Quilt shop

My mom makes the most amazing quilts for my kids. Over the years there have been quilts with baby ducks, with fairies that actually sparkled, with circus animals, and with trucks. There’s a hanging quilt for Christmas, and a Halloween one with a witch that we’re pretty sure was modelled upon Auntie Sandy (sorry, Sandy).

This is my personal favourite. Behind every buttoned door hides a different monster.

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I’m not sure what my mom thinks happens to these quilts when she replaces them. I should probably be framing them. But instead, they’re folded and stacked on my daughter’s window seat or on my son’s closet shelf. And from there, they make their way into all sorts of projects. They have served as:

Fort walls
Picnic blankets
Treehouse ceilings
Yoga mats
Nerf gun targets
Sliding surfaces
Crash landing pads
Electonics workshop carpeting

If I were a picture-book writer, I’d have to create The Secret Life of Quilts.

Eyes and Spies

My next book has made its appearance on Amazon, so thought I’d post a picture of the cover. Eyes and Spies is all about surveillance and privacy, on-line and in real life. It focuses on three questions: Who’s watching, and why? Where is the line between public and private? How can we keep our secrets to ourselves?

The stories are drawn from kid and teen life, though that didn’t stop them from scaring me. (The computers in my house now feature masking tape over their webcams.)

There’s still a long way to go before the book appears in the world next spring, but I’m very excited to have the cover (with cool and creepy art by the amazing Belle Wuthrich) making its first appearance!

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Feast for the First Hour of Writing

I have an old cookbook by Karen Barnaby called Screamingly Good Food. I keep it because I love how the book is arranged by seasonal celebrations. Fall features not only a Thanksgiving menu, but also feasts for the first sweater, the last tomato, and the twelfth day of rain.

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I’m writing on my laptop in the kitchen, the only room in the house not overflowing with laundry piles or nine-year-old boys. School was held for an hour this morning; full schedule begins tomorrow.

Which means that (as much as I loved summer) I will soon be celebrating all the wonderful things about fall. I’ll have my own personal feast for the first cup of afternoon tea, the first crackling of the heating vents, and the first batch of pumpkin muffins.

And, of course, I’ll be celebrating the return of writing time. By June, my six hours of quiet will be flying by. But in September, when I’ve been entertaining and shuttling and refereeing all summer, they seem like an eternity of silence.

Only 20 hours to go.

Barf-fest 2016

We went to the PNE yesterday. By the time we headed home, my daughter was curled into a small ball and looking rather more green than her usual beige. But she wasn’t too sick to rhyme. This is what we heard from the backseat:

Hellevator, Atmosfear,
crazy pirate boat.
Nothing did me in until
the giant root beer float.

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Felting in progress

My daughter attended the VPL’s Writing and Book Camp last week.

One of her favourite sessions was a needle-felting workshop with Holman Wang, co-creator of the Cozy Classics. Within 48 hours, she’d collected the supplies, trained her brother, and populated the house with fuzzy characters.

There’s now a book (albeit a slightly blurry book) in progress. This is one of my son’s contributions:

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There’s also a 12-word Return of the Jedi Epic Yarn on its way to my nephew for his birthday.

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This camp would be my favourite ever if I could disguise myself as a tween and attend. Do you think my daughter would object if I tried that next year?

Like Netflix, but better

I love having my own personal pre-reader. My daughter gets stacks of books from the library and basically screens them for me.

Sometimes she tells me they’re not worth my time. Sometimes after the first few chapters, she says I should read it once she’s finished. Then by the end, she’s less enthused.

Occasionally, she plops a book onto my lap and says, “I’m taking this back to the library tomorrow but you have to read it. Tonight.”

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Her latest recommendation: The War That Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brusker Bradley. It’s the story of an abused girl in World War II London who’s evacuated to the countryside, and there finds the strength to reshape her own life. Plus ponies.

What else could one need?

(My son is also reading, but his recommendations are slightly different. Most recently, he said: “Do you know the fastest person to eat three eclairs took 18.02 seconds? We should try to beat that.”)

Not according to plan

1. It is raining. In July. Again. And yet, the drought last year was so disturbing I can’t fully commit to complaining about this year’s weather. How very un-Vancouverite of me.

2. My kid is puking. She came home from camp on Monday with a virus, and things took a turn for the worse this morning. On the bright side, my child is twelve and capable of grabbing her own bowl when required. I am reminded to be grateful for this by my sister’s Facebook post from earlier this week:

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3. My site has grown beyond its allowable size. I thought I found a way to search for images that weren’t being used, but ended up deleting my header photos. Which is unfortunate because I love those photos, but probably a good kick in the butt as well, since the same headers have been rotating for years now. I will now be taking new photos, and maybe deleting posts from (gasp) 2010. Change is good. I hope.

I think I’ll go read Pollyanna now. Does that book have a happy ending? I can’t remember…

Mistakes. Plus perspective.

I’ve been learning to play tennis, something I’ve decided is less a sport and more an exercise in frustration tolerance. The problem is this: most points end when someone makes a mistake. Since I’m the beginner, that “someone” is usually me. And I HATE making mistakes! Who invented a sport all about failure?

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The book I’m working on right now is also something new to me — a creative non-fiction project that’s wandered across the line into historical fiction. I’ve just completed a major rewrite and I have a feeling there are plenty more editing changes to come. (Did I mention that I hate messing up?)

I’m telling myself that it’s impossible to learn without doing things wrong a few times. And I’m remembering the words of one of my first bosses, writer and editor Robin Rivers. As we stared at a printed, hardcover photography book that was missing one important, highly noticeable line of text, she said: “Well at least we’re not neurosurgeons. No one dies when we screw up.”

So true. At least I’m not a neurosurgeon. Or a magician.

Laundry day

We writers tend to see stories everywhere, but I’m guessing anyone could build a tale with the items I just pulled from my son’s pockets.

* Three candy wrappers
* One slingshot
* One rock
* One wad of bloody tissues

Why do I even bother asking my kids what they’ve done with their days? I should check their pockets first.