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I wrote my first novel, Smudge's Mark, in a closet. No joke.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Post-Christmas/Early New Year's Present

It's been confirmed: I'm going to ALA Midwinter in January!!

For those of you who don't know what that means, it means I'll be signing and giving away a few hundred advanced reading copies of SMUDGE'S MARK at the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference in Boston, MA! I'll be there for two nights and I'll be doing two signings. And this is perfect timing since Smudge's US launch is coming up this spring!

For me, this is a huge event! I don't even know where to begin preparing for it! I'm so excited! My inner giddy little girl is clapping and dancing and skipping all over her grown-woman-defined behavioral boundaries.

One of the best things about going to ALA is that I'll finally be able to meet my awesome editor! It's a strange thing, this publishing biz, that you can work so closely and personally with someone for literal YEARS and never have the chance to meet them. And now I finally will!

I'll also have the chance to meet and hang out with a bunch of authors, editors, agents, librarians, publicists, and other bookish peeps at the "ALA Tweetup" - an informal meeting that's been organized, via Twitter, by Deborah Sloan and Mitali Perkins; a couple of amazing kids' lit women.

I can hardly stand the anticipation!

So here's to you, Smudge! Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Three Ships, Whistling, Singing, and Contentment = A Merry Christmas!

The voice of my family's favorite crooner; Jacob Moon, has been filling our home for the last few days:

He did whistle and she did sing,
On Christmas Day, On Christmas Day
He did whistle and she did sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

I, for one, can't wait for Christmas Day.

May your Christmas be blessed and bring a song to your heart.

Sparkly Christmas wishes from me to you,
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thanks for the Post!

I was intending to write a post about how difficult it is to be a writer, especially when you're a mom and have a full-time job.

Well, that was when I HAD a full-time job. I don't anymore (Not really out of choice, more out of necessity due to employer issues - Long story. I am looking for a new one, though.) I AM still a mom, so half of the motivation for writing said post still applies.

But it isn't just because now only half of the motivation still applies that I've chosen not to write that post. It's because I found another post, just this morning, that totally comes at the issue from a different and very refreshing angle. And I'd rather provide you with the link to that post.

So, if you'll excuse me I'll go re-energize with a dip into my latest manuscript as you follow this link and read Johanna Harness's wise words. And you'll see that this advice doesn't only apply to writers. It applies to anyone who does anything. (And I'm assuming you're a someone who does something.)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Snow Day! Er... I Mean, RAIN Day

Whatever kind of day it's turned out to be, my school's been closed and I'm home writing. But unfortunately I'm not writing what I should be writing. I'd every intention of making a serious dent in my WIP today, but as it's turned out my intentions have panned out about as inaccurately as the weather forecast has.

Oh, I've been writing, alright - just as ... STUFF most definitely has been falling from the sky. But just as the STUFF falling from the sky should be forming snow banks, the words flowing from my brain and out through my fingers should be forming chapters in my WIP. But they're not. Instead, they've been forming emails, tweets and this blog posting. And now, lo and behold, it's lunch time. Sigh.

The problem today has been that it's a blank page day. I've come to the end of a chapter in my book and all that's staring me in the face right now is a blank page. I'm not one who outlines and plans ahead - I've tried and it doesn't work for me. But usually when I get to this blank page stage, I go back a few chapters and revise what I've already written. At least then I feel like I'm accomplishing something. And sometimes it helps propel me forward. Sometimes.

But today I thought I'd try something new and push forward without going back first. I'm always so impressed by people who can write an entire first draft in a continuous forward motion - without looking back. So at 8:30 this morning I told myself: Self, today you are not going to look back. I forbid you to look back. You must push forward. Onwards and upwards! Eyes on the prize! No pain no gain! You gotta climb that mountain! One foot in front of the other! Head up, shoulders back, stomach in. Charge!!

I'm still facing a blank page.

I've always hated cliches!
Saturday, November 21, 2009

Is it ever too early to think about Christmas shopping?

I'll share a secret with you: I hate shopping.

There, I've said it. I'm not quite normal, I know. The only time I shop, on purpose, is around Christmas, so I'm seriously thinking about it now. (and I'm breaking out in hives)

Now, some people think it's too early to be thinking about Christmas. Afterall, American Thanksgiving isn't even over yet.

But then again, I've heard of people who do their Christmas shopping on Boxing Day of the previous year. So I guess the end of November isn't too early.

And it isn't too early if you're going to consider buying gifts online. And it isn't too early if you're going to take some time to consider which organizations you're going to buy from.

Please don't get sucked into only buying from the box stores this Christmas season. I know, I know, money's tight these days and who can resist the rock-bottom prices offered by said box stores? But you know, without this coming off as a guilt trip, somewhere someone has to pay for these box stores to be able to offer these irresistible rock-bottom prices. And it certainly isn't us.

This is the main reason I hate shopping.

Now, I'm going to ask something of you. No, you don't have to start hating shopping too. I'm going to ask you to consider Buying to Make a Difference this year. At least when purchasing SOME gifts - if not all.

If this concept interests you, (or if you want to know what the heck I'm talking about) here are a few links to help get you started. I've personally bought items from these organizations - your money will be used in the way they say it will.

Ten Thousand Villages

Sari Bari

Made by Survivors

Toms Shoes

Pura Vida Coffee

Just Us!

If you have any other suggestions of proven organizations that offer fairly traded and fairly made products, please share them here.

Now this is shopping I can get excited about!

Happy shopping!
Saturday, November 14, 2009

Big News? YES!!

I've finally been able to confirm my Big News with my very own eyes. Take a looky for yourself:

This is in the November issue of the tween magazine, The Magazine. What a stunner! I'm still recovering from the shock.
Yay Smudge!
Thursday, October 29, 2009

Big News? Maybe.

