Writing for Children & Youth
Fall 2012 Writing for children & youth issue
Feature Interview with Lee Edward Fodi by kc dyer
What’s he done to Kendra?—“Kids may hate me. It’s irrevocable. But it’s done…”
Writing for teens and adults
Writing Zombiepocalypse “Zombies have been done to death, and raising the genre back to life isn’t as easy as one might think…”
Journey to Japan: writing about another country (and the pitfalls of over-thinking)
As someone outside of Japanese culture, she wasn't sure what kind of story would be appropriate for her to tell
All about possibility—Christianne’s Lyceum Does a family that reads together stay together ? Christianne thinks so, and here’s why
30 years of selling books to kids
Vancouver Kidsbooks’ founder Phyllis Simon invites authors to bring in their books: and how talking to a bookseller can help get word out about a new book
The new nonfiction
The success of such high-concept, graphically engaging nonfiction titles means that as writers, we have to imagine our work differently and prepare different sorts of pitches
How’s a writer to understand the differences between writing for teens vs. adults in this changing marketplace?
Tanya Lloyd Kyi
The loneliest profession
Why the most pivotal people in a writer’s life are the other members of the writing world
BC’s teacher-librarians – they’re rooting for BC authors
From BC BookWorld
Reviews KIDLIT - young adult fiction
Graphic novels, blind orphans, science-fiction, disease, urban exploration, homelessness, & cults
And they can tell you who some favourite BC writers of Y/A novels are (according to the kids who read them)
NEWS FROM THE FED 3
Save the date - Self Publishing Fair
A partnership between the Federation of BC Writers and the Vancouver Public Library
REGULAR FEATURES 38
Who’s been doing what where when
kc dyer Guest editor’s intro – the writing for children and youth Issue
Let us help you explore the world of writing for kids and young adults
Managing editor’s note - helping you blow your own horn
BC writers – such a creative multi-talented lot
By writers for writers: Recommended resources – writing for children and youth
President’s message - sweeping changes and renewal in a new era What’s new, what you can do
"The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday – but never jam today." --The White Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, 1871
To advertise in Wordworks please email: email@example.com 2
Was it the back of the wardrobe that drew you? A tesseract? The roar of a dragon? The hunt for buried treasure? Think about it…what pulled you in? For children, the world of story is the first foray into the pleasures of the imagination. For some children it is a route of pure joy – for others a chance at hope and escape. Whatever first brought you into the world of stories as a child is the same process at work that today draws children – whether through fiction or nonfiction – into worlds beyond their own experience. But the world of writing for young people has become, in many ways, more complex than ever. Gradations between age levels and genre become finer [Would that be a middle grade story or a chapter book…? Is it urban fantasy or speculative fiction…?]. In addition, the cultural zeitgeist has begun to blur the idea of a great story with popular culture [sparkly vampires, anyone?]. The publishing world is spiralling through some of the biggest changes since Gutenberg decided he might like to print up books more than one at a time. Traditional vs. self-publishing, audio books and social media, e-books and online piracy. And what about the draw of television and video games and computers on children’s time? Do kids even need to read any more? Do they even want to? Yes, the world is a little more complicated these days. But you know what? Kids are still reading. So are adults. A good story is a good story, whether it’s printed on a page or transmitted digitally. With a little luck and a bit of hard work, a good story will find its audience, even in today’s complex and fast-paced world. If you are interested in writing for children and young people, this issue of Wordworks is a great place to begin. In our feature interview, Lee Edward Fodi discusses the interesting and wind-y route he’s taken to becoming a multi-award-winning author/illustrator of the Kendra Kandlestar “The publishing world is Chronicles. The importance of brainstorming, the notebook as inspiration and the role spiralling through some of kids play in Fodi’s inspirational universe all open a window into this fascinating writer’s the biggest changes since career. Gutenberg decided he
Confused about the similarities and differences in writing for teens and adults? Author Eileen Cook addresses the complexities of the hot genre of young adult (Y/A) fiction and talks about where the lines are drawn – and who should draw them.
might like to print up books more than one at a time.”
In this issue, we also take a look at one of the most successful independent bookstores in the country – Vancouver Kidsbooks – and catch a few hints from founder Phyllis Simon on what makes a children’s book sell. Love of books and reading drives another beloved fixture on the British Columbian literary scene in Christianne’s Lyceum, a place where reading and families and authors and books come together in a glorious literary jumble. Long-time fixture Laura Farina contributes a piece on the marvellous mash-up of writers, readers, children, and parents at the Lyceum. Ever thought about writing stories from outside your own cultural experience? When does imagination drift into appropriation? Author Jacqueline Pearce addresses the complexities of writing outside one’s own culture – and comfort zone. And renowned local author James McCann takes a look at how writing for teens increased his comfort with….zombies. I’ve written more than a handful of books for kids and teens myself, and it’s been a real pleasure to watch this collection of disparate and interesting topics come together. These pieces are all connected by a joyful truth – British Columbia is a hotbed of a writing community for kids and teenagers! Whether you are looking to find out more about teeny tiny Eens or the specifics of what those less tiny teens are reading these days, you’ll find it inside this issue of Wordworks. Welcome to the world of writing for kids and young adults – we’re happy to show you around! kc dyer
You can find kc online at www.kcdyer.com, where you can email her, listen to her read you a Bedtime Story, or find out more about having her come visit you. She can also be found sweetly tweeting at @kcdyer. Her latest novel is Facing Fire, published by Doubleday Canada. About it, online reviewer BOOK AUNT wrote: “I'm rather fond of this author's previous book about skateboarder and time traveler Darby Christopher, especially because of its glimpse into the lives of the ancient First Peoples who crossed the Bering Strait to North America…. Facing Fire made me want to get my hands on more books written locally about the histories of different countries around the world.”
guest editor’s intro
WORDWORKS – WRITING FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
managing editor’s note
Helping you blow your own horn Margo Lamont
We’re delighted to present the second digital edition of Wordworks, which you already know is an allvolunteer-produced publication at present. Wordworks is all about helping our BC writers blow their own horns. We have a province full of wonderful writers and those horns need to blow loud and long. Guest editor kc dyer is our guest editor for this issue on writing for teens and young adults. kc is a consummate professional, as you discover five minutes into the process of working with her. Writing for children of any age requires specialized skills and talents, and an expertise: it is not just adult stuff miniaturized for kids. As you will see when you read this issue. Believing in you One of the hardest parts about becoming “a writer” and actually believing that you are a writer, is believing in yourself. That’s why I think our “I BELIEVE IN YOU” gift certificates are such a wonderful concept. IBIUs were envisioned & invented by our art director, Susan L. Greig.
I can’t tell you the number of writers who have shared, with tears, their experiences of being criticized and red-pencilled as a child and ending up not being able to write sometimes for years as a result. Now instead, imagine the teen who is beginning writing who receives an “I Believe in You” certificate from a relative. Or a spouse who gets one from a spouse, a friend from a friend. What an affirmation! Feel free to leave the ad lying around where your friends or family might see it and get the hint. They can order it from the website. This certificate includes a discounted one-year membership in the Federation. Launched Speaking of blowing horns, the “Launched” section, which used to be in the print edition, is now on the website. Yes, we have had some website functionality issues and again ask for your patience and understanding as we go through e-growing-pains. The ‘e’ may be ephemeral, but I assure you the pain for volunteers working many hours after a full workday, is very real. I hope you’ll enjoy this issue. We enjoy having the opportunity to showcase and blow the horns of our writers in BC. Such a creative, multi-talented lot. —Margo Lamont
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WRITING FOR TEENS AND ADULTS
How’s a writer to understand the differences between writing for teens vs. adults in this changing marketplace?
By Eileen Cook
was a time when the shelves in bookstores and libraries were clearly divided. Like lines on a map with clear border guards, you knew exactly where you stood – but not any more. The divisions between adult and teen books are breaking down. Books such as The Hunger Games, Twilight, and the Harry Potter series have huge cross-over appeal. Traditional adult authors such as John Grisham, Harlan Coben, and Jodi Picoult are also writing Y/A. So how is a writer supposed to understand the differences between writing for a Y/A audience versus adults in this changing marketplace? Let’s start with the ways writing for the two different groups are similar. • It’s about the story: At the core it’s about writing a story that you feel compelled to tell and that readers want to read. Readers, no matter their age, expect a good book. They’re looking for compelling characters in interesting situations who grow and learn over the course of the book. • Subject matter varies: There are no off-limit topics when writing Y/A. There are books that discuss everything from drugs/alcohol, sex, eating disorders, war, to abuse. The topic of the book does not make it either teen or adult. • Books are not about teaching a lesson: You may write because you want to share a view or philosophy, but neither teens nor adults are interested in reading a lecture. Tell a good story and trust that if there is a message in there that readers will find it. Give your reader credit. 7
Genres vary: When writing for teens or adults you can write romance, paranormal, thrillers, horror, historical, or literary fiction. Feel free to explore any and all genres. The type of story you tell doesn’t depend on the target audience.
Even with all they have in common, there are differences when writing for the two groups: •
Pacing: Teen books tend to have shorter word counts as compared to adult titles. This isn’t a hard and fast rule; just check the page count on the final Harry Potter book. What does matter is pacing. Teens are impatient readers. They typically will not wade through pages of description. They want the story to move forward. The focus is the teen experience from the teen perspective: A book about a 17- year-old that solves a murder is Y/A. A book about a 60-year-old person recalling how they solved a murder when they were a teen is an adult book. Authentic teen voice: Your teen main character needs to sound and feel like a real teen. What is an authentic teen voice? Much like pornography, it’s hard to define: but readers know it when they hear/see it. If you are unsure if you’ve gotten the voice correct, ask for feedback from teen readers. They have a highly tuned ear for what works. Emotional intensity: The first time you fall in love, no one else has loved as deeply. The first time you’re betrayed, no one has known such pain. As a teen, issues can take on life or death stakes. Adults, with the benefit of having been in love and betrayed more often, tend to be more measured. (At last, benefits of having all that baggage!) Y/A novels have an emotional intensity and sense of high stakes, especially for the main character. Focus on transformation: Some will argue that every Y/A book is a coming of age story. The main character enters the story as a child and through the course of events in the book, transforms until they begin the cross-over into being an adult.
I’m occasionally asked how I choose whether to write Y/A or adult on a given project. I am thrilled that others think I am giving my writing this type of careful consideration and planning. I don’t set out intending to write for either target audience. I have an idea for a book and when that idea becomes all-consuming, I know it is the book I need to write next. I play with different points of view, story structure and character voice. When the manuscript is finished, then I can more clearly tell which way it will likely be marketed. I would encourage other writers to worry less about the placement of the book and more about the writing. Write the story that you are inspired to tell in the way that feels most natural to those characters. The good news for writers is that readers are readers, no matter their age. With boundaries breaking down between what people read and write, that means there is more flexibility in how we tell our stories. We’re not constrained by any artificial borders and can explore where the story leads. Happy writing!
Eileen Cook, a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight different languages, spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else – which is great training for a writer. Her latest release, Unraveling Isobel came out in January 2012. You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at www.eileencook.com. Eileen lives with her husband and two dogs in Vancouver and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.
by James McCann
hen I first started writing the Zombiepocalypse, I put out a call on Facebook: Anyone have a bomb shelter that I could spend a weekend in? Oddly, I received no responses.
Step Two: Experience what my characters experience. Here’s where book research gets harder. I knew I wanted my character to know Escrima, a Filipino martial art involving sticks. What I didn’t know is that for the year I studied this martial art, and incidentally convinced my Tae Kwon Do club to join me, I would discover just how terrible at something I could be. Book research shouldn’t involve bruised knuckles or hurt egos. But perhaps that was also valuable to my research…
This began my journey into a world of the living dead. As with all my writing projects, I wanted to experience life (as much as possible) just as my characters would. I’ll admit this came easier when I wrote about the seedy underworld of mixed martial arts in Flying Feet, or even when learning to write werewolves for Rancour or Pyre. (No, I did not enter an MMA bout nor did I turn myself into a werewolf when writing my last three books.) For the Zombiepocalypse, I accomplished my writing tasks in three steps.
The first school where I decided to try Escrima, I had called ahead to ask about a friend and I taking a class. It was by drop-in, so no need to sign up. We were given an address to go to, which was off an alleyway. Several people waited outside as the large, metal garage door was raised. It was in a dingy basement, with mats placed over the floor. Caked mud was mixed with dried blood – and we opted to keep our shoes on. The class, as it turned out, was advanced and we spent the next hour getting our hats handed to us (to put it nicely). Afterwards, I inquired why we were told to come to this class when I specifically said we were newbies. I was told the instructor likes to throw newbies into the advanced class to see how much instinct they have. My friend and I = zero instinct. However, in our defense, the bloody floor was a huge distraction. Step two, check.
Step One: Learn to survive off the grid. This was easier than you might think, thanks to my prairie upbringing and a wilderness-obsessed uncle. As a teen I had an uncle who didn’t believe in television (gasp!) and revelled in taking me on week-long canoe trips where we would survive on dehydrated foods and filtered lake water. I still remember portaging several miles through rough terrain – including balancing over a ravine on a fallen tree – only to discover there actually was an easier way into the lake. My uncle took the ‘more interesting’ routes to build my character – little did I know he was adding to my repertoire of building believable fictional characters. He taught me to fish, to hunt, and to take things in stride. I won’t even go into what I had to do after bathroom breaks. Step one, check.
