Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

Pilgrimage to Fluevog Gastown October 27, 2012

I discovered Vancouver’s Fluevog shoes just in the last year or so, and ever since I have been developing a collection of gorgeous shoes.  Fluevogs are very well made, beautifully designed, unique and interesting shoes.  I’m discovering that there is definitely a Fluevogian attitude that celebrates creativity.  People who wear ‘Vogs are people I enjoy meeting.

I have purchased all my ‘Vogs online, either through www.fluevog.com or eBay, but I dreamed of the day that I would be able to make a pilgrimage to the flagship, original store in Gastown.

When I went to Surrey for SIWC2012, I took the opportunity.  I parked Sheila the Bug at the hotel, and took the bus and Skytrain into Gastown.  55 minutes X 2 trips in order to spend a few minutes in a store that had originally been a car park.  It’s all glass front and roof, and log slices artfully display the most brilliant shoes on the planet in the abundant natural light.

Red and purple Fluevog K2s

I had two shoe styles that I wanted to try on.  The first was  the new Elizabeths with the ball and claw heel that mimics Chippendale style furniture.  So cool!  Unfortunately, the Elizabeths rubbed in a bad place, so I will have to wait for future shoes coming out with this amazing heel.

The second shoes were the K2s.  I have worn similar shoes (in boring black) and had them until they fell apart. I know Oxfords are a great, every day style shoe for me.  The K2s were a perfect fit, soft leather, fun vibrant colour combination, great heel height, and eye-catching, as well.  My kind of shoe!  They were an easy, “Yes!” and into the lovely paper bag they went.

After my shoe purchase, I headed across the road to The Coffee Bar to have dinner with Citieguy Paul Schellenberg who is a local impresario.  Paul and I were Rotary Exchange students together years ago.  He went to Belgium when I went to Finland.  It’s been quite a few years, and it’s fun to see where we’ve taken the skills we developed as exchange students!  It turns out that The Coffee Bar is a favourite haunt of my son, who works for 49th Parallel Roasteries,  which supplies the coffee that is served there.  The cashier raved about how wonderful my son is, and  I told them to tell him that they’d met his mother. <g>  Nothing like embarrassing your kid, right?

The visit with Paul was all too short, because I had a big night ahead of me!  The lovely Fluevog paper bag dissolved on the way back to the hotel, in the humidity of  the miserable rain, but nothing could wash away my enthusiasm!  I put my new shoes onto my feet and headed off to Chapters at Strawberry Hill to meet authors JJ Lee, Michael Slade, CC Humphreys, Mary Balogh, Jack Whyte, and Diana Gabaldon.

Like the finance minister wearing new shoes to present a new budget, my new Fluevogs set the tone for a weekend of creativity, exhuberance, and promise.  I was introduced to a lot of wonderful people who had to stop to ask me about my various shoes.  I wore Fluevog Bellevue Pearl Harts to the 1920s dinner for perfect vintage style.  My Fluevog Ice Blue Macchiatos made the SIWC Facebook page, and at dinner one evening, I was asked to come meet a table of ladies all wearing unique Fluevog shoes. Author CC Humphreys complimented my shoes, and pointed out that he, too, was weaving ‘Vogs!  The people at SIWC are clearly MY PEOPLE! <g>

Of course, besides helping to meet amazing new people, the best thing about having distinctive shoes, is that whenever I wear these awesome K2s, I will remember that I was wearing them when I met my favourite author, Diana Gabaldon!  <g>  It will remind me of her writing advice and generous spirit.

Creative shoes.  Creative people.  Creative spirit.  Creative life.

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What else did you do at SIWC? October 26, 2012

Aside from the pitch and blue pencil time, The Surrey International Writers’ Conference offers an amazing variety of workshops and keynote addresses.  As a teacher, I love learning, and it was wonderful to learn from the following:

Friday Keynote by Jane Espenson– screenwriter of Buffy, Husbands, Once Upon a Time, etc.  She’s very funny and inspired us with the tale of achieving her dream to be a writer.  Our words have power: “SO SAY WE ALL!”

How to Be a Well Paid Blogger by Carol Tice.  In the next few months, you’ll see some changes to my blog, and many of them will be because of this rather astonishing workshop.

What to do with the Back story by Diana Gabaldon.  This workshop focused on how to subtly introduce elements of back story without stopping the action of the story.  To be honest, my favorite part of this workshop was when I raised my hand to ask a question, and Diana called on me by name.  <g>  In my blue pencil, we referenced things covered in this workshop, so I have specific things to remember…

Diving Into the Past a panel of historical fiction writers including CC Humphreys, Mary Balogh, Anne Perry, Jack Whyte, and in the audience, Diana Gabaldon who contributed now and then to the discussion when asked.  I was pitching to an agent during part of this session, and missed half of this panel.  The biggest tip I took from this was that you can research forever and never start writing.  Research enough to get going, and then write!  Don’t stop the fluency of writing to research, stick a question in square brackets and keep going.  Later, after the first draft is done, you can go back and figure out what you needed to know.

