• Writers
  • Mar20


    Weapons Of Mass Distraction
    [Weapons Of Mass Distraction by Birger King on Flickr]

    I’ve often had this discussion with fellow bloggers, my husband, and friends in the community. What exactly IS the worth of a blog post to a PR company or event promoter?

    First off, a typical post contains valuable information, photography, and a lifespan that far outlasts traditional media and local weeklies. It’s also spell-checked, copy edited and curated for online audiences, made concise and to the point in a compact format (at least in my world). Secondly, the post can be shared around the globe via social networks for months, even years on end.

    Why some companies don’t see the fundamental value of a well-written post is a puzzle to me. Advertisers charge for every possible magazine and newspaper spot, whether it be for advertorials or ad space. When a writer posts valuable content on a site for the world to see – for free – it not only devalues the industry but takes away precious time from other tasks, healthy outdoor breaks, fitness, and quality time with loved ones.

    Let’s be honest: if there’s a company that aligns with your ethics and offers up product in exchange for your valuable time, that’s certainly a viable means of building a working relationship that hopefully over time will translate to monetary gain on your end. So many companies have approached me (and continue to do so daily) hoping that I’ll place their product, service, or event on my site for free.

    I understand that you’ve given me content and photography that’s simply a matter of cut and paste into my WordPress (or other CMS) dashboard. Sure, the intern may have overlooked a grammatical error or two, but heck, why should I take the time and go over the copy, looking for irregularities? I mean, come on, you’ve given me an easy time-saving way of posting your content.

    Here’s why. I take pride in my work and whatever imagery I choose to add to the story.

    And then there’s that time thing again: would you want to spend your days emailing bloggers and writers for free?

    The next time you approach a blogger to write for free, remember how much time goes into their daily routine, aside from that ‘simple cut and paste job’— admin, web maintenance, editing, photo sourcing/shooting/editing, and yes, a LOT of emails.

    Over and out.

  • Jul4


    2014 Indian Summer Festival Opening Gala-4
    [Atithi Indian Cuisine’s culinary team]

    Returning this year was the Fourth Annual Indian Summer Festival Opening Gala held in Chinatown’s Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden last night. Again, the beautiful setting was transformed into a colourful mix of South Asian glamour, cuisine, and entertainment to kick off the Indian Summer Festival.

    2014 Indian Summer Festival Opening Gala-16
    [CBC News weather reporter Johanna Wagstaffe]

    This year, there were more restaurants added, with tasty bites offered by Vancouver restaurants Atithi Indian Cuisine (Bangladesh), Bob Likes Thai Food (Thailand), Vij’s (India), Bao Bei (China), Blue Water Café (Japan), Bella Gelateria (selection of Asian gelato flavours), and Café Kathmandu (for a soothing Chai to finish off the meal).
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Jun20


    Peggy's Cove lighthouse

    Peggy’s Cove is a sweet little fishing village located just under an hour outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Known for its lighthouse, the most photographed in North America, the tiny village was founded in 1811. Peggy’s Cove’s settlers relied on fishing, but also planted gardens and raised cattle on the surrounding land.

    Peggy's Cove village

    It’s also been declared a preservation area; The Peggy’s Cove Commission Act, passed in 1962, prohibits development in and around the surrounding village and restricts development within Peggy’s Cove.

    A view from Peggy's Cove lighthouse Nova Scotia June 2014-73

    Artists and photographers embraced Peggy’s Cove, and with road improvements, visitor numbers began to grow. Although the village is laced with numerous souvenir shops, this charming spot remains a working fishing village.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-75

    Nearby Oceanstone Resort is located in Indian Harbour along a calm stretch of the Atlantic Ocean. It was voted as one of the Top Five Wedding Destinations in Canada by Elle Magazine in 2012, and it’s easy to see why couples would want to tie the knot here.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-84

    The quaint cottages are filled with books, seashells, old china cups and antique furnishings. There’s also rooms and suites at the Inn, ideal for both large and small groups and meetings.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-78 Nova Scotia June 2014-74

    Many of the cottages are situated with decks that face onto the water for relaxing with a cup of tea or coffee and a good read. I stayed in the Dovekey (named after the world’s smallest duck), a one-bedroom cottage with living and dining areas, a full bathroom, queen bedroom that opens from the living area via French doors, and a fully-stocked kitchen (with fridge, stove, oven, microwave, toaster, etc.).

