Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I was going to ignore the last Harry Potter book but...

Yes, I had every intention of ignoring the last Harry Potter book, at least until the price dropped. It's not as if I have nothing else to read. But, a friend wanted to see the new Potter film and so off we went. Well, after that it was inevitable. I went out and bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the next day. I had to know what was to become of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, not to mention 'You know who'. So my plan was, no daytime reading; this is for bedtime consumption only I told myself! Unfortunately, my rational, 'I have to finish this manuscript I'm working on and if spend all my time reading I never will and therefore won't be able to pay bills' self lost out to the 'but I want to know' self, and I cheated. I did start out, reading only a few chapters at night, but as the pace quickened, my resolve dissipated. I had to know. Today I finished it, and my 8 hour work day dwindled down to about 3 1/2 hours. I've got to hand it to Rowlings; she hooked me on the first page, and my interest never wained. Writing a series consisting of seven books with each one being more compelling than the previous one is not something most writers can pull off. As far as I can see, she has improved her craft with every book and of that I am even more envious than of her millions. After all, I doubt any of us enter this business with the view to making money. (Check your sanity if you have).From what I read in Publisher's Weekly, sales in the first 24 hours in the U.S. alone topped 8 1/2 million copies. Imagine that many people wanting to read your books! The thing that I find so encouraging here, is that if you write something wonderful and people hear about it, they'll read it; even in this media driven world that we inhabit, they will stop and read. How could I not be grateful to J.K. She has ensured interest in the written word for a generation of kids whom we feared wouldn't willingly pick up a book. As Allison Taylor-McBryde, one of our wonderful youth librarians as well as a UBC professor says, "Harry Potter is an a librarians dream opportunity." Besides, it gives the rest of us a bit of hope that the next book a child or teenager picks up just might be ours. J. K. you go girl!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Vancouver is a Writer's Meca and this is where I will work work work on that novel...or else!

So here I am in Vancouver, taking over another writer's house while he takes over mine. This way I get to (a)help my daughter move, paint, put up curtains, and fill her fridge, (b)stay out of my garden during prime garden distraction season when I could spend days out there and not even turn my computer on, and (c)get back to that novel I've been working on. Yesterday it didn't work as I was involved in the slogging of furniture. Today it didn't work because I stayed in bed to start the latest Harry Potter book (damn you J.K. Rowlings for getting me hooked on page 1!) and then went over to hang curtains as per above. So, tonight it's more of Harry Potter; but no excuses tomorrow...Gotta go, Harry is calling. Sheryl

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Serendipty pictures

So, I have finally gotten around to buying a new battery for my camera and have downloaded some long neglected photos including a few from Serendipty, Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable's wonderful annual conference. Here are a few that I think you'll enjoy. Here's Ron Jobe, the man behind Serendipity and so many other wonderful Roundtable events.

And what a treat it was to hear Cornellia Funke speak. Here she is signing books. Of course there was no shortage of local talent either. From left to right is Irene Watts, Joan Betty Struchner, Ainslie Manson, and Norma Charles who blinked at the last minute. Julie Lawson is kneeling in front. Below, illustrator Janet Stevens , who was an absolute hoot, signs books. I wish I would have had more of a chance to chat with her, but I did at least get to introduce her, although I wish I would have had the low-down on her nickname for her sister for that introduction. Ah well, next time. And the last picture of the two lovely ladies is of Charlotte Teeple from the Canadian Children's Book Centre in Toronto on the left while on the right is the most talented Nan Gregory who books you definitely have to read if you haven't done so already.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Butler Prize for Books announces long-list & The Smell of Paint is on it!

A good bit of news came my way on the weekend. My novel, The Smell of Paint, has made the long list for The Butler Book Prize, in the Young Readers' Category. It was in good company alongside books by Andrea Spalding, Dede Crane, Laura Langston, Diane Swanson and Nikki Tate to name a few. Will have to wait two months to see who makes the short-list of five though. I have my fingers crossed.

What a busy few months it's been. Lots of travel back and forth to Vancouver for book-related activities and in helping my daughter search for an affordable condo. Did finally find her a place, although I'd hardly call it affordable. Sigh...I suppose affordable is a relative term these days.

Went to a fantastic Young Authors forum the other day with good friend and fellow author Linda Bailey. Met up with several other author friends, Normal Charles, Irene Watts, Ellen Schwartz, and Debbie Hodge which was also fun. The forum featured fantastic writers like Susan Jube, Dennis Foon, Shelley Hrdlitschka, John Burns and Kit Pearson not to mention Bob Tyrrell from Orca Book Publishers, Ken Setterington, the library's Youth advocate from Toronto, Allison Taylor-McBryde from North Van. library who also chairs the YA reader's choice book awards in BC, etc. The topics included writing for reluctant readers, censorship in YA books, fantasy, historical fiction, and humour. Of course the titles were far more clever and literary, but you get the gist. The format included two presenters per topic speaking for about 10 minutes each, followed by a panel discussion with moderator Phyllis Simon from Vancouver Kid's Books posing questions. Then the audience was invited to ask questions too. So so good.

Sadly, not as much writing getting done as I had hoped though, although plenty of thinking about writing which we all need to do on occasion. For example, Alison Taylor McBride pleaded for more books which reflect average teen concerns as opposed to the extremely brutal talley she's seen come across her desk recently while Orca Bob explained how their edgy reluctant teen series has coped with censorship issues in the US. There was plenty more insight as well as suggestions to mull over while I painted walls at my daughter's place that evening.