Wandering and Wondering through 2015

As I’ve been sitting around eating chocolates, drinking coffee and enjoying having both kids home for the holidays, I’ve also been reflecting on 2015, a busy year for me, especially in terms of writing. I did lots of wandering (14 trips by air, thousands of kilometers – a few too many, I think – Cuba, Georgia, Vancouver, Surrey, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Toronto, Maine, Ottawa, etc.) and plenty of wondering, marveling at sights I saw, things I heard. I met hundreds of readers, and lots of writers, too, including Alice Priestley, the illustrator of my first book, Rainbows in the Dark (2005).

In May, one of my favorite moments was seeing the mountains in British Columbia, a glorious sight I hadn’t seen since 1981. Stunningly beautiful! P1000544Another favorite, as part of TD Book Week, was arriving at a Sikh private school, donning a bright orange headscarf (which clashed with my pink shirt), before being greeted enthusiastically by a hundred smiling five and six-year-olds, several asking if I really had written If Dogs Could Talk, one of my books with Caramel Tree Readers. So sweet.

P1010166

With fellow juror (and new friend:) Rachna Gilmore.

In  December, I had dinner at the Governor General’s house, Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, and got to enjoy the company of many of Canada’s literary luminaries, briefly. In the lead-up to that Literary Awards ceremony, as part of the jury (with David Poulsen and Rachna Gilmore), I had the privilege of reading 148 Canadian novels published for young readers in 2014/15. There’s a lot of talent in our midst!

My newest book, The King of Keji, came out from Nimbus in June, I wrote (and read) pretty much every day all year, and saw my first (and possibly last) coy-wolf while loving being artist in residence at Fool’s Paradise, former home of Canadian artist, Doris McCarthy, overlooking the Scarborough Bluffs.

Fool's Paradise - a perfect reflection.

Fool’s Paradise – a perfect reflection.

2016 looks like it will be a less busy year, but before 2017 arrives, I’m hopeful of finding homes for the two novels I think I’ve finally finished polishing (possibly, maybe, hopefully…). And, of course, lots of new ideas to start getting down on paper. Also, Sky Pig (with intricate plasticine illustrations by Suzanne Del Rizzo) 9781927485989 (2)will fly out from Pajama Press in April, 2016.

Sincere thanks to YOU for being part of my year; I hope your 2016 will be pleasantly busy, full of good health and cozy time spent with those who matter most to you. Take good care of yourself, and I hope to see you again next year!

Libraries, Old and New; WOTS

One of the (increasingly) few memories I have from my pre-school life is of waiting for my fifth birthday so I could get my own library card. You had to be five, but you also had to be able to print your own name! img003The library in my hometown of Truro, Nova Scotia in 1965 was an old wooden structure, and the children’s department was at the very top of a very steep set of stairs – I remember the excitement of climbing those stairs, wondering what treasure I’d take home that day. Sadly, I couldn’t find an image of that library online, but this is my hometown (Wolfville, NS) library now, formerly the train station, back when we had trains! I’m a frequent visitor.

Wolfville Library

Last week, I finally got to see the new Halifax Central Library while I was there reading The King of Keji at The Word on the Street. It’s stunning, as you can see. halifax librarySo spacious and open inside with sweeping staircases, downloadcomfortable seating, very kid-friendly, there’s a coffee shop and you can even check out your books yourself by scanning your card and the book barcodes. Librarians are some of my favourite people (especially the fabulous women at the Wolfville Library!), and I feel like that social interaction is a huge part of the library experience for so many people; hopefully the scanning option won’t eliminate that for those who aren’t in a hurry.

And a shout-out to the MANY volunteers who organized and delivered an excellent Word on the Street experience for one and all at the Halifax Central Library last weekend. download (1)This was the first year WOTS was run entirely by volunteers, and it seemed very well thought-out and lots of people came out to show some love for local books, writers, booksellers (yay, Woozles!) and literacy. Thank you!

How’s your local library these days?

The King of Keji – Launched!

P1000620I have to say launches are super anxiety-producing for me. Asking people to come out and celebrate me isn’t my favorite thing to do, but it’s part of this writing gig, I guess. Here are a few pics – huge thanks to EVERYBODY (especially people who don’t have a particular interest in kids’ books:) who came out to show their support – big shout-out to my friend and neighbor, Karen Duncan (about to retire from teaching) for helping the enthusiastic kids have fun making their crowns – I owe you! P1000665

 

 

And thanks to everybody at Nimbus Publishing (publicist Emily MacKinnon pictured here with Patsy and me) for the book, The Box of Delights Bookshop (yeah Indies!) for hosting, and to illustrator Patsy MacKinnon for the beautiful paintings!

To the parents, grandparents, friends, aunts and uncles, etc. who encourage and nurture a love of books in the young people in their lives – you’re the best!P1000651
image002P1000638image001 (2) - Copy