A Writer’s Tool

A Writer’s Tool

Time to dream, think, re-envision and write–that’s what writers need most. But then for some reason you’re away from your project for a long time–say a few signings, a book tour or holiday. Or even another book.

You need to get back into your story–probably have to reread the whole first part to get your head into the characters but you have, a suitcase to unpack, lunch to make, a microwave to clean, laundry to sort.

Here’s a feature on my Mac that I love to use: Speech.

Tessa, the south African voice, reads my work to me while I do other things. On my Macair, I click the apple, System preferences, Accessibility and then Speech. I chose Tessa because I like the way she reads, it doesn’t sound quite as mechanical or computer like as other voices.Then I select the text I want read and click Alt Esc. Tessa doesn’t pay all that much attention to my punctuation but that’s okay, neither do my young readers.

Sometimes my mind wanders when she reads to me–again so do my young readers’. Or I rush for a pencil to write down things that are wrong so I don’t forget and I miss a part. No matter, Tessa patiently reads to me again when I click Alt Esc.

This feature is also useful after a day of reading someone else’s work, say if I’m editing or story doctoring for another writer, when my eyes are tired of looking at a screen, Tessa again happily steps in.

When you self-edit, which is always kind of an oximoron to me, you need to distance yourself from your story, take it outside your head–and with Tessa reading it ( or Irish Moira or Scottish Fiona, there are many voices to choose from) the words naturally take one step away from you.

Now if she would only make me dinner.

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Visiting our MP, Hon. Karina Gould

Visiting our MP, Hon. Karina Gould

From left to right,Jennifer Maruno, the Honourable Karina Gould, Daniel,her assistant, Sylvia McNicoll and Jennifer Mook-Sang.

This is our second trip to the Honourable Karina Gould since she’s been elected. We wanted to respectfully request that our government address the suggestions that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Heritage submitted in March of 2019.

Four months may not seem a long time to wait for some kind of reaction but of course The Canadian Copyright Modernization Act has been in place and affecting all artists since 2011. By 2012 schools were deciding tariffs were optional. It’s been almost seven years of missing these fees that schools are required to pay in order to cover incidental copying and downloading.

Purchasing of books by schools is down by 43%, Canadian book purchases in general are down by 30%.

Can publishing survive? What if Canada loses its cultural voice? What if our kids study immigration with American texts?

On a brighter related note, Hon. Karina Gould has agreed to participate in a reading encouragement contest where children submit ballots for every Canadian book they’ve read for the chance to be Burlington’s MP for a day! Stay tuned.


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A Perfect Day in the Life of a Writer

A Perfect Day in the Life of a Writer

City of Burlington makes a big deal of me. My career began when I moved her in the 80s.

When I tell people I’m heading in to Toronto to meet my agent and publicist, I feel like Lady Gaga. But writers are only celebrities in a quiet, have-you-read my-book, kind of way. What I mean by that is if you haven’t read anything I’ve written, of course I am not famous to you. (Also PS I’m not wealthy.)

A lovely part of my work though is having a team behind me. Sorry I didn’t take a selfie with the best agent I could imagine having, Amy Tompkins. (David Bennett retired–he was the best I could imagine before.)

We talked about my picture book effort and she made great edit suggestions among which is find a sexier title. Hero Dogs has now become Boomer and Diesel, Life Saver Dogs. Tell me if you think of anything sexier. We also talked about a future bidding war for a new project What the Dog Knows. Just kidding. Well maybe not really.

Then I dropped by on the beautiful Dundurn Press office. Oh my gosh, there are bookshelves everywhere and that kind of hushed atmosphere that makes you want to stop, drop, and read.

Elham Ali, my savy young publicist, and I discussed subway ads, Forest of Reading hopes (every writer in Canada hopes), great books and…she let me pick a couple of ARCs (advance reading copies.) Elham also gave me a Best Mistake Mystery poster which I immediately regifted to Burlington Public Library. My series is set in Burlington so I’m always trying to alert young readers here about it.

Also squeezed in around these meetings, I chatted with Claire Gillis to get an update on copyright struggles. Where possible I try to advocate for Access Copyright because I want the future writers, editors, publicists and other cultural arts workers of Canada to have jobs. Strong copyright is strong culture.

Toronto is a long commute, so I bring my laptop and write. Totally immersed myself in my new middle grade project, despite announcements at every station about the floor I was on being a “Quiet Zone.” On the way home I finished reading a captivating book recommended to me by fellow Burlington writer Jennifer Maruno. The book is I Am a Truck by Michelle Winters

A perfect day in the life of a writer.!

At the end of the meetings I make time for a little sight seeing before the commute home. My favourite fountain on Front Street.

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