Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My new site is up

I've been busy building myself a new site which includes a wordpress blog and website rolled into one.  I'm gradually transferring content.  This is where all new posts will be located.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Why We Broke Up Project

I stumbled across The Why We Broke Up project which is based on the book Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket.  According to Handler, "This website allows you to share your stories of heartbreak with us, just as we shared ours with you. Our hope is that the Why We Broke Up project will enable all of our heartbreak to reach critical mass, so that, unlike [name redacted], it will never bother us again." 

As soon as I saw Handler's name attached, I knew the book and the project would be as quirky as it is awesome.  The illustrations are also awesome, so you just lose.  You can read the book, visit the website and share with the world why you broke up with someone... or why they broke up with you!  Maybe you broke up with them because they didn't like ketchup on their mac and cheese.  Maybe they were a cheating dirtbag, or maybe they were addicted to romantic comedies which you couldn't stand.  Maybe they were shallow, or maybe they didn't like books!  It doesn't matter, you can commiserate with Handler and Kalman, as well as complete strangers to get all out of your system and move on.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Another writer weighs in on YA books

More on the YA question.  Just finished reading a short essay by Sherman Alexie on "Why the Best Kids Books are Written in Blood".  If you haven't figured out why young people need all sorts of literature, you'll want to check out this poignant essay.  And, if you haven't read Alexie, it's not too late!  His The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is both dark and funny.  It's also brilliant, just like most of his other books.

Dark YA Literature

There has been such an uproar over teen books these days since the WallStreet Journal article that accused YA novels of being "rife with depravity" and "so dark that kidnapping and pederasy and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things."  Everyone has been weighing in, including well known authors like Judy Bloome, Neil Gaiman, and Laurie Halse Anderson.  Bloggers have been frenzied in their rebuttals and facebook has been awash with links.  Even National Public Radio has weighed in on the subject.  Still, some continue to wave the "teen protectionists" flag, which is usually synonymous with book banning.  For a balance overview of the controversy, check out Publisher Weekly's "Are Teen Novels Dark and Depraved — or Saving Lives?" by Karen Springen yesterday.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that YA literature gives a voice to what is sometimes to painful to share.  Books about difficult subjects such as: suicide, self-harm, teen prostitution, rape, and addiction are all examples.  Authors like Laurie Halse Anderson, Ellen Hopkins, Cheryl Rainfield and others can show you dozens of emails and letters they receive from young people who confirm that reading has saved their lives. Books about real life challenges young people face lets them know that they are not alone; that others have had similar experiences, and that they can survive similar terrible experiences.

Books can also be pre-emptive.  They can also show a reader the eventual result of taking a certain path without actually having to do so themselves. A realistic book for young people with believable characters about about self-harm, such as Scars by Cheryl Rainfield, or Crank by Ellen Hopkins, may be  enough to get a teen to seek help before heading down that path. A book like Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, may prevent a teen from blaming themselves in the terrible event that they are raped. A book like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, may move young people to think about ways to prevent wars down the road.

There are so many positives about realistic teen fiction these days that it's hard to believe this even needs to be discussed.  Of course dark books are not for every teen.  But they should always be available to those who need or want to read them, especially for those kids whose lives have literally been saved by knowing that they are not alone, and that they have options.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Michael Hauge's 6 stage plot structure

Today I'm trying to apply Michael Hauge's "6 stage plot structure" to the young adult novel I've been working on.  He also has a wonderful "Story Concept Template" that I find useful. If you don't know who Michael Hauge is and you have writerly aspirations, you may want to spend a little time on his website. You may even want to order a book or two. This guy is amazing.  I took a two day workshop with him, and I would love to do more.  He gets right the heart of your writing, doesn't mince words, and he's good.  His credentials speak for themselves.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

2011 The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Book Awards

The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Book Awards have been announced.

Here are this year's winner in the young adult / middle reader category.


