Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reviewing the Galiano Literary Festival

I can't wait to tell you about the exciting time I had last weekend.

I live on a picturesque island surrounded by other picturesque islands. Sadly when I travel I usually go to the bigger islands--Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island--or the mainland. Rarely do I travel to the smaller islands. I could. It's available. But I rarely avail myself of the opportunity.

Last weekend was different. Last Saturday I sailed to Galiano Island for the Galiano Literary Festival

The ferry left at 11 o'clock in the morning. Once on the island, I followed the signs.

I passed the... 

and made a mental note to return there on my way back to the ferry.

I walked through the gates to 134 Madrona Drive 

passed the...

and into the...

When I arrived the days events were already underway. The keynote speaker, Kevin Chong, had already addressed the audience. The panel (Robert Bringhurst, Annabel Lyon, Mark Leiren-Young with moderator Brad Frenette) was already engaged in a captivating exchange. 

I would, if I could, sail a million seas and climb a billion mountains to listen to authors talk about their work.

Here is what I heard on Saturday...

-screenwriters pay special heed to the audience. Depending on how their work is received, they may do an immediate re-write.
-some authors don't factor in the desires of their readers, what so ever. For them, writing a book is a literary dialogue between their book and the ones that inspired its creation.
-other authors have had to learn who to listen to and who not to. For example, they won't listen to someone who says, "I don't think your book is not that good, just my two cents." However, they consider what their friends' mother would think.

When asked why they submit their manuscripts for publishing some authors said that they were compelled to. Other authors said that they considered their work unfinished unless they submitted it. Still others pointed out that that was how they got paid.

Pluto's quote, 'Those who tell stories rule society' was discussed.
The question was posed--If you do rule society, what group of individuals would you support.
The mentally disabled was championed to a room full of applause.
As a member of this group I couldn't help but be deeply touched.

The need for writers to read widely was stressed.

Following this discussion I had the pleasure of listen to...

Kevin Chong 

(I actually spoke with Annabel Lyon.
 I wanted to hung her but I resisted the impulse. 
She was warm and engaging. 
Do you remember when I shared her book Encore Edie?
Well, I asked her to sign my copy.
And she did...)

read from their work.

On the way to the ferry terminal I paid a visit to the Galiano Bookstore 

Then I sailed over the waters to Mayne Island, my island home.

Monday, February 25, 2013

World Day of Prayer

I know/feel/belief that this blog is not the place for me to promote my political leanings nor express my religious believes. But I hope that you will allow me this transgression. Today I'm going to be a little "churchy". March 1st is the World Day of Prayer. On Mayne Island Protestants, Catholics and hopefully others from other faith believes will gather at St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church. We will sing hymns, pray and celebrate God, together. That day that which divides us will be overcome as we open our hearts and minds to diversity. Join us. Our service begins at 1:30 p.m. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Guest Post Author Darlene Foster

How/why did you start to write?

I have always written.  When I was a child growing up on a prairie farm, I would make up stories in my head.  In grade three, my teacher encouraged me to write my stories down.  She also encouraged me to travel and see the world.  This special woman made a huge difference in my life.  Through the wonders of social media, I was able to locate her a couple of years ago and thank her.

How did you become an author?

I became an author by writing short stories and sending them out to contests and anthologies.  Writing short stories gave me good practice.  Once I started to win prizes and had a couple of stories published in anthologies, I gained confidence.

What was your first published piece?

I had my first article, called Stretch Your Food Dollar, published in a prairie newspaper when I was twelve years old.

Where was it published?

It was published in The Winnipeg Free Press

How long ago?

Now that would be telling.  I can only say it was quite some time ago.

However, my first short story chosen for an anthology, Country Roads, Memoirs from Rural Canada, called The Day Dief Came to Town, was published three years ago.  Sometimes it takes a long time to become a published author.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I have worked in retail sales and human resources. I still work full-time as an Employment Counsellor and part-time as an English as a Second Language Teacher, and I write whenever I get a spare moment.  Working with the public is a huge asset to me as a writer, as people provide me with ideas everyday.  I often tutor children in ESL. It’s great to meet children from other cultures and learn from them.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by my travels and by the interesting people I meet everyday.

What made you decide to write children’s books?