Wow. So I was just told something that (to me) is really big news.

But I'm not going to write a post about it until I confirm it with my own eyes.
Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Revision Process Demonstrated

For all you teachers of writing and writers of writing (and would-be writers of writing): here's a great LiveJournal post that talks about the revision process. Take heart! When it comes to writing, it's evident we're all in the same boat! :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Privileged to Be

So, I've said it before during the last week, and I'll say it again:

What took me so long to pick up Percy Jackson??

Rick Riordan is one of my new favorite authors. Usually for me, having a favorite author means that person has, in one way or another, inspired me to write. That person has used their talent and it has moved me, and it totally motivates me to do the same for other people. My favorite authors make me excited to get back to my writing.

Neil Gaiman's dark, bizarre, impossible-yet-realistic tales; Sally Gardner's backstory and ability to completely sweep me into her worlds; Markus Zusak's Death narrator's grip on my heart and mind; Lawrence Hill's ability to make me angry, sad, and hopeful at the same time; Dr. Seuss's (yes, Dr. Seuss!) breaking of all possible rules, and now Rick Riordan's brilliant blend of intensity and humor have all inspired and challenged me.

I'm not worthy... *bow* *bow* *bow* ...to be counted among your numbers.

But I'm privileged enough to be.

I hope you all have the experience of reading books that move you, speak to you, and inspire you.
Monday, September 28, 2009

Just a Little Rant

Is it just me, or do you expect something to improve when you get it updated?

I just downloaded the updated Twitter/Tweetdeck thingamabob thing and now I can't get my Facebook feed thru there anymore. Looks like a dumb update to me.

And when I went and updated my Google search dohickey jobby thing, weird messages kept popping up and the features were limited and kept cutting out on me.

And when I updated Skype, my regular computer functions wouldn't work properly anymore!

Not to mention all the times they've updated Yahoo and Facebook - total, annoying confusion.

Updating is so overrated.

Except, of course, when you're talking about hair.

But, even there, my hairdresser went and updated her career and left the salon - without updating her address book with my phone number! (Sandy, if you're out there, PLEASE call me!)

So, yeah. Down with updating. If it ain't broke, don't wreck it.
Monday, September 21, 2009

Many Thanks

I just wanted to send out another big THANK YOU! to everyone.

Over the last while, I have opened many emails, blog/FB/Goodreads/twitter messages, and hand-written notes that are full of support, encouragement, and congratulations. And each one of those notes has made me smile and think to myself how lucky I am to have so many people in my life - people from all over and in so many different capacities.

Thanks so much for your heartfelt words. And thanks to those of you who have taken the time out of your busy lives to read Smudge. I am truly grateful.

*hugs and high-fives*
Saturday, September 19, 2009

Book Launch

It's Saturday. Finally a chance to take a breather and post some pics of Smudge's launch. It was a great night full of fun and prizes.

A "lucky" winner!

Winner of Gemma's Key necklace.

Winner of Tessa's Thesaurus! (lucky girl!)

Grampa's sketchbook and twencil prize.

And who wouldn't want to win Griselda's feather boa??

Thanks for helping me celebrate Smudge!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If only t-shirts could sing like Bono

Oh yeah, *nodding* I get a t-shirt.

So, as many of you know, my book launch is tomorrow night. As many of you also know, I have tickets to see U2 tomorrow night.


So my husband went downtown this afternoon to see if he could scalp them. And he took my middle son with him.

Was really hoping they wouldn't get arrested. Especially the middle son. He's too young to have a permanent record.

Anyway, as it turns out newbie scalpers have some pretty stiff competition when it comes down to wheelin' and dealin' on the pavement, so he wasn't able to sell the tickets on the street. But word has it he was able to sell them on Facebook.

And, lucky him and middle son, they were able to get general admission tickets at the door for tonight's show.

So, like I was saying: Oh yeah, *nodding* I get a t-shirt.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Smudge!

So, in honor of the world not ending today at 09:09:09 09/09/09, here's my first official interview posted - on Smudge's official birthday - by Elisa Nader.

Happy Birthday, Smudge!
Monday, September 7, 2009

I finally got an answer!

My latest twitter update:

So what if my dreams don't give me plot solutions - this morning I discovered that my husband's do. Sah-weet!

Wow, eh? Who'da thunk it?? So, it's no wonder the last time I asked my dreams to reveal a way out of my plot hole I got the answer "42". I was looking to the wrong twisted mind for answers! (Although no one should be surprised if circusy or Amadeusy types show up in my next book. But, sorry Lambert fans, Adam won't be making an appearance. See previous blog post if the above statements confuse you.)

Anyway, a completely unrelated, bizarro dream my husband had about some people we know just BAM! Wrote the rest of my book for me. (Well, not exactly. It'll take a few months to make the basic idea fit the book and carry the story forward with actual words typed into the document, but you know what I mean.)

And he's not even going to charge me a cent to use it. Oh happy day!

Now I just have to find the time to get it done.
Sunday, September 6, 2009

Me and Adam. And other news.

Yesterday I read one of the most page-turning books I've read in a loooooong time. It's called CRANK by Ellen Hopkins. I bought it in the morning and finished it by midnight. Granted, the text isn't dense by any means - it's written in a very creative poetic form - but still, I couldn't let it go. I had to finish it.

