I got a Booker!

I’m blushing because I have just been nominated for a couple of awards, one I’ll acknowledge today, the other one tomorrow.

I want to thank Storyteller In The Digital Age for passing along The Booker Award. Her blog revolves around writing and books, so you really should go see what she’s been doing.

The Booker Award is awarded to those blogs that talk about books & writing and, although I started out talking about MY books & writing, I have listed many other YA books and recently started my Sunday Interview series that often features other writers and their books/writing.

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:

1) Give thanks to the person who gave it to you (check!)

2) List 5 of your all-time favourite books

3) Pass the love onto 5-10 other deserving Bookworms

Okay, so my top 5 books of all time…. It’s so hard to choose only 5 but I’ll try. I might cheat a little and mention series of books and their authors. Let’s see…

Shogun

1) Shogun by James Clavell has to be #1 on my list, followed closely by all his sequels. It is an excellent series if you like history and anything Japanese. I actually loved Shogun so much, I researched its history for a Literature assignment in college. My paperback copy has been read so many times, it’s falling apart, so I ended up getting a hard cover version! The TV series based on the book with Richard Chamberlain is also one of my favourite series-based-on-a-book. The story itself is about the first Englishman to set foot on Japanese soil and how he is taken into the household of the ‘Shogun’ (Japanese overlord in service to the Emperor) He has one year to learn and speak Japanese and is taught by the very beautiful Mariko. Actually, she teaches him much more than the language!

The Far Pavilions Vol. 1

2) Far Pavilions (Volumes 1 & 2) by M. M. Kaye is second on my list for pretty much the same reasons as I loved Shogun, except it was set in India. The story follows the exploits of a young Englishman raised as a Hindu, who rescues an Indian princess after her husband dies. It is tradition for the wife to be placed on his funeral pyre to die in the fire. The two must flee to avoid retaliation by the husband’s family. Both Clavell and Kaye describe the countries in which their stories are set with such vibrance one can imagine themselves living the adventure of those tumultuous times.

Powers That Be

3) Powers That Be series by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Scarborough is a favourite SciFi series of mine. I picked it up at World Con when it came to Winnipeg in 1995, never having heard of Anne McCaffrey before. She is most famous for her Dragon Riders of Pern series, which I have yet to read. I was impressed by her writing presence at a writers panel and picked up Powers because it was one of her newest books. The story is basically about the troubles that befall a group of people who try to exploit the resources on the planet Petaybe. The planet becomes terribly unstable each time they drill into it. The people who live near the mining camp are appalled at what the miners are doing to their homeland and try to stop them. One of the mining crew begins to realize the exact cost of trying to take by force what is essentially the planet’s ‘heart’ and learns the secret of Petaybe’s people.

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4) Hoot To Kill and all subsequent Robin Devarra mysteries written by Karen Dudley are definitely favourites of mine. I was completely enamored of Karen’s work when I attended her first book signing where a conservation officer stood beside her with a snowy owl on her arm as Karen read from her book. Not only that, Karen has a delightful sense of humour that exudes from her character, as well. Hoot To Kill is about a conservation officer who is sent to a logging camp in the old-growth forests of British Columbia to survey for an endangered species of spotted owls. If she finds any, it will mean shutting down the logging operation in the area. While she’s rummaging through the undergrowth, she stumbles upon a body and is drawn into the search for his killer. Karen is a local writer whose past includes field biology studies and archeaology, among many other things, so she is able to put her knowledge into all her bird-named mysteries (Ptarmigeddon, Macaws of Death and Red Heron)

Dune

5) Dune and all its sequels by Frank Herbert are favourites, too. While Dune is a little slow to get into, Herbert has created such a unique world and its influence on the people who reside there. When Paul Atreides is tested by the Reverend Mother of the Bene Gesserat it is believed he is the one who will change the balance of power in the universe. An attempt is made on his life when Paul arrives on the planet Arrakis with his Bene Gesserat mother and his father, head of the Atreides family legacy. The Harkonnens want what House Atreides has and will stop at nothing to get it, but they do not take into account what the people of Arrakis want and the changes Paul will make to the planet itself.

Now to share this award. Although there are many to choose from, I will limit it to only 5, for time’s sake.

At Ramblings you will find a lot of advice about writing, thoughts on her writing experience, and almost always includes a great quote by famous authors.

At easyondeyes you will find a ton of book reviews. These two girls are avid readers and are so wonderful about sharing their thoughts on every book they read.