Step Three: Create the disease. Let’s be honest. Zombies have been done to death, and raising the genre back to life isn’t as easy as one might think. They die, they rise, and they eat. Sometimes they don’t die, and it’s just a 9
and the Rainbow and Dawn of the Dead. But then I had to find something interesting to say. My characters needed to speak to the reader; so when the zombies arrived the reader wasn’t rooting for them. This part of course I cannot share, as my zombie novel has not yet been sold. Feel free to copy my research for survival, or even for experience, because neither of those things is what makes a story unique. What will make my story different from the zombie story you write is how we handle the zombies. The stories may be equally great, but they must be very different.
a disease. Sometimes, they are fast. Other times, they are slow. Not a lot of variation.
“Let’s be honest. Zombies have been done to death, and raising the genre back to life isn’t as easy as one might think…”
What I can share with you, however, is that this once again came down to experience. How did I feel as a teen sitting in front of the tent, building a fire, after filleting the fish we’d caught? How did I feel as an adult getting my fingers rapped by the bamboo sticks in Escrima, as my body was slammed on a gritty, bloodstained mat? In these experiences, I found the true story, and the essence of what makes a great zombiepocalypse. Good storytelling comes from great life-experience.
I knew this would be the truly tricky part of writing about zombies. How do you create a creature that is ages old without boring your reader? First, I had to know everything there was to know. Among the many titles I read, I included Max Brooks and Robert Kirkland, and re-watched films such as The Serpent
James McCann is a graduate of the school of life and believes that a good education comes foremost from experience. He has taken this philosophy into the classroom to teach creative writing techniques to countless students in schools, as well as to teachers to help them improve their classrooms. He is currently seeking agency representation for his newest novel, Zombiepocalypse. Learn more about James here.
30 years of selling books to kids: Vancouver Kidsbooks’ Phyllis Simon invites authors to bring in their books
By kc dyer
In the 1990s, Phyllis took on Kelly McKinnon as a partner. Kelly had begun her time at Kidsbooks as an employee, and her first major job when she stepped into the role of partner was to computerize the store for the first time.
hyllis Simon, founder and co-proprietor of Vancouver Kidsbooks, sat down for an interview recently, to talk about books and writing in BC from her perspective of 30 years in the industry. The focus of this conversation was a little different for Phyllis from the usual slant these interviews take, since she wasn’t being asked to recommend books or opinions, but rather to look at the industry from the point of view of a bookseller – of long experience!—talking to an audience of writers.
Over the years, Simon and McKinnon faced pressure to open branches in other areas of the Lower Mainland, and were eventually won over by the charm of Edgemont Village in Kelly’s native North Vancouver, a branch managed these days by Susan McGuigan. More recently, Kidsbooks has begun to serve the massively growing Fraser Valley communities in their new South Surrey location, managed by Maggie Blondeau.
Vancouver Kidsbooks has been open since November 1, 1983. Prior to embarking on her bookstore adventure, Phyllis had been a children’s librarian in the Burnaby and Vancouver systems. She’d graduated from library school in 1973, and had been working part-time. Looking for a new challenge, she didn’t want to stop working with children or books, and didn’t really want to work too hard, so she decided to open up a bookstore.
Things have changed a bit in the British Columbia book-selling community over the past 30 years. “There used to be a strong independent bookselling community with companies like Duthie Books,” Simon remembers. “There was no internet or computerization.”
At the time, the provincial economy was in freefall, in the middle of the largest recession since the Dirty Thirties. Phyllis had no business background. “Ignorance was bliss,” she laughs today, on the other side of 30 years of hard work and a steep learning curve. “If I knew now what I was getting into, I might never have done it.”
Success with Vancouver Kidsbooks came first from the ability to survive the initial tough few years and then from establishing themselves in the community. “You never stop working at that – no matter how many people have heard of you, there are just as many who haven’t,” says Simon. “We connect with librarians and teachers in all our communities. They are very important groups for us.”
Phyllis Simon’s kids grew up with their mother running a bookstore, and were often pressed into service to help themselves. Her kids are now in their 30s, and Phyllis says her son’s old high school friends often stop by, bringing their own young families into the store.
When she speaks of the national retailing chains, an edge comes into Phyllis Simon’s voice. “The biggest change came with the merger of Smith’s and Coles, and was enabled by the government, knowing full well what had happened in the United States,” she says. “Borders and Barnes & Noble knocked out so many of the independents across the border. It was quite clear to anyone who was looking at the U.S. that a similar sort of movement could happen in Canada,
Phyllis Simon with Kelly McKinnon
Simon credits her staff with a big part of the success of her company. She is quick to acknowledge that shopping for children’s books is a completely different animal than shopping for friends, and consumers often feel lost in the process.
Canada and the U.S.,” says Simon. “It seemed like if you looked strong, you were strong, and people perceived you to be strong. Two books on a shelf just made business look bad. A lot of books in the store meant business was rocking, and encouraged more. We took the chance to bring in large amounts of stock, and it seemed to work. We’ve learned one of the flaws of bookselling is that being a labour of love is not enough: business decisions have to control the bottom line. We’ve needed to find a balance between integrity and profit, which is not a dirty word, by the way. It brings life to the community to have a strong retailer.” Presentation has always been important in this store, with displays done by professional designers and windows designed by talented graphic artists. VK has found its way outside of the box, too. They hold large events outside their store [the exciting launches for Harry Potter come to mind], but also run events for publishers of fiction for adults, too. They have established a relationship with the Vancouver Writers’ Festival and often appear as onsite bookseller for VWF events throughout the seasons.
“A lot of people come in here and they don’t know what they should know – what they should choose. They don’t know where to start. With kids, you have no idea what reading or maturation level they are at; you don’t know what they’d choose to read or what they’ve read already. So many imponderables! To be honest, you need good help.”
“A lot of people come in here and they don’t know where to start. With kids, you have no idea what they’d choose to read …”
And good help she has. The staff of Vancouver Kidsbooks are a wonder – and all of them are voracious readers. “It is incumbent upon a bookseller to be a big reader,” says Simon. “And for most of our team, they say ‘bring it on.’”
Simon doesn’t believe the clientele in the store has changed all that much over the years. “We do get a certain number of heavily-pierced young people who will still come in and croon happily over their favourite Dr. Seuss book,” she smiles.
She makes this as easy as possible for her staff: books are always available to take home and read, and the staff share what they learn with each other, and with the customers. “We are good hand sellers,” Simon says. “We have our niche. We all love children’s and Y/A books, and when people come in, they often don’t know what to choose. We can help them with that by being knowledgeable.”
Simon sees carrying on, generation after generation, as very important. “What we found and still find there is a great deal of love for books and reading,” she says. “As a reader, you can pick up a book and remember those wonderful fond moments. It transports you back to childhood. There is a love for literature out there, we just need to tap into that and get the books into people’s hands. They come back and say ‘you made a difference.’”
Over the years, particularly when the economy started to fail, Simon and McKinnon tried to learn from others. “Kelly and I looked at strong bookstores across 12
show me, and then I show it to another staff member, then it’s in their lexicon as well. Otherwise they may not have noticed it – so many new books come in every day.”
The books, too, over the years have changed. When the store first opened, the selection of books for young adults was fairly limited: The Outsiders or Go Ask Alice.
Staff member Sarah Bagshaw echoes this sentiment. “It really makes a difference if an author brings their book in to show us. It helps us identify books so that when people come in, we can point them toward books by local authors.”
And nowadays? “There is such a flood of Y/A these days, it’s really hard to keep a handle on it,” says Simon. She acknowledges that the flood contains both its share of dreck along with some really excellent literature. “A lot of this stuff has its moment, but the good books are the ones that stay on,” she notes. Electronic books have yet to make much of an impact in the company. Simon notes there is little margin in the selling of the readers or the books themselves at the store.
Bagshaw is the staff member who pays the most attention to the stats. She makes up the Teen Bestseller List every week or so, based on the sales results from the past week. She acknowledges that the results aren’t necessarily set in stone, and the store display is often dictated by the availability of books.
“It really makes a difference an author brings in their book to show us”
“There’s no question they are definitely here to stay,” says Simon. “But I don’t see traditional paper books going anywhere. Our store is almost like the niche the farmers’ markets have. There is room in the marketplace for both.”
Simon notes that BC and Canadian authors do pretty well. A current bestseller for them is a book called Seraphina, written by author Rachel Hartman, who lives just down the street from the Kitsilano location. When asked, Sarah Bagshaw noted that Rachel Hartman had come into the store with the book in her hand and as a result, the book got read. “It goes into everyone’s awareness because of that,” notes Bagshaw. Any other advice for writers of children’s and teen books? “If you’re looking for ideas, first go to a bookstore or library and see what’s out there,” Simon notes. “Are there 75 other books published on the same idea? You won’t know what you’re up against until you find out what’s out there. And nobody can say where the future lies. Every 12 months there’s a whole revolution!” Good advice, writers, from a bookseller who knows.
And as a writer in this book-loaded environment, how does one get the word out about a new book? Go talk to a bookseller, of course! Simon welcomes writers into her stores. “If I can offer a bit of advice, it is to get to know the staff if you are a writer. There is so much material out there. We do this for each other all the time. If you bring your book to 13
teacherlibrarians: they’re rooting for you By Judith Comfort In case you didn’t know it, teacher-librarians in BC are rooting for you. We can hardly wait for your books to be published so we can hold them up in book talk to our students, and then rush them down the hall to the outstretched hands of our English teachers in time to get a class set for next semester. We love your books because our kids need stories written in familiar settings, about people they recognize (thank you Susan Juby!). We are especially grateful when your printed worlds reflect back to our kids who they are, from their own perspectives, their problems, and their solutions. Talk to the kids you want to write for and really listen to what they have to say. Have things really changed so much since you were school? Remember when friendship and trying to be popular was huge? So who is your audience? – young adults (12 and up) grappling for the first time with profound existential issues, as the generations unfold and their grandparents are taken from them; or a neighbour’s child goes to the hospital and senselessly, does not return. Skim a Lurlene McDaniel novel to get the idea. She has written over 40 novels about kids who face life-threatening illnesses. I cynically call them “death and dying” books but they are very popular and necessary. Please write books that deal with family and other social problems. Young adults are also dealing, perhaps for the first time, with the futility of life. J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye is still flying off the shelves – worth a re-read to try to figure out his magic. Try the biographical diary format as it makes reading less intimidating (also Go Ask Alice). Lots of narrative helps too. Dystopia for children – who would have guessed a decade ago that they would be bestsellers today? Floundering in a digitized, materialistic, media-spun world, it’s no wonder they lap up Hunger Games and the Gone series of Michael Grant. Why are books about angels and goddesses and the supernatural so popular? Because it’s an age to contemplate one’s spirituality. Whether raised in a deeply-rooted religious tradition or not, kids are finding answers in novels. Check out the books of P.C. Cast, and here’s another hint – plan for a series; kids love the security of knowing what they are reading next. Why the popularity of Twilight and vampires? Bram Stoker’s brilliant Victorian gothic novel Dracula, became the archetype of everything trite about vampires (bats, garlic, Transylvania, high-collared capes, the undead etc.). 14
But it also has deep psychological resonance that has been reborn too. Emotionally drained after a rushing crushing day, our kids find solace in a book about creatures that suck the life juices out of you. The point here is to look to the inner longings and needs of the teens you write for. Twilight also definitely speaks to the teen longing born out of unconsummated sex! And yes, teens need these books, not just to escape their own lives, (although there’s nothing wrong with that), but for the quiet downtime and the healing that comes from narrative. It re-connects the synapses trashed by interruption and distraction. Please write for them a truly authentic story from your heart. I wish Kit Pearson wrote more teen stuff. That said, some kids can handle gentle nuanced writing; others have no patience for anything not plot-driven and literal. So be true to your own art. Don’t adopt a lukewarm formula. And please do not write down to today’s kids. I can testify to my own experience that a didactic bossy tone does not work! Write with integrity about what you know and your audience will find you – with the help of their teachers and teacher-librarians. ______________ Judith Comfort is a Canadian School Library Association award-winning teacherlibrarian. She teaches at Dr. Charles Best Secondary School in Coquitlam, BC. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.bestlibrary.org/.
