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Merry Christmas, and happy holiday season to all.

Welcome to CWJ News ~December 21, 2011

After considerable consideration, we have decided to post the Newsletter on the site and then send the link to those who signed up for it. With the exponential climb in spam, many people are not opting for automatic emails, and while we are not adding to the proliferation of spam because we do NOT forward our email lists in any fashion, our notices are quite often getting lost in aggressive spam filters. This seemed to be an appropriate compromise. This way, if there is news you wish to forward, forwarding this link is easier for you as well.

Please fell free to spread the word. We're excited about what we are doing, and we hope you will be as well.

CWCC 2012

Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar 2012

They're all on their way, and most have even arrived already. It wasn't easy, and each year presents it's own difficulties.

In November 2010, we had come home from the post office after mailing all of the 2011 edition out, and actually took the night off. It had been three weeks of being out here day and night to get the CWCC together and out, and one night off didn't seem like a bad idea. I set the computer for a virus scan, and went to bed.

Actually, my body decided some sleep was a really good idea, and we ended up taking the whole day off. (Those of you who know me, please don't faint.) When I did come back out the office, the computer was dead. It wouldn't even turn on. And all the data for the CWCC was now trapped on what turned out to be a fried hard drive.

We had backed up everything 10 days before, but the days of the CWCC are busy, and it took three weeks to cobble together and re-construct those ten days, while keeping everything else going.

We looked for a place that would recover the data from the hard drive, but I wasn't impressed with a lot of the sites I found. All of them claimed to be the best, and wanted me to take my precious hard drive and send it away to people I had never heard of before. Wasn't going to happen. I am far too protective, and paranoid, about customer data and everything else. And when they wanted money up front before I sent it--well that wasn't going to happen either. And we did have a little time.

My book printer's IT department recommended Recovery Force, and as it happened they were not far from where I was travelling the next day. I sent them an email at 10 pm the night before I was leaving, and got a response back in about 10 minutes--from a live person, not an automated response. When I got there the next day, they had a three minute look at the hard drive and could tell me that the capacitors were burnt out-- and could show me which ones. In two days they had recovered the data and sent the whole thing back on an external hard drive. The price was fair, and the people friendly. So the CWCC database from the year before was back. I don't make recommendations as a rule, but if you have your writing trapped on an old hard drive, laptop, tape drive, Zip disk, CD or DVD that will no longer read--tell them I sent you. If you don't know if they can handle your media, just call them.

The computers by then were replaced, and welcome to Windows 7. The data was there, and I cajoled the new computer into loading my older programs so I could read it, and export it. But they weren't letting anything new happen. So we changed to Open Office as our primary system. The learning curve for the word processor was not hard; the spreadsheets were fine. The database functions were alright if you had a 'normal' database. The CWCC database has one cell containing all the contest information, and for months I tried writing the SQL version that would do what I wanted it to do. We finally succeeded in September. Now all we had to do was copy all of last year's data into the new database and confirm it, and go on from there.

"All we had to do." I'm looking at the phrase and wonder how I can sound so simple about a not very simple process. Exporting the database was fine, but the large cell would not go into a spreadsheet, nor am I suggesting it should have. It did export as an html document, and so from these two sources we re-constructed the new database.

While this was going on, we were going to print with the history of the Highway Book Shop that Lois Pollard had been working on for the past five years, the Museum was launching their fifth volume of interviews in two and a half years, Booyah had launched and I was still recovering from two broken ribs in the summer. When they say 10 to 12 weeks for recovery, they mean for 20-year-olds. I'm a long way from 20, so it is still healing.

But the books are out, and they're beautiful. Addictions are usually a difficult topic, but I do not hesitate to admit that I am hooked on that moment when you open the first box of new books from the printer. There's no feeling like it. Like birthdays, Christmas, old friends dropping by--all rolled into one. Besides, my favourite word is DONE.

Here's hoping that you get that same feeling through 2012.