Chocolate & Chat Rocky Mountain Tour – Day 2


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…

Many Changes

Probably the biggest change that has come over my household was my move from PC to Mac. This is a bigger deal than you might first think. You see, ever since I was a teenager playing video games on my Commodore 64, it’s been drilled into me not to trust Mac. Of course, back then we referred to them as “Apple.”

I still recall the arguments between me and my cousin Dion, and my swearing that I would *never* buy an Apple computer. Even IBM (now known as “PC”) was far inferior to the Commodore machines. One of my fondest memories as a teenager was trading in my 64 for the Commodore Amiga, a computer far ahead of its time. (Much of Mac OS, in my opinion, copies what Commodore Amiga was doing in the 80s.)

Unfortunately, Commodore went bankrupt and I had to make the choice between PC and Mac. In the 90s, there really wasn’t a choice. Software and support just wasn’t there yet for the Mac, and all my friends had PCs. So, to the PC I went.

I’ve never been impressed by how difficult it is to maintain a PC. The constant software updates, the security glitches, and the viruses drove me nuts. I’ve lost entire hard drives to viruses, or to software glitches, and lets just say when my PC died recently I made what I consider a bold decision.

First, let me tell you a few reasons why I made this decision. At every CWC camp I’ve gone to where I’ve shared a room with Lee Fodi, I’ve had the chance to directly compare his Mac to my PC. Windows takes forever to load, and every program, because they have to go through the virus checker first, takes forever to run. The hard drive is loud, having to load drivers when you install new hardware is annoying, and Windows crashes constantly. Then there was Lee’s Mac, that would load up, connect to the Internet, and allow him to answer emails just as my PC was finishing loading Windows. I kid you not.

After our trip to Korea, where my PC let me know it was going to die and die soon, I decided that it was time to replace it with a Mac.

I went Mac. It’s been an easy switch, and I think it may be due to my teenage years with my Amiga-500. The Mac feels like the Amiga, and it even acts like one. It’s user friendly, simple, and a powerful little machine. I do have some Windows only programs that I can’t do without, as well as a near brand new version of Office 2007 for which I paid a lot of money. So rather than invest in Mac Office 2008, I bought VM Ware and Windows XP to run on the Mac. Now I have two computers in one – and let me just say that Windows, so far, runs more efficiently on my Mac than it ever did on my PC.

To make the switch even more fun, fellow writer and friend kc dyer has also gone Mac. There’s nothing more fun than sitting in a cafe, Mac to Macbook, discussing the cool new things you’ve learned.

Good times ahead!

Chocolate & Chat

These are some photos from kc dyer’s and my “Chocolate and Chat”, the second of a series of events we have planned throughout the Lower Mainland. It was a beautiful sunny day, and instead of setting up shop inside the bookstore we greeted people on the streets outside of the Edgemont Village Kidsbooks location.

 

It was a fun day, and to those of you who stopped by (either to this event or the one on the Thursday before at Vancouver Kidsbooks) I’d like to say thanks. If you missed these two events, stay tuned for four more coming up at various Chapters locations!

It was a fun day, and to those of you who stopped by (either to this event or the one on the Thursday before at Vancouver Kidsbooks) I’d like to say thanks. If you missed these two events, stay tuned for four more coming up at various Chapters locations!

Summer Dreamin’

Come out and meet your local authors at one of Vancouver’s most lively literary arts festivals! CWILL BC will have a table promoting authors in your community.

As well, kc dyer and James McCann will be reading from the children’s tent from 4:30-5:30 p.m., and will also be celebrating* their new books Ms. Zephyr’s Notebook and Pyre!

The Summer Dream Literary Arts Festival is an annual, engaging, outdoor festival established to raise public awareness regarding the on-going literary events, programs and resources available in the community. This year the festival will be located in beautiful Stanley Park at Lumberman’s Arch on Saturday July 21st from 12:00 to 7:30pm.

