Warm fuzzies

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre released its Best Books for Kids & Teens 2015 edition last week. I’m sure I’m not the only person who treats it as a giant to-read list each winter. I’m also honoured to have a book included.

Minding Nana is a true story I wrote about growing up next door to my grandma, who suffered from dementia. Pearson released a Well Aware series of 60 books for middle-grade readers this year, all focussed on different aspects of mental health, and Minding Nana was included. It was a difficult story to write and I sort of felt as if I had sold my soul by publishing it (much easier to write other people’s stories!), so I am sincerely touched to have it included by the CCBC.

Others included in this year’s Best Books list include my lovely author friends Paula Ayer, Kallie George, Caroline Adderson, Lee Edward Födi, and Lori Sherritt-Fleming. Congratulations, all!

In more warm-fuzzy news, DNA Detective received a wonderful review from CM Magazine. The reviewer thinks I’m smarter than I really am, so please… no one reveal the truth.

Special delivery

Look what arrived at my door yesterday! It came just in time for me to show it off at a writer’s group meeting, and just in time to get packed in my Ontario bag.

These copies arrived by mail. The rest are still on a ship somewhere, crossing the Pacific. But I can’t wait for them to arrive, mostly so everyone can experience illustrator Lil Crump’s sense of humour. Wait until you see how she’s transformed DNA scientists into rock stars…

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DNA Detective

There is this wonderful stage of the book-creation process in which all the writing and illustrations are done, and no one has yet said the word “index,” and I get to see designed pages for the first time. So exciting!

I’ve just received the first page proofs for my Fall 2015 book, DNA Detective. And I LOVE them. Apparently, the designer has never worked on a children’s book before, but has always wanted to. I think she may have found her calling.

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(I am probably not supposed to post this yet. It hasn’t been proofread and it’s quite possible the art hasn’t been approved/purchased, but… well, it’s too late for them to fire me. It’s it fun?)

Hopefully I’ll be able to post a cover soon!

Found in translation

I have learned how to use my scanner (no small feat) JUST so I can share what arrived in my mailbox on Friday:

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Can you tell what it is? I’ll give you some hints. That’s a vampire over on the right, obviously. There’s a thirteenth-century Egyptian dude below him, a sacrificial pig at the bottom, and Dr. Karl Landsteiner at the top left.

Still need help? It’s the new Korean edition of this, published by Acenet Junior. And it’s pretty bloody fun to see my text in Korean!

My new bod

Look what’s up on the Amazon site for pre-order! The newest title in the 50 Questions series:

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This may have my favourite all-time subtitle. (“A Book That Spills Its Guts” in case you can’t read it in the graphic above.) And the book is packed with every strange bodily function anecdote I could find.

For example, you can learn all about Alexis St. Martin. When he was shot by a musket, the wound didn’t heal properly, leaving him with a permanent hole in his abdomen. He travelled across the continent with army doc William Beaumont, who made money by dangling bits of food into the hole and then revealing them half-digested.

Doesn’t that just whet your appetite? For reading, at least?

My partner-in-crime Ross Kinnaird has outdone himself on the illustrations. So even if you’re not into half-digested-food stories, you should still have a look!

Only if you love me…

You know how before they pass the offering basket at church, the pastor tells visitors they shouldn’t feel obligated to give? Well, this is that moment. If you’ve popped by for the first time, feel free to skip this post and read about waxing, or ESL dumplings, or my husband’s technology addiction instead.

The rest of you lovely people… I have a favour (or three) to ask. If you’ve picked up a copy of Anywhere But Here and you’d like to help out your friendly neighbourhood writer, could you consider the following?

* Give the book some stars on Amazon. A few good ratings or nice comments can make a big difference.

* Join Goodreads and rate the book. (Then add me as a friend, because it’s fun.)

* Tell your friends. Despite all the hoopla about social media, word-of-mouth remains a huge driver of book sales.

Massive thanks in advance for your help!

I feel like we should sing some hymns next…

Kind words

I am trying to stop talking about myself, myself, and myself. I really am. But I’m just so pleased to have read these two reviews of Anywhere But Here.

After waiting for months for the book to come out, worrying the whole time about what readers will think of it, it’s such a wonderful feeling (and a relief!) to see that people understand what I was trying to say.

Here’s the Booklist review:

After dating his beautiful girlfriend, Lauren, for two years, Cole has abruptly broken up with her. Despite the long hours when she sat by his side while his mother died, Cole now finds her presence suffocating. In fact, Cole feels that he is constantly suffocating in his tiny hometown, known affectionately to locals as “the Web.” His plan is to escape through film school, and the admission process requires a submission of his work. In an intuitive flash, Cole decides to create a documentary about the Web, but he uncovers secrets that only deepen his entanglement with the town. Kyi’s first-person narration feels organic as Cole grudgingly reveals background information as needed, and secondary characters are distorted by Cole’s grief, reflecting the exhaustion Cole feels when he tries to engage with others. Readers will easily feel Cole’s difficulty with being present. Like Daisy Whitney’s When You Were Here (2013), Kyi’s novel presents a heart-wrenching, realistic depiction of a son grieving the loss of his mother. Grades 9-12.
–Diane Colson

And here is part of what Quill & Quire had to say:

Kyi demonstrates a certain amount of bravery in her treatment of the characters and their stories: Cole isn’t always as likeable as he thinks he is – in fact, he’s a bit of a jerk – and the other characters are vividly, humanly flawed. The author allows her characters room to make bad decisions and doesn’t flinch from dramatizing the consequences. The novel’s relatability twists inside the reader.

Diane Colson (Booklist) and Robert J. Wiersema (Quill & Quire), these are for you:

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Cookies vs. kicks

I’m here to officially apologize to every writer who’s ever talked to me about reviews. Because while you were agonizing, and I was nodding and smiling sympathetically, I was actually thinking, “Well, some people like your book, some people don’t. Fair enough. What’s the big deal?”

It turns out that it’s easy to feel that way about a review of an information book. It is not AT ALL easy to feel that way about a review of fiction. When people say nice things about Anywhere But Here, I want to bake them cookies, send them flowers, and offer to do their laundry for a year. When people say less-nice things, I feel as if they’ve peeked into my soul and said, “yeah, that was lame.”

Who knew?

(Is this one of those things like childbirth? Everyone who’s been through it knows how gross and slimy and bloody it is, but no one explains, because how’s it going to help to know in advance?)

Anyhoo… if you’re still reading after that childbirth aside (sorry), and you want to meet the people for whom I’m baking virtual cookies (I’d bake real ones if they lived in Kits), here are a few lovely, thoughtful reviews:

Kirkus says: “Cole’s voice is convincingly filled with a combination of angst and nonchalance.”

Hannah at In the Best Worlds says: “I’m enamored with this book, because I think it told me what I needed, more than what I wanted, to hear. It deals with the pain and frustration that are attached to coming of age, where you must first be disillusioned and then have your world view rebuilt…. I really think it’s going to mean something different to everyone who reads it.”

Stephanie at Beyond the Bookshelf says: “I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys edgier contemporary lit as well as YA novels. I’ll definitely be seeking out more from this author in the future!”