The problem with reading that book in one day was this: one of the character's names was Adam. And reading that name over and over throughout the day must have messed with my sub-conscious because last night I ended up having a dream about Adam Lambert! He wanted to hang out with me. So, he put his arm around me and we started walking. We walked and talked (about what, exactly, I'm not sure) until we ended up in church. In church! You should have seen the looks I got from some of the old ladies! Anyway, as we were sitting there, still talking about the good Lord knows what, I noticed that some of the people who were coming to church were dressed, well, very strangely - like they were either circus performers or had mistaken the church for the set of Amadeus. Anyway, Adam soon noticed these people, too. And when he did he turned to me and said, "Now, if I knew church was going to be like this, I'd have worn my costume too!" And that was it. I woke up.

No more binge reading for me.

In other news... I'm having a Q&A chat over at Goodreads. Stop by and help me get this discussion started!
Friday, September 4, 2009

A lazy re-post

Today's my day off, so as for a "real" post, I've decided to steal my own review of SMUDGE'S MARK as I wrote it on my Goodreads profile. Lazy, yes. But it's my birthday!! :p

What I learned: (from writing SMUDGE'S MARK)

1) Writing a book is no party at the beach. Unless, of course, you're attacked by sharks, step on a jellyfish, get a sunburn, and fall into the bonfire.

2) Editors are the ones who tell you that the waters are safe and to dive right in; tell you that no, silly, that only LOOKS dangerous, feel it with your toes - it's squishy; make the wooden lounge chair with slats for a seat look inviting and assure you that you're not the kind of person who has to worry about protecting yourself with sunblock; and convince you that you could totally clear that fire if you just take a good running start and picture a perfect landing.

3) Editors are also the ones who, when you buy into their confidence in you and take their advice, are there for you with all the surgery, anti-biotics, aloe vera, and polysporin you need to fully recover. You then believe they have been sent to you by God himself. (Which, by the way, they have been)

4) Readers make the whole terrifying, nerve-wracking, painful, yet oh so strangely satisfying experience totally worthwhile.

5) I'm so ready to repeat the above. Many times

A birthday kind of day

Today's my birthday. And I'm taking the day to relax while surrounding myself with some of my favorite things:

--> my backyard
--> coffee
--> a Grandma's Kitchen candle
--> a good book to read
--> sushi

Yay birthdays!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Book Giveaway!

I'm having a SMUDGE'S MARK book giveaway over at Goodreads. It's open to US and Canadian residents and ends on Sept. 17th, 2009. Check it out. (And explore the site while you're at it. It's a great place to find info about the books and authors you love.)

Happy September

Ahhh... September!

I love September. I'm an autumn kind of girl so September and October are my favorite months. I love the way the air smells. I love the way the leaves change color. I love the slight chill in the air. September 1st always arouses a sense of anticipation in me.

Maybe it's because I'm a teacher and September is always packed full of new things and firsts. Maybe it's because my birthday is in the beginning of September and for me it's the start of a whole new year which means new possibilities and the chance of potentials being realized.

And this year in particular I think it's because it's not only my birthday this month, but also Smudge's birthday. Five days after my birthday I'll officially be celebrating the birth of my firstborn book. And then eight days after that I'll be celebrating it's official launch into the world.

Wow. Happy September!
Monday, August 31, 2009

Once you see what it's like inside my head, you'll want out immediately

A friend messaged me with an early HappyBirthday. And, you know, I'd totally forgotten that my birthday is coming up! Lately, the passage of years has been measured by Smudge events, not birthdays.

So, in a few days I'll be over 40. (Thanks for reminding me, Colin!) When I was in my 20's I thought that by the time I was old (ie: in my 40's! Ha!) I'd be settled and content and have worked all the kinks out of my life. I thought I'd be "all set". But, at this "old" stage of my life, I find myself - among a few other life "stuffs" - in a very strange place. An UNsettled place. A place I hadn't anticipated.

This is what one corner of that UNsettled place looks like: I have a book published and on the verge of being press released to various media outlets. I'm up to my eyeballs in the follow-up book and am afraid to blink in case the plot points I'm struggling with get caught in my lashes. I'm returning to my teaching job next week (You know, the job that pays. Sort of sometimes.) and am wondering how I'm ever going to finish this second book by the end of the year when the first one took me six years.

I've had people tell me they (or someone they know) would kill to be in my shoes. But for some reason, the place I find myself in is a place where I'm totally overwhelmed and anxious about all of it. So many unknowns. So many unanswered (or unanswerable?) questions. So, I'm asking myself this question:

Is this what I want to do the rest of my life?

And I answer that question with another question:

What kind of a question is that? It took you 40 years to get here, why on earth would you want to quit now?

And then I answer:

I didn't say I wanted to quit. I just asked if this is what I want to do the rest of my life: Dividing the hours of my days between my passion (writing) and a paycheck. It's like working two full-time jobs, you know. And there's LIFE to be lived besides all that, too. I have a family. Do I really have what it takes to keep this up?

I answer with another question:

Do you have what it takes to NOT keep it up?

What kind of a stupid question is that?

Are you calling me stupid?

No. Well, maybe.

Okay, smartass. Think about this: What are your options?

I have options?

You always have options.

Like what?

Option one: quit your paycheck and devote your time to your passion.

That's not an option! I can't live without a paycheck!

Option two: quit your passion and devote your time to your paycheck.

That's not an option either! I couldn't live without my passion! See, I knew there were no options! You are stupid!

Option three: quit worrying about whether or not this is what you want to do the rest of your life when clearly you won't give up either one. Simply put: You don't have what it takes to NOT keep it up. So.... earn your paycheck so you can live and work on your passion so you can have a sense of fulfillment in that life. Problem solved.

Uh. Right. I knew that.

*Note: this is what happens when you've grown up as an only child and had no siblings or grandparents to talk to about stuff.
Sunday, August 23, 2009


A writer friend of mine says she gets book related dreams all the time. I asked her how this is possible as I have never, ever had a dream that was even remotely related to my books. (Actually, my dreams are very rarely remotely related to anything, including basic levels of logic)

She told me that just before she goes to bed she asks her character a question and then she has a dream in which the answer becomes aparent, in a round-about sort of way.

