I have just returned from a long weekend in Vancouver – as you do. I went up there for the Left Coast Crime Writers’ Conference, A Whale of a Crime!
The air was fresh with Spring promise and the weather mild – after much cold and rain, I am told. It was expensive. All the attendees were moaning about this – until some of us found a hidden MacDonald’s and the Canadian equivalent, Tim Horton’s. But the local people and hotel staff were very friendly and helpful as we rushed from lectures to book-signings at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Vancouver, just a few blocks from the waterfront. What’s not to like?
It was great to discover so many authors – mostly Canadian – new to me.
A Keynote speaker was British-born Maureen Jennings who emigrated to Canada as a teenager. She is now one of their most successful writers and author of the Detective Murdoch mystery series and, since 2007, a highly popular television series, Murdoch Mysteries.
Welsh-born Cathy Ace was Toastmaster. Now a Canadian resident, Cathy created the highly popular series of books about the WISE all-women detective agency solving cases in Wales – and eight books about criminal psychologist sleuth Cait Morgan.
Ghost of Honor was the late Canadian author, Laurali Rose Wright, winner of several awards for her mystery novels, who died in 2001. There was a special tribute to the late Sue Grafton, too. American Guest of Honor was cowboy author C.J. Box – who never took off his cowboy hat .
It was a great time to meet up with old writer friends like Stephen Buehler, who’s short story is in the new collection Murder-a-Go-Go, novelist-sommelier Nadine Nettmann, now Arizona resident and ex-fellow blogger Kate Thornton, Travis Richardson, Craig Faustus Buck, award-winning Scottish Catriona McPherson, and award-winning Brit Rhys Bowen.
There were many readers and book-fans, as well as authors. And there was much talk about getting kids to read. Apparently, today around 65% of children leave school not being able to read properly. I was shocked, as my family devoured books almost as soon as we could totter over to the book shelves. In some homes today, they don’t even have books. So there were discussions about how to help and encourage today’s children to read.
Another thing that was pointed out was the lack of children’s and YA books written with boy heroes. Boys need heroes, too. There are plenty of books with princesses and other assorted girl heroines. Most writers have female protagonist and there is a decided lack of boy sleuths and boy role models in today’s books for children and young adults.
When I was a kid, we had Enid Blyton’s wonderful adventures of The Famous Five and The Secret Seven: boys and girls solving mysteries on their summer holidays, often at the seaside where there were caves in which to explore, or on a grandparent’s farm. Very wholesome adventures, where these boys and girls meet up each holiday and get caught up in another adventure. But it was girls and boys, with equal focus. Today’s writers seem to focus only on girls.
Okay, fellow writers, how about that? Anyone inspired to remedy this? There’s a whole untapped market out there that publishers and writers could fill.
Another topic that came up during the children’s illiteracy discussions was how important it was to “get them while they’re young.” To guide and encourage children from a very early age to find their own individual path in life. To encourage children to think for themselves, to be curious about different subjects that will stand them in good stead as they grow older. How many of us writers knew from a very young age that this is what we wanted to do? We just had to pursue other paths for ‘a real job’ to pay the bills – but we knew our ultimate goal, even if we wrote only in stolen hours.
Children need exposure to all sorts of different subjects in life – and not have their heads stuck in video games where they speak to no-one and lack person-to-person communication skills. Kids need to communicate with real people of all ages. This gives them confidence to deal with life’s challenges. And what better way to inspire this than through books they read.
Children need encouragement. People need encouragement. Some more than others.
I remember being taught to make my bed first thing in the morning. If you just do that each day, you have accomplished something. If you’re so down in the dumps that you think you have done nothing with your life, when you go to bed at night you see a freshly made bed – even if it’s not that neat. You did something that day. It is always the little, almost insignificant things that make the difference. Little things we can build on, little step by little step.
So, here I am surrounded by un-opened mail, half-unpacked luggage from my stolen literary weekend, tired from lack of sleep and jet-lag, with a mound of laundry waiting. I sleepily wonder what to do first? I promised so many new friends made at the Vancouver conference that I would contact them…. and yes, I would get new business cards made, finish my website… Most importantly, finish the second Lottie Topaz book. I have serious reports to write for the Woman’s Club with deadlines of today – for the sorry saga of saving this historic Hollywood landmark that is so close to great success. I have to write the Writers In Residence Blog. I have a heap of bills to pay. I have nothing to eat in the fridge, so I need to go to Trader Joe’s. It is just getting too much. What was I thinking! I feel such a failure. Where do I start….?
