Friday, April 30, 2010

Exciting trip

Have I got my passport?
American money for the toll booth?
Laptop, hotel confirmation, business cards?
Check. Check.

 If you haven't guessed yet, I'm heading out the door to the Lansing, Michigan Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference this weekend. I'm so pumped to meet new writers as well as some of you! And the workshops look so good! I'll report back what I learned!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beaked distractions

Finally getting serious about my revisions. Sit down at the computer, even though there aren't any blackflies out yet so it's a brilliant time to be hiking.

But how am I supposed to get anything done when this is going on?

I took this photo from my chair. Mr. Blue Heron is hunting in the creek that runs into our lake. He stalks, he remains completely motionless, he STABS into the shallows. Then he tosses his prey in the air, little legs flying, and catches it and swallows down the big honking frog.

He's caught three so far. Not that I'm watching. I'm working here...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Books read and bought

An update to my progress in Home Girl's Book Blog 100 reading challenge 2010

So far I've read:

1. hush, hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (YA)
2. Tilly's Tale by Harry Porter (MG)
3. Lemur Troops and Critter Groups by Rena Jones (PB)
4. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry (MG)
5. The Marshal Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall (NF)
6. Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress (NF)
7. Need by Carrie Jones (YA)
8. Are You There God, It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume (MG)
9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (MG)
10. Graceling by Kristin Cashore (YA)
11. Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner (YA)
12. Fire by Kristin Cashore (YA)
13. Captivate by Carrie Jones (YA)
14. Puppies, Dogs, and Blue Northers by Gary Paulsen (NF)
15. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (YA)
16. Percy Jackson & the Olympians, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (MG)
17. Writing for Children and Young Adults by Marion Crook (NF)
18. The Maze Runner by James Dashner (YA)
19. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (MG)
20. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass (NF)
21. The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan (YA)
22. Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen (MG)
23. Percy Jackson, The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (MG)
24. The Earth, My Butt, and other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler (YA)
25. Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (YA)
26. Unwind by Neal Shusterman (YA)
27. The Island by Gary Paulsen (MG)
28. Shifter by Janice Hardy (MG)
29. Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith (YA)
30. Around the Rock, a Newfoundland Sea Kayak Journey by Ken Campbell (NF)

And I know I've said I will NOT purchase more books till I've finished the ones I have, but they're so shiny and silky, gorgeous colours, new-smelling, and beautiful. Also, I blame the the blogs I follow that suggested these great reads. It was simply not my fault.

You may notice a slight change in the blog design. In the header photo you can see Tanzer dog always manages to get herself in the pictures. I've been wanting to put a wintery scene in the background. This one is close. What do you think? Does it make it too busy?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Good-bye Logs and Frogs

Our beloved sailboat that we've had since 2004 is now sold.. We've shared many evenings at the card table over euchre tournaments and jiffy pop shaken on the stove. Many nights rocked to sleep by the waves. Days spent cranking jib sheets and tacking - working as a 4-person team.
who can spot the bouy first?

But the kids have summer jobs now. And our new kayaks seem to demand lots of attention. So, time for another family to discover the joys of touring and spending time with your loved ones without distractions.

Queen of self-portraits
hard at work trimming the genoa
My man at the helm

me at anchor in fashion pajamas and a cup of cocoa
approaching the famous Little Current swing bridge
Denis and the girls about to explore another island.

Logs and Frogs memories:
  • raising the jib upside down on first sail
  • epic sail across Lake Huron
  • 100 km/hr. winds and dragging at anchor
  • sailing by compass bearing through thick fog and emerging right on course
  • Tarzan rope swing off the mast
  • falling off the boat fully clothed in November with my wallet
  • our friends volunteering as deck hands in a race with big seas and the return of the hummus down both sides of the hull. First and last sail for said friends.
So long, Logs and Frogs. Happy voyages. Thanks for keeping us safe.
Anyone else out there sail?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On Passion

 When I was eighteen, I started working in Quetico Provincial Park as a canoe ranger. I was introduced to a whole new world of magical sunsets, loon calls, blackflies and the power of sunshine sparkling off the ripples on a lake. I worked in the interior on the canoe routes. Ten-day canoe trips clearing portages for five months. It snowed on the tent every month except July. But I was in love.
Paddling with my Elkhound, Tundra
I went back the next year, and the next, each year loving it a little more. Even though I spent the winters outside running my dogsledding business, every spring when I dipped my paddle once again, I felt as though my parched soul soaked it up.
putting in cordoroy
One of the more interesting portages in the Park
enjoying a sunset

I ended up working in the park until I was thirty. Twelve years paddling the interior. Roughly 860 nights spent in the tent. I've been to every lake in the Park. I grew up there. It shaped who I am today.

I now work on a bigger lake (Huron) and graduated to a bigger boat, but I still yearn for the Park each spring.
My first two books have been about dogsledding. Which, of course, is another of my passions. But, I think my next project will be about a canoe ranger.

What are your passions? Are you writing about them?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cuteness montage

New puppy Tanzer

From the comments, it seems like everyone enjoys a good puppy photo. So, for your viewing pleasure, I interrupt this blog to introduce you to a dog that was the very WORST behaved puppy I've ever owned (and I've owned a lot of dogs! 23 to be exact) 
Nature has a way of making sure naughty puppies grow up - the cuteness factor. That will help you make it through to the good dog years. 

