Category Archives: Writing

Do you like what they see? A writing prompt …

You’ve just met someone new. Or maybe it’s an alien from some far off galaxy. They have arrived unannounced at your home. For some strange reason you cannot speak. I don’t know why. It’s not important.

This person can only get to know you by watching you and seeing how you live. You can’t tell them about yourself, so they will surmise who you are by seeing what you do, where you go. They will learn your habits. They will see your home and belongings. Do you fold the corner of the page of your book or use a bookmark? Are the surfaces in your home clean and clutter free or do they tell the story of your day, your week. Maybe your month? What do you have hanging on your walls? How full is the laundry hamper? What is in your fridge?

Where will this person think you put most of your attention?

What will they determine are your priorities?

Really think on this.

Now, here’s the real question:
Do you like what they see?

Rewriting last year’s goal

“There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree on what they are.”

— Somerset Maugham


One of my 2019 New Year’s goals  was to complete the novel I’d been writing for the past few years. It was a challenging project, my first full length story for an adult audience. (My novels have been Y/A prior to this one.) Continue reading

7 Startling Book Publishing Facts

Well, yes, it’s true, I have already been published  (11 Y/A novels and an illustrated children’s book)  but now I’ve  written a book for a new market – adult fiction – so  I have to find a new publisher. It’s like starting from scratch. To begin this journey I’ve been reading through an informative book called The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent (by Laura Cross) and  discovered the following interesting facts.  (The book has an American focus but still!) Continue reading

Sold out!

Thank you to all my friends and family who supported us at our recent book launch! All 100 books were sold with 20 more names on a wait list for more books to arrive. 50% of the royalties are going to the Grizzly Bear Foundation to protect bears so this is a big win for all!

Book signing on Grouse Mt., home of Coola and Grinder

A Fifteen Year Gestation Period (but worth the wait!)

Rainbow Reunion celebrates cultural diversity – within one family!

I wrote the story fifteen years ago. The basic idea was told to me by a very dear aunt who has grandchildren from  various cultural backgrounds. She was reflecting on how lovely it was that  each family had a different name for her, for ‘Grandmother’.

I took her story and combined it with a quote from a Unitarian minister: “The rainbow symbol celebrates the many distinctive colours of humanity, and the beauty of bridging cultural and faith barriers.”

(The rainbow has symbolized many things over time, the most recent being LGBT Pride. It is always a beautiful symbol no matter what it stands for.)

I threw in a child-like lifeguard (Levi), six culturally mixed families looking for their grandmother at the beach and, finally, the reunion with the creation of the rainbow crescent by the families  (each family is wearing  t-shirts depicting one colour of the rainbow). The family even adopts a new member, Levi, who is wearing violet – the final colour of the rainbow – to make it complete. The book ends with a glossary of grandmother names in other languages and the family tree of the characters in the story.

I sent this manuscript off to a contest that was looking for stories for children that celebrated cultural diversity within Canada.  To my utter amazement (I don’t usually write picture book stories) I won the contest and received a nice cash prize.

From there I began the oh-so-slow process of submitting my story to publishing houses. After a bunch of rejections I decided to take matters into my own hands. I contacted an artist acquaintance whose work I loved and asked if she’d be interested in illustrating my story. She agreed. This wonderful artist is Julie Fox.

Julie took my story to a whole new level with her illustrations. They far exceeded my expectations. Rainbow Reunion is now one of those picture books that is multi-layered. Each time a parent and child read it they will discover more of the rich details that represent the culture of the families depicted. These details are shown through sand-castles, beach toys and many beautiful details in the sand and sky. The colours are vibrant and warm at the same time.

This has been a labour of love, especially for Julie who, after completing the art began to  grapple with the layout, the format and so many other book-producing decisions.

Fifteen years. You can practically raise a child in that time, and I’m relieved that human pregnancies don’t last that long.  But as the award committee said, books like these “help young children everywhere” so I’m glad I persevered.

The book should be out in December. Please contact me for a signed copy.


A Love Letter to My Writing Critique Group

My dear, dear writing critique group,

How long have we been meeting like this? Twenty years? More? It’s time to reflect on our relationship.

It wasn’t love at first sight for us. Oh no.  We were wary of each other and had to build a certain level of trust. Sharing writing is like baring your soul, and you can’t do that when you don’t t know whether the other might reach in and rip out your heart. Your guts. Or worse! Your oh-so-perfectly crafted story.

But slowly the trust developed, we were gentle with each other, yet honest. We became each other’s sounding boards, first readers, and finally – (drum roll here) – the great aunties of each other’s new books. We’ve become dependent on the fresh perspective a second and third set of eyes can reveal.

We’ve helped each other fine-tune our stories by asking the questions that have shed light on plot holes and missing character motivation. We’ve spotted cliches and repeated words. I would never show my work to a publisher before first hearing back from you.

My dear writing critique group, you have been there for me when I needed propping up, when I needed a push to keep going and, most importantly, when I needed constructive feedback. You were there to celebrate book contracts and new releases. You understand this longing to write, to create fiction that we hope has meaning and will find an audience.

Our critique group has grown from being one of merely professional relationships to one of  close friendships. We share the highs and lows of our lives with each other, and watch how personal growth influences our work. We understand that our books are not memoirs but are shaped by the challenges and joys in our lives. Our writing critique group gives us the sense that what we do matters, that we are not alone.

Thank you, my beloved critique group, for being there with me through the twenty years of my writing career. I know I would never have been offered publishing contracts without you helping me mold my stories into something readable. Baring my soul, and my writing, has become so much easier.

With gratitude and love,


Sneak Preview

This is the front cover of our soon-to-be published book. (Heritage House, Spring 2019) It’s the story of grizzly bears Coola and Grinder who live at the Refuge for Endangered Wildlife on Grouse Mountain. It explains how they came to be there and what we have learned from studying their behaviour. Linda Sharp’s illustrations, including this one, are breathtaking! I can’t wait to share this with all those locals and tourists who love these bears.


Lost Boy Metaphors

My very dear friend Sue Gordon always gives me a symbolic gift to celebrate the launch of each of my books. Here is the one she made for Lost Boy. It is metaphorical on 3 levels.

  1. The boy has no ‘face’ as he is lost.
  2. He hits ‘rock bottom’ in the story. (He is made of rocks)
  3. He’s in the shape of an inuksuk, which are featured in the story.

Isn’t she clever?

Here is the shelf in my office with many of the other ‘new book gifts’ she’s given to me.

She is the creative one! And I am blessed with her friendship.