After returning from an amazing trip to the United Arab Emirates, I decided to write about my experiences.  The result was a bit boring and lacked the enthusiasm I felt while there.  So I started writing about my experiences from the point of view of a twelve year old, tossing in an adventure and some interesting characters which resulted in my first book, Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, published in 2010.  I was happy with the result and realized Amanda wanted to continue to travel so I wrote Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting (2011) and Amanda in England – The Missing Novel (2012) I love writing for children, perhaps I have never grown up myself.

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique

Once I had my first book published I became very active on social media sites such as Face Book, Twitter and LinkedIn.  I made sure I had a professional profile and made great connections.  I also started a blog which I believe has been the most successful platform builder of all.  I have met the most amazing individuals through my blog who have provided much encouragement. It keeps me writing and has connected me to the  world of writers and readers.

Parting words

When I was a child I dreamt of travelling to interesting places.  I also dreamt of becoming a published author.  Many times these dreams seemed out of reach but I persevered.  It took awhile but my dreams came true. So my parting word to people of all ages is, never give up on your dreams!

Book blurb:

Amanda Ross is an average twelve year old Canadian girl. So what is she doing thousands of kilometres from home in the United Arab Emirates? It's her own fault really, she wished for adventure and travel when she blew out those candles on her last birthday cake. Little did she know that a whole different world awaited her on the other side of the globe, one full of intrigue, mystery and folklore. A world with a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert and wonderful friends. Join Amanda on her first adventure as she discovers the secrets behind The Perfume Flask.


Thank you so  much for the interview and opportunity to promote my books.  If there is anything else you need, let me know.

Author Links
Darlene Foster
dreamer of dreams, teller of tales

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Edit As You Write by Leanne Dyck

Loudly and proudly singing the praises of editing while you write.

They say:  You should never, ever re-read what you've written while you're working on your writing project. Leave all revisions until you finish your first draft.

I strongly disagree. But was willing to refrain from commenting. That was until I encountered this advice blazing through out the Internet like a wild fire. Then I just had to cry out in protest.

I choose to protest not simply because I disagree but also because I don't believe anyone has the right to dictate how someone else should work. 

There are a few rules we--as writers--must follow (grammar, spelling, etc.). But how you work should be left up to you. What works for you--works for you.

Advocates of "no revisions until the end of the first draft"  insist that if you break this commandment you won't get anything written--of course.

Yet, me--the breaker of said rule--has completed three book-length manuscripts since 2011 (plus short stories and articles). 

Do I read the entire manuscript at the beginning of each writing session?


Here's my strategy...
At the end of each writing session, I highlight the unsatisfactory passage in red.
At the beginning of each writing session, I re-read the chapter containing the unsatisfactory passage. This is where I start working.

Advantage of this strategy...
It ensures consistency of story and voice.
It gives me an easy in to start working on the story.
It saves time. Yes, that's right, it saves time.

So, do I demand that you should make revisions as you write?

Nope. Freedom is the word.

Try editing while you work. If it works for you, do it. If not. Don't.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What's on my needles?

Update:  my knitting basket is still full. But I've moved it from my living room to my bedroom. I want to take a break from knitting until the autumn. That yarn could prove to be too great a temptation. We'll see.
My knitting basket is full...

 Let's peek inside...
 This hemp/wool will eventually become...
(stay tuned I'll share a better picture of this design)

 And this cotton will become...
(I shared this pattern here)

 This mohair/acrylic blend will eventually become...
 This Meadowmist Farm from Mayne Island sheep will eventually become...
 This linen will eventually become...
(Stay tuned, I'll share this pattern here--on this blog, for free)

Eventual is the key word in this post.
Well, because I've recently been diagnosed with carpal tunnel. Pain shots through my wrists after I knit two rows. So, lately, I haven't even touched my knitting needles. 
Will I eventually be able to return to finish my projects?
I hope so...
Thankfully the pen and the keyboard don't create the same pain.
Related post:  Bare knitting needles

Friday, February 15, 2013

Guest Post: Author Andrew Demcak

How/why did you start to write?

That’s a good question – I really can’t remember not writing.  From my early banging on my mother’s typewriter to my first crayons; I think I was always trying to write if not actually writing.  I used to make up poems and stories all the time in elementary school, too.

