On November 9, Kingston, Ontario authors gathered together for an afternoon event at Chapters. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, but — my goodness — it was a busy day for me. Bobbing between an outlying swimming pool and Kingston’s Chapters — whilst a large family get-together occurred in my home — proved to be exhausting. But hey, when book promotion and exposure beckons, who would dare refuse?
A sizable table boasted stacks of familiar titles by Young Kingston authors Y.S. Lee, Mary Alice Downie, Ann-Maureen Owens, and me. We were joined, too, by acclaimed novelist Leanne Lieberman. Young Kingston member Christine Fader snapped these lovely photos and welcomed shoppers to investigate our books and ask questions. We greeted some friends, met avid readers, signed books, and handed out bookmarks. All in all, it was a fun afternoon. And later, when I got home, there was a delicious meal and decadent desserts awaiting me. Ahh!
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I’ve had a very thrilling last few weeks. My application to tour during Canadian Children’s Book Week in May 2014 was accepted! This is truly a high point of my entire career. It is a great honour to be included and I am so excited about travelling out of province to give talks to kids at schools and libraries. You can view the complete list of touring authors here. And, last Friday, I found out where I’ll be going for Book Week — Alberta! I haven’t been to Alberta for over 20 years. I hope I’ll have a great view of the Rocky Mountains. If I’m anywhere near Calgary, it would be great if I could connect with Nicole Robertson, one of the featured entrepreneurs in my book.
I recently attended the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Awards Celebration in Toronto. It was my first time at that event, but I don’t think it will be my last. Wow. It was so much fun to meet so many super stars in the Canadian publishing scene. Speaking of which, all you aspiring authors and illustrators should check out The Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Resources for Authors and Illustrators.
I just finished reading Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway. I’ve finished a draft of my one-act play and am attempting to rewrite it as a novel. This is proving to be very challenging, but I think it’s a good exercise.
I’ll post more news about TD Canadian Children’s Book Week as I learn more.
Bye for now!Read More »
As promised, here are photos from last week’s launch. Thank you to all the friends who came out to show their support and to celebrate the release of Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs. It was wonderful to see so many people from all different places. Rest assured that my hand is not too badly cramped and I’ll be more than happy to sign more books should anyone want to stop by Novel Idea for a copy! For those of you who live farther afield, you can pop into your local bookstore and order my book. Aimed for readers ages 9 to 13, this new title is meant to inspire kids — especially girls — to follow their passions and aim high.
Did You Know?
You can help create a buzz about this book by placing it on your “To Read” shelf on Goodreads — a social media website for avid readers. (FYI, my Goodreads Author page can be found by clicking here.) What’s more, by rating a book or reviewing it on Goodreads, Amazon, or Chapters, you can inform others about the merits of a particular title. So next time you find yourself in front of a computer with time to tinker,
click away and make an author’s day.
Thank you, and all the best.
September 18th is here at last. It’s launch day. The day that Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs squeezes proudly onto a shelf at a bookstore near you. And the day that I have a cheery celebration with family, friends, neighbours, and members of the community at Novel Idea Bookstore in Kingston. Yes, it’s sure to be an all-round happy day, filled with celebration.
For the first time ever, I have bookmarks to promote the book. Thank you to Emma at Second Story Press for this special bonus item. I also have activities planned for children, including some business-y dress up clothes, a quiz, and a word search. I can’t wait to see how kids like the quiz “Budding Entrepreneur or Space Alien?” I have it posted on Goodreads as well. Click on this link.
I have an interview on Open Book to share with you today as well. You can click here to see the full interview. All this news and excitement has me grinning from ear to ear.
And now, it’s time to decide what to wear to the launch on this gorgeous, sunny fall day.
I’ll post some pics of the launch in the next week or so. I can’t wait to hear some feedback about the book.
Happy reading and bye for now!
