Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Entries in torkidlit (21)

Tuesday
Feb282017

THE DOLL'S EYE by Marina Cohen (Roaring Brook Press)

Deliciously creepy! I finished this in two sittings. I'm a longtime horror fan, and this was right up my alley; I was inspired to do some fan art, as you can see above. And now I'm even more creeped out by those old-fashioned glass-eyed dolls than I was before! :-)

You can find out more about The Doll's Eye on the Macmillan site.

The book came out TODAY from Roaring Brook Press!

 

Monday
Sep232013

Interview: Lisa Dalrymple and Suzanne Del Rizzo on the making of SKINK ON THE BRINK (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)

Title: SKINK ON THE BRINK

Author: Lisa Dalrymple - Illustrator: Suzanne Del Rizzo

Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside -  June 2013

I first heard about Skink On The Brink at a CANSCAIP meeting. Not only was the title intriguing, but I love the inspiring publication success story (details below). Lisa and Suzanne are popular children's book presenters; their activity session at Toronto's Word On The Street this past weekend drew over 100 young people! Lisa and Suzanne were kind enough to be interviewed for Inkygirl, and both give a TON of valuable info and insights into their process.

Lisa Dalrymple loves to travel and has lived in such countries as South Korea, Thailand and Scotland. She now lives with her husband and their three children in Fergus, Ontario. Her story, Skink on the Brink, won The Writers’ Union of Canada’s Writing for Children Competition in 2011 and is now a picture book illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo. Lisa is also the author of If It’s No Trouble… A Big Polar Bear and its sequel, Bubbly Troubly Polar Bear, coming in October 2013.

Where to find Lisa online: Website - Facebook

Suzanne Del Rizzo loves the squish of plasticine between her fingers. Her illustrations appear in Skink on the Brink (Fitzhenry & Whiteside Spring 2013), written by Lisa Dalrymple. Her cover illustrations appear in the YA novel The Ehrich Wiesz Chronicles: Demon Gate ( Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Fall 2013) written by Marty Chan. She lives in Oakville Ontario with her husband and four children.

Where to find Suzanne online: Website - Twitter - Facebook (personal) - Facebook (professional)

About SKINK ON THE BRINK:

Stewie is a very special skink — he has a beautiful blue tail which gives him a superpower against his enemies. Stewie loves singing his songs and rhymes as he dashes around his home. But as he grows up his beautiful blue tail starts to turn grey — he can't call himself Stewie the Blue anymore! And without his rhymes, his home by the pond doesn't feel as special either. A new Tell-Me-More Storybook about self-esteem, change, and growing up. Includes non-fiction back matter with bonus information and activities.

See the Fitzhenry & Whiteside SKINK ON THE BRINK page for supplemental materials created by Lisa and Suzanne, including coloring pages, activity pages, word searches, and more.

For lots of photos of Suzanne's amazing plasticine-illustration process, read further down in the interview.

A few of Suzanne's plasticine carving tools. Read further for lots of photos of how she created the amazing illustrations in SKINK.

Q. What was your publication process for SKINK ON THE BRINK?

Lisa:

I actually can’t remember when I first started researching and writing the manuscript, but I think it was sometime around 2008. (It usually takes a couple of years for me to develop and craft a picture book story until it is finally submission ready.) During this time, I was also working on other books and I was trying to learn the ropes of the publishing industry by getting out, meeting other writers and professionals, and attending trade shows, festivals, etc.

Christie Harkin, editor at Fitzhenry & Whiteside. Photo from Cynsations interview.In September 2010, I went to Word on the Street in Toronto. I remember that it was first thing in the morning that I saw Christie Harkin, the kids’ books editor at Fitzhenry & Whiteside, getting their booth ready for the day. I knew I wanted to talk to Christie, to find out what she was looking for in a manuscript and to establish a personal connection. However, first I had to walk around for a while to try to summon up the nerve. When I finally did, it was the end of the day and Christie was packing up her supplies to go home! She told me that she was developing a line of “Tell Me More” storybooks. In these books, while the story is, of course, the most important element, there’s also an additional educational component that can be more fully explored in the non-fiction back matter. We both agreed that Skink on the Brink might be a good fit for this line and that I should send it to her.

Suzanne and Lisa do a signing with Michael Martchenko & Loris Lesynski at Toronto's Word On The Street

There was a long period where I heard nothing, but I was getting used to no response if an editor really wasn’t interested. By the time February 2011 rolled around, I had completely given up. I went with a group of friends to the OLA Superconference in February and some of them stopped by the Fitzhenry & Whiteside booth to say ‘hi’ to Christie. When she noticed my nametag, she said, “Hey! You’re the skink lady!” I’d never been so excited to think that she remembered me and my manuscript. We had a “pre-editorial” discussion right there and I went home to create yet another draft of the book I’d now been working on for three years.

When April 2011 rolled around and neither of the books I had under consideration with two separate houses had yet acquired that elusive “yes,” I submitted them both to the Writing for Children competition hosted by The Writers’ Union of Canada. This competition receives between 600-800 entries each year and I submitted every year so, of course, I had no real expectation that I would win.

But then there was a day, the same day that I heard from Tuckamore Press that they were ready to send me a contract for my book If It’s No Trouble… A Big Polar Bear, when the phone rang and Nancy MacLeod informed me that Skink on the Brink had won the competition – and that I was sworn to secrecy for almost a week! By this point, Christie and I had a friendly relationship and I think it may have been my post on Facebook, “This is one of the most exciting days of my life,” that prompted her to get in on the excitement and send me my first official book contract!

Suzanne adding detail to one of her illustration elements. Wow.

In October 2011, we signed the contract and Christie let me know that they were considering Suzanne Del Rizzo to illustrate the book. She sent me a few samples of Suzanne’s work. Of course, I was thrilled! Suzanne’s plasticine artwork is beyond anything I would have imagined for Stewie and his story and I was so excited to see it finally start coming to life.

In January 2012, Christie and I got started on the ‘first round’ of edits, which actually became the ‘never-ending round’ of edits as we kept passing the manuscript back and forth, trying to get some of the rough spots ‘just right’ so that Suzanne could get started.

And then the real fun began. I was so excited that Suzanne would consult with me about the illustrations. Her artwork was fabulous and she wanted to check in with me from a research perspective. We both wanted to make sure that we were using our combined knowledge to make sure that the book was as biologically accurate as possible.

Once the artwork was done, in January 2013, I received the ‘final round’ of edits from Christie and the book went to the printer. Then, in May, Suzanne and I were able to drop by the Fitzhenry & Whiteside office to finally hold the finished book in our hands!

 

Q. What was your writing/illustration process for SKINK ON THE BRINK?

Lisa:

I wish I could say I have a process that indicated some sort of routine but, working from home for the past few years with small kids around, any routine has been pretty hard to establish. I’m hoping this will improve when my youngest daughter starts school fulltime this year because I know how important it is to have that dedicated writing time. 98% of writing is pure hard work – just keeping that butt in your chair and working, preferably with few to no interruptions! Sure, there’s that other 2% of writing that’s genius inspiration, where the brilliant ideas come to you (usually in the shower) and you hop out, words already flying from your fingertips. That kind of writing can be done almost anytime, anywhere (although I would recommend getting out of the shower first.) But the other 98% is very difficult to do when there are so many demanding distractions of family life and when we all know how tempting it is to give in to distraction in the first place.

At the same time, my kids make huge contribution to my writing process. Getting their input and ideas, as I’m crafting a story is an invaluable part of the process for me. I can’t tell you how many years we’ve spent out in the wilderness on family camping trips, pretending to be skinks and shouting things like “I’m Stewie the Blue” over the pond – and how informative and inspiring it is to see how kids engage with your story when it’s still all coming together in your mind.

Suzanne:

My process for this book began with lots of research. I must admit, I’d never heard of a skink before reading Lisa’s manuscript, so I had some homework to do before I even put pencil to paper. I researched all I could online and from books, and took photos at my cottage (which falls within the geographical region of the Common Five-Lined Skink’s habitat) to create a massive photo reference file:

Lisa also provided me with some great shots she had taken while at The Pinery Park where she had seen a Common Five-Lined skink up close. Stewie the skink would be undergoing both physical growth and coloration changes throughout the story, and because this was also a Tell-Me-More story book with accompanying cross-curricular back matter; I wanted to ensure I was maintaining as much biological accuracy as possible.

I envisioned having lots of secondary animals and vegetation to make Stewie’s habitat rich and authentic, so I also needed to familiarize myself with the various animals and plant life that co-exist in his habitat. I then created some sample art for Christie to show at the sales meeting, and after landing the contract, I began thumbnail sketches.

Christie encouraged Lisa and I to get in touch and bounce ideas around. It isn’t always standard for authors and illustrators to discuss a project, but in this case, I think it really helped us achieve something special with this book, it was a fantastic collaboration. It even led to some hilarious “oops” moments...like the time when I made a minor flub and put a moose in one illustration... moose don’t extend quite this far south- oops. Luckily Lisa caught it and it was easily changed to a white-tailed deer. If you look closely on my full- sized sketch:

...you can see the moose, yet in the final plasticine illustration it has been changed to a white-tailed deer:

Once thumbnail sketches were approved I worked up full-sized tight pencil sketches:

Because I work in plasticine, I prefer to create very detailed, tight pencil drawings to show my editor, and ideally make changes at this phase of the project. Each plasticine illustration can take from 20-40+ hours to create, depending on its size and complexity, so it’s much easier to erase a few pencil strokes at this point then to peel off/redo the plasticine final art.

My illustrations are essentially low relief sculptures created in plasticine(modelling clay) and pressed onto illustration board. The final plasticine art is then professionally photographed:

Before I started any final art I premixed the colours, after some initial colour studies, to create a colour chart:

I hang this next to my sketch for quick reference. Then I made up large amounts of my colours so I’d be able to maintain consistency throughout the illustrations. This type of chart comes in handy if I run out of a colour and need to make more. To begin each illustration, I’d smear on plasticine in a thin layer to create the background, then gradually build up and add on, then move onto foreground objects as I go:

 

(From Debbie: click here for a close-up look at some of the detail in the final illustration)

One of my favorite parts of any illustration is adding the final textures and details to really bring life to the piece. I use a variety of clay sculpting tools but often times I end up using my good ol’ favorites-a large safety pin, toothbrush, toothpick and my fingers. Sometimes I even make my own tools. For Stewie the skink, I made a selection of polymer clay tools that make impressions of reptile scales:

then I used an acrylic gloss to make him glisten.

