The Perfect Pitch

Friends Rachelle Delaney, Stacey Matson, and I are giving a class about pitches and submissions, on Saturday, April 21st, as part of Ink Well Vancouver.

We’ve done some brainstorming and we have WAY TOO MUCH information, but we’re going to pack it into three fun hours at Kits Neighbourhood House. There will be games of the actually fun and non-embarrassing kind, and there will be writing of the practical type, and there will be yogic dance.

Wait, scratch that. No yogic dance.

Pitch writing is interesting because it used to be done more by emerging authors, those looking for their “home” publishing houses. But now, writers are working with multiple publishers at once, and on multiple platforms. That means more pitches for everyone. So, whether you’re an emerging writer or an established one, you should join us.

Plus, it’s fun to talk about writing. What better way to spend a Saturday morning?

Brainstorming detritus

Sometimes when I’m walking or grocery shopping or waiting in line, I’m struck by a string of book ideas. So either I jot these on scraps of paper which I immediately lose, or I write them in my phone then forget ever to look at them again.

Here’s a sample note from 2016, which I’ve just rediscovered. If you’ve read Prince of Pot, you’ll recognize some names.

Failure of imagination
Paint the bus
Half woods, half city, bear, bear rug. No, couldn’t paint bear rug, hazel lives forever. Drive to Vancouver, see what comes.

Isaac needs to find his own path, make his own decisions, follow his own art.

Doesn’t send portfolio?

Walt has a brother who’s an artist?

Walt left family behind. Had to follow what he believed.

Reference letter from Mr. Pires (who also left his family behind?)

About two of these things happened in the final book. Don’t worry, the bear rug wasn’t one of them.


Usually, I write between 9 am, when my kids go to school, and noon, when my brain expires. But I have trouble saying no, and so other things creep into my schedule. When that happens, I shift my writing time to the afternoons.

Have you ever noticed that in the afternoons, things like grocery shopping, Twitter, and examining one’s pores seem somehow urgent? Much more urgent than, say, creating a plot?

I’ve resolved to do a better job of protecting my mornings. I will focus. Commit. Produce reams of fabulous writing.

Except that this week, I have a volunteer commitment on Tuesday morning and a possible tennis match on Thursday morning.

But I’m totally going to focus, starting next week.

Or the week after.


I’ve discovered the ideal way to reconnect. You write a young adult novel set in your hometown, and then you include situations that your high-school friends recognize.

The Creston Valley Advance published an article a few weeks ago about Prince of Pot. Since then, I’ve received messages from someone who remembers particular hot tub incidents, a man who — twenty-five years ago — served as the Tic Tac repository in a Twin Bays truth-or-dare game, and a friend who may have once “borrowed” a car from the local dealership. The keys had been left inside, and that was all the excuse she needed.

(The funniest part of all this? My beta readers had so many questions about the truck-theft scene. Mainly, they thought it unrealistic that a dealership would leave keys in a vehicle overnight. Which just goes to show that those beta readers didn’t grow up in small towns. And that fact is stranger than fiction, always.)

I’m so glad I had wonderful, wild, daring, loving friends to get me through high school… and friends who will still read my books, all these years later!

Hindsight is at least 20/30

I’ve been asked a few times how Prince of Pot came to be. Well, it’s not autobiographical and I wasn’t raised on a grow-op. But the question has made me think about all the connections that do exist between Isaac’s life and mine.

I’m on the Groundwood blog here, talking magazine headlines and inspiration.

And I’m at Open Book Toronto here, talking broken hearts and broken swing sets. And, of course, bears.

How to be a writer with kids

My daughter made me a “how to survive being a writer with kids” package for my birthday, and it’s brilliant. I think she should patent it and start mass-production immediately.

Not only does it have emergency goodies inside, such as a magazine and oatmeal cookies, it has the best coupons ever:

And my personal favourite:

It’s so nice that someone understands me.

Baby days

I looked after my two nephews, ages two and four, for the weekend. They are absolutely adorable, funny, and FULL of action.

As I collapsed on the bed at the end of Saturday, I said to my husband, “How did I do this for so many years? And how did I write books while doing it?”

He said, “Well, you didn’t really shower.”

Ah. Priorities.

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!