Winnipeg's Writer's Festival

Winnipeg's International Writer's Festival is happening in our city this week. With my mom in the hospital, my spare time is limited. I did manage to visit a 'book chat' event at our local bookstore. The featured authors were David Bergen (his new book is called "The Retreat") and Mary Swan (author of "The Boys in the Trees.") Both were inspiring. I enjoyed hearing them talk about their approach to their work. Mary is the less disciplined one and the multi-tasker, while David Bergen said that he forces himself to do a daily minimum and as a guy, he's not into multi-tasking. But do women have any choice? I think we'd all like to be able to shut the door and focus.

I do find doing a daily minimum works well for the inevitable guilt that comes if I don't write for awhile. My daily minimum is small - but it keeps me feeling like a writer. And I must continue to feel that way in order to believe in my ability to produce. (No guarantee on quality, of course.)

Now with my beautiful new toy - a pretty white laptop - I no longer have to choose between the great outdoors and the computer. Can life get any better? (Oh, right. In the old days there was the paper notebook and the pen. I remember. Trouble is, I now have trouble reading my own scrawl. Progress?)

The other thing I found interesting is how they are writing about young people - Swan's character is eleven years old, while Bergen's protagonist is seventeen. Yet both books are for an adult reader. Hmm. I have to think about this.

Time is on our side

Sometimes when you're stuck in the muck you can't focus much on anything else except on the muck. You know that somewhere out there there's a smooth highway, and you aim to be there ... but for now it's just forward/reverse/spin the tires and then for variety ... spin/reverse/forward ...

At least the sun's shining and the gold tinged leaves sure look inspiring against the September blue sky. The geese are doing their thing, honking and practicing their V formation. They're as stuck as me right now, flying around in circles, still not zooming forward.

But time is on our side.

I finished reading the advanced reader copy of Barrie Summy's upcoming release I So Don't Do Mysteries. I loved her main character, her voice and her metaphors. It won't be in the stores until December ... but I'm sure you can pre-order it. It's a great read for a grade sixer who likes funny mystery books. (And who could possibly resist that combination?) Barrie Summy's book is the last release of the Class of 2k8. They're having a very successful debut year. And it's only the beginning.

And on that positive note, I'm back to the muck. :) Rrrrr!

One of those weeks

I'm glad it's over - this week of surprises. My mom went into the hospital after a fall. Her pain is being managed for now, but we must begin the process of finding a personal care home for her.

THEN ... trees, one of my favorite things in the whole wide world, invaded our sewer with their roots. The roto rooter people had me rearrange the basement looking for some takeup valve that I never remembered seeing before. The basement has many dark shadows in it filled with boxes of my children's past. Why did I store those? Not sure.

SO ... I decided this was the week to treat myself to that macbook I've been ogling. And my favorite store is out of stock.


The week is over, a harvest moon will shine tonight, and I will NOT fear this last round of edits on my book with my new editor.

In Memory of cousin Lilli,

Last week I had a phone call from Germany - from a relative I'd only met over the last winter. It was the daughter of Lilli, one of my mom's cousins, telling me that Lilli had just passed away. I have to thank Don Miller, author of several books about the Germans from Russia, for connecting me to these lost relatives.

Lilli didn't make it out of the USSR until 1988. The two cousins, my mom and Lilli, got to exchange letters and photos this past winter, and most importantly, they let each other know what happened after they were forced from Federofka back in 1930. You see, they're both survivors of Stalin's collectivization. My mom's cousin, Lilli, was sent far north - up to Arkhangelsk - until the mid-fifties and then later - when Stalin had died and Krushchev 'rehabilated' countless former kulak families - she was resettled in Kazakhstan.

This is the second time my mom has reconnected with a cousin. The other cousin, Sophie, lived her whole adult life in Omsk where she'd been exiled to in the thirties. They, too, got to exchange letters (Sophie could still speak and write German) and compare stories before, she too, passed on a couple of years ago.

My mom's 89 now. She's going blind, her hearing is spotty and walking is difficult. She tells me the same stories now, over and over again. And I let her, because, once they're gone, they're gone. And I want to get them right!

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