    Nova Scotia June 2014-80

    Each cottage is lovingly designed and furnished with romance and relaxation in mind. Across the water sits Paddy’s Head Lighthouse (a pepper-pot style lighthouse), built in 1901 and manned until 1945 after which time power arrived in the community. I spent some time on the deck in the late afternoon admiring it through the trees, with a green glowing lamp burning inside, making for a stunning photo op.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-77

    The Oceanstone Resort’s current owners (the Moore and Dodds families) purchased the property in December 2011, and spent that winter renovating the entire resort.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-83

    The evening following our arrival, our group was invited to dine on the deck at the Captain’s House, where chef Bryan Corkery prepared lobsters, a mean chowder, some fresh corn on the cob and salads, topping the evening feast with strawberry shortcake. Every ingredient is locally sourced, right down to the mint on the shortcake that had been picked mere moments before our arrival.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-141

    We gathered around the kitchen where chef Bryan demonstrated the fine art of prepping a lobster. The evening was filled with great conversation and Nova Scotia wine.

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    Although there’s a restaurant on the property, Chef Bryan cooks for resort guests. We enjoyed a self-serve continental breakfast in the same spot the next morning before our reluctant departure.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-81

    After just one night here, my relaxation level was high and stress level low. This well-loved gem is worth seeking out if you’re planning a visit to the area. Oceanstone Resort is located at 8650 Peggy’s Cove Road, Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-87

    One of the most rewarding aspects of this trip was a visit to Peggy of the Cove. At first, this brightly-coloured home with a lighthouse and lobster traps appears to come out of nowhere on the road, resembling another tourist stop, but if you take the time to walk up and knock on the front door, you’ll be greeted by Ivan Fraser, wearing his Sou’wester.

    With author Ivan Fraser

    This is Ivan’s childhood home, and he’s lovingly preserved artifacts of his youth in a house that’s been in his family for six generations.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-85 Nova Scotia June 2014-86

    There’s a few stories out there describing how the area came to be known as Peggy’s Cove. While the village is likely named after Saint Margaret’s Bay (Peggy being the nickname for Margaret), a popular legend exists, claiming that the name came from the sole survivor of a shipwreck at Halibut Rock near the cove.

    Peggy (of Peggy’s Cove) was the sole survivor of the shipwreck. Her real name was Margaret, but everyone called her Peggy. The story’s hard to prove, and the locals don’t buy it. No one did anything with this legend, until 1996, when Ivan took a photo looking out at sea. An American man pointed out Peggy’s form in the photo; Ivan, an artist, painted the picture, later penning a song (the CD’s for sale in his house, featuring vocalist Melanie Ross), then setting out to write the books.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-89

    In his first book, he begins Peggy at the age of eight, following the shipwreck at Halibut Rock. Peggy is rescued at daybreak, then rushed off to the closest home to recover. Ivan’s story, Peggy of the Cove, tells the tale of the little girl who survives and is taken in by a local family. She has no recollection of her whereabouts or her given name, so the family decides to call her Peggy.

    Ivan is full of energy as he recounts the tale in his books, showing us his favourite memories on both floors of the home.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-90 Nova Scotia June 2014-91 Nova Scotia June 2014-88

    A movie is in the works after the series of novels. His house is part art gallery, part homage to his family. The books, although works of fiction, show Ivan’s imagination in painting a somewhat realistic story of Peggy and her life here after the shipwreck.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-92

    Ivan’s a 2009 bronze medal winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Peggy of the Cove: Secrets, his second novel (Best Regional Fiction). A third novel has just been completed.

    Nova Scotia June 2014-93

    Visit Ivan’s Peggy of the Cove Museum at 10235 Peggy’s Cove Road in Glen Margaret.

    Acadian Maple Products, Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia

    Passing Ivan’s childhood home, a bit further along Route 333 (headed back to Halifax), you’ll enter Upper Tantallon, home of Acadian Maple Products.

