Friday, December 17, 2010

Mortie's Wild Dog Party




Am I trapped in a Linda Bailey picture book? After icing the yule log, I gave Mortie a bath in preparation for his party. That's right, HIS party. We were invited to Pawsway Appreciation Night.
As part of my other job, features' editor for Today's Parent Toronto, he had joined me for the opening of the Pet Discovery Centre at the Harbourfront. He generated more press interest than any of my novels.




We were on television
together and in the newspapers.

Three years later, he had to look his best for a return visit. After his towel-off, he hid under the bed and refused to come out. I used my stern voice. "You have to look good. They'll probably take your picture again," I explained as I brushed him.

Talk to the paw. Mortie was not happy with me. After a tedious drive downtown, though Mortie forgave me. And yes the press trained their cameras on him again.

He loved meeting the other dogs. His tail hardly stopped wagging. Except for some reason he took a dislike to Sasha the Malmut. Maybe he was jealous of his Santa coat. Although there were plenty of water dishes around and lots of human treats, Pawsway forgot the dog snacks.

I felt a bit guilty sneaking Mortie bits of my grilled cheese and pear sandwich. As for the "So you think you can dance competition" I think Mortie could do just as well as the dog dancers. He has just as good a sense of rhythm and responds equally well to the rattle of the treat bag.

Maybe next year.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kids in the Hall



Real writers can work anywhere. Proof positive are these students from Brier Park School in Brantford. The signal from the router couldn't get through to the computer lab/stage although the thunder of the basketballs could. So we tried in the hall. Sometimes when I squatted down to help them, I wasn't entirely sure I could get up again. But I did and we had a great week.
On the final day we celebrated by reading poems and stories and acting out skits in front of keen parents.

This will be the last school visit for 2010 and it was a terrific way to end the year. Congratulations to Mrs Genge, Mr. Sturgeon and Mrs. Coulis for hosting it.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The School Where Revenge on the Fly Actually Takes Place

This week I visited Central Public Junior School
in Hamilton to perform my writing workshop.
I also read to them from Revenge on the Fly, a story about 12 year old William Alton, an Irish boy who emigrates to Canada in 1912 and ends up participating in the Hamilton Spectator Fly Catching Contest in order to avenge the deaths of his mother and sister. This story takes place at Central Public. Yes it's a very old school.

I love reading to the kids anyway, gives me a break from yelling at them. Just kidding. But think they enjoyed having a story set at their schoo.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Meeting a Famous Author


Working with 50 grade 7 students in the morning and 40 grade 8s in the afternoon proved no greater challenge than working with 30 kids at a time. Except when it came to one on one editing, that went out the computer screen since we had to divide the groups into two to type up their stories and poems.

Also my training as writer in electronic residence helped as I needed to read 90 stories in one night. Okay and my SRA training in grade 4 (speed reading for content but the initials stand for Scientific Research Associates).

In my last Artist in Education Stint, one of the teachers suggested I include more physical movement in the workshops so that's my new challenge. Instead of passing around stories, the students now need to get up and shift seats. If I could get taller desks, they could walk on the spot while writing the way Art Slade and the other treadhead writers do.

The first challenge is always getting students to write on task when they're in such a social atmosphere. Next time I must try playing classical music to blanket over ambient noise.

I miss the kids at St. Joseph School in Acton.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beauty Returns--Book Trailer Part Deux

Readers would probably be shocked at how much research goes into a work of fiction. When I wrote A Different Kind of Beauty and Beauty Returns, I needed to get into the head of a blind 16 year old boy so I interviewed some blind people. I hate the way that sounds and could write instead "visually challenged" or something else but it would all suggest that I'm interviewing the handicap instead of the person. And it's the people details in which a writer is really interested.

I met Angela Wice and she helped shape Kyle immensely by sharing the sounds, smells and feelings along the path of losing losing your sight and then somehow gaining a new vision.( for example she let me test my bloodsugar level exactly the way diabetic Kyle would.( I became a regular at her coffee house where musicians often visited to showcase new work. I became a fan.

When I write stories, I know I need music in my character's lives but can't really afford the time or money to purchase rights to songs. I believe after seven words of a quoted song you need to get permission. So I write caricatures of songs. They're shorter with bits of verses and minimal refrain so that a book reader gets a sense of the music but doesn't get bored.

