Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Cast Off

This is an x-ray of my well healed wrist. The technician took a buzz saw to my cast and off it came. It was scary and I felt an uncomfortable warmth when the blade neared the swollen part of my wrist. Afterwards I could wash my whole hand and arm. The fingers looked white, the tanned skin of my wrist and arm flaked off like on a glazed donut. That wrist still looks plump and feels very odd. I can't hold a coffee cup even empty in my left hand. Actually, the doctor observed me holding my book in it and was impressed. But I did go swimming and soaking in the hot tub as therapy.

Winter Wonderland

If you don't have to shovel, snow is great.  Way better than grey wet days.    Here's Mortie enjoying a frolic.  Then I noticed he was lifting and limping on his hind paws.  Zeller's had a sale on doggie boots but instead I found this parka.  Nothing says winter dog fashion better...don't you think.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Beauty Returns Nominated for the BC Stellar Award

While I haven't been officially notified, a fellow writer friend Jo-Ellen Bogart emailed me that my novel Beauty Returns had been nominated for this teen choice award.  The email came late on Tuesday night when we had stayed up to watch Obama speak after he won the election.

What a delightful surprise! I love the voting awards because so many more kids read the book as a result. I can only hope I make it out to BC to visit some of readers there.

I meant to do my work today

There's nothing nicer that a sunny fall day at Bronte Creek with Mortie and Will--two best friends since they were little.  Wait a minute they're still little.  You have to wonder what they're so intent on, right?  They're both staring at the bunny who oddly enough will not come to them despite their whimpers and desperate clawing.  The ducks, the playground, the best leash free park in the world--Bronte Creek is my favourite place to skip work for.  

Monday, November 03, 2008

Packaging Your Imagination

It's always a pleasure meeting other authors or author illustrators and for CANSCAIP's Packaging Your Imagination, I usually do some hospitality driving and dining out to make our presenters' time in Toronto and area just a little easier.

'Course with the pink cast, things were more tricky. I had to enlist family to retrieve authors from the airport.  Here's a photo of Marie Louise Gay talking to Burlington kids at Central Library.  It was delightful to hear her talk about her books, drawing and writing, in French.

On the actual conference date, I brought my camera but with one hand, I just can't handle, lottery tickets, money and photos too.  Plus I confess, even with image stabilizer the authors are faster than my shutter.  

People who came to the sessions seemed to enjoy themselves and buy lots of books, so sore arm and shoulder aside everything went well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cast Adrift

The recuperation continues.  Nobody cares any more and I'm bored myself with this injury.

The list of things you can't do with a cast is a work in progress.  You discover it as you go along.

You can't open many packages with one hand.  Worst of all, you can't open your vial of Tylenol 2 with a cast on.  It's a child proof bottle.  I have to get my 7 year old grandson with no broken arm to open it for me.

You can't slice, dice, or chop.  It's hard to pour from a heavy tea pot.

Washing anything by hand is nigh impossible.  One hand gets vair vair tired shampooing your hair. Putting toothpaste on your toothbrush is unbelievably tricky.

It's a skillful dog owner who can leash their jackapoo with one hand.  Sometimes I'm skillful, sometimes I'm not.  Scooping is awkward.

Writing hurts.  No way around it.  If I type with only my right hand, strange typos occur and my right arm ends us aching as much as my left.  If I type with both, the cast scrapes across the computer and weighs heavily on the broken part of my arm.

Driving I'm not attempting yet but Dear God, I can't not drive for six to eight weeks.

Reading--I'm sticking to quality trade paper backs.  Lighter than hard cover.  I just read Eric Walter's Safe Houses.  Pretty darn exciting.  I like the characters and the way they just keep solving the most impossible problems.  Thank goodness for books. And all kinds of different books at that. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sharon McKay's Book Launch

Saturday it was our privilege to join in the celebration of a new book:  War Brothers by Sharon McKay.  We'd already read about how she'd researched the story in an article she'd written for Hamilton Magazine about a year ago.

Launches are always such hard work for the author.  I think they mark the beginning of even more hard work to sell writing that should just fly off the shelves because it's good.  Sharon shouldn't have to put on a great meal for us all.

But it was delightful for us readers and fans.  I've already read War Brothers--what a contrast to Anne of Green Gables but the characters are that irrepressible and engaging.  How lucky to be born in an island of Canada and not Uganda. 