    Acadian Maple Products, Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia

    This gourmet family-owned business produces maple syrup and maple syrup products ranging from maple butter to maple chive mix and BBQ sauce. There’s even a maple wine and a Cumberland County maple coffee. All coffees are small-batch 100% Fair Trade certified and organic, and roasted on the premises. Find Acadian Maple Products at 13578 Peggy’s Cove Road in Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia.

    Acadian Maple Products, Upper Tantallon, Nova Scotia

    I stayed as a guest of Oceanstone Resort via Tourism Nova Scotia.

  • May29


    Douglas Coupland at VAG-17

    Douglas Coupland’s long-awaited major visual art exhibition, everywhere is anywhere is anything is everything was revealed to media this morning at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Starting May 31, over 100 works, including eight newly-unveiled pieces will be open to the public.

    Douglas Coupland at VAG-25
    [Below high-gloss Ziggy Stardust (one of Coupland’s favourite works in the show): I Win, You Lose]

    The past 14 years of this Vancouver-based artist’s creative output is evident in a variety of media – installation, painting, photography, prints, sculpture, quilts, and wallpaper. The exhibition explores concepts of cultural identity, technology’s ubiquity, and contemporary life, all central to Coupland’s work. Coupland is a curious, global citizen, and his collections of just about everything imaginable is displayed in meticulous form.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • May29


    Carmen Aguirre

    Carmen Aguirre, author of the national bestseller Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter (winner of 2012’s Canada Reads) was owed $60,000 in royalties when D&M Publishers went bankrupt later that year.

    The Santiago-born writer and independent theatre artist never received that 60 grand owed her.

    Malón is a Chilean term of Mapuche origin, describing Mapuche raids/assaults on the Spaniards, but the word’s evolved over time, translating to a big party where everybody “takes over/assaults” somebody’s house (with their previous consent) and contributes with food, music, and whatever else is needed to have a good time.

    A Gran Malón has been organized in Vancouver to help Carmen recover her royalties. Join the local creative community in an evening of performances, food, and readings. Autographed copies of the Douglas & McIntyre edition of Something Fierce will also be for sale at the event; all proceeds will benefit Carmen directly.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Feb21


    Rose Ellen Nichols in Pauline
    [Rose-Ellen Nichols starring as Pauline Johnson; City Opera Vancouver photo]

    City Opera Vancouver presents the world premiere of Pauline, a chamber opera about Canadian writer-actress Pauline Johnson, with libretto by acclaimed Canadian author Margaret Atwood and music by Tobin Stokes.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Aug29


    Yin Yeung Express

    On September 13 to 15, supper and storytelling will come together for Yin Yeung Express, a unique culinary event presented by In the House Festival, Ken Tsui (Vancouver Chinatown Night Market), and Kevin Chong (author of My Year of the Racehorse). Music will be curated by In the House Festival.

    Inspired by Hong Kong’s signature open-air eateries (dai pai dong), memorable stories of food will be paired with four fine-dining interpretations of humble Hong Kong café classics. Forget the greasy bowls of instant ramen with spam made to order and dive into a playful take on the cuisine’s most iconic dishes prepared with an innovative mix of fresh ingredients. There will be vegetarian options available.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Oct16


    Stanley Coren
    [Stanley Coren]

    Next month’s 28th Annual JCC Jewish Book Festival is prepared to take the city by storm with an exciting roster of writers from across Canada, the US, and Israel. This popular yearly event connects celebrated authors with an audience spanning the Lower Mainland.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Jun7


    Food Talks Volume 1
    [Richard Wolak, Vancouver Foodster]

    Earlier this week at W2 Woodwards Community Media Arts Café, food lover and writer Richard Wolak launched the first edition in his Vancouver Food Talks series. Appetizers, iced tea, and a glass of Misconduct Wine were served pre-event, courtesy of W2’s Chef Karen McAthy. Five prominent speakers each gave a short talk about what drives their passion within the food industry.

    Below is a quick recap of what each speaker offered; a Q&A session and prize raffle followed. Specially created treats from Soirette Macarons were handed out as we exited the event.

