Thursday, December 10, 2015

deck of cards song

Just thinking of this song that I love so much. I'm not much interested in cowboys or soldiers, but this explanation of a deck of cards is worth remembering. Hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

time flies! December already

For a while, I was doing so well! Posting with a degree of regularity. Then, somehow, that stopped. I won't try to catch up September, October, November and December. One third of the year! What I will do is tell you that I have been writing. I've changed viewpoints a couple of times, and format, and of course even the title. The story remains the same. It's the contemporary young adult mystery, now called House of Secrets. I pitched the story to an agent at the Surrey International Writers' Convention in October, and she has asked for 100 pages and a synopsis. She also wanted me to raise the protagonist's age from 13 to 16. Makes sense, of course, but also requires some rethinking of parts of the story. That's okay. But it's keeping me busy. Especially since I sort of suggested she could have the 100 pages and synopsis by the end of the year. Um, that's about two weeks.
Oh, and in addition, my husband's physical condition has deteriorated to such a point that we are compelled to sell our house and move. The real estate agent wants to show the house in mid-January. We've lived here for 44 years (as of the Ides of March), and ... well, you figure it out!
Blogging has not been #1 on my to do list.
Also, I'm trying to keep up with my Franciscan obligations!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Did I post this before? Creative Writing 200

Here's an article I sent to Tale Spinner, our SCBWI newsletter for members: (I sent it about April 2014, I guess.)

So You Think You Know It All?
            After age 65, it’s possible to take university courses for free.  I qualified a long time ago, and finally this year I signed up.  I didn’t much care which course I’d take.  Maybe history.  Maybe literature.  Browsing through the courses, I made a wish list, but was informed that spaces in all courses were reserved for those who required them for degree qualifications.  Seniors like me had to wait to be informed that our turn had come to sign up for whatever was left over.
            All the courses on my wish list were already gone to those who needed them, and I was given a list of the leftovers.  Imagine my surprise and delight to find the perfect course—one I hadn’t even hoped for—Creative Writing 200.  It’s an overview of the varieties of types of writing—fiction, non-fiction, blogging, graphic novels, comedy, crime, poetry, and best of all, writing for children.  Better still, the section on writing for children was to be taught by our own Alison Acheson! 
            Before that session began, I approached Alison and introduced myself.  She seemed to think I’d know everything she had to say, and that it would all be old-hat to me.  Not so.  I learned a lot.  I had taken writing courses, attended writing conferences, read books on writing, but I wasn’t sure what was out-dated and what was new.  For example, I didn’t know that there’s now an age category called “new adult”, going from Young Adult up to about age 25.  Interesting.  It was also encouraging to learn that much of what I thought I knew was still valid.  Alison’s lecture was anything but old-hat.
            So what about the other sessions?  Did I already know all that stuff?  Some of it, yes.  Again, I felt a sense of validation when I could nod in agreement with the professor.  Some of it, I thought I knew, but found I’d messed around to suit my own way of looking at things.  For example, there’s Aristotle’s triangle, or something.  I’ve always called it Aristotle’s Incline—a plotting paradigm he wrote about in Poetics.  I didn’t do well in that part of the quiz because I called the points by different names.  The nice thing about taking university courses after age 65, when you already have your degree thank you very much, is that the quiz is nothing more than a wake-up call to the fact that, no, I don’t know everything so there’s good reason to be in this class.
            Another reason I’ll be sorry when this course ends in a week or two, is that I like the in-class writing exercises and the monthly written assignments (5 pages, double-spaced, submitted online).  No excuses such as writer’s block or busy-ness will do.  I work best under pressure and with deadlines. 
            It’s a short course, only January to April, held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 2pm, but now I find myself searching the course lists again, and making my new wish list.  It would be wonderful to find another creative writing course to follow this one, because I certainly do not know everything.  If I find one, I hope it’ll be one of the leftovers that I can seize and savour like this one.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

another literary agency

Resuming my review of agencies, I have looked at this one before, but didn't post it here. So, rectifying that omission, here is the link to the The Leshne Literary Agency .

