Exploring Ottawa

I visited the Parliament Buildings today, and the Canadian War Museum. But as I’ve followed my GPS from one part of Ottawa to the next for various school presentations, I’ve also ended up wandering through all sorts of interesting neighborhoods.

I had lunch in the sort of place that would happen if Vancouver’s Fraser Street hooked up with Commercial and had a baby: phô and iced coffee right next door to a trattoria. Nearby was this place:

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It was a juxtaposition of gourmet pizzeria, nail spa, and tactical defence base. I was a little worried that I might get shot while taking this photo, but I couldn’t resist.

I’ve learned that there are many more bilingual people in Ottawa than in Vancouver. This has put a damper on my eavesdropping habits. I tried all through lunch, and all I got was that the people next to me were talking about something red. (I’ve retained words like “porquois” and “avec” but no nouns, apparently.)

I’ve also learned that Ottawa folk are abnormally patient. I’ve been driving around all week like a confused snail, and not a single person has honked at me.

Overall, for its combination of cultural mash-ups and extreme patience, with a lot of lovely green space thrown in (I’m writing this in a corner park), I have to give Ottawa two big thumbs up.

On to Ottawa…

Whew… what a whirlwind! I gave two presentations in Pelham on Monday, then travelled by car, bus, train, and my own foot-power to Mississaugua. There, I gave three presentations in less than three hours at Allan A. Martin Senior Public School, and now I’m at the airport on my way to Ottawa.

So far, I’ve said two somewhat inappropriate things to large groups of people. While wearing a microphone. There should probably be some sort of psychological test which helps the Canadian Children’s Book Centre decide if authors have a filter before hiring us. But apparently there’s not, so here I am explaining to kids what my last name means if they say it ever-so-slightly wrong in Burmese. (It has four letters and begins with an “s.”)

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In my defence, the librarian asked. (She’s lovely, as are the other teachers at Allan A. Martin. You can find them on Twitter at @mjwheelerali and @@AllanAMartinPS.)

Also, photos shouldn’t be allowed during my presentations because they’re always excruciatingly embarrassing. But, as sharing tends to make things less embarrassing and more funny, here I am wearing my underwear outside my pants.

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Apparently, in Ontario, everyone wears their underwear inside their pants? This would have been helpful to know before my school visits.

It’s off to Ottawa now, where I will attempt to be more appropriate in public. I’m thinking chances are slim…

The TD Book Week Tour Thus Far…

1. Lee Edward Fodi and I got lost in the Toronto airport parking lot.

2. We crashed with Kari-Lynn Winters in St. Catherines, then headed to Spring Into Reading, a literacy festival in Niagara. The whole show was orchestrated by the Ontario Literacy Association, and the kids were wonderful — fun, engaged, and willing to try their hands at anything. Even dangerous survival situations…

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3. Lee and I got lost in the Best Buy parking lot. This could have become a theme except…

4. Lee was eaten by a giant T-Rex.

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5. Finally, for a little extra awesomeness, Niagara Falls.

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To-do list

The good news: last week’s presentation to my daughter’s class went very well. I forgot to wear my giving-a-presentation-deodorant instead of my mineral salts, so the teacher now thinks I’m an abnormally sweaty person, but other than that, I was very happy.

Now, onto the next stage of my TD Children’s Book Week preparations: panic.

I hemmed a pair of pants last night. I counted to make sure I have eight presentable shirts. (I do, barely.) I’ve printed all my presentations and gathered most of my props. I now have to:

* buy a supply of energy bars
* find some stick-on moustaches (apparently these are a seasonal item?)
* organize one more afternoon of childcare for while I’m gone

And…

* finish a big edit, half of which arrived on Friday and half of which lands today

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Jitters

I’m doing a writing workshop with my daughter’s class this morning, as a dress rehersal for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week in Ontario.

I had this conversation with my daughter about the workshop:

Me: What was I thinking? I’m way more nervous about presenting to your class that I am presenting to strangers.

Silence: Why?

Me: Because if I’m terrible, you’ll never speak to me again.

Silence: I’ll speak to you. But every conversation will begin with “remember that time you messed up in front of my whole class?”

She’s so helpful.

Assuming I don’t get egged this morning, here’s a poster for my first event in Ontario. If you just happen to live in the Niagara region, come on by!

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In the news…

First of all, I’m going to Ontario for next May’s TD Canadian Children’s Book Week! That was my first choice of destinations, so I’m very excited to be heading east for a week.

And, while I’m sharing, there’s a lovely review of When the Worst Happens in Kirkus. It’s left me all a-flutter.

There’s a teetering pile of research material on my desk for my next non-fiction project. Maybe the kind words will inspire progress!

On the road to anywhere

I’m hightailing it out of town next May, as part of TD Canadian Children’s Book Week.

To where, you ask? I have no idea! They announced the roster of touring writers, illustrators, and storytellers yesterday, but they haven’t yet decided who is going where. All I know is I’ll be travelling to a province outside my own, and may be required to go by plane, train, bus, automobile, or other means. (Really. I think there was a form saying that…)

Needless to say, I’m very excited by all this. Is it too early to pack?