So I thought I'd try it.

See, my main character is in a bit of a bind. He has been for quite some time and I just can't seem to help him out. He's been told that he can't leave the place he's in. The problem with that is that I don't know why. I don't know why my main character was told by a secondary character that everything has changed and therefore he can't leave. You'd think that if anyone should know the answer to that, it would be the author! Ummm... no. I never know how my story is going to turn out. (I keep trying to convince myself that's a good thing: I mean if I can't even predict what's going to happen, my readers won't be able to either! Well, I suppose it's a good thing when it's all said and done and bound in a nice shiny hardcover, but it's often a terrible pain in the butt when I'm trying to write the darned thing!)

Anyway, I thought I'd try my writer friend's trick. Last night, right after I'd turned the light out, I asked that secondary character a question. It was a brilliant question that went something like this:

"So, uh, why can't he leave?"

I fell asleep with a smug smile on my face, thinking I'd most definitely tricked my subconscious into revealing the answer to me in living color as I slept.

Well, I dreamed all night! Seriously. But it was probably the worst sleep I've had in a while - I think I woke up about a million times. Each time I woke up I thought, "Yes! I'm dreaming and it's all going to make sense in the morning!"

Well, when I finally woke up for real (like when the sun was up) I couldn't remember a blessed thing! Well, besides the fact that I'd been dreaming all night and woke up about a million times.

The only other thing that came to mind was this:



So, there was definitely some subconscious stuff going on in my cranium last night, but it all amounted to 42: hardly original.

I suppose I was asking the wrong question. Which is hardly original as well.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Are you sad?

I read somewhere that there's nothing sadder than an author's old blog. So, to avoid breaking the hearts of and causing misery to my readers (???) I've decided to post something today.


So anyway, the journey of this new author continues...

My publisher has kindly afforded me a publicist who will be working with me here, in Toronto. The funny thing (or not so funny, depending on how you look at it) is that she has the exact same name as my son's grade 4 teacher. And it's not a terribly common name, either. I had my fingers crossed that she wasn't the same person, 'cause, well, she might not have wanted to represent me if she happened to be the same person who sat across from me and had very little good to say all those years ago. What is it with teachers who can't find anything positive to say about their students? Well, that's a whole other topic - which will never be discussed here. I'm still a tad bitter, as you might be able to tell. That's why I was hoping for the name thing to just be a coincidence.

Well, luckily for me, the moment I spoke with her on the phone I realized that they're NOT the same person. (the lovely South African accent gave it away) Did I ever sigh a huge sigh of relief. And she told me she loves Smudge! (My son's grade 4 teacher would never have said that. She didn't like anything.) Anyway, I'm really excited to be working with her and am looking forward to what lies ahead. She exudes such optimism and energy - even over the phone - that I'm so confident she's going to do a fabulous job and get Smudge's name in front of people.

I've also 'virtually' met my U.S. publicist. She'll be working with me for Smudge's 2010 U.S. launch. She also seems like a truly fantastic person to have on my side and I'm excited to see how the U.S. market will welcome Smudge.

In the meantime, I've been preparing for Smudge's official launch that will take place on September 17 @ 7 pm at the McNally Robinson Bookstore in the Shops at Don Mills. I've also attended a massive family reunion this month, been organizing several author events at Chapters stores across the GTA that will happen after the Sept. 17th launch, and I've also been furiously putting the pieces of my second book together in hopes of having it polished and sparkly by Nov. 1st.

Who says teachers get their summers off?

So there you have it. I hope I've made my readers happy again. :)
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hi, my name is Claudia. Nice to meet you.

It's amazing how life can zip by at times. This is one of those times for me. As I try to focus on putting the pieces of my second book together, I am also caught up in the excitement (and frustrations) that come with having my first book out. Add to that preparations for a book launch, my husband's career change, and a summer of family reunions; I'm in the middle of a chunk of my life where I'm having a hard time keeping track of what's going on and when. Just put it this way: when I opened my eyes this morning, I realized it was August!

So, please forgive my infrequent posts. And the way I seem to have fallen off the map. Be assured that I am still here, clinging to the edge of my piece of the globe in hopes I don't spin right off into the cosmos. (Although, come to think of it, it would be a lot more peaceful and quiet out there, wouldn't it?)

Anyway, I'll do my best to drop in from time to time to say hi and let you know what's happening in my and Smudge's life. And soon I hope to include some news as to how my next book is going.

Peace out.
Sunday, July 12, 2009


So, I was hearing these rumors, see. And when you keep hearing the same rumors over and over again, well, you just have to confirm them for yourself, right? I mean, you can't go on forever just taking the word of people who call you up or email you to tell you the juicy news. There comes a point where you just have to go see it for yourself.

Well, today was the day. I finally caved and went to see for myself if the rumors I was hearing were true. I got in the car and drove. When I parked, I thought I was going to be sick. I felt all light-headed and dizzy. My hands are sweating right now as I type, just thinking about it.

"Do NOT make a scene," I say to my husband as we park the car.

"What do you mean?" he asks.

I roll my eyes.

I pulled myself out of the car and somehow got my feet to walk me up to the door. I don't remember opening the door or even how I got to the spot I needed to go - I just got there. And when I did, my eyes went on autopilot and frantically started scanning the shelves.

Holy smokes! Since when did Chapters get so many darned books? I thought to myself as my heart did flips and my eyes started drying out for lack of blinking. It's not here. It's not here. I knew it wouldn't be...

