Tag Archives: Backyard Circus

EMWF — Yes, Yes, Yes!

EMWF — Yes, Yes, Yes!

I could barely contain my excitement about participating in the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival 2012. Some may vouch, in fact, that I did not contain my excitement, but rather it bubbled forth at every opportunity for self-expression. The festival goers were numerous and engaged. The weather was perfect. We, the authors, enjoyed delicious meals in beautiful settings in the scenic hamlet of Eden Mills. There was a wonderful literary vibe in the early autumn air.

Highlights included meeting and chatting with authors Helaine Becker, Lizann Flatt, Susan Hughes, Deb Loughead, and Donna Morrissey. I also was pleased as punch to shake hands with Alistair MacLeod and to extend gratitude to Leon Rooke, the festival’s founder and former resident of Eden Mills. It was lovely to reconnect with fellow Second Story author and illustrator Janet Wilson, illustrator Linda Hendry, and to meet Susan Glickman who is also a Second Story author (the Lunch Bunch series). And, of course, I loved seeing all the familiar faces in the village and getting caught up with friends.

I left with a huge grin on my face and lots of inspiration to write, write…


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Eden Mills Writers’ Festival — Whoo hoo!

Eden Mills Writers’ Festival — Whoo hoo!

Photo: “Flowers and Feet,” Eden Mills, Ontario

I’m excited (and slightly terrified) to share some great news! I’ve been invited to speak at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival on September 16th, 2012. The festival runs from noon until 6:00 p.m. If you live in southwestern Ontario, you might want to add this date to your calendar. Treat yourself to a relaxing and inspiring day in a bucolic village.

It is a huge honour to be asked to present at this festival. I’ll be presenting Backyard Circus, which means the clown garb, circus accoutrements, and a mega-dose of FUN. Other children’s authors will include Helaine Becker, Ben Caesar, Lizann Flatt, Susan Glickman, Susan Hughes, Monica Kulling, and Ted Staunton. Young adult authors include Karen Bass, Pat Bourke, Evan Munday, Allan Stratton, Mariko Tamaki, Teresa Toten, Janet Wilson, and Julie Wilson. I’m super excited about finally meeting some children’s book authors with whom I’ve corresponded but not met: Monica Kulling, Susan Hughes, Helaine Becker, and Lizann Flatt. And I’m excited about meeting many others, too.

Of course, there are awe-inspiring adult writers who will be there as well. Alistair MacLeod, Ami McKay, Donna Morrissey, and Michael Ondaatje are some of my faves. Festival founder, “unruly storyteller,” and author Leon Rooke will be there.

When I think of the cumulative stack of awards represented by this year’s festival participants, I feel dizzy! There are GG winners, Booker prize winners, a Charles Taylor Prize recipient, Top 100 National Post books, a Norma Fleck Award winner, and more. Are you feeling dizzy now, too?

I used to live in this village, so it holds MANY memories for me.

Click here to find the festival website. Click here to read biographies of the children’s authors. For young adult authors click here. And, OK, OK: for adult authors click right here!

If you’re like me, after perusing the website, you’ll want to rush out to your nearest bookstore and library to stock up and GET READING!!!


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8 Steps to Creating a Kids’ Nonfiction Book

8 Steps to Creating a Kids’ Nonfiction Book

I love it when I have two whole weeks to focus on writing, which has been the case since my last post—yay! I’m collaborating with another Kingston, Ontario writer, and we’ve been working (slowly) on a children’s book project for nearly a year, on and off. Together, we are infusing new life into an old manuscript, making it accessible, engaging, and lively for today’s awesome kids. OK, yeah, I know you want to know what the book is, but I can’t say just yet. Mum’s the word! (The above, slightly skewed, pic of my Backyard Circus proposal is an example of a winning proposal, but this isn’t what I’m currently sweating over.) Suffice it to say, having a block of two weeks to focus on this project has been downright glorious.

The early stages of writing a book and securing a contract are super-duper time-consuming. Until the idea really takes hold of me, I can be lured away by other work and responsibilities (uh oh)—and fun stuff like emailing friends and walking my dog. But I’ve come to learn that when I unexpectedly land some treasured downtime from my editorial work, I need to be disciplined and continue working full days. This is a challenge because, at this stage, there are no real deadlines. It’s smart to make up your own deadlines, however, to keep the project on track.

Writing time is precious. It has to be reasonably quiet (i.e., no jackhammers) and can’t have any distractions from family members  (“Mom, can I have a playdate tomorrow?”). In fact, it usually means acting like a hermit, forgetting to have lunch until it’s late, covering my desk in loose papers and stacked of books, and obsessing over digging up the smallest details. But in a collaboration with another writer, I actually get to leave the house. Whoo-hoo! It’s pretty cool to discuss concerns and brainstorm brilliant solutions with someone who shares the same passion for the book and topic. And, I often get to have cookies and tea!

In short, these are the first eight steps that I follow in creating a nonfiction book.

1. Think of a great idea.

2. Create an outline and a table of contents.

3. Make “thumbnail” sketches showing what content will appear on each page.

4. Research.

5. Conduct market research to determine whether or not there is a need for this book. (Will it sell? If not, go back to step 1.)

6. Write some sample pages.

7. Polish the sample pages.

8. Examine publishers’ lists and think about which publishing house might want to publish it.

 Now, clearly, this leaves out a lot of nitty-gritty details–sorry about that! If you want more information about particular steps, I’d love to hear from you. Perhaps I could write about various stages another time (note to self). Once these eight steps are complete, it’s time to put together an eye-catching, interesting, and market-savvy proposal to send out to publishers. You can read more on that in my next blog.

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