For intricate parts, I sometimes worked on top of a Ziploc bag that I’d place directly over top of my sketch:

(Note from Debbie: Click here to see details in a bigger version of the woodpecker)

Then I could check to ensure that my sculpted objects were the correct size- plasticine has a tendency to spread and flatten as you work with it, which can be frustrating. So I kept a bowl beside me for my “rejects”...and believe me there were plenty. Faces are especially tricky to get just right. But that’s the great thing about plasticine- it never hardens, so you can just peel off the offensive bits and smoosh ‘em, and start afresh. My kids like to raid the reject bowl (as they call it) and put these bits to use in their own creations.

Having a little kiddo sitting next to me on the floor, working on their own plasticine is one of the best perks about having my art studio in my home. Kids are also the best source of inspiration.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring children's book writers and illustrators?

Lisa: There is so much important advice out there given by far more experienced writers than me – but you’re not going to hear any of it if you’re sitting in your house staring at a cursor on a screen...

Suzanne: ...or working away in your art studio. And I’m even more “green”, LOL but I am always happy to share what I have found helpful on my pursuit to publication.

Lisa: Get out there and meet other writers and creators. The camaraderie and support of a network of peers is invaluable – for information sharing, providing a shoulder to cry on (or a glass to clink with), for forming critique groups and for gaining access to all that wonderful advice.

Suzanne: Yes, you said it Lisa! We creative types tend to be an introverted lot, but it’s so important to put yourself out there and meet others, connect, share ideas and soak up advice from more seasoned author/illustrators. I have found this community of author/illustrators, both online and in person, to be extremely supportive and encouraging

Lisa: In Canada, some good places to start are organizations for children’s writers such as CANSCAIP and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC). Internationally, look into the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Any festivals, trade shows or signings in your area that have anything to do with books can also be useful places to connect with other writers or industry professionals.

Suzanne and Lisa with their editor Christie Harkin (in red shirt) and friends Jan Dolby & Joyce Grant at Toronto's Word On The Street

Suzanne: The thought of attending a large conference might be utterly terrifying if you are just starting out, so start small. Check out the monthly CANSCAIP meetings, or go to Word on The Street and mingle at your pace, or hop online and get to know the Twitter and Facebook community of illustrators and kidlit writers. I must admit to having a bad case of “imposter syndrome” when I first made the career switch from working in a science research lab, after all I didn’t have an art degree. Could I make a go of it as children’s book illustrator? I decided to be brave and just go for it. The self doubt still creeps up on me some days. But I had to start somewhere. Those first small steps, attending meetings and making initial connections paved the way to bigger conferences and helped me gain my footing as an illustrator.

Joining a critique group is invaluable. We often work in a bubble, isolated, “in the zone” creating, be it painting, sculpting or typing away the hours on our tread-desk. We tend to be our toughest critics which can often lead to self-doubt or worse still the dreaded “analysis paralysis”. Crit groups will not only help you grow as an artist, by pushing you in a direction you may never have considered on your own, but they also give valuable, honest criticism of your work and provide a safe environment to share new ideas, ask those silly questions, and learn about the industry. I belong to a few crit groups, one of illustrators, and another of authors and author/illustrators. Authors and illustrators look at manuscripts (and artwork) from a different perspective, and it can be very helpful to get both types of input, especially if you are interested in writing and illustrating, as I am.

Lisa: A critique group is really important. Even if your writing is already awesome, there is so much to be learned from seeing other perspectives on your work. Engaging with other people’s stories when offering a critique has taught me to see my own work with a more critical eye and helped me to develop further focus and direction in my own writing.

Suzanne: Like I mentioned above, get online and make connections. Joining Twitter, and Facebook is one place to start. Every Thursday at 9pm EST there is a Tweet Chat of kidlit creators, just follow #kidlitart, and check it out. They are a welcoming and fun bunch. Zero2illo is another fantastic resource I found extremely helpful when I was starting up my illustration career. It has many great resources, from setting up your portfolio website to designing a business plan. I also belong to their zero2illo confidential, a crit group of sorts but so much more.

Lisa: If anyone reading this has any further questions, or would like direction to an online critique group for serious children’s writers, they can feel free to contact me through my website. (www.lisadalrymple.com)

Suzanne: Yes, please contact me through my website (suzannedelrizzo.com) if you have any further questions.

Q. What are both of you working on now? Any other upcoming events or other info you'd like to share?

Lisa:  

Suzanne and I have decided to dub the past few months “the Summer of the Plasticine Road Show.” We’ve been taking Skink on the Brink and Suzanne’s fun and interactive plasticine workshops to events all over southern Ontario. For the fall, it looks like the Plasticine Road Show lives on! We were recently at Toronto's Word On The Street; I will be at the Family Resource Centre in Peterborough on September 28th, followed by a signing at Peterborough Chapters; we will be taking part in the Creemore Arts Festival on October 5th.

As for what I’m working on now, my third book, Bubbly Troubly Polar Bear, is due out with Tuckamore Books in October 2013.

I’m also very excited about a picture book with a multicultural theme that I’m working on, in which a young Canadian girl travels around the world with her archeologist parents. Through attending school in Thailand, Peru, Jamaica, Scotland and South Korea, she participates in both the differences and the similarities of daily life. I’m hoping to have her experiences to show, through an eight-year-old's eyes, that, while there are many diverse cultures, there can be a common understanding in the sharing of music, food or something as universal as a game of Hide & Seek.

Suzanne:

As for me, I just finished a project for a YA novel cover for The Ehrich Wiesz Chronicles: Demon Gate (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Fall 2013) by Marty Chan. I created the front and back of a steampunk medallion/Infinity Coil in polymer clay and watch components. I also have another Tell-Me-More storybook project in the works with Fitzhenry and Whiteside. I’m working up some of my manuscripts into picture book dummies for submission as well.

Q. How did your book launch go? And how has reception to SKINK ON THE BRINK been so far?

Complete with plasticine activities and a skinktastic chocolate cake:

the official launch of Skink on the Brink was at Story Planet in Toronto, but this summer has actually been a series of exciting launch events. We held a second launch at Roxanne’s Reflections, in my current hometown of Fergus and it was every bit as much fun as the first! Then our favourite event this summer was definitely introducing Skink on the Brink to the Pinery Provincial Park at their annual Savannah Festival.

The Pinery is one of the few places in Canada where the Common Five-lined Skink can be found and it’s the area that inspired the character of Stewie and his story. There was something really special about reading Skink on the Brink right in Stewie’s natural habitat and then working with the kids on their terrific plasticine creations on the very veranda where he’s known to hang out and bask.

The kids at all of our events have been tons of fun to work with and incredibly excited – especially those who managed to catch a glimpse of a real Five-lined Skink in the wild, and Suzanne and I now both have households full of plasticine critters! But the best part is definitely hearing the kids’ enthusiasm for conservation efforts and for protecting skinks and their habitat.

------

 
For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.

Wednesday
Dec052012

Interview with Adrienne Kress about THE FRIDAY SOCIETY: creative process & advice for writers

Photo of Adrienne: Tanja Tiziana. Steampunk background: http://valerianastock.deviantart.com

I met Adrienne Kress through the Toronto MG/YA Author Group (Torkidlit). She's smart, funny and passionate about her craft, and I've appreciated her advice and encouragement over the years. I interviewed Adrienne about her middle grade novels last year, and I can't wait to buy her new YA steampunk novel, THE FRIDAY SOCIETY (Dial, Dec/2012). More info on her website: AdrienneKress.com.

If you're in the Toronto area, I encourage you to go to Adrienne's book launch on Fri. Dec. 7th at the Gladstone Hotel. Check out this VERY cool event launch poster (click to see the bigger version):

Summary of the plot from a starred Quill & Quire review of THE FRIDAY SOCIETY: "The steampunk adventure novel, set in Edwardian London, follows the lives of three very different teenage girls, each of whom works for an important man but also maintains a life of her own. The three strangers – Cora (the lab assistant), Nellie (the magician’s assistant), and Michiko (the Japanese fighter’s assistant) – find themselves thrust together as the result of a horrific unsolved murder and quickly discover that, by combining their special skills, they can accomplish more than they ever thought possible."

Above: BookEnds interviews Adrienne about steampunk fiction, writing & THE FRIDAY SOCIETY.

Q. What was your creative process for The Friday Society?

The creative process for THE FRIDAY SOCIETY was very similar to the process for my writing in general.

It starts with thinking. Normally I get a cool basic idea. In this case it was a team of female Steampunk superheroes. Then I start to problem solve: how many should there be? Who are they? How do they meet? What is the basic plot that drives them? What are the supporting characters? Etc. The more I think, the more comes to me. It's all a bit of a logic exercise, "If they are like this, then this means that. If this is their job, that means that they probably live here. . ." and so on.

I really do just think about it for a good while. If the idea sticks with me, if it gives me butterflies still a week later, I take that as a sign that the idea has staying power. That's the key with writing for me. The act of writing is not glamorous. It's hard work. You aren't always inspired to write. In fact many days you feel a bit like a little kid who doesn't want to get up in the morning: "I don't wanna!!" So you need to have a project that you are completely passionate about. That you are willing to work through the rough patches for. At least I do.

