Author Archives: kitsmediatech

Reclaiming the children

Like many this week, I’ve been gutted by the news of the 215 unmarked graves discovered at a Kamloops residential school. The experts believe that Indigenous children as young as three are buried there. Children who were taken from their families, neglected, abused, and then hidden from history.

It must have been a small group of massively determined people in the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation who — despite the government’s denial of funding and despite the lack of public attention — refused to rest until the children were found. That kind of commitment is what shifts the world. Indeed, the federal government today pledged to support efforts to search other residential school grounds.

In an ideal world, the activism shown by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation wouldn’t be necessary. But in our far-from-ideal world, I’m grateful for their work.

If you’re discussing the news with your students or your children, look to this book list by David A. Robertson for resources. There are also recommendations on 49th Kids.

You can donate to support residential school survivors here. And survivors who need support are encouraged to call the National Indian Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

Getting Mysterious

I was so honoured to have Me and Banksy nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. This morning, I logged on to the virtual awards ceremony in “black tie” — definitely the first time I’ve worn a dress in many months!

While Me and Banksy didn’t win (the award went to the very clever Premeditated Myrtle, by Elizabeth C. Bunce), the event did prompt me to think about all things mystery-related.

Recently, I’ve been reading Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series, whenever I wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep. I also scroll through Twitter at that hour, but I’ve noticed Twitter NEVER has any answers. Whereas a great mystery always has an answer somewhere.

And I love spending these pages analyzing each character. What’s hiding in that character’s past? What experiences have shaped her personality? What are her possible motives? What makes her tick? Maybe we should all read a few mysteries, then put our discernment skills to use on the real-life people around us. And maybe the world would be a better, more empathetic place if we put mystery readers in charge!

If you feel like exploring the mystery realm yourself, check out my fellow Edgar Award nominees. And thanks to all the judges and organizers who made this event so much fun!

Online writing classes… with me!

In case you need a pro-active plan for the February blues, I’m teaching two online writing courses for Emily Carr University of Art + Design this spring.

Writing for Picture Books is an introduction to children’s literature. We’ll explore character, conflict, and language, with lots of imaginative word play and creative story building along the way.

Introductory Creative Writing includes fiction, memoir, poetry, and script writing. Through thought-provoking exercises, we’ll try our hands at storytelling through a variety of mediums.

Both classes are eight weeks long and entirely on-line. If you’ve always wanted to write, now’s the time!

Vancouver Writers Fest: virtual edition

It was a little odd speaking to myself in my family room and assuming — in other rooms in other places around the continent — there were people laughing at my jokes. But it was also fun to talk about my newest book, This Is Your Brain on Stereotypes. And apparently, 1200 people tuned in. (Thank goodness no one told me that until after my presentation!)

A book birthday!

This is Your Brain on Stereotypes is officially on store shelves this week (in real life and virtually). It’s all about the ways bias works inside our brains, sometimes without us consciously realizing.

The book was illustrated by the talented Drew Shannon.

When the printed copies arrived, Violence grabbed one.

“It looks so cool!” he said.

This is rare praise from any thirteen-year-old boy. I’m taking it as my best review yet. (Though I’m sure it had everything to do with Drew’s cover, and nothing to do with my writing!)

The book has earned lovely praise from more official reviewers, too, including Kirkus. (And a star! Yay!)

I think you should get a copy. But… of course… I’m thoroughly biased.

Away time

We just returned from a lovely vacation on the Sunshine Coast. We were only an hour from home, but it felt as if we’d flown to Hawaii. (You know, the part of Hawaii where the water turns you blue and shivery.)

This is Smuggler’s Cove, once a hide-out of prohibition-era rum runners.

It was the first time we’d been away since August 2019, which explains why we were all so excited. We spent our time hiking, canoeing, and kayaking. And also eating s’mores, for the sake of balance. (Or ballast?)

Min paddling with our ever-so-helpful new family member, Coby.

I came back to face some major deadlines, but I feel a thousand times better for having left the house. Now to hang on to the vacation vibes for as long as possible!

Words from Mom

I was talking to my mom a while ago about tennis (my favourite) and golf (hers). The games have one similarity: they involve getting intensely frustrated with a small, round, inanimate object.

“But I always try to remember that I’m paying for the privilege of chasing a little white ball around a field,” Mom told me.

She’s quite clever, my mom.

Since I choose to play tennis, there’s no sense throwing my racquet at the net. (I only do that in my imagination, even at the worst of times.) Likewise, I choose to write, so there’s no sense tearing up my notebook or tearing out my hair.

I wouldn’t say this has been the easiest writing season ever. It seems like approximately a hundred years since I was last alone in the house. The world outside is on fire. It’s hard to write a scene about a group of middle-grade students cheating on a math test, and believe the scene has any purpose or worth.

I’ve taken to carrying my notebook, my coffee, and a blanket to the far corner of the back deck and closing the door behind me. If I’m lucky, no one finds me for twenty minutes or so. Then I mutter the words “choice” and “privilege” and try to fill a page or two.

Problems at the pickle factory

Join me for a free writing workshop on July 14th, hosted by Camp Penguin! You can register here.

You can also visit one of Camp Penguin’s participating bookstores, pick up the titles from the reading list, and ask how to get your hands on a bookworm tote bag (while supplies last) and craft activity. In Vancouver, participating stores include Vancouver Kidsbooks, Black Bond, and Book Warehouse. For the entire list, click here.

Hope to see you online!

Stung by a bee

You might think I’m all about serious issues these days, since I’ve been posting about Black Lives Matter and stereotypes and pandemics.

Well, rest assured, my life is just as ridiculous as ever.

About five days ago, we got a puppy. His name is Coby (short for Cobra Kyi, for those of you who are martial arts nerds like my family members). He is small, cute, and very demanding.

He looks truly fierce, doesn’t he?

My house is now carpeted in pee pads and dog toys. My days are spent wrestling over sock ownership. And my nights are spent shlepping the little guy outside every few hours, whenever he starts to whine.

A couple nights ago, I carried him downstairs at 3 a.m. I pointed him toward a safe place to pee. Then I sat down — in my nightgown — on the threshold of my house.

On top of a bee.

That’s right. I sat on a bee at 3 a.m.

And it hurt! I haven’t been stung in years, and I forgot how much it… well… stings!

“What was a bee doing on your doorstep?” my friend said, when I told her the story.

Presumably, he was sleeping. Which is something I hope Coby and I manage to do, too, sometime soon.