Chapters Pointe Claire Signing

Thirty to forty books, that’s what Deb Aubin says authors who do any kind of promotion usually sell at her high travel Pointe Claire Chapters.  In Ontario 20, I’m told, is a good figure. The gauntlet is laid.  
The glove thrown down.
I become obnoxious on Facebook and Twitter.  I post on my high school page. On CANSCAIP’s group page.  On Montreal OuiCANSCAIP.  I send my old friends in Montreal emails. I make Mars Bars Squares.  At the very least you can eat your lonely sorrows away if it turns out no one shows.

No worries.

Monique Polak breezed in like paparazzi, snapping photos and interviewing everyone, creating a nice buzz.  As usual, I met great kids and other readers. A high school teacher who will share with colleagues from another three high schools. One of my best friends from high school, Rose Alyanakan came with her mom and daughter.  (It was Mother’s Day)  I hadn’t seen her since I was 16. I felt lonely for my own mother for a few moments. Other high school friends came.  Best friends from my previous corporate job visited.  A business writer stopped to chat about creating with words and intrigued bought a book herself.    The winning blockbuster figure? Twenty-nine.

Oh!  So close!  Happily every author knows that numbers don’t tell the real story.  It was a complete success.

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Montreal Trip-Kahnawake Survival School

When I heard about my high school reunion in Montreal, like most broke authors with a new book, the question that occurred to me was how can I make this trip tax deductible. I’d always wanted to do a signing in the Pointe Claire Chapters so I called Deb Aubin at that branch and she was amazing. Within a couple of days the event was up on the Chapters Blog set for Mother’s Day. Then I began cold calling schools. Oh so many librarians and teachers seemed so excited for a couple of emails. And then they realized their funding was gone, there were track meets and exams and they were too busy. etc.etc. The calls still achieved contact and I hope the teachers will buy copies of crush.candy.corpse for their libraries. And perhaps next year with fun fair money in hand, they will also think of hosting a visit. One of my favourite schools committed immediately. I love the name of it . Here it is:
I survived Survival School.
This is a Mohawk High School. And as you can see below the building is beautiful, new, bright and airy.Some of the students have attended a Mohawk Immersion program which means their English writing skills might not be at a regular level, whatever regular means.
The large windows allow plenty of light in.

I loved visiting with these kids. But I will be honest. They challenge me and keep me humble. One young man questioned my intent when I asked them to create a “tent” with a recycled manuscript paper
and print their names on in large

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letters. “Why don’t you just ask us for our names?”

Gee I thought I was doing just that. But I think the student wanted to just orally story tell even beginning with his name.

If they write out them out visibly for me, I have half a chance of pronouncing and/or remembering them. Plus as I schemed, they were flipping the paper and reading drafts of my work. I told him flat out I couldn’t remember names. He stared at me, emotionless, or did he think I was lame? With names at author visits I tend to be.

I handed out feathers as a simile/metaphor creating exercise. Students seemed to like letting them drift down not so much describing the colour and texture. Or thinking of any of the symbolism behind feathers.

I paired them off to create scripts. They weren’t keen to act them out. Shy or did they need more
Hopefully the kids learned at least one thing.coaxing?

Sometimes you do your best and then just walk away, pondering. Next visit for sure I’ll come up with

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something that will magically turn them into writers.

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Writers’ Cafe Teen Fiction – Hillfield Strathallan

It was an evening of dimmed lights, fine literature and Nanimo Bars. My favourite young writers Brandon, Kieran, Alexandra, Karishma, Holly, Ally,

Darius, Kylie, Ben and Isabella read the stories they had created over my term as writer-in -residence at Hillfield Strathallan College. Horror, thriller, spy, fantasy, adventure, speculative fiction, not one of them was alike. I emceed with a few toes in my mouth mispronouncing and mixing up names. I hate that because I feel like they shared their souls with me. But unfortunately their souls registered as stories without the names and faces attached. I’ve worked electronically with students many times over the years but that’s always been a problem. Next online project I’ll see if technology can remedy that.

photos attached to the projects. Or Skype a bit in between.

