Thursday, 30 April 2015

Reluctant Reader No More - Thanks to J.K. Rowling & Chris Colfer!

Thanks to J.K. Rowling​'s Harry Potter Series, my 10 year old has turned the page in her reading confidence and ability. The magic found in Rowling's books has transformed how my daughter views herself as a reader. 

When her best buddy suggested she read The Wishing Spell, the first book in The Land of Stories Series, by Chris Colfer, she hesitated. It is a big 400 page book, with few pictures to break up the text, but she was on a reading high, thanks to Harry, Hermione, and Ron. As she gingerly opened the book, she immediately fell in love with Colfer's imaginary world.

Highly recommend this series!
Now, I often find her at 10:00pm, well after bedtime, secretly reading, because she is "at a good part" and has to see what happens next. To her, every scene in The Wishing Spell is  "a good part." 

The reader in me is thrilled to have a fellow book lover in the house, the mom in me is proud that my once struggling reader is now ranked above grade level, and the writer in me knows what a feat it is to write a book full of "good parts" and no slow, boring sections.

Thanks Chris Colfer for sharing your imagination with millions of kids. Please keep writing.  My daughter never wants this series to end.

Monday, 27 April 2015

The FAQ's on a Blog Book Tour!

We are just one stop into the Forever Julia Blog Book Tour and it has come to my attention that some folks have never heard of a blog tour.

Naturally I decided to plagiarise myself and steal from one of my old blog posts from my Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food Blog Tour.

I believe I am safe, as I promised not to sue myself.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions, which should provide a good review of how a BBT works.

Q. What exactly is a blog book tour?

A. It's an online book tour that stops at various blog sites, where the book in question is discussed. In this case, Forever Julia.

This can be done, by posting a book review or by conducting an interview with the writer - aka Yours Truly. Once the host blogger posts their review or Q & A, a lively discussion follows.

Q. Who can post comments or ask questions?

A. Well, anyone - which includes you! Maybe you are wondering how writers come up with ideas. Perhaps you relate to one of the characters and you want to share your experiences with others. Or you may possibly want to know what Julia's favourite colour is - who knows? But if you ask it, I'll try to answer it.

Q. Am I obligated to buy the book if I follow the blog tour?

A. Absolutely not! But, of course we hope you fall in love with Julia and want to read Forever Julia from cover to cover. Or give it as a gift. Or share it with your students. Really the possibilities are nearly endless!

Q. Why isn't there a "traditional" book tour?

A. Although jetting from city to city is a writer's dream, the world of publishing has changed immensely over the past 5 to 10 years. Extravagant book launch tours are a thing of the past and are now reserved for the biggest names in literature.

Q. Who hosts the blog stops?

A. Extremely awesome bloggers, with large followings have graciously agreed to host our tour.

Q. Are there any other benefits to taking a virtual tour?

A. Most definitely. Blog tours create permanent posts discussing Forever Julia. They'll be there...FOREVER. If you're 21 and posted pictures of your Spring Break trip to Daytona Beach, this may be a problem, but for authors this is MARVELLOUS! When readers are searching for information about a book, author, or topic, up will pop these blog posts.

Q. How do I know where the Forever Julia Tour will be stopping?

A. Here are the dates and blogs that I'll be visiting. (Click on the Blog Sites and you will be magically taken to their outstanding blogs.)

Blog Book Tour Schedule:

April 29
   Lisa T. Cresswell at

April 30
   Cubicle Blindness Book Reviews at

April 30
     Her Book Thoughts at

May 1
        Mythical Books at

May 1
        Ogitchida Kwe's Book Blog at

May 2
       Beneath the Jacket Reviews 

May 2      
     WS Momma Readers Nook 
May 4
       Lost In Ever After at     

May 5
       The Mama Games at

May 5
       The Book Bratz at

May 6
       Rockin' Book Reviews at

May 6
    Writer In Progress at

May 7
       Deal Sharing Aunt at

May 8
       Natural Bri - Pursuits of Life at

May 9
       A Book Addict's Bookshelves at         

May 10
    Savings in Seconds at

May 10
     Quirky Book Reviews at
Order at your local bookseller or
through Amazon!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Forever Julia Blog Book Tour Begins...

