The more you know, the harder you have to work…and Word on the Street

This post heading pretty much sums up my experience at the Carver/Stinson seaside writing retreat last week.  Don’t get me wrong – it was an amazing experience, the other writers were all great (see picture)  – super friendly and helpful, the weather was fantastic, we had lots of laughs, and I learned tons (including that my current manuscript is still far from being ready for publication:() But here’s the kicker.  Like a lot of things in life, the more I learn, the harder I realize I have to work to get to where I need to be. The prospect of yet another massive revision can be daunting, but overall I enjoy the process,  because I know it’s bound to result in a better story, especially given the in-depth advice and suggestions I received from the other writers and editor, Peter Carver.

Port Joli, 2011

I read at Word on the Street in Halifax this year – I hadn’t been at WOTS since Rainbows in the Dark came out in 2005. What an amazing event!  And most of it put together by volunteers.  I had a chance to meet Carmen Klassen from CBC Radio as she was introducing the authors in the Young Adult tent.  She was most gracious and welcoming, and had done her homework!  The first thing she mentioned was the picture of Charlie she’d seen on my blog:)  I had a chance to see new friends from the PJ retreat again; Marcia Barss, Jill MacLean and Jackie Halsey. Thanks to a particularly tricky charade one evening during the retreat, we’ll never forget that our main characters simply must yearn for something, even if it’s only a glass of water (thanks, Kurt Vonnegut!)  Here’s a picture of the old fish house in which I’ve now spent dozens of blissful and wonderfully-productive writing hours.  Sigh…Time to take Charlie outside – again!

New Babies (and the Carver/Stinson Retreat)

Charlie - he's a she:)

So, even though I’m away at the Carver/Stinson writing workshop in Port Joli all next week, we have a new puppy!  Her name is Charlie, and she’s a reddish golden retriever.  She seems very sweet and smart – maybe too smart as we haven’t found a way to keep her confined to the bathroom while we’re out, yet…Even with plywood wired onto the baby gate, she managed to get enough traction to get over the top in about 30 seconds!  It’s hilarious to watch her work at it – love her sticktoitiveness, but we need a solution as I’m not comfortable keeping her in her crate for long periods of time when we’re both out.  It feels so great to have a dog around again – it’s been four months since Bailey died. As soon as we saw the puppies, as Don said, my IQ dropped 75 points, and my voice went up two octaves, I’m sure…think I’m hardwired for baby talk:)

Also on the baby front, Jacob and his wife Jenty welcomed a daughter to their family last week – Adau Heaven, after Jacob’s mother.  I haven’t met her yet, but I’m sure their household is crazy busy with three small children now.  No doubt Deng and Jabu are being helpful big brothers.  Jacob will be guest speaker at the SMU Alumni dinner during Homecoming weekend this year which will be a great opportunity for him to talk about his work with Wadeng Wings of Hope (

Thanks to Access Copyright, I’m leaving on Sunday to spend the week with seven other children’s writers (including MY editor,  Peter Carver, and his partner, Kathy Stinson).  Access Copyright gave me a professional development grant for the workshop.  I’ve been twice before, and it’s a super-productive writing time.  I’ve been obsessed with Charlie lately, so it’ll be nice to concentrate on my writing life for a few days and connect with other writers.  Charlie’s been staying in her crate for 5-6 hours at night – hope that continues so Don can get through the teaching week without collapsing in exhaustion…He should be really happy to see me when I arrive home next Saturday:)