Half Brother 
By Kenneth Oppel (Toronto, ON)
Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

To find out more about this Ontario Arts Council Award, check out their site.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Author Skype visit

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase
Author school visits are a wonderful way to turn kids onto books.  But, with tight budgets, a lot of schools simply can't afford the expense; unless they get creative.  Author Skype visits are a less expensive alternative, and it's easier than you think.  Most schools already have the equipment necessary and Margriet Ruurs has written an easy "how to" host an author Skype visit in Canadian Teacher Magazine. While you're there, check out a few of the other wonderful articles.
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Help Slave Lake, AB rebuild their fire-devestated library

My son-in-law has been up fighting the fire in Slave Lake Alberta.  In a phone conversation to us he spoke about how terrible the destruction was.  What a nightmare for the people of that fire-devestated town. My heart goes out to them. One of their losses has been their new public library.  I'm so happy to see that support from other libraries, publishers and book lovers has been pouring in. Please consider helping with:
1) cash donations which can be made through on their "Make a Donation" link, or
2) donating new or nearly new books (they are asking for books no older than 2 years, probably to avoid musty cast-offs).  These can be shipped to the Peace Library system headquarters for cataloguing and storage until a temporary library can be opened in Slave Lake.

ATTN: Books for Slave Lake Library
Peace Library System
8301 -- 110 Street
Grande Prairie, AB T8W 6T2

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

I've been reading a book called Room by Emma Donoghue.  It's an amazingly powerful story about a young woman who is kidnapped from her university, locked in a steel reinforced shed and forced to become a man's sex slave.  She has a child, Jack who is the narrator of the story.  It's a difficult and yet wonderfully told story.  Aside from being a compelling story in it's own right, this is a novel that would be fabulous in terms of studying voice, character and how plot and character are and must be intertwined.  Donahue totally nails both Jack and his mother's voice before they escape, and after.  It's one of those must reads.  Although it's fiction, Donahue has created characters who live and breathe.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blogging vacation

Life is crazy busy right now, so I've decided to cut myself a little slack.  I'm taking a blogging vacation until things settle down a little.  Feel free to peruse the past few years of  posts.  I'll still be tweeting and facebooking on occasion so I won't be disappearing entirely.  Happy spring.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rock the Drop! Support Teen Lit Day

Yep, it's Teen Lit Day today, and there is no shortage of ways to celebrate.  For ideas on how to make this day rock, check out YALSA (Young Adult Library Services)

Meanwhile, readergirlz, one of my favorite blogs, have come up with a pretty cool way to get the word out. It's called Rock the Drop!  Here's what you do.

1. Visit their site (the link is above)
2. Download the same bookplate I've snagged below
3. Print it
4. Paste it into your favorite YA novel
5. Drop the book in a public place (bus stop, coffee shop, etc.
6. Snap a photo 
7. Send it on over to readergirz AT gmail Dot com 
8. check out their site to see the YA love
9. Thank the cool ladies at readergirlz
10. spread the word

Here's my contribution.  I left it in the lobby of my local rec. centre and it was gone when I finished my workout an hour later.  I know that whoever has it will enjoy Miss Smithers by Susan Juby.

JULIAN SMITH - I'm Reading a Book: a great way to support Teen Lit Day

Today is Teen Lit Day.  Yeah.  I discovered this vid by way of a writer Mary McKenna Siddals.  It's pretty cool, and so is Julian.  If you like this, he's got some really cool other clips, music, social commentary and he isn't a bad writer either so have a look at his blog.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

YA Highway: Why are there so many love triangles in paranormal YA?

Gianciotto Discovers Paolo and FrancescaImage via Wikipedia
Of course love triangles have been around forever!  But, here's a link to an interesting post on why there are so many love triangles in YA paranormal literature . Leila Austin, the author of the post, raises the point that there are other ways of bringing conflict into young adult books. Check it out. YA Highway: Why are there so many love triangles in paranormal YA? 
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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A word about reviews

A work of art is usually pretty close to the heart of it's creators. Most of us who write, want to make a living, but most of us also want to create something special, something that others will want to read again and again. Unfortunately, not everything we create is wonderful. I don't know a writer out there who hasn't wanted to change something after a book has been published. Nothing is perfect no matter how much we want it to be. it. Sometimes it takes us a while to discover our own imperfections. Not so with reviewers. They can usually spot problems that we writers (and even editors who also end up close to a project) miss. Consequently, authors get bad reviews. It's just the way of the world.

