Summer Inspiration

I’m just back from a little holiday on the west coast of Vancouver Island and feeling both relaxed and inspired by the beauty of that area.

I spent a lot of time walking the beaches, listening to the sounds of the ocean, and immersing myself in the magnificent scenery. One morning, I watched a graceful bald eagle soar overhead.

This is the place where West Coast Wild was set and an area I hope to return to often. Thoughts of a new west coast book are beginning to percolate.

Here is a photo I took of the beach at sunset. I felt lucky to be there.

Wishing you the best of summer, too!

School in the Mountains

I’m just back from a couple of days visiting schools in Pemberton and Whistler. It was wonderful to meet the teachers and students at Signal Hill Elementary and Spring Creek Community School.

Both schools are situated amidst the stunning nature of that region, with glorious mountains rising above them in Pemberton and a thick forest surrounding the Whistler school. (The photo shows the vista above Signal Hill school in Pemberton.)

The students knew a lot about the wildlife in their area and were happy to share stories of bears and other interesting animals they had encountered in their communities. And I had fun talking to them about the wild creatures I have come to know on the west coast.

These visits mark the last school talks for me for the school year – but what an amazing way to finish up!

Thank you to teacher-librarians Nicole Benes and Sara Leach for the invitations to speak at their schools and also to the staff and students at both places for their kind hospitality and warm welcome. It was lovely to meet you all!

Amazing Eden Mills

Thank you to the wonderful town of Eden Mills, Ontario, for a marvellous weekend!

I’m just back from the Writer’s Festival hosted in that glorious spot and it couldn’t have been a better time. The setting is idyllic, under the sweeping trees and alongside the Eramosa River, with dozens of authors and poets reading their works to a most gracious and receptive crowd.

A few times over the weekend, I had to pinch myself to believe it was real.

The community (of about 350 people) pitch in to provide warm hospitality to the festival visitors and authors. A team of volunteers cooks and serves dinner to a great crowd of people on each of two nights, and serves up homemade pies for dessert. Not only that, but homemade champagne is poured!


What were the highlights? There are almost too many to count:

– delicious food
– friendly volunteers
– a gorgeous natural setting
– sitting in the sunshine, listening to the authors and poets read their works
– the making of new friends in the Canadian literary scene
– catching up with old friends living across our vast country
– the amazing young student, Samantha, who introduced me at my reading — the best introduction I’ve ever had! Thank you so much, Samantha!
– the careful and competent organization of travel details, hotels and flights
– the kindness and generosity of everyone I met

I could go on… but suffice it to say, it was a weekend I will always remember.

My sincere thanks to everyone involved in putting on the festival. I feel enormously privileged to have been invited! One day, I hope to return.

Eden Mills Writers Festival

Tomorrow, I am on my way to a wonderful writer’s festival held in the scenic hamlet of Eden Mills, Ontario. What a privilege to be invited!

If you’d like to find out who’s speaking over the weekend, you can check this festival link.

And here’s a lovely piece of art showing the town and environs (borrowed from the Eden Mills website). I’m looking forward to spending the day on the banks of the Eramosa River.

I hear it’s going to rain (but I don’t mind — my umbrella is packed).

Back soon!

My “Staycation” Summer

For the most part, I’ve had a “staycation” kind of summer (who invented that word anyway???). Other than a trip to the west coast of Vancouver Island in early July, I have been firmly planted at home.

It’s not that I didn’t want to go somewhere — I would have happily visited Haida Gwaii, the Great Bear Rainforest, Desolation Sound, the Saskatchewan prairies where I was born, or even Newfoundland! All of these places have great appeal for me.

It’s just that the sun was shining brightly in our fair city, the sidewalk patios by the ocean were inviting, the garden was in full bloom, and visitors were arriving in town to see us. So, it became a summer at home.

Added to the list of reasons to stay put were a series of small but necessary projects including: updating my website, writing a teacher’s guide for my latest book and re-organizing my computer’s filing system.