J. Keller Ford is a writer of YA and is more than happy to share her thoughts on YA fiction and support writers in the field. She is currently featuring 9 YA authors (including me) so you really should check out her YA Blog Takeover during the next week or so.

At My First Book, Misha also features other writers and their books, as well as providing information about the basics of writing a novel and what it involves, such as Inspiration, Character Development, Plot, etc.

As you can tell by the title, Writing Is Hard Work is about the process of writing. He discusses a lot of what goes into good writing and refers to others work for examples.

Well, that took a lot longer than I expected. In order to accept my next award, I have some more thinking to do, like think of 11 things that you might not already know about me!

Have a great day, everyone, and if you know of any blogs that are deserving of the Booker Award that I haven’t mentioned, feel free to leave their addresses in the Comments section. 🙂

Time Travel

borrowed from howeswho.blogsot.ca

Time travel seems to be a popular theme for writers. It’s a topic dear to my heart, too, so I thought it would be an interesting topic for today’s post.

I think my obsession with time travel began when I saw the first Time Tunnel episode back in 1966 (Yes, I know I’m dating myself!) Although the series only ran for a year, I loved it.

Quantum Leap: The Complete First Season

 

 

 

Then, when Quantum Leap came out several decades later, I was enraptured with the concept of ‘making right what once went wrong’. For me, Quantum Leap is the definitive series about time travel. Mind you, I still liked watching Primeval and Flash Forward (I had to go and read the book, when it ended). The new series, Continuum, was what prompted me to explore this topic, today. Is anyone watching it? It’s got me hooked.

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Although I haven’t actually read many books that used time travel as their plot, I looked them up on Wikipedia. I discovered that the first ever time travel book was called Letters from the Twentieth Century by Samuel Madden. It was written in 1733! Even Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol from 1843 had an element of time travel – to Scrooge’s past and his future. Mark Twain’s 1891 story A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court was about a 19th century American citizen who travels back to King Arthur’a time of 528 AD. In the late 1800s, H. G. Wells wrote two time travel tales, The Chronic Argonauts and the more famous The Time Machine. C. S. Lewis, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov all wrote stories about time travel, The Hideous Strengths, A Sound of Thunder, and The End of Eternity, respectively. Of course, I could not help but mention Diana Gabaldon’s books beginning with Outlander. (I absolutely LOVE her books!)Outlander (20th Anniversary Edition): A Novel

Almost 150 books are listed on Wikipedia, not including over 500 Dr. Who novels, and there were a couple of blatant omissions on the list – A Wrinkly In Time  and The Olden Days Coat by Margaret Laurence – so there may be many more. Maybe Wikipedia didn’t bother to list kids books.

The Final Countdown [Blu-ray]

Also listed on this site are 100 movies that use time travel as the plot. Many are based on the books listed above. Of those hundred, I have seen A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court  and The Time Machine, both versions, and I must say that I prefer the original black & white versions. Hubby and I have watched all of the Planet of the Apes movies many times as well as the remake and, again, found the original better, although I have to admit the special effects were better in the remake. We’ve also watched Time After Time, where H. G. Wells and Jack the Ripper travel to the future. I loved The Final Countdown, where a warship goes back to the bombing of Pearl Harbour, as well as The Philadelphia Experiment. Then, of course there are the Back To The Future movies, the first one being the best, in my opinion. We’ve also watched Time Cop. (What can I say? I had a thing for Jean Claude Van Dam movies in my youth AND it involved TIME TRAVEL!)

Millennium

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Others we’ve watched include Masters of the Universe, Millenium with Kris Kristopherson and Cheryl Ladd (I LOVED this one!), the 3rd Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where they went back to ancient Japan (We only watched it because our kids were into TMNT at the time!), Groundhog Day, 12 Monkeys, Frequency (another one I’d recommend), Kate & Leopold (a sweet love story with Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman), The Time Traveler’s Wife, and, of course, our time travel repertoire wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the Star Trek movies, The Voyage Home (THE BEST!) and Next Generations First Contact and the recent Star Trek movie by J. J. Abrahms. There’s also the Stargate movie Continuum.

No discussion of time travel would be complete if we didn’t mention the ‘butterfly effect’. It was coined by Edward Lorenz in 1969 and its far-reaching consequences were first explored in Ray Bradbury’s short story A Sound of Thunder. According to Wikipedia: “The name of the effect … is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before … The butterfly effect is a common trope in fiction when presenting scenarios involving time travel and with hypotheses where one storyline diverges at the moment of a seemingly minor event resulting in two significantly different outcomes.”