So, what to do when you get a bad review?

Suck it up...

In other words, keep your mouth shut! If you must comment, if anything, be gracious. Thank the reviewer for their time, and move on. Bitch about the review to your family & friends if you must, but then move on to your next project. Try to use any constructive criticism to improve your next work. If there's nothing constructive in a review for you, forget it. Your job is to get work out into the world, not to worry about one opinion. Yep, that's right, a reviewer's opinion is just one opinion. We always hope reviewers will love and recommend our work. We hope all of our readers will love our work too. Some might. Some might not. You just have to get used to the fact that public criticism isn't always fair. But, one way or another, you DO have to learn to deal with it, at least if you want to survive in the world of literature, art, theatre, music, or any other art form. It's part of the business, just like rejection is. Media, whether it's internet media or print media has some great advantages and some serious headaches. My first publisher always told me that any review is a good review no matter how bad it gets the word out.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Emily Dickinson's "Wild Nights-Wild Nights!"

Wild Nights! Wild Nights!

    By Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

    Wild nights! Wild nights!
    Were I with thee,
    Wild nights should be
    Our luxury!

    Futile the winds
    To a heart in port, --
    Done with the compass,
    Done with the chart.

    Rowing in Eden!
    Ah! the sea!
    Might I but moor
    To-night in thee!

And here's a copy of the original written by Emily.  Pretty cool don't you think!
Dickinson's handwritten manuscript of her poem...Image via Wikipedia
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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poetry Month and Kidlitosphere Central

Garden with some tulips and narcissusImage via Wikipedia
April is an exciting month.  Spring is in the air.  The publishing world is aflutter with fabulous new books, and the entire month is a celebration of poetry. There are poets and poetry out there to inspire pretty much anyone and everyone.  At Kidlitosphere Central, more than a dozen Kid's Lit and YA Lit bloggers have stepped up to share all things poetry;  from a Poetry Potluck to a Poetry Party...from EduHaiku to Teen Poetry, you'll want to check out the links.
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I didn't have a mentor when I started out writing more than twenty years ago, but I wish I had.  This morning, I spent an hour or so with a young woman interested in writing for kids.  She was sweet and enthusiastic, but very naive.  Many seem to view the life of a writer in romantic terms when really, it's a lot of hard work.  Being a writer requires commitment and tremendous self-discipline, generally, without much in the way of monetary compensation...Ideas are all well and good.  I have hundreds of story ideas.  But, a book is a whole other matter.  It takes time to plan, time to write, and time to revise, and then revise again. Furthermore, books involve a skill set that can't be learned overnight, and takes a lifetime to master. If it were easy, a whole lot more people would be doing it.

As well, few young people are aware that writing is actually a business.  No one wants to publish your book just because!  It costs publishers money in editorial time, designing time, print costs, advertising costs, and the usual overhead.  Publishers want, and need, to make money from their publishing line.  They won't publish your book unless it can make them money.  

I hope the young woman I spoke to takes the time to learn not only the craft of writing, but the business, since the two go hand in hand.  Maybe one day I'll get an excited phone call telling me that her first book is coming out.  I hope so. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Diana Wynne Jones

