Saturday, February 27, 2010

Back to the drawing Board

During the last few weeks I've been watching the Olympics and wishing I lived in Vancouver. It is so great to see Canadians win all those medals and get so excited about the country.
Visiting Toronto again was great. The roads were slushy and the 401 was getting slow in the Pickering area so I took the GO train to Union and relaxed in the train, watching the world go by. The GO train was filled with mysterious individuals with dark pasts, intriguing talents and miraculous futures - despite their ordinary looks. I didn't actually talk to any of them, but I'm sure I was right about them. The places beside the train tracks were also fascinating. I love how people use every space in the city, that no matter how crowded, the kids in a neighbourhood will find a spot for a fort in a small group of trees besides the tracks, or on a steep hillside, or under a bridge. Homeless people also make shelters and pitch tents in these places. In the most dismal crowded neighbourhoods, there are trees growing freely and places for birds to hide during the night and skunks during the day. Leave a parking lot alone for a few months and the grass and trees will reclaim it. That's just great. Go trees go!

I got to meet a lot of authors at the O.L.A. Superconference. I signed some free copies of Leaving Fletchville and then I began meeting other writers and collecting their free and signed copies to give to friends at my old school. Among others I met Robin Stevenson, Liam O'Donnel, Mahtab Narsimhan and Eric Walters. I had some great conversations. Carrie Gleason of Lorimer Books made me think of a new project I might do, and Monique Polak, an old friend, was there as well. As soon as I got home I went to the computer and...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Conference and Book Signing

Back to visit old friends! Thursday and Friday the 18th and 19th I will be a guest presenter at the IDEAS conference in Kingston. (See the E.O.S.D.N. website) I will be sharing with teachers about how to bribe, trick, cajole, spoof and fool their students into reading and writing. I really like this conference, and it's not just because you stay at the Ambassador Hotel with the pool and water slide... It is where I first learned about Fletchville; the math program that eventually became the title for "Leaving Fletchville". As a teacher I liked it because instead of 'experts' the presentations were all done by classroom teachers (or retired teachers like me). The end result is that the ideas were practical and useful instead of theoretical and hard to put into practice. In Toronto.... on Friday the 26th I will be at a book-signing at the Ontario Librarian's Association Superconference in Toronto. I'll be at the Orca booth at 11:00 AM. They give away free books to all teacher/librarians there. Last year I scored about 20 free books for our school library at Stockdale P.S., all genres, and signed by the authors. I got to meet all of them and that was great. One of them I had met before. Monique Polak is a teacher and author from Montreal and actually I had met her when I was seventeen and she was about ten. She locked me in a closet (true story). Above is a picture of Monique and me. Her book, "What World is Left" is excellent if you want to read a great WW-II history about a young girl sent to a concentration camp. Think of "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" with a somewhat happier ending.
My second novel since retirement is now almost complete. It is the one about the boy and his girlfriend who sneak into a mine to find out why his father disappeared. I am sending a letter plus a sample chapter to various publishers.
I'm nervous.
You never know if people will want it or if it will get rejected. (It really isn't that much easier for authors to get new work accepted. Maybe our inquiry letter is taken more seriously, but publishers still look at the merit of the ideas and plot and the quality of your sample chapter. We still get lots of rejections!)
Adrian goes to Australia. My son Adrian, for whom the character in the new novel is named, has just flown to Perth, Australia to work for a while. My other son Daniel, who is at U. of Ottawa, is home for reading week. It was so nice to have them both home together for a few days.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Glad to be back

Shirley and I are glad to be back home in Ontario after our cruise. The experience of going to Hawaii, being on a large ship named after the town I was born in (Zaandam), and seeing lots of exotic places like San Diego, Honolulu, Waikiki, Lahaina, Hilo, and Ensenada Mexico was unforgettable. We rented cars at each stop and did our own tours of the area, at a much reduced cost than the organized tours available. We spent an extra two days in San Diego and I was really impressed with that city. Beautiful place!

Whale watching was something we did often, either seeing humpback whales off the port side or looking at various specimens floating in the hot-tub...

The entertainment was excellent, and a highlight was the comedian and ventriloquist Mike Robinson who was from Nova Scotia. Mike put on an excellent show and happened to mention the town he was from. I spoke to him later and learned he was the 'real' version of my Leaving Fletchville fictional character Leon George, a descendant of the Black Loyalists who were given (poor) land in Nova Scotia in the late 1700's as a reward for being loyal to the British throne during the American Revolution.

During the many days at sea I was able to revise and get Shirley and my brother Erik to proof read the latest manuscript I am working on. I am hoping to send a sample chapter off to various publishers in the next few weeks.