Then comes figuring out the voice. This usually begins by jumping into the deep end and just starting writing. For THE FRIDAY SOCIETY it took a bit more effort than usual coming up with the voice. I started out writing it oldy-timey - a bit like the voice I used in my short story in the anthology CORSETS & CLOCKWORK - but it didn't really suit the light irreverent tone I was going for. Eventually the idea of writing the book in a contemporary voice came to me, and it made SO much sense. After all, the key to Steampunk is that it is anachronistic - a story set in the past but with futuristic technology and attitudes. Well why couldn't the actual act of telling the story be anachronistic too?? (if you want to read a post on the subject of anachronisms in Steampunk and why I chose the voice I did, check out my blog here). Once I had the voice, I could really get going on the story.

Photo: Tanja Tiziana

Now back when I was younger when I wrote just for fun, I realised I was the kind of person who enjoyed starting to write and seeing where the story took me. If I planned something out too much I got bored. I would feel, "Well, I already know what happens, what's the point in me writing it?" But I quickly learned that if I didn't do any planning whatsoever I would paint myself into a corner that I just couldn't get out of. So what I tend to do is a combination of both. I come up with a very basic plan, and then I fill in the blanks in the moment as I write. I also tend to plan in phases. So I'll plan the first fifth of the book, and when I'm coming to the end of that, I'll stop and plan the next fifth. Etc. As an example: with the beginning of THE FRIDAY SOCIETY I decided I wanted three chapters of introductions per girl and then I wanted my girls to meet up at a gala where they would come across . . . something mysterious. Seriously, that was it. Not much to go on, but still enough that I knew where I was going.

I should add at this point that I do tend to have a very basic idea of what the novel will be on the whole. This is part of what I think about during the thinking phase. But again it's very basic. In the case of TFS it was, "I want a Steampunk superhero origins story where my three girls defeat someone intent on destroying London for some reason. Also there will be subplots." :)

As I continue to write my book I, of course, come across bumps in the road and face difficult problem solving. This is always tricky to manage but I have learned that if I just stick with it I can get out to the other side. Sometimes it means moving onto something else or just going for a walk to clear my head. Sometimes it means sitting there and figuring it out one word at a time. And it's kind of amazing the direction your brain can take you. The characters of Hayao and Dr. Mantis were meant to be small one offs, but as I wrote them they just took on a life of their own and became integral to the story. This is why I enjoy not planning every little thing as I write, I love being surprised by my own story.

Now my method is simply mine. It certainly does not work for everyone. The most important thing is for a writer to find what works for him/her and be confident in that technique. So many blogs will tell you absolutes. But here's a secret: whatever works for you, works for you. Try different methods, see what sticks and discard that which doesn't. Don't be afraid to fail, and don't second guess when something is working for you.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Unfortunately my advice in not particularly glamorous nor original. It is: Read and Write. Ta da! To elaborate. . . Read. Read a lot. Read every genre and every medium. Read novels, non-fiction, plays, poetry, graphic novels, picture books etc etc and so forth. Everything you read will inform what you write. It will teach you the writing rules, it will teach you how to break those rules. It will teach you what you like, it will teach you what you aren't a fan of.

And then you have to write. You just have to write. A lot. You never really learn until you do. And you never really improve until you do a lot.

Q. Any upcoming events or current projects you'd like to share?

Well, the book launch for THE FRIDAY SOCIETY is this Friday at The Gladstone Hotel in Toronto

I am also doing a Steampunk event at Words Worth Books in Waterloo on December 12th with the wonderfully talented Morgan Rhodes (author of the upcoming FALLING KINGDOMS). 

Related links where you can find more info about Adrienne:

Adrienne Kress media kit

Adrienne Kress author website (Adrienne's also an actor, director, playwright & teacher)

On Twitter: @AdrienneKress, on Facebook

Inkygirl interview with Adrienne last year

Review of THE FRIDAY SOCIETY by Quill & Quire, Steampunk Canada

Some related interviews:

Avery's Book Nook: "The Friday Society" by Adrienne Kress

The Friday Society: A Chat with Adrienne Kress (The Book Smugglers)

Manga Maniac Cafe interview with Adrienne

 

 

Monday
Oct292012

Interview with YA author Maureen McGowan about DEVIANTS

Over the weekend, I was excited about attending Maureen McGowan's book launch for her new YA, DEVIANTS: THE DUST CHRONICLES (Book 1). I met Maureen through the Toronto Middle Grade and Young Adult Author Group, a fun network of kidlit/YA writers who meets monthly.

Maureen's one of my favorite YA authors: she's so positive, encouraging and supportive...plus I love her wicked sense of humor. :-)

Maureen kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her Deviants experience:

Could you tell us a little bit about your new book?

Deviants is the first book in a new sci-fi series called The Dust Chronicles. Glory is a sixteen-year-old orphan who can kill with her eyes. She and her younger brother are both "deviants", their DNA having been mutated by asteroid dust that covers most of the Earth. When her brother, a paraplegic, is discovered, she must accept the help of a mysterious, hulking boy to flee the domed city they live in before they're captured and killed.

Outside the dome they're pursued by horrible scab-covered monsters, called Shredders, and Glory discovers the truth about her parents' deaths. It's fast-paced, full of action--and some kissing too.

Did you plan it as being the first of a trilogy from the beginning?

Yes. I think each of the books work as standalone titles, but I knew that Glory's full story could not be told in one novel. She learns things in Deviants that completely change her perception of herself and the world, and more in book 2 that changes her perception of others and her ability to differentiate between right and wrong... Basically she needs more than one novel to work through all these issues.

How did DEVIANTS get published?

When the version of Deviants that sold was ready to go on submission, my agent knew that each of the traditional publishers already had several post-apocalyptic-set novels on their lists. We figured there was a good chance that, even if one of those editors picked up the series, it was unlikely they'd be able to give the books "lead title" treatment.

So to increase the chance for the books to find a wide audience, he suggested we try something different and submit to Amazon who, at the time, were just getting ready to announce plans to ramp up their publishing arm.

At first I thought the idea was crazy. But I took it as a sign when Connie Brockway and Barry Eisler (then Penny Marshall and James Franco and Deepak Chopra) among others, announced they were planning to publish with Amazon. Suddenly it seemed like a bold and interesting option.

Claudia Osmond & Maureen at the DEVIANTS book launch this past weekend

The editor offered very quickly after reading the manuscript. I had to keep the sale a secret for a long time and that was tough! We first discussed releasing my trilogy under their planned adult sci-fi imprint 47North (not yet announced at the time) but ultimately decided to release the books as young adult titles.

I think the young adult market is so exciting right now, with so many fabulous books that smash both age and genre barriers. Most of the best books I've read in the past three years have been young adult and I'm excited to be part of that world.

Fabulous DEVIANTS book cake at the launch (by Fanta Cakes)What's your typical work process?

When I’m working on a first draft, I’m obsessed about the word count—to the point where I’ll change a passage to the strikeout font, rather than delete it, even when I know that a section needs to go.

I need to see evidence of forward momentum to keep motivated and meet deadlines. First drafts are the hardest part for me—usually. I can lose confidence in the book and myself midway.

The days when ideas are coming fast and furious and my fingers are flying are magical—but those days are few and far between. I need to store up that fabulous feeling to get through the bad days.

If you could travel back in time and give your younger writer self some advice, what would it be?

Don’t expect publication to happen too quickly or on the same timeline as other authors. Don’t try to write only what you think will sell. Know the market, but don’t pander to it. Write books you’d want to read.

Any tips for aspiring writers on handling rejection?

Rejection is part of the business. Everyone—and I mean everyone— gets rejected multiple times, and at every point in his or her career. Rejection typically begins the first time you show your work to someone and ask for objective feedback, and it doesn’t end when you get a publishing contract.

Embrace rejection. Every “no” simply means that particular editor or agent wasn’t right for that particular project at that particular time.

Success in publishing is like being struck by lightning. All you can do is build more and better quality lightning rods to up your odds.

Maureen doing a reading at her book launch

Any news about upcoming projects or events you'd like to share?

Compliance, the second book in The Dust Chronicles will be released May 21, 2013, so readers won’t have to wait long to see what happens to Glory next.

I’ll be appearing at the World Fantasy Con, in Toronto, November 1- 4th. I’m also excited to be part of a “Teen Books for the Apocalypse” tour with Megan Crewe, Lesley Livingston, Leah Bobet, Cheryl Rainfield and Courtney Summers. We’ll be visiting bookstores in southern Ontario during the month of November. It feels a long way off right now, but I’ll also be attending the Teen Day at the RT Booklovers convention May 1-5, 2013.

Readers can find me at: www.maureenmcgowan.com, www.facebook.com/MaureenMcGowanBooks or follow @MaureenMcGowan on twitter.

Thanks so much for having me!

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Also see other Inkygirl Interviews.

Tweetables:

Publishing success=struck by lightning.All you can do is make better lightning rods. @MaureenMcGowan http://bit.ly/PCUAsS

Wednesday
Jun272012

Interview with Joanne Levy, author of SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE

 

I met Joanne Levy through the Toronto Area Middle Grade & Young Adult Author Group (Torkidlit), and was excited to hear about her upcoming book, Small Medium At Large, published by Bloomsbury. If you're in the Hamilton area on July 14th, do check out Joanne's book launch party. (Note: there will be CUPCAKES!)

You can follow Joanne on Twitter, on Facebook and on her website: Joannelevy.com.

About SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE: After she’s hit by lightning at a wedding, twelve-year-old Lilah Bloom develops a new talent: she can hear dead people. Among them, there’s her overopinionated Bubby Dora; a prissy fashion designer; and an approval-seeking clown who livens up a séance. With Bubby Dora leading the way, these and other sweetly imperfect ghosts haunt Lilah through seventh grade, and help her face her one big fear: talking to—and possibly going to the seventh-grade dance with—her crush, Andrew Finkel.

SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE comes out June 26 in Canada and July 3 in the U.S.

Could you please tell me a little bit about your book? What inspired you to write it? What it's about?

The story of what inspired SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE isn’t all that exciting—it began as a title. Normally, I get about halfway through a book before I come up with something to call it, but this title came to me fully formed one morning when I woke up. I was working on other projects at the time, so I tucked it away, but it nagged at me for about a year until I figured I’d better just sit down and write it. The title pretty much dictated what it would be about. 

