Wednesday, June 22, 2011

After Dinner, The Gaggle Sisters River Tour by Chris Jackson on Father's Day

This was intended as a Father's Day read.  Craig McNicoll read The Gaggle Sisters River Tour , by Chris Jackson, to his baby girl, Violet on the deck.  But then his wife continued out loud while we were waiting for dessert. Eireann drew a crowd, all the grandchildren plus one adult squeezed around to hear the compelling story of two geese sisters, Dorothy and Sadie and their sail down Wriggle River.

These are computer kids, even two year old Jadzia knows how to operate a mouse and loves to watch a good YouTube still when Eireann read out loud, they all listened.

Monday, June 20, 2011

On a Garden Swing on the Deck, Karleen Bradford reads This Body of Death

Karleen Bradford, author of A Desperate Road to Freedom, the Underground Railroad Diary of Julia May Jackson, Scholastic Canada is my guest reader/blogger today.  I'll have to read that one.  The Dear Canada books come with their own ribbon bookmark which is wonderful because no matter how many bookmarks I own, I never have one at the right time. My favourite story of Karleen's'  is The Other Elizabeth which I'm desperately waiting to get on my ereader sometime this summer.  Currently, Karleen is writing another Dear Canada.  Well, ahem, ahem, currently she is reading.

I’ve been on vacation, so have been indulging in my favourite holiday reading: mysteries. The one I’ve just finished is This Body of Death, by Elizabeth George. It’s a long book—873 pages—and densely plotted. The kind of book you can only really read when on vacation because there’s no way you can put it down to do mundane things like make dinner or do the laundry. When I finished it, I sat and thought for a long time about how Elizabeth George developed that dense and complex plot. How she kept the story moving and the reader’s interest high. At the end of the book there was a blurb for a non-fiction book of hers, Write Away: One Novelist’s Approach to Fiction and the Writing Life. I decided to order it and find out how she did it. That’s what I’m reading now and I’m finding it interesting and instructive. There’s always something new to learn about the art and craft of writing, there are always problems that we all share.
One thing that she brought out is how she works on the development of her characters before she begins to work on plot, then the characters show her the plot. Not the way I would have thought a mystery writer would work, but very intriguing. I have had the germ of an idea for a mystery running around in my head for a long time, but not ever having written one, I was at a loss as to how to tackle it. I think I will follow her advice and just do some work on the characters—their problems, their motivations, their fears—and see if they can show me the way into my story.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Guest Reader: By her Garden Pond Gisela Sherman Reads The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Let me just introduce my guest reader/blogger today.  You have to run to the library and get King of the ClassSnake in the Toilet, or my personal favourite Grave Danger,  Gisela Tobien Sherman wrote those.
One of the things you might not know about Gisela is that, besides being able to bring words to life, she can coax herbs, vegetables, flowers and trees into a much richer more colourful life.  If you step into her lush green garden you will hear the water babbling, too.  Ahhh!  Here's what she says about where and what she's reading:

In my garden, with pond and flowers, reading The Lacuna. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favourite authors. Her use of language is brilliant and beautiful. Loved her Poisonwood Bible, and especially Prodigal Summer.  Lacuna's first chapter was a work of art. The book was a bit harder to get into than her others, but ended up fascinating me. It wove the lives of the fictitious writer Harrison Shepherd, with artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, the final days of Leon Trotsky in Mexico and his betrayal by Stalin, and showed how easily a life could be destroyed in the McCarthy Era. So many gems of wisdom and perception. "Don't just listen to what someone says, pay attention to what is left out," has stayed with me.