If you love BC Children’s Books…

If you love BC Children’s Books…

Please consider making a tax deductible donation to help support the annual Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Book Prize. The Egoff Prize honors the author of a book for children or young adults. The category includes chapter books, fiction, non-fiction and biography.

This prize has always been vital in highlighting and rewarding great children’s books created by British Columbia’s children’s book creators. The prize supports all aspects of children’s literature by recognizing excellence in writing and by promoting sales, which in turn supports Canadian children’s book publishing and children’s booksellers. It was named for Sheila A. Egoff, O.C, Professor Emerita of UBC’s School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, in recognition of her work as the first critic of, and a passionate advocate for Canadian children’s literature.

To make your tax deductible donation, please write a cheque to The B.C. Book Prizes. On the memo line write: for the Sheila A. Egoff Prize. Mail your cheque to the B.C. Book Prizes, #901-207 W. Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 1H7, Canada.

So you want to write for kids

Books to help you on your writing journey

My fav. inspirational reads

Pierre Berton’s The Joy of Writing: a guide for writers, disguised as a
literary memoir (Doubleday, 2003)
Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones (Shambhala, 1986)
Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird (Pantheon, 1994)
Jane Yolen’s Take Joy: A Book For Writers (The Writer Books, 2003)
Katherine Patterson’s The Invisible Child (Dutton, Children’s Books, 2001

My fav. practical books

James Cross Giblin’s Writing Books for Young People (Writer, Inc., 1990)
Sandy Asher’s Writing it Right: how Successful Children’s Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories (Writer’s Institute Publications, 2009)
Jean Karl’s How to Write and Sell Children’s Picture Books (Writer’s Digest Book, 1994)
Mary Kole’s Writing Irresistible Kidlit (Writer’s Digest Books, 2012)
Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (Scribner, 2000)
Linda Seger’s Making a Good Script Great ( Samuel French, 1994)
Bessie Redfield’s Rhyming Dictionary (General Pub. Co./Pedigree Books, 1986)
Elizabeth Lyon’s Manuscript Makeover (Perigee Books, (2008)
Barbara Seuling’s How to Write a Children’s Book and Get It Published (MacMillan, 1991)
Harold D. Underdown’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books (Alpha, 2004)

Award winners

Carnegie/Greenway Medal winners 


Caldecott and Newbery Medal winners

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Governor General’s Award winners

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Walter Dean Myers

Sad news…

African-American author, Walter Dean Myers passed away yesterday. He was 76 years old. He was one of several wonderful writers who changed the face of literature for young people in North America.

I had the pleasure of hearing him speak only once, but his words, like his books, will remain with me for years to come. Fallen Angels, Monster, and Bad Boy are some of my favorites. I will be revisiting them, and I hope you do too. He often set his stories in inner city neighborhoods and featured characters who often made  less than ideal choices.

Myers,who grew up in Harlem under some tough circumstances,  dropped out of high school, and had more than a few brushes with the law.  He managed to stay connected to books and reading through his local library.  In a public radio interview on “here & Now,” Myers says, “My circumstances often seemed insurmountable to me, but through reading I reached out for ideas that might help me escape them. The books I read showed me options other than those I saw reflected in my surroundings. They gave me new definitions for success in my life.”

After working a series of low paying jobs, he took the advice of a high school teacher who had told him to keep writing no matter what.  Fortunately for all of us, Walters followed that high school teacher’s advice.  He went on to publish more than 100 books and became one of the most respected voices in young adult literature in America.  He was a tireless advocate for literacy, and his writing was especially popular with middle and high school boys.  His books garnered multiple honors including: five Coretta Scott King Awards for African-American fiction, two Newbery Honor Medals, and a Printz Award. He was named a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in 2012-13.

For young writers looking for writing advice, Myers published Just Write, which he described as a template from his own life.




Blog Hop

One of the cool things about being a kid’s book writer is the mutual support and help members are happy to give each other.  It’s a wonderful community, and I so appreciate being a part of it…which is how I ended up agreeing to this blog hop.

My invitation came from Adrienne Mason, a west-coast writer and editor that I first met through CWILL BC.  CWILL BC started out as a small group  published BC children’s writers and illustrators, but today it’s bursting at the seams with more than 150 members.  Be sure to check out CWILL BC as well as Adrienne’s blog which is full of her gorgeous collages. And, don’t forget her books. They are a real joy, not to mention totally informative.

While you’re at it, please check out the three writers I am in turning tagging:

Margriet Ruurs,

Helaine Becker,

and Lois Peterson (a crazy busy work schedule is preventing Lois from participating in the blog hop, but she has such an awesome blog that you should be sure to check her out anyways).

