Sunday, March 28, 2010

Library Challenge Closes

The Library Lovin' Challenge is now done. What a flurry of activity here! And what a lot of fun. I know I enjoyed clicking on and reading many different blogs in the last couple days.

Here's how it turned out:
27 comments by the deadline
@.50 per comment
= $13.50 for each of my two libraries.

 Because I entered this challenge late, I think that's pretty good. But I think I will round it up to
$20 each
for the Bracebridge Public Library and the Baysville Branch of the Lake of Bays Library.

Thank you to writerjenn for starting this phenom.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a comment to help me in this challenge.

We all love libraries!

Friday, March 26, 2010

White Flag Flowers

pop up
one by one

Its battle done!

c Lizann Flatt

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Library Lovin' Challenge

Heard about the Library Lovin' Challenge going around the blogosphere? Visit the writerjenn blog for more info. I'm jumping in even if I am a little bit late. But better late than never, right? I was inspired to join in by Ishta Mercurio over at Musings of a Restless Mind, so thanks go to her too.

So here's how it works. For every person who comments on this blog post between now and midnight EDT March 27, 2010, I'll donate 50 cents to the Bracebridge Public Library AND 50 cents to the Baysville branch of the Lake of Bays Public Library--two libraries that have been instrumental in helping me in my career as a writer up here in Muskoka--up to a maximum of $100 (or $50 each).

If you don't know what kind of comment to leave, tell me why you love libraries, maybe even these particular libraries, or just a simple "I love libraries!" will work.

My pledge is “per commenter” so one person leaving several comments counts only once. So spread the word. Link to here, tweet this, or whatever, because more comments means more money.

If you want to donate to your own library, or to start your own challenge, please do so. Leave your challenge information in the comments to this post, with a link to your own blog. Then be sure to go to writerjenn and leave your url to be added to the challenge master list.

Again, the complete list of participating bloggers (and list of other sites where you can help libraries just by leaving a comment) can be found at the writerjenn blog at

Thanks for taking part!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Holey Moley!

Mole Mazes

(What you see in Muskoka when the snow starts to melt.)
Those creatures are busy under the snow all winter!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Snow Flea Fling

Quick! Before all the snow is gone, I should post my snow flea video. It's nothing spectacular, but these tiny insects fascinate me. And, well, because last year's video didn't work...

This winter these insects appeared to be everywhere. Seemed to me there were more of them than last year.

Here's a great link to more info about these tiny terrific creatures:

Hope you flip for these guys too. (Groan, I know.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

SCBWI Spring Thing 2010

Putting on my SCBWI Regional Advisor hat for a moment to say that

Registration is now open for:

SCBWI Canada East 2010 Spring Thing
Kempenfelt Conference Centre,
Barrie, Ontario

April 23, 24, 25, 2010

Experience the weekend or join us for the day!


Michael Stearns, Agent, Upstart Crow Literary,
Ugly But Necessary: Publishing Contracts ˜ Former editorial director-turned-literary-agent-and-agency head Michael Stearns walks you through the standard provisions in a publishing contract and talks about what each one does and why each matters. Will be as exhilarating and bruising an experience as it sounds.
Make Things Happen: How To Kick-Start Your Limp Plot

Alan Jones, Art Director, HarperCollins Canada,
The Evolution of Children's Book Covers: Design Trends and Publisher Expectations ˜A two-part workshop for illustrators.
Part I: You'll be assigned some homework to try your own hand at a cover. Bring your sketch materials to the conference.
Part II: You've sketched out your cover idea, now bring it back the next day for group discussion.

RJ Anderson, Fantasy and Science Fiction Author of Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter, short listed for CLA Children's Book of the Year,
Revision: The Magic Key to Successful Writing ˜ Learn how to really re-envision and rewrite a manuscript. RJ Anderson attributes her ability to do this as the key to her own success.
It's A Web World ˜ Panel with other published SCBWI members on making sense of why writers and illustrators are being told to blog, Skype, get on Twitter, Facebook and the like, plus how to decide if you should be there too.

Ontario Arts Council grant officers ˜ Grant programs for Ontario writers and illustrators and how to apply for them

* opportunity for one-on-one critiques
* take away a video of the start of your school presentation
* networking and fun and more

Download the complete conference information package and registration form (a PDF file) from

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rural Life from a Rural Gal

Two more of my books came out recently.

They're part of the Learn About Rural Life series from Crabtree Publishing. Writing these books was a work-for-hire project, which means I was contacted to write these books so they weren't my own idea. I worked with Bender Richardson White. The books are designed for classroom use in the primary grades.

Life in a Farming Community focuses on Monticello, WI and Life in a Forestry Community looks at Mackenzie, BC. I really enjoyed learning more about these two communities. They remind me of where I grew up and where I live now: in a small rural community. I grew up surrounded by working apple orchards with a feral asparagus field as my backyard, and my in-laws actually are farming in Ontario's Wellington County today. Forestry hits close to home too since I live in a forested area with the famous Algonquin Provincial Park nearby and the family tree includes a great grandfather who was a lumberman. You can find more detail about them on my website.

Do I think writers have to be personally connected to a topic to write about it? Not necessarily. I think a writer who knows how to ask the right questions and who has strong research skills can write on a lot of things without direct personal experience. But I like to be connected to the topic I'm writing about in some way, either because I have a little personal connection to it or because I just want to learn more about it.

Check out the other two titles in the series: Life in a Mining Community by Natalie Hyde and Life in a Fishing Community by Helene Boudreau.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Read to Me, Alex

I let a virtual stranger read to me yesterday and it was awesome. I highly recommend it.

No, I didn’t accost someone off the street, not that there’s anyone lurking on the street in these parts at this time of year to accost anyway. I just mean I turned Alex on. !?!

Oh, that sounds bad, real bad, cause Alex is not hubby’s name.

What I really mean is I turned on the text-to-speech function on my computer and the voice I’ve selected as the least annoying is named Alex. I had my computer, as Alex, read to me.

I was having trouble being objective about a manuscript. I'm too used to the intonation and expression I want it to be read with. What I needed was someone to read it aloud to me. I’ve had writing group pals read my stuff back to me before, and I know that’s extremely useful feedback, but they weren't handy. Enter Alex. He worked beautifully.

I was amazed at the problems that suddenly stood out. I realized I’d written a couple sentences that were needlessly complicated. It even twigged me to a typo I’d not seen the previous fifty times (no word of a lie) I’d read one particular paragraph. Yes, sometimes Alex's pronunciation or intonation is wrong, and I don't think it would work for reading poetry meter, but on the whole I was impressed with how well he worked. Why not give it a try?

I use a Mac, but I know PCs have a similar function. Under my systems preferences panel there is a speech control option with a text-to-speech panel. Play with that for a bit to select a voice you like and the speed you'd like him or her to read in. Set the key combination you'll use to tell the computer to read aloud any text you've highlighted. Now go highlight some text, perform your magic key combination, and give it a listen.

Of course, if you just want to hear something read back in the voice of trinoids, zarvox, or a pipe organ, who am I to say anything?