Category Archives: author visit

Chocolate and Chat – Day One

Our goal was to leave at 9 AM this morning. Unfortunately, as will always happen with best-laid plans, I was running quite late. It was already 8:30, and I still had dishes to get washed, a bag of trash to put out, and breakfast to gobble down. The good news: the partner I chose for this trip, kc dyer, has much the same personality as I do. Just as I was running behind, so was she. We got on the road at about 10:30 (after a stop at Starbucks for “breakfast”).

So we hit the road to drive from Vancouver to Kamloops, with our first stop on the Chocolate and Chat Rocky Mountain Tour at Kamloops Chapters at 6pm. Plenty of time! kc drove until Merrit, where we finally stopped for lunch. Along the way (guided by my brand new GPS system – that’s SUPPOSED to speak like Darth Vader but is staying quite silent,) we entertained each other with chit chat about life, writing and hopes for the future. You’d think with all the time kc and I spend together that we’d run out of things to talk about – but that’s the way it is with good friends – you never get tired of hearing each other’s stories.

After a brief lunch at Boston Pizza in Merrit (and one of the best steak sandwiches I’ve had in awhile), we hit the road once again! This time it was my turn to drive, and -don’t ask why- I immediately took a wrong turn. You may recall that I mentioned a brand new GPS system guiding us. You may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t you follow the GPS system?” My answer is simple: because I am a directional idiot. The GPS was very clearly telling me to turn around. It was very clearly indicating that I was going the wrong way. (Of course, in my defense, the voice isn’t working so there is no Darth Vader telling me that the force is weak in me and that I need to go the other way.) Once I did a short drive by the Merrit airport, we were back on the right course (GPS and crew were all very celebratory), and headed for Kamloops.

The Chapters was quite easy to find. We also found a nice Super 8 motel nearby (nice in looks – the guy in the room next door is watching TV at what must be full blast. I’m wishing I’d brought ear plugs now). First thing we did was to geek out and check out email. Once that was accomplished we readied for the event – our first in a series of nine stops. Our plan was to do a short talk on publishing, and then host an informal chat with the public. Again, as all best-laid plans go, we had to be ready for a change. People were in and out, and there was never a large crowd that gathered at our table. One mom and daughter had read about us in Kamloops Weekly, and made a special point of coming to meet us. The look of excitement on their faces could only be matched by the equal look of excitement on our faces that someone would be so keen to do that. Another highlight was the family from Williams Lake that stopped to chat – and then returned later that evening to buy our books. A personal highlight for me was a couple of young ladies who I saw at the “If you enjoyed Twilight, you should also read…” table and coaxed over to us. We chatted for a good hour on writing, publishing, favourite authors, and, yes, vampires.

Another part of this trip is that Comic Life is along for the ride, and has given us 2 copies of CL Deluxe and 1 copy of CL Magiq to give away at every stop. I’m glad to say that one of the young ladies that stayed to chat with us for so long was also one of the winners in that draw! I hope she has a blast with it!

Well, it’s been a full day and I am beat. Will blog tomorrow, when we appear at Banff Indigo! We’re even hoping to get in a little video blog…

Road Trips

I’m certainly no stranger to the road trip. In 1997 (still can’t believe it was 11 years ago), I took a road trip in a ’68 Beetle from Vancouver to Kelowna, then over to Banff, up to Jasper, across to Edmonton, then down to Calgary through Drumheller, and over to Winnipeg.


The entire way I slept in a tent, and ate food that I cooked over an open fire. (I had a Coleman stove, but couldn’t ever get it to work.) It was the best time I ever had, and probably the most adventurous thing I’d ever done.


Back then, my goal was to inspire myself as a budding writer. I wanted to find my creative spark, and to get in touch with my creativity so that I could one day be an author. Though my friends and family thought that was a little far-fetched, I did it anyway.


Here I am, 11 years later, with three books published – one that’s going into reprint and a fourth due out this Christmas. Life is pretty awesome. The best part – I’m planning another road trip! Granted, there will be some changes this time around. First, I won’t be going on it alone. kc dyer, friend and fellow scribe, will be sharing the experience with me! Second, I won’t be sleeping on the hard ground in a tent. Comfort all the way!

The best part of this trip is that we have destinations planned. Stops in Kelowna, Salmon Arm, Banff, Cochrane, Calgary and Red Deer. We may even have one more to completely fill our itinerary.

Another difference from that first trip is that Comic Life will be along for the ride! kc dyer and I will be blogging our trip through comic, using this easy and fantastic program. (It’s what I used to create my book video, and many of my past posts.) Comic Life has agreed to let us give away a copy of its program to each of our stops – not a bad value for those who come out to our events! Hear two popular authors, eat some chocolate, and be in a draw to leave with a free copy of Comic Life! 

And I Used to Also Work 43 Hours a Week?

So much has been going on since I last blogged!

First, I got to meet Darren Shan. For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Shan has been an inspiration of mine since I first discovered his Saga of Darren Shan series (misnamed in some countries as “Cirque du Freak – that’s actually just the title of the first book). I was introduced to his work while I was at Kidsbooks, and I’d taken a call from a teacher who was concerned about the contents of the series. Her grades 6+ wanted to read it, and she wanted to know if it was too dark.

Since that’s not a question I can answer without reading the book first, I thought it only fair to judge the book after I gave it a shot. Wow! I was hooked! Here was a series with simple English, but extremely complex plots and twists.

I’ve been a big promoter of Darren Shan’s ever since, so when news came of him possibly (and then definitely!) coming to Vancouver I was stoked. I immediately phoned Phyllis Simon at Kidsbooks and asked if I could meet Shan backstage, and she was able to do that for me. Let me just say that Darren Shan is a super nice guy. He’s the type of author that makes you glad for his success!


Then on Friday I had a workshop at BCTELA. I’ve been feeling as though my map making seminar has perhaps ran its course, and that maybe it was time to try something new. I had tried a fun hero vs. villain workshop with my CWC students the week before that went over well, so I thought I’d give that a shot with the teachers.
This is what happens when one tries something new:
First, the computer the school had was using had an older version of Power Point than what I was using. I tried downloading the Power Point viewer, but the newest one is only compatible with Windows VISTA. Can you guess which finger I’m showing Microsoft?
This meant I had no visuals. What I did have was an hour and a half to fill. I thought fast! I borrowed the laptop from the Kidsbooks display, because I knew they were using Windows Vista. My student techie helped me to hook it up to the projector … and thankfully that worked! Except for the fonts, which weren’t compatible between my memory stick and the KB Computer. But at least I had photos. The rest I could talk my way through!
The workshop was a huge hit! The teachers had a blast, and were impressed with how easily they could start a story by using my technique. What a great time!

After that, I scooted on down to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (hereby known as SiWC) for the weekend. I managed to make it for the dinner on Friday, and two workshops on Saturday, plus a great party with the Compuserve Kidlit crowd on Saturday night. At the party, Diana Gabaldon read from her newest work and Jack Whyte read from a Broadway play he’s been working on.

Tomorrow I’m off to Seattle to see Walter Dean Myers speak. That should be interesting!

And, yes, I am writing up a storm. I have a writer friend who I have to check in with every day and confess either how much or how little I’ve written. I never want to say zero pages!