This literary celebration will be comprised of performances by twenty literary groups, including multi-cultural readings in various languages, a Poetry Slam and a Story Slam competition to be judged by attendees.
Entertainment will also include dancers and two local bands. There will be a children’s area with puppet shows, music, storytellers, face painting and a craft table.

Throughout the day Pandora’s Collective will offer workshops, a panel discussion, a creativity table for crafts and writing, a poetry contest, open mic readings and there will be information tables showcasing community groups and resources such as the Vancouver Public Library and
The Federation of BC Writers.

Vancouver Poet Laureate, George McWhirter, will do the opening reading at the Festival. For more information, see here:
http://www.pandorascollective.com/sdrfestival.html

*due to park regulations, books cannot be sold at the festival. If you’d like a signed copy, simply pick up your copy ahead of time from your favourite bookstore and bring it with you!

CWC Summer Camp

Monday to Wednesday I spent with the CWC writer’s camp out in Abbotsford. The scenery was beautiful, with green trees and rolling hills. (Of course, to truly appreciate the serenity of the location I had to ignore the gun shots that went off every 5 minutes – apparently to scare away birds from farmer’s crops…)

Monday we arrived and checked in. My roommate for the 3-day camp was fellow author Lee Edward Fodi. The first thing we did (like all good authors do) was to set up our computers and check for wireless. He had a Mac, and I had my PC. Just like on one of those commercials, he had his up and running on the ‘net in a matter of seconds while I spent a good 10 minutes just trying to get a signal. Grrr!

After check-in we had a sort-of pep rally to get the students and parents in the mood for a great time at camp. Kari Winters, Lori Sherritt and Shelley Macdonald offered their expertise in drama, and myself, Lee Fodi and kc dyer took on the writing portion. Our theme was Circus and Magic!

I had all day Monday free from teaching. I spent the day sitting at a bench under a shady tree (still got burned) and wrote to my heart’s content. It was wonderful! To just sit and listen to the birds sing, the dragonflies buzz around me and overlook the wondrous green valley and feel the words spill from my imagination to the page was heavenly. (Of course, do keep in mind that I was writing the darker side of life filled with night scenes, vampires and werewolves.)

What I discovered from doing this was that inspiration comes not just from telling your students about writing, but from them seeing you act on what you preach. At one point that evening Lee Fodi worked at finishing up a drawing for his next book while I scribbled away my chapters. A young lady named Melanie watched in earnest, and finally said, “Wow. I get to see real authors at work creating books that aren’t published yet.” When I was her age I would have loved to have had that opportunity!

Tuesday I had two 3-hour classes with the grade 6-8’s. Our first class we discussed the book, “Tiger Rising” by Kate Di Camillo. We spoke about the tiger being a metaphor, first for the boy’s caged emotions and also of the girl’s savage anger. I also tied it into circus, and of how many people feel it’s wrong to cage animals for entertainment. We created characters, backgrounds, and even maps where their imaginary worlds might exist.

That evening Shelley MacDonald worked with them to develop skits. I came in during the second half and helped out a little; after all, I do have a short-term theatre background. Wednesday morning the students had a chance to finish any stories they were working on, and also to practice their skits. For during the afternoon, they had a performance for the parents to show what they’d been learning while at the CWC camp.

My favourite parts of the camp were the conversations I got to have with the students between classes. These were enthusiastic kids with big imaginations and it was fantastic being a part of their energy. (And believe me, they had LOTS of energy!)

The best part – from Monday to Friday I get to participate in a similar camp at the Vancouver Public Library. For 5 days I’ll have another opportunity to inspire another set of young writers, and to be inspired by them!

Spring Book Hatching 2007!

The Spring Book Hatching was a resounding success! With anywhere from 300-500 people (depending on who you ask), we kept a packed house of revolving (meaning not the same all day) people who came out to meet their local authors.

A big thanks goes out to the Spring Book Hatching planning committee, namely kc dyer, Diane Haynes, Melonie Jackson, Jaquie Pearce and Lee Edward Fodi. I also feel the need to thank Pam Withers for suggesting this idea to me during her 2005/2006 Presidential term over CWILL.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, here are some photos.