I start by making my bed. There. I’ve accomplished something. Now I feel better. Now for a cup of tea….
24 thoughts on “START BY MAKING YOUR BED… by Rosemary Lord”
RL, boy does your blog today (4-03-2019) ring true. I, too, have discovered the medicinal qualities of early AM bed-making, learned in the Army long ago (though then prescribed for other reasons!). Interestingly, when I started writing, most writers were either male or claiming to be. Protagonists were mostly male. As years went by, and I was gifted a family of daughters, I came to be one of those dads working to shift that balance. Others apparently worked hard at that, too. And now the pendulum has reached an opposite position! Your plea for balance is a good one. I think I should have shot for that, instead of either of the extreme positions. So, tired as you may be from your conference trip, I think you can rest easy that you have accomplished more than bed-making. Your blog will doubtless fire up some ideas in new directions in more writers than myself! So have another cup of tea and allow yourself a few more minutes of feeling that something valuable was accomplished! Thanks.
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Why, thank you for such nice words. I have a nephew in the army and my dad was a navy man – so you see where I get my discipline from! Those pleas were from parent, as the current trend is the princess/girl protagonist. Harry Potter seems like ancient history now. So I think you really should have a shot at a bit of balance. Please do come and visit us again and give us a progress report…. Thanks for joining us.
Wish I could have gone to Left Coast Crime this year, too, but I’m already inundated by conferences. Sounds as if it was a lot of fun! And your discussion of kids and reading sounded sad… but fortunately I’m not experiencing that in my all-boys family.
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It was great fun – but so much to take in. And so interesting listening to all the Canadian writers we don’t usually get to meet. And I am “astonished” (as my dad would say) to realize so many kids don’t read. Reading and books was – and is – my life….
Thank you for your report of LCC, Rosie. I especially enjoyed your ideas for children’s and YA books but alas, I fear the iPhone will never go away. Perhaps iPhone makers could make them larger to accommodate easier reading of eBooks but with schools requiring fewer and fewer books to be read – do any 12-year olds know of Dickens, even a summary of his works? – the classics are dead to the young unless parents encourage their kids. I am dealing with two ghosting clients, aged 47 and 51, who can barely spell. Thanks, too, for letting us know which of our friends were in attendance. Better go make my bed…
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Ooops. forgot to log in properly. Anyway, I am Anonymous!
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Yes, Jill. Go make your bed immediately! How do we get the kids today to get so attached to the characters we did – from Oliver Twist to Pollyanna, Heide or Pip in Great Expectations?
And I, too, had problems signing in today, so I was almost Anonymous…. must be the planets…
The problem with kids as well as teens and young adults and grown-ups not reading is terrible. If schools aren’t teaching reading, what the heck are they teaching? Unfortunately the answer is becoming all too clear. So here’s to writers who up the ante and write for the guys out there. And to all writers who can get people interested once again in books… you know those things with words in them. Great post, Rosie.
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Thanks, Gayle. I had a friend who was a writer and a substitute teacher in some of the rougher parts of L.A. He could not get these teenagers (and some were taller than him!) to sit still and be quiet enough to teach them reading or anything else, so he would bring in mostly black and white movies to show them. They got quieter after that. Blackboard Jungle was a movie they loved…
Great post, Rosemary. I feel about like you did in your next-to-the last paragraph, preparing for a missions trip to Africa, with added classes in teaching writing to elementary & Jr. Hi grade kids. I love your recap, and your humor. Let me encourage you to get all you listed done before a week is up. If making you bed makes you feel good….. think of how great you will feel having accomplished new business cards, making contacts with conference attendees, finishing your website, writing on Lottie 2, and lastly those pesky reports. You go girl!!!
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Oh my goodness, Jackie. I’m almost having the vapors at the thought of doing all that! But I will. I will work my way through my never-ending To Do list – and try not to get sidetracked with any Yak-Shaving. For those that missed that post, That’s all the little steps you have to take in order to accomplish your original goal!
I will keep you posted on my progress….
