Sunday, October 31, 2010

The trip so far

Apologies.  It's been ages since my last post, but between driving, hiking, visiting, and reading natural history material in preparation for our next stop, I have been slack with posting. But, these days I'm spending more time traveling than reading...

After a few days of visit my mom, we went to Bodie, California, an abandoned mining town which sits at nearly 9000 feet.  It was fascinating.

Then onto Manzanar, California, the home of a US Japanese internment camp in the middle of Owens Valley (the place where water was taken from to feed LA; it's the basis of ChinaTown, a movie about how corruption let to 95% of the Valley's water being sucked dry).  Apparently it used to boast being fertile orchard country.

After another long drive, that included a tour through Death Valley before we visited the Grand Canyon.  These photos don't come close to the grandeur...

Then onto my brother Bart's  in Phoenix.  We cruised around Canyon Lake, which I hadn't been to since I was a kid (it's one of the nearby lakes where we used to camp when I was a kid).  We also went to the Museum of Music which is world class, and so well done; it was amazing and well worth a visit if you're in the area.  

When we left Phoenix we headed for more Canyon Country.  The first stop was Monument Valley where a lot of the westerns were filmed.  We also visited Gooseneck State Park where it's easy to see how river's form canyons.
We've been covering a lot of miles, but every day seems to be a highlight.  We visited Mesa Verde, one of the homes of the Anasazi (a word no longer in use by the way) which totally blew me away.  The drive up and down just about did me away, with hairpin turns and steep cliffs, it sits atop the very high dessert mesa pictured here.

I thought Mesa Verde was amazing.  Then we went to Chaco, New Mexico, another home of the "Ancient Ones" (850-1100 AD).  It was desolate & beautiful, and amazing.  It's been called the North American equivalent to Stonehenge since the building site is aligned such that light shines through corner openings at specific times of the year to capture solar and lunar cycles.  It was a major cultural centre for the Pueblo peoples and comprised the largest buildings in North America until the 19th century.  It's mainly quarried sandstone, but the Chacoans hauled wood for roofing from as far as 50 miles away... without the aid of the wheel!

Next installment in our Four Corners visit is Arches National Park and  then Bryce Canyon and points north.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

2010 GG shortlist announced.

The 2010 GG shortlist (Governor General's Awards) was recently announced.   For those of you not in the know, these are the Canadian equivalent to the Caldecot and Newbery Awards

Children’s Literature — Text

K.L. Denman, Powell River, British Columbia, Me, Myself and Ike
(Orca Book Publishers)
Lesley Fairfield, Toronto, Tyranny
(Tundra Books)
Gina McMurchy-Barber, Surrey, British Columbia, Free as a Bird
(Dundurn Press)
Wendy Phillips, Richmond, British Columbia, Fishtailing
(Coteau Books)
Cheryl Rainfield, Toronto, Scars
(WestSide Books)

Children’s Literature — Illustration
Kristi Bridgeman, Victoria, UirapurĂș: based on a Brazilian legend, text by P. K. Page
(Oolichan Books)
Julie Flett, Vancouver, Owls See Clearly at Night: a Michif alphabet / Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer: l’alfabet di Michif, text by Julie Flett
(Simply Read Books)
Matt James, Toronto, I Know Here, text by Laurel Croza
(Groundwood Books / House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada)
Jon Klassen, Los Angeles [originally from Niagara Falls, Ontario], Cat’s Night Out, text by Caroline Stutson
(Simon & Schuster / A Paula Wiseman Book)
Renata Liwska, Calgary, The Quiet Book, text by Deborah Underwood
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Every Writer Needs A Lizard

Garden Lizard (best viewed large)Image by Pandiyan via Flickr
Here's a link to a great little piece on writing and doubt posted on the CWILL Blog (Children's Writers & Illustrators of BC) last week by Laura Langston; Every Writer Needs A Lizard.

Personally, I'm thinking that something gargantuan in size might be just about right...something like a dinosaur!  But, since I live in a teeny tiny house, I usually just rely on the support of friends and family when doubt strikes.  In case I need some back-up on a really bad day (yep, we all have em) I do have a rather cute little green frog that sits on my bureau.  I wonder if tree frogs are lucky?  I wonder if I could park doubt with him?
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Sad & Excited

Just said goodbye to my girls after a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  I'm sad and excited all rolled into one.  I treasure the time we spend together now that they each have their own busy lives, but this leaving was made easier because tomorrow is day one of a month long road trip to the American Southwest where I'll get to reconnect with my mom and sibs, and where I'd love to set a novel (after the one I'm working on now).

This has to be a short and sweet post as I'm on the run to get a million errands done.  My next chore (hee hee) will be to pick out a couple of books from my bedside pile to bring along.  I had planned to bring Inkdeath, the third in Cornelia Funke's Inkworld series but I've decided against it as I'm having a hard time getting into it even though I grew to care about Meggie, her parents and the fire-eater Dustfinger in the first two books.  No worries though...there's the pile to choose from is BIG!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Quadra Island is a great place for a writing retreat

Me, Adrienne Mason, Jocelyn Reekie & Heather Kellerhalls-Stewart 
Dayle Gaetz, Jocelyn Reekie, Kristin Butcher, Adrienne Mason & Me. 
Had a great time on Quadara Island with a couple of other Island Writers just before Canadian Thanksgiving.  We did a school visit, then headed off to a cabin by the sea for a few days of self-directed workshopping.  We shared what we were working on, gave each other feedback, and got out for a few walks along the beach and nearby cliffs.  It was an awesome few days.                               