Little Tanzer fits on one sailboat cushion
Big Tanzer takes up the whole bench

All grown up and politely asking to come into the kitchen
Anyone else out there with a great dog that began as a cheeky-monkey pup?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Few links

Some websites I think are worth your time:

1. The Elevensies!

I'm sure you've heard of the Tenners? Debut authors whose books will be coming out in 2010? I'll soon be posting about some of their books. Since my book debut is in 2011, I've joined this wonderful group. Please check us out here.

2. Inkwell!

This is an online social networking site full of authors and soon to be authors with interesting chat groups such as how to market your book, how to write a great query, resources, lists of publishers and agents, young adult, middle grade, it's all there! Anyone can join. Go here.

3. SCBWI Michigan conference!

Yeah, I'm going to a conference! May first in Lansing Michigan. Lots of great workshops and guest speakers including the wonderful Beth Fleisher - super agent. I can't wait! Check it out here.

4. Paul Greci!

My awesome critique partner from Alaska has a great blog here.

5. Sled Dog Central!

This is my favorite website. Lots of links to dogsled races, super photos (this photo is the current one up on the site) and information. Fun stuff. Go here.

6. Lisa and Laura!

Go check out their blog right now - they're featuring Book Sniper, an editor that has agreed to answer your writing questions. One more day so go here now

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Storm watch

Freezing rain prevented me from driving in to work this morning. And what better way to celebrate 5 - 10cm of hail than to go for an epic hike!
the dog wants to get home - forget taking pictures

high winds toss the lake
The photos of course, don't show the 80 km winds and the hail stones that were slapping my face. I was trying to come up with a good description of standing on top of a cliff in the storm. Wild was the best I could do.

I'm in need of some great adjectives. Anyone?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Suggestion for how to get published

I was looking through some old posts of mine, and found an interview I did last year on Amber's blog. It struck me as funny because this was before I got my book contract. Here is the revised version:

When I took an online writing course from Winghill, my first assignment was to research the submission guidelines of my fav magazines. I ended up submitted an article for both Dogs in Canada and Adventure Kayak magazine.

These were my very first articles. One was a personal essay about one of my strange sled dogs - Frozen Turd Wars.

The other came about from my own research to a personal problem. I was planning an extended kayak expedition and wanted to know how the rock-star kayak women attended to nature while crossing huge stretches of water. After I emailed one of my hero kayakers, she sent me back three suggestions:
pee in a sponge,
stand on the back deck of your partners kayak,
or use a funnel into a jar.

Well, I couldn't do any of those things, so I wrote an article about it.

My man had sort of raised his eyebrows at the subject of both submissions, but remained supportive of this new writing thing.

Both articles were accepted!  I felt validated. It led to numerous articles in other magazines and something to put on my resume of previous published work.
Hopefully, one day I'll go to a bookstore, see my book on the shelf and think, it all started in the toilet.

My point in posting this - if you're looking for a pick-me-up, try sending in a short story to a magazine. You get confidence, money and the astonished respect of your man.
And here's the lake this morning after the rain storm. Beauty!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Book jackets and good reads

Holy new followers! WELCOME! I'll list you all, as my habit, when I announce the winner of my book giveaway. Don't forget to enter. Ends April 23.

I suddenly have a little stage fright, so I'm going to talk about an easy subject today. Here's some great books I've read recently:

I enjoyed this one even more than The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Just amazing writing. And it stayed with me for my drive to London. When approaching all the concrete ramps of the major highways, I imagined them covered in zombies - a scene in the book. Sign of a good book - when you see dead people.

This book was original and well written. Kept me awake till 2am reading it. Just great characters and an interesting premise. I'll be awaiting the next book.
Loved this! I couldn't help be transported back to my awkward high school days - not that I wanted to! A contemporary Judy Blume. Comes with a great message also. Can you guess what it is?

Also, I ran across this book jacket on a blog - left image, and it hooked me enough to go check it out. Curious, there seem to be two different covers, the version on the right I've seen before. But it hasn't prompted me to pick it up. What a difference a book jacket makes. I seriously don't need any excuses to be even more neurotic while I wait for my cover.

Question: Which cover do you like? And, would you reccommend this book?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dogsled Dreams book trailer widget

What does one do while waiting on their book cover? Why, practice making their trailer, of course!

Here's what I've come up with using two FREE services. Animoto for the trailer and Wix for making the widget.

Scroll through the menu bars and check out the trailer. I'd love to hear your reviews!

Free website -

Pay it forward - Journey to success interview

Elana Johnson has organized some interviews for a week of Pay it Forward. Writers who have agents or book deals. Writers who have made it.

I'm featured on Beth Revis blog today!

Some other participating blogs:

Lisa and Laura Roecker
Leah Clifford
Victoria Schwab
Carrie Harris
Kirsten Hubbard
Susan Adrian
Amy Holder
Kathy McCullough
Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins
Gretchen McNeil
Tiffany Schmidt

Elana says - "Everyone involved is hoping this series will inspire you, provide a beam of hope along your way, and really prove that you CAN succeed in this crazy business. You CAN go from slush-pile-nothing to agented writer to published author."