Wow, it began as a title? That's great! Has this happened to you before or since? Do you keep a notebook of title ideas?

Thanks, Debbie! I actually have another really great title that popped into my head one day, but I have yet to write the book, so I’m going to keep that one under wraps for now. That said, it’s usually through writing the book that I come up with a title. I try to come up with something that’s catchy but has a lot of meaning at the same time—stuff with multiple layers/meanings are always good. But I will say that it’s nice when my subconscious does the heavy lifting for me and gives me something great to work with!

How much outlining do you do? What is your typical work process or work day?

I do zero outlining. I usually start with about four or five plot points in my head and just sit down and start writing. I’ve tried to force myself to become an outliner (which would save me a lot of trouble down the road) but my brain just doesn’t work that way. As for my work day? Well, I do have a full-time job to work around, so much of my writing is done in big chunks on the weekend and sometimes in the evenings, if I have time after Tweeting and Facebooking. ;-)


Do you do much revision? What's your revision/editing process?

 I’ll be honest: I don’t love editing. For me, the love is in the drafting and discovery of the plot and the characters, so the editing is the really hard work. I edit a lot as I go, so generally my first completed drafts are pretty clean.

BUT, when you don’t outline, editing for content beyond the first draft is really necessary to get everything in order and layer in details.  That means several drafts. I do try to put my first drafts away for a bit (and send them off to beta readers) so I can look at them with fresh eyes after some percolate time.

Then I pull them out and start with big picture stuff, much of which will have come from beta readers. Does the story work? Any big inconsistencies or holes? Are the characters’ motivations realistic? That’s usually two or three passes, especially if I’m adding/deleting scenes.

Then I start in a little closer with the detail work—names, events, timelines – does everything line up? After that, I do a final ‘find and replace’ to get rid of my overused words like ‘that’ and ‘just’ and my many physical tics – head shaking, nodding, winking.

Joanne's office

You originally began SMALL MEDIUM as a YA. What was your reaction when your editor suggested it would work well for a younger audience? 

The first time she came to me to ask if I would consider rewriting it, (and just to be clear, this wasn’t the editor who ended up buying the book) I was flattered that she loved it so much, but I thought someone else would like it as it was, so I respectfully declined.

The second time she came back and asked, nearly a year later, after we hadn’t sold the book, I figured why not? I really had no idea what I was doing, but she suggested some reading and had faith that I could do it. She was obviously right, and although she didn’t end up being the editor who bought the book, I’m grateful for her vision.

 

Do you have any advice for writers who aren't sure whether their work-in-progress is MG or YA? 

Read a lot of both and get a good ear for the voice. I wasn’t familiar with MG, (other than what I read as a kid)  until I started reading it for research, but it made a lot of sense once I got a good really good taste of it. Here’s an excellent list of differences – I particularly like #3 about the focus.


What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

 Read a lot. Write a lot. And prepare to toughen up your skin—this is a tough industry where heartache, rejection and bad news are pretty much guarantees. BUT if you are passionate, willing to put in the time and effort, and can stick it out, the rewards can be amazing!

What books are you reading right now?

 My tastes are very eclectic—as much as I love books for kids, I also enjoy grown up escape reads, too! I just finished an ARC of IN A FIX by Linda Grimes – a book for grownups, but filled with lots of laughs and was great fun. As for MG, I recently read THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate and loved it a lot. Up next is the YA, THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E. Smith – I’ve really been looking forward to reading this one for a while and I’ve been hearing lots of great things about it.

What are you working on now? Anything else you'd like people to know?

I’m working on several different projects: more middle grade and a funny YA that I’m hoping will be a great follow up to SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE as my readers get a bit older. Nothing I can talk about specifically just yet, but I can tell you, all the stuff I’m working on will make you laugh! 

Where can people find you online?

I’m all over the place!

Web: joannelevy.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JoanneLevyAuthor

Twitter: @joannelevy


Also see other Inkygirl Interviews.

Thursday
Jun142012

Interview: YA author Nelsa Roberto and THE BREAK

 I met Nelsa Roberto through the Toronto Middle Grade and Young Adult Author Group (a.k.a. Torkidlit). I love Nelsa -- she's so positive and funny and encouraging; I've appreciated her encouragement of my own writing.

I enjoyed Nelsa's previous book, Illegally Blonde (Great Plains Teen Fiction, 2010); I interviewed Nelsa for Inkygirl about how she wrote and sold her first book. Thanks to Nelsa for agreeing to answer some questions about her second YA novel, THE BREAK, which launched in this Spring.

Nelsa posts about the writing life, kidlit/YA & her work in her blog, Out Of The Wordwork. You can also find her on Twitter at @nelsaroberto, Pinterest and Facebook (and she's currently using a photo that I took for her Pinterest & Facebook user icon, yay :-).

Could you please tell us about your book, THE BREAK?  

THE BREAK began with a simple thought, one that came into my head as I saw my mom interacting with my kids in that completely unselfish, completely there, unconditional love she and my dad have for them. “This is the purest kind of love”, I thought. From there came the less happy thought, “What would my kids life be without their grandparents in it? What would they lose? What would my parents lose?”

Once those thoughts start happening then, if you’re a writer, you know a story line will surely follow. So Abby Lambert and her beloved, Nonna, were born.

Around the same time that I was thinking about writing a love story about a girl and her grandmother, I also decided to bring the aging theme – and all the constraints and difficulties aging creates – into sharp focus by making Nonna be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Memory - and all that means to relationships and family and the passing down of family history from grandparent to grandchild – is a fascinating thing. Without it we have no connection to each other.

How does the loss of memories affect relationships? How do family members react when this starts to happen? I knew so many people whose lives have been impacted by various forms of dementia. So many times I heard people say it was almost harder to deal with seeing their parents/grandparents/spouse etc. losing their memory than if they were dealing with a physical illness.

 

As for a plot summary for THE BREAK, I just had my first review in The Winnipeg Free Press and I thought they did a fabulous job of summarizing what the book is about:  

“…in The Break (Great Plains, 204 pages, $15 paperback), Roberto has written (about) … a teen who refuses to accept that her beloved grandmother is suffering from dementia. It is also a novel about guilt and the devastating effects of regret. Abby Lambert is furious with her mother, who has accepted a position with Doctors Without Borders for the very week of spring break, when Abby has planned to join a ski trip. Abby is left to look after her grandmother, whom she soon realizes may be having some severe problems. Her Nonna also wants to visit the Sunny Haven home, which Abby avoids at all costs. Abby's life becomes more complicated when she gets to know a boy whom she has always thought of as arrogant and unfriendly -- until she sees a sensitive side of him as he works with seniors at the nursing home. Abby must face unwanted truths and make important decisions. This is a realistic novel with a dash of romance that teens will find appealing.”

  How did THE BREAK get published?  

Research into Alzheimer’s was easily done as there are many websites and articles about this devastating illness. I also, unfortunately, knew friends and family who had had to deal with a loved one going through this illness.

I began writing this book as a follow up to my first novel, ILLEGALLY BLONDE (Great Plains Teen Fiction, 2010) – in fact, I began writing it while IB was still on submission. Once Great Plains bought my first book I knew I’d have to submit an option book.

Knowing Great Plains preferred contemporary realistic stories I knew the idea and themes of THE BREAK would appeal. Yet, as per my usual process, I wrote about 100 pages then stopped (that dratted murky middle again!) and I started another book that was calling to me – a YA paranormal.

My then agent looked at both partials and encouraged me to focus on THE BREAK. Good thing she did! Great Plains released it in March, 2012 and I had the launch April 20th at TYPE Books in Toronto where I did my very first public reading and didn't collapse from nerves!

  How much outlining do you do? What is your typical work process or work day?

For this book, I actually outlined the whole thing! That deserves an exclamation remark because that is not the usual process for me. Usually I outline the first half or do a back-cover kind of blurb/synopsis then jump right in to writing.

Funnily enough, I always thought that because I don’t usually outline the whole book, that was one of the reasons I get stuck in the murky middle – I haven’t plotted the rest of the book out so I need to stop and think! Yet, with THE BREAK I had plotted it all out and I still stopped in the middle.

When I look back on the outline now, I do see some plot lines that didn’t branch out in the final product so I know when I actually start the writing, regardless of whether or not it’s plotted out, the pantsing takes over and I may veer off in another direction that may or may not slow me down (usually it slows me down!)  

My typical work process is to write when and where I can. With a full time job and a busy family life, I usually write on the subway, or at home late at night. But my life the last year has been unusual since we’ve undergone a massive home reno so all my routines went out the window (along with the old windows!).

I’m hoping to get back into at least an hour’s worth of writing a night again. I’ve discovered that not writing is not making me feel good (writers understand). I’m only 20,000 words away from finishing a WIP that I started back in 2008 and shelved.

When I looked at it again last fall, the spark lit up for me and I added another 10,000 words on it relatively quickly so I’m hoping now that I’m settled in my home life (somewhat) I can finish this one and make headway on another one that I just started and start querying agents with it in the fall.

Any words of encouragement for writers who keep getting rejection letters?

Rejection letters are what you make them. If you are getting form letters congratulate yourself on having the courage to send your writing out there. That is no small thing. If you are getting personalized rejection letters it shows you are developing as a writer.

Your story, your writing, your characters - something has made an editor or agent connect enough with your words for them to write something to you. Appreciate the compliments and learn from the comments.

If you keep getting rejection letters it means you have perseverance. You cannot become published if you don't have that. 

Bravery, talent, knowledge, persistence.  What's so bad about rejection letters again?

What are you working on now?

I've completed a YA fairy-tale inspired romance that is out for critique with some writers I trust. It may need to be reworked again before I decide if it is good enough to query.

I'm also trying to finish another YA contemporary that I began several years ago. I'm hoping to get that done over the summer. The thing I've learned is that not every book you finish writing may be good enough to go out there. But every book you finish writing is a victory because you finish.  

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?  