Sad news in the YA world...fantasy writer, Diana Wynne Jones has passed away.  Best known for the Chrestomanci series, she started populating her books with witches, sorcerers, ghosts and goons when J.K. Rowling was still playing in the sandbox.  One of the things that I particularly enjoyed about her books is her wonderful sense of humor.  She could be both funny and scary, which is quite a rare mix.  It's hard to believe that we'll soon be seeing the last of her phenomenal books. What a great loss.  As far as I know, and surprisingly, only one of her books was turned into a movie, Howl's moving Castle, which is probably why a lot of North American readers aren't as familiar with her as they could be.  I've heard that her very last book will be published by Greenwillow Books early next year. Fortunately, she leaves a huge body of work.  I know I'll be downloading a few of my favorite titles on my Kobo to reread. Elizabeth Bluemle posted a great tribute on Shelftalker this morning.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Aric Davis and "Nickel Plated"

Aric Davis has written a very interesting article on writing for the YA market.  He talks about how he dealt with the sex and violence issue in his  novel Nickel Plated.  Worth a look through for sure.

Monday, March 21, 2011

World Poetry Day

Happy World Poetry Day.  Celebrate by reading a poem, writing a poem, or sharing a poem with a friend or stranger.

Check out Re:Verse, a zine for young poets.  Great poems and lots more.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Here's a pic from my sunset run along Dallas Road yesterday.  Notice that it isn't dark even though it was almost 7pm.  Later some friends and I walked down to Dallas Road again to check out the super moon (when the moon is closest to the earth).  It was pretty awesome, but sadly didn't get the moon over water shot I was after.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

April is National Poetry Month

Gregory from GottaBook will be featuring 30 Poets in 30 Days to celebrate National Poetry Month in April.  Some of the poets he'll be hosting are: Arnold Adoff whom I saw many years ago and whose poetry I still adore, Vancouver's own Avis Harley, multicultural poet extraordinaire, Janet Wong, and the amazingly versatile Jane Yolen to name just a few.  Do be sure to check it out his blog, and to make it easier, you can even subscribe!

YA Highway: The Importance Of Not Being Earnest All The Time

I love this blog...and especially this post on dumping the expectations and just writing. Ya can't revise it if isn't written folks...YA Highway: The Importance Of Not Being Earnest All The Time

Monday, March 14, 2011

YA Highway: Writing Exercises to Get Your Pen Moving

Kristin Halbrook offers a few pretty good suggestions on YA Highway for the dreaded blank page for any of you who are experienced writer's block. YA Highway: Writing Exercises to Get Your Pen Moving.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Reinvention of Teaching by Ross Laird

I was fortunate enough to hear Ross Laird speak at a Writers' Union of Canada symposium yesterday.  The topic was "Securing a Footing in the Changing Literary Landscape" and boy was this guy good.  He was upbeat, encouraging and full of advice and resources to help writers equip themselves for the revolution that publishing is undergoing.  In fact, he's a goldmine of information on all sorts of topics, from running, to refinishing antique mahogany to how to become more web savvy.

If you are an educator, parent, or forward thinker, you won't want to miss his fabulous article on "The Reinvention of Teaching."  It's provocative as well as informative.  It was refreshingly concrete and not steeping in double speak!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

International Women's Day, celebrating 100 years

Happy International Women's Day. Although we didn't really start celebrating IWD here in North America until the 1970's, this is the 100th year celebration.  Join with women across the world to celebrate the strides we have made since 1911.
A 1932 Soviet poster for International Women's...Image via Wikipedia
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Sunday, February 27, 2011


Oscars tonight.  Hawaii tomorrow.  Life is not bad. I have a post scheduled while I'm away. Otherwise, see you in two weeks.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Resource Links Best Books of 2010 is out

Resource Links has their list of best books for 2010 out.  Scroll down to see the list to see the book list for grades 7-12.  Some great books to explore here, as well as professional resources, audio-visual resources, and French language titles.

March 9th is World Read Aloud Day

March 9th is World Read Aloud Day.  Celebrate by reading your favorite book aloud to someone you love.  Being read aloud to is a pleasure at any age.  All you have to do is find a good book, and someone you love (or like!) to share it with.  For more ideas, visit Lit World

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tips for young authors

Here's another great site if you want to be a writer.  This one has been put together by a children's and YA author Dee White. She has tons of info., tips and opportunities, so check it out. 