Climb aboard the Blog Book Tour for 
Forever Julia!

Hope to hear from you along the way. 
Feel free to comment, share, and tweet with us as we travel the internet, meeting new readers.

Blog Book Tour Schedule:

   April 27

April 29
   Lisa T. Cresswell at

April 30
   Cubicle Blindness Book Reviews at

April 30
     Her Book Thoughts at

May 1
        Mythical Books at

May 1
        Ogitchida Kwe's Book Blog at

May 2
       Beneath the Jacket Reviews 

May 2      
     WS Momma Readers Nook 

May 4
       Lost In Ever After at     

May 5
       The Mama Games at

May 5
       The Book Bratz at

May 6
       Rockin' Book Reviews at

May 6
    Writer In Progress at

May 7
       Deal Sharing Aunt at

May 8
       Natural Bri - Pursuits of Life at

May 9
       A Book Addict's Bookshelves at         

May 10
    Savings in Seconds at

May 10
     Quirky Book Reviews at
Order at your local bookseller or
through Amazon!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Forever Julia Launched!

Forever Julia Launched! 
What an event and what a night.
All those happy, smiling faces of family and friends staring back at me!

You have my thanks. 

Mom decorated our Prairie Ink table in colours to
 match the book cover.
Of course.

Chef Geoff and I, giddy as fools.

This is truly Cake Art.

The night started with dinner in Prairie Ink restaurant where I was surprised by this book cake. All due to my mom and Pastry Chef Geoff.

It looked too good to eat, but we still found a way to gobble it up!

Suzanne and Mel; two of The Anitas.

My dear work peeps. xo

This was my smile for 3 days prior and 3 days following
the launch. (My face still hurts.)

The original "Anita", mentor and friend.

Karen McKim of Macdonald Youth Services

Lady Gray. I adore you.
My Forever Julia Dramatuge.

Cross eyed excitement.

"I want this moment to last...forever!"

Standing room only!

Week two, going strong;
thanks to the support of Winnipeg Readers!

Forever Julia at #1 out of the gate!

Again, my thanks for your continued support. 
See you again for the launch of...

Ford and Ellie: Family of Spies

(I just have to finish writing it!)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Organization vs Chaos: Creative Minds Unite

It is good to be different. It makes us each unique and stand out from the crowd.

I knew that my brain was like a swirling mass of thoughts, ideas, and never complete to-do lists, but never have I had the chance to "see" how my brains sorts and categorizes things so visually.

Until yesterday.

For 4 solid hours my dear pal and incredibly talented children's book writer and artisan, Christina Janz and I crafted buttons onto my soon to be stale-dated book marks for my book launch this Thursday.

(Yes. I am Scottish to the core and the thought of wasting those book marks was driving me squirrely.)
What a genius idea!

And like all my great ideas, it came to me at 2 a.m. a few weeks ago.

Button those suckers up, just like the book cover, I thought. 

Genius! Unique! One of a kind! 

Then my old pallie Monsieur Procrastination moved into our spare bedroom and stayed until mid day Sunday, when I packed his briefcase and released him into the Park out front.

This is when the reality of my sewing ability came crashing head on into my grandiose Buttoned Book Mark plan

9 down, only 91 to go. Captain, we have a problem...
One hour in, and 9 book marks later, I knew I had a problem, so I did what all self respecting authors do, I posted my troubles on Facebook, looking for a laugh and hoping for insights on how to increase my production time. 

What I didn't expect was an offer of help!
Best Invention Ever.

And thank goodness for Christina and her natural artistic talent and her deft use of a needle! And to boot, she introduced me to this fantastic little gizmo that threads your needle for you! What a gift for a 45 year old who is one prescription away from purchasing progressive glasses!

Once we had completed our sweat shop fun crafting morning, I noticed something peculiar as I began counting bookmarks. I started with Christina's pile, and blazed through her beautifully fanned out collection. Then I looked at my share. It was a tad bit more difficult to count as it appeared my side of the table been hit by a wind storm. Needles, button bags, and bent paper clips littered my chaotic pile.

"Look!" I said. "This is the perfect visual of our minds. Your bookmarks are a picture of organization, mine are a frenetic chaotic minefield!" 

