Category Archives: People

Book Signing in Sarasota

Some authors don’t like book signings in bookstores. There have been reported cases of an author assigned a table by the entrance, their books plunked on that table, and the author then waits with pen in hand – ready to sign books for the crowd. And waits. And waits.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen to me in Sarasota due to the efforts of Monika – organizer and Estonian extraordinaire.


It was my first book signing in the USA, and Donna, from Barnes and Noble, was fantastic. It was a pleasure to meet a book lover who is involved in the community, and engaged with schools, librarians, and teachers.


I was delighted to meet the small, but enthusiastic group of Estonians. Given the events in Crimea – the establishment of military presence, a vote to join Russia, and the inability of the West to intervene – all very familiar events to the Baltic countries  – it was timely to talk about The Darkest Corner of the WorldIn turn, some of the audience shared their stories and experiences of the war, and their thoughts about the current situation in Ukraine. 


Thanks everyone! It was great to meet you!

And being in Florida, the sunset was pretty spectacular as well.


Don’t waste your breath

There are so many phrases related to breathing.

We catch our breath. We gasp for air. We mutter under our breath. We hold our breath with anticipation. We refer to something as a “breath of fresh air.” We’re so busy that we don’t have time to catch our breath.

I can’t catch my breath. But what if this last phrase were true?

I want to share a story with you. A friend’s husband is waiting for a new set of lungs, and she wants to raise awareness for organ donation. Tonight, CBC will run an interview with her at at 5:30 and 11:00pm.

I realize that deciding to become an organ donor is a very personal decision, and I’m sure you’ve thought about it. Maybe you’ve signed the back of your driver’s lisence, or maybe you’ve registered with a provincial or state organ donor registry.

But in case you are sitting on the fence, you might be interested in Sarah and Keith’s story.

If you’re interested, here are some links:

Today’s interview in the local newspaper:–waiting-to-take-a-breath

Sarah’s blog:

Facebook page “Lungs for Keith to breath” : (almost 1300 “likes in a few days)

Register to become an organ donor in Canada:

Don’t waste your breath.

How to make an author happy

Barrie Book Club  19jan12

I’m sure that you ask yourself this question all the time. No? Well, just in case you’re wondering how to make an author happy, I’ll tell you.

Invite them to a book club meeting.

Ask them questions about their book, and let them talk. And talk. And talk.

Serve them wine, a delicious lunch, coffee and dessert.

Share your stories, opinions, and thoughts (best part of the meeting).

Thanks to the ladies of The Barrie Book Club, and the ladies of Kleinberg who joined them today. I’m sure there is more than one book club in Barrie, but none can be more fun than these ladies. Thanks so much for inviting me, and sharing your stories. 

The Writer’s Journey by Chris Vogler

I’m in Seattle attending Day 1 of the StoryMasters course, organized by Lorin Oberweger of Free Expressions. I met Lorin a few months ago at the Niagara SCBWI course where she kindly donated this workshop to the silent auction table. I bid, and won, and booked my ticket!  I couldn’t wait to hear the three gurus of storytelling – Chris Vogler, James Scott Bell, and Donald Maas.

Today was all about The Writer”s Journey by Chris Vogler. It was one of the first books I bought when I decided to write a novel. I’ve read this book many times over the last few years, and would highly recommend it. It’s based on the work done by Joseph Campbell, one of the world’s foremost scholars of mythology.

Even though I’ve read the book, the experience of hearing Chris Vogler speak about his work added another dimension to my understanding about the hero’s journey, and it’s relevance to modern literature. My notes are over 4000 words. I think I wrote for the entire time he spoke. But I’ll share a few thoughts that really resonated with me.

He emphasized that a good story needs to connect with the reader on an emotional level. Your stomach should knot with suspense when the hero is trouble, and your throat should constrict when ending threatens to make you cry.

Chris went on to talk about the meaning of “entertaining” which means to “hold the attention of your audience.” He emphasized that we, as writers, should be entertaining in that sense. We should surprise our readers, deliver something new on every page, and use all the five senses. He quoted Ray Bradbury as saying “I do something simple. I put all five senses on every page.” How many of us can say we do that? I know I can’t.

Chris talked about the definition of a story, and asked the group about their thoughts. So what is a story? A simple question. The answer is more complicated. Here are some of the answers from our group.

  • It is an explanation and insight into the human condition.
  • It is a character in conflict with a problem.
  • It is about characters having series of experiences that have meaning.
  • It is a universal situation or problem or desire being expressed

Chris’s definition of a good story is that it is a metaphor. A story allows us to compare how we are doing in our own lives. The need to constantly compare ourselves to another person is a deeply human thing. We need to measure our progress or situation to someone else’s. Whether we are taller, or stronger, or faster, it is part of the human condition to understand how our situation is better, or different, or worse, that that of other people. How do we fit in? Stories give us metaphors that help us manage our lives and give us ideas about how we should behave in various situations.

Tomorrow: I look forward to comparing James Scott Bell’s session to Chris’s.