A Canadian book blog: Publishing, marketing, books and technology from a Canadian perspective

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fat Tuesday

Get your sinning done today, tomorrow is Lent.

Today is Fat Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras. In days of old, today was the last day of indulgence before Lent (Ash Wednesday). Fat Tuesday is the day to eat fish, meat, milk, eggs, butter, and sweets. As a good school girl I recall being asked to give up one of these things for Lent. I think I also had to be nice to my brother.

But Lent is tomorrow, today is about all the fats.

In pre-Christian times, celebrations at this time of year honoured Bacchus (or Dionysus), he’s the booze god, and widely celebrated during Carnival.

I like this idea of Carnival. When I was in Colombia in 1997, I decided that my dream vacation would be to sail around to all the Caribbean islands celebrating carnival. Each island stages separate events so you could easily follow Carnival from one island to the next. Quite the tour, non?

So today get fat on doughnuts, pancakes and anything with a sweet filling. I recommend custard, jelly, or chocolate. But pancakes are the kicker—butter, eggs and milk. And definitely have some wine.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The New Quill & Quire Design

I love it.

Quill & Quire is the publishing industry’s magazine of gossip, news, reviews and commentary. It used to be on tabloid size paper,  11 x 17, staple-bound. Quill & Quire is now 8.5 x 11—although I haven’t pulled out a ruler—and perfect bound. The Q&Q is still on newsprint, but now it is 100% ancient forest friendly paper. Legacy Brite, to be exact. Thank you Quill.

The new format gets full marks in my book. It is easier for me to cart around. I can read it and eat my lunch in a limited space. The new size makes the mag seem more chunky. The interior design and layout is much better, easier to read, and in colour.

My only compliant about the Quill and Quire is that often the newsstand has issues on sale before my subscription arrives in the mailbox. Someone explained to me that the newsstand copies and the subscriptions are sent out two different ways and that’s why there’s a discrepancy. I understand, but I don’t care. I’d really like to read each issue as soon as possible and it rots my socks to see it on the newsstand and then wonder how long it will be for my lone copy to wander over the Rockies.

All in all, one compliant and millions of praise. So far the praise is out weighing the compliant.

Beyond the Wardrobe: A review of My Mother’s Wedding Dress

If you like memoir, fashion and storytelling written like fiction, then you’ll enjoy reading Justine Picardie’s My Mother’s Wedding Dress. I received an advance copy through the Harper Collins First Look program. I was pressed to read the book quickly because I needed to get my review in by March 1 in order to remain in the program. I had about 3 weeks to read, which really wasn’t enough time for me considering I had other books on the go. Nevertheless, I came in under the wire and below is the review I submitted:

My Mother’s Wedding Dress opens with the fantastic story of a black mohair cocktail dress—a strange choice for a wedding dress, nonetheless, Picardie makes it seem like a perfectly natural choice given the circumstances. Picardie quickly sets the stage, filling the reader in on her family’s heritage, their immigrant experiences, and like a giant quilt—with short story fabric swatches from past dresses, uniforms and trousers—Picardie pulls together a beautiful and rich memoir.

Each chapter could easily stand on its own as a compact narrative of the memories that spin off from a single article of clothing. But together the pieces form a splendid and diverse wardrobe of remembrance.

I enjoyed this book very much. I think the cover is stylish and is certainly what drew me to the book in the first place. As far as book clubs, yes, if you have a predominantly female book club, this would be a good pick. There are many, many things to discuss: going to a new school, having grandparents from another country, sisters, fashion choices, cancer, politics and friendship. It’s good for a range of generations too. I’m 30 but I know my 40-50 something friends will enjoy the book. And my 20 something friends who read fiction and wouldn’t think of reading memoir would certainly like this book.

The book is out next month (March). And I recommend it as a good springtime read. Like plastic trousers and velvet vests, sometimes an impulse buy works out perfectly.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

SFU Summer Workshop in New Media

One of the many hats that I wear now includes program director for the Simon Fraser University New Media summer workshops. Quite a mouthful.

Information about the SFU New Media workshop is now online:

The site is a work in progress so full session descriptions and bios will be available soon, but the preliminary info is up and registrations are now being accepted.


Summer Publishing Workshops
Simon Fraser University @ Harbour Centre
515 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3

For more info:
T 604 291 5241
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Who should attend? Who is the workshop for?
Marketing, sales and publicity folks; designers and writers wanting to better understand the web; any business leader who wants to figure out this blogging thing, podcasting, wikis; managers and anyone in charge of a budget and figuring out how to make or spend money online.

The speaker line up is fantastic and the sessions are going to be great and informative.

I will post more about the speakers and the sessions, but for now check out the website:

Monday, February 20, 2006

Congratulations Team Canada!

