My Latest News
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.
Spring 2014 News
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.
Winter 2014 News
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.
Summer 2013 News
More 6th Grade Laughs Coming in Spring 2014
I'm thrilled to announce that my new middle-grade comedy, 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6, will be coming out with Lorimer in Spring 2014. If you liked 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6, you'll love this one. It's a little bit longer, with a larger, more boyish cast of characters, but just as goofy and fun. I'll offer more details as the publication date approaches.
My New Picture Book is in the Works
I'm delighted to announce that I have another picture book in development. When Squirrels Stole My Sister will be published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside in Spring 2015. I'll fill in the details as the book develops--I can't wait!
My first short story for adults in over 20 years is coming out this October in Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast. "Team Leader 2040," is a new take on the zombie genre. Read more about it in my blog post.
Spring 2013 News
Storyfest for Kids
I will be reading and talking to young people at Storyfest for Kids on June 15th at the Greenwood Centre for Living History in Hudson, Quebec. It's a fun-filled family day with a puppet show, a strolling musician, crafts, cookies and more!
White Pine Honours
I attended the Festival of Trees in Toronto on May 15th and learned that lots of teen readers across Ontario had voted for All Good Children -- enough to make it a White Pine Honour Book. Thanks! I spoke with oodles of inspiring readers throughout the day, and I met most of the other authors whose titles were nominated this year -- including Jeyn Roberts, whose novel, Dark Inside, was the White Pine Winner. Check out my Forest of Reading Honours Blog Post for more details.
26 Tips Wins a Hackmatack Award!
I was thrilled to attend the Hackmatack Award Ceremony in Halifax on May 10th. What a great morning. I met so many enthusiastic young readers, and so many dedicated writers, too. To top it off, I learned that my middle-grade comedy, 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6, won the children's choice award for English fiction. What an honour. (You can watch the whole ceremony on the Hackmatack website.)
Hackmatack Author Tour
I was born in Newcastle, New Brunswick (that's not the "new" part of this news bit) and I was flown back in May for the Hackmatack Author Tour. I gave readings and presentations to boys and girls first in Bathurst, then south along the beautiful Miramichi River, from Newcastle to Doaktown. Thanks to the classes for having me, and to all the teachers and librarians for arranging my visit and driving me around. It was a pleasure to savour some down East hospitality.
Winter 2013 News
Touring the Atlantic
I'll be touring schools and libraries in New Brunswick this May as part of the Hackmatack Award author tours, speaking to young readers about my nominated middle-grade novel, 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 (Lorimer). Then I get to go to Halifax for the award ceremonies!
Forest of Reading
I'll be in Toronto on May 15th for the Forest of Reading celebrations, representing my White Pine Award nominee, All Good Children (Orca).
Fall 2012 News
All Good Children wins Sunburst Award!
All Good Children has won the 2012 Sunburst Award in the Young Adult category! The Sunburst Award Society honours "excellence in Canadian literature of the fantastic." This year's shortlist was fantastic, indeed, and it was an honour to have my first YA novel in such fine company. Check out the Press Release to view the shortlists in both the adult and young adult categories - then get reading.
Goodreads Guest Author through December 2012
Thanks to all the interest in my award-winning young adult novel, All Good Children, I am a guest author on a Goodreads discussion group, YA Reads for Teachers (and Any Other Adults!). The discussion is open to EVERYONE, so please drop in for a chat. I'll be interacting with the group each day throughout December, talking about the book, the writing life, and anything else that comes up. Join the discussion by clicking here.
26 Tips wins QWF Prize!
26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 has won the Quebec Writers' Federation Prize for Children's and Young Adult Literature! The QWF Literary Awards honour English-language literature in Quebec, and the 2012 QWF Literary Awards Gala was the most recent in a long line of fabulous QWF celebrations. (Check out this Publishers Weekly article for more info.) It was a pleasure to be there, an honour to be nominated, and a thrill to win.
All Good Children is a selected title for Ontario's White Pine Award!
All Good Children is a nominee for the 2013 White Pine Award, which honours books for high school students through the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Program. More than 250,000 young readers participate in this children's choice award program every year, and it's an honour to be among the selected titles they'll be reading.
Honours for 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6
Not only are kids all over Atlantic Canada reading 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 as part of the 2012-13 Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award program, now the book has been honoured in my own province, too. This middle-grade comedy is on the shortlist for the QWF Prize for Children's and Young Adults' Literature. I get to go to the Gala in Montreal on November 20th to celebrate!
