Tag Archives: writing

James in His Jeep Getting Java-the Cloverdale Edition

20160617_144729June 17, I was invited to present a workshop at the Cloverdale branch of the Surrey Public Library on writing action scenes. Writing action is what I’m known for with paranormal fiction involving wars between werewolves and vampires (mine was out before Twilight before your mind goes there) and secret martial arts clubs in Flying Feet.

There’s a lot of violence happening in the world right now, and it may seem irresponsible for authors to write about it in fiction–especially in books where impressionable youth are involved. However, those who believe that don’t give enough credit to just how sophisticated a tale youth desire these days, nor to the power of a story to guide youth (and grown adults) through questions and concerns they may have of living in such a violent world. My main talking points were:

  • Write responsibly.
  • Violence should move the story forward, not be a plot device nor be gratuitious.
  • If you can cut the violent scene out without changing the flow or meaning of the story–cut it.

Ten teens showed up (the entire creative writing group) and they were friendly, kind, and intelligent writers. They asked questions, they supported each other, and they made me feel welcome. I have no doubt that we are in for some incredible literature from the next generation and I left feeling encouraged.

The Cloverdale library is set in a city of just over 71 thousand people close to the City of Langley. Historic Cloverdale was settled circa 1870, and is a very cute spot to get a lunch and spend an afternoon. If you remember the TV series Smallville, you will recognize this area as the spot where the show was filmed. The theme song for this post is the intro song to the TV series.

Below is the area where the library is found. There is a museum, an old clock, plus a log cabin in this square. I arrived several hours early to explore (and grab some java) and was glad that I had. Unfortunately, I found the museum too late but will certainly make my way there another day.

What I loved most about exploring this small section of a few blocks was old signage. While the buildings had that rustic “old village” feel, the signage on the side of buildings and the shingles were what really made this place worth seeing. Below are a few of my favourites.

For you Smallville fans, you may recognize the theatre (now closed) as the Talon from the TV series.

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I wound up at the Rustic Rooster for coffee, and had their blended iced coffee which hit the spot on such a hot day. They have a small patio for nice days, and a rather spacious interior with several places to sit and enjoy their food. As well, if you are interested in crafts, they sell quite a few knick knacks worth looking at.

Unfortunately, none of my photos turned out of the cafe so you’ll have to check out their website before heading down there.

Dawn

Well, I haven’t mentioned Dawn in quite awhile as I’ve been waiting for the first set of edits to happen. I got them today, which means I’ll be very busy over the next few months. While the comments weren’t as numerous as I thought they’d be, there was one big one – mainly rewrite the entire ending.


(This is not the cover – it’s one of my student’s drawings with the background from Rancour – done by Matsoureff.)

This means it’s time to see the story with fresh eyes, and leave the “artist” at home. It’s now product, and it needs to be tweaked so that other readers, not just myself, can understand and enjoy it. If all goes well, Dawn will be cast out into the world August 2009 – alongside a new, improved Rancour.

CWC Canada Summer Camp 2008

On Monday I left with Lee Edward Fodi and Dan Bar-El to meet up with Kari Winters, Lori Sherrit and Kallie George at the CWC Canadian Camp 2008. This year it was held at Trinity Western University, which is a beautiful campus in Langley, BC very near Fort Langley (and the awesome Wendel’s Bookstore!).

On arrival, Lee and Kallie raced around their student’s rooms planting secret objects while Dan and I just tried to get our bearings. The theme for this camp was ADVENTURE, and I was partnered with Lori Sherrit of the TICKLE TRUNK PLAYERS. What I noticed most on arrival was the energy the students had – and there was a range from grade 4 up to grade 8 – as they met their roommates and saw the campus.

Lori and I had decided on the theme of “dungeon,” with me leading the writing and Lori the drama. In my class, students learned the terminology of dungeons such as the LORE and TRAPS and CODES or GUARDIANS. I showed them movie clips that reinforced my lecture, and then they began to write.

First they wrote the legend, or lore, of how their dungeon came to be. Then they drew maps, and wrote in secret passageways, guardians of the treasure, and traps to keep would-be adventurers out (or in!). Then they had Lori, who taught them to write a play – everything from story to character. Finally, Lori and I took what they did in both our classes and had them create a comic book.

What I’ll take away from this camp most of all won’t be the classes or the lessons, but the time spent with these awesome students. During free periods, Lee and I spent our time outside working on our own projects. While Lee drew, I wrote. And while we did this, there was always a group of students that came out to join us and watch.

One boy commented to Lee that he had thought Lee’s drawings just came from the computer, and this was the first time he really understood the work put behind each illustration. Another one of the boys told me that he enjoyed writing fantasy, because he could just make things up without any research. When I showed him the amount of research I put into writing my werewolf lore, he was very interested. It was moments such as those, when students got a chance to see working authors and illustrators in action, that they learned the most.

Of course, the camp was not all work. There was a treasure hunt with riddles and codes that had to be broken in order to figure out the course. Everyone had a great time running from point to point, working in groups to be the first to break the codes. It was awesome to see this group of students, many of whom were strangers when they met, working so well together.

The hardest part of the camp is the same as any camp – having to say goodbye and return back to Regular Life. There’s something very special about sharing meals with fellow writers – adult and student – that makes life just feel awesome. Suddenly being at home, typing away on a laptop without anyone knocking on your door to ask a question or slipping a coded message under your door as a prank, that feels a little too quiet. Of course, there’s always CWC camp next year…

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!