Hailey WickenheiserIn June I got to meet Hayley Wickenheiser at BookExpo Canada. She was signing copies of Hayley Wickenheiser: Born to Play by Elizabeth Etue (Kids Can Press).

Hayley is formidable.

The first woman to play professional hockey (clarification—in a men’s league—thanks DB).
Member of the Canadian Olympic hockey team: Silver in Nagano, gold in Salt Lake City, and gold today in Torino.
In 2003, she played professional hockey in a men’s league in Finland.

Watching the game was very exciting, and listening to the crowd belt out O Canada at the medal ceremonies was my moment of patriotism today.

Congratulations to the Canadian women’s olympic hockey team. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but gold is pretty damn sweet too.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Technologically Chic

Are you a geek with good fashion sense? Do you covet the laptop bag more than the laptop (only slightly more though, ok)?

These designs are pretty great: a keyboard inside a tablecloth, usb-drives in bracelets and cuffs.

I’m a fan of the usb leather bracelet.

Stylishly geeky.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Graphic Design and Typographer David Carson Comes to Vancouver

Passing on a press release:

Graphic designer and typographer David Carson will be speaking at a public seminar on Thursday, March 2 at 6:30 pm in The Art Institute of Vancouver’s soundstage at 3054 Beta Avenue in Burnaby. There will be a book signing, as well as the opportunity to win books and limited-edition, signed posters by Carson. Info on David and his work can be found at davidcarsondesign.com. This is a free event, but we are expecting a sizeable turn-out, so an RSVP is required.

David Carson
Thursday, March 2 at 6:30

The Art Institute of Vancouver
3264 Beta Ave.
Burnaby, BC V5G 4K4

Phone: 604-298-5492 x. 5268 or 1-800-661-1885

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Notes on Northern Voice 2006

Yesterday was Northern Voice 2006: Canada’s blogging conference. James and I attended and it was great to see our blogging friends and geek out a bit. The day opened with Julie Leung speaking about why stories are essential and how to blog effective tales. Next up was Dave Sifry and Tim Bray’s musings on the blogosphere. Apparently a new weblog is created every second of every day. Over 50% of new blogs are still active after 3 months.

Other sessions I attended were
Susannah Gardner‘s I’m Too Sexy for My Blog: Blog Design for Everyone.
Susannah is the author of Buzz Marketing with Blogs for Dummies, a book for business professionals looking for advice and solutions for business blogging. You can get a discount of all Dummies books instore at Chapters/Indigo this month. I highly recommend this book.

I also attended
The Changing Face of Journalism with Mark Schneider, Robert Ouiment and Michael Tippett
Eric Rice’s Everything Casting: Podcasting and Vlogging for the Masses

I wanted to Geek Out with Kevin Marks, Robert Scoble and Will Pate. And I was interested in Five Ways Your Blog Can Change the World, but my back was breaking. I worked really hard last week and to add on a 2-day conference was perhaps a bit much.

Here’s to taking a break.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Notes on Moose Camp

Friday was Moose Camp. What’s Moose Camp? Well, it’s like Bar Camp. Which is?

Ok, have you ever sat around in a bar and tried to pitch someone on an idea and you started drawing it out on the back of a napkin? Have you ever come up with the perfect solution to some problem while you were sitting around with your friends? That would be bar camp, moose camp, whatever.

My first session was Edubloggerhootenanny.

Alan Levine, D’Arcy Norman, Scott Leslie, and Brian Lamb were the conversation facilitators. The session was mostly for educators who are using blogs as teaching tools. It seemed to me that there are two types: those working with K-12 and those working with university and college students. Many of the issues are the same though: do you prescribe blogging, how do you deal with students who must submit blog work in multiple classes, how do you grade participation, etc.

Here are my random thoughts on edublogging:

Educators should view blogging as blog reading and blog writing. Not just blog writing.

In a classroom setting, the first step in introducing blogging could be reading blogs then discussing how to filter what is “true”, what isn’t; why do we think one voice has authority over others; how do we understand what we read; what narratives do we create from reading others.

Discussion. Remember blogs are about conversation.

Blogging should be incorporated the same way extracurricular reading is.

Give students the tools to understand how to find sites they enjoy, how to read and judge validity or authority, how to use critical thinking skills, and how to respond to the stories we read.

Real Time Reporting with Now Public
Next session was Real Time Reporting with Now Public. Michael Tippett gave a good presentation on NowPublic.com, which is about sharing the news. He demonstrated how the site works and what things you can do as a citizen journalist. The site looked cool and seemed easy to use.

AJAX for Geeks
It was that kind of day.

I enjoyed AJAX for Geeks with Dave Johnson. There was code on the screen.