Ottawa 12th Annual Kids' Lit Gala
It was a pleasure to read from 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 at the 12th annual Kids' Lit Gala in Ottawa on October 16th. Thanks to the librarians and young readers who included me in the company of authors from the National Capital Region.
YALSA 2012 Teens' Top Ten announced
Congratulations to the authors whose titles were chosen by American teens for the 2012 YALSA Teens' Top Ten. While All Good Children was not voted one of the top ten, it was certainly a pleasure to have my book in such fine company as one of the 24 nominees. Many thanks to the teen readers who nominated All Good Children, and to the readers and librarians who wrote to say they enjoyed it.
More Online Fun
I just added a bunch of All Good Children follow-up activities to my fun stuff pages. Better late than never. Check out the All Good Children Follow-up Fun and get busy with art, literature and crossword puzzles.
Summer 2012 News
Awards and Honours
All Good Children is on the Young Adult shortlist for the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic and it's a nominee on YALSA's prestigious list of Best Fiction for Young Adults 2013.
What wonderful honours!
Mentoring Young Writers
Through a scholarship program of MASC (Multicultural Arts for Schools and Communities, which services eastern Ontario and western Quebec), I have been matched as a mentor to a talented young writer in my community. We'll spend 20 hours together over the next six months, face to face and online, and I'll do my best to help guide her efforts to find a space for creative writing, learn her craft, and create plots and characters that best express the truth that matters most to her. I can't wait.
Spring 2012 Events
CLA Awards Reception
I attended the Canadian Library Association's Awards Reception in Ottawa on May 31st, to accept the CLA 2012 Young Adult Book Award for my teen novel, All Good Children. The next day, I was at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Libray , with fellow winners Kit Pearson and Matthew Forsythe, for a "Meet the Authors" morning with local classes and CBC Radio. Listen to the Interview. Or read my blog post for more details.
MASC Young Authors and Young Illustrators Conference
I was thrilled to be a guest author at the MASC Young Authors and Young Illustrators Conference in Ottawa this April. I spent three days with enthusiastic young writers from eastern Ontario and western Quebec, helping them fine-tune their writing skills in a series of 2-hour workshops. This was my first time leading a workshop, and I loved it. The students were amazingly keen and talented - I was just as inspired by the Conference as they were. (And I got to hang out with some of my favourite Canadian writers and illustrators in between workshops.)
The workshops encouraged me to update my Tips for Young Writers on this website.
Blue Met Children's Festival
I took part in Montreal's Blue Metropolis Children's Festival, an annual literary celebration that offered 55 readings and author presentations all over the city. I spoke to grade 5 and 6 classes on the theme of humour, and why you need a sense of humour if you want to write children's books. The kids were keen, the teachers and librarians were awesome, and the city was gorgeous. I was so glad to be there. (Plus I got to have lunch with fellow Orca novelist, Monique Polak, and that's a real treat.)
Red Cedar Interview
Students all over British Columbia have been busy reading the titles nominated for this year's Red Cedars (B.C.'s young readers' choice awards), including my novel, Walking Backward. As part of the awards process, participating classes interviewed the authors of nominated titles to learn more about the stories behind the books. I was interviewed over the phone by Grade 5 students at St. Michael's University School-Junior School. The kids were keen, their questions were thoughtful, and their enthusiasm for reading sped right through the phone lines. It was a pleasure to participate, and an honour to be included in the 2012 Red Cedars. You can read the interview on my Author Interviews page.
Spring 2012 Awards and Honours
All Good Children is the CLA 2012 YA Book Award Winner!
Hurrah! All Good Children has been chosen by the Canadian Library Association as the Winner of the CLA's 2012 Young Adult Book Award. Wow, that is some honour! Karma by Cathy Ostlere and This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel were chosen as Honour Books for the Award. And the entire shortlist is a selection of great titles. So get reading.
All Good Children nominated for YALSA 2012 Teens' Top Ten!
What a mix of pride and humility I feel to find my first young adult novel among the 24 titles nominated by American readers for the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) 2012 Teen's Top Ten. This is a teen choice award - teen readers nominate and choose their favourite titles from the past year. Thanks to all the teen readers who chose to nominate All Good Children. You have put me in the company of some of the best writers out there, and you've inspired me to keep writing for readers like you.
