Here’s the link to my post on LinkedIn about the world finally coming around to the idea that content really is king… Have a read if you were wondering what has prompted all my recent online activity! And, yes, the blog is in the cue when it comes to getting a little lovin’…
If all else fails and the other obligations keep piling on, April (and another AtoZ Blogging Challenge) is just around the corner. My nightly Pillow Talk broadcasts will be ending soon (I think. That was a 100-Day project over on Nikki Tate Loves Books on Facebook and the 100-Days comes to an end on January 31. I say ‘I think’ because I’ve really been enjoying doing those…). I will miss reading aloud to the world every night at bedtime, but if I cut back on how often I put you to sleep that will open up a sliver of time and mental energy for a little more regular blogging…
What Am I Working On? Well..
While I’m here – super quick update on the current WiP – Choosing to Live, Choosing to Die: Considering the Complexities of Assisted Dying is in the final stages of design, proofreading and production — watch for that later this year from Orca Book Publishers.
The first draft of the Footprints title on global deforestation is due by the middle of this month and then it’s back to work on the Orca Issues book for teens about civil disobedience. Yep, lots going on, but all good stuff.
New Writing Courses About to Launch
And, hey – if you are interested in getting a little writing done yourself, check out this new project of mine. My writing school is about to launch online! I am SO EXCITED about the first class, which is starting in March. It’s been a long time coming, but apparently, 2019 is the year when it’s all coming together!
But just before I get to that dreadful muddly middle where it seems there is no realistic chance I will ever finish writing the first draft, there’s a lovely stage of enthusiasm and ease that lasts up until about the first third is done. I’m nearing the end of that blissful stage in That Deforestation Book and I thought I’d take a moment to pause, reflect, and enjoy the fact that things are going well.
There are loads of resources out there and I’ve sunk my teeth into several (though finished reading none). I’m finding my research is actually fitting quite nicely into the fairly detailed outline I set up in Scrivener. I’ve been told by my editor to be careful because Scrivener and Word (which is how I’ll eventually need to export the draft before it goes off to the editor) don’t always play nicely together. For the moment, I’ve decided not to worry about that too much because I’m finding Scrivener to be quite helpful and a good fit for the chaotic way in which I write. I jump all over the place in a manuscript when I’m starting out and only later go back and get all methodical and chronological about the material. That’s when I realize just how big the gaps are that I’ve left to deal with later…
For now, though, I am merrily inserting ‘look at this later’ comments to myself when I discover I don’t know as much as I thought I did about specific details (like the percentage of forests in BC that are clearcut each year and how that number has changed over the past 50 years). On the other side, I’m finding resources like the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN) document, Global Forests Resource Assessment 2015which is available as a free Kindle download and which provides an interesting overview of global deforestation (and replanting) numbers over the past 25 years.
Basically, I’m still feeling optimistic and happy about how things are going. I’m approaching the 30% mark in terms of word count and am easily finding material to slot into the various sections. What I also know is that this feeling of ‘I’ve got this’ is about to turn into ‘What the hell was I thinking?’ as I approach the halfway mark and the beginning of the muddy middle.
So, What’s the Difference between Pollarding and Coppicing?
The difference between the two ancient practices (according to this BBC article, there are coppiced trees in France that have been coming and going, so to speak, for six centuries!) is that one cuts a coppiced tree right to the ground, whereas a pollarded specimen has been cut a bit higher up. In both cases, the new growth is quick, vigorous, and eminently useful.
Thin, pliable, young shoots may be used for basket or furniture-making, but if you leave your fresh growth to mature for a bit, it’s possible to produce quite a large amount of usable wood in a relatively short amount of time. In addition to the basic concept, I’ve added some new vocabulary (stool, copse, lop, poll) and found a few decent photos, so that whole section is looking reasonable.
Have I Ever Coppiced a Tree? Why, Yes I Have!
