Thrilled to be reading from Big Blue Forever at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) in Toronto this coming weekend, for Canada Day July 1! (Psst: They have an amazing blue whale exhibit on right now until September!)
On Saturday, April 29, I'll be part of a kids book event from 11am-1pm at Book Warehouse on Main Street in Vancouver, BC. Then I'll be heading over to help out at Hager Books on W. 41st Ave (Kerrisdale) at 2pm.
I am looking forward to Authors for Indies 2017, which takes place on Saturday, April 29! I'll be helping out at Hager Books and Book Warehouse in Vancouver, BC. More details to come!
Magical children's picture book illustrations by nine local SCBWI Canada West Illustrators are now on display at the Lynn Valley Library in North Vancouver. Opening reception with artists is Saturday, February 13, 2 - 4 pm. The show runs until March 29 and is sponsored by the North Vancouver Community Arts Council.
I am excited to announce that I will be exhibiting some of my art works as part of a group exhibit, "Cultivating Imagination: Children's Picture Book Illustration," which opens February 10, 2016 and runs until March 29, 2016 at the District Library Gallery, Lynn Valley Main Library, North Vancouver, BC. This show will feature nine local children's illustrators, with varied backgrounds from professional to emerging artists, who belong to the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Canada West chapter. I will be showing some of my mixed media and collage works. The opening reception takes place Saturday, February 13, from 2-4pm at the library.
I have some BIG news to share! My picture book, Big Blue Forever, will be published in 2016! I've been working on this children's book project, which tells the story of Canada's largest blue whale skeleton, since late 2013. So, I was thrilled and grateful when earlier this year, it found a home with the Canadian publisher, Red Deer Press. Now, I am looking forward to working with the folks at Red Deer Press as the project progresses from manuscript stage to next steps. Stay tuned for updates in the coming months!
List of LGBTQ books for kids and teens
WorldPride 2014 (June 20-29, 2014)
Pride Week in Toronto is one of Canada's premier arts and cultural festivals and one of the largest Pride celebrations in the world. This year, Toronto is playing host to WorldPride 2014, the first time this international celebration has ever been held in North America. Several Canadian chidren's authors have written books for kids and young adults featuring LGBTQ characters. Click herefor a list of LGBTQ books for kids and teens.
The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Bulletin (May/June 2014) has now published my book review from 2013 (first published in the SCBWI Western Canada region's fall 2013 newsletter). The SCBWI Bulletin has a worldwide readership of 22,000 members!
It was a full house at the first AuthorsUnbound! event Monday night, February 17 at the Central Vancouver Public Library (VPL) branch. I read excerpts from a work in progress and 2 "postcard" stories. So much fun, thanks to my fellow writers and a great audience. And thanks to the VPL!
I am looking forward to reading at the Authors Unbound! event at the Vancouver Public Library's central branch downtown on the evening of February 17. It's going to be a fun night of diverse voices as a whole bunch of local writers will be reading excerpts from their work. I've just finished the marketing poster––have a peek under my "Events and Exhibits" tab for all the details!
Today is International Plain Language Day, a perfect opportunity to reflect on the international movement for adopting plain language. Over the past four days, Vancouver hosted the 20th anniversary conference on plain language, PLAIN2013. And the public was invited to a special free event on International Plain Language Day.
So, what exactly is plain language all about? It's NOT about writing dull prose! Rather, it's about writing clear documents that are understood the FIRST TIME your target audience reads them! I like the following definition for plain language which I found through a Google search:
"Plain language (also called Plain English) is communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it."
The source is from a network of US government employees striving to improve communications to the public; you can read more at: http://www.plainlanguage.gov/whatisPL/index.cfm
Plain language is NOT about an over-simplified style. It IS about clear writing. Readers will find that documents written in plain language will be more relevant and easier to follow and use.