Kyle's Lullabye in Beauty Returns is one that Angela helped me develop into a real song. I have sung it at the OLA launch of the story and at various author visits (one in a grade 9 prison).

Angela consented to sing it for the book trailer and my son Craig filmed it yesterday. The moment the first note left her mouth I felt so touched. A creation of mine had reached a new tangible level for me.

More poignant too because Craig and Eireann's baby Violet was there and cooed all the way through it. I also loved how three artforms were cooperating to produce something totally different. It will be awhile till Craig can put this all together. His daytime job at Emotion Pictures keeps him busy and I know he cherishes his family life in the hours he has left. But I also know it will be a masterpiece t.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Author Visit to Clarington Library

First a two hour drive on a clear sunny day with no traffic at all. A good omen. Then at noon an interview with a journalism student, Nancy Ellis. Her story on me counts for 25% of her final grade, a replacement for a midterm. No pressure. She has to tape the interview.

I do this a lot with younger kids usually. No one's ever gotten lower than a B, no worries Nancy.

Hurray for Laura Martin, the hospitable librarian who hooks me up with a large cup of butter pecan coffee and a private room for the interview. Sample question: best advice someone's ever given me on writing. Best is such a hard judgemental word. Recently we had Vicki Grant speak at CANSCAIP and she said something about her best ideas being very close to her worst ideas.
That resonated with me. What about the best advice I can give a young writer. Explore your likes and dislikes and find yourself. Then connect what you find to your work. That goes for all young people not just writers.

Nancy can't stay for the talk which is in the adjoining city hall chambers. Gorgeous like a techno courtroom. The two techies provided to me swore off on my Mac--although helped get me some sound to my trailer.

Three classes of Grade 8s from Vincent Massey sat on two levels facing me. They are terrific. I would guess there are some good writers in the crowd judging from their thoughtful participation. Plus I have some superb actors perform my scene from Last Chance for Paris. Appropriate aws for cute puppy shots.

We all had a good time. I enjoyed a visit with Laura who previous hailed from a Manhatten Library. Then she gave me a souvenir library bag and pen.

Now what would make this all perfect would be to hear that Vincent Massey will now read my books and that Nancy goes on to earn an A+ and quotes me to future writers.


Teachers grabbed some writing tip sheets and the kids hiked back with them to school.

I drove off into the rushhour traffic.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Filming the trailer for the Beauty Series

Why film a trailer for a series of books that has already been out for awhile? Does a book have any value once it's off the boxstore bookshelf?

Certainly in the past, kids' books had a shelf life of over ten years. Of course most bookstores don't have enough shelves. But now everyone can order online. Why did I want a trailer?
Because it's fun for me to put some creative energy into a project this way and I like working with my kids.
Here's my son filming random shots of dogs who resemble Beauty 1, the black Lab, Beauty 2, the Chocolate Lab (he will actually be played by Buster, Beauty's real brother) and Magic, played by Grand Torino. When I asked his owner for permission to film him, she told me she had read Bringing Up Beauty in grade 6 and in grade 7 had started fostering guide dogs with her family as a result. When I wrote that Buster was Beauty's real brother, you probably thought "hey Beauty is a fictional dog." However, his foster owner is also a fan of the Beauty series and she's raised several dogs for Canine Vision Canada. The last dog was born into a B litter, meaning the pups all get names starting with B. For the first time she was able to have her own Beauty she told me.

And Beauty sent me a Christmas card. Does a book have any value once it's off the boxstore bookshelves? Of course it does.



Monday, October 11, 2010

Shooting Covers for Dying to Go Viral


Last Tuesday Dying to Go Viral sold to my favourite publisher in Norway, Sweden and Finland. Hurray!
After a few cover attempts failed for the Canadian publisher, my husband Bob shot the cover for Last Chance for Paris. Turned out to be my favourite cover of all time. This time I thought
I would try to give him first crack. My niece Kelly is the perfect age to play the 14 year old character Jade who dies in the first chapter when she "skitches" on a Mustang while riding her skateboard. Of course for the shoot, we couldn't have the Mustang driving. Then we'd be as stupid as the boy who attempts to capture this video for youtube in the story. So the car is parked and we hope for the designer to add the illusion of movement.

