On to Ottawa…

Whew… what a whirlwind! I gave two presentations in Pelham on Monday, then travelled by car, bus, train, and my own foot-power to Mississaugua. There, I gave three presentations in less than three hours at Allan A. Martin Senior Public School, and now I’m at the airport on my way to Ottawa.

So far, I’ve said two somewhat inappropriate things to large groups of people. While wearing a microphone. There should probably be some sort of psychological test which helps the Canadian Children’s Book Centre decide if authors have a filter before hiring us. But apparently there’s not, so here I am explaining to kids what my last name means if they say it ever-so-slightly wrong in Burmese. (It has four letters and begins with an “s.”)

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In my defence, the librarian asked. (She’s lovely, as are the other teachers at Allan A. Martin. You can find them on Twitter at @mjwheelerali and @@AllanAMartinPS.)

Also, photos shouldn’t be allowed during my presentations because they’re always excruciatingly embarrassing. But, as sharing tends to make things less embarrassing and more funny, here I am wearing my underwear outside my pants.

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Apparently, in Ontario, everyone wears their underwear inside their pants? This would have been helpful to know before my school visits.

It’s off to Ottawa now, where I will attempt to be more appropriate in public. I’m thinking chances are slim…

The TD Book Week Tour Thus Far…

1. Lee Edward Fodi and I got lost in the Toronto airport parking lot.

2. We crashed with Kari-Lynn Winters in St. Catherines, then headed to Spring Into Reading, a literacy festival in Niagara. The whole show was orchestrated by the Ontario Literacy Association, and the kids were wonderful — fun, engaged, and willing to try their hands at anything. Even dangerous survival situations…

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3. Lee and I got lost in the Best Buy parking lot. This could have become a theme except…

4. Lee was eaten by a giant T-Rex.

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5. Finally, for a little extra awesomeness, Niagara Falls.

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To-do list

The good news: last week’s presentation to my daughter’s class went very well. I forgot to wear my giving-a-presentation-deodorant instead of my mineral salts, so the teacher now thinks I’m an abnormally sweaty person, but other than that, I was very happy.

Now, onto the next stage of my TD Children’s Book Week preparations: panic.

I hemmed a pair of pants last night. I counted to make sure I have eight presentable shirts. (I do, barely.) I’ve printed all my presentations and gathered most of my props. I now have to:

* buy a supply of energy bars
* find some stick-on moustaches (apparently these are a seasonal item?)
* organize one more afternoon of childcare for while I’m gone

And…

* finish a big edit, half of which arrived on Friday and half of which lands today

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Jitters

I’m doing a writing workshop with my daughter’s class this morning, as a dress rehersal for TD Canadian Children’s Book Week in Ontario.

I had this conversation with my daughter about the workshop:

Me: What was I thinking? I’m way more nervous about presenting to your class that I am presenting to strangers.

Silence: Why?

Me: Because if I’m terrible, you’ll never speak to me again.

Silence: I’ll speak to you. But every conversation will begin with “remember that time you messed up in front of my whole class?”

She’s so helpful.

Assuming I don’t get egged this morning, here’s a poster for my first event in Ontario. If you just happen to live in the Niagara region, come on by!

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On the Tour Bus

In just a few short weeks, I set sail (on a plane) for Ontario, as part of TD Children’s Book Week. I am beyond excited. I have prepared my presentations, stocked the freezer with food so my family doesn’t starve while I’m gone, and even bought a few new, publicly acceptable items of clothing.

I fly into Toronto, then Lee Edward Fodi and I drive to St. Catherines to meet Kari-Lynn Winters for a day-long literacy festival.

After that, I speak at schools and libraries in Pelham and Mississauga before jetting off to Ottawa for four more days of presentations.

We are not going to discuss here how many times I am going to (a) misplace my hotel key, (b) wear my clothes backwards, or (c) get lost. No. Because we are focussing on how amazing it’s going to be to meet hundreds of kids who love books.

There’s a Book Week interview with me here. And if you want to know more about the tour in general, check out the website. It’s an amazing program, and I’m feeling thoroughly honoured to be a part of it all.

On the adorable-times-infinity scale

The trailer for Clover’s Luck by Kallie George is pretty much the cutest thing ever. AND, it just happens to be narrated by my daughter.