Some favourite BC writers of Y/A novels – selected by BC middle and secondary school teacher-librarians Alice Munro Anne Cameron Glen Huser Julie Lawson Kenneth Oppel Shelley Hrdlitschka Spider Robinson Steven Galloway Susan Juby Susin Nielsen William Gibson
Lee Edward Fรถdi
Feature interview with Lee Edward Födi kc dyer interviews Lee Födi
Author-illustrator Lee Edward Födi is an old friend and colleague of mine, and he graciously agreed to sit down with me for what turned out to be a pretty wide-ranging discussion about his experiences writing for kids. Lee is renowned for his Kendra Kandlestar books, a series aimed at middle-grade kids and set in the fanciful land of Een. He is also the co-founder of an organization known as Creative Writing for Children [CWC], which has – along with his writing career – allowed him to tell stories and teach kids all over the world. He has some very interesting advice to offer to anyone who thinks they might like to write for kids. kcd
Writer, illustrator, world-builder
Where did this all begin for you? What was the impetus for you to write children’s books? LEF: I guess the fact that I’m such a big kid has meant I’ve always been drawn to writing those sort of books. My very first book was called The Farm 7720. It’s terrible and funny, with the chapters on the cover and half of them scratched out, since I must have changed my mind. But since I was only six or seven, I was cool with it! I didn’t have a ton of books when I was a kid, but I loved to read and I loved reading kids’ books. Having a sister 12 years younger kind of kept it alive in my particular household. Anyway, by the time I made it to university, I thought about doing something else for a while, but in the end, writing books for children is my true love, so that’s what I still do. Did you have any special training as an artist, going into this profession as an illustrator? LEF: Well, I have a diploma in Fine Arts and a degree in English Lit, because they didn’t have a degree in children’s lit at the time. You are so old… LEF: Okay – maybe! They offered a course in Children’s Lit, but it was so popular I couldn’t get into it. And after I had my
LEF interview continued… degree, I realized I had no skills except writing and I needed to get a job, so I took a desktop publishing course. That’s where I learned to use the software. I mean, you either have a design sense or you don’t. You can have all the fancy tools in the world but if you don’t have a design sense … it’s like having Microsoft Word® on your computer is not going to make you a better writer, right? Right! Okay, so let’s talk about Kendra Kandlestar. She is the hero of a series of four books… LEF: I’m just working on the fifth right now. Five books, then. But you did illustrate a few books before Kendra came into your life, right? LEF: I had a very first book that is now out of print, which is good because it’s terrible, called Corrinda’s Crown. I just hadn’t found my style yet. And I’ve done a few other projects. So, has Kendra helped you find your style? LEF: Yeah, well, she’s the latest project. I was literally working on the last book just five minutes before we met here. And when I finish this book, it’ll be the end of the series, so I’ll be liberated a little bit for whatever I try to do next. While I’ve been working on this series, I have to be stylistically consistent. It’ll be interesting to see where my style goes when I move onto the next project. It’s so cool that you do something where your style can continue to evolve. But that was quite the bombshell you dropped right there – this is going to be the last Kendra book? You’re stopping at five? LEF: Yep. And it’s not an easy ending for her. My readers may kill me! No spoilers here! Let’s talk about world-building for a minute. You’ve created the world of Een, where Kendra and all the other denizens of her universe live. You’ve built the world, so there’s a lot of freedom there, but after five books, there have to be a lot of constraints, as well. LEF: Yeah – the most frustrating part about writing a series is when you come up with an idea that may contradict the rules you’ve already established in the world. It’s really challenging. But part of it is freeing, because I know all the rules, and all the cultural idiosyncrasies of all the characters, and I can add texture to the world all the time. The City on the Storm is something new for this book – can we talk about that?
“I don’t know how my readers will take it – what happens to Kendra. Kids may hate me. It’s irrevocable. But it’s done….”
LEF: Good example. This is a place that, while not technically in the land of Een, is in Kendra’s world. It’s been in the narrative since the third book, but we haven’t actually visited it until now. Her long-lost dad is involved and it gets pretty heavy.
So let’s talk about that. Dealing with heavy or difficult topics in a kid’s book: how do you handle that? Do you skirt them entirely, do you work them into your world? LEF: Define ‘difficult topic.’ Okay – well how about growing up without a father? LEF: You’ve just described the plotline to every children’s lit story ever! But in this case, things are going to be pretty hard on my main character. Things get tough for her. How do you feel about being tough on your characters? LEF: Kids ask me that all the time – they all want to kill a character off now and again. But I’m actually pretty reluctant to kill my
LEF interview continued… characters. Partly it’s just selfish – what if I really need them again? So you’re not too worried about breaking your readers’ hearts? LEF: Not too worried! But seriously, sometimes I think it’s just too easy a way out. It’s more challenging to not kill the character, and have to something else happen. In this case, I don’t know how my readers will take it – what happens to Kendra. Kids may hate me. It’s irrevocable. But it’s done – I’ve known this was going to happen for a long while. It has to happen. It was already set up in the fourth book, but I don’t think a lot of my readers have realized it yet. I don’t want to ask you to give to much away, but is it kind of on a parallel with the whole growing up thing? Once you’ve grown up, it’s unchangeable, in a way. LEF: Yeah, something like that. Looking back at your career in writing for kids, is there anything you would change if you had the chance? LEF: Just about everything! No, truthfully, when I started writing, the publisher decided my books were aimed at 9 to 12 year olds. But children’s lit has changed so much – the average 12-year-old is reading The Hunger Games. I kind of get my back up at people who consider The Hunger Games and books like that children’s lit. When I think of children’s lit, I think of The Wizard of Oz or the Narnia books or Peter Pan. Well, yeah, but isn’t the The Hunger Games considered more Y/A? LEF: But as soon as they start putting it into kids’ libraries – when I hear of grade 5 and 6 teachers reading it out loud
© LEF continued…
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LEF interview continued… to their classes…like, what’s your definition of a child, I guess is the question. With the Kendra books, I wanted to emulate the Oz books, which were highly illustrated – almost Art Deco. But those books don’t play to a modern audience anymore, it seems. So, I know 11-year-olds read my books, but it’s mostly dropped to a six- to ten-year-old range. Are more kids being introduced to your books by having them read out loud? LEF: Yes, that happens for sure. But it’s just symptomatic of how everything has been pushed down. Harry Potter started this, but not in a bad way. Kids want the adventure, but what seven-year-old can read an 800-page book? And by the end of the series it becomes a Y/A. It seems to me that Harry Potter is unique, in that the series morphs from children’s to Y/A as Harry grows up. This also contributes to the increase in difficult topics that we were talking about earlier. LEF: I think children’s literature is the perfect place to address difficult topics. But we also have to be mindful of how soon to offer this stuff. I’m not sure it all has to land in a book for a nine-year-old.
Take dystopian fiction. Teenagers love dystopian fiction – they want to break their world apart. But the younger kids – and I have arguments with my goddaughter about this all the time – they get sucked into reading these dystopian pieces when they are really young, because they want to read what’s popular. I mean The Hunger Games is everywhere – but I don’t think it’s the right book just yet for a nine or 10-year-old. I just find it really weird that it feels like we are compressing childhood down, and yet stretching out the teen years. I mean some people are teenagers until they are 30. So in spite of the fact you think your audience is a slightly different shape than it used to be, do you still enjoy writing for them? LEF: Of course – don’t you write your stories for yourself first of all?
LEF interview continued… Well, yeah. I always write the stories I want to read. LEF: Me, too. Let’s talk about your process a little bit. What comes first? Illustration or plot? LEF: Always the illustration comes first. I get a new sketch book for every book, and I just start drawing. It’s my brainstorming book. So what does that look like – what kind of shape does it take? LEF: Okay, let’s use the new book as an example. I had a couple of ideas, and when it’s in my head it seems good, but in writing, it’s messed up. Doesn’t work at all. So I start drawing. In this book, Kendra’s a bit older, so I tried drawing her with different hair. I write down plot ideas, draw other characters – just everything. I had a couple of pages – they just looked like a mess – but I listed all the ideas I had for Een heaven. Then I went and looked up all the heavenly mythology. And for my latest villain? I didn’t even know she was important until I started to draw her. She was just a minor character until I saw her on the page. The drawing informed the story? LEF: Totally. Do you put the whole book together before you start writing? I know you are a person who believes in outlines… LEF: Yeah, well, I totally preach the outline method to my students, but for this book I didn’t do an illustrated outline. It was pretty linear in terms of plot, so I didn’t need to. But usually I do. My last book had time travel and it nearly drove me crazy. I needed to have a whole bunch of charts just so I could understand it. But almost always, I have an illustrated outline hung up on my wall. The process of drawing is a jumping-off point for inspiration for you, then? LEF: Yeah. Like, in this book, I needed a little character, but I could not figure out who he was. He was a pretty minor character, but he needed to be rounded enough that he stands out a little. And as soon as I sat down and drew him, and there he was in my mind, I could go write him, then. Even if I didn’t illustrate my own book, I’d do the same thing. Any other things you do as a part of your routine? LEF: Well, there’s the step-back. It’s really important. When I was younger, I used to do things on instinct, but now I think I’ve become slightly more efficient. Now, if I get stuck, I step back from the project for a bit. Sometimes I just go for a walk. I need to get away from all the stuff in front of me. It takes five minutes. I used to sit in front of my computer in frustration for an hour. People don’t understand how important it is to just step back when you need to. Sometimes I have to stare up at the ceiling for a few minutes. I mean, it’s Vancouver, so it’s usually pouring, so staring at the ceiling helps when I can’t get out to walk. How much time do you spend actually writing and illustrating? How much of your day is writing? LEF: Well, you know this – we have so many other things we have to do. But I have basically trained myself to get up and write for two hours, before the rest of the world needs things from me. Write or draw, or both? LEF: Usually writing. I can draw any time – it’s easier to get into for me, I guess. But the writing, I need to clear the time. I challenged myself that I didn’t have to write at night, which is what I used to believe, and I started clearing the first two hours of my day. I wrote my whole fourth book between the hours of seven and nine a.m. Unfortunately, there are big chunks of time, like when I’m out on tour, that I can’t do that. But as a rule, that’s what I do.
LEF interview continued… How much time do you spend promoting? What does promotion look like for you? LEF: I start with a book launch on my own – I run my own launches away from bookstores. I don’t really go for the reading and wine-sipping crowd. I have launches with kids as the focus. I want games and a true kid-ish experience. I want kids running around like maniacs. At my last launch, everything was themed, and I love that. I usually do tons of bookstores, but this last book I didn’t do as many bookstore visits as usual, because I’ve been able to do so much online. I made a book trailer, and I spend – well, not a lot of time, but definitely just about every day – on Twitter and Facebook, getting the word out. But you do a lot of school tours, too. LEF: Yeah, I love school tours. It’s my favourite thing to do. Because when you think of it, selling a book is really hard. You’ve got to sell it to your publisher, and they sell it to the distributor, and they sell it to the bookstore and they sell it to the consumer. With the internet you can skip a lot of those steps and sell it to the consumer, but if you really want to think about the traditional model, you have to add the extra step – and add selling it to the kids, too. When I go to schools, I can just work straight with the kids, and a certain percentage of them will just get excited about the story. Do you do book talks more or workshops at schools? LEF: I rarely do readings, mostly because it is the least value I can add. Well, you bring more to the table because you are an illustrator. And your workshops are really fun. LEF: I just feel like people can read the book themselves – they don’t need me for that. My favourite part of school visits is telling stories – how I got an idea, or how I did research. In my last book there is a gladiator arena, so I tell them about how I went to a gladiator arena north of London in the UK and tried to feel scared, but there were bunnies hopping about and it ruined my inspiration. I think those are the funny stories that kids want to hear. You spend a lot of your time on the Creative Writing For Children program you co-founded. LEF: Yeah, I do. I started it as a result of an email from a guy named Joon Park nearly 10 years ago. We put about 100 or 150 kids through the program every year, and we’ve got a bunch of working authors who serve as writing mentors to the kids. What has this your involvement with this program brought to your life? LEF: I really believe that if you teach something, you are forced to become better at it. It makes me deconstruct my own process, and get a deeper understanding of what I do.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of the brainstorming journal. Write down your stuff. You need to dream, but you also need to write it down…. With a brainstorming book, you have permission to put down all your messy thoughts.”
It’s made me a better writer, and it’s made me better at recording my process, both in my organization and digitally. Plus, I’m more in the world of the kids, and that youthful energy becomes a part of my life. Do you get feedback from the kids about your work? LEF: Sure. I show a lot of my work-in-progress to the kids and get to see how they react to stories. Of course, they want to tell me how to write them or what should happen, but I tend to trust my own instinct for that – I can’t always give them the happy ending they want, but I can at least get a feeling for how they will react when a story goes in a certain direction.
LEF interview continued… I always tell my students that your job is to torture your character. Don’t make life easy for them. Don’t be nice to them. Torture is the way to go. Any final words of advice for people who want to become an author or an illustrator – or even both? LEF: Some of this is the same advice you hear from everyone, but you hear it because it’s true. Read a lot of what you want to write. Right now I’m reading a lot of Tony DiTerlizzi, who illustrated The Spiderwick Chronicles. He’s written a few other books, and I really love his stuff. Also, I can’t stress enough the importance of the brainstorming journal. Write down your stuff. You need to dream, but you also need to write it down. I use a crummy-looking journal, because I don’t want to spoil a nice one. But I have a friend who buys the nicest journal he can find, so he can enjoy writing about whatever in his brainstorming book. Personally, I like the plain ones. The problem with computers is that everything needs to look slick. With a brainstorming book, you have permission to put down all your messy thoughts. The computer is work. The sketchbook is permission to play. It’s not about being an artist, it’s about brainstorming. And don’t worry too much about the result. Write the story you want to write and be happy with that. Your audience will find you. Unfortunately, we live in a world where you can have a thousand fans and still be considered a failure. TV shows get cancelled because only seven million people watched them. But you need to stop and think – a thousand people read my book and they like it. So what you are saying then, is you have to take your joy from the fact that someone has read your work and enjoyed it? LEF: Yes. But you have to take joy in it, too. I write stuff because it amuses me. And then I just hope that it will amuse someone else. If you do your job right, someone else will be amused too. You need to write for the right reasons. If you want to write to be famous, maybe pick something else to do. Famous is not so easy, and not an automatic part of being a writer. Something I heard agent Donald Maass say at the Surrey [International Writers’] conference years ago has really stuck with me. He said the people he wanted to work with were not the ones he heard back from right away, but the ones who took their time and really worked on their writing before they submitted. Everyone wants to just get published, and right away. Slow down and be patient. Finally, something that was hard for me, is to find ‘trusted others’ to help. People to bounce ideas off, to read your stuff, to help you. Not only for the writing, but – you know, this career is tough. You need people to lean on when things don’t go well. And having friends who are writers is so great, as having friends who you don’t have to talk about your writing with. They just get it. There is no easy way to do it, but find that circle. You need them. You’ll be glad you did.