I love it, Rosemary. I feel about like you did in your next-to-the last paragraph, preparing for a missions trip to Africa, with added classes in teaching writing to elementary & Jr. Hi grade kids. I love your recap, and your humor. Let me encourage you to get all you listed done before a week is up. If making you bed makes you feel good….. think of how great you will feel having accomplished new business cards, making contacts with conference attendees, finishing your website, writing on Lottie 2, and lastly those pesky reports. You go girl!!!
WHY DID THEY POST THIS TWICE? i’M MORE CONFUSED THAN EVER….THINK i’LL GO unMAKE MY BED. (HAHA)
Reblogged this on Here's How It Happened and commented:
A candid recap of LEFT COAST CRIME conference – for those of us who couldn’t make it. Read Rosemary’s words, and exciting things to do while the “fire” is still hot.
What a wonderful post about LCC, Rosemary, I could “feel” what was going on, and I LOVE the Murdoch series, have DVDs and plan to stream the new episodes. Good series in that it doesn’t seem to get old.
Don’t travel much these days, and it was great visiting through your eyes (which are good eyes to see the world through!)
And can’t imagine a world without reading…or listening to books. Jeez.
Ahhhh! Now for a cup of tea… (I make a pot that is a combinations of Constant Comment and Yorkshire!) With lemon and sugar. And reading your post again, although the end made me sympathetically tired(smile) so I need a whole pot!
Ah yes, Mad: TEA is the important bit here. Have you tried Red Bush Tea? Rooibos is the African name, and it’s richer than regular black tea, and red – hence the name. If you read Alexander McCall’s The Number One Lady’s Detective Agency books, Precious Rammotzwe (that spelling maybe be suspect) makes a pot first thing every morning. Unlike black tea, it has no caffeine, so you can drink it at night, too. So go lose yourself in her adventures in Botswana and enjoy the tea along with the travel….. Now time for another cuppa (English slang) for me. Maybe I should write a dictionary?….
I love Murdoch Mysteries! Some year I’ll get to LCC, but this year I’m headed for Bouchercon and am in process of writing a story to submit to their anthology. Recently I had a wonderful discussion about the classics with a couple in their twenties. So some young people are reading. Probably not enough, though. I have to confess that the only time I make my bed is when I’m changing the sheets!
Maureen Jennings said she had a very special story out on Murdoch -I wish we could get the tv series here. It looked terrific. Maybe tapes or Netflix.
Next year’s Left Coast Crime is in San Diego, I think. So that should be easier for us.
What sort of short stories do you write, Maggie? Because there is a Scottish weekly called People’s Friend: D.C. Thompson in Dundee. They print seven short stories every week, they are quite ‘wholesome’ and the magazine has been published for over 100 years. It is very popular and, although they pay very little, it’s a great market to notch up some bylines and build a following. I noticed Jackie Winspear wrote a short story for them recently. As for the bed-making – well….
I think we get Murdoch on Britbox.
Excellent post, as always. Sounds like you had an exciting time, lucky you! Now I have some new authors to check out.
Great to hear from you Jackie. I need to try Brit Box – sounds right up my street. And, yes, some new authors for us to try out. Thanks.
I love Britbox, though I have to watch late at night or early morning because of slow streaming other times, right now watching an earlier Father Brown series with Kenneth More (made in 70s I think), and re-watching The Black Adder. I think you’ll like? Especially since you’re familiar with so many British actors…
Another excellent blog dear sister, you cover a wide range of subjects in a few well crafted paragraphs. My earliest memory of books was the excitement of getting my first library card at the age of seven. I set off for the library, a mile or so away, first thing in the morning, and returned home clutching “The Secret Island” by Enid Blyton. I sat down and devoured it one reading. Loved it. So much so that I went straight back to the library and , like Oliver Twist, I asked for more. The stern faced librarian peered at me over over the top of her spectacles, and informed me that as a child I was only allowed one book a day. ” Bitch” I thought, but I didn’t say that as I was only seven. I returned home somewhat crestfallen, but since that day I have always had a book that I’ve been reading.
As for bedmaking, I had a wife to do that sort of thing. (just joking Ladies). It is an admirable discipline , but I have been told that making your bed first thing encourages dustmites to breed. You should leave it to air for a couple of hours or so. A fine excuse!
Thank you for joining us from across the World, big brother. I have a feeling that you, too, should be writing – as well as your newly launched painting career….