Still it was a wonderful evening of celebration. I couldn’t take pictures as the writers presented, I think that would have made them nervous, so I post the before-cafe-mingle shot and the photo of the flowers and book darts presented to me afterwards. I’m a big killer of plants and loser of bookmarks. For the shot I taped one daisy neck to help it hold up its head. The book darts are intriguing as I can use them to mark reading spots without having them fall out. But it was the wonderful readings that I will remember and the one on ones I had with the talented students.Thank you Mrs. Niebart and Hillfield Teen Fiction writers. Keep reading and writing.

ps Sorry that Gabby Lamay couldn’t read her brilliant and funny story “Brief Rescue.” A plane crash and lucky underwear, you try to figure out how they go together.

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Mail Someone a Book

The other day I received a book in the mail. I’m writing a profile on the author for Canadian Children’s Book News and this was the quickest best way to get hold of her novel. Mailing involves wrapping and costs so I tried to spare Gillian O’Reilly the ordeal by mentioning our next get together. It didn’t work out.
Sneak preview of the author being profiled in the fall Canadian Children’s Book News

When I received the package in the mail, a) I was delighted with receiving something that wasn’t a bill directed to me, b) I loved opening a parcel with a book. It reminded me of the time I sent my nephew a couple of books special delivery. It’s not that books thrill him but I heard from his mom how much the special delivery parcel surprised and thrilled him.
This morning I packaged up 12 Tiger Catcher’s Kids for a school near Ottawa. I recycled a German

Book Club box used to send me my copies of Jades Zweites Leben. I nearly duct taped myself to the box and now I’ll have to make the trip to the postoffice which doesn’t allow dogs so what’s the point in walking there.

12 Tiger Catcher’s Kids almost fit neatly inside

Still. I’m suggesting you all take the time to mail a book to a special person in your life, could be for Mother’s Day or just because. For children especially getting snail mail is becoming rarer, and a parcel with a special book could be the very thing that launches them on a love affair.

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End of the little red engine, welcome MacBookAir

My MacBook had a jaunty red cover that inspired many “cool” comments from students
A friend asked me how you could tell if your computer was “going” on you.  In the past it’s been, after you’ve spilled the coffee, coke or cleaner into the keyboard and/or when the computer just won’t start any more.  This time it was a way more difficult task.  I loved my Macbook, I wrote at least ten books on it and edited and created hundreds of magazine articles, not to mention power points and speeches. I felt it had grown to be a part of my body.
You buy a computer and everyone tells you for writing you won’t need much.  
But then you start loading on photographs, creating slide shows and movies and suddenly you need a lot more.   My MacBook began spinning coloured wheels a lot, chugging slower and slower. There were a few dread moments in front of grade 7s and 8s when I needed to reboot and the wheel just kept spinning. That would have been last year.

 I decided to replace it
Then my youngest announced plans for a destination wedding and spending the money on airline tickets became the best investment I’ve ever made. Armed with an external hard drive as extra storage, I would shoot for one more year with spinning coloured wheels. More frequently there were files I couldn’t open and my operating system couldn’t handle the new ACE storage opportunity which I was dying to try.  Of course a new updated system required more space on my computer.  Space it couldn’t give me.

 A few weeks ago the little red engine that could proclaimed itself totally full, no room to save or operate anymore and I desperately unloaded every image I could to get it running.  Of course this means my book trailer is missing from my power point and lots of other inconveniences yet to be discovered.

I  decided to replace the computer again.  
A writer does nothing if not research.  The delicious agony of visiting the Apple Store, lifting computers and asking questions.  Because I had enjoyed a trouble free five years with my red machine, I was going Mac again rather than PC.  I searched Twitter and dragged my feet waiting for more updates.  Finally I thought I decided on a Powerbook, looking forward to a backlit keyboard as my only real change. (I love to write in the car at night when my husband drives.  Or in airplanes.  But when it’s dark, you have to tilt your screen forward to light up the keyboard.) Then my son in law sent me articles on MacBook Air.   Another visit to the Apple Store.
Finally I bought the 13″ MacBook Air (as in lighter than air)complete with one to one service.
Thanks Mom.
This means I go to computer classes whenever I want.  Yesterday  I learned about Mission Control and how to add another desktop.  Today I learn about iMovies.
I say goodbye to my red machine as my husband empties, cleans and creates a Montreal Canadien’s screensaver for it. We’ve exchanged a red cover for a black.  Today  I turn it over to my hockey loving grandson Hunter for his 11th birthday.  May it chug on to create a million more projects.

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