Links: www.leefodi.com www.kendrakandlestar.com http://www.cwc2004.org/ ©LEF
By Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Remember those musty old hardcovers on your school library shelves? Planets. Fossils. Butterflies. The pictures were grainy, the ink muted on the uncoated paper. Those books were good for school reports, sure. But who would read one for pleasure? Ten years ago, I sent my publisher a proposal for a book about famous fires. A few months laterâ€Ś voila! Ten famous fires from around the world, throughout history, with a few line drawings thrown in. Most publishers wouldnâ€™t even glance at such a proposal today. And even if they did, kids would give the book a pass. After all, anyone looking for ten famous fires can now Google the subject. Anyone looking for more in-depth information can check the
Wikipedia entries for the individual events.
in our everyday lives, and it’s not our jobs as writers to hide it. We don't have to be serious. We can point and laugh and say, “I know! It’s crazy!” On the other hand, we can also ask difficult questions. Facts are easy to find, but young readers can’t simply Google the details of ethical dilemmas. Is all research good? Are scientists always right? Back in the 1800s when Alfred Nobel blew up his factory, got himself kicked out of Stockholm, and gave his dad a stroke, was he right to continue experimenting with nitroglycerin? As writers, we can present the issues, then challenge readers to form their own opinions.
There’s no longer a need for a book of lists and facts, no matter how engagingly presented those facts may be. Forced to compete with the Internet, nonfiction for middle grade and young adult readers has evolved, and evolved fast. It’s even (to borrow a word from that old Today’s Butterflies book) metamor-phosed. information books have graphic appeal, high-interest text, and personality. Consider these examples from the last few years: •
Spy, Spy Again by Tina Holdcroft (Annick) seamlessly melds illustrations and text to tell tales of espionage gone wrong.
Totally Human by Cynthia Pratt Nicolson and illustrated by Dianne Eastman (Kids Can Press) features collages of photographs and illustrations and magazine-like layouts to make information pop.
For slightly younger readers – and adults! – Allen Say’s Drawing from Memory (Scholastic) is a memoir in graphic novel form.
The success of such high-concept, graphically engaging nonfiction titles means that as writers, we have to imagine our work differently and prepare different sorts of pitches and proposals. And finally… we can inspire. No one turns to a Wikipedia page to find a creative spark. But a book like Scribbling Women, by Marthe Jocelyn (Tundra), about women writing in all sorts of circumstances, about all sorts of subjects – well, that just might prompt a young reader somewhere to pick up her pen and change the world.
We have to consider the things that will draw young adult readers away from the search engine and toward the page. One of the best ways to achieve this is to imbue our work with a sense of fun, maybe even a dash of silly. There’s plenty of ridiculousness in history, and plenty
Tanya Lloyd Kyi has written more than a dozen books for young readers. Her most recent young adult novel is to be released by Simon & Schuster in fall 2013. Other publications include Seeing Red: The True Story of Blood and 50 Underwear Questions, both published by Annick Press. She has won the Canadian Science Writers’ Association Award for youth writing, the Information Book Award from the Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada, and the Christie Harris Children’s Illustrated Literature Award at the BC Book Prizes. Her witty blog is here. 26
Journey to Japan: By Jacqueline Pearce
writing about another country (and the pitfalls of over-thinking)
I prepared for my first visit to Japan six years ago, several Japan-related story possibilities began forming in my mind. But, as someone outside of Japanese culture, I wasn't sure what kind of story would be appropriate for me to tell. A Canadian friend of Japanese ancestry had told me about visiting Japan as a teenager and being treated with less patience than other foreigners because she looked Japanese â€“ people expected her to speak the language, which she didn't. Unfortunately, she understood enough to know when a shopkeeper called her a "stupid giant." I thought my friend's experience would make an interesting story for teens, but even with her permission, it didn't feel like my story to tell. On my first day in Japan, friends introduced me to the Old Tokaido Road, originally built to take people between the Emperor's city of Kyoto and the Shogun's seat in Edo, and I was given a personal behind-the-scenes tour of a 400-year-old familyowned wagashi shop, which had been a favourite of past emperors. A historical story immediately began taking shape in my mind, but I wasn't sure if I had the cultural authority to tell it. Japanese friends assured me that Japan has always borrowed from other cultures, and that no one would be offended if I chose to write a story about Japanese history or folklore (on the contrary, they said they would find it a compliment). Still, I didn't feel I had spent enough time in the country or was steeped enough in its history and traditions to write this kind of story (at least not yet). I opted to tell a variation of my own story, that of an outside visitor. In the resulting Y/A novel, Manga Touch, a teenage girl on an exchange trip to Japan, experiences some of the things I experienced and, in the process, learns something about the country and herself. Even sticking with what I knew, during the process of writing the story back in Vancouver, I constantly felt the need to check details with friends in Japan. I can imagine how slow and laborious the process would have been if I'd
Journey to Japan
the facts right and avoid cultural misinterpretations (have someone from that country & culture review the manuscript or sections of it). We need to be aware of issues around appropriateness and appropriation (for example, is it a story that needs permission to be told? Have writers from the culture had the opportunity to tell their own stories?). We
decided to write a story set 200 years in Japan's past.
Even though I took a ‘safe’ route, writing about a character from a cultural background similar to my own, but including other cultures among her peers on the exchange trip (I wanted the characters to reflect the multicultural makeup of a typical group of Canadian students, but not make their cultural differences an issue), I still received “Japanese friends criticism in one review, which said I should assured me that Japan have included more non-Caucasian cultures among the Canadian students. I has always borrowed would have liked to ask the reviewer why, from other cultures, and if their cultural backgrounds weren't that no one would be mentioned, she assumed they were all offended if I chose to Caucasian? And if I had made my main write a story about character from an ethnic background Japanese history…” other than my own, would I have received criticism for that? The lesson may be that we can never please everyone, nor should we try. We need to tell the stories that feel right for us – and that doesn't necessarily mean comfortable or easy. When writing about other countries and other cultures not our own, there is, of course, the need to get
Jacqueline Pearce has published nine books for kids and teens. Her most recent, Flood Warning (Orca 2012), is set closer to home and tells a fictional story about the Fraser River flood of 1948.
should also be sensitive to cultural inclusion (a story set in a modern urban Canadian classroom, for example, wouldn't ring true if it didn't include children from different cultural backgrounds), but literature would be boring if we all wrote autobiographies. Imagining what life is like for different people, in different situations and settings, is one of the magic experiences of writing and reading. Since my second trip to Japan, a character has been taking shape in my mind – a girl in a threadbare kimono, standing outside a shop on the dusty Tokaido Road. I don't know if I'm the best person to tell her story, but it looks like she's going to keep tugging on my sleeve until I do.
Jacqueline blogs at: www.wildink.wordpress.com
or check out her website at: www.jacquelinepearce.ca.
By Laura Farina
All about possibility: Christianne’s Lyceum It is 7:30 pm on a Wednesday night and the Word Warriors bookclub at Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art is already in full swing. Parents and their children sit side by side around wooden tables. They’ve already worked together to complete a book-themed crossword: now it’s discussion time. “What I want to know is why kids in novels are always orphans?” asks one Grade 5 student. A round of nods ensues from the rest of the participants.
The group is split. Some agree that if they slept under stars on a pier in a faraway town like Jack did, their parents would most certainly find them and bring them home. Others say that they think you could create parents that would encourage adventure.
It’s a typical evening at the Christianne’s Lyceum, a centre for literature and art that was founded in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood five years ago. Parents and children, interacting around literature, engaging with each other’s ideas, and with It’s what the bookclubbers call an “author visit.” Together, artists and writers from their community. “It’s what I envisioned parents and children have read a book by a local children’s when I first conceived of the Lyceum,” says Hayward. “I wanted author. Now, they’ve gathered to meet with the author, discuss the books, and ask their most pressing questions. Tonight, this to be a place where individuals and families could come together to create a community around literature, and engage in, and celebrate the power of story.” “A family that reads together stays together,
because they face the tough and tender issues with the characters that they read about and talk about possibility.”
Each bookclub meets nine times a year. Two of those meetings are with local authors, and a third one is reserved to workshop an author’s unpublished manuscript. In the past year the Lyceum has welcomed a host of BC’s best children’s writers including: Susin Nielsen, Beryl Young, Tiffany Stone, Cynthia Heinrichs, Melanie Jackson, Oliver Neubert, Lee Edward Födi, Danika Dinsmore, Dennis Foon, John Lekich, Ellen Schwartz, Sarah Leach, Meg Tilly, Christina Leist, Tanya Lloyd Kyi, Michelle Mulder, Maggie de Vries, and Caroline Adderson.
Sarah Ellis has joined them to discuss her novel The Several Lives of Orphan Jack. She takes a moment to think about her response. “I can’t tell you why many authors write about orphans, but I can tell you why I chose to,” she says carefully. “It just always seemed to me that, in books, orphans have more adventures than kids who have parents. They don’t need to ask permission.”
In the past, they’ve workshopped manuscripts by such celebrated writers as Susin Nielsen,Carrie Mac, Meg Tilly, Dennis Foon, Don Calame, and James Hennigan.
At this point the Lyceum’s founder and principal instructor, Dr. Christianne Hayward asks, “What do you think? Do you agree?”
It’s not the only way the Lyceum is supporting local authors, though. Each month the Lyceum hosts a critiquing workshop, called Author’s Night Out, at which writers convene around wine and snacks to get feedback on their latest work. It also hosts a monthly Open Mic and an adult bookclub called Meet the Author. This provides an intimate opportunity for adults to gather and discuss literature with a Canadian writer. Upcoming featured writers include J.J. Lee, Marina Endicott, and Zsuzsi Gartner. Says Hayward, “In one day at the Lyceum you can inspire a two-yearold to re-tell a story with props, meet with a group of home learners to mosaic tile a Greek myth-themed garden stone, take a trip with young writers to write poetry at Jericho Beach, and cap off your day by sharing food and drink with a local author and his readers. This has got to be the best job in world.” By nine o’clock the bookclub is winding down. Families have eaten a snack based on food mentioned in the book, and have worked together on a memory-pin craft. On their way out the door, one child says to her mother, “But say, when I’m a bit older, I want to go on an adventure. Would you stop me?”
Lyceum’s founder Dr. Christianne Hayward. She established her unique parent & youth bookclubs in 1996, and now facilitates 17 bookclubs, 4 writers' workshops and literature and art classes for young children at the Lyceum. Her PhD studies in education (UBC, 2000) focused on using select children’s literature to develop socially relevant curriculum in early childhood settings through to high school.
Her mother says, “No. Probably not. We’d have to talk about what you had in mind.” That’s Hayward’s vision in action. She says, “A family that reads together stays together because they face the tough and tender issues with the characters that they read about and talk about possibility.” That’s precisely what the families are doing as they walk through the Lyceum’s front garden and up West 8th Avenue. They’re talking.
Laura Farina is an employee at the Lyceum. More information about programs offered at Christianne’s Lyceum of Literature and Art can be found here or call 604.733.1356.
“You write not for children but for yourself. And if by good fortune children enjoy what you enjoy, why then you are a writer of children's books.” ― Arthur Ransome Swallows and Amazons
Writing is the loneliest profession.
By kc dyer
Like any aphorism, a big part of this one is true. We may not be deep in Antarctica, battling the elements, banding penguins on an ice floe – but those of us who live and die by the word know how much of the work happens alone in a room. Alone, in fact, inside your own brain. A brain that may well be jam-packed with memories and experiences and brilliant ideas, but rarely — dare I say never? — with other people. But for writing to be a career, for it to be taken beyond private thoughts in a personal journal; other people definitely have to enter the discussion. Writers need readers. And before they even get to the readers, they need editors, proofreaders, and maybe even agents. They need typesetters and printers and publishers. Even in the internet age, other people are a necessary part of the process.
kc dyer guides you in finding community as a writer – and tells you why the most pivotal people in a writer’s life are the other members of the writing world
But at this moment, I’m not going to talk about any of those people. Yes, all those folks have a role to play for a writer to be successfully read (and even compensated for his or her work!). The people I want to talk about right now – the most pivotal people in a writer’s life – are the other members of the writing world. As a writer, it can be hard to find your community. Anyone who has tried (and failed) and tried again to form a good critique group will tell you – it can be just as hard as finding a good marriage. It’s no easy task and it’s a personal endeavour – different for everyone. This means, like so many elements of a career in the arts, that there is no ‘right’ way. But whatever route you choose to take, I’m here to tell you that it is worth the work. I’d been writing for a long time before I began to seek out my community. I’d just moved back to Canada after three years living away, and I’d decided that all the articles I’d written for community newspapers, the poetry for contests, the stories for my children were not quite enough. I wanted to write a book, and get it traditionally published. Now, like lots of new writers in this position, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. So I set out to educate myself. Bought a whole bunch of books on the topic. Subscribed to industry magazines. Read articles……… All good ideas. But not enough. It wasn’t until I actually ventured out to gatherings of other writers that things began to come together. What can other writers do for you that research material cannot? They can give advice. Point you in the right direction. Introduce you to other writers. Connect you with agents, editors, and publishers. Lend you their shoulder to cry on. Commiserate over rejection. Read over your manuscript. Offer you meaningful critiques – and so much more. For me to find my community, in the end, was as easy as attending a local writers’ group meeting. I first went to the North Shore Writers’ Association meeting sometime around 1999. Later, my writing community would expand online to the venerable CompuServe Books and
Writers’ Forum. If there was a chance to take a class or listen to someone in the industry give a talk, I tried to take it. As writers in BC, we are lucky to have the biggest and best writers’ conference in Canada (and some would say the world!) here on our very doorstep. Held every October, the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SiWC) has been going strong for 20 years. It began in 1992, when a group of like-minded writers gathered in a classroom belonging to the Surrey School District and invited author Maeve Binchy to come and speak.