Congratulations to Sharon.  She's written a wonderful story with impact and hope.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Healing Process

So another tempting bottle of wine arrived courtesy of my long time friends Cheryl and Lloyd Lunan.  Note the cute label. This is Lloyd's own brand.  My bottle of tylenold 3 is coming to an end so I'm almost ready to enjoy a glass.

Today I'm typing with two hands. I hope the cast doesn't 
scrape at the computer too much.  The actual keyboarding is not the issue.  It's the weight of the cast dragging down on the sore parts of the arm.

To entertain me through this week, I read Anne of Green Gables.  It's her hundredth birthday in November and Elizabeth McLeod is coming to speak at our CANSCAIP meeting on Lucy Maud's life.  Gillean O'Reilly, my programming partner, challenged me to read it again as an adult.

Anne sure is a wonderful character but it's hard to believe her inventor suffered from depression.  I loved the part where Anne breaks her ankle as a result of a dare and talks about how mad she is at herself.  Spoke right to my heart.
If I had money, I would sue myself for being so stupid as to not wear wrist guards rollerblading.
Note to publishers:  You shouldn't make books so heavy, it's hard on healthy wrists never mind broken ones

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Registering for Gifts When You Break a Limb

It's like my birthday and everyone says poor me.  Also it's the time of year when all the literary shortlists are announced and mostly I'm not on them.  I'm invited to help celebrate everyone else's success.

So this arm break is most timely.  I'm having a pity party. My friend and author of Grave Danger, Gisela Sherman,made me a wonderful lasagne.  And see here my friend Eleanor bought me an inspiring red wine.I wanted to sip it with my pasta but I'm taking Tylenol 3 with codeine.  That might have put me into a coma. Wonder what kind of prezzies my buddies would come up with then.

Okay, I am inspired.  I will wean myself from the painkillers so that I can enjoy the wine.  I should also mention, my daughter Robin bought me yoga pants so I could dress independently. 

Thank you Gisela, Eleanor and Robin.  To the the rest of my devoted blog readers:  Go out and buy Last Chance for Paris.  It's the only way you can ease the sting of lost nominations, broken limbs and careers. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Aftermath

Things you can't do with one hand:

Hook your bra closed.
Button your jeans,
Perform a three stroke alt click save to desktop on a Mac notebook.  In order to download this photo,  I had to twist around and hurt my sore wrist.

But just see how beautiful.  My friend Lynda sent me this edible arrangement.  There are chocolate apple slices and strawberries with nut and coconut sprinkles.  

With one hand, I was unable to capture Mortie leaping for the yellow smilie face star balloon attached to the arrangement.  Then suddenly, pop, Mortie was gone.  The smilie face  deflated.
Mortie's hanging around the top floor of the house way far away from Smilie on the bottom level in my office,

The other thing that's  hard to do is to keyboard and eat delicious dark chocolatey fruit.  My white keyboard has brown smudges.  I'll lick those off when I'm desperate.

Thank you Lynda! 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rollerblading fun

The whole season I have not rollerbladed once.  It was a gorgeous day.  Bob wanted to takes pictures at the lake.  We'd just had a coffee with Eireannn and Craig, I dropped him off and went home to get Mortie.  Then I thought why not bring the rollerblades.

Back at the park,  Mortie and I had a lovely time.  Many people pronounced him cute.  He got a bit of a run.

It only broke down when we stopped for a photo for our blog.  "Stand over there where the light is better" said Bob.  Somehow in posing, maybe Mortie tugged, certainly not hard, I started to fall backwards.  I did the mad whirly bird but to no avail.

I landed on my left hand.  Nothing else hurt.  But my fingers felt numb.  My bottom forearm seemed disconnected from the bottom.  "I broke my arm"  I told Bob.   it was a very distinctive twisty feeling.

Four hours later I'm sporting this lovely hot pink cast.  Now  I'm typing with one hand.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Night time visitors

Mortie, the jackapoo, was upset, trembling and whimpering.  We slid back the patio door to our balcony and there on the railing sat the three fattest raccoons I've ever seen.  I mean they were small bears.  