Ack! There's my book!! Right there on the shelf above Eragon!! Somebody catch me!

A young girl was sitting on the floor right by the shelf browsing through the books. "What kinds of books do you like to read?" my husband asks her.

I knew I should have left him at home.

She looks at him like any normal person would look at a complete stranger asking her what kinds of books she likes to read and says, "I don't know," in a very pre-teen girl kind of way.

"This one's really good," says my husband, pulling Smudge's Mark from the shelf.

The girl stands up and walks away.

So do I.

Then I hear him taking pictures. Gotta love his enthusiasm.

Anyway, the rumors are true: Smudge has made an early appearance on some shelves at Chapters. So the next time you go there, take a look and see if you can find a copy. And if you see that poor pre-teen girl my husband scared off, please apologize for me.
Monday, June 22, 2009

Real Life?

A friend emailed today and told me I've been neglecting my 'real life'.

By that she meant this blog. (I think)

Well, whatever she meant it got me thinking.

Maybe I have been neglecting this real life. But, maybe I've been neglecting my real real life, too. I'm seriously starting to think I need to completely unplug for a few days and breath.

But can I do it? Can I really do it? I mean, how will I know what all my "friends" are tweeting about? What if I miss out on something? And what if I have something really clever to tweet myself? All of my 133 friends will miss out, then.

And how will I survive not checking how well Smudge's Mark is doing in the Amazon sales ranking? I mean, so what if no one on the planet - other than the mute and hidden gods of Amazon - knows what the ranking system means; I still want to know. Every day.

And how can I live without the Yahoo news headlines? I mean, think about it. If I'd unplugged myself yesterday, I'd totally have missed out on seeing Lady GaGa's flaming brazier today.

And how would I survive without my email account? I mean, what if I get a rejection email from one of the agents I've queried. I sure wouldn't want to miss out on that, not even for one day! I've been waiting so long for those!

"Real life", or real real life?

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's a real, live book!

The day has finally arrived.

Just as I was starting to think it was all just a huge, cruel, elaborate hoax... a cartonful of my very own book arrived on my doorstep this afternoon! And, just as it is so often with me, after the three year long process and waiting for what seemed like forever to get this baby in my hands, when the moment finally arrived, I was in the shower! Sheesh! Good thing hubby was home to open the door for the delivery guy. He told the delivery guy it was lucky for him I didn't open the door or I might have jumped him and kissed him. Delivery guy said he'd be back.

Anyway, the book. It's here. It's awesome. And apparently the amazon orders have been sent out, too, so soon some of you will hold in your hands the incarnation of my blood, sweat, and tears of the last few years. I hope you enjoy the story.

I'm now fighting off a headache before we go out to celebrate. I live totally and completely in the moment, which often leads to my head feeling like it's going to split open due to the intensity of the moment in which I'm living. If I knew I'd be getting the books today, I'd have prepared myself the way I usually do when anticipating an emotional and exciting event: by loading up on Advil, pre-moment. But this is one headache that I'm not going to complain about. It couldn't have come soon enough.

When you finally crack open the cover of Smudge's Mark, and invest your time in reading it, I'd love to hear from you. Let me know what you think.

Now, on to the celebration!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Evening with Neil Gaiman

So, I went to see Neil Gaiman last night at Luminato. Considering the event tickets sold out in less than 3 minutes, we were pretty lucky to be there. It was a great event; a very classy act by the author.

I, on the other hand, was anything but classy. I did the stupid star-crossed thing and was a blithering idiot when I met him. Let's just say it was good for laughs all the way home, especially considering the friend that went with me was equally as blithering and idiotic as I was. The good thing is that out of a crowd of 500, it's (almost) guaranteed that we will not be the two fools who stood out. Anyway, I did have enough wits about me to take this great picture of him signing my daughter's book for her...
In other news, I'm still awaiting the arrival of my carton of books from the warehouse. Hopefully they'll arrive sometime before Armaggedon hits.
Saturday, June 6, 2009

Anything yet?

So far... no good thing #3
Friday, June 5, 2009

what's up, yo?

Oh my word! It's been forever since I've been on here... but at least I can say I've been writing. Lots. Which is good. (and no, I haven't been keeping my almost daily writing journal up, either!) Anyway, I just tho't I'd drop in for a minute to let you know a bit about what's been going on.

I'm waiting for my carton full of Smudge's Mark to arrive. I've heard from both the publisher and a fellow author friend that the book is amazing. I'm dying of anticipation! But I've been keeping myself distracted and busy by immersing myself in the continuation of the story. I must say I was stressing quite a bit as I realized what I'd already written just didn't jive with the story anymore and I found myself cutting more than writing! And then came the job of re-organizing what I had left so I could move forward. Being the kind of person who writes the story as it comes to me, rather than being a plotter (a trait which my editor has told me is both my best ally and worst curse) this process of semi-plotting was killing me. But, I'm happy to say I've finally managed to cut and re-organize myself to the point where I've now begun to move ahead. I thrive on not knowing what's going to happen next! And I've found myself stumbling into the middle of some pretty creepy scenes as a result. Yay! My writing groove is back!

Something else I'm happy about is that so far this week I've won tickets to the Trillium Book Award readings at Harbourfront and I've received an advance copy of Matthew Skelton's new book, Cirrus Flux, that isn't going to be released until July 28th. Both the tickets and the book were unexpected scores, as I'm the kind of person who never wins anything. So, being on a roll, my question is this: What's good thing #3 going to be? I'll let you know when I find out.

In the meantime, back to my work in progress. I need to find out how my poor protagonist is going to get out of his current bad situation.

Friday, May 22, 2009

are you pre-, mid-, or post-?

