Category Archives: Writing

Reading at WORD VANCOUVER

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.

What the??? Is that man with the hat in the front row SLEEPING during my reading?? ūüôā

 

 

 

Coming soon…

New book!  New genre!

 

Young Grinder

Young Coola

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?

Coola and Grinder coming out of hibernation together.

 

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

Judging a Book By Its Cover

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)Lost Boy

Does cover art influence your reading choices?

 

Fan Mail

Sometimes a book comes along and you simply need to reach out to the author and tell them what their story meant to you. I did that today.Gracefully Grayson

I’ve been doing a lot of research on transgender issues for a writing project I’m working on. I’ve read dozens of books Рmemoirs, novels, picture books, non-fiction. All of them have helped me better understand the transgender experience.

And then I read a review of Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. I was surprised to find a novel for young people on this subject that I hadn’t yet stumbled across. It wasn’t in my library (they need to get a copy!) so I had to request an interlink loan. (The book was shipped to my library from another city.)

I gobbled up the story in one sitting. As I told the author in an email, the best word to describe this story is ‚Äėtender‚Äô. And brave, just like the protagonist, who, baby step after baby step blossoms into the person she was meant to be.

In a way, this is the book I was hoping to write, but I couldn’t find my way, so I changed directions. I’m so glad Polonsky pulled it off, and so beautifully.

A Writerly Crisis of Faith

Apathy_Bear_by_MrsGeeI’m writing a new novel. This one is for an adult audience, not my usual genre which is young adult. This is new territory for me. I spent months doing the research, and now I’m well into the story.¬† I’ll probably spend another year completing it before I’ll shop it around to publishers.¬†If it’s any good and with¬†a little¬†luck it will get published¬†and then¬†I’ll start another one. Such is the life of a novelist.

But there’s always that chance that I won’t find a publisher for this one.¬†It’s an extremely¬†competitive field. I might have missed the boat with the topic which¬†may¬†be pass√© by the time the story is complete. Am I wasting a couple years of my life working on something that will simply grow mouldy in a file cabinet drawer in my basement? Every day I wonder if my time would be better spent working in a soup kitchen, bringing meals to the elderly, volunteering in a hospital – all things that would help make my community a better place.

This is the dilemma faced by most writers. Hugely successful¬†ones sign contracts before a project is written, but for most of us, writing is an act of faith. We enjoy the process, but we also hope that¬†our words¬†¬†will¬† find an audience to entertain, inform, or simply be thought-provoking. But there are days, like this one, when the words aren’t flowing and the passage of time¬†stares me in the face¬†and I wonder … is this the best use of the time?

Lost Boy

news-flash-2I’ve signed a book contract for book #11! The ¬†working title is Lost Boy and I believe it is due out in 2018. Thank you Orca Book Publishers!

Lost Boy is a follow-up to my earlier book, Sister Wife, which dealt with a young girl living in a polygamist community. She was forced to marry a much older man who already had multiple wives.Sisterwife wp

Lost Boy tells the story of¬†a boy who also grew up in that community and was forced to leave after it was revealed that he was having a secret and forbidden relationship with a girl¬† (the main character in Sister Wife.)¬†¬†Boys like him are pressured to leave these communitites¬†to reduce competition with the elder men for wives. They¬†are dubbed the¬†‘Lost Boys’. Raised to distrust the outside world, when they finally run away or get pushed out they must learn to live in an unfamiliar society. They have little education and few skills. They believe they are beyond spiritual redemption.lost-boy

Unfortunately,¬†communities like my fictional one¬†are still flourishing throughout North America. Here in BC stories of the polygamists in Bountiful are in the news today. In writing this book I set out to explore what life would be like for one ‘lost boy’.

Love.com

loveThis is the title of an unpublished book I’ve written. It’s a short, tongue-in-cheek story of the perils of on-line dating. (I write from experience.) This is also my first stab at writing fiction for an adult audience.

I actually had fun writing Love.com.¬†It wasn’t work at all, the story¬†practically wrote itself and I smiled through the whole process. Perhaps I felt it was my chance to gently poke fun at some of the experiences I had when I briefly ventured down that perilous road.

I haven’t begun the submission process with this one yet, (I’m unfamiliar with the publishers of this genre) but I have shared it with a number of friends. Here is the latest review I received from a writer friend whose feedback I always trust.

“I loved, loved, loved this book. It is fast-paced and funny, with great characters, and a compelling story. I was charmed by it! I think you must send it out into the world …you might check some publishers of romance novels. There is such an authenticity to this manuscript. I thought it was sensational!” (Deborah Hodge)

Maybe there is an audience for this little story after all. Fingers crossed….

Photo credit: freepik.com

Book Gestation

dancing in the rain launchAn elephant carries her unborn baby for 2 years.

A donkey can carry their unborn young for 14 months.

Humans grow babies in nine months.

My latest story took 5 years from first tentative words on paper to actual book, so to  have it in my hands now… well, it is beyond satisfying. (And there are no late night feeds or dirty diapers to deal with either.)

I wasn’t writing for those full 5 years. In fact, I signed a contract for its publication 2 years ago, but it had to wait in line behind other books that came before it, and then it went through the editing and publishing process. There were many moments of numbing uncertainty, confidence failure and near bailing, but I believed in my characters, they are real people to me, and the relief that their story has been told is sweet beyond belief.

Huge gratitude to all those readers who wrote to me after reading Dancing Naked, asking to know what became of Kia, Brenna and Justin. We may never meet, but you planted the seed, and it grew into an entirely new story. Thank you, and please continue to give your favourite authors feedback. You have no idea how much it helps.