Mortie growled his deepest most threatening rumble.  One of the racoons hissed.  None of them budged.  In fact they posed for a long time.  I suggested my husband the photographer set up his tripod, reflective umbrella, and any other equipment he needed to properly take their portrait as they were clearly going to pose until the compost box arrived.

Meanwhile, Mortie and I are holed up in my office.  Mortie's still whimpering and clawing at me.

"But Mortie, they're way bigger than you are!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanksgiving with an elephant

The whole weekend was spectacular.  Golden and warm.
Sunday we had dinner with Andrea Wayne Von Koningslow, author and illustrator of my favourite Bing and Chutney picture books.  Bing is the pig and Chutney is the elephant.

Sunday was dinner with our gang, Robin, Kevin and Hunter,
Craig and Eireann and Adam, Jen and William.  We dug out his future Halloween costume, formerly Hunter's, and it didn't take a lot of convincing to get him to model it.

Now we just need a Bing to trick or treat with 

Getting the Setting

It's a real pain to find my way around in my current world but of course for The Fly Catcher, my historical novel, I need to walk around behind the eyes of a 10-year-old boy in Hamilton in 1912.

Second time through the draft,  I visited the Hamilton Library Archive and got a street director for 1912.  I can tell exactly who lived where and what shops and businesses were located wherever my character Will walked. Now I will go through the manuscript and paint another layer of detail over it.

Dinner at the Falls

This was an airmiles birthday dinner.  Makes it more special when we don't spend real money. The Keg in Niagara Falls is one restaurant, not in a tower, with a great view.

Look closely and you can see me taking the photo as well as my husband Bob gazing at me in rapture.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Official Birthday

Here is my favourite assistant for candle blowing.  We celebrated with dinner that his mom, Robin, made.  Delicious chicken parmisan and pasta and sauce and then this wonderful cake.

On the actual day, Hunter joined us to do a "Whine and Dine" for Today's Parent Toronto.
We reviewed the Novatel.   As the sole customers, we enjoyed the attention of the wait staff.  My fish was delish.  The complimentary birthday cheesecake Hunter pronounced as yummy.  

Testing out the camera

My second favourite writing tool, after my laptop, is my digital camera.  Last week it failed.  Changing batteries and restarting it didn't help. But it was a week away from my birthday.  All I had to do is wait it out.

What I wanted was something exactly the same as my old camera, except smaller and lighter.  

Two days before the official bday we replaced my old Sony with a pink model.  Last post showed some photos of fall flowers. This one shows my favourite dog, swimming.

New Camera

Finishing the First Draft

The Fly Catcher is a novel I began many years ago, wrote the first few chapters and an outline and sent it to a publisher.
Then I forgot about it. So did the publisher apparently. Cleaning out my office, I found the file on the project complete with the newspaper clippings on the contest photocopied. The file disappeared once. I re-researched the story pouring through the Burlington Library archives and then lost it again. I was getting superstitious about the project.

However, I did apply for Canada Council and received the grant. If they believed in me and the concept, than I certainly needed to grow my faith back. I had planned the story to be for grade 3, a shorter 30,000 word story. But a couple of weeks ago as I passed the wordcount, I began to think the story would never end. Normally I write 1,000 words on a good day, a couple of scenes at most. But I was writing feverishly, two to three thousand words a day. And still no ending in sight. Finally at 11:30 Wednesday, last week I typed the end. However, we all know it's just the begininning of a different kind of voyage. Rewriting.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Eden Mills Literary Festival

Usually, the first Sunday in September,the date of the literary festival in Eden Mills, is blessed with golden sunshine.
The horses and lambs amble out on the drive up, the wasps buzz around as you eat your lunch and listen to authors.
This year it drizzled so much I wanted to cancel but my daughter Jen wanted to come with 18 month old grandson William.

I now pictured trying to hush a toddler in a room where a soft spoken author whispered her reading. One of William's strong points,however, is he's like my Jackapoo Mortie, you stuff food in his mouth and he's happy, busy and stops yapping. We sat in the children's area awhile and heard Christine Tripp, an illustrator who I knew from the CANSCAIP listserve. Awfully nice to meet her in person and I liked the work she showed and the way she presented.

The rain continued to pour down and I felt cold and damp for a while.

