Saturday, 19 September 2020

Blackwells and the Briny Deep is a Canadian Children's Book Centre Expert Pick!

"An adventure full of creatures both terrifying and wonderful...perfect for reading aloud in a family setting." Canadian Children's Book Centre, September 2020

My title from 2018, Blackwells and the Briny Deepis one of the Expert's Picks in the September issue of the CCBC Newsletter, thank you! Really honoured to be here with just a few other books.

Here's the whole newsletter link: CCBC September 2020

There are so many great ideas to keep your children reading and engaged during COVID, I hope you'll take a moment to look over their reading suggestions. 

The story of the Blackwells and their scary day at sea is one that I have always wanted to write since I've been lucky enough to sail on the Great Lakes since I was ten years old. I'm super happy to see this book get some critical attention. If your child enjoys scary stories that aren't too scary (and zombie pirates, mermaids and sea yarns in general), they'll probably love this! This series has been called "Goosebumps from north of the border" by Kirkus Reviews.

It's Book 5 in the award-winning Weird Stories Gone Wrong series (6 books in total), for kids ages 8-12, enjoy.

More information:

Saturday, 12 September 2020

How to write Spooky Stories, writing prompts and more on the CABIN TALES podcast...

Do you have a budding young writer at home? With COVID upon us again this fall, parents, teachers, and children may be looking for engaging, quality online listening. This week I'm honoured to be a guest author on the CABIN TALES podcast, a smart podcast for writerly children, produced by author Catherine Austen. 
Episode 3 is "Spooky Stories Are All Around Us," and offers writing prompts, ideas, writing tips and a spooky story for young authors. You'll find writing truths from fellow authors Amelinda Berube, Kari-Lynn Winters and me, too.

Here's a clip of me talking about using a phobia (long car trips) to fuel a story, in this case Myles and the Monster Outside: Philippa Dowding Clip

And how some of my ideas come from dreams, particularly OCULUM and The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden: Cabin Tales clip 2

Here's the link to the full episode, beware the terrifying chipmunk: SPOOKY STORIES

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Summer 2020 on Mute

Author and husband, July 2020

Congratulations dear reader, you made it through Summer 2020, the summer on mute. 
Or the "Bummer Summer" as some family members have dubbed it.

Every year at this time, I do a quick recap of the summer months, mostly because I haven't posted much in July and August. I wasn't expecting to have much to share this year due to COVID, but when I look back, I find it wasn't a completely uneventful summer.

It was just quiet. Muted. 

So, here are 5 moments to share with you, from the summer on mute:

1. 30th Anniversary, early July.  It wasn't three weeks in England like we had planned, but we did go back for the day to the small Ontario town where we were married. We stood on the steps of the little church and remembered all our friends and family there with us in July 1990. It was hot, quiet, and kind of a romantic day, which surprised us.

New cottage, new dog, same lake

2. New cottage, new baby. We visited a friend's new cottage and met theirnew grandchild, the first for our group of friends from university. I kept having flashbacks all day, of the baby's father when he was an infant and the last set of grandparents who inhabited that space in the old cottage. I realized as I sat there watching the baby go from hand to hand, that we're all connected through time, regardless of where we are in space. And babies are cute. (We were all quarantined and/or tested for COVID19, and masked btw.)

3. Niagara-on-the-lake is peaceful. We also had a few visits to my daughter in NOTL, where I read a lot and looked at Toronto (my hometown) across the bottom end of Lake Ontario. 

Toronto is out there!

4. Edited, wrote and did some magazine work. The world does go on, and I managed to do a live online presentation in June (I start at 43 minutes), edit an upcoming book in July (more to come about Firefly), and work on a sequel to Oculum the rest of the time. I also did some magazine work in September, for Canada's History magazine, which was very welcome.

Peel Virtual Forest of Reading Presentation

5. I had another birthday. A nondescript, middle-ish of the decade birthday, but what was noteworthy is that I spent it among friends, after we all quarantined and/or knew our COVID status for various reasons. It was fun, and when we took our masks off to eat cake, almost normal.

I also went kayaking, played guitar around a campfire, and walked or worked out at home, every day.

Keeping the kids out of
the birthday cake!

So there it is friends, my summer on mute. I hope you're all coping okay, and that you found some unexpected joy in the
Great Muting of Summer 2020.

As the kids head back to whatever school looks like this year, and for however long it lasts, I'm pleasantly surprised to realize it's okay to be quiet. And muted. At least for a while.

PD/September 2020

Socially distanced author playing guitar around the campfire.
Until next summer everyone ...