Or something to that effect.

Yet, both of us are creative souls with imaginations we feed with writing, reading, and long hours spent day-dreaming up new worlds filled with "what-if" scenarios.

Three cheers for differences! 
And organization! 
And of course to chaos, who runs my creative mind! 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

All Aboard the Blog Book Tour for Forever Julia!

Yup, it is that time again! Time to ride the information super highway to promote my latest book, Forever Julia.

Launching at 7:00pm this Thursday in The Atrium at 
I'll be appearing around the globe on various bloggers websites near and far from 
April 27th to May 10th!

What?! Never been on a BBT? 
I'll be posting my "itinerary" next week so you can take a peak and see what the hullabaloo is all about!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Blast Off to the Forever Julia Book Launch!

Thrilled to see this end cap!
Look out world! Forever Julia is launching next week at McNally Robinson Booksellers! 

There will be a wee introduction, a quick reading, chardonnay and Shiraz on hand, and even McNally's most famous Imperial cookies! Somehow they will work their magic and morph my book cover into a yummy treat.

Forever Julia hanging out with
Empty Cup and Enslavement!
Go Anitas, Go!

Now remember, peeps, Forever Julia is a far cry from Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food. Forever Julia is intended for audiences aged 13/14+, but your children are welcome to attend and hang with my girls, who will be model citizens enjoying every facet of the evening, sitting quietly, with ankles crossed, in the audience.

Or they will run like feral children through the store, acting like McNally's was built for their entertainment alone.  

My money is on the wild animal option.

I am donating $1 from every book sold at McNally's from April 16th to May 7th to Macdonald Youth Services. Macdonald Youth Services will be on hand at the launch to share information about the important work they do with at risk youth in Winnipeg. Please consider MYS, if you are looking for a new charity to support. The boys and girls they support are our neighbours and our community members, who desperately need love, kindness, guidance, and compassion. 

Hope to see you on Thursday, April 16th at 7:00pm 
in the Atrium of McNally Robinson Booksellers!
(1120 Grant Avenue)

Monday, 30 March 2015

Writing 35,000 Feet in the Air

Writing Supplies Ready
I'm getting ready to go on holiday and since I am an excellent over packer, I have no fears I will be in need of anything. What I did double and triple check, though were my writing supplies.

  • New writing notebook. Check. 
  • Chapter outline & last 20 pages of Ford & Ellie. Check, check. 
  • Five pens, a highlighter, and pink sharpie. Check, check, and double check.

I can hardly wait for the flight - 8 hours of uninterrupted writing time. Of course I have both kids outfitted with books, movies, and drawing supplies. Hopefully The Drew can keep himself occupied until we get to The Dominican Republic.

Hmm, maybe a quick stop at Shopper's for Wired Magazine would be a good idea.

Must guard this time wisely... 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

FriesenPress - Best Field Trip. Ever.

What a way to be welcomed! And what a way to make your guests feel important.

Last week, the girls, my step-mom and I hopped in Lexie and crawled along the ice-covered highway to FriesenPress in Altona, Manitoba to see Forever Julia fly off the presses!

Best Field Trip. Ever.

My 14 year old was the official photographer and she did an outstanding job. My job was to take copious notes about each station in the printing plant.
Outstanding Work, Daughter!


I did not do such an outstanding job. 

Apparently it is 100% impossible to keep focused on note taking when you see your book chapters zoom by on a bigger than your 10-year-old roll of paper. See Exhibit A.

Therefore, notes were not in aplenty. One could say there was no unnecessary use of paper. Yes, or one could admit there were, in fact, exactly zero notes taken.

Instead see Exhibit B for my visual summary of the printing process.

The machine below is the Commander 240 and it prints, folds, slices, and dices your manuscript into book form. It is like the Slap Chop for writers.

It may possibly be more than one machine, linked together by some magical force similar to electricity, but I cannot be sure of that because I lost track of those details when I saw my Chapter 31; "Signs and boobs, and thigh-high boots. Oh my." - rush past me on that massive conveyor belt. (Plus, I had long since forgotten to take notes. See Exhibit A for a refresher.)