When using time travel as a plot, one must consider the ‘butterfly effect’. For the purpose of the story, do we WANT to change the future if we go to the past? Do we want the character to inadvertently change the future, thus creating a conflict that must be resolved? When traveling to the future, there isn’t such a great concern, unless the sudden absence of the person traveling ahead in time causes a major disaster. These were some of the things I had to consider when I decided to use time travel in my novels.

In Withershins, when Michelle broke down and decided to tell Dr. Buchanan and Duncan MacRae where she was really from, she was very careful not to reveal too much, although she had to show them her modern things to make them believe she was from their future. She had heard about the butterfly effect and worried that her presence in the past might change her future, so once she had revealed her items, she hid them, hoping no one would find them.

In Spirit Quest, I used the last device so that the sudden disappearance of Michelle when she returned to her present time, caused suspicions in the nosy and bigoted Mrs. Wilson. As a result, the doctor and her love interest were arrested and Michelle’s mentor was hanged because Mrs. Wilson accused them of murdering Michelle.

 

What about you? Have you read any of the books or seen any of the TV series or movies that I’ve mentioned? Did you like them? Would you recommend any other books, movies or TV shows involving time travel that I haven’t mentioned?

Literary Manitoba

Symposium on Manitoba Writing

For those of you worried that I had dropped off the end of the Earth, or went on a Space Safari, or I’m lying on my death bed, I assure you I am very much alive on this solid plane of existence/on this planet  – although I am a little tired and overwhelmed by the literary world. As I mentioned in my last post a week ago, I’d be going to the Symposium on Manitoba Writing this week. It has been a little bit of a whirlwind trying to take in as many of our literary speakers as possible while still preparing and presenting a panel of my own.

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The Symposium kicked off on Wednesday evening with a screening of ‘Tramp at the Door’ and a talk about Lise Gaboury-Diallo, a local French Canadian who has been an important literary mentor to the Francophone population here, having written a number of critical papers, short stories and poetry. She teaches at the Université de Saint-Boniface here in Winnipeg in the Départment d’études françaises, de langues et de littératures. For those of you who are not familiar with Canada’s bilingual history, Manitoba has a strong duality of languages and culture with many French communities in the province and in Winnipeg. Most of the first white folk that set foot on the prairies were French hunters and trappers and their language and culture has been painstakingly preserved here with French immersion schools along with dual-track schools and all Elementary schools are introduced to the language. Of the thirteen main publishers in Manitoba two of them are Francophone publishers; Les éditions du blé and Les éditions du plaines. Most of this morning’s panels and readings will be about French writing and spoken in French, so I have taken the morning off (since I only married into a French family and am not fluent in the language!) in order to catch you up on my activities since Wednesday.

Instead of taking in the French film screening and talk, I went to the airport to pick up my co-panelist, Julie Burtinshaw, a fellow YA author, who flew in from Vancouver. I brought her to her Bed-and-Breakfast to check in, then we headed downtown to grab something to eat at the Free Press Cafe where we stayed to listen to seven ‘Under 30’ young people read their work.

Winnipeg News Cafe

The cafe is a unique little place in the heart of Winnipeg, right down the street from Artspace, where the Manitoba Writers’ Guild office and other art-related spaces are located. The Free Press cafe is owned and operated by our largest local newspaper chain and provides a live-stream variety of programs, hosting events like town halls, mini-concerts, book readings and more. It’s also a good place to meet the journalists, as they rotate in a variety of editors, beat writers and columnists week to week. They also feature culinary delights by the local restauranteur Domenic Amatuzio. I had the Manitoba Club sandwich accompanied with their house salad – both were wonderful. Julie said the Portobello mushroom sandwich was equally delicious! After we ate, we were delighted to hear the prose and poetry of Joshua Whitehead, Joann DeCosse, Adrian Werner, Bronwynn Jerritt Enns, Andrew Eastman Carlyn Shellenberg, and Michelle Elrich. Make a note of their names as I am sure one day, you will hear their names spoken in literary circles and say, I remember reading about them back in May 2012!

Thursday morning I arose early, bubbling with excitement thinking about the day’s activities. I picked Julie up at her BnB and we headed out to the Canadian Mennonite University. The university is a two-building campus linking the old with the new. The main campus is set in what used to be the School for the Deaf, built in 1921. It was the perfect setting to house the literary symposium, bringing to mind images of castles with huge libraries.

