Packing – Next Steps Toward the Camino

I have never been a good packer. I wish I could put my hands on the photo of me in my late teens wearing bib overalls and sagging under the weight of my bright orange (very uncomfortable, rigid frame) backpack. Draped over the top was a very thick, voluminous wool poncho (it wouldn’t fit inside […]

via Packing Light as Light Can Be — darkcreekfarmdotcom

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A to Z Blogging Challenge – Write On!

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Ok, I’m a little late to the party with my theme reveal post, but despite the fact I am looking at a pretty busy April, I am going to take part once again in the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. This year, I’ll be writing about writing, which will be a real challenge as writing is my life and, like so many things we do a lot of, I confess I find talking or writing about writing a wee bit boring. Hm… I should have saved that for C is for Confession day…

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Some of the things I thought I might investigate during April are favourite quotes by and about writers, writing tips, and updates on various writing projects (I have several of the latter on my plate so surely I can come up with something you won’t sleep through…). If there’s something you might be interested in hearing about, please leave a comment. Unlike some of the very organized participants, I don’t have a master plan going in so your suggestions for topics would be well received!

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Enjoy the blog? Consider becoming a patron to support the creation of these blog posts, photo essays, and short videos. In return, you’ll have my undying appreciation, but you’ll also get access to Patron-only content, advance peeks at works in progress, and more – all for as little as a buck a month! It’s easy – head on over to Patreon to have a look at how it all works.

Go Trees!!

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What wonderful news to start the day!! Deep Roots has been nominated for a BC Book Prize (Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize). Here’s a link to the full list of nominees: BC Book Prizes 2017

One of the sections that didn’t make it into the book was about trees and art… The past few days I’ve been talking to Dad a lot about art – and trees – so, here’s the link again to the little video we made of Dad drawing a tree.

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Enjoy the blog? Consider becoming a patron to support the creation of these blog posts, photo essays, and short videos. In return, you’ll have my undying appreciation, but you’ll also get access to Patron-only content, advance peeks at works in progress, and more – all for as little as a buck a month! It’s easy – head on over to Patreon to have a look at how it all works.

Two Book Birthdays in the Same Week!

When it rains, it pours, as they say… As if having one book come out this week wasn’t exciting enough, the latest in the Orca Origins series arrived today! Birthdays: Beyond Cake and Ice Cream is a collaboration with my talented daughter, Dani. Dani and I also wrote Take Shelter together and, in fact, have another in […]

via Two Book Birthdays in One Week! — darkcreekfarmdotcom

Deadpoint is Alive!

deadpoint-covers-img_7569It never gets old, the arrival of a new book! Deadpoint was officially released into the wilds today (and, by wilds, I mean your local bookstore, library, or online bookseller…)! I love the quote on the bookmarks, “Fear is not an option.” I even like the punctuation – that period at the end of the statement is just so final. In fact, I think that statement deserves a whole blog post all its own because these days I’m living in a strange state of simultaneous excitement and near panic (kind of like how I feel when I’m climbing, in fact).

Even though the appearance of the book marks the end of one phase of the creative process (I really, truly can’t make any more changes at this point), having the book in hand is also the beginning of a new phase. With any luck, someone will now read it and then, maybe there will be some reviews. Even better, the reviews won’t be awful. There is nothing quite so demoralizing as reading uncharitable words about your baby. I say that even though I try not to take reviews (good, or bad) too seriously. Even though I try to keep them in perspective, it is still MUCH nicer to read a good review than a bad one. That said, write enough books and both good and bad are bound to happen eventually.

The reviews, though, are actually kind of important when it comes to selling books, particularly those like Deadpoint which have the potential to reach an educational market. Schools and libraries prefer not to buy books that are roundly panned. Fair enough. With limited budgets and shelf space, it’s impossible to just have a standing order for every new book that comes out. Teachers and librarians tend to read trade journals when looking for feedback on new titles. The rest of us tend to look at what people are saying on Amazon or Goodreads or Facebook (note: if you are a reader, it actually does make a difference to sales if you take the time to share your thoughts on a book. And, be honest – there’s actually not much benefit to saying you love a book when you don’t. If you hate this one, though, perhaps don’t send me the link… what I don’t read can’t break my heart.)

After a book comes out there’s also an expectation that an author will get out there and talk about it. If the book is for kids or teenagers, school visits and library presentations are the order of the day. I’ll try to do my share of those over the coming months. For non-kid audiences, bookstores are the most likely place for an event. For example, for Victoria-area folks, I’ll be at Russell Books on February 23 along with Miji Cambell and Trisha Cull. Here’s the poster – it would be great to see you there if you are in the neighbourhood! (We will be talking about writing memoirs – and I will touch on how real life had a huge impact on the writing of Deadpoint).

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Deadpoint also got a little early publicity when a few precious copies were given out as prizes at the Night of Lies event in Canmore in November. That was quite the memorable evening, not just because people got a sneak preview of the book, but because that’s where I did a presentation about climbing as a metaphor for relationships in general and, more specifically, climbing partnerships. That in itself wasn’t terribly noteworthy (I do lots of presentations each year), but at the end of this one, I proposed to my now-fiancé, Fabio. It was a good thing he said ‘yes’ as we had several hundred witnesses and a negative response would have been… well, way worse than a less-than-flattering book review.