Always write a book you feel passionate about. Don’t worry whether it’s not the ‘in’ thing that will land you a publishing contract. Worry about whether your main character is appealing. Worry about whether he/she has a goal/problem worth writing (and reading!) about for 200+ pages. Worry about if you have enough conflict.

Worry. About. The. Story. Not about whether you are going to be published or not. That worry comes soon enough after you’ve written this book you are passionate about. Until that time comes, concentrate on the writing and the story. The rest will follow.

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Find out more info about Nelsa at her blog: http://out-of-the-wordwork.blogspot.ca/

Also see other Inkygirl Interviews.

With YA author Nelsa Roberto

Tuesday
May292012

Interview: YA Author Deborah Kerbel & UNDER THE MOON

I first met Deborah Kerbel through the Toronto Middle Grade and Young Adult Author Group (a.k.a. Torkidlit) - Deborah's so fun to talk with, and I've also been enjoying her books over the years. Deborah's teen novels include Under the Moon (2012), Lure (2010), Girl on the Other Side (2009), and Mackenzie, Lost and Found (2008). Her personal essay, The Curtain, is included in the YA anthology, Dear Bully (HarperCollins, 2011) and her novels have been shortlisted for the Canadian Library Association’s YA Book of the Year Award and the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award. A native of London, U.K., Deborah now lives and writes in Thornhill, Ontario.

Her website: http://deborahkerbel.com

Tell us a little bit about your new book, UNDER THE MOON. 

Under the Moon is a YA novel about a girl who’s lost her sleep, a boy who’s lost his dreams and the twenty-six nights that change their lives. It’s about grieving, friendship, and first love. And at the heart of the story lies a question: what do we, as human beings, really need in order to survive in this world?

Despite the serene looking cover, this book was born out of chaos…specifically the chaos of my life. I started writing it in the spring of 2010 – at that time, my children were aged 7 and 4 and, between the daily demands of motherhood and writing, there was never enough time to give proper attention to everything. To put it bluntly, most of the time I barely had a spare moment to scratch an itch. During my busiest moments, I secretly resented having to give up so many precious hours to sleep and a strange fantasy began working it’s way through my exhausted brain: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I didn’t have to sleep at all? Imagine all the things I could accomplish?’

I actually came out and spoke about this weird little fantasy one night at a Torkidlit meeting…in fact, I think I said it to you, Debbie! And of course, uttering the words out loud immediately sparked an idea for a new book. Sure, I knew what I would do with all those extra hours in a day. But what would a teenager do if she didn’t have to sleep? How would she fill the long, dark hours of a sleepless night? I wanted to find out. That’s where the idea for Under the Moon came from.

When was UNDER THE MOON published? 

Under the Moon was published in March 2012 by Dancing Cat Books (an imprint of Cormorant Books). Barry Jowett is the publisher and editor there and he’s so wonderful to work with. He was the acquiring editor of my very first YA novel, Mackenzie, Lost and Found (which came out with Dundurn in 2009) and I was really hoping for the chance to do another book with him. I submitted this manuscript to Barry exclusively and crossed my fingers. Luckily for me, he liked it.

How much outlining do you do? What is your typical work process or work day?

 I confess, I don’t have a standard approach to writing books. Sometimes I outline meticulously, other times I fly by the seat of my pants. This book was a pantser. I started out with the premise of a sleepless girl (whose voice was already very loud and clear in my head). I didn’t really know where I was going with the story when I started writing, which was a bit scary and a bit exciting at the same time. But I kept pushing my main character forward through the plot and ultimately, the story revealed itself.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

 Read every day. Write every day. Absorb all the details, from the beautiful to the hideous, in the world around you. Be mulishly stubborn, fearless, and committed. Write stories that move you. Don’t take criticism of your writing too much to heart. Same thing with compliments – they can be equally destructive. Connect with other writers…ultimately, they’re the only ones who’ll understand the ups and downs of this crazy roller-coaster business.

What are you working on now? Anything else you'd like people to know?

 My kids are a couple years older now, so lately I’ve got more time and I’m starting to get more done (read: no more insomnia fantasies). I’m actually working on several projects at the moment, each in various stages of completion and revision: a picture book about memory; a middle-grade novel about the evil eye; and an urban fantasy YA novel with a bit of a horror edge. On top of all that, I’m also co-authoring a non-fiction book about kids and money. There’s a little something for everyone in the works.

For more info about Deborah Kerbel and her work:

Website: www.deborahkerbel.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authordeborahkerbel

Twitter: http://twitter.com/deborahkerbel

Also see other Inkygirl Interviews.

Saturday
May262012

Graphic Review: The Yo-Yo Prophet by Karen Krossing (Orca Books)

THE YO-YO PROPHET

Author: Karen Krossing

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

For ages 12+

YoYoProphet flat600

After reading THE YO-YO PROPHET by Karen Krossing (Orca Books), I was inspired to do my Daily Doodle with a book theme (see above).

I also got curious about yo-yos and looked up yo-yo competitions online. Wow, really impressive performances out there. Check out this mesmerizing performance at a German Yo-Yo Masters competition:

So many reasons to love THE YO-YO PROPHET: the way the main characters change throughout the book (especially the main character, Calvin, who so desperately wants to be noticed and feel special), the tension and excitement of Calvin's yo-yo performances and competitions, how Calvin reacts to and eventually finds a way to cope with bullying, how he deals with his missing father and the declining health of his grandmother. Uplifting and hopeful ending without being clichéd.

I was also intrigued by the description of the yo-yo feats! This book might even lure young people away from their computer games to give a non-digital hobby a try. 

 

You can find out more about Karen Krossing's THE YO-YO PROPHET on her website.

You can read a more extensive review of the book on CM Magazine's website.


Saturday
Mar102012

Mar/2012 Torkidlit Meetup at the Bedford Academy

I had great fun at the monthly Torkidlit (Toronto Area Middle Grade and YA Author Meetup) earlier this week. First-timers included: Julie Miller and Emily Pohl-Weary.

Nelsa Roberto brought a copy of her brand new YA book, THE BREAK (Great Plains Publications, 2012):

And Jo Karaplis had the coolest t-shirt:

And my sister came out to the meet up, yay!

I brought copies of my I'M BORED f&gs as well as TOMO:

For news about Torkidlit authors, see the Torkidlit News Facebook Page.

If you're a Toronto area middle grade or young adult author, feel free to join our Torkidlit Facebook group to get notifications about upcoming meet ups.

Here's what some Torkidlit members are up to these days:

MaureenMcGowan

Maureen McGowan

http://www.maureenmcgowan.com

- Found out that her new series will be called THE DUST CHRONICLES. The first title, DEVIANTS, will be part of Marshall Cavendish's Fall catalogue.

 

JoSwartz 200

Jo Swartz

http://www.littlejolit.com/

- Invited to do a workshop at TPL in October as part  of the Young Writer's Conference.

 

CherylRainfield

Cheryl Rainfield

http://cherylrainfield.com/Pro Page on Facebook.

- Did a talk at York university, went beautifully!

- Did a radio show with Dr. Beth on self-harm, SCARS, ritual abuse, HUNTED

- HUNTED came out in Canada from Fitzhenry & Whiteside in February

- Having a launch for HUNTED on Mar.31st at Bakka-Phoenix Books, 4-6 pm

Karen Krossing

http://www.karenkrossing.com

- Her book THE YO-YO PROPHET (Orca) was an Honorable Mention on the Ontario Library Assocation Best Bets List.

- Has written 10 chapters on her work-in-progress.

Megan Crewe

http://www.megancrewe.com

- Had a successful THE WAY WE FALL launch.

- If you're in the Toronto area and want a signed copy of the book, stop by Bakka-Phoenix Books to get your hands on one.

Lena Coakley

http://lenacoakley.com/

- Has been invited to be a speaker at CANSCAIP's Packaging Your Imagination conference

- Lena is also on sub and hopes to have news soon!

 

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Mahtab Narsimhan

http://www.mahtabnarsimhan.com

- THE TIFFIN is on the OLA Best Bets list for 2012, and is also shortlisted by CLA for the 2012 Children's Book Award.

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Marina Cohen

http://www.marinacohen.com/

- Signed with John Cusick of Scott Treimel, NY

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Nelsa Roberto

http://out-of-the-wordwork.blogspot.com/

- Her new book, THE BREAK, just launched!

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Tamara Leavitt

http://beginwithinproductions.com/?page=about2

- Preparing to launch her picture book and ebook in the Spring

AnneLaurelCarter200

Anne Laurel Carter

http://annelaurelcarter.com

- Teaching at the University of Toronto, Continuing Studies: "Writing For Children" on Saturdays 11-1:30 starting April 14th

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Emily Pohl-Weary

http://emilypohlweary.com

It was Emily's first time at a Torkidlit meet up! She's revising a teen novel for Penguin Razorbill (Canada) and Marshall Cavendish (U.S.).

NewImage

Ruth Ohi

http://ruthohi.com

My sister! Her new picture book just came out from Annick Press: CHICKEN, PIG, COW'S FIRST FIGHT.

Debbie headshot 300w

Debbie Ridpath Ohi

http://DebbieOhi.com

My talk at last weekend's Autodesk SketchBook Toronto Event went well (and I'm dreaming of that amazing Susur Lee 12-course dinner!). Also visited the offices of SImon & Schuster Canada to talk about I'M BORED promo and have been working on the I'M BORED scrapbook (covers the process of creating a picture book with Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers).

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To find out more about Torkidlit, see:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/127433455731/

https://www.facebook.com/TorKidLitNews

 

Thursday
Jan052012

Jan/2012 Torkidlit Meetup at the Bedford Academy

TorkidlitGroup1000

Had fun with the Toronto Middle Grade And YA Authors group at the Bedford Academy last night. I continue to be grateful to Claudia Osmond for founding the group. I always come away so inspired and motivated!

I asked the attendees of last night's get together what they were working on, if they had any news to share, or just brief bio info and here's what they told me:

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Helaine Becker

http://www.helainebecker.com/ - Twitter: @helainebecker

Trouble in the Hills YA launched this past fall; non fic called The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Ocean will be out from Kids Can Press this winter, and then a second YA contemp called How to Survive Absolutely Anything will be out from Fitzhenry and Whiteside in March. Currently writing two new Quiz Books for Scholastic and season 3 of Planet Echo, a science tv show. More news on new contracts next month!