The day’s events began in ‘The Great Hall’. Writers’ Guild members greeted us at the door where we registered, grabbed a coffee (or tea) and a homemade muffin or two before the Opening Ceremonies. Victor Enns, co-founder of the Guild began by introducing us to ’30 Manitoba Remarkable Books’ as selected by website visitors. Both books of poetry and novels were included in the list with such memorable authors as Carol Shields, Margaret Laurence, Miriam Toews, Robert Kroetsch, Jake MacDonald, David Bergen and Sandra Birdsell, just to name a few. If you are interested in learning all the books that made it onto the list, let me know and I will post the list at a later date.

Following Victor was a panel on publishing featuring David Arnason (editor of Turnstone Press), Anne Molgat, (director of Les éditions du blé), Jared Bland (managing editor of House of Anansi Press) and Joan Thomas (frequent contributing reviewer to the The Globe & Mail as well as award winning author of Reading By Lightning & Curiosity). They discussed the current state of publishing and what they thought was in store for the future. Anne described how the industry is moving away from the Big Publishing Houses and writers were relying on the smaller houses to get their work published. David suggested that being published was a means for authors to get ‘authentication’ for their work, ‘like a PhD for writers’, which I suppose is true in some ways but that opinion negates the struggle of hard-working writers who choose to go the self-publishing, or e-publishing route. In my opinion, their words are no less important than those of traditionally published authors. One point that was brought up was the fact that the smaller publishers of Manitoba seem to be thriving while others in Canada are struggling. Could this be due to the incredible writing community and the support of our provincial government? I think that may be the case. I had the chance to speak with writers from other provinces who don’t have an organization like our Writers Guild (with the exception of Saskatchewan’s Guild on which ours was based) that supports, encourages and educates writers.

One problem they brought up  was that with the smaller publishing houses, there is a lack of marketing budget leaving the writer with the task of promoting their own work. Suggestions such as using social media – blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc – was a good way to promote yourself. Book trailers and author-promoting videos on YouTube were good to create a ‘buzz’ about your writing. Here in Manitoba, McNally Robinson Booksellers does a fantastic job of supporting book-signings and book launches, puts prairie writers in their own section, which makes it easy to find local writing, and places our new books in prominent places. It has even brought in an in-store printing machine that can almost instantly print books in their library of on-demand titles. Of course, the publishers did not mention this new technology. I just thought I’d put that out there in support of such a great friend to the Manitoba writers. 🙂

Next on the Thursday agenda was a panel of Mennonite writing with David Elias, Maurice Mierau and Hildi Froese-Tiessen, a special session entitled Writing from the Margins – Farm, Forest,  Frontier with Fisher Lavell, Donna Besel and Sharon Arksey, and Readings by Chandra Mayor, Melissa Steele, and Lori Cayer. Since I couldn’t be in three places at once, I had a difficult decision to make. I chose to attend Writing from the Margins and was thoroughly entertained by the three women from rural Manitoba with their wonderful stories and personal histories. Those living on the fringes of urban life or in extremely remote areas have a difficult time being taken seriously as writers because they are nowhere near where all the literary ‘action’ is, but their stories still need to be told. For more information on all the speakers I’ve mentioned, please check out the Symposium information page here, which includes a brief bio of each one.

Lunches and dinners were included in the price of registration and were cheerfully provided by the cafeteria staff in the new building of the CMU. Although it was a bit of a walk, especially if you had a physical challenge like arthritis or torn tendons in an ankle as in the case of my co-panelist, it was a pleasant distraction from sitting and listening for several hours at a time. The varied menus included lasagna, bison stew and bannock, vegetarian sweet and sour meatballs with rice, and garlic sausage and salad. Then it was back to a literary fare.

First thing Thursday afternoon, Keynote speaker Marta Dvorak discussed how Manitoba writers and artists ‘are fine illustrations of an imaginative continuum on a planetary scale’. It was a scholarly account of her impressions of our literary history and culture. Afterwards, presenters read their papers on Poetry, Robert Steed, Urban Winnipeg and the Writing Community. By this time, Julie was feeling a little jet-lagged so we skipped out on the afternoon sessions and took in the used book sale instead. I picked up a half-dozen books that I hope will help in my future historical research, then I drove Julie to her BnB to relax before taking in the evening readings by David Bergen, Meira Cook, Struan Sinclair, Joan Thomas and Sarah Klassen.

I think I will end here. There are still some people I’d like to hear read this afternoon, and I might take in the finale tonight, a Cabaret evening at the West End Cultural Centre. On top of all that I have 80 emails to take in, mostly your blog posts that I have been neglecting because of all this literary activity. (Sorry about that!) Tomorrow, I’ll talk about Friday’s sessions, which includes my panel.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend, so far! 🙂