We heard a bit of music, chatted with other authors, Jo Ellen Bogart, Janet Wilson, Linda Hendrie--then we meandered over to hear Robert Sawyer read. Wow, he read from a small hand held electronic gadget which almost made it seem as though he had his book memorized. He puts a lot of drama in his reading which we quite appreciated.

Then the sun smiled down again on the festival. I grabbed a cup of coffee and warmed up.

Back at the children's tent, we got to hear Richard Scrimger, Art Slade and Ken Oppel--great presenters and all so different in what they read as well as how they read it.

I wanted to buy all their books but know I have to cut back. What did I end up with? Susan Jube's new horse book. I think I'll go read it now.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Figuring out the sights and smells of 1912

Before I can write the next scene of my flycatching book, I need to picture the Hamilton Farmers' Market some 98 years ago.
What does it smell like? What are the sounds? What do they actually sell there. So I drove to Hamilton Public Library and visited the archives. The librarians produced many photos and a book with stories of farmers who went there over a long period of time.
Some things I just have to let my imagination fill in. For example a fire in 1917 caused them to rebuild the market. While the building burned, hundreds of rats made a break for it. So I'm guessing my character might spot a rat when he visited the mrket or my fly catching Jack Russel might. Of course chasing it would cause potatoes to be spilled, crates of chickens to crash, horses to bolt and my character to flee.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A day at the beach and the wedding couple returns

Sunday of Labour Day Weekend and it turned out to be the most beautiful sunny warm day--too beautiful for actual labour.
So I googled for the most pet friendly beach on our Provincial Parks Pass and that turned out to be Rock Point near Dunnville.

The beach felt a little rocky under my feet but the waves and water felt great. Mortie went for one swim more than Bob although after rolling in fish, he went for a forced dunk.

Monday, Craig and Eireann returned from Greece. We stood waiting at the airport just long enough for me to imagine worst case scenario honeymoons--happily all were wrong. They loved their two weeks away and wished it could have been longer. They stopped back at our house for a welcome home feast complete with corn from the little bent over lady's farm--we bought it on the way home from the beach. Adam and Jen joined us with baby William.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Celebrity Author at Pawsway

Well, Mortie, Bob and I spent the day at Pawsway Pet Discovery Centre. What did we learn from this event?
You need to bring your dog to get any attention at all. A lady who was talking about Border Collies did not bring
any of her Border Collies. No one visited her to talk. They all stopped at the therapy dogs, cute shitzus, mini greyhounds and one longhaired Dashund. One therapy dog was missing eyes, they had been surgically removed due to disease. So the therapy dog needed a guide dog. He seemed to manage pretty well though.

Mortie got some personal physiotherapy for his back right trick knee. He fell in love with many dogs and enjoyed socializing with so many canines, he's still conked out on the couch. His normal energy level is renowned so that's saying a lot.

The dancing dogs, golden retrievers had a whole corner full of brightly coloured nylon "crates" that looked more like mini tents.
I think Mortie needs one of those.

One chiuaua showed up in a mini skirt. Her owner said she liked dressing up because she knew that meant she was going somewhere.

Mortie scored some new kind of Purina dentibones. I sold under ten books but met some really nice people and neat kids.
Maybe later they'll all go to the bookstore and buy more. I know we'll be back to Pawsway. It's a fun place.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Meet me at Pawsway

Tomorrow Mortie and I head to Pawsway at Harbourfront. This is the one and only Pet Discovery Centre and they're celebrating working dogs and people who work with dogs. Because I write about dog guides, I will be there. I'll talk about Bringing Up Beauty, A Different Kind of Beauty as well as the final book in the series, Beauty Returns. Also my husband Bob, photographer extraordinaire, will be there and those who wish can have their photos taking with me and my inspiration dog, Mortie. Now Mortie is not guide dog material. Actually his amazing fly catching efforts, leaping up into the air as high as a building and as fast as a bullet, have been captured in a similar dog, Finnigan, in the historical fiction I'm writing about the 1912 flycatching contest.

Hope to see some of you there.

The Sandcastle Competition

August 23rd proved to be a hot sunny day, perfect for the beach! There were 14 competitors, two in the adult, about four in the children's section and the rest in the family division. What talent! Many beautiful and detailed castles were sculpted. A mermaid and sea serpent took awards. In this photo, you see the second place winners. They showed wonderful team work and excellent use of space. Next year August 15, 2009 will prove even better. There will be a workshop in the morning and a demonstration. Then in the afternoon--the competition!