Keynote speaker for Friday night was Robert Sawyer who told us not to track trends and figure out what’s hot.  Rather, we should figure out our story and speak to the world the things we have to say, because we became writers to tell our own stories.   We have to trust others will love what we love.

The Night Owl event was Shock Theatre 5 with Michael Slade narrating a radio play mash up of classic horror stories, voiced by Jack Whyte, Anne Perry, Diana Gabaldon, Sam Sykes, with folly work by KC Dyer and a special appearance by CC Humphreys.  It was hilariously bad.

Saturday morning J. J. Lee gave an emotional keynote that had the crowd teary eyed and on its feet.  We write magic.

I missed the first session of workshops waiting in line for 70 minutes to see about getting a second agent appointment.  When I finally reached the front of the line it was 11:30 and I had to fly into the room to meet with Diana Gabaldon for my blue pencil.  I was so close to missing my appointment, I nearly had an apoplexy.

Taking Control, Advanced Social Media with Sean Cranbury was interesting.  His focus is essentially the anti-thesis of Carol Tice’s.  He believes in free sharing of information and celebration of the arts of joyful community.  However, he had a lot of good ideas about layout and professional presentation.  These will be reflected in some up coming changes to this blog.

History: Riding the Wave with CC Humphreys.  Poor Chris was feeling quite ill, but he was enthusiastic and had lots of interesting stories to tell about writing and researching A Place Called Armageddon, his latest book.  Chris and I had a mutual Fluevog admiration society going on throughout this conference.

The keynote on Saturday evening was Susanna Kearsley with whom I’d been speaking during the book fair, trying to place ‘where do I know your name.’  She had no suggestions, but when she was called up to do the keynote I had a face palm moment. So embarrassing.

There was a Night Owl movie event, but I was too tired at this stage.  My plan was to go back to my hotel for an early night, but in the end, I sat in the lobby chatting with Val King and Randy McCharles of Calgary instead.

Sunday morning, I was very slow moving.  I was a bit late for the morning key note by Diana Gabaldon who spoke about something moving and amusing, but I’ve completely forgotten the details.

Luckily Ursula recorded it, and here is every word!

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhgHPPMuMNs

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I missed the first workshop session standing in line to  book and then having another agent pitch appointment.

My final workshop was Rhythm of the Word by Sam Sykes who showed how prose can be empowered by playing with rhythm in structure and dialogue.

Jack Whyte and me at the 1920s themed Banquet at SIWC2012

The final keynote was by New York agent Donald Maass.  He declared this a time of positive change and growth in publishing, and challenged us to use our words to write works that will CHANGE THE WORLD!

We had something to do every day from about 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.  Every meal we sat with other writers, agents, publishers, or editors discussing projects, life, and writing.  There were 700 like minded souls sitting down to dine each meal, and just that was completely brilliant.  I loved sitting with new people each day and discovering new things!  It felt like ‘home’ in the most amazing way.  It was wonderful meeting authors I love, getting my photograph taken with JJ Lee, Diana Gabaldon, Anne Perry, and Jack Whyte.  Last time I attended SIWC I was too shy to approach any pros for photos.  It’s fun being able to put up photos in my class room.  Next time, I will take more photos of the people I mix and mingle with, so I’ll have “I knew them when!” photos! 🙂

 

hyper-ventilating October 16, 2012

I have met some ‘famous’ people over the years, and while I may be in awe of their talent, they generally turn out to be people pretty much like me. I know that. But at the moment, it’s rather difficult to BELIEVE it.

As you’ve noticed if you’ve read this blog for any time, I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and I am amazed by her talent and her generosity to her fans and other writers. I have posted questions on her Facebook page and on the Compuserve Writers’ Forum, and she has provided helpful (and sometimes lengthy) responses.

For these reasons, I am hyperventilating as this week ticks by, because in less than 48 hours I will be meeting Diana Gabaldon (and J. J. Lee, Jack Whyte, Mary Balogh, Anne Perry and Michael Slade, not to name drop or anything) 🙂 at a fund raiser for the Surrey Writers’ Conference, and on Saturday I have the honour of sharing the scene that Diana had helped me with in a 15 minute blue pencil appointment at the conference.  I am nervous, excited, and slightly terrified of making a fool of myself.

My son said, “Just don’t be a fan, Mom. Be professional.”

Yeah. Easier said than done, kid!

 

 
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