I’ve been busy planning for my upcoming book launch. Save the date: Wednesday, September 18 from 7:00 to 8:30 at Novel Idea Bookstore in Kingston. I’ll have some activities for kids of all ages and you can enjoy some light refreshments. Book launches are a great way to celebrate all the hard work that goes into creating a book. In some ways, it feels like a way to mark the occasion where said writer emerges from the solitary writing cocoon and joins the ranks of bubbly socialite once again — that is, if the writer in question can remember how to, er, uh, socialize — yeah, that’s it.
If you’d like a peek at the post for the event, click on the link below:
Hope to see you there!
Teachers and Librarians: Are you interested in having an author visit your school this year? Are you in Ontario? If so, take five minutes to fill out the application on The Writers’ Union of Canada website, which describes the Ontario Writers-in-the-Schools Program and contains a link to a one-page application form. The funding is available on a first-come first-served basis, so now is a great time to apply for an author to visit this fall. I’d be delighted to visit your school! Contact me for more information.
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Spring and fall are the choice times to schedule school book talks. The weather is more predictable for longer commutes, which means fewer snow days and cancellations. By this time of the school year — June — students are longing for summer. Classes take on a more celebratory tone with outdoor poetry lessons, strolls around the neighbourhood, and large-scale art projects, such as painting murals for graduation ceremonies. Fall marks the start of the school year and is a-buzz with enthusiasm, planning, and bountiful ideas for an exciting year ahead. Whatever the season, you can bet an author in your region will be happy to accept a booking to speak to students about the writing process, the challenges and successes of the writing life, and how they got into this rewarding but tumultuous biz in the first place. Subsidies are available under various schemes, as are customized talks tailored to your needs, so don’t hesitate to inquire.
I had the great pleasure of presenting book talks to two eastern Ontario schools last week. Focusing on my book Dazzling Women Designers I showed kids how strong role models can help shake up stereotypes and open up a wide range of career choices for everyone, regardless of whether they are female or male. We have so much to learn from successful, kind-hearted, hard-working people who give back to their communities in admirable ways.
Some highlights of the talk included playing the “pink hat game” with the kids — a game that gave students a chance to examine designed objects and consider their qualities. We talked about what makes a winning design and the importance of function in design. Objects can’t just look good; they have to work well, too, to get the thumbs up. We focused on three designers: Jane Jacobs, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, and Ritu Kumar. Environment-friendly design characterized the first two, while the third is instrumental in helping rural communities achieve sustainability by restoring their livelihoods. (Oh, and yes, there are links to the Science & Technology curriculum.) Students in grades 3 to 8, or 4 to 7, were keen to participate, handle real designed objects, answer questions, and offer their own ideas. By the end of the presentation, students had a deeper understanding of how design impacts our world. The talks wrapped up with questions posed by the students and teachers, mainly dealing with the publishing process.
I’d like to extend my gratitude to the principals and teachers for inviting me to speak to their students. It was a wonderful opportunity. Children — with their positive attitude, joy, and exuberance — are a great inspiration to us adults in so many beautiful ways. I take my (pink) hat off to children, and say: Kids rule!!!!
Keep reading, keep writing, and keep celebrating the rich community of readers and writers all around.
Until next time,
PS: As noted in my last blog post, Second Story Press has set the pub date for Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs ($10.95) at September 16th. I expect to have a cover image to share with you soon. Also, the amazing Nicole Robertson, media specialist, will be issuing a press release detailing her involvement in this project as one of the ten entrepreneurs featured. The “2013 Kids’ Preview” article by Dory Cerny, Laura Godfrey, and Stuart Woods in the June issue of Quill & Quire includes a mention of Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs in the Non-Fiction section, which was lovely to see. You can see it on the Quill blog by clicking here. (Note: Yikes! There is a cover image shown there, but it is not final!)
