Yearly Archives: 2012

The call

It starts with an email: “I’ve tried calling …”

Instantly I recall all the times the phone rang, when I didn’t pick up because I didn’t recognize the number. “Just another crank call,” I’d thought.

I shoot back an email. “Is it okay if I call you right back?” and then I have second thoughts. As if I’ll be able to think about anything else until I hear what she has to say.

I dig out the cell phone and find the last Missed call. Holding my breath, I call back. The wheelbarrow man in my stomach is doing a jig.

She picks up right away. “Jenny?”

“I’m so sorry…”

“I’ve been trying to call you…”

“I thought you were the Microsoft Service Desk…” I’m giggling nervously.

We talk for a few minutes about how we both don’t like to use the phone, which is why she hasn’t left me a message. And then we get down to it.

“I read your story and I really liked it.”

I’m waiting for the BUT.

“And we’d like to publish it.”

I don’t do any of those things I’ve heard writers do – scream, yell, drop the phone. “Really?” I must have misunderstood.


The rest of the conversation is a blur. I make frantic notes as she tells me about the editing process, how I should start thinking about what types of covers I like because I can have some input into the cover design, and how she’ll send me a contract the next day.

After we hang up, I jump up and down like a five year old. I skype Patrick, but he’s already left. I pace for a few minutes. I give up and run next door to tell my neighbor. When Patrick finally gets home, I can’t even wait for him to put his bike away. “Guess what, guess what, guess what!”

He refuses to guess.

So I tell him. And then we both jump up and down and hug.

For the next few days I can’t sleep. My brain is going a million miles an hour thinking about all the things I need to do (Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, a website, EDITING!) Even though I’m not sleeping, I keep expecting to wake up.

And then the contract arrives and it’s official! My book is going to be published by
Sono Nis Press.

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

This weekend we went south of the border to Port Townsend for the Wooden Boat Festival.


This is the Lorraine, a folkboat, and one of my favorites.

Highlights included:

1. Research for a new writing project


This is Alison, teaching us how to attach sliders to the edge of the sail.


One of the many sewing machines in the sail loft.

2. Renewed enthusiasm for building the Navigator


This is Ellie, a Navigator designed by John Welsford of New Zealand. We have one of these on the back deck and we’re hoping it will look like this one day. While we were admiring her, we met another couple who are also building one.

3. Meeting John Welsford

Yes! Really!

4. Coffee from the lovely Heidi, aka Java Gypsy



When Patrick was at boat school, Heidi used to visit every day at morning tea time. She has an unbelievable memory for faces and names, and coffee orders, and her husband makes the best coffee in PT.

5. Thank goodness for ferry reservations


Back in Port Angeles, the ferries were completely chocka, so we were glad we had a reservation. There was just time for a short walk along the waterfront to admire these guys. Aren’t they cool!

Classic Boat Festival


It’s been a busy summer – a road trip to Jasper and back as volunteers for the Rocky Mountain 1200, friends and family to stay, and lots of work. This weekend we caught up with friends, visited the Classic Boat Festival, watched a cruise ship dock and the classic boats sail by from the end of the breakwater at Ogden Point, and kayaked in the gorge. A good weekend! A break from writing, but sometimes that’s what you need.

Surrey International Writers’ Conference

Registration opened this week for the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. Once again there is a great lineup of speakers – authors, editors, and agents.

I’m going. Are you?

First drafts

Do you like writing first drafts?

Lots of people love starting a new project. They’re brimming over with ideas for fascinating characters and surprising plot twists.

But I hate them. I stare at the blank page. I write a few words and then edit the life out of them. I get to the end of a scene, and then rewrite it over and over, even though I tell other people to keep moving forward with the story (why can’t I take my own advice?) It all just feels impossible.

Today I’m pulling out a new project to work on. It’s something I started earlier in the year, but put aside, so it’s like starting over. Here I am, staring at my screen, and trying to remember how I’ve done this before. And that’s when I remember—Kaizen—One Small Step Can Change Your Life.

It’s a book a read two years ago, that suggests starting with steps that are so small and easy, you can’t not do them. If you’re trying to convince yourself to exercise, a small step might be to march on the spot in front of your TV for 5 minutes every day. For me, it means writing for 10 minutes every day. I even have the Streaks app on my iPod Touch so I can’t cheat and miss a day. 10 minutes is such a short time I have no excuse not to do it. And it’s too short a time to worry about being perfect. All that matters is writing something, anything. Surprisingly, the words add up. You wouldn’t think so, but even 10 minutes a day is enough to build some momentum and carry you forward.

So I’m tightening my seatbelt and setting my timer for 10 minutes. Want to join me?

Making a grass trumpet

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time outside, racing my sister around the clothesline, and practicing cartwheels and handstands. But it never occurred to me to use grass as a musical instrument. I’d never heard of a grass trumpet until I saw it sitting proudly, number 25, on the bucket list.

Last Saturday, we had friends over for a picnic dinner on the front lawn. I say lawn, but it’s more of a meadow since it’s a month overdue for mowing, but that’s another story. Anyway, we were sitting on the grass enjoying the warm weather and good food, when my fine friend Gareth plucked some of our long, luscious grass and began to toot it like a horn. Ah ha! A grass trumpet!

Gareth playing his grass trumpet


To make a grass trumpet:

  1. Pluck a piece of the widest grass you can find.
  2. String the grass between your thumbs, so that it’s pulled taut.
  3. Blow between your thumbs so that the grass vibrates and sounds like a trumpet.

Hold the grass taut between your thumbs


I can do it - can you?