What am I working on?

One of the things I love about being a writer is that I’m almost never doing the same thing.  So, one day I may be researching moonsnails and the next, I’m studying the official rules of baseball.  It’s absolutely never boring.

Right now I’m working on an untitled chapter book about Joey and his best friend Matt.  Both both love dogs, have annoying sisters, and can’t get enough of baseball! When Joey makes the tournament team and his best friend doesn’t, he knows the coaches have made a mistake.  He has to find a way to get Matt on the team.  The championship, and their friendship depends on it.

But, this isn’t the only thing I have on the go.  I’m often revising another story, making notes about new story ideas, and editing stories for other writers.  I have a serious passion for picture books (yes, I have books shelves overflowing with them).  I love writing them, and  I have one on the back burner that has been percolating for some time. Stories are like that; sometimes it takes them a while to bubble to the surface.

How does your work differ from others in this genera

From my very first book, Waiting for the Whales, my work has been rooted in two things: place and lyrical language. I grew up in Arizona, and I love the desert.  But, the west coast stole my heart from the very first moment I laid eyes on her. This place has inspired many of my stories and I’m sure that it will continue to do so.

I also love lyrical language and the way words flow together to create something bigger and richer and more beautiful than mere sentences. Not surprisingly, I am a big fan of all sorts of poetry 🙂

Lately, my writing has taken a new direction. I’m finding that I’m enjoying playful characters. Sometimes my characters are 9 year old boys who can’t stay out of trouble. And, sometimes my characters take the shape of a canine who wants to do the right thing but just can’t quite master it. I hope that my readers will agree that these are characters that jump off the page.

Why do I write what I do?

I’m not nearly as prolific as many of my writer friends, probably because I’m easily distracted and a whole lot lazier. I need to fall in love with an idea, a character, or a concept that won’t let me go.  When that happens, I’m ready to commit to the time it takes to write and rewrite and rewrite again  until I have something  that  I know I will be proud to share.

How does my writing process work?

I don’t have a specific time or schedule that I work by.  I’m always fooling around with some bit of writing. I often mull things over for quite some time before I start a project.  Even then, I may find it I need more thinking time.  I don’t tend to outline, although I suspect if I could work that way I would be a much more efficient writer.  Alas, I’m not an outliner, so I just muddle through.  Usually,  by the time I start writing, I have a pretty good idea of what, when, where, and who in my head.  Once I start, I’m terribly obsessive and have a hard time stopping.  When I’m in my obsessive phase, I usually work through dinner, late into the evening.  My dog, Ruby is no happier about that than my children were all those years ago when I first started writing.

I do a lot of editing and usually end up rewriting a story at least half a dozen times. I probably spend quite a bit of time in the final edits getting the language just right.  That’s probably because for much of my career, I’ve been a picture book writer, and with only 32 pages, every word counts.

You won’t regret checking out these three other writers!

Margriet Ruurs

I’ve known Margriet for more than 20 years.  She is a whirlwind in the children’s book world and I can hardly keep up with the books she’s written or the places she’s travelled.  She’s also one of the kindest most generous people I know and it’s a privilege to call her a friend.


Margriet Ruurs is the author of 30 books for children. Margriet works in elementary and middle schools across North America and also in many international schools around the world. She loves writing but also sharing stories with children and educators, getting them excited about writing their own stories.

Margriet lives on Salt Spring Island, BC where she and her family run a booklovers’ Bed & Breakfast called Between The Covers. Her next new books will include Families Around The World with Kids Can Press and A Brush Full of Color, the biography of Canadian artist Ted Harrison with Pajama Press.

website: http://www.margrietruurs.com

blog: http://margrietruurs.blogspot.ca

Helaine Becker

I first met Helaine about 10 years ago at a conference we were both presenting at. I was unfortunately coming down with the flu. Despite not feeling very well, Helaine made me laugh so hard that I almost forgot about being sick. She is such a bright light in the writing world, that you just have to read her books.

Helene is an award-winning writer of books for children. She has written over50 books, including the best-selling picture book, A Porcupine in a Pine Tree, theLooney Bay All-Stars seriespopular non-fiction, including Magic Up Your Sleeve,Secret Agent Y.O.U. and The Quiz Book for Girls; and young adult novels includingTrouble in the Hills and How to Survive Absolutely Anything. Helaine loves bright shiny colorful things, especially happy faces and flowers. She is crazy about fluffy dogs, coral reefs,  ice cream and color-changing nailpolish.

website: http://www.helainebecker.com


Lois Peterson

I first met Lois online when I was looking to share a room with another writer at the LA SCBWI Conference about six years ago.  We don’t get to see each other often but she is a fine and dedicated writer that I have learned a lot from. Her books for kids are wonderful thought-provoking reads, and I especially recommend  her 101 and more Writing Exercises for anyone wanting a writing career.