But there is satisfaction in getting these jobs done and looking forward to the fall where I will spend most of my time (I hope) writing something new. I have cleared the decks! No excuses now.

And with thanks to my dad, who is also a writer, here are two great quotes. The first is from C.S. Forester, who penned The African Queen and many other titles. He said, “A man who writes for a living does not have to go anywhere in particular, and he could rarely afford to if he wanted.”

And the second quote (again via my dad) is from William Faulkner, the Nobel Prize winning author and stay-at-home writer, who said, “I have travelled far in the town of Oxford, Mississippi.”

As I’ve discovered over the years, we writers can easily wander in our imaginations. No need to book a trip anywhere!

West Coast Inspiration

I’m just back from a family holiday on the far west coast of Vancouver Island (the subject of my new book). As you can see from the sunset photo above, it is a stunning area. I feel fortunate to be able to visit the region every year.

We spent a lot of time beachcombing and exploring tidepools with the small children in our family. It is thrilling to watch them discover all the amazing marine creatures that the shoreline has to offer: brilliant sea stars, pink and green anemones, scurrying crabs, clinging limpets, tiny fish and kelp of every description.

To me, the west coast is always a place of writing inspiration. When I walk down the beautiful stretch of beach, and hear the crashing waves and see the vast expanse of sea and sky, I begin to think that anything is possible. And that is exactly what a writer needs to believe.

Beautiful Art

I am fortunate to be able to visit the far west coast of Canada almost every summer. It is a glorious place! So amazing, in fact, that I wrote a book celebrating the area.

If you haven’t visited the west coast, but you are intrigued by it, here are a couple of beautiful scenes from West Coast Wild: A Nature Alphabet. They are painted by the talented Karen Reczuch.

Enjoy! (And consider making the trek.)


Writing the West Coast

It’s a wonderful thing to live on the west coast of Canada and I recently wrote a book for kids saying so. It won’t be published for another year — the illustrator is just working her magic now.

Earlier this fall, Karen (the illustrator) and I went on a lovely research trip to the west coast of Vancouver Island. She is from the Toronto area and hadn’t seen the amazing landscapes we have out here in the wild west. I wanted to show it all to her, so we spent the better part of a week hiking through the rainforest, taking long beach walks and doing what kids really love to do — search every nook and cranny of the beach to find interesting sea creatures.

Here are a few photos of our trip: Karen in front of a gigantic 800 year old tree; Karen on the beach photographing the sky; and a few other pictures you might enjoy.

Now I am working really hard trying to think of a good writing excuse to go back! Hmm… there must be some facts I need to check.

If you ever get a chance, come out to visit the Pacific Rim region of Vancouver Island. I promise — you won’t be disappointed. And who knows? You may even write your own book!

The Badlands

I’ve just returned from the Badlands of Alberta — a fascinating place where the dinosaurs roamed!

The geography is so interesting, with sedimentary layers of the past millions of years exposed on the hillsides. You could almost feel the dinosaurs lurking there.

We visited the Royal Tyrell Museum to see the huge dinosaur skeletons and models on display. It was amazing!

I feel a book brewing…

New York, New Jersey

I’ve been so sorry to hear all the post-storm news from New York and New Jersey. What a terrible time the residents are having. Still no power for millions of people, others with homes lost, and many with no food, water or gasoline. I am thinking about all of you east-coasters and hoping for a speedy and safe recovery.

Today, I received a personal phone call from the New York Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. I had pre-purchased tickets to visit the museum on my research trip to NYC. The young staffer from the museum told me they were refunding the tickets because the power was still out on the Lower East Side and the museum couldn’t open. She hoped I was safe and dry.

I asked her if the museum had been flooded, and she reported it hadn’t. She asked me to please visit on my next trip to NYC. I promised I would.

Take care, East Coast folks. Thank you for your call.