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!

Joss Whedon and Bookselling

I have this customer that shows up every three or so months from, as she puts it, “The Evil Empire.” (I’d put some explanation into that, but I have a feeling that the statement by itself is far more interesting than the reason.)

Today when she came in we got to talking about what we’ve been reading, and (if you can imagine) we got on the topic of Joss Whedon. For those of you tuning in for the first time, I’m something of a Whedonite. I belong to Whedonesque, I own several DVDs of Buffy, I watch Firefly episodes ritually on Sunday mornings, I own graphic novels written by Whedon and I recently paid a small fortune for a book titled, “The Existential Joss Whedon.” (The latter compares Whedon to Dostoevsky and Kierkegaard.)

Anyway, in this conversation several other authors cropped up. Darren Shan (we are not worthy!) and Mari Mancusi to name but two. Funny that Richard Mattheson didn’t get mentioned … he is, of course, even King’s king. During this conversation P. (I won’t use her full name – lest the Evil Empire learn of her fraternizing with the enemy), held up a bag she had with the name “COMIC SHOP” on it. She had the first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s 8th episode!
So, no real point to this post except that I am consumed with wanting my own edition of the new Buffy graphic novel. (A customer dared tell me today that I read “comics.”) Perhaps that will be my Sunday afternoon indulgence!