I like to get more creatively involved with my books. I'm an idea person so I can write good copy for back blurbs, I took scriptwriting for a year so I can envision and write scripts for booktrailers and I work at a magazine part time so I can think of how I'd like a cover to look at least conceptually. The actual colours and design, well really that's up to the visual professionals. But I also like to stretch creatively using the talents of my family. Traditionally publishers don't like authors to suggest or submit illustrations. And they may not like us submitting potential photos. But who knows maybe they will love it. For more photos of the skateboarding cover shots, see this url
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcnicollphotography/sets/72157625009561933/show/

Last Chance for Paris--the book trailer

video It occurs to me that while I posed some photos of the filming of the video, I never posted the finished product. My son did the shooting and editing. He's a talented videograper/editor who works for Emotion Pictures.

Will everyone buy a second and third copy of Last Chance for Paris? Maybe not. But my family working together creatively makes me happy. In the meantime, the autographed book is available at A Different Drummer's on Locust Street in Burlington.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Writing Lakeshore Public School

Wednesday is dialogue day. Middle of the week, by now students might be tired of writing stories. They've done description and character so they need something light and fun. So I get them to write scripts and act them out. The grade 5/6s at Lakeshore were great script writers and wonderful actors. We laughed a lot and had a great time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Seven reasons not to vanity google

While trying to find a good Internet address to send people to view my Last Chance for Paris trailer, I inexplicably became hooked into reading about myself, this entailed googling my own name in quotation marks: "Sylvia McNicoll"

The results weren't pretty. First of all I discovered that on Boomer Counter they had a tribute already for me in case I died. On the good side, the content providers insisted I was still alive.

Then I saw that there was another Sylvia McNicoll in Edinburough Scotland who had a somewhat lascivious photo of herself up on some social network site.

I discovered that a young person was reading Last Chance for Paris but she added (HORRIBLE) immediately following the title. Why does she read a book she thinks is horrible? Conclusion:
it must be a novel study for school which could be good, I suppose.

I read the title of an article I'd written for Today's Parent Toronto with no stars beside it as no one had rated it. Not true, by the way, as I'd rustled up 20 some close friends to give it a full five star rating.

My blog entry about Exercising Creativity had been counterfeited over to an exercise machine site. Yeah, yeah they violated my rights. But who really knows what I signed in order to have this free blog site? Does anyone read those pages of small print that we have to check off
before using a program? Should I hire a lawyer and blow all my royalties for the last few years?

There is a page out there that says I wrote The Snow Queen published by Tundra. Ken Setterington actually wrote it. This reminded me of how I was once hired by a school to do an author visit based on a book I also never wrote (There's a Cow in the Swimming Pool) by Martyn Godfrey.

I found out a lot of other stuff like Grave Secrets is out in Braille.

Some teachers were discussing whether to use Walking a Thin Line as a novel study for grade six. It's been out of print so long, I know there are no royalties in it for me.

Also that you could have Google translate the sites about yourself in other languages, Norwegian and Chinese in my case. Surprising how many countries seem to want to sell my books on some version of ebay.

The best reason not to Google yourself is that it took up a couple of hours of time that could have been spent reading a good book.

Oh and that tribute about me? All it says is: "Sylvia McNicoll is a Canadian children's writer who lives in Burlington." So I'm relying on all my good friends, a lot of whom are writers, to make sure that at least they get the tense right in my obit.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Filming the trailer of Last Chance for Paris

It's always fun when the McNicolls + Filipowiczs get creative together. Here we all return to Lowville Park to film the trailer of Last Chance for Paris. While my husband Bob and I have travelled over eight times to Alberta to research the series, the cover photo for the novel was shot at Lowville by Bob due to time and budgetary issues. The model with , what a cooincidence, the same tatoo as my main character Zanna, daughter Robin posed wading into the stream. In the book she falls in the icy rapids and tumbles down the stream. Here we try to re-enact the cover moment. Craig McNicoll, videographer and video editor supreme for Emotion Pictures, donated his time and skills to the event.

Robin looks like she's way too happy being buffeted by the currents in the shot. Afterwards the crew discusses whether the splash sounded loud enough or whether we should make Robin fall again and again.



Monday, June 28, 2010

Exercising Creativity



This wasn't my idea. As far as I know Arthur Slade (author of The Hunchback Assignments) first started the trend and I wanted to get on board immediately. Only treadmills cost money and Arthur is ten years younger than I am. But then Gillian Chan (author of The Turning) appeared on CBC also using a treadmill while writing. She's the same age as I am and has similar joint issues.