As writers in BC, we are lucky to have the biggest and best writers’ conference in Canada (and some would say the world) here on our very doorstep.
These days SiWC brings in more than 50 authors, agents, editors, and publishers from across Canada, the U.S. and around the world. This conference is a marvellous place to find your community: writers of every level of ability from beginner to best-seller come to play for a weekend in Surrey. More than 70 workshops, panels, discussions, and special events are jammed into an action-packed weekend. You can bring your work in for a blue pencil chat and have a published writer give you their thoughts on your work. Or you can pitch your story ideas to agents, editors, and publishers from Vancouver, Toronto, New York and elsewhere. Opportunities to meet and connect with other writers abound, not to mention getting a chance to meet the rock stars of the publishing world. Outside the actual weekend of the conference, the SiWC writing community is thriving online, with a large group who connect on Twitter [@SiWCtweets] on Facebook, through the listserv, and the blog. The ringing cry of #ThisDayWeWrite, now a motto of the SiWC gang, can be found cropping up every day in various forms, be they Twitter discussions, challenges, or tweetchats. The conference may be a destination event, but the SiWC community lives on year-round, an eclectic collection of people who believe in writers helping writers. If attending SiWC is beyond your means financially, you can consider attending as a volunteer. This conference could not succeed without the incredible group of people who donate their time and energy to making it happen, and joining in that way is a marvellous introduction to the world. Other ways to connect with your writing community in BC? The Children’s Society of Writers and Illustrators (CWILL-BC) holds regular meetings where people who focus on writing for children and teens connect, hold workshops, and hang out together. The national group for children’s and Y/A writers is CANSCAIP – the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers, but if you are not traditionally published, your application to join will be subject to their review. The Canadian Author’s Association (CAA) has BC chapters in the Okanagan and Vancouver, and does not require that you be conventionally published to join. The Federation of BC Writers, of course, who publish this very Wordworks magazine, hold regular events in eight regions throughout the province. You can easily connect with an Area Representative in your city or town here. Children’s writers presenting at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference this year include: • • • • • •
Eileen Cook kc dyer Dennis Foon Linda Gerber Tanya Kyi Shari Radford
The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators is an American group, but has a BC chapter. See their website for regular events held around the Metro Vancouver area. If you have been published, The Writer’s Union of Canada [TWUC] holds regular events on this side of the Rockies. You can check their website for details. See our Last Page section for more resources and writing connections. Even if you live in the middle of the back & beyond, you can connect online – the SiWC gang has a terrific online community, as noted. And my old favourite, the CompuServe Readers and Writers Forum, has a special section called KidCrit, devoted to exchanging critiques among writers of books for children and Y/A.
Regardless of the route you take, make it a less solitary one by finding and connecting with others in your writing community. Let’s work together to hand the epithet of ‘loneliest’ to some other deserving profession – say that penguin-bander in Antarctica, maybe? ********** Links: www.siwc.ca -- to learn more, sign up or volunteer http://www.nswriters.bc.ca -- North Shore Writers’ Association www.cwill.bc.ca -- Find out more about this group of writers, illustrators and performers. http://community.compuserve.com -- CompuServe Books & Writers Forum
Candice James This has been a year of sweeping changes and renewal for the Federation of BC Writers. We have incorporated two new regions, Sunshine Coast and Caribou-Chilcotin, to our existing six regions, and have implemented a system of Area Representatives for both urban and suburban communities in all regions. We have recruited 27 Areas Reps throughout the province since March and we hope to have over 50 Areas Reps before year’s end. Wordworks will continue in an online digital format. “Launched” has moved to the website. You can post information about your new books up there any time. And we hope to see an annual printed magazine for all books released during the year. Our Off The Page program continues as before with our writers going into schools and receiving payment for their presentations. The Literary Writes contest will continue but with 3 categories and one winner in each category. And, as before, these 3 winners will perform at Word On The Street and will receive $200 each and be published in Wordworks. The new programs, contests, events, and awards we will be implementing are: • • • • • • •
Book of the Year Award Emerging Writers – Youth and Adult Awards First Nations/Aboriginal Writers Award BC Writers Anthology Northern Outreach Self-Publishing Fair Bowen Island Writers’ Retreat
Our website has new info posted on it daily and has been upgraded with forums, interactive member areas, membersonly areas, writers’ reference areas, and workshops. It is still a work in progress with more and more member benefits being added on a continuous basis – so be sure to check the website often for literary news, events, contests, calls for submissions etc. We are committed to our membership and we are working very hard indeed to make the Federation of BC Writers one of the very best service organizations in Canada. I want to thank you all for supporting the organization that supports British Columbia writers. Your support is essential and truly appreciated. Candice James, President Federation of BC Writers Poet Laureate, The City of New Westminster
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Sweeping changes and renewal in a new era
Reprint from August 2012 edition
YOUNG ADULT FICTION Graphic novels, blind orphans, science-fiction, disease, urban exploration, homelessness, & cults
I, Witness by Mike Deas & Norah McClintock (Orca $16.95)
Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier (Puffin $20)
Shortlisted for the 2012 Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize, Mike Deas' graphic novel for young readers, Dalen & Gole: Scandal in Port Angus (Orca, 2011), follows two aliens who arrive in a West Coast community where the fishing industry is dying. They must save their own alien world from disaster as well as the town. Deas' much grittier follow-up this fall is I, Witness, a teen graphic novel by Norah McClintock about two teens who witness a violent murder and are pursued by the killers.
Vancouver-born Jonathan Auxier has written his first novel, Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes, a Dickensian tale of redemption about a tenyear-old blind orphan who was raised to work as a thief. When he pickpockets a box of magic eyes, he is transported to an island on top of the world where the eyemaker, Professor Cake, provides him with an opportunity to visit the Vanished Kingdom where he can rescue others, accompanied by a knight errant, Sir Tode, who is part human, part horse and part cat.
The Right & the Real by Joëlle Anthony (Putnam $19) Joëlle Anthony's young adult novel The Right & the Real recounts the plight of 17-yearold Jamie when she refuses to join The Right and the Real Church, a cult that has both her father and her boyfriend Josh among its devotees. It's the follow-up to Anthony's debut Restoring Harmony, long-listed for the American Library Association's Best Fiction for Young Adults competition. The Portland-born Anthony and her musician/partner Victor Anthony live on Gabriola Island where "their only plan is to avoid real jobs, write and play guitar in front of the wood stove, and live happily ever after."
Shadowlands: The Guardian by Charity Gosling (Brighter Books $21.25) Luanne Armstrong
Shadowlands: The Guardian, a YA science-fiction title by Vancouver Island's Charity Gosling, is the first book from a new Nanaimo-based company, Brighter Books, founded by Angela Jurgensen and her husband Dean, an electrical engineer. It's touted as an eco-friendly, print-on-demand imprint using materials approved by the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.
I'll Be Home Soon by Luanne Armstrong (Ronsdale $11.95)
Infiltration by Sean Rodman (Orca $9.95)
Luanne Armstrong's 14th book, I'll Be Home Soon, is a young adult novel that follows the quest of a homeless but far from hapless girl named Regan as she searches for her mother amid the perils of the inner-city. It's not a bleak tale of life in the shadows; Regan discovers compassion and help from a wide variety of people.
This first teen fiction for reluctant readers, Infiltration, Bex and Kieran are two teens who dare one another to explore prohibited areas in the city, taking only photos for bragging rights, until Kieran pitches a plan that goes beyond mere urban exploration.
Reprint from August 2012 edition
YOUNG ADULT FICTION Grows That Way by Susan Ketchen (Oolichan $12.95)
One In Every Crowd by Ivan E. Coyote (Arsenal Pulp Press $17.95)
Susan Ketchen's Born That Way (Oolichan, 2009) introduces 14- year-old Sylvia, a girl with a passion for horses and an undiagnosed disease called Turner's Syndrome. In the sequel, Made That Way (Oolichan, 2011), Sylvia starts medical treatment. The trilogy is now completed with Grows That Way in which Sylvia must accept she will need estrogen supplements in order to approach normality. "I have Turner's Syndrome and I will always be a shrimp," she narrates. Her great comfort remains her horse Brooklyn while she is haunted by imaginary encounters with a large, hairy creature in the woods.
Ivan E. Coyote's One In Every Crowd is her first collection of new and selected stories to be geared towards queer youth, but these humourous monologues about queer issues and relationships will appeal to readers of any age. Coyote's outlook is cumulatively uplifting. Things are changing in terms of society's willingness to accept people outside the traditional boy/girl divide.
Ivan E Coyote
ÂŠ2012 BC BookWorld: reprinted with permission.
Two new Federation regions
At the last Federation AGM in May, two new Regions were added to the existing six Federation regions in BC. The Sunshine Coast, originally part of the Vancouver/LowerMainland/Sunshine Coast region was split into its own Region and Apryl Veld was elected at the AGM as the first Sunshine Coast Regional Representative. And the Caribou-Chilcotin was created as its own region with Sage Birchwater as the Regional Representative.
by Sylvia Olson Fed Central Region Representative
Michelle Barker’s chapbook, Old Growth, Clear Cut: Poems of Haida Gwaii, has just been released by Leaf Press. She has also signed a contract with Thistledown to publish her first Y/A fantasy novel, The Beggar King. Michelle is from Penticton.
the cenral region
Karen Bissenden, of Salmon Arm has published an anthology to be released this July. The book, As One Cradles Pain, will include her poem “Condition: Seizure.” The call for submission theme was ‘conditions’ using any interpretation of the word.
Fed member Sterling Haynes of Kelowna, a retired doctor, was published in a New York literary magazine, Phlati’tude with his soliloquy, “Weapons of Destruction.” Rogers Publication published his story called “Hospital Brandy,” as well as his essay titled “Tobacco Smoke Enemas.” Many of his zany poems have been published on Cathryn Wellner’s blog called Catching Courage. His book, Wake Up Call: Tales from a Frontier Doctor (Caitlin Press, 2010) was made into an e-book by Chapters/Kobo and Barnes & Noble/Nook. Haynes has also published an article called “Stew,” about Dr. Stewart Burris, “one of the first certified obstetriciangynecologists in the BC Interior, an impeccable gentlemanphysician, loved by patients and colleagues alike” – in the July/August issue of the BC Medical Journal.
In April Eleanor Hancock of Kamloops gave a writing workshop as well as a reading at the Oysters, Authors and Ale Literary Weekend in Bamfield. She read from her book Salt Chuck Stories from Vancouver Island’s West Coast. She also participated in an evening reading at the Kamloops Café, The Art We Are, in July.
In June Elma Schemenauer of Kamloops taught a six-hour continuing ed class at the Write Canada Conference in Guelph, ON, which was attended by some 200 people. The topic was writing nonfiction for kids and teens. Elma also participated with other Federation members in Kamloop’s annual Canada Day event, Art in the Park, where the group promoted writing in our area.
Susan Fenner of Vernon has had her short fiction, “Memory Lies,” published in The Quotable digital magazine, issue #6. Her creative nonfiction, “M is for Maze, has been published in Maple Tree Literary Supplement Issue 12, May 2012.
Shirley DeKelver of Sorrento, sold her first novel, The Trouble with Mandy, in April to Solstice Publishing Ltd. It was released as an e-book at that time and in July it became available in paperback on Amazon. She did a reading from the novel at the coffee house held at the SAGA Public Art Gallery in Salmon Arm in May at the Word on the Lake Festival for readers and writers.
Patricia Donahue of Vernon has her short story, “Tango; Passionate Fire,” published in the Vancouver North Shore Writers’ Association Anthology 2012. She has also received confirmation that her second novel, Mighty Orion-Secrets, which is the sequel to her first novel, will be published by Borealis Press.
Several Kamloops Fed members participated in an evening reading at the downtown and north shore libraries in March. Readings were performed by Coco Aders Weremczuk, Dana Ramstedt, Dennis Robertson, Tricia Saxby, Wendy Weseen, Eleanor Hancock, and Sylvia Olson.
The Central Region would like to acknowledge the following Area Reps who are willing to volunteer their time to support the writers in their communities; in Vernon Markella Mildenberger, in Kelowna Shannon Linden, in Summerland Sita-Rani MacMillan, who is also a Director-atLarge on the Board, and in Penticton, Michelle Barker.
Central Regional Rep, Sylvia Olson has booked the following presenters for the Kamloops Writers’ Fair for November 2 & 3; Anthony Dalton, Karen Hofmann, Lynne Stonier-Newman, Patricia Donahue, and literary agent Carolyn Swayze.
l to r: Dennis Robertson, Shirley Collins, and Elma Schemenauer
the fraser valley region
Susan McCaslin’s Demeter Goes Skydiving (U. of Alberta Press, 2011) was shortlisted for the 2012 BC Book Prize (Dorothy Livesay Award) and was winner of the Alberta Book Publishing Award (Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award, June 2012). Susan also recently published a first volume of essays, Arousing the Spirit: Provocative Writings (Wood Lake Books, Kelowna, BC).
by Ben Nuttall-Smith Fed Fraser Valley Region Representative
Thanks to an amazing team of volunteers, with excellent presentations by Lois Peterson, Don Hunter, Loreena Lee and Ursula Maxwell-Lewis and an outstanding keynote address by Margaret Reynolds, executive director of the Association of Book Publishers of BC, our 2nd Annual Write on the Beach event was a rousing success. Mark your calendars for next year’s event – Sunday, June 9th, 2013. David Blinkhorn will be coordinator for our 3rd Annual Write on the Beach. Max Tell (Robert Stelmach) is one of three presenters chosen to represent storytellers in the 2013 TD Children’s Book Week Tour (CBWT). The CBWT is cosponsored by the Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada and the Canadian Children's Book Centre.