The first time I coppiced a tree was after a wild blizzard on Vancouver Island. A lovely old, but fragile, plum tree split in half and basically disintegrated under the weight of a huge amount of wet, west coast snow. The sprawling wreckage that emerged when the snow melted was heartbreaking, but the debris was also affecting other trees in our orchard as one half of the plum had fallen across a young cherry tree we had planted and the other half had crashed into one of our favourite apple trees. So, we cut the plum tree down thinking that was that. Lo and behold, when spring came a virtual forest of plum tree stalks shot up from the stump. We left the spindly young ones alone for a few years and they put on quite the show of blossoms each spring. Because the original fruiting part of the tree would have been grafted onto rootstock, we never did get any more edible fruit, but the amount of regrowth was truly inspiring and I used quite a few of the new sticks to build some rustic gates and other farm and garden structures.
That was my introduction to the concept of coppicing which, as my father enlightened me at the time, was a common practice back in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. In terms of That Deforestation Book, my fond memories of lopping and chopping have been recycled quite nicely into a sidebar in the pollarding section…
Word count: Running total 2663 (though, that’s a bit inflated because it includes my growing list of references which won’t be included in the final total…Using Scrivener, I’m not quite sure how to exclude a section when doing my word count. If you are a Scrivener expert, do tell…)
I’m reposting the following in its entirety from my daughter, Dani’s page over on the Team Diabetes website as she says far more eloquently than I could why she is planning to take part in a marathon (!!) next October in Munich. If you are able, please consider making a donation (it can be modest or massive, once only or ongoing… they make it pretty easy to contribute at whatever level you can) to help support her run. Here’s the link to her profile: Dani’s Marathon Page
‘That’s right, you heard me–I’m going for a [42.2km] run!’ (Dani’s Munich Marathon)
Training run to Tod Inlet with Toryn
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to run. Like at all. I’ve spent most of my life avoiding running unless there was a soccer ball involved, and even then, the running was the annoying part that got in the way of making plays and scoring goals. But I have to say that I hate being diabetic more, so here we are.
I was diagnosed at age 5 on St. Patrick’s Day 1993 (fun fact, St. Paddy’s is my most vehemently hated holiday)! and by the time I was 10, a back of the envelope calculation would suggest I’d given myself nearly 11,000 needles of one sort of another to stay alive. The number per day is decreasing thanks to insulin pumps and bloodless glucose monitors, but I’m probably at nearly 30,000 pokes, and instead of daily injections and finger pokes, I have two different devices attached to my body at all times.
I’m lucky in that my body has held up to this physical challenge so far (and fingers crossed, will continue to do so!) but picture being 5 and being told that you needed to control this mysterious thing in your body (by not eating sugar, counting your exchanges/carbs, giving yourself shots, recognizing being high or low, making peace offerings to mystical sea spirits, etc., etc., etc.,) and that if you didn’t, you could lose a leg, or a kidney, or your life.
It’s a lot to put on any kid–continues to be a lot to put on an adult–and has left me with a serious phobia of anyone in the medical profession (which gets very inconvenient as my friends are growing up to become doctors and dentists!) and a pretty large amount of anxiety related to talking about being diabetic. Sooo…don’t expect to hear too much about that when I update. I imagine there will be a lot more complaining about the hill runs and intervals, and the chafing and the new shoes, and the blisters as Toryn and I take on the longest measured run we’ve ever done, by some magnitude.
We’ve committed to running the Munich Marathon in October 2019, and as part of our training, will be covering many hundreds of kilometres between now and then. Just as big a challenge will be meeting a commitment to raise $6,500 in support of Diabetes Canada, who have a little blurb, below.
We’ll be updating you as our training continues–we have a short 5k race in about three weeks I’ll try and remember to post about–and in the meantime, please consider donating to both move us closer to a cure and give me something positive to think about while I do all that running since–see point A–it’s not the first thing I’d love to be doing!
Thank you so much for your support, whether a financial contribution or a high five along the trail!