Friday, July 17, 2015

a few agents

Looking through my email, I found an interesting reference that might be useful: The Manuscript Wishlist . I found it in, hmm, have to go find the name of the email message where I got it. Be right back with that!  Aha! Here it is: I got it from the Writer's Digest listserv. Brian A. Klems, online editor, announced a twitter event set for Tuesday, July 21st, with an agent ready for pitches and someone else chatting. The Manuscript Wishlist was the hashtag (?).  I have a twitter account, and I've been known to retwit, but I don't really know how to tweet, etc. So my apologies to all who follow me on twitter, especially if you expect to hear from me that way. I prefer straight email or maybe facebook. Other than that, telephones work best for me. What a Luddite I am!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

another literary agency

Just a quick look at another literary agency that might be a possibility for my work: that is the Irene Goodman Literary Agency .  I like her idea of the Power Summit to help an author's career progress. Irene is interested in middle grade and YA and historical fiction, all of which interest me. She is also interested in "Francophilia"--hmm. Maybe something there.
Others in her agency are Beth and Barbara who have interests I don't share, but Rachel looks for young adult and new adult, also mysteries and thrillers--and "well-written narrative nonfiction." 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Recipe for Welsh Cakes

I'm taking this recipe from a book published by the The Vancouver Welsh Society .  The book is called Cambrian Cooks, printed and bound by Rasmussen Company, Winnipeg, in 2009.  The original recipe is found on page 52, and is by Katie Hughes Perrin Christopher, titled "Auntie Katie's Welsh Cakes."  I made them for the first time a couple of nights ago, to distribute to the children in the elementary school where I volunteer--a "happy summer" gift before the end of the school term. I typed out the recipe and included it in the baggie, along with a juice box.
The recipe goes like this: Sift together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 cup white sugar, and add a dash of salt. Then cut in 1/2 lb butter (about a cup) and add 1/2 cup currants. In a cup, mix 1 tbsp whole milk and one egg. Then add that to the rest of the ingredients.
Then, for the children who might be helping Mom or Dad with this recipe, I advised that they have "CLEAN, DRY, WARM hands" to knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Set the dough on a floured board and roll it to 1/4 inch (about 1/2 centimetre) thickness. Cut the dough into small rounds using a cookie cutter or the rim of a small glass.  Cook the cakes on a greased griddle or electric fry pan, turning once, to a golden brown colour. 
The recipe says it makes 32 cakes, but I guess mine were smaller because I got about 45 cakes.  My husband said they were the best Welsh Cakes he'd ever had. :) After all, I had to give a couple to him to test them. Right? Of course right.


Some day, I hope, I'll have to look at how to market my book(s). Ever the optimist, that's me.  So when I do that, I'll take a closer look at the services offered by Raab Associates . At an  SCBWI conference several years ago, I bought An Author's Guide to Children's Book Promotion by Susan Salzman Raab (published January 2004, by Raab Associates, NY.) But I'm sure there have been many changes in the past eleven years. Still, I find the information in that book helpful and encouraging, and sometimes a bit daunting. Nevertheless, I am sure this contact would be very helpful in marketing my book(s)--whenever they may be ready for that step. As I said, I'm ever the optimist.

Friday, May 29, 2015

an agency with help with query letters

This agency has an interesting blog that I follow, and some very good help with writing query letters. It is Nelson Literary Agency .  Worth spending time in this site, checking out the blogs and their comments.

another literary agent

This time I'm actually a day EARLIER than my planned post because I expect to be too busy tomorrow to do much in the way of looking up agents' websites. So, today I looked at The Red Sofa Literary Agency . I looked up "submissions" on that site, and printed out the information. I got twelve pages that I'll have to go through carefully so as to decide if there is an agent there who might be interested in my work. Meanwhile, I must go back and get some of that writing work ready for submission. But first, one more agency website to look up for my next post.

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 2015 continued

The second agency I looked at today is Stonesong. I recognize one of their authors as someone I think used to be a colleague of mine when I was teaching at Vancouver Community College. Michael Buckley.

 That link seemed to work, so I don't know what the problem was with the other agency's link I tried to use in the previous blog post. I tried it again just now and it still says I don't have access to that browser. Hmm.

Computers will always be a mystery to me, even though I've been using them on a daily basis since I bought my first "TRS 80" in 1984. For that one, I had to write my own program in a language called "Basic" before I could do anything with it at all. It had to be connected to a tape recorder and a TV set, too. Dinosaur days.

