Thursday, May 10, 2012

Writers' Cafe Teen Fiction - Hillfield Strathallan

It was an evening of dimmed lights, fine literature and Nanimo Bars.  My favourite young writers Brandon, Kieran, Alexandra, Karishma, Holly, Ally, Darius, Kylie, Ben and Isabella read the stories they had created over my term as writer-in -residence at Hillfield Strathallan College.  Horror, thriller, spy, fantasy, adventure, speculative fiction, not one of them was alike.  I emceed with a few toes in my mouth mispronouncing and mixing up names.  I hate that because I feel like they shared their souls with me.  But unfortunately their souls registered as stories without  the names and faces attached. I've worked electronically with students many times over the years but that's always been a problem.  Next online project I'll see if technology can remedy that.

photos attached to the projects.  Or Skype a bit in between.  

Still it was a wonderful evening of celebration.  I couldn't take pictures as the writers presented, I think that would have made them nervous, so I post the before-cafe-mingle shot and the photo of the flowers and book darts presented to me afterwards.  I'm a big killer of plants and loser of bookmarks.  For the shot I taped one daisy neck to help it hold up its head.  The book darts are intriguing as I can use them to mark reading spots without having them fall out.  But it was the wonderful readings that I will remember and the one on ones I had with the talented students.Thank you Mrs. Niebart and Hillfield Teen Fiction writers.  Keep reading and writing.

ps  Sorry that Gabby Lamay couldn't read her brilliant and funny story "Brief Rescue."  A plane crash and lucky underwear, you try to figure out how they go together.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Mail Someone a Book

The other day I received a book in the mail.  I'm writing a profile on the author for Canadian Children's Book News and this was the quickest best way to get hold of her novel. Mailing involves wrapping and costs so I tried to spare  Gillian O'Reilly the ordeal by mentioning our next get together.  It didn't work out. 
Sneak preview of the author being profiled in the fall Canadian Children's Book News

When I received the package in the mail, a) I was delighted with receiving something that wasn't a bill directed to me, b) I loved opening a parcel with a book.  It reminded me of the time I sent my nephew a couple of books special delivery.  It's not that books thrill him but I heard from his mom how much the special delivery parcel surprised and thrilled him.

This morning I packaged up 12 Tiger Catcher's Kids for a school near Ottawa.  I recycled a German Book Club box used to send me my copies of Jades Zweites Leben.  I nearly duct taped myself to the box and now I'll have to make the trip to the postoffice which doesn't allow dogs so what's the point in walking there.

12 Tiger Catcher's Kids almost fit neatly inside
Still.  I'm suggesting you all take the time to mail a book to a special person in your life, could be for Mother's Day or just because.  For children especially getting snail mail is becoming rarer, and a parcel with a special book could be the very thing that launches them on a love affair.

Monday, May 07, 2012

End of the little red engine, welcome MacBookAir

My MacBook had a jaunty red cover that inspired many "cool" comments from students
A friend asked me how you could tell if your computer was "going" on you.  In the past it's been, after you've spilled the coffee, coke or cleaner into the keyboard and/or when the computer just won't start any more.  This time it was a way more difficult task.  I loved my Macbook, I wrote at least ten books on it and edited and created hundreds of magazine articles, not to mention power points and speeches. I felt it had grown to be a part of my body.

You buy a computer and everyone tells you for writing you won't need much.  
But then you start loading on photographs, creating slide shows and movies and suddenly you need a lot more.   My MacBook began spinning coloured wheels a lot, chugging slower and slower. There were a few dread moments in front of grade 7s and 8s when I needed to reboot and the wheel just kept spinning. That would have been last year.

 I decided to replace it
Then my youngest announced plans for a destination wedding and spending the money on airline tickets became the best investment I've ever made. Armed with an external hard drive as extra storage, I would shoot for one more year with spinning coloured wheels. More frequently there were files I couldn't open and my operating system couldn't handle the new ACE storage opportunity which I was dying to try.  Of course a new updated system required more space on my computer.  Space it couldn't give me.

 A few weeks ago the little red engine that could proclaimed itself totally full, no room to save or operate anymore and I desperately unloaded every image I could to get it running.  Of course this means my book trailer is missing from my power point and lots of other inconveniences yet to be discovered.

I  decided to replace the computer again.  

A writer does nothing if not research.  The delicious agony of visiting the Apple Store, lifting computers and asking questions.  Because I had enjoyed a trouble free five years with my red machine, I was going Mac again rather than PC.  I searched Twitter and dragged my feet waiting for more updates.  Finally I thought I decided on a Powerbook, looking forward to a backlit keyboard as my only real change. (I love to write in the car at night when my husband drives.  Or in airplanes.  But when it's dark, you have to tilt your screen forward to light up the keyboard.) Then my son in law sent me articles on MacBook Air.   Another visit to the Apple Store.
Finally I bought the 13" MacBook Air (as in lighter than air)complete with one to one service.
Thanks Mom.
This means I go to computer classes whenever I want.  Yesterday  I learned about Mission Control and how to add another desktop.  Today I learn about iMovies.

I say goodbye to my red machine as my husband empties, cleans and creates a Montreal Canadien's screensaver for it. We've exchanged a red cover for a black.  Today  I turn it over to my hockey loving grandson Hunter for his 11th birthday.  May it chug on to create a million more projects.