Wednesday, May 25, 2011

OK - here's my excuse...

I haven't been writing here for a little while and there are some good reasons. I could cite the lovely gardening weather, sales conference madness, crushing deadlines, home-cooking, working with the underprivileged, video games, Rapturemania, etc. but not all of them would be true. Most, but not all.
The thing is, besides focussing most of my creative energy on editing other people's books (which I LOVE LOVE LOVE to do!) I've actually started to (wait for it...)

...start mapping out the outline for a book of my own. Yep.

So now that I've put that out there, I guess I'm committed to writing it.

I've never really been particularly interested in writing a book of my own - well, not since I was 10 years old and completely engrossed with Emily of New Moon. I've been quite happy to let other people do all of the creative work and then just swoop in afterward and "fix" everything.  I've never had a story of my own that I've felt like telling.

But now I do. So, no more feeding off the words of others. At least, not exclusively.
And that's all I'm going to say about that.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

In which I discover a leprechaun but very little gold

Yesterday, I went to a workshop led by the Ministry of Education that was intended to help publishers incorporate assessment tools into educational resource materials for teachers. The point, I think, was to integrate assessment with actual instruction, as opposed to saving it all for the big unit test at the end.
"But you just edit kids' books, don't you, Christie?" I hear you ask.
Au contraire, mes amies. We/I also create teachers' guides for our books which are available as free PDFs on the Fitzhenry & Whiteside website. So, Cathy Sandusky (our publisher) and I went to find out the latest in pedagogy down at the Marriott Hotel in Toronto.
For those of you who don't know me that well, I should tell you now that I'm a wee bit leery of the whole educational institution thing. I used to teach high school and was a substitute teacher for years. I was also an in-house tutor at a private school in Toronto for 10 years or so. And I homeschooled my own kids for the greater part of their elementary school years. So I'm not totally unfamiliar with various ways of educating kids. And I'm not a big fan of "the man" in education.
Especially the man who was running the workshop yesterday. He was an older Irish gentleman who seemed to have missed his calling as an evangelical tentshow preacher. Within 2 minutes, he was hopping up and down between tables, gesticualting wildly, and pontificating at the top of his lungs in a manner that would have scared little children.
"We are not here to give you a sermon; rather, you are here to listen to one!"
Before we left for the workshop, Cathy was worried that we had misunderstood the purpose of the event. That's because she read the "details" of the event in an email. So I read it over with her, and after about half an hour, we managed to parse their convoluted prose enough to take a good guess at what we were heading into. It seemed to be something that might be useful. So we went. Besides, there'd be food.
Convoluted prose seemed to be the modus operandi of the day. So, thank goodness, our first exercise that morning was to write out the stated purpose of the workshop in our own words -- just to make sure that everyone understood why we were all there. To give us a sporting chance, the organizers had written out the purpose on a "placemat" for us. This was excellent since it gave me an opportunity to rewrite the purpose with, you know, punctuation and appropriate prepositions, thereby (in fact) altering the purpose of the workshop as it was written on the placemat to the actual purpose of the workshop.
Glad we got that cleared up.
(One of the ladies running the workshop looked at me funny when she saw my placemat and said, "You're an editor, aren't you?" Damn straight.)
I wish I could tell you more about the rest of the day but seriously, that would take more space on this blog than I probably have room for. Let's just say that by first break, I was in need of both valium and alcohol. I think Cathy was afraid my head was going to explode. I still have kids in the school system, after all.
But lunch was good. And in an effort to keep from making snarky asides, I kept stuffing my mouth with croissants and danishes. Yum.
Then I discovered the healing power of doodling and made some very pretty floral patterns.
At about the 4-hour mark, we'd even managed to pick out a few useful nuggets of gold from the leprechaun's Orwellian pot of double-spoken crap. So at least I have some good ideas about how to improve our teachers' guides.
I also have a new-found sense of pity and appreciation for the publishers of actual textbooks. I can ignore most of the mumbo-jumbo that I had to listen to yesterday, but they actually have to buy into it and be able to spout that stuff when they put together their materials and grant proposals etc. Judging from the expressions on their faces and some of their questions and comments, they were almost as twitchy as I was. Good luck with that, folks.

Monday, May 2, 2011

BIG HONKING NEWS CYCLE! (No, not my news - news in general...)

With all that is going on in the world these days, writing up tip sheets for sales kits for books that aren't even going to be printed for months yet seems a bit superfluous.
I mean, jeez. There was a royal wedding to get all distracted about, fascinaters to make, scones and tea to consume and general huzzahing to do.
At my mom's: note her homemade scones. Mmm!
My low-key fascinater: fashioned from some Easter decorations lying around.

On the same day, a bunch of our books landed in the warehouse. Generally, this is a big day no matter what. I LOVE seeing the books all minty fresh out of the box but this lot was special for me and mine because the covers and general design were done by Comm Tech Unlimited - my son's company - and they look pretty darned awesome, I think!!

Sadly, the two Eric Walters books are available with these covers in the US only. But The BEDMAS Conspiracy is available in Canada! Here is a link. It's lots of fun for the 8-12 year-old crowd.

And since today marks the start of Canadian Children's Book Week, why not check out another -  Saving Armpit - also being released this month? Baseball, mail, summer, cake - what's not to love?

Saving ArmpitSaving Armpit - click here!

Then, of course, there are the elections today. I'm ready to take out the camera to get a picture of James voting in his first election. This is just a big as the first day of school, in my books.

Poor Patrick Chan - he wins the World Figure Skating Championships in spades but can hardly buy an inch of air-time what with the Stanley Cup playoffs, the aforementioned Royal Wedding, election coverage and now...Bin Laden's been offed, you say?
Plus, I can't get enough of those clips from the Correspondents' Dinner. ZING!

Yep. Plenty out there to distract me from those tip sheets these days.
Back to Editoriania, though. These deadlines are fast approaching and the rest of the real world will have to wait.