Coincidentally Canadian Tire had a sale offering about 50% off on a Temp 621 T which I knew would work as Art had done all the research on the model. It also had the 90 degree handles required to mount a shelf/desk.

Still it took me a week of agonizing to decide. The day I went to purchase the treadmill, to my horror the sale was over. A more expensive model without the right handles was on sale instead. I used my persuasive language (begging and whining) and got them to sell me the Tempo at the past due price.

Then I borrowed a truck from Gisela Sherman (author of Grave Secrets)

My husband took the day to put it together. The screws are hard to fit properly. He bungee corded the shelf to the treadmill.

It's only been a week, but I love it. Even if I don't lose weight, I think it keeps me more alert and certainly I'm getting more exercise. I usually walk my Jackapoo Mortie about 5 times a day. I know what you're thinking. But Mortie can't have a treadmill of his own unless he starts writing books too.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Digital Camera--my favourite writing tool

For Today's Parent Toronto, I was invited to a photo tutorial at Riverdale and then given the camera to keep! Hurray! These two photos are taken on my year old Sony. I love digitals for taking notes on fiction and non fiction projects. Helps my description immensely. I take photos of food,menus, and decor, for restaurant reviews. It's my visual memory.

I went mostly because I'd never been to Riverdale Farm before. I've written about it which always feels slightly fraudulent. We were encouraged to bring a child-subject so three year old William and I were off on an adventure.

Negin Sairafi gave us tips on the features of our new Kodak plus general hints in exporing our photographic creativity. I enjoyed the tutorial very much.

I loved the animals and the idea that here was this green and organic oasis in the middle of the hustle bustle city. I would post a lot more photos of horses and goat and donkey bottoms (that's how they faced us) except I accidentally deleted ALL instead of PICTURE. Maybe Kodak makes it too easy?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Recouping from the holiday.

The first few days back from Alaska and in between blowing my nose from an airplane cold, I wrote like crazy trying to sort out the sites of Toronto. I checked websites, talked to people, looked over event calendars, asked Today's Parent people for some KidSummer sites, double checked neighborhoods and hours and prices, cut hours and prices because of space issues.
Readers don't realize how much work is behind an article, sadly publishers don't either. You only see the end result, you don't see the mass of info that got sculpted into a slant.

Now I feel better and I'm onto writing a feature on Art Slade. It's how I began my published career, writing about authors. First off I'm rereading as many of his books as I can get my hands on. A joy, really, no problem there. I'm also reading everything written on him. I've already been to one of his presentations with kids at a school in Newmarket, I've also seen him speak at launch and interact with a fan. Friday I will skype with him. I present in Saskatchewan all the time but just not conveniently in time for this piece. I'll meet his new daughter( just arrived from China ) on a computer screen.

Then will come the hard part, sculpting it all into a slant. Watch for it in the Canadian Children's Book Centre Magazine.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Back from Alaska

No internet for me on the Coral Princess, well I did pay for 15 minutes to wish my son a happy birthday but otherwise I un-addicted myself. It helped that I forgot my camera-downloading cord at home. I hate blogging without an image. The surprise gift on the cruise was an upgrade to balcony which meant not stop beauty from my bedroom window. Listening to silence as we drifted through Glacier Bay was inspiring and eerie. Immediately below is a small iceberg broken from Mendenhall Glacier a short shuttle ride from Juneau. Incredibly I heard an explosion and actually saw one break off while I was standing there. Next are views from the boat of Glacier Bay and from my window of Whittier. Last is a snapshot of Denali Mountain. It needs to be a bright clear day for the highest peak in North America to appear. We had perfect weather. Over so quick, like a dream.



Sunday, May 09, 2010

On the trail of the Feature

I inherited a "staycation" feature from my fellow editor who became too busy. I love Toronto and always feel I should get to know it better so I started off on Harry the Hippo, an amphibious bus tour. Leanne, the tour guide, gave random trivia about Toronto like that the Royal Bank Building has $90 worth of gold dust in every window. No wonder bank charges are so high! The cool factor of course was when Harry splashed into the water off Ontario Place

We were pretty cold after our hour and a half tour, mainly 'cause we unsnapped the windows over the lake. After a hot soup, we headed to Harbourfront for a coffee with the dogs at the Pet Discovery Centre (Pawsway). Always fun to meet with animal people. No chihuauas in mini skirts today.

