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Happy Hogmanay

And Another Thing …
If cosmetics queen Elizabeth Arden were still alive, she would be 135 years old today — and probably still looking fabulous. When I wrote about her in The Kids Book of Great Canadian Woman (did you know she was Canadian, born in Woodbridge, Ontario?), I was amazed to discover her parents had actually named her Florence Nightingale Graham. Guess what they wanted her to grow up to be?

But nursing wasn’t for the future business woman — she was too squeamish. Elizabeth much preferred creating beauty creams. She also took makeup from the theatre stage and made it available to all women.

Extreme-ly Canada

Woo hoo! We got our power back late Saturday afternoon and were able to move home shortly after that. Our very chilly house warmed up quickly and I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to be in our house. I have a new respect for our pioneer ancestors. Thanks again to Dr. McE (and Alix) for all of your help. I’m thinking of you both today.

Ever since I mentioned in my blog post of December 11 that I was writing a third book with Frieda Wishinsky, I bet many people have been unable to sleep at night wondering what that book is about.

Anyone? Anyone? (Bueller?)

A Promise Kept

Still no power at home, so, yet again, please excuse any typos!

Back on December 10 I posted about the Slush Pile (the what?? — please check out that earlier post) and promised that I would also write about the query letter. This is a brief but detailed letter written to interest an editor in your manuscript. It’s like the cover letter you send with a resume.

Before you prepare your query letter, be sure to read the writers’ guidelines on the publisher’s Web site. Then follow my handy-dandy lists of what to do and what not to do to write query letters that sell:

BE SURE TO:
1. Open with a strong statement or paragraph to grab the editor’s interest. Make your query stand out.

2. Present a fresh, well-focused idea that a publisher can’t help but want to publish.

When Do Bones Lie?

Still no power at our house, but thanks to the great kindness of friends, we are safe and warm (THANK YOU so much, Dr. McE and Alix!). I can’t blog from my regular computer, so please excuse any typos, etc.

When do bones lie?? Never! At least not according to my book Bones Never Lie! The subtitle is “How Forensics Helps Solve History’s Mysteries” and my editor Kathy Lowinger helped me match up forensic techniques with famous mysteries involving royals (I explored a similar topic in my book Royal Murder.)

Here are some of the stories I wrote about in Bones Never Lie and because I love amazing triva, I’ve followed the name of each tale with one fantastic fact that I included in that chapter:

Quote Unquote

Because of the weather situation here in Toronto, I'm posting my blog for the 24th today on the 23rd. Please read both and please excuse any typos, etc.

Oddly enough, writers have written a lot about writing. Here are ten of my favourite quotes — I hope you enjoy them too!

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” — Douglas Adams

“If you can’t annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.” ― Kingsley Amis

“I never sit down to my desk without revulsion, and I never rise from it but with relief.” — Robert Browning

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” ― Winston Churchill

“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.” ― Charles Dickens

A Foggy Day in Vancouver Town

Hi — I wrote this post before the incredible ice storm that hit southern Ontario. Please excuse any typos, etc., since my editing and e-mail facilities are a little rudimentary right now. Thanks!

Two months ago today I was on Granville Island, giving my first-ever Power Point presentation. Wow, was I nervous! It was part of the Vancouver Writers Festival and I had a great time. If you’re a writer and you’re invited to take part in this event, don’t hesitate for a second — just say yes!

Secrets Underground

Annick Press came to me with the idea for my book Secrets Underground: North America's Buried Past and I have to admit, I didn’t really understand the concept at first. But then I began my research and I became more and more excited about the stories I uncovered.

Writing a Life — or Two or Three

I’ve written many biographies, ranging from books about a single person to volumes filled with more than 100 short biographies. I love writing them — as I say on my author page on this site, I’m nosy and curious about why people do what they do. And once I find out, I enjoy sharing it with kids and adults.

Biographies are fun. John F. Kennedy said, “All history is gossip,” and almost everyone likes a little gossip! Steven Pinker, in How the Mind Works says, “Gossip is a favorite pastime in all human societies because knowledge is power.” (Will Rogers said, “The only time people dislike gossip is when you gossip about them.”)

Creativity II: Sometimes a Cookie is More than a Cookie

I wrote about creativity on December 3, but it’s such a large and important topic, that I want to revisit it.

A painter friend of mine once said that if you’re going to output good creative work, then you need to take in some creative experiences that enrich you. So artists of words, images and more need to take time to figure out what feeds their creativity, then try to provide that nourishment for their brain.

The Wright Way

DECEMBER 17
The Wright Way

Exactly 110 years ago today, the world took flight. It was on this date in 1903 that Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first-ever controlled, powered flight. Think for a moment what it was like for them on a windy North Carolina beach in the middle of December. Yikes!

I’ve written two books about the brothers — The Wright Brothers: A Flying Start and The Wright Brothers — and I loved discovering their life stories and how they felt about their experimenting and great achievement. Here are five of my favourite Wright Facts:

* The Wrights were sometimes discouraged by their lack of progress towards flight. At one point Wilbur even said, “I made the prediction that man would sometimes fly, but that it would not be in our lifetime.”

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