I remember, years ago, listening in on conversations that dealt with pre-, mid-, and post-. These conversations revolved around people's opinions on when Jesus was going to return to earth: pre-tribulation, mid-trib, or post-trib. I never really saw the point of these conversations because I thought, really, Jesus will come when he darn well wants to.

Today, (on twitter, of course) I discovered another kind of post- thing concept. It's called post-publication depression. Never heard of it before. But it got me thinking...

Post-publication depression. What triggers that? Maybe the high wave you ride of the excitement of publication followed by the sudden low of... nothing after that. Yeah, I can see that. Good to be made aware.

Then the faint memory of the conversations of my past got me thinking some more...

How about pre-, and even mid-publication depression? Actually, I've had those! And what were the triggers?

My own thoughts.

Pre-pub depression: "This will never get published." "Why would I even venture to think that anyone would want to read this book?" "I'm a nobody" "Maybe I should just forget about it and stick to my day job!"

Mid-pub depression: "Why do I have so many edits? See! I knew it! I'm really not a good writer after all!" "Gak! People are going to read my book! What if they think it sucks?" "Why is this taking so long?" "What if no one buys it?"

Not looking forward to the post-pub thoughts.

Anyway, after my moment of introspection, (I just taught that word to my ESL students yesterday during a lesson on the root word "spect" so it's fresh on my tongue) I realized that no matter how much I think or worry or plan, what will be will be. My inner-monologues during pre-, mid-, or post- make no difference to what will actually happen in the end, or what is happening in the here and now. All I do is waste precious moments being consumed by what I think MIGHT happen. And those thoughts could potentially paralyze me into doing nothing at all. Yikes!

So, I guess I'm pre-, mid-, AND post-. Before, during, and after.

And yeah, come to think of it, "publication" and "tribulation" could very well be synonymous. And Jesus can show up anytime he darn well wants to.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I've become a social media junkie!

Good morning! Especially all you JacketFlap readers!

I got an email just now telling me that this blog is featured on the JacketFlap Blog Reader. Would love to hear from some of my readers about who they are and whether or not they're bloggers or on twitter as well.

This social media thing is pretty cool... thru twitter, I've "chatted" it up with some really kind and interesting people. People from literally all over the world. People I'd never have had the chance to "meet" had it not been for such venues. If there is a down-side to it all, though, it's that the "chatting" and "meeting" aren't face-to-face. And, of course, there's always that element of caution because of all the stuff that's on the news that makes you feel like there's a criminal lurking behind every bush, fire hydrant, and web-link. And yeah, you do have to be careful...

But, there still are a lot of good people in the world and you can gain a lot of insights and points of view from blogs and the miriad of re-tweets and direct messages and replies that are found on the twittering system. And just like in real life, you can choose your friends. Even if your interactions with these people are at a distance.

And I really enjoy reading a good blog entry. One that makes me laugh, or think, or just say "What the heck was that all about??" Whether thru media or face-to-face, connecting with people is always a good thing. And just think, if you ever really meet a person you've previously "meet" via internet, then you'll already be ahead of the game in terms of your relationship. (and then you can truly see if that person is as great as you imagined them to be! Or not...)

So, as you plunge into your day of duties, responsibilities, ups, and downs, see who you can meet (or "meet") for the first time today and expand your world.
Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oh, what a night

No, I don't usually post at night, but I just had to tonight.

First, there I am this evening, writing away, next to my open window enjoying the fresh breeze, when someone stops their car and throws up in front of my house!

Strike one.

Next, I go downstairs to discover that our dog has quite literally decided to eat my son's history project that's due tomorrow morning.

Strike two.

Finally, I go into the kitchen to straighten up a bit before bed and step into a puddle on the floor. No, it's not the dog this time. Our freezer's leaking.

Strike three.

I'm out.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009

so, what's been happening?

Wow... haven't been here in a while. No excuses...

But, besides starting a Live Journal that will follow my (almost) daily experiences of writing my second book, lots of things have been happening. And I have found out some interesting info in the last few days... not sure if I can share all of it yet, or not. So I'll wait on some of it. But I can tell you that Smudge's Mark is currently at the printer and I'm expecting to get a box full of my own personal copies within the next couple of weeks!

I can also tell you that twice in the past week, Smudge's Mark has made the 2,000's in the Amazon sales ranking - one of those times putting Smudge into the #91 place in the children's fantasy category. I was so stunned, I took pictures! (In the second picture, can you tell who I was just ahead of?)

And the cover image still isn't even up!:)
Well, those lovely freeze-frames lasted all of an hour and as far as what Amazon sales ranking really means in the over-all grand scheme of the success of a book... who knows? But whatever it means, when you consider that there are about 6 million books on the Amazon list, making the 2,000's before your book is even released is a feat of the supernatural kind! (Well, the fact that my awesome publisher submitted my book to the Association of Canadian Publishers and it was chosen and highlighted as one of the "best new children's and young adults titles for spring" probably had something to do with it, too!:))

As the pub. date of Smudge's Mark approaches, my excitement level is mounting! I can't even begin to imagine what it will feel like to crack open that first box of books! Sa-weet! I'll be sure to let you know.
Thursday, April 30, 2009

A big surprise for Smudge's Mark

Wow... how surprised was I to find that Smudge's Mark has been recommended by the Association of Canadian Publishers as one of "the best new Canadian children's and young adult titles published this spring"? Pretty darn surprised, I'll tell you! Especially since it hasn't even been released yet! Wow. Actually, from Simply Read Books (my publisher) Smudge's Mark and two board books by Paola Opal made the list for their respective categories.

