I'm one of the judges in this year's
Awesome Authors contest hosted
by the Ottawa Public Library. I'll
be choosing the best of over 150 short stories entered by young writers
9-14. (That's exactly the suggested reading age of the my first novel, Walking Backward.)
The winners will be honoured at a public ceremony in late March.
Vancouver Island Children's Book Festival
I had a fabulous time in Nanaimo as one of this year's guest authors at the Vancouver Island Children's Book Festival. A day-long celebration on May 2, 2015 in Nanaimo capped off a week of school and library visits in the area. Thanks to all the volunteers, teachers, parents and students who made it possible. Read more on the Bookfest website.
MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Conference
I was one of this year's guest authors at the MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Conference in Ottawa in April 2015. Over 200 kids in grades 4-8 from Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec attended my writing workshops during this 3-day annual event. So inspiring! Check out the MASC website for more information.
Picture Book Delays
Sadly, my upcoming picture book, When Squirrels Stole my Sister (in development with Fitzhenry & Whiteside), is off schedule and won't be out this year as I'd hoped. I'll keep you posted on updates. (The delay will allow more time to make it incredibly awesome.)
Middle Shelf Magazine
An excerpt of my latest middle-grade comedy, 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6, will appear in an upcoming issue of the new digital magazine, Middle Shelf. I'll link to it when it comes out but there's no need to wait on me. Click on over and check out Middle Shelf right now. It's free to subscribe to and it's chock full of articles, news and excerpts from oodles of great books for young readers.
More Great Reviews
Canadian Children's Book News and The Montreal Review of Books had very nice to things to say about my latest middle-grade novel, 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6. CCBN praised its "genuine and well developed" characters and "fast-paced and snappy dialogue" and said the novel is "sure to engage both strong and reluctant readers." MRB said my book "packs enough laughs and overall good feelings to satisfy readers aged 11 to 111" and the reviewer praised my entire body of work thus far, saying "what sets her work apart is its ability to resonate with any reader who appreciates strong characters, smart dialogue, and fast-paced, surprising plot lines." Gee, those are nice things for a children's writer to read. Check out the MRB review online.
Great Review of 28 Tricks
CM Magazine (The University of Manitoba's Canadian Review of Materials) has highly recommended my latest middle-grade comedy, 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6. The review says the book "has well-timed humour throughout and is guaranteed to make readers laugh out loud. It also has some unexpected and delightful plot twists as well as a subtly delivered positive message for today's young people." Four out of four stars - awesome. Check out the full review on the CM website.
Book Week in Nova Scotia
I have a full week of school and library visits to enjoy during TD Canadian Children's Book Week, which runs from May 3-10, 2014. I'm one of 29 authors, illustrators and storytellers selected to tour outside their own province. I am thrilled to be heading off to Nova Scotia for the week! Learn more about Book Week on the Canadian Children's Book Centre website.
In honour of Shakespeare's 450th birthday this April, CBC's Canada Writes asked 9 Canadian YA authors to write original short fiction about some of the bard's best characters. We put the classic characters into contemporary YA situations, creating a virtual "Shakespeare High." (I wrote a fresh take on Cordelia from King Lear.) You can check out all the stories on the Canada Writes website. If you're an English teacher, be sure to direct your students to the site to remind them how fun Shakespeare can be.
BookFest in the Gaspesie
I was thrilled to head north to Gaspe this April to tour elementary schools and libraries along the coast as part of BookFest/Festival du Livre. It was a pleasure to meet so many enthusiastic students and teachers during this month-long literacy event.
It was a pleasure to launch my latest middle-grade comedy, 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 -- released this March from Lorimer -- at my local library on March 30th. Check out my blog post on the launch.
First Review of 28 Tricks
My forthcoming middle-grade novel, 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6, has received its first review - and it's a good one! Check it out on Readerly, Canada's National Reading Campaign website. The reviewer, Gillian O'Reilly, editor of Canadian Children's Book News, calls the novel "funny, wise, fast-paced and engaging," and she has great things to say about its "well-rounded characters" and "hilarious" scenes.
In celebration of the upcoming release of my new middle-grade comedy, 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6, I'll be blogging about one fear every day in the month preceding the book's release. Visit Deadline? What Deadline? every day in February to read phobia fun facts, leave a comment, and win a book!
I was interviewed by one of the editors of Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast in December. My short story, "Team Leader 2040," was included in this latest volume of Canada's longstanding annual sci-fi anthology. Check out the interview. And check out the book's review on Tangent .
Fall 2013 News
Book Week 2014
I'm thrilled to be participating in next year's TD Canadian Children's Book Week. The celebration will send 29 authors, illustrators, and storytellers to schools, libraries and literary events across Canada next May. And the best part is that each of us gets to travel outside our home province. My destination? Nova Scotia. Hurrah! I love Nova Scotia. My mother was from Cape Breton, at least two of my siblings were born there, and there was a time when I had 42 cousins in that province - I can't wait to return.
I'll be taking my soon-to-be-published middle-grade comedy, 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6 east with me, and sharing my love of reading, writing, and humour with hundreds of young Nova Scotians. Not from Nova Scotia? Don't worry. Book Week 2014 is coming to the entire country. Check out the complete list of Who's Going Where.
Ottawa Book Awards Jury Duty
It was a pleasure to be on the fiction jury for the 2013 Ottawa Book Award. Over the first half of the year, my fellow jurors -- Michael Blouin and Scott Randall -- and I read 37 titles and together we selected a shortlist of five. Firming up the short list wasn't easy, as some strong books had to be left off. But choosing the winner was a snap. We all loved The Love Monster by Missy Marston (Vehicule Press). It popped on the page and left a lasting impression. This was Ms. Marston's first novels and I expect great things from her. She is an original. Congratulations to her and all the shortlisted authors. Check out their titles on the Ottawa Book Awards web page.
SCBWI Children's Illustrators' Studio MASH-UP
It was a pleasure to be part of the latest Children's Illustrators' Studio MASH-UP, which pairs an author and illustrator in a blind writing exercise and posts the results on the Studo Blog. I was paired with illustrator Danielle Arbour to come up with a story about an armadillo who delivers pizza in a hot air balloon. I hadn't done this kind of quick-write exercise in years and, I must say, it's WAY more fun when you get to see your hastily written story so beautifully illustrated. Check it out. And while you're there, follow the Children's Illustrators' Studio blog to get to know some of the best artists working in children's books today.
My Awesome Zombie Story
The latest Tesseracts anthology - Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast - was released in October 2013, and it included a short story from me: "Team Leader 2040." (This one is not for kids - much too grim and violent.) We had an online launch of the anthology at Bitten by Books on October 23 and you can check out the chatter here.