The launch of Doris Riedweg's latest book, Water in the Wilderness, was held at Milner Chapel Hall in Langley in March, and was very well attended. Since then Doris has had three book signing events (at Coles Books, Black Bond Books, and Chapters in Langley) and at the Sunridge Gardens Centre in Murrayville in June.
Robert W. (Bob) Mackay’s book, Soldier of the Horse, won an Independent Book Publishers Gold Medal Award. Learn more about Bob’s award and the background to Soldier (a tale woven around the last cavalry charge by Canada's famous regiment, Lord Strathcona's Horse) in Ursula MaxwellLewis’s video. Apart from the launch of The Unquiet Land, published by Libros Libertad, Surrey author Ron Duffy’s self-published novel Crossed Lives received an Honourable Mention at this year’s New York Book Festival. It is available in paperback from Amazon.
Member wins 4th place of 2,300 entries in poetry contest
Ace Baker (A. Charles Baker) has won the Zola Award by placing first in poetry in PNWA's 2012 writing contest. He has also won the SIWC poetry prize, the Roux Press poetry prize, and came fourth in the 7th annual Writer's Digest poetry contest (out of 2300 entries!).
fraser valley region
Manolis Aligizakis’ latest book of poetry, Mythography (Libros Libertad 2012), is the result of collaboration between nine painters, a wood carver and the poet. Manolis won the 2nd prize for poetry and 3rd prize for a short story in the Interartia Literary Competition, sponsored by the International Literary Academy and the Foundoulis Observatory – Athens, Greece. Manolis’ poems “Delphi” and “Athens” were published in the Mediterranean Poetry literary magazine in Sweden. His poem “Loose Ends” was published in the New England literary journal The Unroarean; and another poem, “Daybreak,” was published in the Monday’s Poem forum by Leaf Press, of Lantzville, BC. Winner in the 2011 International Interartia Festival competition, Manolis was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and named an honorary teacher and fellow of the International Arts Academy.
In March, Heidi Greco was a panelist and workshop leader at the inaugural Cascadia Poetry Festival in Seattle. Her chapbook, Igniting the Green Fuse: Four Canadian Women Poets was published by Above & Beyond Publications, Vancouver, BC. April saw her participate in National Poetry Month events, including the crossCanada Mayor’s Challenge where she was commissioned to write a poem about Surrey and then present it to Council. In May she performed to music at Bohemian Caress and had a poem in Room Magazine. This summer, she led poetry sessions as a component in SFU Southbank’s After shuttling to London via Virgin Atlantic's inaugural Vancouver– Creative Writing Program. London flight to cover the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Ursula Maxwell-Lewis hit Nevada's Loneliest Road in America plus the Pony Express Trail. Her stories and pictures appeared in Black Press Group newspapers, BC Community News, Today's Senior News, and assorted online publications. Twitter @YouTravel. Rebecca Kool is very excited to announce a re-launch of her first book, Fly Catcher Boy (Gumboot Books 2009), as an iBook for the iPad. By the time readers finish this dual-language story, they will know over 45 Japanese words. The read-it-to-me page by page audio option, with sound effects, is great for pre-reading learners. Each time a new Japanese word is introduced, the touch-toplay feature provides an audio sample of how the word is pronounced and what it means. The manga-style illustrations bring this bilingual story alive.
Apart from organizing the Write on the Beach event, Ben NuttallSmith’s own schedule has included workshop presentations for the Fraser Valley Writers' School in April and for the Sunshine Coast writing community with two workshops in Sechelt in May. These last he presented on behalf of the Federation to help recruit and organize Sunshine Coast membership. Ben was also a guest reader for the Semiahmoo Arts Council Readings by the Salish Sea in May, the TWS Reading Series in July, as well as for Poetry in the Park New Westminster in August.
Sylvia Taylor’s literary memoir, The Fisher Queen, chronicling the BC salmon fishing industry, was released by Heritage House Publishing in September. The Vancouver Public Library’s downtown main branch hosted the official media launch on October 13th. A book tour and media appearances throughout the Pacific Northwest will follow. Sylvia, a former executive director and president of our Federation launched her new website in August, and continues her work as a freelance writer, editor, educator, literary coach, competition judge, and communications specialist. David Blinkhorn has been busy getting the curriculum for the fall session of the Fraser Valley Writers’ School ready for September. The school's first annual literary competition has just been completed. He has now turned his attentions to his work as chair of the Federation’s Self-Publishing Fair scheduled for March, 2013. The Vancouver Public Library has partnered with the Federation to bring this excellent event to the community of writers.
by Sheila Peters Fed Northern Region Representative Independent Publisher Book Awards 2012 presented the Silver Medal in the Canada-West – Best Regional Fiction category to Joylene Nowell Butler for her suspense novel Broken But Not Dead. Joylene’s Dead Witness is a 2012 Global eBook Awards finalist. Congratulations, Joylene.
Joyce Helweg (Fort St. James) has published her story of adventure north of that town in what was then one of the province’s last wild areas. Read more about A Change in Direction here.
Kitimat’s Kathleen Cherry, an elementary school counselor who uses books in her work with children has just launched Blowing Bubbles which tells the story of a child adjusting to his grandfather’s stroke. Blowing Bubbles was finalized twice in the annual children’s writing competition sponsored by the Writers’ Union of Canada and Cherry’s appealing characters have been beautifully portrayed by award-winning Canadian artist, Jill Quinn Babcock. For more info, go to www.blowingbubbles.ca.
the northern region
Lin Weich (Quesnel) successfully launched her suspense/thriller novels, Strength of an Eagle and HalfTruths, Total Lies. The unusual topics and stark realism of these books have met with excellent responses. read more at Lin’s website.
Kathleen Cherry launches Blowing Bubbles
Vivien Lougheed’s travel writing has long been available online, but she’s taken her virtual writing to the next stage with the May launch of her revamped website. A Chickenbus tale is posted every Thursday and a gallery of 15 photos from destinations around the world is posted on the 15th of each month. This is the first stage of an ongoing project; ultimately photos, books, and singles will be sold. So far she’s reported hits from 38 countries with some visitors staying up to an hour. If you have any questions about developing your own site, you can contact Vivien via the website.
Sheila Peters launched her novel, The Taste of Ashes (Caitlin) in Smithers in May and also gave a reading at Books and Co. in Prince George in June. Set in Smithers, Vancouver, and Guatemala, the novel explores the relationships between a mother, her estranged daughter, and the father, a Guatemalan priest. Saskatchewan writer David Carpenter says that Peters presents life at the ragged, angry, and passionate edge of things, and the result is a deeply felt love story.” Read more about Sheila and The Taste of Ashes here.
the south-east region
by Patricia Rawson Fed South-east Region Representative
Arlene Pervin spent a few sabbatical months in Puerto Vallarta. As a member of the Puerto Vallarta Writers group, she was part of the organizing team for the writers’ conference held in February and was in charge of the very successful book sale. A feature article, “Painting, Passion and Pods,” was published in the pv mirror as well as a humorous piece called “Between a Bark and a Hard Place.” Two other articles, “A Night of great Sax” and “Tuba,” were published by Vallarta Today.com. Arlene is currently working on several personal essays and reading and critiquing submissions for an anthology by the Puerto Vallarta Writers’ Group to be published in 2013.
Ernest Hekkanen enjoyed his five minutes in the limelight at Fine Words, Fine Wines during the inaugural Elephant Mountain Literary Festival held in Nelson in early July of this year. Ernest Hekkanen and Margrith Schraner
Since being shortlisted for the Journey Prize last fall, Ross Klatte has completed the sixth draft of his novel set in a back-to-the-land commune in BC at the end of the Sixties and is now looking for a publisher. A story of his has been accepted for the Fall 2012 issue of The New Orphic Review.
Linda Crosfield was featured poet in the Spring 2012 New Orphic Review. Her poem, “Packing the Car,” was anthologized in Use Your Words—a Writing Guide for Mothers. One of her poems was a Leaf Press Monday Poem and two others were published in the Elephant Mountain Review. Jennifer Craig’s memoir, Yes Sister, No Sister: My Life as a Trainee Nurse in 1950s Yorkshire, is on the shortlist for the 2012 One Book One Kootenay award. As part of this program, Jennifer gave a reading at the Greenwood library in May. She was one of six local authors who read at the Elephant Mountain Literary Festival held in Nelson in July. Her article, “History Repeats Itself: Lessons Vaccinators Refuse to Learn,” was published in International Medical Council on Vaccination in April.
The Hundred Dollar Special: The Antics of a Rescue Cat, Fed member M. Kathryn Bourdon’s book was published in August (Quickdraw Publications, Squamish, BC, 2012, $20). It was illustrated by Sandra Donohue, who did 23 watercolours for the book. Three generations of Canadians were involved in the production of this book: a grandmother, who is the author; her son, who is the publisher; and her granddaughter, who is one of the main characters in the story. “Everything in the book is true and happened,” says Bourdon. The story revolves around the misdeeds of a rescue cat, which finally performs as she was intended to do: she takes care of the mice in the house in a most unusual way. “Our rescue cat has been the delight of our life as she is most definitely a social cat and has had many misadventures.” A collaborative effort, Hundred Dollar Special was, she proudly adds, also a collaborative effort – produced entirely in Canada and by Canadians.
Heather’s teaching writing at Capilano University (Sechelt) and continues to edit books and do magazine freelance writing.
Julie H. Ferguson co-presented All Aboard the Electronic Express! How to Self-publish and Sell Your eBook with mystery author Debra Purdy Kong last February and also had a profile of Anthony Dalton and a travel piece on Le Camargue published.
Sean Arthur Joyce (Art Joyce) has had a busy year so far with numerous speaking engagements related to the research of his nonfiction work in progress, Laying the Children's Ghosts to Rest: Canada's Home Children in the West. Some 100,000 children from the slums of Britain and Ireland were sent to Canada to work as indentured labourers on Canadian farms between 1869–1939, though some continued to arrive during the Second World War. By official government estimates, there are some 4 million descendants of these children, or roughly 1 in 7 Canadians. Laying the Children's Ghosts to Rest will tell the story from both a general and personal perspective, since Joyce's grandfather was one of these children. Several descendant families will also be profiled in the book. Joyce received a Major Project Grant for the writing of the book from the Columbia Basin Trust. As part of this project he has given presentations in six Columbia Basin communities as well as at the LV Rogers senior secondary school in Nelson, BC. He is currently soliciting interest from publishers. Read more about the project at Art’s blog. In addition, Art has had poems published or accepted for publication by the Elephant Mountain Review (print and online), the New Orphic Review, and with the Leaf Press online series Monday's Poem. Two manuscripts of poetry are currently at publishers for consideration.
The Grand Forks Writing Guild. l to r: Grant Crawford, Lorraine Gordon, Frank Brummet, Marlene Engels, Les Johnson, Helen Durham, and Bev Clarke
Angie Abdou’s novel The Canterbury Trail won a 2012 IPPY [Independent Publisher Book Awards] Gold Medal for Canada West. Her first novel, The Bone Cage, was featured in Priscila Uppal’s “Poet’s Corner” column during Priscila’s tenure as the poet of the 2012 Olympics. Angie was a presenter at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival in Ontario in September.
Heather Conn read three creative nonfiction pieces in July for the Creative in the Creek event in Roberts Creek. Her children’s book, Gracie’s Got a Secret (MW Books), was published in September.
The Grand Forks Writers Guild got together for its first writing workshop in June. Held at the Grand Forks & District Public Library, the two-hour workshop drew seven members. Participants were given 15 minutes to write something, and then read their work aloud to the group – and then they did it again. The Guild enjoyed the experience of writing together and plan to incorporate writing workshops into regular meetings.
Luanne Armstrong has two new books this fall: I'll Be Home Soon, a Y/A book from Ronsdale Press, and The Light Through the Trees, Reflections on Land and Farming, from Caitlin Press. The Light is a remarkable and deeply wise reflection on land, farming, a sense of place, connecting with nature, and what it means to live on this earth. As a third-generation farmer, Luanne’s roots go deep into the land, but her work also captures her thoughts on such current issues as the environment, environmental identity, and animal ethics. Her writing is poetic, lyrical and engaging. Part farmer, part poet, part activist, Armstrong engages her readers through her fascination and close involvement with both the natural and the human worlds.
The Kootenay Literary Competition Deadline for entry is November 10, 2012 This annual competition is open to all writers in the Kootenay region, and has returend this year with bigger prizes and lower entry fees. Adults can enter in three categories – fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry. First place in each category wins $500, second place wins $250, and all winners will be published in the competition anthology. There will also be a draw prize for emerging writers - a $100 gift certificate for the bookstore of their choice. Entry fee is $25. Visit www.kootenaylitcomp.com for full details and this year’s theme.
