“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” (Jeff Bezos) Continue reading
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
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!
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.
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,
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.
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.
- The boy has no ‘face’ as he is lost.
- He hits ‘rock bottom’ in the story. (He is made of rocks)
- 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.
It may have been a soggy Vancouver afternoon, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of my friends and family who turned out to help me launch Lost Boy.
Thank you to those who could make it and to Word Vancouver for inviting me to speak at this wonderful festival that celebrates reading and writing.
New book! New genre!
It’s always so exciting to sign a book contract. This one is something entirely different for me – a non-fiction, illustated children’s book celebrating the lives of the two bears, Coola and Grinder, who live at the Wildlife Refuge on Grouse Mountain. It describes how they came to live on the mountain as small cubs, why they can never be released and what we have learned about grizzly bears from studying their behaviour. I wrote it with Rae Schidlo and it will be illustrated by Linda Sharp. It is coming out in the spring of 2019, right about the time the two bears come out of hibernation. How is that for good timing?
Rae and I wrote this book because we both volunteered at the Wildlife Refuge and developed a passion for these bears. They are magnificent creatures, their story is fascinating, and we felt it should be shared. Proceeds from book sales will be turned over to the Grouse Mountain Wildlife Refuge.
I can’t wait to see the finished book!
Thank you Heritage House for agreeing to publish this story.
Photo credit of adult bears: Devin Manky
Isn’t this book cover stunning? I like to think that I’m not one to ‘choose a book by its cover’, but that’s exactly why I chose this one, that and the fact that it’s Y/A and written by a Canadian author.
I also think the title is wonderfully enticing.
A lot of readers believe that the author has some say in the cover art. In my experience, it’s the publisher who makes all those decisions. An author gives their story a title, but again, the publisher may choose a different one. The author’s job is to write the story, but marketing it may not be their strength. It takes a different set of skills to design a book cover that has visual appeal.
For me, bookstores and libraries are like art galleries. So much thought has been put into the cover art and design of each book. The art needs to hint at the flavour of the story as well as be eye-catching. I could spend hours browsing the shelves, admiring the covers and guessing at the inside stories. In the end, I usually choose a book that has been recommended to me or is by an author I’ve enjoyed in the past, but it doesn’t keep me from savouring all the other covers.
Styles of cover art go in and out of vogue. Publishers have to keep current fashion trends in mind when designing a cover. Many books use photo-art, as in Exit, Pursued By A Bear, (Dutton Books, 2016) but others have been created by graphic artists or illustrators, like my soon-to-be published book, Lost Boy. (Marie Bergeron, artist) (Orca, Fall, 2018)
Does cover art influence your reading choices?