Lots of time to practise.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mortie's new swimming hole

This year we bought a Provincial Park Pass for Hunter, thinking we could take him everyday after school to the play barn at Bronte Creek. Turns out during the year the playbarn closes at 4:00 and while Hunter's class finishes around 3:15 by the time he surfaces it's often 3:45.

No matter, we're taking advantage of it now in the summer. We went to a "spirit night" where Hunter met some historical ghosts. We visited Spruce Lane Farm and he and some buddies tried out some old fashioned toys and wove.

The big plus turned out to be the dog park. No fence and just lots of free roaming area. Today someone told us about another leash free area in the camping zone. We had to drive in by another entrance. Then we could hike through fields and forest and more importantly through the actual creek. Lots of dogs were swimming in the fast moving water and Mortie joined in.

We also saw a dog named Cohoe who could pass for the wolf hybrid Paris in my novel Last Chance for Paris. Perhaps for book two we can shoot the cover in that exact spot.

Building Sandcastles

Next Saturday, August 23, from 10 to 2, I will be judging sandsculptures along with Sandi Castle Stirling, shown creating this marvelous castle, yesterday. She also gave out tips but I came to late to get any. I thought I'd bone up with some books from the library. Well, there are none on this topic except for Robert Munsch's Sandcastle story. Everyone knows you can't build a breathing barking sanddog, or?

In any case, I intend to google technique on the internet so that I can better judge this contest. I love sandsculptures anyway.

Mortie gets groomed for the wedding

We like Mortie fluffy but some dog owners suggested that since he had poodle in him he needed to be "groomed" read shaved.
So we thought we'd try. It's hot out, he'd at least be cooler. My friend Carol Bryant owns a grooming shop and only charged me "cat rates". How embarassing for Mortie. She shaved every part of his body and trimmed the hair around his ears.

What do you think? Should Mortie grow back the fluff or should he continue to visit Carol?

Big Day

What began as a beautiful day turned into the monsoons as the white stretch limo pulled up to the bride's house. Umbrella to umbrella, everyone's finery was shielded. At Geraldos at Lasalle Park, all arrangements required switching. No getting married in the terrace, too dangerous with the thunder, lightening and huge puddles so Eireann and Craig were piped down the aisle of the reception room.

However, everything else was perfect. Delicious food, great friends and dancing. Eireann and Craig performed some fancy steps and dips. Now they're off in Greece enjoying their honeymooning. Congratulations. Phew!

Karaokee Shower

My friends Cathy and Lynda have hosted a lot of parties and showers on my or my children's behalf. So for Eireann and Craig we were stumped for about five seconds. "What do they like to do?" Cathy asked. "They love to sing karaokee," I answered. So bestman Adam whipped up an Elvis e-invite and I rented a machine and Cathy and Lynda supplied the most delicious food imaginable and a home decorated Elvis style.

It was a tremendously fun evening and Ian Garden, Eireann's brother won the academy award, you didn't know there was one?, for Karaokee.

On the way home

One good thing about this trip is that Mortie has conquered his fear of car trips. He looks pretty comfortable, doesn't he?
Now we arrive just in time for Eireanne and Craig's Karaokee shower!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Beach time

The way I read it, our cottage was supposed to have a view of the ocean and I thought it was situated right at the beach.
But no. We saw a glimpse of ocean from across the highway. It was partially obstructed by herring smoking plants. Cap Pelee
is the smoked herring capital of Canada. If there had been a large herring monument, you know we would have been so there!
So we had to drive to a rather weedy shallow beach that sometimes smelled of herring, or seaweed. Lots of sea creatures scuttled around on the ocean floor so I didn't frolic as much as I'd hoped in the water.

The cliche New Brunswick Experience: Hopewell Rock

The list of things we had to do on our vacation was pretty small, eat Lobster, go to the beach a lot and visit Hopewell Rocks.
We arrived at high tide, took photos, ate ice cream and played on the equipment, well Hunter did, I just said "Good one!" "Go for it!" and such and walked Mortie around. Then at 2:00 in the afternoon we headed down and walked the length of the beach admiring the flower pot formations. The picture of me was taken by Hunter, otherwise I don't usually get to appear in my blog much.