A Room With a View in Tuscany!

A View from The Castle Only God Knows in Tuscany

A view from The Castle Only God Knows in Tuscany. Formerly a Roman military outpost, it now sits alone in a stunning forest setting. It takes about an hour to hike to -and it’s so worth it!

My mother and I went to a heavenly writers retreat in Tuscany last July. Tuenta di Spannocchia is a villa located on an expansive beautiful heritage farm that has existed since the twelfth century! Before we arrived at Spannochia, we spent four glorious days in Florence where we enthusiastically took in the museums. Seeing the art I studied in art school was an amazing experience. One of my favourite mental snapshots was watching a brilliant orange sunset going down on the Ponte Vecchio while enthusiastic Italians walked by us with banners and Italian flags singing out songs in support of their team playing in the World Cup finals that evening. A vibrant and memorable night!

I took some notes on my experience in Italy. Here are some samples:

-a nicely dressed woman riding a bicycle in high-heels
-Teeny tiny vehicles; including garbage trucks
-vocal appreciation towards the fairer sex readily expressed
-gypsy women in long skirts begging for money while checking to see if your camera or wallet is easy to steal
-very few fast food restaurants (not missed)
-a hundred year old building is considered brand new
-Italian youth much better behaved after the devastating loss to Spain in the World Cup (Pay attention Stanley Cup hooligans!)
-a nun in a pure white head to toe habit texting on her iPhone
-the evening light bathing the streets of Siena in a wash of golden colours
-the wine, so inexpensive, so good!
Writing Retreat

Wine on the front deck at Tuenta di Spannocchia. The property goes out as far as the eye can see.







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How to Read Three Books a Month

Have a need to read but have no time? Here are my tips on how to squeeze in some extra reading time and what to read while multi-tasking.

Reading and exercising

Do not try this at home (the bare feet, I mean)

1.) At the gym: Load the iPod with thrillers to help you keep your pace on the elliptical thingies. Do not be tempted to listen to the iPod-gym book at other times, lest you finish the story too soon and have an excuse not to go to the gym.

2.) At home doing mundane tasks like loading the dishwasher, refinishing floors, etc: Load your iPod or cd player with good literature or some brainy non-fiction. This is recommended to help reassure yourself that you’re above all this menial labour.

3.) At bedtime: Read an actual book or digital reading device. Choose an incredibly boring book to help you sleep. I, myself, can’t stand boring books so, as result, I
can never get to sleep at a decent time.

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Lit Fest New West Almost Here!

Hello Fellow Fans of Reading and Writing,

I’d like to invite you to Lit Fest New West! All events at the Douglas College location on Saturday, April 14th are FREE to the public. This includes workshops for both the amateur and experienced writer, readings, and an evening performance featuring dance, music, spoken word, poetry, and comedy.

Featured speakers, authors and poets include CBC’s Bob Robertson and Linda Cullen, CBC’s fashion editor, JJ Lee, whose book A Measure of a Man was a 2011 finalist for the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, Erich Rautenbach, author of The Unexploded Boer, New West’s Poet Laureate, Candice James, and many more.

See the links at the bottom of the page for more details about each day’s events.

lit fest flyer

Dead Poet’s Slam at the Heritage Grill on April 12th.

Reserve for A Night of Mystery at the NWPL library for Friday the 13th:

Detailed programme info for April 14th’s free workshops and readings:

Written a book? Involved in the publishing industry? Consider booking an exhibitor’s table:


Showcase, art show, and additional info:

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Pearls 31 Book Launch!

Photo: Amy Schwartz

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LitFest New West

LitFest New west“LitFest NewWest was created to celebrate the literary arts, writers, authors and their accomplishments. We are proud to be a venue for the Lower Mainland leg of the BC Book Prizes Tour. This all day event features speakers, authors, workshops, readings and much more.”

To my friends and colleagues,

I am volunteering at LitFest this year and have been put in charge of finding children’s authors/publishers/illustrators, etc. So here I am, putting my money where my mouth is!

LitFest New West will be held all day on April 14th, a Saturday. There might be some satellite events within the week before the 14th as well (ie) spoken word held at the Heritage Grill, possibly a reception on Friday at the public library, etc.

The BC Book Prize organization will be involved this year and we hope to get some of the nominees to read as well. The prize is after the Fest so we won’t know who won yet.

We’ve got some CBC celebs like JJ Lee lined up to do some presentations too.

There will be literary-inspired performances (spoken word, dance, poetry, choral, etc) in the Douglas theatre.

Douglas College Creative Writing Students will be participating this year as well.

So far, I found out that to rent a table is $25 and last year, readers were paid a $75 honorarium to read. I asked about workshops (45 minutes) but was not told yet how a workshop instructor would get paid.

If you are interested in reading and/or a table, please let me know and I’ll refer you to the folks who will set you up.

If you have any more questions (or suggestions!) please don’t hesitate to contact me via this website.

There’s more registration info for LitFest, below:



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