The Kootenay Youth Creative Writing Competition Deadline for entry is November 10, 2012 Writers in grades 7–12 can enter the Kootenay Youth Creative Writing Competition, submitting works of fiction, nonfiction or poetry. There will be designated prompts for the two categories – Grades 7–9 and Grades 10–12 – which will be on the competition website. First place in each age category wins $200, second place wins $100, and all winners will be published in the competition anthology. Entry fee is $10. Along with cash prizes and publication in the KLC anthology, all of this year’s youth winners will receive a 2-day youth creative writing workshop to be held in Nelson, BC. (Details to be announced on the website). This bonus prize will also include 2 nights accommodation, plus meals, for each winner and their parent or legal guardian. For more information, visit the website, subscribe to the newsletter for news and competition updates, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or email Kristene Perron: email@example.com 49
oto Laurie Evans
Florence Riley, our 92-year-old Fed member just recently published her memoir about homesteading in the Cariboo. The Last Cariboo Homestead is her story of the preemption of 195 acres on Ruth Lake near Forest Grove, BC. Born nine decades ago in the mountains of southeastern BC, Florence has always loved the country. Meeting and marrying her husband Rod led her to become a willing helpmate in his dream of owning a piece of land. Beginning with an axe, a saw, and a tent in the 1940s, the newlyweds eventually obtained a Crown Grant. She tells of each step as they planned and worked through the days and seasons. Humour, colour, and tragedy combine in her story and a view of pioneer living in BC.
David Young launched The Uchuck Years in June at the Muir Gallery in Courtenay. The event was hosted by the Comox Valley Writers' Society.
Susan McCaslin’s Demeter Goes Skydiving (U. of Alberta Press, 2011) was shortlisted for the 2012 BC Book Prize (Dorothy Livesay Award) and the winner of the Alberta Book Publishing Award (Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award, June 2012). Susan also recently published a first volume of essays, Arousing the Spirit: Provocative Writings (Wood Lake Books, Kelowna, BC).
Kim Goldberg chaired the Eco-Poetry Panel at the inaugural Cascadia Poetry Festival in Seattle in March. Her poetry and short fiction have recently appeared in subTerrain, Here Be Monsters, Imagination & Place: Weather, and the eco-poetry chapbook anthology Igniting the Green Fuse. In May, she offered a Kung Fu for Poets workshop as part of a TS Eliot Festival in Nanaimo.
Michelle Mulder has been working on revisions for a mid-grade novel called Not a Chance, and a nonfiction book about bicycles, both of which were accepted for publication by Orca Book Publishers for Spring 2013. Read more on Michelle’s newly launched website.
Margaret Gracie’s short story, “The Legacy,” was published in the spring/summer edition of Island Writer. Her story, “The Marathon to Perfection,” was accepted in a new anthology, You, Me and a Bit of We (Chuffed Buff Books, UK).
the vancouver island & islands region
by David Fraser Fed Van Island & Islands Representative
vancouver island & islands region
Myrtle Siebert’s Tenth Anniversary Edition of her From Fjord to Floathouse–one family’s journey from the farmlands of Norway to the coast of British Columbia is available now. It has been completely redesigned and updated, and has an additional last chapter that tells the story of Norway and BC visits since the original book ended with a heartwarming return of the ancestor’s granddaughter to the farm Andy Forberg had left 100 years before. See Myrtle’s website for more of the story and online ordering details. Look for her memoir Beyond the Floathouse–Gunhild’s Granddaughter, expected to be available before Christmas.
l to r: The group who performed at PEP: Pat Smekal, Di Clarence, David Fraser, Harvey Jenkins, Fran Thiessen, Judy Millar, John Beaton, Mary Ann Moore (all Fed members except Beaton), minus Cindy Shantz who was abroad.
Judy Millar presented a one-woman show of her humorous writing entitled “Relationships.COMedy” at Headliners in Nanaimo in May. She won second prize in the 2012 Nanaimo Short Fiction Awards, and third prize for flash fiction in Ascent Aspirations’ Disorders Anthology contest. Watch her performing "Fade to Black" (Does This Skirt Make Me Look Fat?) at Headliners here.
David Fraser has published poems electronically in Cyclamen and Swords, Long Short Story, A Handful of Stones and Monday’s Poem by Leaf Press. He has published poems in the following print magazines and anthologies: Island Writer, Winter 2010, Winter 2011, and Summer 2012; Black and White, Summer 2012, Red Ochre Press; Planet Earth Poetry Anthology (coming in November 2012); Epiphanies, edited by Anne Burke, Living Archives of the Feminist Caucus, League of Canadian Poets, 2012; and three chapbooks edited by Patrick Lane, published by Leaf Press: Radiant Among the Willows, 2012; I Am the Angel of Old Grey Horses, 2012; In the Darkness; In the Dream, 2012. In addition he has published with Naomi Beth Walkan a book on poetry and poetics, titled On Poetry, 2012, and a collection of short meditative poetry, Paper Boats, Fall, 2012. David has recently performed his poetry at Coffee Culture Café, Brantford, ON; Poetry in the Park, New Westminster; Covert Proverts Happenings, Nanaimo; Hazelwood Writers’ Festival, Cedar; WordStorm, Nanaimo; Roaming Poets, Qualicum Beach; Dezart Gallery, Palm Desert; National Poetry Month Reading, Wellington Library, Nanaimo; Harbourfront Poem Gallery, Nanaimo; and at Planet Earth Poetry, Victoria, in August along with writers, Patricia Smekal, Judy Millar, Mary Ann Moore, Di Clarence, Harvey Jenkins, John Beaton, and Fran Thiessen reading from their recent book Stones Selected Stories and Poems.
Ron Rosewood, novelist, was featured in the July 2012 BC Senior Living Magazine for his novel, Melissa's Wish List, available at the Vancouver Island libraries or as an ebook here. His novel, Postdated Romance, will be published in this fall. Read more at Ron’s website. Leanne Dyck has completed and submitted manuscripts (three book-length, three short stories), attended a Writers’ Union of Canada workshop, sat on panels at Victoria and Vancouver public libraries, and presented a reading at the opening night of an art exhibition on Mayne Island.
Nanoose Bay poet and journalist Ann Graham Walker has a chapbook – The Puzzle at the End of Love – published by Leaf Press. She’ll be reading at the launch at Planet Earth Poetry, Café Moka in Victoria, October 26. Ann was a finalist in last year’s Prism International Poetry Contest, and in the 2010 Malahat Open Season Awards.
M.A.C. Farrant’s play, My Turquoise Years, will premiere with the Arts Club Theatre, Granville Island Stage, Vancouver April 4 to May 4, 2013. In May of this year she served as faculty in the Writer’s Studio at the Banff Centre. Reviews of her novel, The Strange Truth About Us, appeared in the Globe & Mail, the Vancouver Sun and Prairie Fire in the spring; and Geist magazine published three stories from the book in their Spring Issue.
JoAnn Dionne, author of Little Emperors – a finalist for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize – was accepted into the MFA Writing program at UVic. She began classes in September with instructors Lorna Crozier, David Leach, Joan Macleod, Tim Lilburn and Stephen Hume. In early May, Gordon A. Bailey published, The Jagged Cup, a mystery involving a green, bicycleriding private investigator. Tom Severn deals with YVR, plastic bottle terrorists, car and cycling conflicts, carbon offsets, enviro-trucking, the local ‘slow’ farm movement … fanaticism from all sides. You can read more about Jagged or order it at his website.
vancouver island & islands
Kim Clark has published three books in the past year: her fiction collection, Attemptations (Caitlin Press), including a novella that's has been optioned for a 90-min. feature film; a chapbook, Disease ad De sire, the M anu S cript (Lipstick Press), and her brand spanking poetry collection, Sit You Waiting (Caitlin Press). She wrapped up the summer with a reading at the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts.
Rachel Wyatt has been working on a short story collection. Her latest novel, Suspicion, came out at the end of July. Salt Spring poet, Lorraine Gane, read from her recently published chapbook, Beauty and Beyond: Songs of Small Mercies (Leaf Press), at the Planet Earth Poetry reading series in March with Diana Hayes.
vancouver island & islands region
Tricia Dower launched her debut novel, Stony River, (Penguin Canada) at two events on Vancouver Island in August. Set in a decade we tend to think of as a more innocent time, Stony River shows in dramatic and unexpected ways, through the lives of three young women, how perilous it was to come of age in the Fifties. In her author’s note, Dower relates that she “grew up in a town like Stony River when secrets crouched behind closed doors and it wasn’t polite to interfere in another family’s business. Children were left to decipher the meaning of adult whisperings and come to frightening conclusions.” Dower’s recollections of that repressive time informed her novel as did the murder of a police officer in her home town and the subsequent crimes of his killer. Quill & Quire wrote: “Dower does an excellent job chronicling the formative years of her central trio in a coming-of-age story that effectively tackles heavy subjects including domestic abuse, mental illness, and rape. While each girl’s story branches off in a different direction, each manages to remain equally compelling, and the shifting story lines and perspectives feel effortless.”
Tofino's Joanna Streetly has recently been published in Living Artfully: Reflections from the Far West Coast, a volume that is collected and edited by Anita Sinner & Christine Lowther and published by The Key Publishing House Inc.
Caroline Woodward, of Lennard Island Lighthouse, read from The Village of Many Hats at Word on the Street in the kids’ tent.
Tofino's Christine Lowther has had her work accepted in the forthcoming anthology of 75 BC women poets edited by Susan Musgrave and published by Mother Tongue Press.
Report on the Cowichan Valley’s Verse and Vision event By Mary Elizabeth Nelson, Area Rep for the Cowichan Valley The Cowichan Valley Arts Council held another successful Verse and Vision event this year. This has been a biannual event for many years. Early in the fall of 2011, the Council received 30 individual poems. In November, the poems were printed, framed and hung at Portals, a small space that holds the heart and soul of the Cowichan Art Community. Its mandate is to embrace art of all kinds. President Judy Braden makes that happen. Many poets read their work for the Opening Celebration in November. Artists chose the poem they wished to present in some form other than words. A number of poems were represented by more than one artist. Most interpretations were done in a visual art form with acrylic, watercolour, oil, prints, and sketches but jewelry, fabric arts, carvings and interpretative movement were also used. The artists ranged in age from 11 years to those with more life experience. You can see some of the wondeful results here. Another celebration was held in Duncan, at Portals, in May. There, other artistic forms accompanied the poems. Many poems were read that night and many artistic interpretations displayed. At this point, the events were shared with the other communities that make up the Cowichan Valley. Mary Elizabeth Nelson read at Cowichan Bay in the Wooden Boat Museum – with further readings in Chemanius at the Dancing Bean, Lake Cowichan, Shawinigan Lake, and Crofton. Framed poems were hung in each community beside the artistic renditions for the public to enjoy. This was the first year the Verse and Vision celebration included various venues throughout the Valley. The committee and Chris O'Connor spent hours arranging details, hanging art (both words and visual), providing food, and supporting the all the artists so their works could be enjoyed.
The place where both readers and authors are special!
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vancouver island & islands region
The Clayoquot Writers’ Group of Tofino/Ucluelet (which includes Fed members Caroline Woodward, Joanna Streetly, Adrienne Mason, Christine Lowther and Janice Lore), has been abubble these days with ideas for readings, workshops, and performance. Some members created a sub-group called Performance Anxiety, which focuses on live performance of their work. PA created a literary cabaret and other pieces that played to sold-out local audiences and performed at the Hazelwood Writers’ Festival in August. CWG members also recently did an inaugural reading to an audience at the Wickaninnish Inn, as part of the Pacific Rim Summer Festival. The group made waves by spearheading a local drive for writers (and all artists) to be paid for their work. Event organizers have in the past tended to ask artists to donate their work, gratis, which devalues time, effort, and skill. The CWG is making a conscious effort to change that culture, with some success. Partly because of this new policy, the CWG has been collecting money from ticket sales, workshop fees, and book sales -- enough that members are mulling over opening an official bank account—no more coffee can!
the sunshine coast region
Jan DeGrass eagerly awaits the publication of her first novel, Jazz with Ella, in October (Libros Libertad). Storyline: In the Soviet Union of 1974 a Canadian Russian language student meets a discontented jazz pianist who desperately wants to escape. Jan plans book launches on the Sunshine Coast and in Vancouver.
by Apryl Veld Fed Sunshine Coast Region Representative
Heather Conn is writing for two UBC magazines and has a feature on workplaces in the Lower Mainland and is editing two nonfiction books. She is finishing a 20-minute documentary that she has written, produced, and directed about a Sechelt demo project that's unique in Canada. Heather also read from her kids' book Gracie's Got a Secret at The Word On The Street in Vancouver in September.
An enthusiastic audience turned out in July for the Gibsons Live Poets Society poetry night at Wheatberries Bistro in Gibsons. Federation member Susan Telfer (Sunshine Coast) organized the event, and she read along with Eilis Carpentier, Jacqueline Hoekstra, Ross Harry, and Apryl Veld. Thanks to the Canada Council who sponsored this event.
Federation Breaks New Ground
Report on the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts By Pandora Ballard, Tri-Cities Area Representative Just in time for the 30th anniversary of the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, in the scenic town of Sechelt, the Federation of BC Writers broke new ground by sending three representatives to promote and publicize the organization. Apryl Veld, the new Sunshine Coast Regional Representative, secured the table at this prestigious event, which this year included such notable writers as Linden MacIntyre, Noah Richler, Jane Urquhart, Michael Crummey, Patrick Lane, and Richard Wagamese. Altogether, there were 20 authors and one singer, all of whom have impressive credits behind them. Vancouver Island Fed member, Kim Clark was a stunning addition to the New Voices part of the festival, as she read from her book Attemptations. She was interviewed by CBC's Sheryl MacKay along with Robyn Michelle Levy who also wrote a novel about illness within a humour context. Clark and Levy mused about launching a new genre called Sexy/sick/chicklit On the first day, a surprise visitor to the table was Katherine Leong the Literary, Publishing & Outreach Officer of the BC Arts Council, one of the Festival’s sponsors. Katherine was pleased to see the Federation there and especially to meet the new local contact. Apryl, Ben Nuttall-Smith, and I worked very hard for three long days to make the Fed’s presence felt. Our table was within earshot of all the fabulous speakers and located strategically in the Big Tent, where the lineups were long for both purchasing books and for book-signings by the authors. Hordes of people checked out Federation literature, cleaned us out of brochures about the Fed’s new Writers’ Retreat, and signed up for Ben’s two free Sunshine Coast workshops, set for November. Four people even signed up to purchase t-shirts, prototypes of which I wore to the Festival. Four new members joined, three of them full-time residents of the Sunshine Coast, who were all happy to meet Apryl as the local person on the ground. A special thank you to Apryl Veld for her hospitality in putting us up at her house in Gibsons, and to her husband, Don, who turned out to be a wonderful cook and made substantial breakfasts and suppers, which kept us from collapsing as the days wore on. All in all, the whole event was a smashing success. And as we were packing up the table on Sunday night, one of the organizers was discussing where she was going to put us next year………….