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Island Kids

Tara Saracuse
Monday, Oct. 18th, 7:30 pm
at the Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable

Tara Saracuse is a graduate of the Creative Writing program at the University of Victoria. Island Kids is Tara’s first book – and she hopes it is the first of many. Hear about unforgettable kids as they outrun a cougar on Salt Spring Island and more.

The VCLR is open to the public. Members free, drop-ins $5, students $4. Meetings are held at the Nellie McClung Branch Library, 3950 Cedar Hill Road, at 7:30 pm. Come early and browse the bookseller’s table, and bring a friend!

For more information about the Roundtable, visit:

Canadian Thanksgiving coming up.

Apple PieImage by bucklava via Flickr
I'll be on wonderful Quadra Island, BC working for the next several days and will be picking my girls up from the ferry on my way back into town on Friday night.  They'll be home for the long weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving) so no posts for a while, especially since I have to make apple, pumpkin and blackberry pie to keep everyone happy!  Not to mention turkey!  Hope you all have a great book to read!

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Monday, October 04, 2010

Family Writing Contest

 Great News...BC Council for Families is sponsoring a family writing contest for Kids & Grownups...

NFW 2010
Does your family have a favourite story? One that gets told -- and retold -- at every family gathering? Do your children beg to hear stories about when you were young, about the day they were born, or about how grandma and grandpa first met?
Family stories are the glue that binds families together. Now, to celebrate families and their stories, we're challenging families to share their funniest, most heartwarming, and most inspirational family stories in ourFamily Writes storytelling contest.

Here's how it works:

Write down your favourite story about your family. Make sure it's between 200 and 500 words in length. Tell a story about an actual event, character, or important family memory. Make sure it's your favourite, because only one contest entry per person is allowed.
Send us your story using our online form. Tell us if you'd like your story entered in the humour, inspirational or heartwarming category. Be sure and give us your name and email (so we can let you know if you win). And, if you're under 18, make sure you have a parent's permission. That's it!
Check back within a couple of days and you should see your story posted online! You have until December 31 to enter your story, then the judging will begin. Which reminds us, you probably want to know...

What you'll win:

One child story and one adult story in each category (that's humour, heartwarming, and inspirational, remember?) will win a copy of the illustrated limited edition Family Writes storybook, featuring their winning story, along with a selection of other contest stories submitted.

Other Details:

By submitting a story, you are giving the BC Council for Families the right to publish your story online at and/or in one or more of its in-house publications. All submitted stories must be previously unpublished. Submitting a story does not guarantee a feature in the Family Writes limited edition book, or online. The Council reserves the right to edit and proof all submissions as necessary.
Still have questions? You can send us an email at and we'll do our best to satisfy your curiousity.  Oh, and you really should read The Official Family Writes Contest Rules.
I'll be one of the judges and I can't wait to read your stories.  Good luck all of you!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

International Picture Book Swap happening now!

I love the kid's book world.  So full of great energy and enthusiasm to share the wonders discovered with others.  Here's a great example.  Over at Playing by the Book, Zoe is hosting an international picture book swap until October 22. It sounds like a great way to share books with complete strangers and maybe make a new friend along the way so check it out.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Reading & Radio

CBC Presents:  The TD Kids Book Club – Celebrate the Joy of Reading and Experience the World of Radio

Greetings Book Lovers,

Join us for the TD Kids Book Club ( this fall and celebrate the joy of reading with the five books nominated for the 2010 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award.

CBC Radio One, in partnership with the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and TD Bank Financial Group, is running a contest aimed at middle school students in seven locations across Canada – Greater Vancouver area (690 AM), Calgary area (99.1 FM), Edmonton area (93.9 FM), Manitoba area (89.3 FM), Toronto area (99.1 FM), Montreal area (88.5 FM) and Mainland Nova Scotia area (90.5 FM). 

It's an opportunity for young readers to win a visit from one of the five shortlisted authors for a book club discussion, plus copies of the book. CBC Radio will record the event for broadcast.

Please spread the word. The entry deadline is fast approaching.

It's easy to enter! We're asking classes to write a story or a poem to tell the CBC why they should bring the Book Club to your school. To find out what's happening in your location and how you can enter, click on your region below.

Greater Vancouver area (690 AM):

Calgary area (99.1 FM):

Edmonton area (93.9 FM):

Manitoba area (89.3 FM):

Toronto area (99.1 FM):

Montreal area (88.5 FM):

Mainland Nova Scotia area (90.5 FM):

For further information, please contact the CBC person in your area:

Greater Vancouver area:
Sheila Peacock

Calgary area:
Holly Preston

Edmonton area:
Jacqueline Janelle

Manitoba area:
Kim Ziervogel

Toronto area:
Karin Chykaliuk

Montreal area:
Christopher DiRaddo

Mainland Nova Scotia area:
Maggie Rahr