This Day We Write / This Day I Sell

When you receive a rejection letter from an agent you’ve set your heart and hope on, it helps if you’ve been to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. Not because they taught you all the ins and outs of getting published. Not because they’ve given you the tools to pitch again. Not because they showed you how to write a better book.

It’s because they understand what it is to be a writer and they have your back.

Yes, they have your back.

It was at a conference lunch three years ago when I bared my soul about a rejection I’d received that morning. The rallying embrace was enough to help me carry on. It made me carry on.

I still feel that embrace today.

I’ve met people at SiWC that have become my greatest friends.

During those days I’ve cried and laughed and been scared shitless.

I’ve also been inspired.


So now it’s time to give back.

Once you arrive at the conference you’re given a brochure. It’s a map to everything that will happen. A guide to help you through the overwhelming maze of overwhelming moments.

My first year I don’t think I put it down once. It was my safety net and helped me decide what I should do next. I love looking back at the notes in the margins and stars beside the must attend workshops!

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This year I’ve been asked to assist in getting people to advertise in the 2016 brochure. OK, not the type of job I usually do, but when you think about it, I’m a person who knows how precious the pages are. And as I said, it’s a way for me to thank the SiWC Board for all the brochures that have shepherded me through the conference.

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Let’s be honest… I love to talk about things I love.

You can ignore my musings on penguins and Dairy Queen Blizzards… but if you’re a writer or want to be around writers you shouldn’t ignore my chatter about the Surrey Writers’ conference.

In fact, I bet you’ll be like so many others and thank me.

Just imagine you’re sitting across the table from Diana Gabaldon or Anne Perry or Jack Whyte. They’re about to read something you’ve written….

If you’re not brave enough for that, they always have time for a quiet little chat.

Everyone at SiWC is there to help you be a better writer.

And you will be.

Now I just wish they’d given a course in how to sell advertising in conference brochures?

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Talk to Owen Laukkanen

I read the last lines of the acknowledgment and started to cry.

“Heck, talk to me if you want. My contact info’s on the back cover flap, I usually stay up late. Just, you know, talk to somebody. We’re all in his together.”

This is how Owen Laukkanen ends his latest book The Watcher in the Wall.

It should be required reading in every high school.

On the surface, it’s a great piece of crime fiction that follows Owen’s stars, Stevens and Windermere, through another case. A horrifying story that keeps you hanging on to find out if the good guys win.

But this one’s so much more.

Owen tackles the tragedy of teenage suicide.

I’m not a book reviewer or a counselor so I won’t pretend to speak with that type of authority on either subject. Bookpage is just one of the places where you can read about the story itself.

I am a person that has battled depression and still wages the war. I’ve come very close to taking my own life. I wish I’d read this when I was younger. I’m glad I’ve read it now.

And I’m honoured to know Owen. He’s stepped up and will make a difference.

He’s even hidden all this in a really great book!

Owen, you’re a very creative and clever man.

I got to introduce a young friend to him recently. She’s read his YA book, How To Win At High School (written under the name of Owen Matthews.) She was beside herself to meet him. Owen took the time to connect with her. He’s like that. And I could instantly see how he related to someone still in the throes of figuring out life.

Aside from the superb writing ability, the weird obsession with trains, and the love of a certain dog named Lucy, Owen is a very good man. And handsome. Did I mention that, or have you seen his pictures?

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Start following him on Twitter or Instagram. You will never look at trains the same way again.

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There’s a tiny bit of time when you’re thinking about ending your life and you can be turned. Too many come to that crossroad and never see a different direction. I think Owen, his honesty with his own troubles, and this book, can make you look for another way.  A small glimmer that there might be a safe path away from the pain.

I hope Owen will find himself staying up very late once more people read this book.

It will be worth it.



Meditation and Murder

Our minds are forever leaping around. Jumping from one thought to another. I was reminded of this when I reintroduced some serious meditation back into my daily routine.

The return was not planned but when I decluttered my apartment I realized I had room for a perfect meditation space. A little corner that reminded me of the “boxes” we used up at the Tibetan Buddhist retreat on Salt Spring Island. Practitioners spent hours in these comfy setups. I could easily devote a little time to my spiritual side if I set up something similar.

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It seems to have worked and I’m back to my daily practice.

I love the flowing recitation of Tibetan words.

I love the view.

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Right now the bulk of my time on the cushion is doing the taking and sending meditation. It’s simple. You think of a person and breathe in any negative surrounding them and then breathe out something positive directed their way. It can be happiness, joy, health… whatever they may need.

This is a very common meditation.

My mind wandered as I settled in with my list of people this morning. I randomly started to think of some of the friends I saw this past weekend… my writing friends.

Then I laughed. Many are crime fiction writers. They spend hours thinking of murder and mayhem and here I was attempting to send them happy thoughts.

That’s when it hit me. As I visualized each one of them I realized these writers are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. They are good and decent and generous.

I’ve written about them in past blogs… Owen Laukkanen, Sam Wiebe and even those non-crime types like Terry Fallis and kc dyer.

Now I’m not saying all writers are nice people… God knows that’s not true. But I am saying the ones I surround myself with these days get a gold star.

Go follow Owen on Twitter. His tweet yesterday announced the debut of his latest book and gave thanks for his many blessings. With Owen, what you see is what you get, a good man and a very talented writer.

Have people just gotten nicer? Happier? Kinder?

I don’t think so.

But last year I just made the decision to surround myself with better people.

So far so good.

This means my morning meditation is not just about breathing in negative and sending positive.

It’s the realization of just how blessed I am these days.

Even if many of my friends are thinking about clever ways to kill people.

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