Check out the Canadian Books for Canadian Kids website. You'll find Smudge's Mark listed under the "Books for Young Adults" section. Click on the cover to read a blurb. (BTW - you'll notice that's not the final cover design)

What a great way to end the month! :)
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yesterday and Today

It's raining today. My facts about rain:

* I always drive my kids to school when it rains.
* I always get headaches when it rains.
* I hate taking the dog out when it rains.
* I love rain.

Huh. How about that?

So I finally conquered my fear and made it to the dentist yesterday. I have what I call dentiphobia, and after ____ (I won't even tell you how many) years of not going, she cleaned my teeth and couldn't find anything that was wrong. Hurray for good enamel! My poor husband on the other hand is a religious dentist patient and continually has to have work done. He just suffered through a root canal yesterday. I think he hates me now.

Anyway, today I'm picking up where I left off yesterday with my current writing project. My working title for this book is "Gil's Tattoo" and it's a continuation of Smudge's Mark. I'm really not planning on writing a trilogy. More like a twology. I think I can finish it up in two books. Then... who knows? I've got some other ideas fermenting inside the wooden barrel of my brain.

So, onward! Writing and rain - a fabulous combination!
Thursday, April 23, 2009

What do you mean people are going to read it??

I've decided that today I'm taking a break!

I've been stressing way too much about the completion of my book so it can be sent to the printer. And now I'm stressing way too much because now PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY GOING TO READ IT!! Yikes! I never really thought about that! Well, I did, but it was always in a "one of these days" sort of way. Kind of like, "Yeah, it'll happen, but not anytime soon." Now that publication is just around the corner - gak! Nerves!

So today I'm going to sit and chill and immerse myself in someone else's book and try to imagine how they felt when they were in my shoes and how it's all worked out for them. Not sure if it'll help or not, but it's either that or clean out the fridge. And I'm really not in the mood to battle with cold, unidentified lifeforms today.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009


smudgesmark.com just got it's 1000th visitor hit!

How can I celebrate this one? Hmmmm...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Waiting to land

Done! I'm a bit bleary-eyed, but I'm done! And I've sent my comments back to my editor. Won't be long now.

Gak! Now it's time to clean the house. (grooooooaaaaaannnnn!)

You know, sometimes things can get so crazy around here. My husband is in the middle of a career change, and I'm waiting to have this book published. Right now, life's a whirlwind and we're not sure how, exactly, we're going to land. But land we will and it will be precisely where we're supposed to be. We're getting closer to the landing strip and I think it might be in sight - just there - see? Well, it's still a bit foggy, but I have confidence my pilot graduated with top honors. Sweaty palms aside, I know we'll land safely and in one piece.

In the meantime, who hid the vacuum?
Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day two

On to day two of the final re-read. During times like this, the hours just seem to blur together and I get my bearings only once I'm completely finished... But today's my deadline so I'll be finding my footing by tonight sometime.

I was showing my husband the final cover and interior design of the book yesterday, but I covered over the dedication and acknowledgements because I want them to be a surprise. He laughed and said, "You've probably dedicated it to Neil Gaiman."

Funny guy.

Anyway, I did happen to have a brief "clear-your-head" moment this morning when I took the dog outside to do his business. And I managed to shoo him away and capture my moment before he peed all over it. This is what my moment looked like:

We all need moments like this, don't we?
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nice things to wake up to

Wow. So last night I was freaking out because my computer was doing all these weird things and there were red x's in my security program and the computer actually went into automatic repair mode. Yikes! So I clicked a few buttons and then had no choice but to drift off into a fitful sleep as I left my life's work in my new best buddy "Norton"'s hands. All night I had recurring nightmares of red x's chasing me and catching me and throwing me into a black, endless abyss. (not really)

But Norton did take care of everything for me in the land of the awake. I woke up this morning to nice green check marks and a secure system. Whew! No more red x's.

I also woke up to another nice surprise. An email from my editor that had attached to it the final cover and interior design for Smudge's Mark. All I can say, at this point, is that I really love it! And I'm relieved that I'm able to save it on my newly secured, green check marked system.

So the next couple of days will be intense reading days for me as this is my last chance to look this baby over before it goes to the printer. And after that... I'll be seeing you in Chapters!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Smudge available for pre-order

I'm so happy to say that my book, Smudge's Mark, can now be pre-ordered at Chapters and Amazon! The scheduled release date in Canada is June 10, 2009.
Monday, April 13, 2009

Where there's a will, there's a way

I mean, really. How cute is this? A squirrel in a "squirrel-proof" birdfeeder.

Where there's a will, there's always a way. Take it from the squirrel.
Sunday, April 12, 2009

An evening with Neil

I just bought tickets to see Neil Gaiman in Toronto in June! Yay! He's going to be downtown at Luminato. Check it out if you're nearby.

My daughter and I are so excited to hear him read and get a few of our books signed. I just hope I don't get all girly-girl when I see him. Sheesh...
Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fairly traded bunnies!

You must check out this site: www.sittingaroundeatingbonbons.com - all organic, homemade, fairly traded chocolate! And she sells bunnies, too! I'll be sinking my teeth into one of those in the morning.
Friday, April 10, 2009

Be careful what you vow...

Uh oh... I've twittered myself! I really, truly did. You can see for yourself on the right side of this blog.

I vowed I'd never, ever join Twitter. Never saw the point. (Actually, I still don't)

But, then again, I said the same about Facebook. And about setting up a blog.

Maybe I should start vowing to never, ever make writing books my life-long career.
Thursday, April 9, 2009

Mechanical Contrivium

This is a fun little thing I came across this morning. If you need a little diversion for whatever reason, check it out and then type in your own name. It's also a good little writing tool to use to spark some ideas for quirky personality traits for your characters.