AJAX is all about the page refresh. You no longer need it. For example, when you are filling out a form and you incorrectly enter your password, the page is sent to the server, the server returns the error, and your entire screen needs to refresh in order to show the error message. With AJAX that doesn’t happen. Just small amounts of data flow back and forth, not the full page. With AJAX, the error message just appears on the screen.

Flickr and Google Maps are AJAX examples.

Structured Blogging and Microformats
Structured Blogging and Microformats with Bryan Rieger was in the afternoon. The basic idea is that a web post is like a block. As we produce more and more posts, they act as more and more little blocks. The thing you cannot do with a block is distinguish whether it is a text musing or an event listing or an image. If there were tags within the post that defined, for example, an event title, the event description, the event time and place, then you could do more with that information. For example, if you came across an event listing, instead of copying and pasting it into your calendar, you could somehow just one click import it.

It makes more sense to think of these types of posts and metadata as better for machines rather than humans, but there were arguments in favour of the human use.

Podcasting and Video Blogging
Podcasting and Video Blogging was presented by Robert Sanzalone. He told the group about DailyMotion.com, which apparently is the best video blogging site. You can upload your videos and it transcodes them and makes them available for download in multiple formats.

1 Minute Movie
Roland created a 1 Minute Movie with Photo to Movie, which costs $50 US and is better and easier than iMovie.

Although my descriptions of the sessions are getting shorter, this does not reflect my interest or enthusiasm for these sessions. I’m merely exhausted from the 2 days.

Back to Photocamp ... it was a freeform discussion about photos at Photocamp with Kris Krug.

I now need to figure out the cool boost colour effect for my camera. We discussed aperture.

DabbleDB.com demo. We created a database on the fly. The functions are really cool. Love the product but the import function was lacking and I’m skeptical about the export. As a tool though, really interesting and very very likeable.

In a side conversation, I learned that GMail and GTalk are beautifully linked and I need to dust off the GMail account.

Leadership Hacks
David Sifry of Technorati talked about leadership. It’s all about passion, the team, leading not managing, developing other leaders, preparing for scalability traps, back of the napkining it, remembering it’s a business not a clubhouse, vision + execution, failing fast and being of service.

After all of that I stumbled along to the evening BBQ in Stanley Park and ate 2 Chips Ahoy cookies, which, yes mom, did spoil my dinner.

All in all, a great day.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Where’s that Moose? Northern Voice 2006 Starts Tomorrow

The Moose is totally loose!

Northern Voice unofficially starts tonight. In mere minutes, Chris Pirillo and Ponzi Indharasophangi will be taping The Chris Pirillo Show live at Take 5 Cafe at 429 Granville from 6-8p.m.

They want a live audience of Northern Voicers—I hope to make it down there before 8.
Here’s the post from NORTHERN VOICE.

Moose Camp is tomorrow and then Northern Voice: Canada’s Blogging Conference is Saturday.

Is there anyone who doesn’t have a ticket and would like to go? I might have one extra.

UPDATE: The ticket is spoken for.


Four Things

BigSnit has tagged me with Four Things. So let’s see here:

Four movies I can watch over and over:
1. Miller’s Crossing, but really anything from the Coen brothers, including O Brother Where Art Thou
2. The Postman Always Rings Twice or any other classic film noir
3. The Big Snit, which is a funny coincidence, isn’t it Robert?
4. The Fast and the Furious or Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: if there’s a good car chase or sword fight, I’m willing to ignore any other faults.

Four places I have lived:
1. St. Boniface, MB (which is really part of #2)
2. Winnipeg, MB
3. Bogota, Colombia (where I lived for 2 months in 1997)
4. Vancouver, BC

Four television shows I love to watch (ON DVD):
1. The Office
2. Six Feet Under (which I have never seen but look at longingly in the video store)
3. The Hour or The Daily Show
4. Top Gear, if they had it on DVD

Four places I have been on vacation:
1. St. Lucia
2. Havana
3. Istanbul
4. Sorento, Australia to see fairy penguins

Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Butter Chicken
2. James’ braised lamb
3. Gamma’s perogies
4. really good goat curry or amazing dark chocolate (had to throw a dessert in there)

Four websites I visit daily:
1. DarrenBarefoot.com
2. BookLust
3. Drawn
4. TwinF (The world is not Flat)

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. snorkelling in Greece for octopus
2. shopping in London, UK
3. skiing with James and Craig in Whistler
4. basking in sunlight anywhere, although Fiji would be nice

Four bloggers I am tagging:
1. Crazy at Well Dunn Photography
2. Melissa because she needs to blog more
3. David, who I met at the podcaster meetup
4. Lue because she’s new to blogging

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Save Joy Kogawa’s Childhood Home

My friend Ann-Marie is helping The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) fundraise to rescue the childhood home of author Joy Kogawa, which happens to sit around the corner from her home in a lovely neighbourhood in Marpole.