Then we headed for the AGO. Absolutely awesome in the true sense of the word. In the wooden atrium, there is a massive (sculpted )palm tree on its side, complete with roots. The exhibit is called palm Sunday. We also checked out the whimsical Bata Shoe Museum. I tried on some Elton John type shoes. We finished with the longest streetcar ride in the world ending in the Beach.

A great day. I have a bunch more museums to try to squeeze in before my trip to Vancouver and Alaska. Then the irony will be writing about a staycation while away on an cruise-cation.



Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Mining for Magazine Stories

My writing job consists of three parts, one: writing novels which I consider the main part, two:talking about writing with students, there by exciting them to read and write and three: writing and editing for Today's Parent Toronto. All of these jobs crisscross in lots of fun ways.
I visited Science North while I was teaching at Alexander Public School a couple of years ago with the idea of writing a travel feature on Sudbury and their great museums and instead wrote Slam Dunk Robot, a piece of fiction for grade twos, set in Science North.

So on the way home from Timmins and the highschool art day, I stopped in Sudbury to shorten the drive and meet up with other writers and storytellers Aubrey Davis and Bernice Hume to give them a lift home. To pass the time waiting till they were done their readings, I visited Dynamic Earth and Science North on a complimentary pass they so graciously granted me.

I used to feel guilty about asking for these when I didn't know whether the visits would lead directly into a marketable piece of writing that would get them more visitors. Now I realize you can never tell where an idea will come from or what kind of story will evolve from it and so everyone shares in the gamble and process.

Violet's Celebration

On April 24th Gisela Sherman (another great writer and good friend) hosted a welcoming celebration for my new grandaughter Violet Vivien McNicoll. Because the ladies who came seemed so much like fairy godmothers to Violet, I asked them each to write out their wishes for her, hoping that no 13th fairy would show. Now there is at least one wish missing so I hope that "fairy" will write me theirs so it is not lost for all time. Also the painting wish needs to be identified.

Because most of the attendants were writers, their take on the assignment varied. Here are their wishes:


Cathy Miyata: Expensive jewellery, opals and diamonds (I asked for specifics and this one is so juicey and decadent, it's perfect


Grandmama Maureen: In your search to find love I hope, just like Mom and Dad you find it in an easy and obvious place. (This wish refers to the fact that Erin, Violet's mom, and Craig, her dad and my son, saw each other a long time before actively seeing each other, if you know what I mean. Erin is Jennifer, Craig's sister's best friend. Complicated but they found love through family and friendship. A lovely wish.

I wish for Violet to have extreme skills in breakdancing and to be fluent in Mandarin. Auntie Robin

I wish for Violet to become an awesome Karaoke Diva Auntie Jen.

May your favourite colour be violet and may you use it in all your paintings.(I think this is Becca's)

May you enjoy the company of many siblings and cousins.(This one's mine and I made it because every Friday we have large family dinner gatherings that are loud, messy and hopefully fun for Violet. )

Vivacious

Intelligent

Outstanding

Love

Elegant

Ticklish Acrostic poem by Estelle Salata and her daughter Paula

I hope you read 11,000 great books! (including mineJ Gisela

We wish for you the ability to time travel and meet all the great McNicolls of the past. Jane and Wendy McNicoll (I agree with the sentiment behind this one. There are people who have passed on to a different leg of the journey who would have loved to meet Violet and give her their good wishes)


Friday, April 30, 2010

Arts Day at Timmins High

It starts with the whole school playing frozen tag when Oh Canada broadcasts over the intercom. The arts day presenters get introduced in the theatre room by an enthusiastic drama student. Then I head for the conference room and present, over the course of the day, to four grade 9 and 10 students, some gifted, some improv, some so bored with life that eyerolling is their only exercise. They can pretend they don't like it but I know they did. "You can't say you don't know, there are no wrong or right answers," I tell them. "You should say instead 'I need a moment to consider your question'" . In my mind I figure I've given them at least one lifeskill to use in the all important job interview.

It's amazing how alive some of their words can become with some coaching. The last group became way more willing to share their work once the cool kid decided he would read his romantic poem aloud in order to win a juice box. The Juice Box Writing Competition was on.
I do love working with this age group. Not a lot of warm fuzzies like with the younger groups, the rewards are much more subtle.