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Jo Karaplis

http://www.joannakaraplis.com/ - Twitter: @JoKaraplis

"Found one of my NaNoWriMo mauscripts from 2010 and it's better than I remember, so I've revived the project. It's been rattling around in my head for a while so I'm excited to dive back in."

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Maureen McGowan

http://www.maureenmcgowan.com - Twitter: @maureenmcgowan

"Signed a three book contract with Amazon Publishing for a YA trilogy. The first book (Deviant) will be released in 2012."

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Rob Weston

http://www.robertpaulweston.com/ - Twitter: @robertpweston

"Find out more about my novels, or read my blog (about books, writing, mad science, detectives and other miscellanea) at www.RobertPaulWeston.com."

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Joanne Levy

http://www.joannelevy.com/ - Twitter: @JoanneLevy

Posting every Monday at http://www.thedebutanteball.com/

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Jo Swartz

http://www.littlejolit.com/ - Twitter: @littlejolit

"First chapter of a graphic novel is almost complete and will be ready for submission in a month."

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Karen Krossing

http://www.karenkrossing.com

Karen has a draft of her middle grade fantasy novel complete and ready for reading.

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 Megan Crewe

http://www.megancrewe.com - Twitter: @megancrewe

Megan's contemporary dystopian YA, THE WAY WE FALL, comes out from Disney-Hyperion on January 24th! Here's the book trailer:

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Patricia Storms

http://www.patriciastorms.com/ - Twitter: @stormsy

"My illustrated book, Winter Science, is out (Scholastic) and my non-fiction humor middle grade book (which I also illustrated) will be out in the spring, called Kid Confidential (Bloomsbury)."

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Derek Molata

http://www.derekmolata.com/ - Twitter: @derekmolata

Derek is a YA/adult sf/f writer. "Scorpio. Tripping down the rabbit hole. Represented by the sharkly Janet Reid."

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 Jennifer Gordon

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1129160996&sk=info

"JOIN CANSCAIP!"

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 Jordan Hageman

http://jordanhageman.blogspot.com/ -  Twitter: @ABookLongEnough

"Got my book back from a pro editor I hired and am revising, revising, revising!"

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Ricki Schulz

http://rickischultz.com/ - Twitter: @rickischultz

It was Ricki's first Torkidlit meetup! Ricki is a freelance writer and editor, and coordinator of the Write-Brained Network.

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Jeff Szpirglas

https://twitter.com/#!/jeffszpirglas - Twitter: @jeffszpirglas

Jeff is shopping some novels around and in theory, one is coming out soon. "It's called Evil Eye, about a disembodied floating eye that's totally EVIL." It was Jeff's first Torkidlit tweetup!

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Debbie Ridpath Ohi

http://DebbieOhi.com - Twitter: @inkyelbows

Excited to be able to say that I'M BORED comes out THIS YEAR (woohoo!). I'M BORED is a new picture book by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by yours truly, coming out from Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in Sept/2012. Also looking forward to the March/2012 launch of TOMO: Friendship Through Fiction - An Anthology Of Japan Teen Stories. I have an illustrated short story in this collection. Proceeds from the sales of Tomo will go to organizations that assist teens in the quake and tsunami hit areas.

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If you're a middle grade or young adult author and would like to find out about upcoming meetups, please join our group on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/127433455731/

To find out more about what Torkidlit members are up to, please visit (and Like!) our Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/TorKidLitNews

On Twitter, follow the #torkidlit hashtag.

 

 

 

Thursday
Dec082011

Photos from the Torkidlit Holiday Party

Thanks so much to Claudia Osmond for hosting the holiday meet up for the Toronto Middle Grade & Young Adult Author Group! I had a fantastic time: so many great conversations, good food and lots of kidlit/YA talk.

For more info about what Torkidlit members are up to, please do visit the Torkidlit News Facebook Page.

Click the right- and left- arrows to see the slideshow of my iPhone photos:

 

Hm...just noticed that Squarespace's Gallery feature forces ALL the photos in horizontal mode, which means you're not seeing the full photo in some cases. To browse all the photos, do visit my 2011-12 Torkidlit Holiday Party Flickr set.

Sunday
Nov062011

Torkidlit Bedford Academy Meetup: Nov/2011

Had fun with the Toronto Middle Grade And YA Authors group at the Bedford Academy earlier this week: dinner, drinks and lots of kidlit/YA talk!

We talk about everything from the craft and business of writing to renovation hell stories and family updates. Plus a whole lot of other stuff that I can't possibly post publicly, of course. :-) Anyway, I asked the attendees of last night's get together what they were working on or if they had any news to share, and here's what they told me:

MaureenMcGowan

Maureen McGowan

http://www.maureenmcgowan.com

Maureen just found out that one of her short stories is appearing in a McGraw-Hill anthology in May 2102.

 

ClaudiaOsmond

Claudia Osmond

http://claudiaosmond.com/

Claudia's moving ahead with her new middle grade novel.

 

JoSwartz 200

Jo Swartz

http://www.littlejolit.com/

Jo says she's finished and submitted her IZZY GOURMET picture book and she's now working on a wordless graphic novel.

 

CherylRainfield

Cheryl Rainfield

http://cherylrainfield.com/

In addition to being excited about getting the ARC for her new teen paranormal, HUNTED, Cheryl has just launched her Pro Page on Facebook

Joceylyn Shipley

http://www.jocelynshipley.com

Jocelyn just won the Writing For Young People Award at the Surrey International Writers Conference.

Karen Krossing

http://www.karenkrossing.com

Karen's been getting lots of great reviews for THE YO-YO PROPHET (Orca).

Megan Crewe

http://www.megancrewe.com

Megan's going to be presenting with Lena Coakley at the November CANSCAIP meeting about fantasy and science fiction.

Jennifer Gordon

Jennifer had a successful art gallery show at the Toronto Public Library. 

 Jordan Hagemann

http://jordanhageman.blogspot.com/

It was Jordan's first Torkidlit meetup! She recently started her own book blog, A Book Long Enough and is also on Twitter at @ABookLongEnough.

Lena Coakley

http://lenacoakley.com/

Lena's agent is submitting  her next novel, new YA historical fantasy, to an editor.

 

---

To find out more about Torkidlit, see:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/127433455731/

https://www.facebook.com/TorKidLitNews

 

 

Thursday
Oct062011

Happy 2nd Anniversary, Torkidlit!

Torkidlit 2011 10 05group

Last night, I got together with some of the other members of the Toronto Middle Grade And YA Authors group at the Bedford Academy to celebrate our 2nd anniversary as a group.

I still remember when Claudia Osmond approached each of us in Twitter about getting together in person in Toronto. I confess I was a little nervous. Meet face-to-face? What if we all hated each other?

As you can guess, my fears were completely unfounded. Not only have I found everyone in the group friendly, but over the past 2 years it's been wonderful to watch friendships spring up within the group.

We talk about everything from the craft and business of writing to renovation hell stories and family updates. Plus a whole lot of other stuff that I can't possibly post publicly, of course. :-)Anyway, I asked the attendees of last night's get together what they were working on or if they had any news to share, and here's what they told me:

LeahBobet

Leah Bobet

http://www.leahbobet.com/

Her new book ABOVE is coming out in April 2012 from Arthur A. Levine Books, with international rights sold in Brazil & Germany.

MaureenMcGowan

Maureen McGowan

http://www.maureenmcgowan.com

Hopes to announce good news about her YA science-fiction trilogy soon!

ClaudiaOsmond

Claudia Osmond

http://claudiaosmond.com/

Potential paperback version of SMUDGE'S MARK coming in spring 2012. Plus Claudia says that she has actually begun a brand-new middle grade novel!

JoSwartz 200

Jo Swartz

http://www.littlejolit.com/

Working on her new picture book, IZZY GOURMET: 5 1/2 YEAR OLD GOURMET FOOD CRITIC, and creating political illustrations in support of Occupy Wall Street.

BevRosenbaum

Bev Katz Rosenbaum

http://www.bevkatzrosenbaum.com/

Has been distracted by her acquisitions editing work for McGraw-Hill Ryerson but has a kick-ass new agent (Jill Corcoran) and a couple of new books ready for publishers' eyes. Fingers crossed!

CherylRainfield

Cheryl Rainfield

http://cherylrainfield.com/

Her new book, HUNTED, comes out on October 27 in the US from WestSide Books. The Canadian launch is in January , from Fitzhenry and Whiteside. Cheryl is now working on the sequel to HUNTED.

StacyKing

Stacy King

http://www.stacyking.com/

Stacy is currently shopping around her new YA paranormal novel and is hoping to have more news soon!

NelsaRoberto 200

Nelsa Roberto

http://out-of-the-wordwork.blogspot.com/

Nelsa is looking forward to the release of her 2nd YA in Spring 2012; THE BREAK!

 

To find out more about Torkidlit, see:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/127433455731/

https://www.facebook.com/TorKidLitNews

 

 

Wednesday
Jul132011

KafkaGirl.com: YA Author Andrew Tolson, Blogging, and Enticing Editors

KafkaCloseup

With Andrew Tolson's agent submitting his YA manuscript ,The Girl Who Saved Kafka, to prospective publishers, he wanted to entice editors with something extra, a taste of the novel before they had read the first page. He decided to launch a blog that was in the voice of the main character:

http://kafkagirl.com

An explanation from Andrew:

In my daily work as a photographer, I use big expensive cameras. For personal work, I’ve been using my iPhone and the Hipstamatic app. I’m fascinated by the lo-fi approach to many digital applications and Hipstamatic gives you all the beautiful and unpredictable results you’d get from a crappy film camera. The kind of low budget camera you might find in the Linfield Thrift Store. It’s a perfect tool for someone like Zoe Burns to express herself. She’s the fifteen-year-old heroine of my novel, who shops at the thrift store and uses a typewriter because it makes the letters sound loud. She’s desperate to break out of her outcast’s existence. But she must also come to terms with her crazy mother, her best friend’s growing allegiance to the popular girls and the pending appearance of teen pop star Tyler Sharp. Then there’s the school talent show which Zoe is being forced to enter. Can she combine her growing obsession with Franz Kafka’s existential masterpiece, The Metamorphosis, and her talent show performance? She’s certain she has the potential for extraordinariness but–

Wait a minute. This is starting to sound like a synopsis.