May hits and misses

Again (and this is getting really old) I'm rushing to get my monthly message in. I was hoping to do this on a weekly basis, and still hope to move in that direction, but life has a very bad habit of getting in the way of best laid plans!
One of the plans I had was to blog about agents' and publishers' websites. So far, I think I've mentioned only two.  So, today I have two more.
The first one looks quite promising for my purposes because I've met two of the authors, Alison Acheson and Nikki Tate.
I met Nikki in Bologna, Italy, at the Children's Book Fair, where I was helping to man the SCBWI booth. I had brought Nikki's promotional materials--bookmarks, etc., and was displaying them for her.
I met Alison at UBC earlier this year, where she was giving a lecture on children's writing. The course was Creative Writing 203. I later signed up for 303, expecting her to be the instructor. However, she was teaching a section at an inconvenient (for me) time, so I took the course from Maggie De Vries, who had also instructed 203. I had a chance to chat with Alison because I know her through one or two listservs to do with SCBWI. She'll be teaching CrWr 353 next January, and I plan to sign up for that course.
Nikki and Alison both have Amy Tompkins as their agent, at Transatlantic Agency, I would have put that in as link, but for some reason my computer has decided that I "don't have access to that browser"--whatever that means. So, please just copy the URL into YOUR browser and maybe you'll have better luck. Apparently my browser is a dud.
More about the second agency in the next blog post.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 2015 follow-up

One of the things I said in that last blog was that I looked at two agencies but I gave a link to only one. Here's the second.. It's Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency Inc.  Originally I selected this agency for my non-fiction work (biographies), but I also have novels. I need to take a closer look at this agency when I'm closer to send queries.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Best laid plans

Best laid plans of mice and men often go astray (or something like that, apologies to Robbie Burns).  So, this month my plans are to continue my writing and researching for writing, and post some of this here in the blog. Most especially, I want to post about agents' and publishers' websites. Ideally, that would mean weekly blogging--something I'm not used to doing, but we'll see how I get along with it.
As usual, I'm behind time with it, because I should have blogged about this on Saturday, so I'm about four days late. Not too bad. I can always meet deadlines imposed by others (such as professors or editors) but when it's "just me" I tend not to take it so seriously. Not a good quality!
Anyway: On Saturday I looked up websites for two agents. The first, was Strothman Agency . Unfortunately, I found that they are looking for scholars and journalists, and I doubt if they'd be interested in any of my children's stories. I thought of that agency in regard with a book of biographies that I thought I'd already finished. But when I read over what I have written, I realized that there is a lot of work yet to be done on it. Nevertheless, I'll keep writing the biographies and searching for an agent or publisher for it.
My best laid plans? So far, so good.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March is over already

February was too stressful to post blog entries, so there's not much there. March has been better. Now even March is over and I'm pausing to look back. All the courses at CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) are over now, as far as I know.  We've learned a lot. Now, my husband's sight is gradually improving, but he is still unable to see well enough to read, and he'll never drive again.

As for me--my stress level is better, but I'm still close to the edge sometimes. Driving seems to be the biggest stressers. I try to keep that to a minimum, but can't cut it out altogether. Not and get to all the medical appointments, etc.

Also--the writing course ended on Monday. I'm really going to miss it. Over the past three months of that course, I've written some very valuable scenes for a book I intend to finish. Didn't write the whole book, though. It would have been better if I could have done that. Three months is not sufficient time, however. Maybe there'll be another course I can take in September.

Monday, February 9, 2015

another writing course

In January, despite all that's been going on (see previous blog post), I signed up for yet another writing course: Creative Writing 303, again about writing for children. This time, instead of short stories and picture books, we have to write a novel for middle grade or young adult--my main interest!  However, rather than work on something in progress (I have a couple of those, at least) we have to write something new. That's okay. I can always transfer what I'm learning while working on this one to the others that are on the back burner for now.

missed January

Not a very good start to 2015! Missing the first month of the year altogether! However, I guess there have been mitigating circumstances.
The second half of 2014 was occupied with my husband's health: first pneumonia which led to the discovery of lung cancer, then a TIA which may have been part of that. Then the last part of the year was filled with his thoracic surgery and hearing the beautiful words, "Cancer free"!  That good news was followed with the devastating event of him suddenly going blind.  Giant Cell Arteritis, is the new name we've had to learn. That's what attacked the optic nerve in his only eye (his left eye is artificial), and blinded him. Thanks to many prayers and massive doses of prednisone, some of his sight has returned.  But having a blind husband puts a whole lot of new responsibilities on my shoulders.  Whereas for decades I've relied on him to chauffeur me here and there, now I'm the chauffeur, the secretary, the cook, the nurse, etc., etc.  All the while, we're trying to live normal lives--me with my volunteering and writing, and him with his assorted activities all of which have been put on hold.
Yesterday, I took him to a Family Respite Centre, where he's spending three nights to give me a couple of days of rest. It's a nice place. Our eldest son spent a few nights there a month or two before he died of cancer.
So today I'm just doing a bit of this and a bit of that. Hence the blog entry--trying to catch up, as always!