All I know for sure is when you look at this photo montage, you should begin at number 1 and finish at 7. I think.

Exhibit B
Our tour guide and one of Friesens' account managers, Aaron, made the trip absolutely unforgettable when he gave us the metal book plate for the cover of Forever Julia over coffee and cookies. Yes, I said cookies. Can you imagine this happening with any other printer?

The whole experience made me as wide-as-the-prairies, Manitoba proud. Yes, I went there. I referenced the prairies.

My thanks to FriesenPress. You are a class, Manitoban, act!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Devious Mind in Need of a Poker Face

All I can say is, "WOW!"

This is the Forever Julia kit Great Plains Teen Fiction sends to book reviewers, journalists, book bloggers, and librarians. My pal, co-worker, and Pembina Trails School Division's Educational Media/Library Consultant, Heather Eby brought the kit to work today so I could hold the Advanced Reading Copy. (Heather has a very fancy title because she is a literary queen, reading more books a year than anyone I know. Yes, that's right; she's a librarian's librarian.)

Holding the printed copy of Forever Julia was such a thrilling moment, I overheated and nearly slipped into delirium, taking every ounce of my constraint not to slip this ARC into my purse and slink away. 
Yup, I contemplated stealing my own book. I am devious that way.
However, since I have zero poker face, I wouldn't have gotten far, plus I kept walking around the school like this:

Worst thief. Ever.

Next step:

Book Launch at 7:00 pm on April 16th at 
McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Hope to see you there!
Yes, there will be wine. And books. And excitement. 
And possibly balloon animals.

(Okay, no balloon animals, but for sure wine
& a bookstore full of excitement.)

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Forever Julia ARC has Arrived!

EEEEEK!!!! Chapter by Chapter has the very first Advance Readers Copy of Forever Julia right this very moment! I haven't even held one! Doesn't it look nice? And shiny...I guess that's how they do ARCs. I actually have no clue. lol I wonder what the ink smells like...

Monday, 2 February 2015

Why Write for Kids & Teens?

Writing for kids, ain't as simple as it sounds.Writt
As I get ready to launch my second book and first young adult novel, I am fielding a series of questions, that have been asked of me before. 

They go a little like this:

"Why do you stick with this kid stuff? You're pretty good, so why don't you step up your game and write for adults. You do realize there is a much bigger market for adult fiction? Are you too scared it will be too hard?"

Notice, how it is almost a stream of consciousness where the questioner can't imagine why I do what I do.

I find it strange and usually quite entertaining, how honest people feel they can be, when you are in the arts. 

Unless I am feeling a bit hormonal. Or over-tired. Or it's Wednesday.

Then I have an inner seething moment while I grit-smile and nod my head in rhythm to their great epiphany of how I should begin my writing career do-over. It is all I can do to restrain my fists of fury and punch them in the throat. 

Whoa, there! Before your shock-bulging eyes seriously gross me out, you have to admit there are some people you would like to punch in the throat. You probably don't have to think too hard to picture their face. Or their throat. If no one pops to mind, you are a saint, and all hale you. You are FANTASTIC. And you get a gold star for being the BEST. For the rest of us lowly scum, read on...

The thing is, I would NEVER come up to a teacher and say, "Hey, you know, you're pretty good at this math, maybe you should kick it up a notch, return to university and become an architect. Really go for the big leagues instead of sticking with this kid stuff."

And why? Because, teachers rock. Obviously. 

But also, and more importantly, what they do matters and it is much harder than it looks. 

I have examined them up close, and they are a talented, brave lot, who have alien-like amounts of patience. Just sayin' some kids are pretty darn rude. 

But not your kid. Your kid is perfection. A joy to teach. Never speaks out of turn or lips off. And has likely never burped the alphabet. Backwards. (At least not in your presence.) My offspring can do that while in a handstand, in both English and French. They are multi-talented, biligual rule breakers. 

So here's the deal with us writers of "kidlit"; whether that be picture books, early readers, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or graphic novels. We don't write for this audience because it is easy. We write because that is what we are meant to do. The readers matter to us. Their lives, their hopes, their fears, their dreams matter to us in a way that may not be found in writers of adult fiction. Of course, I don't know that for sure, because my muse lies with the under 18 crowd. 