Just look at the blogopsis: http://kafkagirl.com

KafkaGirlPage

What gave you the idea for starting your Kafka Girl blog?

The idea was two-fold. First, I really enjoyed writing in Zoe’s voice and wondered what it would sound like if I transferred that voice to another medium and then added visuals. Since I’m also a photographer, I wondered what kind of things Zoe would take pictures of. How would she document her environment and her life? But also, I wanted to give prospective editors who are considering the manuscript a unique way of marketing the book to readers.

How often do you update?

At the moment I don’t update it all and that’s intentional. I’ve set up the blog so it has a narrative arc as Zoe introduces herself and her world. If the book sells, and the publisher is interested, I’d love to expand into regular updates with photos and video. Zoe already has a Facebook profile, but I’ve not done anything with it yet. It was a lot of fun putting together the stock images and shooting elements from the story, like Zoe’s Mom’s postcards. I hope the blog will intrigue readers enough to want to check out the book.

Kafka letter

What has the response been so far?

The response has been great. I’ve even had a few people get to the end of the blog and not realize it’s fiction. I just hope no one will feel duped.

Who's the man in the picture? (beside "I'm Zoe Burns...") I thought Zoe was a girl?

The man in the photo is Franz Kafka, he of the book’s title. Nowhere in the blog is there a clear photo of Zoe. I want the reader to leave it up to their imagination as to what she looks like.

What's your "elevator pitch" for your book?

Fifteen-year-old Zoe Burns is desperate to break out of her ordinary existence, so she mounts a one-girl show, performing her version of Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis at her high school talent contest. Meanwhile, she must come to terms with her crazy mother, a burgeoning relationship with a fellow outcast and the imminent arrival of the insanely popular teenaged heart throb Tyler Sharp, who will be judging the talent show. It sounds like it could be dark and depressing, but it’s really quite funny.....

Tolson

What other projects are you working on now?

I’m hard at work on a new book, a MG fantasy called ‘The Knife Of Lost Souls’, about an orphaned 12-year-old girl who discovers that she comes from a long line of demon slayers.'. Very different from the Kafka story, but hopefully just as much fun. It’s really important, I’ve found, to start work on a new project when your ms is making the rounds of editors. Otherwise you’ll go crazy with anticipation!

More info:

http://andrewtolson.com/

http://kafkagirl.com

On Google+

 

Saturday
May072011

Interview: Hélène Boudreau on book tours, writing, promotion and MERMAIDS

Toronto author Hélène Boudreau writes fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults. I first met Hélène at a Torkidlit group tweetup and have continued to be impressed by her never-ending positive creative energy, ability to juggle multiple projects AND her online promotion skills.

Her tween novel, Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings  was a 2011 Crystal Kite Member Choice Award Finalist.

Last year you went on a book tour. How did that go?

The book tour was great! I spent a week in New Brunswick, touring schools, as part of the Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award program. Atlantic Canadian students from grades 4-6 spend the school year reading from a selection of nominated books and then vote for their favourites. My middle grade book, ACADIAN STAR, was nominated in 2010 and I was invited to visit a total of five libraries where I met hundreds of kids who'd taken part in the program.  

What was your favourite part of the book tour?

My favourite part of the tour was meeting all the students. These kids were reading superstars! Some of them had read up to 13 books for the program and had so many great questions during my presentations. It was easy to tell that they came well prepared! The final day of the tour was the awards ceremony. Six hundred kids packed the auditorium with signs, banners and costumes, representing their favourite books. It was pretty inspiring to hear an auditorium filled with kids, cheering and going crazy for BOOKS! That's pretty much any children's author's dream.

During your tour, did you get any writing done?

I had one or two presentations each day plus travelling but I had a bit of down time during the tour to get some work done. I worked on a picture book revision and made a bit of progress on a young adult novel I've been working on. Most of my stay was in Fredericton, which is beautiful, so I took advantage of the pretty scenery and spent a lot of time walking along the St. John River. It was actually very restful (no laundry, no dishes, no cooking) and a nice change from my usual mom/writing/work mode.  

How did you get your book tour? Did you plan it or did someone else arrange it?

The tour was all arranged for me by Hackmatack and the New Brunswick Public Library system. They arranged everything from my air travel and accommodations, booking the sessions and shuttling me from place to place. They were wonderful hosts!  

So you're working on a picture and a YA novel at the same time? How to manage your work time?

I usually work on several projects at once and try to manage my writing time in the same way as I approached projects when I worked in a more traditional office job. I prioritize projects depending on their deadlines or scope and keep an ongoing to-do list to help stay on track. It can be a bit of a juggling act but it definitely keeps things interesting!

Do you find any challenges in writing for multiple genres?

I think being a writer is a lot like being an actor in many ways. Whether I’m writing a picture book or a young adult novel, I need to understand my character’s motivations, wants and needs before I can step into that role. The difference is that I need to tell those stories from different perspectives, depending on the age and maturity of my character. So, yes, working in multiple genres has its challenges, but that's also part of the fun.

What advice do you have for authors considering doing a book tour?

Pack lightly! Try to choose clothes and footwear you can wear multiple times or hand-wash easily. Non-wrinkle clothing and neutrals work especially well. You may have some downtime, so be sure to pack good walking shoes and outdoor clothing you can layer so you'll be ready to explore your destination city, whatever the weather.

Be flexible! Other opportunities like extra appearances, media interviews or dinners may crop up while you're on tour. It's okay to decline if you're strapped for time but be open to new possibilities.

Be adaptable! Travel arrangements don't always pan out (I was bumped on both my outbound and inbound flights) so have a book or your laptop ready to fit in a bit of work.

Have fun! The best part of book tours is meeting readers so make a special effort to meet and talk to as many readers as possible.

Any advice for hopeful children's writers?
 
That's a toughie, because I'm trying to think of words of wisdom that may have helped me just a few short years ago. It's so hard to stay on course when you have no idea if your efforts will ever amount to anything but you just never know when your time will come. Mainly, I'd encourage hopeful children's writers to write with confidence, even if you don't feel it. To leave it all on the page and not spare a drop. So much of this business is out of our control, but what we can control is the effort and mindset we put forth. So, I'd say; set clear, definable goals and walk confidently toward them.
 
Or, fake it 'til you make it. ;-)

When it comes to effective use of the Internet for author/book promotion, you're one of the best. How do you manage your time re: promotion vs writing?
 
Gosh, I don't know that I'm that effective but I do know that I enjoy social media and love connecting with people that way. Managing my time can be tough especially around book launches or when I'm travelling to conferences and such but I try not to procrastinate on the writing side of things so that I don't get buried by deadlines. That way, if unexpected things come up like trips, (chicken pox), or new projects I've got a bit of wiggle room. As far as fitting in time for social media, that's a must for me. I can't be creative 100% of the time and the internet is a good outlet for interaction and idea-sharing.

What are you working on now?
 
I'm getting ready for the release of the second book in my RED DUNE ADVENTURES junior chapter book series (WATER HAZARD, Nimbus Publishing, spring 2011) and writing the SEA-quel to REAL MERMAIDS DON'T WEAR TOE RINGS (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky, Dec 2010). The new one is called REAL MERMAIDS SHOULDN'T HOLD THEIR BREATH and it will be out in spring 2012. I also just finished revisions on my picture book which will be out in 2013. The illustrator has started sketching so I'm excited to see what the artwork will look like.

Sneak peek trailer for REAL MERMAIDS SHOULDN'T HOLD THEIR BREATH (official trailer coming out later):

 

---------

For more info about Hélène and her projects, see:

Her website: http://www.heleneboudreau.com/

On Twitter: @HeleneBoudreau

Her books:

WATER HAZARD, Nimbus Publishing, 2011
REAL MERMAIDS DON'T WEAR TOE RINGS, Jabberwocky, 2010
KEEP OUT!, Nimbus Publishing, 2010
ACADIAN STAR, Nimbus Publishing, 2008

Upcoming:

REAL MERMAIDS SHOULDN'T HOLD THEIR BREATH, Jabberwocky, 2012
REAL MERMAIDS BOOK 3, Jabberwocky, 2012
I DARE YOU NOT TO YAWN, Candlewick, 2013
EVANGELINE FOR YOUNG READERS, TBD

and non-fiction too:

LIVING IN A RESIDENTIAL CITY, Crabtree Publishing
LIVING IN A FISHING COMMUNITY, Crabtree Publishing
SPORT SCIENCE: SWIMMING, Crabtree Publishing
MIRACULOUS MEDICINE, Crabtree Publishing
CRIMEBUSTING & DETECTION, Crabtree Publishing

Thursday
May052011

Torkidlit Tweetup: May 4th

Torkidlit2011 05 Collage 010

I had a lot of fun at last night's tweetup of the Toronto Area Middle Grade & Young Adult Author Group. We've moved to a new location: The Bedford Academy near Avenue Road and Bloor. The place has a laid-back pub atmosphere; I recognized it from when I attended the National Cartoonists' Christmas party (Canadian chapter) a couple of years ago.

Claudia Osmond, Nelsa Roberto, and I treated Maureen McGowan to dinner in celebration for her birthday before the official tweetup started. I think I might make a habit of showing up early for the tweetups to have dinner with other earlybirds; I find it gets a bit noisy later (I sometimes found it a challenge hearingthe person across the table).

BookCollage 001Anyway, here's a list of the people at last night's gathering:

Claudia Osmond

Maureen McGowan

Megan Crewe

Adrienne Kress

Nelsa Roberto

Humberta Araujo - Humberta's first tweetup! Great to meet her.