Team Diabetes is the national physical activity fundraising program for Diabetes Canada. Team members promote a healthy lifestyle while raising vital funds in support of the more than 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or prediabetes. The funds raised help Diabetes Canada deliver on its mission to lead the fight against diabetes by helping people with diabetes live healthy lives while we work to find a cure. We invite you to learn more about Team Diabetes and the important work of Diabetes Canada at http://www.teamdiabetes.ca.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get more interesting around here, guess who will be co-hosting a super cool creativity retreat in Provence in May???? Yes sirreeeee! Have a look at the listing here...
Amazing location (check out that pool!!) – nifty field trips (can you say wine? truffles? ancient markets?) – a chance to try your hand at watercolor painting, journal-writing, pen & ink, or drawing… Work on your novel… or finally try your hand at writing a magazine article… outline a book of family stories for your grandchildren… Wherever your creative heart leads you, that’s where you’ll go… What about a scavenger hunt with your iPhone, honing your photographer’s eye? What would you do with a week (or two, space permitting, you can score a great deal if you book two weeks back to back) in Provence where we’ll feed you delicious local meals, provide you with space, time, and as much peace and quiet or inspiring workshops as you choose?
We’ve structured this retreat so people can come and experiment, play, and create with as much or as little involvement from the facilitators as you like. We’re organizing some pretty nifty local field trips, which you can choose to participate in, or not. Everything is included – we’ve made it easy for you to change your mind on the fly, opting in or out of activities as the mood strikes you.
For more information or to book (spaces are limited and there is a discount if you register early), follow this link:
I confess I’ve been terrible about making sure to cross-post my blog entries from over on my other website.
Instead of reposting all the original posts here, I’ll give you a quick summary and some links to get you started, should you wish to head over there and catch up (see the list of links at the end of this post).
I arrived a couple of days ago to spend some time with family, visit with students at a couple of schools, and meet with my editor, Sarah, about my new WiP, When the Time is Right (about medically-assisted dying).
It’s been a busy few days since I got to Vancouver Island and several things come to mind. First, I really enjoy doing school visits and that’s still true even though I’ve done a gazillion over the years. Why? No matter how often I share my stories, the students never fail to inspire me. Their enthusiasm for reading and writing, their questions and curiosity always leave me reinvigorated and eager to get back to work on the next book(s).
So where am I with all my projects? Recent releases include Cliffhanger and Deadpoint, both about mountain climbing and Better Together: Creating Community in an Uncertain World (part of the Orca Footprints series). The next book to come out will be Christmas: From Solstice to Santawhich was co-authored with my talented daughter, Dani Tate-Stratton.
Now that I’ve met with Sarah, I’ll get to work on edits to When the Time is Right: Choosing to Live, Choosing to Die for a new Orca series about series, complex subjects for teen readers. Once that’s off my plate I’ll refocus on The Last Leg: Three Generations on the Camino, the memoir I’m working on with Dani and my dad (E. Colin Williams). If you are interested in seeing a few photos from the trip we made in the fall to northern Spain, visit our Instagram feed @thelastlegbook. In 2020, my picture book with Holiday House is scheduled for publication. It’s going to be illustrated by Katie Kath (you can see more of her work on Instagram). That book (which combines baseball and bricklaying) will officially have the longest lead time of all my books with more than 6 years elapsing between the time I first discussed the concept with my agent to final publication. Patience, as they say, is a virtue!
I’m also getting ready to start work on a non-fiction book for teens about civil disobedience and, after that, will return to work on the adult memoir I’ve been plugging away at for years about my mom, the nature of personality, and dementia.
As promised, here’s a list of a few links to posts over on the other blog…
During the month of April I took part in the AtoZ Blogging challenge and actually managed to post every day…
A is for Abessess (I was in Paris when I wrote a few of these, so that was pretty cool… what’s not to love about Paris?)
The blogging challenge was lots of fun, so I decided to keep going at the same time as I also challenge myself to learn how to draw. Despite the fact I grew up with an artist (my dad is the painter, E. Colin Williams), I never really explored visual art, preferring to stick with writing.
I am really hoping that if I manage to keep going with this project for the planned 365 days of the coming year that by the end of it I will draw better than I do now… Things couldn’t really get much worse, I don’t think…