And who knows, maybe one day, I will take the leap into adulthood and write for grown ups.

But I sure hope it's not for a long, long time.

Writers, looking to get inspired? Readers, want more deets on this "kidslit" deal?

Please read this excerpt from Kate Messner's poem. Follow this link to read it in its entirety:

What Happened to Your Book Today
by Kate Messner (Copyright 2011)
"Somewhere, a teenager who thought she was alone
Opened your pages and discovered she’s not.
And somewhere, somebody who thought about giving up
will keep on trying,
keep on hoping.
Because of that book you wrote."

Friday, 16 January 2015

Ready, Set, Print!

This is it.

This is how my book would look if it fell to the pavement, open and face up, from the Penthouse Suite of Trump Towers.

It takes a team of people to polish a manuscript so it is ready for a reading audience.
Here are my thank you's:

Relish Design you have blown my mind. Thank you for creating a book cover that I am honoured to say is mine.
Thank you Great Plains Teen Fiction, for keeping the door open for me by asking me to rework my original submission.
Thank you Catharina de Bakker, my editor, for providing wisdom and guidance as I revised further.
Thank you to my mentor and friend, Carolyn Gray, for your insight and for helping me uncover Julia's real story squirrelled away in the back story.
Thank you to my writing group, The Anitas. I am so proud of all our accomplishments and how we continue to support each other. 
You are my writing family.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Excavating Gems from the Great & Vast Internet - a.k.a. Research

Research. I adore it and I often get lost in it.

Sometimes I excavate gems from the great and vast Internet. Gems, I say. Pearls. Diamonds. Rubies. You get what I'm saying?

Today I was piecing together back story, character arcs, and answering annoying little issues like; how can that scene happen if  X, Y, and Zee are missing, and plot points A through W are built on shaky ground?

No, not shaky ground, but swamp land. Murky, stinking, and bug infested swamp land.

This afternoon, however, I cleaned up most of my alphabetized issues and found some pretty cool locales for an important and creepy scene.

Here is a section of what I wrote today. 
(Remember these are first draft words, and they aren't fully creepafied yet, so keep that in mind and try not to rewrite it as you go. This may prove impossible for my writing pals. I apologize.)

Chapter 12 or 13 or possibly 34
Next Day/Next week
They meet the psychic - Clarice

“Are you sure we’re at the right place?” Ford asked. 
He checked the GPS on his phone, then considered the crumbling building that towered in front of him. Chunks of the stone steps had fallen away and dark green vines climbed the outside walls and across the windows on the first three floors. The rain gutters hung low, like a line of loosely strewn ancient Christmas lights.
“Of course. I am never wrong,” Ellie replied, but her voice quivered when she spoke. Ford stared at her. “Well, rarely,” she admitted.
“I sure hope today isn't one of your rarely wrong days. This place is creepy.”
Ellie took a deep breath and exhaled it fast, squaring her shoulders.
“It is just an old building. There is nothing to be afraid of. Paris is old. It is full of old buildings. This is just another old building, that you find. In Paris.”
Ellie’s nattering did nothing to ease Ford’s mounting sense of unease. She only rambled when she was nervous, which was atypical for his normally confident, fearless cousin.
“Nothing to fear, but fear itself, right?” Ford said, wiping his now sweating hands on his t-shirt.
“Exactly,” Ellie agreed and pushed on the black iron wrought gate. It screeched open, scraping a layer of moss off the cobble stone walkway. She dusted her fingers on her jeans and marched toward the front door. Ford followed, looking back at the ridge of earth that mounded at the bottom of the gate. When was the last time someone had used that gate?
“Hopefully Clarice isn't as scary as this building.”

End Scene.
(Remember this is a first draft. If you did rewrite it, send it to me.
I have a deadline after all.)

Here is the photo I later found on Pinterest. This building is so very similar to the one I pictured in my mind. An old apartment covered in vines, with a gate, just like this one, but older and creakier. This building's front steps are nicely maintained and the windows are newish, yet the resemblance is unreal.

(Of course this is New York not Paris and it is new world not old world old, but still.)

I LOVE when this happens. 
Kinda' creepy. Sorta' karma. Just plain cool.