Awesome Authors 2019

It’s time for all the young writers in Ottawa to get their awesome on!

The Ottawa Public Library wants you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write a poem, short story, or comic (or all three!) to enter into the OPL’s 2019 Awesome Authors youth writing contest.

The contest is open to Ottawa students aged 9-18. There will be two age categories this year: 9-12 and 13-18. There are two language categories: English and French. And three genres: poems, short stories, and comics. (You can enter one piece in each genre in each language, if you’re an extra-awesome author, for a total of six submissions!)

You’ll find all the important rules here on the OPL website.

I’ll be judging the English fiction submissions in the 9-12 age category — and I can’t wait to read your stuff! Read More

Young Writers’ Markets

If you are a young writer of fiction or poetry, here are some excellent places to submit your work The updated lists are divided into teen markets and children’s markets (with a bit of overlap).

Online and Print Magazines for Teen Writers:

The Blue Marble publishes poetry, prose and art from writers aged 13-20.


canvas

Canvas is a literary journal that publishes prose and poetry by writers aged 13-18.


Sadly, Cicada Magazine closed in August 2018. Read More

NaNoWriMo on the Slow Track

I posted a motivational blurb on the SCBWI Canada East website today, about slogging it through the last days of November’s novel-writing challenge.

I have never actually made the NaNoWriMo journey, meaning I’ve never done a start-to-finish draft in the month of November. I’ve started books, and I’ve finished books, but never both in November.

But I’m really fond of the whole idea and how it motivates so many people–because who couldn’t use a little more motivation?

My first children’s novel, Walking Backward, began as a NaNoWriMo effort. 
Read More

Inktober for those afraid to Draw

It’s the first day of Inktober. Illustrators know this. The rest of us might not — but we should, all of us. Because Inktober is awesome. And it’s for everyone.

Inktober began in 2009, by artist Jake Parker, as a challenge to improve drawing skills and practices. The gist is simple: you make an ink drawing every day of the month. 31 days, 31 drawings. And you can share it all online.

Inktober is, obviously, intended for artists. But anyone who can make a mark on a page is welcome to participate. Doodlers, calligraphers, even writers. Read More

Writing Spaces

My tiny home office was featured in this week’s “Writing Spaces,” a regular blog post from The New Quarterly.

This is a fabulous weekly feature from TNQ that offers a peek into the working spaces of each issue’s writers, along with inspiring anecdotes and tips from the authors. Definitely a blog worth following.

My writing space is among the first of many to be featured in the coming weeks from authors whose work is in Issue #147 of The New Quarterly, released this summer.

My story, On Sulphur Mountain, is one of eight fiction pieces in the current issue.  (There are also great essays and poems.) Subscribe and get digital access to the magazine or a year’s worth of gorgeous print journals.)

Feel free to leave a reply here describing your workspace and what you love best about it. (I love the light in mine.)

Have a great weekend.

 

A Smattering of Evans

Me reading TNQ issue 147

I was thrilled to receive my contributor copies of Issue 147 of The New Quarterly this week. My short story, “On Sulphur Mountain,” is one of eight stories featured in this issue. I’ve had a chance to read them all, and they’re wonderful — so well-written and engrossing. I’m proud to have my work alongside them, set amidst a bounty of poetry and some great essays.

I couldn’t help but notice that the main character in another story, “Dome” by John Van Rys, is named Evan. Read More

Immersed in Student Writing

A stage full of awesome authors at the Ottawa Public Library’s Awesome Authors Award Ceremony this week.

This Tuesday, I had the pleasure of calling the names of twelve young writers whose short fiction won places in the Ottawa Public Library’s Awesome Authors Contest. What a pleasure to be one of this year’s judges and to read excerpts from the fantastic mix of winning stories: humour, drama, sci-fi, horror, and sad, sad contemporary realism. What talented young writers.

I’ve been immersed in student writing this season. Read More

The Art of Story: SCBWI Canada East Conference

SCBWI Canada East banner, artwork by Farida Zaman

I always look forward to my regional SCBWI conference. This year it’s especially exciting because I’ll be giving a workshop myself. My topic: revision.

I used to dread revisions. I loved drafting; I loved polishing; but I loathed the grunt work in between the two.

I spent the past year revising a middle-grade animal adventure novel, transforming it from something cute and fun into something with heart and soul. This novel taught me to love revision. It’s not all grunt work. It’s discovery and revelation. And it’s what I’m most looking forward to in my next work.

I can’t wait to pass on my newfound love and all I’ve learned about revision to the SCBWI Canada East conference-goers.

Art of Story illustration by Alice Carter

If you can’t face the topic of revision–or if you yearn for revision and so much more–you’ll want to check out the full lineup of workshops and presentations at the Art of Story conference. There are workshops hosted by editors, agents, authors, and illustrators, with topics ranging from craft to marketing. There’s a first-page critique session open to everyone, plus one-on-one manuscript critiques for those who register early. There’s even a party to kick it all off.

Check out the full conference schedule and the speaker lineup on the SCBWI Canada East website.

If you are a Canadian children’s writer, established or aspiring, come join us in Ottawa from April 27-29, to hone your craft, have some fun, and feel the love of the Canadian kidlit community.

Hope to see you at the Art of Story.

Awesome Young Authors in Ottawa

Yes, it’s on! The Ottawa Public Library is holding its annual Awesome Authors Contest for youth aged 9-17. If you’re a young person in Ottawa with something to say, get to work on saying it well.

(BTW, the 9-year-olds don’t have to compete with the high-schoolers. The contest is divided into three age categories: 9-11; 12-14; and 15-17. For each age division, there are fiction, poetry, and graphic storytelling categories in both French and English.)