Making writing "Apeeling" at Clarksdale

How do you start a book? Where do you get your ideas? Bah! It's the flashing curser and nothing-happening moments that create the real problems in writing sometimes.
Here I demonstrate how I insert day to day real life in my stories. My grandmother used cucumber peels as a facial mask on her kids. My mother put them on our faces. I did on my kids, and then on my character Elizabeth in Bringing Up Beauty and now of course on volunteers in writing presentations. What does it look like, smell like, feel like...and click, click,click (pores closing under the cool sensation) sound like? Here I am at Clarksdale, getting a volunteer writer to peel the cucumber and another to describe the experience. Ahh writing!
Aww kids!


Monday, April 12, 2010

Charles R. Beaudoin--The Burrow

This was my final Artist in Education stint for this school year. The gifted grade 5s reside in a portable at the back far away from the school. No wonder they call it the Burrow and have renamed themselves after Harry Potter characters. This is a photo of script day because my camera battery died on our end of the session celebration. For that many parents came and enjoyed poetry and story readings as well as a few scripts acted out. Hurray for the students and Jennifer Reid, their teacher. It was a wonderful sendoff for this year!

Schoolbus driver

For years my husband Bob worked as an IT manager. Say what? No one ever understood what he did, especially the kids. Now he works parttime as a schoolbus driver while he pursues his passion of photography. Both are things our descendants, kids and grandkids enjoy and understand. Here's William and The Driver, as well as William with his mom enjoying the school bus.

Our Newest McNicoll

Sometimes I wonder about posting family events in amongst writing process but, really, in my career it's so integral. Here is my new granddaughter Violet Vivien McNicoll born April 1. She may be fourth in line to the throne, if we had one, but she is every bit as special to me. I have attended too many funerals of both young and old to take for granted healthy, happy children or parents for that matter. And while I always seem to write about the end of the human cycle, I am overjoyed at the beginning of this one. Of course some aspect of Violet's birth or life will end up in a story. My readers just have to watch for it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Halton Oakville Speech Contest

Last night I acted as a judge for a speech contest. The students spoke on topics such as volunteering, smiling, technology, epilepsy, miracles, child labour,Emilia Erhart, positive attitude--okay that accounts for nine of 15 of them--volunteering was tackled twice.

I sat at the back of the room and had to watch for eye contact (do they even have eyes, next time I'm bringing binoculars) and check for a whole list of things including correct use of language, logic and devolopment of topic etc (I was given a ruberik). Whenever I hear that word I'm worried I'll have to move coloured squares into the right position.

The problem, of course, was this 15 students were all winners from their own schools so they were masters. You couldn't eliminate anyone for obvious errors such as mistiming or reading her/his entire speech.

Whenever I judge a contest, whether it's for writing, plays or speeches, I hope that someone stands out as the best because really, many are very good. And in this case so did the other two judges, really nice people--an Oakville city councilor and a consultant for the board--can't find their names in my notes right now.

Here's our unanimous vote for winner: Sabrina Freeas. She spoke on Child Labour and actually gave out brands that employ it. Lucky I can't afford those brands anyway. I wonder if we should all just sew.

Congratulations to Sabrina and Halton Separate Schools for hosting such worthwhile activities.



Coming up with ideas is hard-Charles R. Beaudoin School

This is a shot of the grade 5 gifted class at Charles R. Beaudoin. They are my last students for this year's Ontario Artist in Education stint and for each of the six weeks I essentially taught the same thing in various degrees of intensity depending on abilities. This could get boring after a while except for the kids. They're all so different. These students like to offer up random interesting facts much like my adult writing friends do. Sometimes they're all over the place with their thoughts and things, pencils, paper etc. Just like me. So I feel at home with them.

So far my favourite comment has been "This isn't as easy as it looks," from a boy who was trying to come up with his license plate motto. So true about coming up with any idea or writing in general.

March Break

Besides rewriting Death on YouTube till it was Dying to Go Viral and recovering from a cold, I spent March break recovering from a cold and hanging with my favourite people, the grandchildren. What did we do? Well, one hillarious passtime was spinning until Omi wanted to hurl or until you dropped. See the first shot. Jadzia has already dropped but even Mortie the Jackapoo enjoyed the challenge.

Of course we read together. I love the shot of Hunter and William reading together. Wish I could say they were entranced by one of my Canadian friends' writing. But no, it's Captain Underpants.

Thirdly we had great weather and went to Crawford Lake. Hunter loved the aboriginal stuff he saw on his trip with his grade three class. He's making cornbread with a gang of volunteers here. We also went to Bronte Creek twice and ate maple candy. A great holiday all around.