How did you become an author?

When I was eighteen I was obsessed with getting published in a literary journal called Pearl Magazine (Anais Nin started it in the 1970’s) but they wouldn’t print one single adjective I’d committed to paper.  I feel like a became an author when, three years later, they published my poem, Waiting for Noah.

What was your first published piece?

My first prose piece was a mock-ponographic story called Meat Man – I’ll let you imagine what it was about – Let’s just say veal cutlets were involved and it was very funny.

Where was it published?

Genre (the Comp Lit department’s journal at CA State Long Beach U.)  It was the most hotly contested story in the magazine.

How long ago?

Twenty-six years ago.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I’ve always worked in libraries, as a clerk, or assistant – I got my Masters degree and now am a librarian professionally.  It certainly helped being around books and people who love reading.

What inspires you?


Please share one of your successful author platform building techniques:

Friend everyone on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, LibraryThing, Goodreads, etc.  Bug them constantly when you have work coming out.

Parting words

Your audience already exists:  you need to get your work out there so they can find you. Submit, submit, submit!


"If There's A Heaven Above" takes the reader on a tour of the Southern California demi-monde goth scene of the mid-1980s, as seen through the eyes of club-kid, Matt. Andrew Demcak combines innocence with experience, sex and drugs, Love and Rockets, with just the right touch of poetry. It is a thrilling ride along the freeways and turntables of that era: when AIDS was new, Reagan was King, and hope was a wounded kitten, cared for by the creatures of the night. - Eric Norris, author of Nocturnal Omissions: A Tale of Two Poets (Sibling Rivalry Press)


Author website 

Poets & Writers profile 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Guest Post Author Johnny Ray

How/why did you start to write? 

I love to write, and do so about 12 hours a day

How did you become an author?

 I kept writing until someone thought it was good.

What was your first published piece? 

Her Honor’s Bodyguard

Where was it published? 

On Amazon, under my publishing company SIR JOHN PUBLISHING 

How long ago? 

A year ago

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I was in International real estate for 35 years. And I draw from it very much.

What inspires you? 

Fans, I love to hear from them.

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique

I am very big on twitter with over 85,000 followers.

My number one advice to new authors/authors-to-be is to...

Read, write, polish, repeat, repeat, and repeat. The old saying is that writers write and don't just talk about it.

My life's philosophy is...

The only way to be the best is to be better than number two. This is different from being as good as.

One thing I really enjoy is...

Making friends around the world. I have several twitter accounts with over 85,000 followers.

One thing I really hate is...

Not having enough time to read all of the great books being written today.

My favourite thing to do (outside of reading/writing) is...

Spending time with my wife and traveling the world

Parting words

Please stay in touch with me on facebook  , on goodreads  on my blog  and on kindle

          STALKING LOVE is a 94,000 word romantic thriller set in St. Petersburg, Florida during the current real estate crisis. With a serial killer targeting people involved in the real estate business, and a potential love of a lifetime in the works, it takes all of the strength and courage of a woman thought to have it all, but lacking everything that really matters to grow and develop into who she is destined to become.

As Rachel Contino, a proficient, thirty-eight year old realtor, attempts to avoid the real estate meltdown caused by her main client, developer Jonathan Harrell who had died in an apparent suicide, new evidence surfaces that it wasn’t a suicide but murder. This is soon followed up by the murder of Jonathan’s partner. These murders inside a condo complex hosting her largest number of listings makes her sales all but disappear, forcing her into deeper financial problems. In addition to her financial situation, she is scared that the murderer may be targeting her next.

Meanwhile, Rachel, who has no time for a life outside of her profession, meets Carlos Martinis, a twenty-three year old mortgage broker, and yields to the teasing of her friends in attempting to make this stud her boy toy. She quickly discovers, however, that he’s much more of a man than a boy as he quickly converts her to his party girl instead.

As her world falls apart, she has to depend on a guy she wanted to make into a toy. Relying on love rather than her money is a hard lesson to learn, but one that she has to before it’s too late and Carlos leaves her and the murderer makes his final move. Converting their passionate sex life to a true love will require admitting secrets that both Carlos and Rachel have to eventually reveal. But will these secrets bring them together or drive them apart forever?

