Sunday, October 31, 2010

The trip so far

Apologies.  It's been ages since my last post, but between driving, hiking, visiting, and reading natural history material in preparation for our next stop, I have been slack with posting.  But, we've been having a wonderful time so far and I do promise to post of  couple of reviews of books I've read soon.  In the meantime here's a bit of a travel log.

After a few days of visiting my mom, we went to Bodie, California, an abandoned mining town which sits at nearly 9000 feet.  It was fascinating.

Then onto Manzanar, California, the home of a US Japanese internment camp in the middle of Owens Valley (the place where water was taken from to feed LA; it's the basis of ChinaTown, a movie about how corruption let to 95% of the Valley's water being sucked dry).  Apparently it used to boast being fertile orchard country.

After another long drive, that included a tour through Death Valley before we visited the Grand Canyon.  These photos don't come close to the grandeur...

Then onto my brother Bart's  in Phoenix.  We cruised around Canyon Lake, which I hadn't been to since I was a kid (it's one of the nearby lakes where we used to camp when I was a kid).  We also went to the Museum of Music which is world class, and so well done; it was amazing and well worth a visit if you're in the area.  

When we left Phoenix we headed for more Canyon Country.  The first stop was Monument Valley where a lot of the westerns were filmed.  We also visited Gooseneck State Park.
We've been covering a lot of miles, but every day seems to be a highlight.  We visited Mesa Verde, one of the homes of the Anasazi (a word no longer in use by the way) which totally blew me away.  The drive up and down just about did me away, with hairpin turns and steep cliffs, it sits atop the very high dessert mesa pictured here.

I thought Mesa Verde was amazing.  Then we went to Chaco, New Mexico, another home of the "Ancient Ones" ( 850-1100 AD).  It was desolate and beautiful and amazing.  It's been called the North American equivalent to Stonehenge since the building site is aligned such that light shines through corner openings at specific times of the year to capture solar and lunar cycles.  It was a major cultural centre for the Pueblo peoples and comprised the largest buildings in North America until the 19th century.  It's mainly quarried sandstone, but the Chacoans hauled wood for roofing from as far as 50 miles away... without the aid of the wheel!

Next installment in our Four Corners visit is Arches National Park and  then Bryce Canyon and points north.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Suzanne Collins coming to Vancouver, BC

Dratted.  I just heard that Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games trilogy fame will be in Vancouver, BC on November 2th at Vancouver Kids Books.  I won't be back from my trip by then, but if you're anywhere near Vancouver, I hope you get a chance to see her.  The  event is expected to sell out so get your tickets early.

Sad & Excited

Just said goodbye to my girls after a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  I'm sad and excited all rolled into one.  I treasure the time we spend together now that they each have their own busy lives, but this leaving was made easier because tomorrow is day one of a month long road trip to the American Southwest where I'll get to reconnect with my mom and sibs, and where I'd love to set a novel (after the one I'm working on now).

This has to be a short and sweet post as I'm on the run to get a million errands done.  My next chore (hee hee) will be to pick out a couple of books from my bedside pile to bring along.  I had planned to bring Inkdeath, the third in Cornelia Funke's Inkworld series but I've decided against it as I'm having a hard time getting into it even though I grew to care about Meggie, her parents and the fire-eater Dustfinger in the first two books.  No worries though...there's the pile to choose from is BIG! I'm thinking I'll start with Salt by New Zealand writer, Maurice Gee since I've heard nothing but good things about it. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Canadian Thanksgiving coming up.

Apple PieImage by bucklava via Flickr
I'll be on wonderful Quadra Island, BC working for the next several days and will be picking my girls up from the ferry on my way back into town on Friday night.  They'll be home for the long weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving) so no posts for a while, especially since I have to make apple, pumpkin and blackberry pie to keep everyone happy!  Not to mention turkey!  Hope you all have a great book to read!

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Monday, October 4, 2010

ADD on the YA Highway

Neil GaimanImage by photognome via Flickr
Great post on YA Highway this morning on how an ADD teen might receive your book.  It's too funny. Kristin Briana Otts compared the first lines or paragraphs of several classics like To Kill A Mockingbird, Brave New World and Jane Eyre for ADD friendliness and throws The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman into the mix as a comparison.  Her conclusion is no surprise...tight first lines may win you an agent, as well as teen readers down the road. Of course this is something that all YA writers know right?  But, hey an occasional reminder won't hurt.

Just so you know, Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book rated 10/10 ADD friendly!  I totally loved that book, whereas Jane Eyre only managed a 3/10 for ADD friendliness.  I never did get through that one (sorry all you Bronte fans, but I found it a bit tedious.  But I do like this new cover.  Hmmm, red shiny things...I wonder if that makes me ADD...

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Saturday, October 2, 2010

One Love | Playing For Change | Song Around the World

This is an amazing clip.  It's creative and clear and just plain great music.
I had to post it even though it isn't book related.  Maybe it will inspire someone to create a literature-based spin-off.  If you do, please let me know.  Until then, enjoy!

Teen Writing Groups

I happened to come across this youth writing program when I was looking for something else.  If you live near Edmonton or Calgary, Alberta, are between the ages of 14 and 19 and are interested in honing your writing craft, check out these two groups that meet on a monthly basis.

Teen Writing Groups – Edmonton and Calgary
The WGA Teen Writing Groups meet on a monthly basis and are mentored by writers Erinne Sevigny (Edmonton) and Sarah Ivany (Calgary). The purpose of the groups is to unite teens interested in pursuing the craft of writing and provide a fun, friendly, safe and structured environment for participants to receive constructive feedback on their writing, involve themselves in literary discussion, take part in on-site projects and learning sessions with exciting guests, and engage with like-minded young writers. The age range for these groups are 14 - 19 (Edmonton) and 15 - 18 (Calgary).

Themes that the groups have explored include fiction, poetry, travel writing, memoir and songwriting. Guest appearances have included Patrick Pilarski, Nicole Pakan, Aaron Macri, Trisia Eddy, Hiromi Goto and Heather Clitheroe. 
If you'd like to join a group or obtain further information, please contact:

An Important Message from Ellen About Bullying

Thank you Ellen for tackling bullying. You are so right. Bullying is far too accepted, and now we have cyber bullying to contend too. There's nothing ok about the way Tyler's privacy was invaded. There's nothing ok about bullying period.