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…

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.

Violence Speaks

My daughter was going to review The Enchanted Egg, the second book in Kallie George’s Magical Animal Adoption Agency series. In fact, Kallie gave her an advance reading copy just for that purpose. But Violence stole the book from Silence’s room before she’d had a chance to read it. (Yeesh. Who would steal a book from a child’s room?) Well, since he stole the book, he’s the one who will be reviewing this week. Here are Violence’s thoughts on The Enchanted Egg:

In this story there’s a new egg in the agency that hasn’t hatched yet. Clover and Mr. Jams still don’t know exactly what kind it is, but they are taking care of it anyway. One day when Mr. Jams has left to save another animal, Clover wakes up to find that the egg has cracked open, but where is the animal? Will Clover find the animal before Mr. Jams comes back?

I think this book is great because of all the animals. The fire salamanders are my favourites, but I don’t think my mom would let me have a fire salamander.

5/5 stars

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!

My new imaginary pet

My writer friend Kallie George will soon be releasing the first book in her Magical Animal Adoption Series, and she’s just launched a new website. It’s the most adorable thing ever. I took the quiz and it turns out that I’m a suitable host for either winged horses or griffyns. (Maybe they like clean bathrooms and freshly ironed linens?)

maaa

Once again, this website makes me think I should re-examine my writing choices. My friend Rachelle sets her books in Moscow and Prague, then she gets to go on “research” trips.

Where do I set my books? The Kootenays.

Now Kallie gets a magical animal website. What kind of website quiz could I create? Hmmm… a “would you eat maggots to survive” version? It’s not quite the same!

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Housework and hazard pay

1. Housework
We are still all about the ADLs around here. Min needs to test ten volunteers, doing two household tasks each. I’m pretty sure this was a trick to get me to clean the bathroom and iron his shirts. I’ll have you know that I am officially, objectively capable of both those tasks, though I lost points for (a) leaving the rag drawer open and (b) propping the ironing board with my chin while I adjusted my grip.

I would like to write the ADLs people to argue that ironing is in fact NOT a necessary activity of daily life. Unfortunately, I was only asked to take the test, not to write the test.

photo

2. Hazard Pay
If no one hears from me for the rest of the week, it’s because I’m hanging out with my one-year-old nephew. He is a funny, happy little guy. But holy busy, batman! How in the world did I write when I had toddlers in the house? Apparently, multi-tasking is no longer one of my ADLs. Wish me luck!

Clover’s Luck

My Insklingers writing group compatriot Kallie George has a new book coming out after Christmas, called Clover’s Luck. It’s the first in her Magical Animal Adoption Agency series, published by Disney/Hyperion in the U.S. and by HarperCollins in Canada.

maaa

Kallie was kind enough to give my 10-year-old an advance copy, and here’s my daughter’s review:

I thought this was a really good book. I love Clover and the whole M.A.A.A. I especially liked the part when Clover turns green in the witch’s potion and she realizes she is lucky. My favorite characters are Clover and the dragon. I felt bad for the poor unicorn that lost its tail. If I had a unicorn (and if there was a witch disguised as a princess trying to steal my unicorn’s tail), I would kick that princess/witch off the face of the earth! I’m not such a fan of princesses anyway. It was a really good book, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!

I am not such a fan of processes either, but I’m a big fan of Kallie and Clover. I think the entire series is going to be… well… magical.

Reading blitz

I’ve spent the past week as a subject of Montmoray. Well, not really, but I may as well have. I’ve been immersed in a trilogy recommended by fellow Inkslinger Kallie George: A Brief History of Montmoray, The FitzOsbornes in Exile, and The FitzOsbornes at War, by Michelle Cooper.

Now, I am thoroughly wishing two things:
1. That Montmoray could be a real place.
2. That I could write books like this.

As item two is unlikely, I plan to comfort myself by reading the rest of the books recently recommended by my writing group:
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

To which I added:
The Painted Girls by Cathie Marie Buchanan

If I have thicker glasses next time you see me, you’ll know why!