    Food Talks Volume 1
    [Mike McDermid, Manager, Ocean Wise Program at the Vancouver Aquarium]

    Mike McDermid, Manager, Ocean Wise Program at the Vancouver Aquarium:

    1.2 billion people rely on seafood as a dietary substance. Based on current extraction rates, we’re running out of stock and soon. Started in 2005, Ocean Wise helps to empower consumers to make the right choice.

    It’s hard for chefs to know what the impact is of certain fish species caught. Vancouver Aquarium stepped in to help them decide. And the chefs were happy to have the help. At the end of the day, they wanted to know that they were doing right by our oceans.

    People all over North America started to contact Ocean Wise for information. Within six to seven years, the program has grown to 3,100 active sources: an incredible amount of buying power. The Ocean Wise network helps connect sources with the chefs, stores and markets, making it easy for consumers to identify what the right choices are. They’ve started to change the way that seafood is both sourced and its fisheries operated. Fisheries now get value for their product.

    Local, seasonal, organic, fair trade: “We’re just starting to get there with seafood.”

    Food Talks Volume 1
    [Stephanie Yuen, East Meets West author]

    Stephanie Yuen, East Meets West author and food columnist:

    Compared to 30 years ago, there are about 1,000% more Asian restaurants in Vancouver. Asian food in Vancouver does a tremendous amount of good for its food scene. Stephanie went on to talk about her latest book, East Meets West, then discussed the importance of freshly sourced products, avoiding shark fin fishing, and our local Asian food community. Her book will be launched this Saturday, June 9, from 2 to 4 pm at Shaktea, 3702 Main Street.

    Food Talks Volume 1
    [Hunter Moyes, Chef, Waldorf Hotel; founder Vancouver Tiffin Project]

    Hunter Moyes, Chef, The Waldorf Hotel:

    NGO’s have problems bringing out numbers to events, but when food is involved, that number triples. Three key issues that Hunter discussed were local vs. imported produce, waste, and food security.

    CSA (community-supported agriculture) relies on a large number of small-consumption clients. Being part of food industry, why not take that number and get a small number of large-consumption clients to make a difference?

    We’ll fall back onto small farmers as gas prices continue to rise. Moyes has launched a Vancouver version of the Tiffin Project. Originated in India in 1880, this is a meal delivery system where hundreds of thousands of meals are delivered and catered without waste.

    Moyes formerly worked at Burgoo West Point Grey. There he saw how thousands of dollars of take-out containers went out the door. This led him to think about a local campaign. He’s gathered a group of Vancouver restaurants to eliminate take-out waste. Profit margin: $4 of each reusable container goes towards researching ways of eliminating more waste. As well, proceeds will serve to educate the public. Follow his project on Twitter: @TiffinProject

    Food Talks Volume 1
    [Trevor Bird, Top Chef Canada; Fable Kitchen Restaurant Executive Chef]

    Trevor Bird, Top Chef Canada and Fable Kitchen Restaurant Executive Chef:

    Trevor’s all about bridging the gap with sourced food. Fable Kitchen wants to know about the animals they serve. What’s their life span? Where are there genetics from?

    “Just because it’s local doesn’t mean it’s sustainable”. Chef Bird then went on to colourfully describe his experience being on Top Chef Canada and how he respects Carl Heinrich for what he’s learned from him. Bird is glad that the Food Network chose Carl as the winning Top Chef Canada.

    Food Talks Volume 1
    [Roberta LaQuaglia, Vancouver Farmers Markets]

    Roberta LaQuaglia of Vancouver Farmers Markets:
    The public has taken to the farmers markets. Community is developed through the markets, creating small villages with temporary stalls. Roberta believes that the public should be educated about their food sources and options.

    Markets have a vibe. Farmer’s markets equate to laughter, good times, music, etc. People get connected with “their market”. There’s a pride associated with it. Vancouver Farmer’s Markets are grateful for their customer base.

    Growers have to feel that it’s worth their while to come in and sell their product. The average age of BC farmers is 54. Therefore, new farmers need to get introduced to the community so that the current generation can retire while passing on their knowledge.