Patricia Storms

Jo Karaplis

Anna Humphrey

To find out more about upcoming author events and more about each author, see our Facebook page:

Torkidlit News: Toronto Area Middle Grade & YA Author Group

If you're a middle grade or young adult writer in the Toronto area who are interested in attending our monthly get-togethers, join our Facebook group:

Toronto Area Middle Grade & YA Author Group

 

 

Tuesday
May032011

Interview: Middle Grade & YA Author Adrienne Kress On Writing, Acting & The Friday Society

 

Adrienne Kress is a Toronto born actor and author who loves to play make-believe.  She also loves hot chocolate.  And cheese.  And her cat Atticus.

She is the author of two middle grade books: Alex and the Ironic Gentleman and Timothy and the Dragon's Gate (Weinstein Books) as well as a theatre graduate of the University of Toronto and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in the UK.  Published around the world, Alex was featured in the New York Post as a "Post Potter Pick", as well as on the CBS Early Show. It won the Heart of Hawick Children's Book Award in the UK and was nominated for the Red Cedar. The sequel, Timothy, was nominated for the Audie and Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards, and was recently optioned for film. 

Her debut YA, The Friday Society (Dial), comes out in the fall of 2012.

Find out more about Adrienne at Adriennekress.com and on Twitter at @adriennekress.

Which came first, acting or writing?

I've been creating stories my whole life. I would play make believe with my friends and we'd create little plays to perform. And I would dictate stories to my dad who would then type them up on the Commodore 64. But as far as a profession goes, acting was my first goal.

I became a drama major at the age of 11 at an arts school in Toronto, and continued as such through highschool and then majored in it at University. I moved to London England to study it. All along the way, however, I was writing: taking writing courses, entering contests, and then eventually writing plays which I would then direct.

It wasn't until after university, though, that I considered writing a viable career path to follow as well. So technically you could say acting first, but both passions have been around since before I can remember.  

What was your first writing sale?

Alex and the Ironic Gentleman (though I did produce my own play "A Weekend in the Country" at both the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Toronto Summerworks Theatre Festivals prior to that sale)

Did you or do you have a writing mentor?

My father has always been my writing mentor. He taught high school creative writing, in fact it was such a popular course that students would stay an extra semester to attend it. It was one of those wonderful rare cases where someone taking his work home with him was a wonderful treat for his daughter.

He taught me how to write poetry (and would always write me and my mother poems for special occasions), encouraged me to write any kind of fiction and was extremely supportive and proud of what I did, and importantly introduced me to many different and interesting authors by reading to me every night before bed.

After that I suppose my other mentor would have had to be Canadian playwright Djanet Sears who taught my playwrighting course in my last year of University. She was great.

What I admired most of all was that she was able to be critical of a work and at the same time respect the genre and vision of the student, never imposing her own personal tastes onto our work. She was also the first person who ever told me that writing was something I could do as a profession.

She said that she knew how focused I was on acting, but that she hoped I would return to writing someday because I was very good at it. It was the first time I'd ever considered writing as anything more than a hobby. It was a turning point for me.  


What's your typical work day?

I don't really have one. I have tried numerous times to create a schedule to stick to, but it always falls to the side.

What I do do is set a writing goal to reach. That way it doesn't matter what I do with my day, I have to have finished my writing goal by the end of it. So if I decide I want to sleep in, that's awesome, but it means I'm staying up late to finish my writing.

Typically when I'm working on something it's a 2000 words a day goal. Sometimes as a deadline looms that can go up to 5000. I also do a lot of school visits and presentations, so that can also be a very full day.

Being an actor also means that on occasion I have to drop everything and go to an audition, which is always last minute. I suppose the closest thing I have to a schedule is I try to write during the day and go out at night.

Working from home can be very lonely and isolating, so I try to make sure I see my friends and family as often as possible. Since most of them work 9 - 5, I try to do the same. It doesn't always work though, there are times I'm still at my computer at midnight.

Could you tell us about your new book, The Friday Society?

Sure!  It's my first foray into young adult (teen) fiction.  I like to call it Steampunk Charlie's Angels without the Charlie (because it's very important to me that these girls are in charge of themselves, not taking orders from some faceless dude).  It's set in London, 1900, and is about three female assistants to three very powerful men in London society:  Cora Bell - personal/lab assistant to a Member of Parliament and genius inventor; Michiko Takeda - fight assistant to a self-defense guru; Nellie Harrison - magician's assistant to the very popular Great Raheem.  They find themselves drawn together through a series of mysterious events (murder, thievery and whatnot) happening around London and eventually decide to team up to solve what's going on together as The Friday Society.   Lots of action, comedy, cool costumes and inventions, along with some pretty fun characters.  I'm very excited about it.  It comes out Fall 2012, from Dial.

What about the two short stories you have in upcoming anthologies?

Well technically it's one short story and one essay.  The short story is called "The Clockwork Corset" and appears in the YA Steampunk Romance Anthology CORSETS & CLOCKWORK.  It's about a wealthy 16 year old girl, Imogen, who falls in love with Rafe, the son of the clock winder on her father's estate. When Rafe is sent off to war, she fears for his safety and so follows . . . disguised as a boy.  I call it a mini-novel because it's really structured more like one than a short story, despite the low word count, and a lot of stuff happens in it.  It's a rollicking adventure you could say :) .

The essay is called "The Inevitable Decline of Decadence" and is in the HUNGER GAMES essay anthology THE GIRL WHO WAS ON FIRE.  The anthology consists of essays analysing the awesome that is the young adult series the Hunger Games, and as a pretty big fan of the books I was really thrilled to be asked to contribute to it.  My essay is pretty much about what its title suggests: the decline of decadence, how a decadent society is doomed to fail.  I explain why, and cite examples the from the books themselves as well as throughout history.  

Both books are available right now in bookstores and online actually, which is really exciting!

-------------

Find out more about Adrienne at Adriennekress.com and on Twitter at @adriennekress.

Thursday
Apr072011

Torkidlit Loves Japan!

Here's a video I took on my point-and-shoot last night at the monthly get-together of the Toronto Area Middle Grade and Young Adult Author Group, for TorontoToJapan.ca.

For more info about Torkidlit members, please do visit the Torkidlit Facebook page.

Tuesday
Sep212010

Coffee with Claudia Osmond and Andrew Tolson

One of the many reasons I'm glad I joined Twitter is because I got to meet the Toronto Middle Grade and YA Author Group. The group was founded by Claudia Osmond (above left), and even though we get together once a month, some of us also meet in smaller gatherings as well.

Fun to hang out with Andrew Tolson (above right) and Claudia this afternoon, talking about kidlit publishing and catching up on each other's writing projects. The photos above & below were taken on my iPhone, and then I tweaked them using the TiltShiftGen app on my iPad. Andrew took the photo below. Andrew's a professional photographer, by the way; his recent photo of Bill Gates is the COVER photo of the current Maclean's magazine!

Thursday
Jul082010

Torkidlit Tweetup: July 8th, 2010

[Update: Since the news appeared yesterday in Publisher's Marketplace, I figure I can announce it here -- Congrats to Megan Crewe, who just signed for a THREE-book deal with Disney-Hyperion! Yay, Megan!]

Megan Crewe, at the tweetupWent downtown yesterday for the monthly tweetup of the Toronto Middle Grade and Young Adult Writer Group. As usual, I had a ton of fun as well as learning a lot about the publishing industry.

Last night, I recall feeling a bit tired and glancing at my watch, thinking it was around 9 pm... and being shocked to find out it was 10:30.

Derek Molata, Ian Keeling, Rob Weston

This may seem like nothing to you, but I'm so not a night person and am usually in bed by that time.

Adrienne Kress and I wield our vegetables.

The mix of attendees changes every time because of everyone's schedules. This time around, I met Derek Molata for the first time. Derek's a YA/adult science fiction and fantasy writer and (like most of the Torkidlit types) is on Twitter.

Really nice guy and wow, interesting publishing industry stories to tell (!).

Cheryl Rainfield, Jo Swartz & Megan Crewe talking with Adrienne Kress.

I feel very lucky to be part of such a great group. Everyone is so supportive and encouraging of each other. Thank you, Claudia!

Helaine Becker, Claudia Osmond, Andrew TolsonBev Katz Rosenbaum & Claudia Osmond

Here are some of the other attendees at last night's gathering:

Helaine Becker | Helaine's blog | Twitter

Megan Crewe | Megan's blog | Twitter

Adrienne Kress | Adrienne's blog | Twitter

Lesley Livingston | Lesley's blog | Twitter

Claudia Osmond | Claudia's blog | Twitter

Helaine Becker Cheryl Rainfield | Cheryl's blog | Twitter

Bev Katz Rosenbaum | Twitter

Rob Weston | Rob's blog | Twitter

Ian Keeling

Maureen McGowan | Maureen's blog | Twitter

Andrew Tolson | Twitter

Lesley Livingston & Maureen McGowan

Cheryl Rainfield

Lots of recent great news for several of the members, including some ESPECIALLY GREAT news about one member that can't be announced publicly yet.

Just a few examples...

Ian Keeling has a story in the August issue of Realms of Fantasy.

Megan Crewe's GIVE UP THE GHOST has been nominated for the Sunburst Award For Excellence in Canadian Speculative Fiction.

Cheryl Rainfield had a great time in ALA, and has had a ton of great feedback about her newly launched SCARS. Librarians say that teens love the book. Plus not only has SCARS been nominated for ALA/YALSA's QuickPicks and Stonewall awards, but also for ALA's Rainbow List.

Lesley LivingstonLesley Livingston's WONDROUS STRANGE has been shortlisted for the Sunburst Award For Excellence in Canadian Speculative Fiction, nominated for the first annual Teen Read Awards as Best Canadian Read, and won (!) the Young Adult Canadian Book Award. There was some other good news, too, but I forget it...maybe another Torkidlit person could help me out here.

To find out more about Torkidlit, please visit the Torkidlit website. You can see more photos from last night's event in my Flickr set.

Claudia Osmond and me