Figment: A great community for young writers

Thanks to Sherrie for the heads up on figment, a totally awesome site for young people to share their writing, connect with a community of others with similar interests. It was started by New Yorker staff writer Danna Goodyear and Jacob Lewis, a former New Yorker managing editor.  It's a place to share and comment on each other's original writing, as well as a marketing site for YA publishers. You'll find poetry, mysteries, sci-fi and cell phone novels from established and emerging writers.  You can find this and so much more at figment.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Snowy day

Oh my.  This is what I woke up to.  I've shoveled, because there was so much snow that  Ruby disappeared when I let her out to pee.  Just to clarify, she didn't run away, the snow was over her head! She was quite freaked out... It's still snowing though and is supposed to keep going through tomorrow!  Yikes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Further to my Freedom to Read post, fellow author Cheryl Rainfield has just discovered that her book Scars is being challenged in KY.  Talk about timing!  Here's a link with Cheryl's take on the whole situation.  You can help by blogging about the book or buying the book for yourself or a teen who has self-esteem issues. Literature can be the key that unlocks the door to a young person's personal hell.  Why take that opportunity away, especially when it can be so helpful? Banning or challenging books isn't new, but we don't have to lie down and accept it.  We all have the right to choose what we want to read, and what we don't.  If you have difficulty with a book, close it.  It's as easy as that.

Freedom to Read Week

It's Freedom to Read Week so get involved. Get your students to make bookmarks using banned book titles, host a public reading of banned books, read a challenged book and leave it on a bus for a stranger to find, ask your local librarian for a list of classics that have been banned or a list of current literature being challenged, and share it with colleagues.  For more ideas, check out the Freedom to Read Website above.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Young Writers Contest Deadline Contest Deadline is Feb. 18, 2011

Canadian Children's Book Centre 

Book Week 2011 Writing Contest

Calling all young writers and poets!

Book Week 2011 WRITING CONTEST for Kids and Teens
Do you have a story or a poem about someone that is changing the world?
Are you in Grade 4 to 12? If so, enter the Book Week 2011 Writing Contest!
This year Book Week celebrates global citizenship. The theme Changing the World, One Child at a Time will focus on stories that highlight children and teens who are doing things to make the world a better place in their community, country, or abroad.
The stories may be fiction or non-fiction.
One winner from each grade will receive a $250 gift certificate to the bookstore of his or her choice.
Winning entries will be posted on the Book Week website –

*Please note that entries not accompanied by an ENTRY FORM will not be considered.
Writing Contest
c/o The Canadian Children's Book Centre
Suite 101, 40 Orchard View Blvd
Toronto, Ontario
M4R 1B9

The Book Week 2011 Writing Contest is generously sponsored by:

HarperCollins Publishers

Simon and Schuster Canada

2010 CYBILS announced

San Valentin sin Dolor de CabezaImage by Javier Volcan via Flickr
On the good news front the 2010 CYBILS were announced today.  These are grass roots awards that grew out of the community of Kid lit and YA lit bloggers who wanted to celebrate the best in books for young people.  Check out the winners, and don't forget that a lot of great books are to be found on the short-lists too.  Spread the word about great reading for kids and young adults, and while your at it, make a donation to keep the awards going...the folks who sit on these committees, read truckloads of books until they find the best, all do this on their own time.  It's Valentines day, so show them a little love.
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The Book Business

So it's happened...after months and months of teetering on the edge; Borders has gone under.  They declared bankruptcy today.  Some of you might be shrugging your shoulders.  "Big deal," I can hear you saying.  Well, just so you know, it is a big deal.  Things are in lock down mode.  Staff aren't being paid, and debts, including those to publishers & distributors aren't getting paid either.  That means that vulnerable publishers don't have money to pay royalties or go ahead with printing spring and maybe even fall lists.  I already know of a few writers who've had books cancelled, and the list serves are abuzz with talk about what all this means.  Don't forget, this event isn't in isolation.  Last week HB Fenn (a publisher and one of Canada's largest distributors) went down, and  the week before Key Porter Books closed show...and Key Porter books have published some of the biggest names in books in Canada, including Margaret Atwood!  It's so discouraging to be involved in books right now.  Senior writers are worried if they'll have enough money to pay their bills, and so many of us had gone back to part-time work to keep the wolf from the door.  