Researching isn’t just for information books

If you know anything about writing, then it isn’t a surprise that research isn’t just for non-fiction titles. And just to be clear, the Internet may be an easy research tool, but it isn’t always reliable.  You may actually have to crack the cover of a book, or a journal or two folks.  Here’s a great article by Andy Weir, author of the sci-fi page-turner grounded in scientific research, The Martian.  One of his tips; research informs the story.  Don’t dump everything you learned into your manuscript, impressive though it may be.

Even if you’re not a sci-fi buff, definitely pick up his book.Who knows, you may learn something.  


 Are you inclined to head toward the picture book section of the bookstore or library? Do you love middle grade fiction as much as your middle grader, or is young adult fiction for you? Have you dreamed of becoming an author?  Are you willing to write and rewrite until your story is perfect?  Do you have what it takes to become an author?

Is that a resounding YES YES YES!

Then get your pens or laptops out and get writing because the Canadian Society for Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers has teamed up with The Writers’ Union Of Canada to offer you a wonderful opportunity; the 17th Annual Writing for Children Competition.The winner will take home $1500. But, the best part is that the winner and finalists will have their work sent to three publishers for consideration.

The $25 entrance fee will get your writing read by a pro, and would be cheap at twice the price. Contest ends April 25th so don’t delay.  More details can be found at http://www.canscaip.org/competitions

(To qualify, you must be unpublished and either a Canadian or a landed immigrant)



You can’t kill the creative spirit

Being a writer or artist puts you in the public eye.  I recall my very first publisher’s wise words. “There’s no such thing as a bad book review; any publicity is good publicity.” The problem is, that some reviews (especially the kind that strays into personal attack) can be tough to swallow.  So, when I caught this delightfully creative take by on book reviews by Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of over 70 books for kids, I just had to share. I love the way he and the authors depicted turned bad reviews into a creative opportunity. There are 3 videos of some of your fav kid’s book authors reading bad reviews.  Here’s the first, but be sure to check the others out too.

You just can’t kill the creative spirit 🙂

Advice from Neil Gaiman

I can’t believe it’s already 2014!  I thought I’d start the new year with a sage bit of advice offered to a young writer by author, Neil Gaiman. Gaiman drops in on an episode of the Arthur cartoon to impart some writerly wisdom, but his advice is true for writers of any age…trust your story and don’t give up.  You just might be lucky enough to live the author dream of hearing a reader ask, ‘What happens next?’

…and thanks to GalleyCat for the heads up.


The ability to self-edit is one of those crucial  keys to becoming a successful writer. It’s always been important to have  a project that’s polished enough that an agent or editor is willing to look at it.  But with so many publishers falling on hard times, the demands on writers to submit even more polished pieces has grown. This in turn, has produced a plethora of workshop offerings, countless ‘how-to’ books, and  a bloom of writing blogs with hints, tips and words of wisdom.

One of the blogs that I’ve found worth following is Adventures in YA Publishing.  Guest author Sarah Grant is the award-winning author of Dark Parties  and Half Lives.  She offers  some solid tips on revision that are worth having a look at. One Sarah’s suggestions is “Always macro edit first.”

My own advice…figure out what works for you and do it.

A word of advice for David Gilmour and writers in general

Not surprisingly, Canadian author David Gilmour’s words are coming back to haunt him.  Mr. Gilmour, who teaches literature at the University of Toronto, may be having nightmares over an interview  in an online magazine in which he dismisses, Canadian writers, Chinese writers and women writers.

I know.  It’s hard to believe that anyone could be that dumb!

Unfortunately, for Mr. Gilmour, the  interview went viral with widespread accusations that he was both a racist and a misogynist.  Instead of apologizing, Mr. Gilmour made the further mistake of blaming the interviewer for taking his words out of context and missing that his remarks were supposed to be humorous.  News flash…that isn’t an apology David.

You could almost feel sorry watching him dig himself deeper and deeper…Until  he goes on to say that he only apologized because his publisher was concerned about a backlash against his latest book.


This guy badly needs advice.  So here it is.

My advice to you David Gilmour, and to other writers:

  • Think before you open your mouth 
  • And, if you’re stupid enough to offend more than half of your reading public, have the good sense to apologize

‘Nough said!

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