PPSS: Young Kingston’s June 15th event in Picton, Ontario at Books & Company has been cancelled; other plans are in the works.Read More »
Hello, friends. I have a date! The publishing date for Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs is September 16, 2013. After that date, you can find, or ask for, this title at your favourite local bookshop. It is possible to pre-order the book now. It is still early days in the production process, so I don’t yet have a cover to share. Keep checking in, though, because I expect to have a cover design in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, I’ll be planning some publicity events. Young Kingston has a upcoming event in Picton, Ontario at Books & Company. This gorgeous and spacious bookstore, in the heart of Prince Edward County, is a favourite spot for locals, book lovers, and tourists. There, on June 15 at 2:00, I’ll be talking about Dazzling Women Designers, also in The Women’s Hall of Fame Series. Young Kingston members will be there from 1:00 until 3:30 p.m. talking about one or two of their books. The full line-up includes Mary Alice Downie, Ann-Maureen Owens, Y.S. Lee, and Christine Fader. The diversity of our group means we can target children and youths from ages 5 to 15+.
If you are a teacher and your school is within driving distance, please contact me about book talks. I have space available this spring for book talks and also in the fall. Please enquire if you would like a customized book talk, or if you have any questions about presentations. Some information is available here on my website, and also on my webpage of The Writers’ Union of Canada at this link.
F.Y.I.: My website was acting up this month and was becoming rather sluggish. This seems to be due to the large number of images. I may have to scale back on the number of images I use in future blogs, which is unfortunate. I will keep experimenting, however, and will try to find a way to retain the photo format. As a quick fix, I’ve de-activated the blog scroller at the bottom of the home page. If you experience any problems viewing my website, please let me know. I am hopeful now that this problem is behind me!
Until next time!Read More »
I’m not a playwright.
I finished writing a play this week. A play? Yeah, I know. I’m not a playwright, or didn’t used to be.
I’m not sure if completing a draft of a play makes me a playwright or not. Of course, it took me years to accept that I was a real author, too. It’s that old insecurity complex that plagues authors, young and old, experienced and inexperienced alike.
I took a playwriting/screenwriting course last spring. On my first day, I told the group:
Writing fiction terrifies me.
I’ve always loved reading it, admiring it, and promoting it, but do I view myself as a fiction writer? No. But in this hands-on workshop we had to write a play. Well, at least the beginnings of a play. After meeting once a week, for six weeks, we either read a portion of our play aloud or, better, had friends come and act out a ten-minute segment. I opted for the latter. I invited some actor friends and their son to come and act out a couple scenes. The play I was working on was suitable for families. It featured three siblings, a mother, a father, and an uncle. It was amazing to see the story come to life on stage. I know that sounds clichéed, but it really was a worthwhile part of the process. It helped me see and hear which parts worked and which parts didn’t. After I knew which lines to rewrite, shorten, or expand upon. It made me think more about the logistics. Does it makes sense to have a set change after just one scene? Which props will have to be mimed? The stones. And which ones can be real? The doll.
Then, a year later, I had some time. I opened up the file and read it over. I looked at my notes, scribbled down some more and did some more research. Then, I pushed myself to devise a plot — something very new to me. The hardest part — which I see more clearly now — was getting started and making a commitment to focus on it and try to finish it. Once I’d done that, however, the process wasn’t as terribly scary as I thought it would be. It was a challenge to work out the plot, but I decided I should get more lines down on paper, and see where that took the story. And so, I wrote another page or so. Then I looked at what I’d written and asked, “Now how can I get from A to B?” It was never obvious. Sometimes I took a break and mulled over the conundrum while doing other things. Then, I wrote some more. I knew it still wasn’t quite right; I had more loose ends to tie up. I continued writing and thinking, and writing some more. In the end, I finished it. Setting a personal goal and exercising determination helped me create characters, build a setting, and unravel the plot. Much of the process was a lot of fun. I felt productive while writing and pleased with the way it was developing. I proved to myself that I could do it. And I discovered that I enjoy writing dialogue; I like making up scenes.
It was fun.
This week is Canadian Children’s Book Week. Last year, during this special week, I had a lot going on in the community. You can read about it in a previous blog posting here. It’s lovely to have a week that honours the wonderful home-grown talent we have. I hope you’ll read some wonderful Canadian children’s books, stop by your library and see the book displays. Check out the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s website: here.
Writing is hard. Writing a book, poem, graphic novel, or play, which is accepted, published, reviewed, shared, and read, is deeply rewarding. I think what this quiet, writing-focused week has shown me as a children’s author is that it is important to continue to challenge oneself artistically in order to develop as a writer. Who knows where this path will lead?