On November 3, 2005, Ann-Marie and others convinced Vancouver City Council to delay approval of a demolition permit on the house until March 31, 2006. Now they are working to raise money to buy the property at 1450 West 64th Street so they can designate it as a heritage property.

The idea is to establish a writers’ retreat at Kogawa House, where established writers could stay while completing manuscripts for publication, as they do at Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon, and at Wallace Stegner House in Eastend, Saskatchewan.

What they need now is private donations and attendees for Saturday’s reading at Chapters Robson in Vancouver.

Date: Saturday, February 11, 2006
Time: 2pm to 4pm
Location: Chapters Bookstore, 788 Robson St., 3rd Floor
*Free admission*

The Land Conservancy of BC along with the Save Kogawa House Committee are hosting an up-close and personal reading & book signing with award-winning Canadian author and poet, Joy Kogawa. Kogawa will read from her second novel Emily Kato (formerly Itsuka). Other guest authors will include Roy Miki, Governor General Award Winner for Poetry, reading from Redress: Inside the Japanese Canadian Call for Justice and Daphne Marlatt, Vancouver poet, novelist and oral historian, reading from Steveston. Retired school teacher and counsellor, Ellen Crowe-Swords will also speak to her family’s past experience of being interned at Hastings Park.

For more information about this event or to donate, call (604) 733-2313 or visit www.conservancy.bc.ca.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Reifel Migratory Bird SanctuaryOn Sunday James and I explored the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. There are a lot of ducks there and a couple of nasty cranes.

For the full birding experience, my photos are on Flickr.com.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Vancouver Podcaster Meetup

Last night was the first Vancouver podcaster meetup. It was at the Beatty St Bar & Grill, which I must say had minimal food options for one fish/seafood allergy-prone attendee. Aside from that the Stella came in a big glass and that was good.

The conversation turned at one point to Darren Barefoot’s absence. He was not detained at any border this time, instead he’s down with “flu-like symptoms.” In between discussing microphones and favourite podcasts, we debated the meaning of “flu-like symptoms.” Is it not just the flu? James pointed out that Darren is likely taking the piss. Flu-medication ads always mention “flu-like symptoms” rather than the flu.  James also pointed out that weather broadcasters no longer talk about the weather. They talk about “weather events.” So Darren Barefoot is under the weather with flu-like symptoms and stayed home, which is likely best since we’re having a winter storm weather event.

But we did not discuss Darren all night.

I sat at a table with John of Audihertz.net. He has a podcast called Radio Zoom, which you can find on Podcastdirectory.com. I checked it out this morning and I like the music he plays so I’ll subscribe for awhile and see if he becomes a permanent fixture in my listening world. The fun thing about John is that he’s an American living in Canada. His podcast is music based but the personal side is what he describes as “just doing my best to give you more insight on what it’s like to be a boy from Iowa, living in the land of Canada.”

David of Loud Murmurs was also at my table. David, like John, is one of these fabled Americans who left his blue-gone-red state to come to red-gone-blue Canada. He has a background in classical music and is thinking of starting a classical music podcast. He wants to put classical music into context—something like, “listen to this, and this is why it’s important” or really cool. Sounds like something I’d like.

Other folks I met with podcasts are Ted Riecken of IslandPodcasting.com, which is a podcast show about life on Vancouver Island. Exploring culture, natural history and events on the Island. I also met Derek K. Miller of Podcast.penmachine.com, who’s a musician and offers instrumental podcasts. Derek is also podcasting the meetings for the BC branch of the Editors’ Association of Canada.

Listen to the EAC meetings. And of course, Tod Maffin, organizer of the podcast meetup.

Things I didn’t know about before:
Daily Breakfast with Father Roderick from CatholicInsider.com.
Quirky Nomads, the story of a family that said, “if the Republicans get any worse, we’re moving to Canada.” And then? They really did. (This is my favourite of the previously unknowns.)
And, Spamusement.com. Poorly drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tell Tod a Tale

Tod Maffin, self-described overcaffeinated public radio producer, author, podcaster and technology futurist, is offering a non-fiction storytelling seminar for independent producers, freelancers, writers and people who want to get into radio.

That’s me. And maybe you too?

Check out Tod’s site for details: TodMaffin.com. The seminar is called “From Idea to Air.” The admission is by donation and Tod is giving 100% of any donations made to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. As Tod mentions in his post, he is trying to raise $5,000 to help his wife’s fundraising efforts (she was diagnosed with MS just over a year ago).

If you’re not interested in the seminar but want to donate to MS, here is Tod’s link, MSSociety.ca.

I heart radio.