More information about Stalking Love

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

Paris, 1940. A brilliant jazz musician, Hiero, is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again. He is twenty years old. He is a German citizen. And he is black.

Fifty years later, his friend and fellow musician, Sid, must relive that unforgettable time, revealing the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that sealed Hiero's fate. From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris--where the legendary Louis Armstrong makes an appearance--Sid, with his distinctive and rhythmic German-American slang, leads the reader through a fascinating world alive with passion, music and the spirit of the Resistance.

My thoughts...

-Half-Blood Blues is like smooth, mournful jazz. So rich, so full, so mellow with a subtle longing for hope.

-Esi Edugyan captured the language, the culture, the promise of an era.

-it's a study on how to develop a character's voice

-it isn't an easy book to read. Some of the imaginary. The slang. But it is worth it.

-The mystery leads the reader on:  what did Sid do? Why can't he forgive himself?

-I admire the power of the words bookmarked between 'It wasn't a dream' on page 303 to 304.
She takes us right there and doesn't let us go until we've seen everything.

Favourite quotes...

'My mind swum back through its fog.' (p. 121)

'Her voice thrummed like a muscle. It was low and rich, with the quiver of something mustering its strength.' (p. 122)

'She swung the thick, strong rope of her voice round the words, coming down hard on them, cinching them together. Then she flung the notes bold up in the air, high and horn-like. But her voice was at its core a sailor's voice, rough and mannish. Her low notes bitter croaks, filled with muddy regret.' (p. 122)

This story has residence beyond the book.
The kid's last words to Sid:  'I see you like it was fifty years ago.' 
(p. 309)

Questions that remain...

If I was Sid, what decision would I have made?

If I was "the kid", would have I forgiven?

I'm thrilled to write that I've finished writing No, Smoke The Other End. It is now with my first reader. 
And I've been preparing The Sweater Curse:  a novel for submission to publishing houses.

Yes, everything was going along swimmingly until...a flue bug found a cozy, new home. It's wiped me out. So I can only spend short periods on the keyboard. Thankfully I am able to do a lot of reading. : )
Next post:  Please welcome Johnny Ray

Friday, February 1, 2013

Guest Post Author Donna Shepherd

Ava’s Secret Tea Party


Has your child dreamed of meeting Tooth Fairy, Santa, Sandman, or Easter Bunny? Ava wants to invite them to tea, but how? The answer lies with one special character who knows them ALL! In the style of classic fairy tales, Donna Shepherd has written "Ava's Secret Tea Party." Enjoy the tale, look for hidden teacups and chocolate chip cookies in the Bella Sinclair’s sweet illustrations, and have fun making the recipes and crafts included in the book!

How/why did you start to write?

I started writing devotionals and inspirational articles in 2003. One day a silly poem came to mind, and then another. I started submitting and had several poems published in places like Wee Ones and Guideposts for Kids. I joined a couple of critique groups and began my journey into writing picture books, Hidden Pictures Publishing released my first book for children, Topsy Turvy Land in 2005.

What inspires you?

I thank God every day for the joy of writing, and for allowing me the pleasure of seeing my words come to life with the help of many talented illustrators. Each time I finish a book or article or poem, I think I don’t have one more idea, but sure enough, the ideas come. I’m inspired by a picture, a phrase, something I hear a child say, and in so many other unexpected ways. I love writing for both children and grownups, and feel it’s a blessing to write. And as a children's writer, sometimes I'm really blessed, and the words I write are illustrated with wonderful, whimsical, beautiful pictures.

Please share one of your successful author platform building techniques.

I teach a workshop called “The Seven Planks of Your Platform.” I stress that it’s not enough to simply toot your own horn, but to offer to those with whom you connect something of value. Help someone. Offer freebies. Be generous with advice. Then you’ve earned trust and the credibility to offer something to buy.

Parting words

I hope everyone will visit the blog for my latest book at A Secret Party where you will find coloring pages, puzzles, more recipes, and of course, information on how you can purchase your own copy of Ava’s Secret Tea Party

On the Facebook Fan Page, I post helpful information, tips, links to freebies, and updates about my books for children and grownups. 

Thanks so much! 

Thank you for visiting with us, Donna.