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.

Book promotion in the language of cookies

Since I posted about Prince of Pot on Facebook last week, my friend Bettina in Switzerland has ordered a copy, my high-school friend Heather ordered one from Amazon UK, and my cousin Chelsea in Edmonton emailed to ask which method of ordering would have the most impact. (Thank you, Bettina, Heather, and Chelsea. You’re awesome.)

In case I have other friends and family members who might be willing to help with a little book promotion, I’ve put together a list of possible actions, complete with handy categories.

If you love me like store-bought cookies:

  • Consider posting “Can’t wait for Tanya Lloyd Kyi’s new PRINCE OF POT” on your Facebook or Twitter feed. Tag me, so I can share.
  • Tell your friends, your sister, your dentist, your kid’s teacher-librarian, and anyone on the street who looks bookish.

If you love me like coffee-shop macadamia nut cookies:

  • All the above.
  • PLUS, stop in at your local independent store and ask for a copy. If they don’t have one, say, “Oh, she’s awesome. I love her better than store-bought cookies. You should probably order the book.”
  • OR, pre-order a copy on Amazon or Chapters Indigo. Pre-orders help booksellers decide to stock extra copies.

If you love me like homemade chocolate chip cookies, still a little gooey in the middle:

  • All of the above.
  • PLUS, rate the book on the Goodreads, Amazon, or Chapters websites. Preferably, rate it highly. My mom asked her friends to do this for me once, and one of them got confused and gave me one star. At least, I hope she was confused…
  • Post a picture of yourself reading my book. Tag me, so I can share.

If you love me like Christmas shortbread:

  • Hi, Mom! Thanks for reading this far. I’ll send you your copy in the mail!

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.

Birthday tales

Last weekend, we packed the car and headed to Creston for my dad’s 70th birthday. He’s one of those people who takes one look at his wrapped birthday presents and knows exactly what they are. But this year, thanks to the combined efforts of my family, my sister’s family, a few friends, and my very sneaky mom, we managed to surprise him.

Exhibit A: My dad, surprised.

But half an hour later, he was back in his usual element.

Exhibit B: Telling us how he accidentally left my brother-in-law in the middle of Kootenay Lake.

You will note that, while I tell my stories on paper instead of before crowds of people, I do come by the tendency honestly.

Happy birthday, Dad!

My accidental ninja book

I have a book coming out this fall which I wrote completely by accident.

About a year ago, I sent Annick a proposal for a companion book to Extreme Battlefields. The new idea was called Alone at War, and featured behind-enemy-lines stories of spies and saboteurs.

Annick didn’t love the collection, but asked me to create a non-fiction book from one of the proposed chapters — the story of Mochizuki Chiyome, a female ninja-trainer in 16th-century Japan.

So I wrote that book. Then Annick said, “there isn’t enough information here.” Which was entirely true because, you know, 16th century. There were lots of sentences which began, “Historians think this might have happened…” Or, “Perhaps, at this point…”

We decided to fill in the blanks and create a historical fiction piece.

Perfect!

Except that I had never written historical fiction before. Turns out it’s hard! It took a few drafts to get the right balance between fact and action. (My lovely editor, Paula Ayer, should probably have her name on the cover and should definitely win some sort of medal for patience.)

The finished book is a hybrid. There’s a warlord named Takeda Shingen, definitely a real guy. Then there’s Chiyome, probably real. And there’s a village girl named Aki, who’s entirely a figment of my imagination.

When melded together, their tales are full of action, with enough twists to impress even Violence, who recently read the proofs and gave the story a rare two thumbs up.

And that’s how I accidentally wrote a book about ninjas.

Literary tourism and fried bananas

We went to Disneyland recently. The week before the trip, I bought our park tickets and made a rough daily itinerary. Then I got busy.

Silence picked up my list and read: Tuesday—Beach.

“What beach are we going to?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Pick one.”

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but Silence is a super-fan of The Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel-Frederick. (Direct quote: “Heather Vogel-Frederick is a literary genius.”)

Silence has read the books multiple times; she’s listened to the audio books multiple times; she’s corresponded with the author; she’s memorized the middle names of all the characters. Thus, on our Tuesday away, we ended up renting a car and driving to Newport Beach. But not so we could see the beach. No, so we could find the tiny ferry terminal that would take us to Balboa Island, home of our (fictional) friend Cassidy Sloane, and birthplace of frozen bananas.

We spent the entire day driving, hunting for ferry, riding ferry, walking island, finding said bananas, and then doing it all in reverse, but it was a lovely, sunny day and Silence was very, very happy. (Violence wasn’t complaining about a day in search of chocolate-dipped treats, either.)

All in all, it was much more successful than our second “literary” tourism moment of the trip, which was a turn on the Harry Potter 4D ride at Universal Studios. That one left me sitting on a park bench with my head between my knees while the kids enjoyed their butter beers without 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.