Quiet space

I spent last weekend on Mayne Island, as part of a CWILL BC writers retreat hosted by Pam Withers.

I had a lovely bed and breakfast room overlooking the bay, and who could not write, surrounded by scenes like this?

mayne

I finished a big revision while I was there, but as the wise Ellen Schwartz said, “it’s a writers retreat, not a writing retreat.” That meant long walks, reading, and wildlife-watching were all allowable activities. We even had a chance to hear excerpts of others’ works in progress. (And I now have 11 new books I’m looking forward to reading.)

Maggie de Vries led a great session about point of view, and how specificity contributes to the immersion of the reader. You know when you read passages, in your own books or those of others, and there are things that just seem wrong? Now I know why.

retreatgroup

This is Jenny Watson, Ellen Schwartz, Stacey Matson, and me, walking in the rain with the talented Karen Hibbard (whose photo I’ve blatantly stolen.)

It was a wonderful getaway, and timed perfectly. School ends next week, so there won’t be much writing time in my immediate future!

Want to hang out?

Lots of fun book events on the horizon! Here’s a few I’m going to… want to come?

Rachelle Delaney’s launch of The Metro Dogs of Moscow on February 7th at Kidsbooks. Check out Vikki VanSickle’s review of the book, then get your launch details!

The Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable illustrator breakfast with Oliver Jeffers. I’ll let this video do the explaining for that event:

The Getting Started in Children’s Books 2013 panel discussion at the Vancouver Library, organized by the lovely Ellen Schwartz. If you have a manuscript stashed away in your underwear drawer, this is the place for you.

Best moments

I’m going to stop talking about the TWUC AGM soon, but I wanted to share a few favourite moments:

Watching Margriet Ruurs knit during panel discussions. This is a woman who travels the world, writes books, runs a bed and breakfast, stays active in the writing community… and knits. Women truly are amazing multi-taskers.

Hearing Thad McIlroy say, “don’t be defensive; it attracts predators.” A quirky way of telling people to embrace change.

Listening to Cynara Geissler of Arsenal Pulp Press talk about being in “all spaces” — on-line, in print, in person — as a promotion strategy.

Noticing that most of the CWILL BC members at the conference — Linda Bailey, Margriet Ruurs, Caroline Adderson, Ellen Schwartz — were dressed in brown and turquoise. How did I miss that memo, and what was I doing in pink?

Marvelling that I could spend eight hours in a room that many writers and not have a single person ask about my rather black-and-yellow eye. I decided this was probably because they were all IMAGINING their own scenarios… how frightening.

Admiring the dedication of all those people who spend hours studying things like lending rights and copyright.

The Serendipity debrief

You will be happy to know I was dressed appropriately at Serendipity this weekend. Well, mainly because Norma Charles caught me just as I was entering. She suggested that I rearrange my name tag so that my name faced out, and then she untucked my sweater from the back of my pants. (You thought I was joking about my inability to dress myself, didn’t you?)

Because 50 Burning Questions won the Information Book Award (thank you, Roundtables!) I talked about non-fiction for a while at the beginning of the day. And I was very, very happy to have spoken first because the next speakers were so mind-blowingly poignant and funny and wise that I would have been much too intimidated to speak afterwards.

The theme of the day was Year of the Dragon: Asian Themes for Young Canadian Readers. Paul Yee, author of Money Boy (a copy of which is now on my beside table) talked about embracing one’s own personal identity, past and present. Editors Marjorie Coughlan and Corinne Robson talked about Paper Tigers, an amazing website. Allen Say, with a lovely combination of gravity and dry wit, told stories from Drawing from Memory that made everybody cry. In the afternoon, Lisa Yee talked about contemporary fiction in which ethnicity is a factor, not a focus.

Looking for a quiet corner to eat my lunch, I found myself in a side room with Norma Charles, Jacquie Pearce, Ellen Schwartz, Beryl Young, Irene N. Watts, and Deborah Hodge. We had a lovely hour eating sandwiches and talking books, and I felt honoured to be in such company.

Oh. And I learned some Bollywood dancing. Yup. About three minutes after I leaned over to Shannon Ozirny and whispered, “maybe we should move back, in case they ask for volunteers,” we were on the stage. It’s even on video. But I’m not telling where.