    On a humorous side note, Trevor Bird proposed starting a celebrity farmer movement.

    Tickets for Food Talks Volume 2 are now on sale via Vancouver Foodster. Visit the event link for information and to purchase tickets.

  • Apr13


    Reading a book
    [Photo credit: Federica.Giordano on Flickr]

    If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. – Oscar Wilde

    The 24th annual City of Vancouver Book Award is back. Authors and publishers of books that contribute to the appreciation and understanding of Vancouver’s history, its unique character, or its residents’ achievements are encouraged to submit entries.

    The book can be of any genre and should demonstrate excellence in content, illustration, design, and/or format. To be eligible, books must be published in 2011 or 2012 and meet the application criteria. The eligibility and evaluation criteria for the award reflect the importance of diversity in both literary genres and subject matter.

    All entries must include:
    – Four copies of the book
    – A $20 submission fee
    – A completed entry form

    Entry forms and guidelines are available from the Cultural Services Department at the Woodward’s Heritage Building, 111 West Hastings Street, Suite 501, or on via the City’s website. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, May 23.

    An independent panel of judges will choose the winner of the $2,000 prize. The short list of finalists will be announced in September, and the award will be presented in October by Mayor Gregor Robertson.

    Recent past winners include Michael Christie for The Beggar’s Garden; Bruce Grenville and Scott Steedman for Visions of British Columbia; Lee Henderson for The Man Game; and Brad Cran and Gillian Jerome for Hope in Shadows.

  • Feb13


    Awards banner

    This year, I was invited to judge the Canadian Weblog Awards. I went through 15 Canadian sites, judging for usability, accessibility, functionality, interactivity, aesthetics, originality, clarity, currency (timely content), authenticity as well as grammar control.

    I wasn’t able to divulge any information regarding my status as a CWA juror, nor was I able to let any of my readers know about my findings. The nominations were processed at the end of last year, with the top five finalists in each category announced on January 15.

    I was out of the country when the prizes in each category were announced and had to wait until my return to post this on my site.

    First off: a link to the 2011 Canadian Weblog Award winners.

    Going through a website and cutting it down to the indicators mentioned above gave me a great education in the world of blogs. I found gorgeous photography on the same site that was lacking a way to order their product. I read another blog that contained not one single image. Others were poorly worded or contained misspelled words. And a few were hard to comment on a particular post.

    Out of the 15, I was hoping to find at least a few gems to report back on, in addition to the winners.

    Breathe Dream Go banner

    I found one, a real standout. Mariellen Ward’s Breathe Dream Go is right on the mark for a niche travel blog. Her blog was also one of the few that included social media links, a photo right up front along with her bio, and a lot of interesting sidebar content. Her work has been featured in Canadian Living, Weekly Voice, Indo-Asia News service, and others.

    She’s even written a book chronicling her experience in her ‘second home’ country: Song of India. Her advertising page is completely transparent, as well as is her disclosure regarding media trips.

    And I’m happy to learn that she won 2nd place in the Best Weblog About Travel category (while Vancouver’s own Gourmet Fury took 1st)!

    If you’re seriously considering spending any amount of time in India, I’m certain that Breathe Dream Go is one of the best online resources to check out. I’m lucky to have discovered Mariellen’s site and hope to find more bloggers reaching out with a similar passion. I hope to meet her at a future TBEX blogging conference or perhaps even a media trip, though I’d most likely be on a plane to India!

    Congrats to all the winners!

  • Nov21


    One of a Kind Show images

    Now in its fourth year, the One of a Kind Show returns to Vancouver from December 8 to 11. Over 300 of North America’s finest artisans and designers will have their unique goods for sale, just in time for the holidays.

    Dam Good Soap selection
    [Paula Morimoto’s Dam Good Soap]
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Nov15


    Natalie MacLean seminar

    I really enjoyed attending wine writer Natalie MacLean’s seminar at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
    Read the rest of the post »

  • Mar31


    Open Book
    [Photo Credit: melanieburger on Flickr]

    The City of Vancouver invites publishers and authors to submit entries for the 23rd annual City of Vancouver Book Award.
    Read the rest of the post »