The contest opened on December 1st, so there are bound to be young people already halfway through their second revision. But don’t worry. There’s lots of time to catch up. The contest is open till February 19, 2018.

There will be prizes for first, second, and third place (and up to 3 honorary mentions) in each genre in each age division. Every one of the winning pieces will be published in this year’s Pot-pourri anthology. (See my recent blog post for information on last year’s Pot-pourri.)

There are many rules to follow (no 8,000-word stories, please!), and specific requirements to enter. Be sure to check out the details on the OPL’s Awesome Authors webpage.

If you need a little help getting started or finishing up, come out to one of the Awesome Author writing workshops being held this month and next, led by the contest judges (including me):

Writing workshops for ages 9-12:

Writing Workshops for ages 13-17:

Hope to see you there!

 

Good Reading

Me proudly reading this year’s Pot-Pourri anthology

I just received my copies of the latest Pot-Pourri — that’s the annual volume of youth writing published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (FOPLA). This lovely book contains all the winning poems and stories from last year’s Awesome Authors Contest, a youth writing competition held every winter by the Ottawa Public Library.

There’s a lot of good reading in this one slim volume. Some of the pieces are so moving and marvellous — funny, sad, fascinating — they rise above any age expectations you might have. I’ve read all the English pieces several times, and I’m still amazed at how talented their young authors are.

I had the good fortune of editing the English half of this year’s collection. I was one of several judges of the contest last winter, and as I was reading the entries all those months ago, knowing there would be some excellent pieces in the final book, I thought, “I hope I get to edit these.” And I did. And now I have the book in hand, and I’m so proud to have been part of it.

Some recent Pot-Pourri covers, all designed by student artists

You can buy a copy of the 2017 Pot-pourri directly from the FOPLA website for $15 Cdn. (You can buy all the previous years’ anthologies, too, for a mere five bucks apiece.)

You can learn more about the Awesome Authors Contest and last year’s winners here on the FOPLA website or here on the spring OPL news release.

If you’re a young writer in the Ottawa area and you’d like to see your work in this anthology one day, it’s time to sharpen your pencils. The 2018 Awesome Authors Contest will be starting this month — I’ll keep you posted on workshops and deadlines once the contest officially opens. You’ll have lots of time to get your very best poems and stories ready. They might end up in a beautiful new edition of Pot-Pourri next fall.

In the meantime, enjoy reading this year’s collection.

That’s all from me for this Friday. Have a great weekend.

The Squirrels are Coming!

Mwa ha ha. Making plans for winter.

Wonderful news: When the Squirrels Stole my Sister, my upcoming picture book with Fitzhenry & Whiteside, is going to be illustrated by Patricia Storms. 🙂

Patricia is an accomplished author/illustrator well-known in the Canadian kidlit scene. Her illustrations range from super-adorable to just-a-little-creepy (intentionally so, of course!) — which makes it totally exciting to know that she’ll be bringing my story to life, because I have no idea what kind of pictures she’ll create to do it.

Will my clever little squirrels be diabolically drawn? Or will their cunning natures be hidden behind sweet furry faces with just a glint in the eye? I can’t wait to find out.

But wait I will have to, because it takes a while to illustrate a book. I don’t have a firm publication date just yet, but it’s in the works. (A little girl with a big bag of peanuts has no idea what’s coming.) I’ll announce more here as the book develops.

In the meantime, check out the recently published books in Fitzhenry & Whiteside’s Fall 2017 catalogue.

And check out this week’s CBC radio stories about a baby squirrel rescue and a red squirrel study. Or just step outside, if you live most anywhere other than the poles, and you can probably find a busy squirrel to study yourself. They are certainly active this time of year, making their plans for winter….

For now, here’s an assortment of Patricia’s book covers: Never Let You Go, written and illustrated by Patricia Storms (Scholastic); The Pirate and the Penguin, written and illustrated by Patricia Storms (Owlkids Books); and 13 Ghosts of Halloween, written by Robin Muller and illustrated by Patricia Storms (Scholastic):

Adorable.
Cute
Just a little creepy

 

 

 

 

 

Not much just chillin’

That’s all from me for this Friday.

(I write that as if I’d blogged last Friday instead of, oh, two months ago. I always intend to write again the following week but alas, I’ve been busy with my amateur squirrel studies. I’ll try to pop in a bit more often, and maybe even write a fable.)

Have a great weekend.

My Latest Story (Not for Children)

My latest short story, “Mr. Boots,” has just come out in the Summer 2017 issue of The Fiddlehead. (Yes, that’s me peeking inside the magazine at left, and yes, I could use some eye drops and a mascara wand. What can I say? I’ve been up late writing.)

The Fiddlehead is one of Canada’s most esteemed and longstanding literary journals. It’s an honour to have my writing in its pages.

I wrote short fiction for adults back in my twenties, but I stopped writing in that form for a long while and only recently resumed. I’ve had a couple of pieces published online and in anthologies in the past few years, but this is my first lit-mag publication since, oh, the twentieth century. It feels good to be back.

“Mr. Boots” is not for children (though it has a child protagonist) and it’s not comedic. To people who only know my children’s novels, it may seem out of character. But it’s actually a return to my roots.

The full cover, without the red eye.

I have not stopped writing for children. In fact, I’m in the thick of a new children’s novel, and I just received a grant from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec to finish it. More on that in posts to come.

For now, check out “Mr. Boots” and all the other great stories and poems in this gorgeous issue. Visit The Fiddlehead website to order a single copy or a year’s subscription.

Have a great weekend.

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