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Meet Ginger!

You might remember that a couple of years ago Patrick and I rented a Westfalia Vanagon camper for a long weekend and that we loved it. In fact, at the end of that post I said,

Would we rent a camper again? Yes! Might we buy one? Yes, yes, YES!

Well, what with one thing and another, and lots of debating the pros and cons, we finally started looking for a van in earnest about a month ago. Patrick scoured the ads on Craigslist and Used Victoria, and when he saw a likely candidate, we tootled off for a looksee.

We saw vans in Victoria, Saanich, Cobble Hill, Parksville, Fanny Bay, and even Coquitlam, but none of them were suitable – they were too rusty, too rough on the inside, the wrong colour (kidding!), registered in the wrong province (which meant importing it and having it inspected, and paying to fix anything that didn’t pass inspection), not registered at all (which meant we couldn’t take it for a test drive), an automatic when we wanted a standard, outside our budget, too rusty, too rusty, too rusty…

In the meantime, Patrick was supposed to be finishing his thesis for his M.S.

Finally we had to admit that buying a van was really what Steven Pressfield would call Resistance – ie. Patrick’s way of avoiding working on his thesis (nevermind what I was supposed to be doing – let’s not go there!) So Patrick decided on Thursday last week that we would stop looking for a van until after he’d submitted his thesis and I agreed that this was a most excellent plan.

Except that at lunch time Patrick had another look through the ads and he found a van that appeared to be just right – not too rusty, registered in BC, in our price range, and not a day’s drive away. So on Thursday evening we headed up island and we met a lovely couple who were selling their van because their family had outgrown it. Patrick did a thorough inspection and chatted with the guy about the work he’d done on her, and then we took her for a test drive and we knew she was the one.

Meet Ginger!


She’s originally from California, so her body has hardly any rust. For anyone who wants to know the technical details, she’s a 1984 camper with a 1.9l water-cooled engine with a 4-speed manual gearbox. She can sleep four, and has a 2-burner stove, fridge, sink with a water pump, and of course, a pop-top so we can stand up inside.

Like most Vanagons, she’s a work-in-progress. Patrick has already had the sliding door apart to add grease to the mechanism. But she promises many exciting adventures. And she doubles as my new writing space!


What do you think? Are we crazy? Or do you want one too?

Gluing up the centerboard casing

The boatbuilder was back at work today on our John Welsford Navigator.

Over the last several years he’s been working on the boat off and on. We used to joke that it’s a boat in a bucket, since a lot of the parts were all standing up in a bucket. But now he’s starting to glue and screw the bits together, and soon we’ll have something that looks much more boat-like to admire from the kitchen window.

Today’s job was to glue up the centerboard casing. He’s done this once before and then discovered his measurements were wrong (he forgot to include the thickness of the keel plank). Fingers crossed it’s second time lucky!

On the writing front, I’ve created outline #45 (only a slight exaggeration!) to include some suggestions from my writing group. Now it’s just a matter of filling in the gaps (if only it were that easy!).

Talking about Prove It, Josh

Sono Nis Press filmed this short video of me talking about the process of writing Prove It, Josh.

Here’s the link on Youtube.

Making an ebook the quick and dirty way

When it comes to writing, I’m a pretty visual person. Yes, I need to be able to see a scene, the setting, the characters, and the action in my head. But it’s more than that. I also need to set up my Word document to look as much like a book as I can, so that I can visualize the end result. I know approximately how many words my scene should be, and as the writing progresses down the page, I can start to see the shape of the scene—the dialogue, action, description, and pacing.

But what about when I’ve finished a manuscript and I want to see the shape of the whole story?

At this point I like to read it on my Kindle, to see if it hangs together (that’s a technical term!), so I make an ebook from my Word file. It’s easy and free.

Note: This is not the way to make a beautifully formatted ebook ready for sale on your website or Amazon. This is meant purely for your own use to get a new perspective on your story, or if you’re critiquing someone else’s manuscript.

Note for parents: This is also something you could do for children who write. Imagine how cool it would be for kids to see their story on an ereader and be able to share it that way with their family and friends!

To make an ebook from a Word file:

  1. Download and install Calibre.
  2. In Calibre, click the Add books button.
  3. In the Select books window, select your Word file (.docx format), and then click the Open button. Your Word file appears in Calibre in the center pane.
  4. In Calibre, click the Convert books button.
  5. In the Convert window, select the Output format from the drop-down (top right corner of the screen):
    • MOBI: For Kindles.
    • EPUB: For most other ereaders.
  6. Click the OK button. Calibre converts the Word file to an ebook format, which you’ll see in blue in the right pane when the conversion is finished.
  7. Once you have created the ebook, you can transfer it to the Kindle (by email or using the USB cable).

This covers just the very basics. There are obviously lots of things you can do to improve your ebook—such as adding a cover and table of contents, and changing the formatting—I’ll tell you about those things in another post.

If you have questions, ask me in the comments.

Procrastination – tip #2


Weirdly, and despite the fact that I am mysterious and unpredictable (just ask my family!), the list of things on my plate this week looks much like it did last week. I should be:

  1. Working on the draft of my next book.
  2. Critiquing another chapter for a friend and reading a completed manuscript for another friend.
  3. Buying and mailing a birthday present for my other nephew – sorry buddy, it’s going to be late!
  4. Doing my taxes – gah, still not done!
  5. Catching up on the latest episode of The Voice (no wait, that’s meant for another list!)

Instead, I went for a stroll in the sunshine with a friend and took lots of blurry photos of birds. This one I’m sharing is a red-winged blackbird. After a long stalemate, he agreed to let me take this one picture, so long as I hurried on my way afterwards.

Alright, alright, this week’s tip?

» Make a public commitment to your goals. Whether that’s a list of to-do’s on your blog/FB/Twitter, a note on your fridge door, or a sticky note on your computer monitor, write it down somewhere.

So tell me, did you try out Trello last week? What did you think? Or do you have another list-making app that’s better? Tell me, tell me.

Create a video book trailer – Contest!

My publisher is launching a cool new contest for kids (and big kids – there’s no age limit!). Here are the details…


At Sono Nis Press we’ve played around with creating short videos to introduce you to some of our authors and their newest books (check them out on our YouTube channel: Sono Nis Press). We know that way more talent exists outside our offices than inside, so we are throwing out a challenge:

Create a book trailer about any Sono Nis book for a chance to win great prizes!

All you have to do is:

  1. Create a video that in some way features a book published by Sono Nis Press.
  2. Upload it to YouTube.
  3. Send us an email: Indicate which category you have entered (Children’s Book, Poetry, or Other) and include the video link along with your full name, town, and email address.

We’ll add you to our contest playlist on YouTube so the whole world can enjoy your efforts. Finalists will be selected by votes from the public, so get ready to spread the word to your vast social networks. Good luck!

Entry deadline: All entries must be received by midnight, September 30, 2014.

**Please note: This contest is open only to people with a mailing address in the USA or Canada.**

Contest Categories and Prizes:

  • Children’s Book Trailer – Sono Nis Press website credit of $100 (Canadian dollars) for you and a matching credit of $100 for a school library of your choice. What a great way to stock up on new reading for you and a whole lot of kids!
  • Poetry Book Trailer – Sono Nis Press website credit of $100.00! Indulge your passion for poetry books or choose from any of our other quality titles.
  • Other Trailer – $100.00 website credit good for any Sono Nis Press titles you might not already own.

Sono Nis Press reserves the right not to post any entry deemed inappropriate for our family audience.


So that’s the contest! I can’t wait to see your videos!