I know there will always be readers, and books will always be published in one form or another.  But with it being less lucrative to publish, will only a few houses and on-line book giants control what is available?  Will vibrant young writers bursting with ideas and talent want to be involved in a business that can't support them?  It's all so worrisome...and I can only hope that there are still a few out there who will want to take chances, who will want to bring out books that are just safe but push creative and intellectual boundaries.  I look forward things settling down in the book business soon.  But I hope we don't end up with a mediocre model.  I know it's hard to be creative when financial worries keep knocking at your door, but I also know that books change lives.  

All of you out there who've been touched by this have my every sympathy.  

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

CBC 's YA Best Book Poll

CBC's Best YA Book Poll:   Make sure you vote.
Here are the five titles and let me tell you that you'll have a tough time making a decision because they are all seriously good books.

Best Young Adult Novel
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Harper Canada has a new children's executive editor

Congratulations to Hadley Dyer, Harper Canada's new Executive Editor of Children's Books. Dyer, is both a children's editor and the YA author of one of my fav. books, Johnny Kellock Died Today. She's worked as a bookseller, at the Canadian Children's Book Centre, and as a freelance editor at James Lorimer & Company, Groundwood Books.  Things are looking up at Harper Canada in the kids and YA departments. A little good news instead of the usual publishing doom and gloom.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

George Clooney Please Marry My Mom

It may be Super Bowl Sunday, but I'm more about Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen than I am about football.  I'm reading it on my Kobo, and enjoying it immensely.  Nielsen is just so funny...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ann Walsh is February speaker for Victoria Children's Literature Roundtable

Next Victoria Children's Literature Roundtable Meeting: Monday, February 21, 2011

Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable Meeting
Monday, February 21, 2011, 7:30 pm
Nellie McClung Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library,
(Cedar Hill & McKenzie).
Doors Open at 7:00 pm, come and browse the Cadboro Bay Books table.
Everyone welcome! Cost: $5.00 at the door, Students $4.00, $25.00/year

Guest Speaker: Author Ann Walsh
Ann Walsh is well-known for her novels set in Barkerville during the Gold Rush in B.C.  She will talk about her wide range of titles, such as Forestry A-Z, Horse Power, The Doctor’s Apprentice, and Your Time, My Time.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

2011 Share the Love Book Event

There are so many ways to share the love of books...
Buy a book for a child
Donate gently used books to a charity
Read a book to someone you love
Read to a stranger
Leave your favorite book on a bus for a stranger to find
Join a book club
Drop off a favorite book at a friend's place
Set up a book exchange between coworkers or classmates
Buy a book from your local independent bookstore
Visit your favorite author and their publisher's webpages and leave them an I love your books note
Review a book that you loved on-line via Facebook, Goodreads, etc.
Tweet about a good book.
Spread the word, and for more suggestions, visit Jenna @ One Mystake at a Tyme for more info. and to post on how you've been sharing your love of books.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Philip Pullman speaks out against library cuts

No matter where you live, libraries are being hammered.  Not only do they have to make do with less, but their dollars have to cover increasingly expensive technologies as well as books. So far, librarians and library administers have come up with creative ways to keep services going, but there comes a point when it will be impossible to keep afloat no matter how Herculean the effort. Libraries are bleeding, not only here in North America, but in England.  Many of us have stood up to support our libraries, but our voices aren't being heard.  Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass, has added his voice to the chorus.  Perhaps someone will listen if enough of us speak out. Read his speech here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Youth Literacy Website

Fellow author Pam Withers and a few colleagues have set up a pretty cool non-profit youth literacy website that you may want to check out.   It's called "Keen Readers" and it's full of resources including: articles, tips, interviews, reviews, writing contests, and even a blog that parents, mentors and kids will find useful. For example, I found a whole page of resources for reluctant readers.   Here's the link.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lois Lowry advice shared by Lee Wind

The GiverImage via Wikipedia
To all you writers out here here's some wonderful advice from the author of The Giver and several dozen other books, Lois Lowry.