Once you’ve finished watching, you can head to the Magical Animal Adoption Agency website and take the quiz to discover what kind of animal you might wish to adopt. (I’m getting a sea serpent or a hippocampus. Do you think Min will mind?)

Then, you can join me at Kallie’s launch party on February 12th at 6:30 pm, at Kidsbooks Vancouver.

Kallie is one of the smartest writers I know, and her books manage to be sweet and deep at the same time. I’m so excited to see Clover’s Luck released into the big, wide world!

The Quizzards of Oz

Well, our author team managed (barely!) to hold our own against some brilliant middle-grade readers at Vancouver’s inaugural Kids Lit Quiz on Friday. The only category in which they trumped us: Harry Potter trivia.

(Do you know the librarian’s name at Hogwarts? Because we didn’t, but they all did!)

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Posing with my teammates, Lee Edward Fodi, Kallie George, and Stacey Matson, in Little Flower Academy’s gorgeous library.

While we were there, we had a fascinating chat with Quizmaster and Kids Lit Quiz founder Wayne Mills. Wayne is a professor in New Zealand and by the sounds of it, he spends half his year travelling around the world organizing and hosting quiz events.

The sign at the front of the room proclaimed: “Welcome to the sport of reading.” Wayne pointed out that we spend all of our time in school helping those who are struggling with reading, and very little time celebrating those who are great. Meanwhile, there are fairs for the science kids and tournaments for the sports kids and nothing at all — especially no team events — for the literary kids.

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Quizmaster Wayne Mills with Stacey.

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Me trying to butter up judge Rob Bittner. (And to continue that trend, you should read his blog if you don’t already.)

This is a team event to trump all others. The winners in Vancouver (congratulations, Southridge!) will travel to Toronto for the nationals, and the winners at the nationals will travel to New England somewhere. I didn’t catch all the details, but I did hear “try their hand at throwing harpoons, to see how they would have faired in the days of Herman Melville.” How cool is that?

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I am officially a Kids Lit Quiz fan. But I wish I were 11, so I could try for the trophy.

Likely not smarter than a fifth grader

I’m off to Little Flower Academy today to compete against middle-grade students in B.C.’s inaugural Kids’ Lit Quiz. It’s a competition held in countries all over the world, and popular for the past few years in eastern Canada.

Here’s part of what it says on the website:

In the style of popular learning competitions like the Scripps Spelling Bee, Kids’ Lit Quiz is a highly spirited and intense team event for students around the world.

Are you a KLQ Quiz Whiz?

Who had two nasty aunts called Spiker and Sponge?

Who owned a faithful dog named Snowy?

But here’s the problem: I don’t know the answer to either of those questions!

My resident middle-grade expert, Silence, has been schooling me all week in Rick Riordan facts. I have retained none of them. In fact, I was complaining about this on the phone to my publisher, and she and I couldn’t even agree on how to pronounce his last name.

I may be in trouble.

Fortunately, I will have three trusty team members by my side. Stacey Matson, Kallie George, and Lee Edward Fodi are joining me on this little adventure and they are all dazzlingly brilliant AND just plain fun to hang out with.

We have named our writers’ team The Quizzards of Oz. Let’s just hope no one peeks behind the curtain.

Drama

I was signed up for a CWILL BC master class on screenwriting on Saturday. Not because I have any plans to start scripting movies, but because (a) it’s always wonderful to sit around a table for an afternoon and talk writing (b) writer and master class instructor Elizabeth Stewart is lovely, as is her new novel, Blue Gold, and (c) screenwriters have a flare for tension and drama, which are not usually my strong suits.

As it turned out, though, my Saturday was chock full of drama. We took the kids for flu shots and not one, but BOTH of our little creatures went down in pale, shaking heaps on the drug store floor. There was throwing up and shivering and chest pain and overall, we were not the poster family for happy immunization.

We got them home, eventually, and they recovered fairly quickly. But by that time, I was significantly late for the workshop. I arrived at the UBC building to find the door locked, so had to call someone’s cell phone and interrupt the whole class with my entry.

Fortunately for me, the second half of the workshop was both interesting and entertaining. And then I went home… and Min set the stove on fire.

Because you know that movie I saw a few weeks ago? Well, sometimes real life days fall apart the same way.

This morning, I’m waiting for the stove repairman to arrive. After that, hopefully it’s onwards to a drama-free week!