on the vine. The cat will be fed because she is incapable of cooking her own meals. Everyone else is. I’m just saying…

6. Grant Writing

Thank God that is done! It takes almost as long to apply for a grant as it does to outline a new novel. Finger’s crossed that this time a little money comes my way…

7. Excuses

No more for me! I’ve got commitments which I will live up to, but starting now, I will be unavailable for four hours every single day until this manuscript is ready to send off to my agent.

This post might prove helpful to other writers, but it is also a strong reminder to me about how to organize my writing life and personal life so that both get the attention needed without sacrificing one for the other.

It’s important to have fun and not become too serious when in the thick of writing a novel. Explore other creative outlets, but don’t get too distracted.


Filed under Writing Tips