Saturday, May 24, 2008

Things a writer wishes she knew at the beginning of her career

This weekend May 23 to 26 is The Writers' Union of Canada general meeting and I went to a workshop
entitled "Everything I wanted to know at the beginning of my career". There were a few interesting things that came out.
How at the start Nino Ricci's creative writing instructor W.O. Mitchell thought he should quit. Nino actually grew more determined.Another speaker said that you might have a great story inside you but you really needed to hone your craft.
Paul Quarrington spoke about how arbitrary awards were. So awards now act as reviews used to--if you don't win or shortlist
your book gets pulled from the shelf after a couple of months. And yet these same career building or killing awards are handed out with a fair bit of randomness. He also talked about humility and how you always found yourself next to a writer with a long line up of fans while you yourself had none or few, or how you had readings or signings where no one turned up except the librarians or booksellers.

I think what's humbling is when a writer starts out way after you and suddenly vaults to the top. Writing is subjective so everyone can say, well that writer's better and so deserves the quick rise. But I think we all have to accept that for whatever laws of the universe sometimes you're not the flavour of the month and, point of fact, sometimes you never will be. Despite whatever promotion you do or how hard you work. Another amazing truisim, to me anyway, is that I work just as hard at a book that gets rejected as one that wins an award.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Atikoken Trip

I regret that while in schools, I rarely take photos. It takes someone else to suggest it and then I hand over my camera.
So while I really enjoyed the students at St. Partircks, North Star Community School and Atikoken Highschool, the only images I took with on computer were of the cemetary headstones and the Little Falls there. It was a great day for a walk and the seagulls were calling with all different sounds. "Ow, Ow, Ow!" one of them screamed. The headstone reminded me of the one on the cover of Grave Secrets, my ghost mystery novel. I especially enjoyed meeting the young writers Alicia and Chris. Hope I read them some day.

The photo of the lake shows the Sleeping Giant. from Prince Arthur Hotel in Thunderbay. I bought some amethysists, the purple stone mined here, and some Persian donuts: cinnamon buns with strawberry icing that are Thunderbay's trademark pastry.

At Thunderbay I visited a school and visited with one of my favourite librarians Angela Meady. If you want to listen view our interview, visit:

Sudbury tour

Best week ever in Sudbury. Algonquin Public hosted a great young author's day complete with television and media coverage. I spent a lovely day at Warren Public with just a handful of writers, see the photo. CR Judd, AB Ellis and Valleyfield all showed me great hospitality and enthusiasm. With the younger readers, I shared Slam Dunk Robot, a short grade two novel set right in Sudbury mostly at Science North.

Fun in Saskatchewan

After visiting schools, we enjoyed the long drives back to Regina. We stopped in Corner Gas Land (Dog River=Rouleau) and bought some souvenirs. We also stopped to just enjoy an old ghost farm complete with this great tractor.

On the way to Macoun

Touring schools around Estevan, I really enjoyed myself but we were never quite sure how long a drive would take--especially when there was a train derailment. It all worked well and I loved meeting the kids in Estevan and Macoun.

Swift Current Library

At work with my new readers in Swift Current--well, actually we're chowing down on some great homemade cookies, discussing writing and life in general. It's such a privilege to be able to travel and talk about what I like best, writing. Whenever one my student audience asks what made you want to be a writer, I'm always a little dumfounded. Like what other job is as good as this?

Why everyone should want to be a writer

When people think research, they may think of hoisting heavy encyclopedia volumes to a library table and leafing through the tiny print pages for information. Here is the best part of research. I needed to finish book five in my Norwegian and Swedish Series Et Vilt Liv and just to make sure things were exactly as I described them, my husband and I booked a helicopter ride.
It was everything I expected and less sickening in terms of motion than a small plane. Everyone should save for one ride in his or her lifetime. We also rented skis and took advantage of the great quantity and quality of snow for April. The trail was as wide as a six lane highway. Terrific fun!

The big surprise was hiking the ice canyon. We didn't know enough to rent crampons so at times where we needed to hike up hill or slide downhill, we crawled on all fours. Still I found the perfect location for my main character Zanna to be stranded.

On the road again...

This is a catchup blog from the first week of April. Invited to speak at the Saskatchewan Reading Conference, I decided to add a few days to my trip and tour schools in the area but first a little detour to Canmore for some research and vacation. While we were driving across the prairie I was once again astounded by the big blue sky and the way a train snaked across the entire golden horizon. It was my turn to drive when I took this shot. A plane had just carved a white scratch into the sky but I couldn't quite capture that.