Thursday, August 27, 2015

My "Staycation" Summer

For the most part, I've had a "staycation" kind of summer (who invented that word anyway???). Other than a trip to the west coast of Vancouver Island in early July, I have been firmly planted at home.

It's not that I didn't want to go somewhere — I would have happily visited Haida Gwaii, the Great Bear Rainforest, Desolation Sound, the Saskatchewan prairies where I was born, or even Newfoundland! All of these places have great appeal for me.

It's just that the sun was shining brightly in our fair city, the sidewalk patios by the ocean were inviting, the garden was in full bloom, and visitors were arriving in town to see us. So, it became a summer at home.

Added to the list of reasons to stay put were a series of small but necessary projects including: updating my website, writing a teacher's guide for my latest book and re-organizing my computer's filing system.

But there is satisfaction in getting these jobs done and looking forward to the fall where I will spend most of my time (I hope) writing something new. I have cleared the decks! No excuses now.

And with thanks to my dad, who is also a writer, here are two great quotes. The first is from C.S. Forester, who penned The African Queen and many other titles. He said, "A man who writes for a living does not have to go anywhere in particular, and he could rarely afford to if he wanted."

And the second quote (again via my dad) is from William Faulkner, the Nobel Prize winning author and stay-at-home writer, who said, "I have travelled far in the town of Oxford, Mississippi."

As I've discovered over the years, we writers can easily wander in our imaginations. No need to book a trip anywhere!


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Festival Fun (Looking ahead!)

The program to the Vancouver Writer's Fest arrived in my mailbox last week and it has been fun looking through the wealth of festival offerings. Lots of great authors are coming to town to wow us with their new books. It's exciting!

And from our very own city, are some wonderful authors too. Congrats to my friend and colleague Tanya Kyi! You can read about her festival events here.

I'm a festival member and one of the benefits of membership (a bargain at $25 a year) is being able to buy tickets before they are released for general purchase.

The pages of my program are now flagged with a zillion brightly coloured sticky notes marking the sessions that interest me most. The difficult next step is to narrow down these choices into something more manageable. Help!

(Member tickets go on sale on Sept. 1. Tickets for the public's purchase on Sept. 8.)

The festival is in late October, so it's a long wait — but it is entertaining to contemplate the fall readings schedule as we amble through the remainder of this hot, dry west coast summer. (Where is the rain???)


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dreaming of Rain

Here on the west coast, we live in a rainforest, and are used to rain of every variety: from a fine mist to gentle showers, or from a steady sprinkle to pelting cloudbursts, and even torrential monsoon-like downpours in the long days of winter.

Why do we love the rain? Our trees and plants grow thick and green. Our gardens flourish. We taste the moisture in the air. It just seems right.

So how are we feeling with a three-month drought? Days and days of no rain? It feels very strange indeed.

Our lawns and gardens are brown. The air is dry. We get up in the morning and scan the sky for gray clouds and a sign of rain. There are none to be found.

I used to think it would be wonderful to live in a place like California where the sun always shines. I'm not so sure anymore.

I love the rain. I miss the rain. I hope to see some soon.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

West Coast Inspiration...

I'm just back from a family holiday on the far west coast of Vancouver Island (the subject of my new book). As you can see from the sunset photo above, it is a stunning area. I feel fortunate to be able to visit the region every year.

We spent a lot of time beachcombing and exploring tidepools with the small children in our family. It is thrilling to watch them discover all the amazing marine creatures that the shoreline has to offer: brilliant sea stars, pink and green anemones, scurrying crabs, clinging limpets, tiny fish and kelp of every description.

To me, the west coast is always a place of writing inspiration. When I walk down the beautiful stretch of beach, and hear the crashing waves and see the vast expanse of sea and sky, I begin to think that anything is possible. And that is exactly what a writer needs to believe.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Beautiful Art!

I am fortunate to be able to visit the far west coast of Canada almost every summer. It is a glorious place! So amazing, in fact, that I wrote a book celebrating the area.

If you haven't visited the west coast, but you are intrigued by it, here are a couple of beautiful scenes from West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet. They are painted by the talented Karen Reczuch.

Enjoy! (And consider making the trek.)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Year Later...

Where did the year go? I took what I thought was a short break from regular blog writing and to my astonishment, an entire year has past!

What brings me back? I'm happy to say I have a new book on the horizon. West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet is a celebration of nature on the glorious Pacific west coast — a place I have been exploring for more than 40 years, first as a teenager, then as a university student, later as a mom with young kids and now with my adult children and their little ones. I feel as though I've gone full circle with this magnificent place. Decades of beachcombing!

There will be more book news to announce soon and some previews of the lovely art, by the wonderful illustrator, Karen Rezcuch.

Back soon! (In less than a year — I promise.)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

2014 BC Book Prizes

I wasn't able to attend last night's celebration of BC authors, but was definitely there in spirit. How wonderful that we have an annual event to recognize the depth of writing talent found here on the lovely west coast of Canada.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the 2014 BC Book Prizes! To read the complete list of nominated authors and prizes, please go here.

The Book Prizes Gala has always been a favourite night for me. It is a thrill to see the huge gathering of avid booklovers coming together to celebrate the written word.

Last night, for the second year in a row, a children's author was chosen to receive the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence. Congratulations to my colleague and friend, Kit Pearson!

In the jury's comments it was noted that, "In a career spanning three decades, Kit Pearson has demonstrated mastery in that most traditional of genres, the novel for young readers. In both her fantasies and her historical fiction she looks to the past: to Canada's war guests, to the War of 1812, to Alberta in 1949, and to Mayne Island in the 1930s. She sees children as those residents of the past who are largely overlooked in the story of where we have come from."

If you'd like to learn more about Kit and her books, please go here.

Writers spend much of their time alone at their keyboards, dressed in their dog-walking clothes — writing is by nature a solitary and casually-attired profession. But once a year, the BC writing community dons glamourous outfits and joins with one another in a great celebration of books, authors and their amazing accomplishments.

Thank you to the juries and organizers of such a remarkable event. And hearty congratulations to all the writers in this province (and everywhere!) who toil at their keyboards day after day, creating inspiring works for us all to read.