Of course, being Canadian, I had to check out our sources too. In The Communications Policy of the Government of Canada (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=12316§ion=text, updated in 2012), there's actually a policy requirement specific to plain language, part of which states:
"An institution's duty to inform the public includes the obligation to communicate effectively. Information about policies, programs, services and initiatives must be clear, relevant, objective, easy to understand and useful."
As a practical example, this summer, Health Canada launched a Plain Language Labelling Initiative for improving the safe use of drugs (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/_2013/2013-82fs-eng.php). The public was also invited to comment on how to make labels and safety information easier to read and understand. This has got to be a good thing: reducing preventable harm, as the initiative states, through adopting plain language. Thank you Health Canada for proposing these changes! I think health care is one of the most important areas where we need plain language and it just makes so much sense especially if lives might be saved.
The Translation Bureau has some useful information about plain language, including writing examples: http://www.btb.termiumplus.gc.ca/tcdnstyl-chap?lang=eng&lettr=chapsect13&info0=13
And since the movement for using plain language is international, here's one more good resource to check out:
"PLAIN is the international association for plain language professionals that promotes clear communication in any language. We are a growing network of plain-language advocates, professionals, and organizations."
The movement for plain language began 20 years ago. While it takes time to see real change, I think more awareness, particularly by employees within organizations, is leading the way. Certain Canadian municipalities are starting to make the news with some poiticians' calls to reduce jargon. Of course some sectors are definitely going to be slower than others to adopt change (legalese comes to mind) but it's refreshing to see more public discussion about plain language. And celebrating International Plain Language Day is a fantastic way to improve public awareness.
WORD Vancouver (formerly Word on the Street) is on tomorrow, Sunday, September 29! Billed as "Western Canada's largest celebration of literacy and reading," the fun starts 11am at Library Square and runs all day. Since we've got monsoon-like rain this weekend, the programming is being moved inside the library. Whatever the weather, it's going to be a fantastic day, with exhibits, performances, panel discussions, and mini-workshops. It's all free, and with something for everyone––whatever your age and interests––you won't want to miss this event!
Check out the WORD Vancouver website for full details: http://wordvancouver.ca/
The Society for Technical Communication (STC), Canada West Coast Chapter, will be one of the exhibitors at WORD Vancouver, and I'll be volunteering with friends at the STC table. STC supports professionals working in the technical communications field. We'll be displaying several great documents showcasing excellence in technical communication. Drop by for a chat with us!
"No matter what language you speak, the characters of that language were among the first things you learned."
So begins the introduction to my new design reference, 30 Essential Typefaces for a Lifetime, edited and curated by Imin Pao and Joshua Berger. In true nerd fashion, while on holiday this summer in Europe, I hit a few museums and of course had to check out the book sections in each one. At the Georges Pompidou Centre, I cheered up, after my previous perilous incidents on the streets of Paris, when I spotted the soothing colours and elegant glossy cover of 30 Essential Typefaces. Like a tonic, I immediately felt the book would help solve some essential questions I'd been confused about for months. Whenever I was creating new print designs, I often struggled with "Which Font?" "When?" and, "Why?" Here, maybe then, were the answers I'd been seeking....perhaps not to the meaning of life....but to what were the essential fonts I should learn and understand deeply? Some have said, "....it takes 10 years for someone to master a typeface." This book claims it contains typefaces for a lifetime! Only 30 typefaces they say? Yes, totally doable!
The 10th annual Summer Dreams Literary Arts Festival is on Saturday, August 24th at Trout Lake Park and features Joy Kogawa. The day is a family-friendly celebration of all things literary and the line-up of workshops and events promises something for everyone. It's free, so don't miss out!
And you can also take in a special free gala on Friday, August 23 at CBC Studio 700 where Pandora's Collective Literary Awards for 2013 will be presented.
Robert Desprez is a local Vancouver technical writer who shared his awesome EPUB expertise at the Society for Technical Communication's Canada West Coast Chapter meeting on July 16. Along with learning about his EPUB formatting tips, he generated great interest when he spoke about industry trends for technical writing. Are we now on the cusp of technical documents embracing mobile devices?