The notion of continually challenging oneself reminds me of The Little Engine That Could: “I think I can, I think I can. I think I can.”
If you are passionate about being a writer and are willing to work hard, you can succeed.
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Work-life balance. Have you got it? Do you want it? Adrienne Montgomerie, an accomplished editor and member of Dameditors, posted a comment about what she calls “work-work-life balance.” She made a point of stating that this was not a typo. I felt compelled to weigh in. After all, three of the ten women profiled in Phenomenal Female Entrepreneurs refute the work-life balance paradigm. During my phone interview with the dynamic and highly successful Sue Chen, CEO of Nova Medical Products in California, Sue admitted that at one point she searched online at Amazon.com for books about work-life balance. Sue was amazed at the results that she said numbered in the high thousands. (I tried and came up with 13,755 books.) Sue explained this hefty number saying, “No one’s figured out you just can’t do it!” So, is work-life balance an unachievable — indeed impossible — ideal? In Sue’s case, her response is, “just throw that out the window! Don’t try to achieve this work-life balance.” Instead, Sue Chen happily immerses herself in a chaotic stream of day-to-day duties. Life is always busy, her office is often messy, but tasks get completed and business is thriving. Somehow, amidst the chaos that she willingly embraces, Sue always looks glamorous and pulled together. She even squeezes in regular pedicures and lunch dates with friends. In fact, when I spoke with her she was looking forward to lunch with O.P.I.’s Suzi Weiss-Fischmann. Hmmm, a lunch date with a friend? Regular pedicures? I think I detect some luscious “life” creeping into her work-centred existence. That’s a good thing, of course.
Award-winning businessperson Kelsey Ramsden (CEO of Belvedere Place Development and founder of SparkPlay) acknowledges and appreciates the personal sacrifices working parents often make. About the notion that some successful women — namely entrepreneurial mothers — have it all, Kelsey says “that doesn’t exist! It’s a pipe dream.” Like Sue Chen, Kelsey says she’s “satisfied and happy with both parts of her life, but they’re never balanced. In any given moment, one requires more attention than the other.” OK, that makes sense to me.
In a video for the Makers series (produced by PBS and AOL), Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook is famously quoted saying: “So there’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s work, and there’s life, and there’s no balance.” I love that. Sheryl has a knack for delivering wonderfully pithy, high-impact comments. It’s no wonder her words resonate with many women. Indeed, we all look to leaders, high-profile executives, and daring entrepreneurs — our role models — for guidance on how to make it all work. We want to have our cake and eat it too, but something’s gotta give.
I don’t work 60-hour weeks, but, even so, I find life gets awfully busy. I thrive off the state of being busy, however, and try to carve out personal and family time. When the going gets tough, I listen to music and take lots of hot baths. My house gets messy, papers pile up, and laundry begs to be sorted; but three times a week — rain or shine, tired or energetic, in the face of a looming deadline or not — I walk to the pool for a swim workout. I swear that the lure of the water, and this well-established routine, helps keep me sane and makes me more productive. Sometimes I focus on my stroke; other times, however, I let my mind wander and “write” in my head. How could I better express that paragraph I was wrestling with today? What am I really trying to say? How can I best connect with my readers on this issue? It’s so satisfying to have those “aha” moments in the pool, while out walking, or during life-enforced “breaks.” I understand the value of breaks. They refresh and invigorate. They restore.
It often feels like every day is a push-pull between work and life. Most days, it feels like work is winning and Adrienne Montgomerie’s “work-work-life balance” rings true. If you are passionate about your work then this isn’t so terrible. Exercise some patience. Then, on another day, in another moment, a lovely shift takes place. “Life” is the focus in all its splendour, its ups and downs, its strong emotions, its heightened “moments of being.” At that point, work slides silently into the background and life pushes to the fore. Life-LIFE balance takes over. “Live in the moment.” “Seize the day.” (Carpe diem.) We all need to eke out some peace in our busy lives. Out of those peaceful moments come great ideas.
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