26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 nominated for the Hackmatack
My middle-grade comedy, 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6, is one of ten English fiction titles nominated for the 2012-2013 Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Awards. Hurrah! The Hackmatack is Atlantic Canada's young readers' choice award, which means that kids in grades 4-6 across the east coast will soon be cozying up with my heroine, Becky Lennox, along with all the other wonderful characters in next year's batch of nominated titles.
Winter 2012 News
Awards and Honours
All Good Children is on the shortlist for the Canadian Library Association's 2012 Young Adult Book Award, mingling with nine other YA novels from some pretty awesome writers. To learn more, check out the CLA Press Release.
All Good Children is an Honourable Mention on the Ontario Library Association's list of Best Bets for 2011. For more information, and to check out the best bets for all ages, see the Canadian Children's Book Centre website.
My teen novel, All Good Children (Orca) and my picture book, My Cat Isis, illustrated by Virginie Egger (Kids Can Press), are both among The Year's Best listed by Resource Links. To learn more, check out Resource Links Magazine online.
Readings and Signings
I had a wonderful celebration of Family Literacy Day in January, reading to classes from kindergarten to grade six at Lord Aylmer School, and promoting literacy with two other Gatineau children's authors, Valérie Perrault and Eric Girard, by reading to kids in our local mall. Check out the news in The Aylmer Bulletin.
I signed a kazillion copies of All Good Children and 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 at the the Ontario Library Association Super Conference 2012 in Toronto in February. It was GREAT to talk with so many teachers and librarians who'd read my books, to talk instead of email with the wonderful Carrie Gleason, my editor at Lorimer, and the amazing and lovely Dayle Sutherland and Leslie Bootle from Orca, and to meet and mingle with so many great children's authors and fellow members of CANSCAIP. What an experience! I want to go again.
All Good Children is continuing to earn good reviews, with recent praise from The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books ("Kids with a grudge against authority will love every bit of this anti-estblishment tale.") and Canadian Children's Book News ("The writing is excellent, the story is fast-paced and believable, and the author does an excellent job of balancing the horror of the environment with normal teen angst.")
Reviews from magazines are nice but, wow, reviews from kids mean so much more. As a readers' choice award nominee, Walking Backward is getting wonderful reviews from young readers in western Canada, like Jacob ("I really liked this book cause even though it was sad it got happier and happier the more you read.") and Abby ("If you haven't read it yet it is a MUST READ!") Check out all the posts from student reviewers of nominated titles for the 2011 Diamond Willow Award and the 2012 Red Cedar Awards.
See my Reviews page for more excerpts.
Fall 2011 News
I had a lovely time hanging around local bookstores before Christmas this year. Thanks to the staff and patrons of Ottawa's Collected Works Independent Bookstore, which hosted a signing by three local children's authors. Somehow I slipped in behind the table with a couple of awesome Governor General's Award winners, Rachna Gilmore and Caroline Pignat. (Many thanks to CW's Chris for organizing the event, and to Victoria for being so wonderful throughout.)
Thanks to the staff and patrons of Aylmer's Michabou Bilingual Bookstore, where I signed books with Aylmer's urban fantasy author Linda Poitevin. (Special thanks to Margaret Little for sweetness and support, and for sending signed copies of All Good Children off to Scotland.) Check out the news in The Aylmer Bulletin
Fall Book Tour 2011
I took my fall releases on a virtual tour this past November/December. The trip must have exhausted my virtual energies because I missed a full month of online activity, blogging and website updates afterward. But it was GREAT to meet so many smart and committed book bloggers and their readers. To check out the roster of stops, interviews, and guest posts, visit my Fall 2011 Blog Tour page.
I HAZ A TRAILER!
Check out my first and most AWESOME book trailer, created by airbookvideos. Just be prepared to absolutely need to read All Good Children by the end of it. (I will figure out how to put this massive file up on my website soon. Right now it's a youtube link. What are you waiting for? Check it out. Then come back here and read the rest of my news.)
First Chapters Online Now
Check out my Fun Stuff Page to access first chapter downloads for all my novels.
Walking Backward's Excellent Inclusion
The Canadian Children's Book Centre compiled a list of Great Reads for the Holidays 2011 and those discriminating book-lovers included Walking Backward among a dozen other recommended novels for the 9-13 age group. I am so thankful to have my first book in such fine company. Be sure to check out all the CCBC recommendations.