David Lester, author/artist of the graphic novel, The Listener, will read along with novelist Jean Smith at LitQuake (San Francisco) in October. His rock duo Mecca Normal, will perform in November at CanZine West at W2 (Vancouver). Earlier this year, he presented his graphic novel at Kevin Chong‘s UBC creative writing class.
by Daniela Elza Fed Lower Mainland & Vancouver Regional Representative Bernice Lever (Bowen Island) published her 10th poetry book, Imagining Lives (Black Moss, 2012); a poem in Planet Earth anthology; prose piece in Artfully Living (Key Publishing); two poems in Rope Dancer; three poems with NSW and two poems in Silver Bow #2. In April, she was on two panels on Publishing. In June, she read poetry at LCP’s AGM, Saskatoon; in July for SFU at Take 5 Café, was interviewed on World Poetry (Co-op Radio); and read poetry at New Westminster Library. In August Bernice led fans to Bowen's Museum display, then to hike Lieben Lands; as well as held her Bowen Island launch at Collins Hall.
In March Daniela Elza launched the weight of dew, has given 20 readings since, including five in central BC. Work appeared in Press 1, is forthcoming in Planet Earth Anthology, 111 West Coast Literary Portraits--anthology of 75 contemporary BC women poets, and Cascadia Review. Her upcoming book will be published by Leaf Press in 2013.
Tri-Cities Fed members to have a regular get-togethers Pandora Ballard (Tri-Cities Area Rep) has negotiated with the Port Moody Public Library to secure a free venue for the First Tri-Cities Area meeting of the Federation of BC Writers, on Saturday, February 9, 2013 (2–4 pm, Park Lane Room). This free introduction to the Federation will include a one-hour workshop, “From Memoir to Novel,” by Ben Nuttall-Smith, a Q&A, coffee, book sales, networking, and the offer of a discounted Fed membership rate. With Federation support, Pandora hopes to host these meetings every quarter, possibly offering a small stipend for the speaker. She has begun spreading the st word about the Fed’s 1 Annual Writers' Retreat (Nov. 22–25, 2012, on Bowen Island). For more info on that, see the Federation website.
Esther Harrison (Burnaby) is getting ready to self-publish her first book, Phoenix of Faith, about being born and raised in a religious cult, then setting herself free as an adult. Her children are still "in" and have been instructed to shun her.
the lower mainland/vancouver region
On August 12, Kate Braid read with Tom Wayman and several Nanaimo readers at the Hazelwood Herb Farm in Ladysmith, BC. In October, Journeywoman, her memoir of 15 years as a carpenter, was published by Caitlin Press.
Members’ news from the North Shore By Joan Boxall, Area Representative The North Shore Writers’ Association (NSWA) had an active Spring season. Monthly guest speakers, the kickoff panel discussion to the North Shore Writers Festival, “Getting Started, Getting Published,” the Authors Series at North Van City Library, and the annual summer windup dinner & contest award ceremony all made for a memorable Spring roundup. North Van. City Library hosted Gerhard Winkler, a presenter with the Local Authors Series, who talked about his memoir, My First Life, with input from his longtime writers’ group and literary press, the Rogue Writers. The Rogues publish the annual anthology for the NSWA. A few days later, Winkler joined a panel of published authors including Fran Bourassa, Bernice Lever (Never In a Straight Line), Sylvia Taylor (The Fisher Queen) and Lynn Crymble (It Can Happen to You) at the West Vancouver’s Memorial Library. Their mandate? To toss around the subject of “Getting Started, Getting Published” under the moderation of NSWA executive member Karen Bower as part of the North Shore Writers’ Fest.
l to r: Cathy Scrimshaw, Sonia Haynes, & Joan Boxall at the Silk Purse Gallery windup
North Shore Writers’ Association Contest 2012 Poetry winners: 1. “Visit to my Mother’s Grave, Chateauguay River, PQ” by Fran Bourassa 2. “Sweet Dreams of Peace” by Jannette Edmonds 3. “Carpe Diem” by Valerie Hugdahl Honourable Mentions: “Empty Feeling” by Serena Howlett; “Last Chapter” by Tove Petersen; “Bad Weather” by Adam Tatelman Fiction winners: 1. “I Bet He’s Dancing Now” by Moira Thompson 2. “In the Grip of the Jotunn” by Adam Tatelman 3. “Corpse Pose” by Archer Haughton Honourable Mention: “Starting” by David Kipling Nonfiction winners: 1. “A Bride, a Rat, and a Couple of Good Men” by Carmen Farrell 2. “Remembering Egremont” by Joyce Goodwin 3. “Great Grandmother’s Funeral” by Elaine Berg Honourable Mentions: “Steelhead On a Fly” by Doug MacLeod; “Stand by Me” by Jennifer Chiu
Writing for children and youth Writing advice – writing for children Highlights Foundation - lists of articles from the Highlights Foundation Writers’ Workshop at Chautauqua by writers, editors and others involved in the children’s writing business. The Purple Crayon - industry information and articles. How to write a children’s book - Cheat sheet from Writing for Dummmies: Tips for Writing Books for Younger Children No-Nos in Writing Children’s Books How to Promote Your Children’s Book Age Levels for Children’s Books JK Rowling’s writing process Children's Book Publishing in Canada (web article) - Bev Cooke explains how the Canadian children's book publishing scene is quite different from that in the U.S. Writing the query letter for children’s book/fiction “Your query needs to grab the editor's interest. Offer editors something original, dramatic, or great fun.” Writing the query letter for children’s book/nonfiction “…a non-fiction query isn’t entirely different from a fiction one, but there are some nuances.”
The 49th Shelf – Children’s book section
by writers for writers
“An online resource that makes it easier for you to discover and sort Canadian titles by theme, peer feedback, reading level, and/or curriculum linkage. You can make lists based on your discoveries. You can also compare your choices against other[s’]…” http://49thshelf.com/BookCategories/CHILDREN-S-FICTION
Writing advice – picture books & poetry Notes on Writing a Picture Book - by Marisa Montes Picture Books - Plan, Polish, and Publish: One Writer’s Method - by Dori Chaconas Icing the Cake: Writing Stories in Rhythm and Rhyme - Writing advice – poetry: articles about writing in rhyme by Dori Chaconas.
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Hold Ctrl key + click to follow all links 58
by writers for writers
Writing advice – picture books & poetry continued… Poetry Lessons - by Kay Pluta
Books Writing for Children and Young Adults with CD-ROM Dr. Marion Crook Self-Counsel Press, Vancouver, 2008 An excellent industry reference book with articles and listings of publishers and their submission requirements.
Picture Writing by Anastasia Suen, Writer’s Digest Books
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books (2nd Ed.) by Harold Underdown
2012 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market Chuck Sambuchino, Editor $14.99 at Writer’s Digest
The most useful writing books I've
ever used are Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon and Imaginative Writing by Janet Burroway.”
The Canadian Writer’s Market 18th edition $18 at Chapters online
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— Lois Peterson, Surrey children’s author (latest book Disconnect, Orca 2012); and writing instructor (101 & More Writing Exercises; Metta).
Writing advice – picture books & poetry continued…
Although Eileen Cook wisely says (elsewhere in this issue) that it’s best to just write your book and think about the marketing later—no doubt true—if you’re going to write in this market, this catalogue looks like a good place to find out about it and where the lines are even though, as Eileen says, they can be a tad fuzzy. You’ll see what publishers are buying, what kinds of plots kids are gobbling up; what types of stories are hot, and who’s writing them. It lists CWILL members’ published works under these categories: • • • • • •
Middle grade fiction (with reading levels) Nonfiction and poetry Fiction picture books Nonfiction picture books Young adult Other media
Canadian Review of Materials – “Reviews of Canadian authored, illustrated or published books and other media produced for Canada’s children and adolescents; profiles of Canadian authors and illustrators; reviews of professional materials and links to related websites.” The Children’s Literature Web Guide – compiled by David A. Brown, Director of the Doucette Library of Teaching Resources at U.Calgary, a Librarian with years of experience in children's materials and educational resources who says: “There is also a subversive purpose to all of this. If my cunning plan works, you will find yourself tempted away from the Internet, and back to the books themselves! Please remember that the Internet is not the most comprehensive source of information about children's books. Books and Libraries cover the field far better than I can ever hope to. The Internet is a tremendous resource, but it will never compete with a Children's Librarian with a purposeful gleam in the eye!” Resources for Children’s Writers and Illustrators The Y/A Bookshelf - Reviews of Y/A Novels – find out what reviewers like and don’t like, what flies, what bombs.
Uh, how many steps…?
100 best Canadian books for children:
• 20 steps to writing a children’s book • 7 steps to writing a children’s book (video) • 6 steps to writing a children’s book • 5 steps to writing a children’s book • JK Rowling’s 4 step process to writing a children’s book
Editors’ Association of Canada - The EAC has a searchable database of editors.
Do we hear … 3? … 2?
Book awards: 1,001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up (international list) Wikipedia’s list of children’s literature authors: JacketFlap – publisher search resource
This is a direct link to the Editors’ Association of Canada BC job hotline for new writers looking for editors.
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by writers for writers
So: you want to write for kids, children, teens outh….er—?
by writers for writers
Writing advice – picture books & poetry continued…
Industry associations, groups Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia (ABPBC) website - plenty of good information and resources around getting published Canadian Children’s Book Centre - a national, not-for-profit organization founded in 1976 - dedicated to encouraging, promoting and supporting the reading, writing, illustrating and publishing of Canadian books for young readers. Get Published – the Writing for Children kit - $18.95 List of Publishers - $3.95 A zillion resource links and a giant list of blogs Children’s Literature Roundtables in BC Kamloops Vancouver Victoria CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators, and Performers) - based in Toronto. Individual membership $85; friend membership $45. CWILL – The Children’s Writers and Illustrators of British Columbia Society - a lively volunteer cooperative group of published writers and illustrators for children. Nearly 150 members across BC - exchange information about creating literary works for young people, support eachother and help promote their books. • Website • Blog • Resources for Writers and Illustrators – Professional & Aspiring from CWILL • Applying for grants for author/illustrator visits to schools and readings • Manuscript consulting services list – free download of PDF Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Western Canada Chapter - an American professional organization similar to CANSCAIP based in Los Angeles with a membership of over 19,000. Full membership benefits extend to unpublished writers.
Local conferences, events, festivals Serendipity - Annual. Features various representatives of the literary profession from writers to illustrators to editorial directors. Surrey International Writers’ Conference - Annual. Where: Surrey, BC /Oct. 19–21, 2012. The Vancouver Writers Fest - Annual. Where: Granville Island, Vancouver. When: Oct. 16–21, 2012. More info here. Western Washington chapter of SCBWI (Society of Book Writers and Illustrators) - Annual conference for all skill levels, with presentations, panels, workshops, and critiques by editors, agents, and published authors. Where: Seattle / When: each April. The Word On The Street (WOTS) - Annual. Where: Vancouver, BC / When: Sept. 28–30, 2012 (Sept 30th is an all-day event at the downtown central library).
Markets for young writers Canadian Student Writing Contests and Resources are listed through Wordwrights Canada. The Claremont Review - an international print magazine of young adult writers. It accepts manuscripts by writers 13–19.
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Writing advice – picture books & poetry continued…
Cyberkids - accepts work for online publication. KidsWWwrite - e-zine for young authors and readers. Hamilton Public Library has an annual Power of the Pen contest, poetry and short fiction, for ages 12–18. Look for it in the spring. Check the Teen Page. Launch Pad: Where Young Authors and Illustrators Take Off! is a new print magazine devoted to publishing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, book reviews, and artwork by children ages 6–12. No publication fees. Info blog New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams - print magazine edited by 8 to 14-year-old girls. Owl Magazine is a print magazine for ages 9–13. Accepts drawings, poems, short stories and photos for publication. Skipping Stones - Arun Narayan Toké, Editor. Stone Soup is a print magazine of writing by young people up to age 13. Surrey Public Library runs a Young Writers contest every year. Toronto Public Library has the Young Voices Contest for Teens (age 12–19). Toronto Star Starship Writing Contest is open to kids 15 and younger. Wet Ink Magazine - a literary, visual arts and multimedia magazine for and by Canadian youth aged 13–19. What If? magazine, published out of Guelph, takes writing by teens.
(Say it slowly) where teens can write for teens Teens can submit their writing and artwork. Or apply to be a regular Youthink writer.
by writers for writers
More markets for young writers
â€œBegin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stopâ€? Lewis Carroll
Wordworks Fall 2012 Writing for Children and Youth. Wordworks is the literary magazine produced by the Federaton of BC Writers
Published on Oct 18, 2012
Wordworks Fall 2012 Writing for Children and Youth. Wordworks is the literary magazine produced by the Federaton of BC Writers