Monday, March 31, 2008

The Silver Compass has arrived ... Readings planned for Alberta/Chicago

In some ways it seems odd having an April Fool's Day release date for a book, doesn't it? Either way, the next 3-4 weeks will be busy as I put aside what I'm working on now to properly introduce everyone to novel #3 of my writing career.

If you live in Southern Alberta, please join us this Friday, April 4th at 7:00 pm at Redwood House (Wolf Willow Room) in Redwood Meadows, approx 15 mins west of Calgary. Last year, we had over 50 attend and most stayed until 11 pm to chat, ask questions, and talk about the publishing industry.

There's no fee to attend (coffee, beverages, snacks included). However, this year, we've added a Silent Auction with $850 worth of books donated by fellow authors as well as book bags from the Strand Book Store in New York. (All proceeds will be donated to the Banded Peak School Library.)

And if you live in the Chicago area, please come join us at Borders Books, 150 North State Street on Monday, April 7th at 12:30 noon for a reading/signing. I'd love to meet you!

Additional events are also planned for later this month. Please refer to sidebar on right.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring break balancing act

It's spring break, the kids are out of school, and my husband is away on business until Friday night (seems suspiciously convenient, don't you think?)

So far, I've spent three days juggling promotional details for the novel I have coming out next week (yes, The Silver Compass hits book stores Tuesday) along with my kids and a steady flow of interruptions...

First there was an hour-long argument where my youngest swore he saw his brother cheating at Monopoly. "Where are your ethnics!?" he kept screaming. "Where's your confidence?!" (To clarify, he meant ethics and conscience, both often discussed in our home.)

Then, on Tuesday, my oldest (with a straight face and seemingly 100% serious) asked why I don't run a daycare from our home during the summer months? My response? Something along the lines of, Are you out of your tiny little mind?!

Yesterday, I took them for haircuts, and my youngest suddenly became a wall, refusing to let anyone touch his head with scissors & demanding to know why(loudly) I can't just accept him for who he is?!

Of course, all this rattled the hairdresser so badly that she gave me the worst haircut I've had in years... I'm talking such a hack job here that as we exited that spring-break-infested hair salon, my oldest turned to me, grimaced, and said, "It's not too bad, Mom. Just don't show anyone the back of your head when you're promoting your new book."

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dream vacation gone bad?

Now here's a picture that'll get any writer's creative juices flowing... Can you imagine wandering down a beach and stumbling across a sight like this?! I sure wouldn't be boarding a flight to leave that island any time soon, not unless I was medicated and strapped to a stretcher with restraints of some kind!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The fun behind character creation

I've been developing a secondary character for my new novel, Keeper of the Pond. He's only in the first half of the book, but the man himself, and what he does for a living (he's a magician in the 1930s) will have a big impact on my main character and the choices he makes later in life.

This is my favorite part, creating the characters that will carry the story from beginning to end, letting them get under my skin, allowing them to become familiar enough that I start thinking about them all the time.

Want a character to be shorter? Poof! He's now four feet tall. Think she should have an addiction problem? Tap-tap-tap on your keyboard and suddenly the woman's gambling online after her family goes to bed. Need some dramatic tension? Poof again as a door opens and there stands the 15 year old son your protagonist never knew he fathered back in high school...

And all this states the obvious: that writers really are just a buncha control freaks, don't you think?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Oblivious to my own back yard

Why is it that we often can't see the beauty of our own back yard until someone else comes along and explores it with a fresh set of eyes? When I looked at these photos this afternoon

(all of them taken 30-60 min from my front door) I went very quiet (a rarity for me), mostly because they show me what I've been missing over the last year while I've been hunched at my desk, writing, or else juggling my family's needs.

My author guest, Patricia Wood, leaves tomorrow and given the sheer volume of photos she took (I'm talking hundreds here) I think I can safely say she enjoyed her visit stumping through Kananaskis country and the Rockies almost as much as I did.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Author acting as tour guide

The guest room at my home is a busy place. There's forever someone coming or going, family or friends on their way to the mountains or on their way home from skiing/hiking/climbing...

At the moment, I have an author, Patricia Wood, visiting from Hawaii who's never seen the Canadian Rockies. Or a black bear. Or a dog as big as a black bear. She flew in to meet with four Calgary book clubs and a library group, all enthusiastic readers and huge supporters of my work. (By the way, thanks ladies. I can't believe there were 38 of you at the bistro last night from the first two clubs. You guys rock!)

While she's here, Pat's also determined to see the mountains, so today I took her to Kananaskis (only minutes from where I live) and also plan to take her to Banff. She keeps begging me to help her spot a moose, which will take more effort than she realizes as she's under the impression one simply snaps their fingers and *poof* a moose materializes, camera ready. Clearly she's been watching waaaay too much Animal Planet, don't you think?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Three prize packs for March + don't forget to check out these debut authors

The Silver Compass hits book stores a little over three weeks from now on April 1st and because we've had such good response to the monthly blog contests (in Feb we received a total of 286 entries) this month we're giving away three prize packs.

Each winner will receive a copy of the book, their own silver compass and the funky book bag shown above. So pass the word to your friends and family and get them to enter too. One entry per person and please send your email entry to before March 31st. Good luck!

P.S. Don't forget to check out these brand new debut authors: as well as Trish Ryan's upcoming debut, due out April 30th. It's called He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not: A Memoir of Finding Faith, Hope and Happily Ever After. Learn more at Trish's blog here:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Meeting readers in cyberspace

As a kid, and then a young adult, and then a young woman, I used to dive into books to escape, not unlike the average reader. I was always on the hunt for a good story, a story I could not put down. Some of the books I read were good, others only average, and then there were those that touched me or moved me in such a way that I'll never forget them.

I hated the last twenty pages of those books. You know the feeling. When you're reading and it's so good, the story and the characters and the writing so fine, you don't want it to end. And then you get that awful feeling in your stomach when you notice there are only twenty pages left.

Right about then I would read as slow as I could go, savoring every sentence, not ready to say good-bye to the story or the characters. Then I'd close the book and immediately think about the author.

At that point, I would (and still do) read the book's Acknowledgments Page, trying to get a 'feel' for this person. I wanted to meet the author. I wanted to send him/her a note and tell them what their book had meant to me, but back before the internet existed that wasn't easy to do.

Thankfully that's not the case today.

ie., Yesterday I received the sweetest note from a seventy year old woman from Albany who borrowed her granddaughter's laptop to send me an email. She was writing to tell me how much she loved The Tin Box, although she complained about three swear words that offended her, and then we had a brief back-and-forth about how important it is for an author to write with 'realism' in mind vs. worrying about offending readers.

Some emails are pure gush, which is great because every author needs a certain amount of gush to keep going. Others complain about a scene a reader didn't like, or an ending that wasn't wrapped up enough for their taste, or they might point out a piece of dialogue they feel didn't ring true.

It's all good, though, because I learn from all of these comments. Better yet, because of cyberspace I'm accessible to readers, and genuinely open to whatever they might have to say.

Please keep those emails coming :)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

And the winner is...

February's winner of a silver compass and a copy of my new novel is... Wordman17, who said I could post his real name, Mitchell Taylor. Mitchell just moved to Alaska (something to do with a job in conservation) so the compass will come in handy as will the book when he's stuck in his igloo-like new home late at night with nothing else to do. Happy reading!