Uninvited guests

I was having an idyllic writers’ group meeting in the backyard with Kallie George, Rachelle Delaney, Stacey Matson, and Christy Goerzen. Once the wine was poured and the fruit crisps passed, Rachelle got up to snap this photo.

We discussed picture books. All was well in the world.

Until I saw movement from the corner of my eye.

“Uh… guys? There’s a skunk in the yard.”

But it was fairly benign. When we made noise, it waddled along the fence until it could duck into the neighbour’s yard.

Then its friend arrived. This one wandered all the way around the pond and headed toward us. When  we made noise, it raised its tail. It took a few more steps forward.

With great squealing, snatching of laptops, and scattering of chairs, we sprinted en masse toward the house.

For the record, if there’s ever a track meet for children’s writers, Kallie George is a sure winner in the 100-meter dash.

In miniature

I went last night to the book launch for Kallie George’s new Heartwood Hotel series, an infinitely adorable collection of books about a resting place for forest animals.

There were masses of kids at the launch, and Kallie entertained them all with stories of her near-death hiking experiences. Then, she sent them to the crafts table to create their own woodland creatures. Once completed, the creatures could check in here:

Yes, that’s a replica of the Heartwood Hotel, created by Kallie’s husband Luke.

So of course I went directly home and showed my pictures to Min, who said he would be happy to build me a miniature grow-op for my Prince of Pot book launch.

But it doesn’t seem quite the same, does it?

Plus, I can’t think of a single craft idea. Well, not a single appropriate craft idea…

Entirely unrelated things

Let’s see… should I start with the most intellectual and go toward the least? Or the other way around?

1. Bizaardvark video
My daughter played this for me this morning and it made my day. I think this song is about me!



2. Eyes and Spies
Friends have been emailing and texting me all week about Alex Van Tol‘s piece about Eyes and Spies in BC Bookworld. (You can read it here, on page 35, if your eyesight is excellent. Or you can look for a real-life copy at various bookstores.) It’s such a good article, it made me think Alex should have written the book instead of me.

3. No Is Not Enough
Min and I went with our friends Jacqui and Carl to see Naomi Klein Saturday night, as she launched her new book, No Is Not Enough. That woman opens her mouth and brilliant things spew out of her. Which is really not fair to the rest of us who muddle through life trying to seem smarter than we really are. I do think I may have gained a few IQ points just from listening, and have hopes I’ll gain more as I read the book.

In case you couldn’t tell, I decided on least intellectual to most. But if you’re overwhelmed, Silence also showed me this emoji video. Enjoy.

Overheard

Conversation between two 12-year-olds:

Girl A: Where are you going to be a neurosurgeon?

Girl B: Probably Los Angeles. They’re well known for pediatrics.

Girl A: But then you’ll have to charge people.

Girl B: What?

Girl A: In the United States, people have to pay for health care.

Girl B: Oh no! That’s so sad!

Girl A: Sorry to ruin your future.

The spill-all edition

I am terrible at keeping secrets. I tell you this not so you’ll keep from me your pregnancy and job interview news (though you probably should), but so you’ll understand how painful it was for me to keep THIS a secret for the six years weeks it took to sign the contracts.

I wrote a middle-grade novel! And someone liked it!

Titles sometimes change, but at this moment the book is called THE CAMPAIGN. It’s the story of one 12-year-old girl’s plan to get her own cell phone. (And if there was a 12-year-old girl in my house this year who happened to be lobbying for a phone, that was a complete coincidence.)

It’s going to come out with Tundra Books in 2019. Which seems like a long time from now, but at least I can talk about it until then!

The edge of YA

A friend told me that Millennials are having less sex because their parents are too open about it, and it no longer seems rebellious. This weekend, I started to worry that my children won’t have any secret books stuffed under their mattresses because their mother doesn’t adequately censor their reading material.

We are on that very precarious edge of middle-grade/young-adult in my house. When Silence casts a book aside, it’s often because she’s deemed it “inappropriate” — a judgement she makes more harshly than I do. (I’ve promised her she can read my YA novel, Prince of Pot, when it comes out this fall, but I have a feeling she’s going to put me on her censored list.)

Last week, we went to Susin Nielsen’s launch for Optimists Die First. Silence is a HUGE Susin Nielsen fan and she was already reading while in the line-up for autographs. But once we were home and she was halfway through, she stalked into the living room, cast the book down on the couch between Min and me, and said, “This is inappropriate.”

I looked at what she was reading. There is a fairly gentle make-out-session/fade-to-black sex scene in the middle of the book.

So, fine. It’s good that Silence is making her own decisions about what she’s ready to read.

There’s only one problem…. We got a signed copy of the book for one of Silence’s friends.

So, do we NOT give her the book? Do we give it to her and tell her not to read it for a few years? If we give it to her, do I have to email her parents? And why aren’t there parenting guidelines on Facebook for this sort of situation?

The upside: I now get to read the book myself. And it is hilarious. And wise. And oh-so-perfectly appropriate for me.

Mad as a hatter

It was a weekend of parties. We went to a school fundraiser and silent auction on Friday night. Then, on Saturday night, we simultaneously hosted a Mad Hatter-themed sleepover (Silence) and a men’s UFC night (Min). It was an extra-entertaining combination, since Silence had already decorated the house with Alice-in-Wonderland characters and posters, perfect for a blood-thirsty boxing night.

The men went home, and six additional girls joined us on Sunday for a Mad Hatter tea party, where the decorations made much more sense.

Oh, and in between all those parties, we hosted two 10-year-old boys for playdates. (They didn’t notice the theme at all, unless they were looking for extra nerf-gun targets.)

This morning, everyone has left the house. The kitchen is (mostly) clean again. I’ve started on the mountain of laundry. And, most importantly, I have a few open hours for writing. But I’m keeping some of the decorations up. Maybe forever.

Sizing up Eyes and Spies

School Library Journal gave a lovely review to Eyes and Spies this month. You’ll find it here, if you scroll down to the non-fiction section. The reviewer wrote: “‘Valuable’ is an understatement. A timely read on surveillance and mass data collection for public and school libraries.”

YAY!

I received the link from Annick Press just as I was drowning in the depths of Bellis Fair Mall. I was there as part of the annual family shopping trip that drives me to existential crisis. (Not that other things don’t.) It was perfect timing for a happy surprise.

If you’re interested in privacy and surveillance issues, and you can’t wait the couple weeks until Eyes and Spies arrives on shelves, check out the podcast Note to Self. They’ve just wrapped up a six-episode series on privacy and it’s fascinating. Apparently phone calls are protected in the United States partly because of a gambler who used phone booths to place his bets, got caught, and then argued for his privacy rights. Who knew?

I might have to write a second edition.