Friday, February 26, 2010

No, Thank YOU

My publisher sent me some wonderful thank you letters from a school in Kingston that Scot Ritchie and I visited during Canadian Children's Book Week.

They're awesome! What author doesn't love to get letters like this?!

And I've got to say, having these letters to look through on cold winter days, or days when inspiration has dried up, or days when I'm sure no one will care what I write ever again,  makes me say:

No, thank *YOU*!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Point of View, Sunset and the Soo

Sunset over the Soo

Yes, Sault Ste. Marie. Beautiful, no? This was the view from my hotel room last Saturday. For real. Breathtaking.

But so is this too
the view
from my hotel room 
in the Soo. 

In its unedited form, a bowling alley and parking lot that were really not so nice to look at. (I took this one first so it's not as orange.)

Just goes to show you: Point of View is all in how you look at it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Boats and Bushplanes

It was a seven-hour road trip to The Soo last weekend. Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. (That's one of those names you just had to memorize in geography class, isn't it?)

Why was I there? Kid. Competitive sports. But I kept to my resolve to embrace the madness and find something interesting in the odd corners of the province I find myself in. This time it was the Bushplane Heritage Centre.

I'd become aware of this museum while researching for the bushplane stage of Let's Go! We used the Norseman as a good model for the visual in the book. They have one there! Visitors can actually climb inside one. So I did. Very cool.

Once inside I realized that I'm not so sure I'd want to actually fly in this or any bushplane, though. I'm a chicken flyer. Getting up close to all the bushplanes really gave me an appreciation for the planes and their pilots. And the props inside the Norseman gave me a chuckle: empty beer cases.Very Canadian.

We even saw a couple ships at the waterfront, but it really was the wrong time of year to see much activity there. 
Too bad too because I really would have liked to see the Great Lakes shipwreck museum, and maybe look at the locks. Lots of transportation technology there.
So I can now say I've been to the Soo. Woo-hoo! 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Of Ice and Ink

Cold nights + Sunny days = Fabulous natural ice sculptures.

I came upon this fabulous wall of ice while out driving on an errand yesterday. These photos aren't the best because I only had my phone with me, not my camera. I wish I could have captured the colour of the ice better.

The furthest ice chunk, on the left in both photos, was a beautiful shade of peacock blue.

The blue ice immediately reminded me of my favourite shade of Sheaffer ink: Peacock blue. I put that ink in the fountain pen I always used in high school. I wrote many an essay and short story in that ink.

Let's see:  I would've rather been writing than out driving, do ya think?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Filed Under: Nice Try

So yesterday one of my kids, frustrated at a handheld game they were playing, used the F word.

In proper disapproving parental voice I chided, "Hey, that'll be enough of that, thank you."

Kid replied, "Oh, sorry, that was with a P.H."


At least it demonstrates an understanding of English spelling rules.

Friday, February 5, 2010

NY and Back--by Bus

Ah, mass transportation. This past weekend I went to NY, NY for the SCBWI 2010 Conference. By bus. Overnight. Because the bus is affordable and has a flexible schedule, that's why.

Sure my butt fell asleep. So did at least one leg. I also can't forget that my neck got a horrible crick in it, but it sure was an interesting trip. Between the bus from my hometown to Toronto, time in the terminal, and then the bus trip from Toronto to NY, it was about a 17 hour marathon. Each way. Plenty of time to ponder life and observe people, particularly since the book I'd chosen for my journey turned out to be lame and I couldn't for the life of me fall asleep for any decent length of time.

 Memorable Moments
  • Realizing the seat I'd chosen from hometown to Toronto was in front of Muttering Man, a guy who fielded regular phone calls between which he'd mutter strings of F words at the weather, the traffic, whatever. I'd be lying if I said the words Manitoba, knife, bus, and murder didn't all go through my head.
  • The New Man who sat beside Muttering Man for part of the journey and proceeded to get Muttering Man into a conversation which revealed MM was up on assault charges against his ex. TMI!
  • Waiting at Buffalo for about 15 Amish people to find seats on the crowded bus full of sleeping, or pretending to be sleeping, people.
  • Discovering that the Amish people had gone through the underground shopping concourse in Toronto in order to arrive at McDonald's for breakfast.
  • Seeing Security swoop down on and herd away the two drunks who were heckling the Amish people who were at McDonald's for breakfast in the underground Toronto shopping concourse.

Snippets and Observations

  • How do you get to the bus terminal, sit down and then think, "Hey, now's a great time to clean my ears" whereupon you roll up a napkin and proceed to do just that? ?????? 
  • In a closed environment like a bus, one cannot help but think that the greatest and not-widely-enough-applied invention of modern society is deodorant. Trust me on this one.
  • Whatever happened to the guy sitting in the seat in front of me? He never did get back on after the stop at the border, did he?
  • People will eat fastfood at any hour of the day... or rather night. Even 3:00am. Gack!
Mass transportation: A writer's observational research goldmine.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    Top Takeaways from SCBWI NY 2010

    I had an amazing time at the SCBWI NY 2010 conference. Being surrounded by people who share a passion for writing and illustrating for kids is energizing. There is no better complete rundown of the conference than the SCBWI Team Blog, but here are a few gems I gathered.

    Strive for the small unexpected moments that surprise you as you write. ~Libba Bray

    Re social networking: Be yourself because everyone else is taken. ~Jenn Bailey

    Feel what's happening in your story as you're writing it. If you're not, the scene isn't working. ~Jacqueline Woodson

    Draw or write every day for the fun of putting ink on paper. ~Jim Benton

    Be professional, and remember your job as a writer is to write. ~Sheldon Fogelman

    Never give up. ~Jane Yolen

    Words for the writer to live by for sure.