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Coffee Shop Author

November 24, 2009

Could I write a book in a coffee shop? I’ve always thought of myself as a writer who needs a quiet room, free of distraction. I have trouble resisting the sound of human voices. So how could I possibly write anything more challenging than a shopping list in a coffee shop? Why would I even…

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Cormac McCarthy's Typewriter

December 4, 2009

A recent article in the New York Times informs readers that Cormac McCarthy’s typewriter is about to be auctioned off. It’s expected to go for between $15,000 and $20,000. That’s a lot of money for a typewriter that has, according to McCarthy, “never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a…

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Talented Young Writers

December 18, 2009

A bug has been spreading through the community of Guelph’s teens this year. I’m not referring to H1N1 but to the Writing Bug. There were three times as many submissions to GPL’s 2009 teen writing contest as there were in 2008. This year was the second year I had the pleasure of judging stories for…

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One Dickens of a Messy Manuscript

December 23, 2009

Did you know that Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in just six weeks because he was in desperate need of some cash? Or that the manuscript he submitted to his publisher was a sloppy mess? Whether you’re heartily embracing “the festive season” or you’re grumbling humbug and trying to avoid the whole scene, be…

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Does Your Writing Life Need A Boost?

January 7, 2010

Peter Carver and I are now accepting applications to our week-long, seaside writing workshop/retreat, taking place in August this year, on the south shore of Nova Scotia. If giving a writing project of yours the time it deserves is one of your resolutions for the new year, why not consider submitting an application. You can find more…

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Back in Liberia

February 2, 2010

I’m sitting on the fourth floor balcony of the Cape Hotel in Monrovia in shorts and t-shirt listening to a mixture of surf and hotel generators, and the occasional honking of a motorcycle horn. It’s just after nine o’clock at night. African music has been added to the surf/generator mix as I type this. Who…

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Heroes in Liberia

February 4, 2010

Well, it’s WAY past my usual bedtime for a week night. I’ve been lost in the pages of personal essays written by Liberian writers about people who have been important to them, people who have inspired them in some way. Each day I am here in Liberia, I learn more about the remarkable people I…

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The People in my "Neighbourhood"

February 9, 2010

Home again from Liberia, I was contemplating what aspect of my week there I would blog about – what illustrators were learning and doing with Gord Pronk while I worked with writers? how a group decides which “personal heroes” qualify for inclusion in a Liberian anthology? the fun we had with an oral “dialogue” exercise?…

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Children's Literature Conference – March 5-6, 2010

March 1, 2010

“The Environmental Imagination and Children’s Literature” may be a strange name for a conference, but the names of its speakers are not. David Almond and Susan Cooper from the UK, M.T. Anderson from the US, and Sarah Ellis and Tim Wynne-Jones from Canada are the writers on the program. Other children’s literature experts will be…

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A Writing Group to Celebrate

March 31, 2010

Writing is a solitary occupation, and some writers like to keep it that way until it’s time to submit a manuscript to a publisher. Others, like me, prefer to meet regularly with a group of fellow writers – to get feedback on works-in-progress, to share in the trials and tribulations of the writing life, and…

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