"retell your own stories from your life
give sorrow words
give happiness words, 
give jealousy words, 
give anxiety words, 
give fear words - 
take those intense emotions you've experienced in your life, and give them words."

Thanks to Lee Wind for taking notes and blogging them so that those of us who can't attend the SCBWI Conference in New York this weekend can share insights into the creative process of greats like Lois Lowry.
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Family Literacy Day

Complete set of the seven books of the "H...Image via Wikipedia
Today is Family Literacy Day. There are lots of ways to support Family Literacy all year round though so turn off the TV and play a game of scrabble with your kids, read them a picture book or a chapter of a novel (kids are never too old to be read to), or follow a recipe and bake a cake together.  Above all, act as a role model and get caught out reading on a regular basis.  For more ideas and information, visit ABC Life Literacy Canada.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

TED, Amazon to Launch TEDBooks

Exciting news, TED the non-profit group that provides a platform for the important thinkers, writers, artists and scientists of our age, will launching TEDBooks in an e-format in cooperation with Amazon. This will be an awesome opportunity for young reader readers to pick up books by some of the best minds in the world today, and all for under  $3.00. If you've never been to TED, you may want to check it out some of their videotaped lectures. To start, three e-books will be launched.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A brief review of The Library of the Early Mind

On January 20th The University of Victoria had the honor of hosting the Canadian premiere of the "Library of the Early Mind," a documentary by Edward J. Delaney and Steven Withrow to a packed house. It was the most wonderful evening and a great way to celebrate my 58th began with a children's book donation to support local groups who support children.  The Dean of Education, Dr. Ted Riecken, welcomed the audience and introduced a children's literature panel. Dr. Sylvia Pantaleo introduced the film and gave a little background on it's creators. After the documentary was shown, the panelists, including myself, Kid's Can Press editor and non-fiction writer, Val Wyatt, Governor General short-listed illustrator, Kristi Bridgeman, and Victoria Public Library Children's and Youth Services Coordinator, Tracy Kendrick, were led in a lively discussion led by moderator, Dr. Pantaleo.  The film was so jammed packed full of the most interesting interviews and insights that the discussion could have gone on for hours. Creators like: Chris Van Allsburg, Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket), Lois Lowry, David Small, Mo Willems, Patrick Lane, and many others, offered inspirational insights and pearls of wisdom about the impact of children's literature on children and the adults they will become. Social responsibility, creativity, cultural impact, new media, the importance of literature, and the ability of literature to open doors were only some of the subjects touched on.  In addition to interviews with creators, critics such as Roger Sutton and Anita Silvey were interviewed.  Librarians such as Betsy Bird and editors like Arthur Levine also offered their insights.  There were three things disappointing about the film.  The first is that it didn't include any Canadian talent.  The second is that it was over far too soon.  And the third was that one could not stop the film repeatedly to take notes; there was just too much to take in. I can only hope that it will soon be available on DVD. Every school, library, and writer will want one.  Thank you to Edward and Steve for devoting the time and resources to the creation of this wonderful documentary.  Thank you to a fabulous panel for providing a Canadian perspective.  And thank you to Dr. Sylvia Pantaleo and The Department of Education of the University of Victoria for bringing it to Canada.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Day

Gracie Mansion, Rev. Martin Luther King press ...Image via Wikipedia
Happy Martin Luther King Day.  We don't celebrate it here in Canada, but Betsy Bird has provided at great list of books if you want to find out more about this amazing American who influenced so many.
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