(P.S. I'm not a rodent. As far as I know...)
Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I'm such fan of Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette. And even more now that I just downloaded her latest album. (I considered saying it was her *new* album, but it's only new to me - it was released last year!) Her songs have such an earthy and organic feel and she empties her soul into each word. She's brilliant!

The excitement is mounting...

I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of the final proof of Smudge's Mark to land in my inbox. My editor, Kallie, informed me that I'd be receiving it mid-week. I can't wait to see it! Then, it's off to the printer.

It's been three long years... and that's only counting the days since I signed my contract. It took me about six years to finish the manuscript. Wow. Nine years in the making. I've got a few more wrinkles and gray hairs since I started, that's for sure.

I'm just glad the book will make it to my hands before the grandkids do!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spending some time in the real world

I'm about to dig in and write. Yes, really write. All those other days I said I was going to write - I lied. I never did. (shame)

The reason I say I'm going to write today with such confidence is that I've been offered a writing gig by a friend of mine. It's a non-fiction piece so it's a bit (okay, more than a bit) of a stretch for me. My husband joked, "Ah, so you can't make it up this time!" (very funny...)

But I have a deadline! Yay! And it's a short one - this Friday. I thrive on time crunches!

So, off I go... into the world of reality.
Monday, April 6, 2009

Stop the fermenting, already!

It's Monday. It's always so hard to get out of bed on Monday. Especially when it's gray and raining. But, I managed to drag my carcass up and get the kids to school (on time!)

Now to write...

I haven't been able to settle in and focus lately. And it's driving me crazy! Everytime I sit here, I get distracted. And I have sooooooo much to do! And it isn't even like I've got writer's block, or anything. I've got tons of material! I think I need someone to give me a deadline. As I've mentioned before, I detest lateness, so a definite deadline would help. I guess I kind of do have a 'loose' deadline - I was told 'around the end of May sometime'. But somehow that just isn't helping a whole heck of a lot. And at the rate I'm going now, 'around the end of May' just isn't going to happen.

I think I need to go on another road trip and bring my laptop along this time. That way I can input the flashes of creativity as I get them, instead of letting them ferment on the pages of my notebook.

Hey, maybe, like good wine grapes, fermenting will make those ideas better. Yeah, that's it...

Umm... nice thought, but probably not. At this point, I have a feeling that I'm going to have to bottle and cork those suckers before they turn to vinegar!
Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm macro-zooming

I love texture, so just imagine my glee when I discovered how to use the macro-zoom feature on my camera! You can even see the dust!

Wow! Who else stays home on a Friday night, macro-zooming common household items? Sheesh!

At least I've discovered my new favorite hobby.

Little color tricks

Just having a bit of fun...

Ooops! Gotta go to work!


It's another rainy day. And it's Friday. Who doesn't love Fridays, even if the forecast is calling for rain for a good part of the weekend.

Despite the headaches I wake up with during these barometer readings, I actually love spring and summer rain - especially sunshowers. Rain is therapeutic, and cleansing. Even the word itself, "Rain", evokes a sense of calm and peace.

Best of all, rain shows the earth's true colors, rich browns and vibrant greens. Kind of makes me want to dig up my oil paints out of the crawl space...

But, I think I'll just brew some tea and curl up with a book for a few hours, instead. Ahhhh... bliss.
Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Evolution of a Wall

I'm updating this at a more humane hour. It's now 9 am and I'm seeing straight.

This is the blah wall. It's the side of a small entryway closet that just screams for attention(since it's in a really awkward place and sticks out into the middle of the room!) And, since we can't just tear it out and re-do the entire entryway, I got to thinking: why not make the best of it and make the whole wall into a picture? Let's go retro and create a mural! So I bought the paint and the mural stuff and dove right in...

At this point I'm thinking, "Uh oh. What have I done?"

I'm still kind of thinking that at this point, too.

But, two coats of paint later, I'm starting to feel the love.

And once I get my hands on the stickers, or "decals", I'm really diggin' it!

If I could just figure out how to use the flash without getting a glare...

And... ta-da! The finished product. This is what it looked like just about 5 minutes ago. The stickers didn't fall off!! Yay! My somewhat-new-and-improved living space.

Now, I wonder what my husband will think when he arrives home from his trip...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Waiting for midnight...

Well, I didn't get any writing done today - jeepers! What the heck did I do all day? Oh, yeah. I took pictures and made sure my computer was all cleaned up (for fear of that stupid worm!) Then I went to work, picked up the kids, took them home, went to Home Depot to buy paint, got take-out, ate, read a comment about how someone doesn't like my new blog format (sad face), and now I'm sitting here again. Still not getting any writing done...

Well, maybe I'll kick into gear near midnight. In the meantime, I guess I'll just check my email and then go paint that wall. So I can put the stickers on it tomorrow. Yeah, stickers. Nice ones, mind you. I'll be sure to post a pic when it's done... Now that I have my own camera! (Have I told you I got a new camera?)

You can run, but you can't hide

So far so good... no sign of the dreaded worm.

I just got a new camera yesterday and I'm so excited about it. Now I don't have to borrow my daughter's camera anymore. (Believe me, she has sighed a huge sigh of relief.) It's the coolest camera ever. I've been driving everyone crazy, walking around taking snaps of everything and everyone. Here are a few:

Me (okay, I didn't take this one, my daughter did)

Part of my work space (no, I didn't arrange it especially for the picture!)

My husband making a face, as usual

The cutest dog in the world

My daughter, taking pictures of random things like her mom's doing

A fan, just because

The son who doesn't mind getting photographed (although, I think he's mocking me here)

A bad, blurry shot of me taking a picture of my camera. Can you tell I like the sepia mode, best?

The word on the wall above my writing desk. Trust me, I need to see it everyday!

Well, that's it for now... Better do some writing today.