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These days, there’s also an expectation that an author will do some social media promotion for a new title. I guess this could count as my obligatory ‘the book is out!!’ blog post and if you follow me on Twitter (@writergrrrl) or Instagram (writergrrrl) or Facebook you’ll know I’ve started to let the world know on those other platforms as well.

In fact, the work of promoting a book doesn’t really stop until the book goes out of print. It can be hard to support every title when one has quite a few out, but at the same time, it’s shocking how fast a book can just disappear if you don’t give it a little love and attention.

With all that in mind, may I present to you:

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(If you’d like to purchase a copy, please try to buy this first at your local, preferably independent bookstore, but if you don’t have one in your town, then here’s the link on Amazon. Thanks for supporting your local indies!)

 

 

The Book that Almost Wasn’t (and which is now, apparently, very popular with New York Public Library librarians…)

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Whenever I do a presentation, someone inevitably asks where my ideas come from. It’s a hard question to answer because my ideas come from everywhere, all the time. Getting ideas isn’t much of a problem as pretty much anything anyone says or does, or things I see on my travels (or in my back yard or my dreams or …), snippets from the news, or a passing comment on Facebook or a cool image on Instagram or… well, you get the idea… the sources of inspiration are everywhere. The problem is always turning the idea into some sort of narrative, and that’s true whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction.

In the case of Deep Roots: How Trees Sustain Our Planet, the idea resulted from a question I always ask when I’m giving a talk about books in the Orca Footprints Series.

What do we need to thrive on this planet?
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Kids have no problem answering the question, “What do we need to thrive on this planet?”. Food. Clean water. No pollution. Shelter. Those are the answers that come up right at the top of the list. Several times, though, students offered the answer trees. Which, to be honest, was not on my initial list of things essential to human survival. I only had to think about that suggestion for a few minutes before I realized just how right the kids were. Trees are actually a fascinating subject and, yes, trees are essential to our survival on the planet.

Did you know baobab flowers bloom at night and are pollinated by bats?

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Note: This is NOT a baobab tree.

 

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The more I read about trees (including The Wild Trees by Richard Preston which is just excellent and proves that if you are a good enough writer you can make any subject heart-stopping…) the more I realized that trees would be the perfect subject for another Orca Footprints book. I pitched the idea to my editor and, I have to say, the response was lukewarm.

I persisted and started doing research. And writing. And pestering (very politely) my editor. And thinking about what trees have meant to me over the years (each Orca Footprints title incorporates some personal connection the author has with the subject). Before I knew it, I had a manuscript. The editor started warming up to the subject. The designer started laying it out. We all found photographs of glorious trees making people happy. And, before long, Deep Roots was born.

Well wouldn’t you know it, that book has struck a chord! It has been nominated for a Silver Birch non-fiction award and, just yesterday, it showed up on the New York Public Library list of the 100 best books for children in 2016!! (Here’s a link to the full list.) The Korean rights have been sold and the book seems to be finding an audience for itself!

Trees? You think anyone would care about trees?

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Peeling bark on a madrona tree (aka an arbutus tree) on Sidney Spit, just off Vancouver Island. I LOVE these trees. They are just gorgeous! 

You may wonder what other suggestions from the students I’ve taken to heart. One of the things that was on the list of human ‘must haves’ (according to my informal student polls) was love. It took a little head scratching to figure out how an abstract concept like love could possibly work as a Footprints title, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized the kids were right. Alone, we are small and vulnerable: people need each other. The working title of the manuscript I just submitted this week? Love and Belonging: Family, Friends, and Communities Working Together to Create a Better World. I suspect the title will be shortened before the book comes out, but it turns out the manuscript was really interesting to write.

It’s all about love. heart-love-romance-valentine

At this point (we’ve had no editing rounds yet) it includes material as diverse as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, prison nurseries, the UN Charter, the Human Genome Project, what it means to have a BFF and the Los Angeles Police Department’s take on gangs. And trarantulas and the people who adore them. The book is not scheduled for publication until 2018, so we’ll all have to wait and see how it does, but the success of Deep Roots gives me hope that listening to my readers is perhaps the best place of all to look for inspiration.

Myths of the Sea

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And the newest of the new books has arrived! This was a cool project with Pearson in London. There are three pieces included this volume – a short short story called Sean and the Sea Maiden, a re-telling of part of the Odysseus story, and a non-fiction piece about real life sea monsters. My contribution was the Scylla and Charybdis story from Odysseus – lots of terrible sailor-eating by nasty monsters. It’s a classic ‘between a rock and a hard place’ story and was lots of fun to write.

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This is a bit odd, but the only place I can find with a link to the book along with a cover image and a bit of a write-up is this Dutch website. I haven’t actually seen the book in the flesh myself – the package arrived in Victoria the other day and I’m currently back in the mountains so I can’t provide any additional information about the illustrator or who wrote which of the other two pieces (Malachy Doyle and Holly Bennett are listed but I’m not sure who did what…). More information to come when I have the book in my hands!

Meanwhile, back to work on the Footprints title Today’s research included reading about Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan and scientists in Antarctica. The chances of me ever getting bored in this life are slim to none!