Endless mask-making

Masks for the Food Bank

Demand is great, and I’ve now made over 3,000 masks,including these lovely sea-inspired ones worn by my writing retreat pals, raising thousands of dollars for local food banks and school backpack programs. The latter (facilitated by the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Wolfville)  is even more important now that Nova Scotia is reopening schools at full capacity in September. Masks are now mandatory in all indoor public places in Nova Scotia, and people are being super-compliant. We’ve been pretty much Covid-free for several weeks now, although that will change once all the interior Canadian borders reopen – date TBA, and people start flying around the country more often. I’m really getting frustrated by not seeing Liam & Rachel, Shannon & Peter (and sweet puppy Winnie)

and feeling as if I may book a flight to Ontario very soon, although I’d have to quarantine for 14 days upon returning…

People have been very generous in donating in exchange for my homemade 100% cotton masks, but I’ve had to start putting each one in a plastic bag after someone was trying them on at the local farm market, the amazing staff of which is kindly selling them for me!!  Some people…

Haven’t done much writing/art with all this mask-making, but I’m seizing the opportunity to raise money and do some good, and honestly, I don’t see mask-wearing disappearing anytime soon. If the entire world had made masks mandatory at the outset (as Thailand did; 70 million people, 3,300 or so cases), would we all be in a lot better place than we find ourselves in August, 2020?

How’s the battle going in your neck of the woods?

Showing some love to Winn Dixie (the book dog, but the store’s good, too)

The book I wish I’d written

Just finished my annual reading of BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE (Newbery Honor Book, 2001, and DiCamillo’s first published book), the kind of book I always tell students I’m hoping to write one day, if I live that long! She won the Newbery Medal in 2004 for THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX. Googling Kate DiCamillo (in vain hopes she may offer workshops from time to time) led me to two things:

  1. She’s doing a bookshop reading/meet and greet in Saratoga Springs, NY on November 1st, and
  2. this site:


wherein Kate DiCamillo allows us to see inside her process, draft by draft.

Her notes after each of the drafts show that her process is pretty much like any writer’s – one word at a time.

This first draft is how I do all first drafts; single-spaced, capital-free, light on the punctuation and full speed ahead.

She was lucky to find that India Opal’s voice was there from the very beginning. Maybe that’s why the book is so good.

At one point, she talks about putting her name and address on the first page, a sign that the manuscript is progressing, and she thinks she may actually have a story she’s going to try to get published. I do that, too, and I bet a lot of writers do. It’s almost like we don’t want to put our name on it until we think it may be worthy.

So much of writing is like walking down a dark hallway with your arms out in front of you. You bump into things.

Progress is hard to measure in any creative endeavor, I think. It’s often a matter of instinct, of feeling your way through what works and what doesn’t. The only thing I’ve found that works is to keep on working and not to expect that you’ll get it right the first time.

And here’s Kate speaking so eloquently for a couple of minutes about the importance of reading aloud.


But enough of that – now I need to figure out how I can get to Saratoga Springs, NY on November 1st… Except that rather than being in a bookshop, it’s in a 500-seat venue. Do I really want to line up for that long just to say hi and get a book signed? Probably not. But I do have her latest book (BEVERLY: RIGHT HERE) on request at the Wolfville Library, although it’s not available yet.

I did a live TV interview about my new middle grade novel, SAY WHAT YOU MEAN, a few days ago.  The publisher, Nevermore Press, is donating $1 from each book sold until Thanksgiving to Feed Nova Scotia. Here’s the link, in case you’re interested: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2419569621662341

P.S. Did a Library reading yesterday, and the South Shore Public Libraries bought every kid there a copy of SAY WHAT YOU MEAN – love libraries! And I signed all 58 copies:)

Who’s your writing hero(s)? Have you ever met them?