Sunday, January 27, 2008

Celebrating Teachers

Last week I had the honour of speaking to two classes at Handsworth Secondary School in North Vancouver. What a treat it was!

I have done hundreds of presentations over the past 10 years and I have enjoyed them all, but some stand out as better than others. My presentation at Handsworth was one of my most enjoyable ever and I believe that was due to the prep work done by the Librarian and English teachers before my arrival. Many of the students had read my books and they all knew I was coming to the school. The librarian had gone to the extra trouble of making sure there were additional copies of my books available, borrowed from neighbouring schools. Many of the students came armed with great questions, and I knew immediately that their English teachers were exemplary.

At the end of my presentation a couple students stayed behind to chat with me about my books. I always appreciate speaking with students one on one. The last person to leave the room was a young man who told me he also attends the Unitarian Church. I could tell he'd been listening carefully because I'd only mentioned in passing my connection with that church, but I'm so glad he hung back to say hello to a fellow Unitarian.

As I walked away from the school at the end of my session, I realized that I'd forgotten to clarify to the students the point of my presentation. I know it's unlikely that many of them will pursue careers in writing, but I hope the message of perseverance came through loud and clear. My path to becoming a published author was often discouraging, filled with rejection letters, but I persevered, continuing to practise my craft until I finally found success. It's the same with any dream. If you chip away at it long enough, you, too, will find success.

The Handsworth group clearly had a great sense of humour, too. One student asked if I found it 'creepy' that his teacher had researched my books and stumbled across my blog. Just to reiterate, no, I don't think it's creepy. I think it's wonderful! And I haven't forgotten the promised dinner out, either. :)


* The picture of Sir Winston by Cara is dedicated to the Handworth students who liked the last picture of him.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Christmas Aftermath

(photo by Cara)

I've always wished that the spirit of generosity and goodwill that surrounds us at Christmas could somehow be harnessed and spread out over the whole year. I love the following poem.

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart

(Howard Thurman)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Finding joy in a Safeway lineup

The smallest things always bring me the greatest joy.

Today at Safeway I noticed that both the person in front of me AND the person behind me were each carrying their own shopping bags.

Then I looked at the check-out counters on either side of me and the customers there had also brought their own bags.

I know it sounds silly, but I felt a surge of happiness rush through me. A year ago I rarely saw anyone else with their own bags and many of the cashiers groaned when they saw mine as they are a little more difficult to pack. (They don't fit over the hooks that hold the plastic bags open.)

I have a long way to go to reach environmental sainthood, but it's nice to feel less alone in my efforts.

A few days ago I read of a New Year's Poll that was taken this year, asking people about their resolutions. The most common answer was that people were going to try to be more environmentally aware when shopping this year. This came BEFORE losing weight, quitting smoking, working out etc. The greatest percentage of people were looking outside themselves. Halleluah!

Earlier today I was at my mom's apartment, visiting. She told me she saw a story on the news that said if each person used one less paper napkin each day there would be a significant positive impact on our forests. I reminded her that I'd been harping on this for years. She knew that but thought I'd be interested to know that it was finally 'newsworthy'.

The picture above is of Winston, my dog, frollicking in the snow over Christmas. He finds joy in small things too.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Cover Art - Yahoo!

Here's a sneak preview of the cover art for my spring book, Gotcha. Isn't it gorgeous??!! I didn't know it was even completed, but Kim Denman from my writing group accidentally stumbled across it when she was looking for something on the Orca Books website. What is especially exciting is that all three of us from our writing group have spring books coming out, and she discovered the cover art for each of them. It was exciting to see our new 'babies' at the same time. (For some reason I can't expand the size of the photo for this post but I'll post it again when I can.)

Seeing the cover art for my books is always such a thrill. The book suddenly becomes real. Until now it was just a story, a stack of manuscript pages, but now I can see that it really is going to become a book. And I especially like this cover. It is perfect. I have no input into what goes onto the covers of my book, so it's always a relief when I like them.

This feels like a good omen for 2008.

To all my friends ~ I you wish loving connections, creative inspiration and meaningful work for 2008.