Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Skivvies??

I've done my baking blitz. I made shortbread, 2 types of brittle, cranberry gumdrops, nanaimo bars, cereal squares, chocolate mint fudge, and gingerbreads. And it just about killed me. Cause I did that all in one day.

Why do I leave things to the last minute????

But my daughters pitched in and helped me decorate the gingerbread. Even so, as we neared the end of the cookie pile we were all getting a little tired. Plus, I was feeling pressure from the ever drying out royal icing. So I tried to get creative with my icing application. It didn't work out so well.

If you look closely, one of the snowmen on the left looks like he's in his skivvies!

At least we all had a good laugh. That's pretty much what it should be about, no?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Great Muskoka Digout of December 09

Beginning with a storm from December 10 to the wee hours of the 12th, which looked something like this:

The weather resulted in scenes such as the front of my car looking like this:

That, of course, resulted in a massive dig out operation all over Muskoka. My little piece of the operation can be seen as this:

But the 80cm or so of snow that fell in 2 days left us with a postcard perfect view like this:

Just don't walk in the bush without snowshoes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Of Peppermints and a Parade

Is this the cutest candy cane ever or what?

This was the highlight of the day in which we went to our local village parade. The girls were invited this morning to be on a float, but it never showed up. All the people to populate the float were there...but no float. Sigh. We walked behind the snowmobile club and its groomer for one round of town (it's so small the parade goes around twice!). But we had no banner, no sign, no apparent reason to be walking in the parade. We looked weird. So we ditched to watch the second go round and collect a few candies.

Most floats throw candies to the spectators. In other years, leftover on-sale Halloween candy seemed to be the giveaway of choice, but this year peppermint was popular: round peppermints, regular candy canes, and mini candy canes. Very appropriate.

So it was home for hot chocolate with plenty of peppermints for dunking.

Update: The no-show float organizers sent my girls a lovely little gift certificate. It's all good!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Who Hid the Honda?

 Yes, my car is hidden under a wallop of snow. But even if I could find it, I can't get out the driveway until our neighbour can get out of his with his tractor and blower. And even if I could get out the driveway, the OPP (cops) are telling everyone around here to just stay home already. Highways closed. Trains stuck. Tow trucks stuck. Lovely.

This is the THIRD snow day in a row. The kids are thrilled! We've managed to drink lots of hot chocolate. Electricity is a wonderful thing!!

But I'm hoping we can get out tomorrow. Because I lack the benefits of a pioneer root cellar, the pickings in the fridge are getting a bit slim.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Welcome to Winter

 Pines stand
limbs pinned
awaiting wind
to brush the weight
of winter white
from their boughs
to be bowed
no longer

Yes, winter has descended on my world with a whomp. Nothing...and then suddenly in 2 days about a foot of snow with more in the forecast. At least it waited till December this year. Nothing to do but use it as inspiration for a bit of spontaneous word play. Enjoy.

(photo and verse c Lizann Flatt)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Can You Say "Big Shoes?"

I'm very grateful that the teacher whose class I just visited waited until AFTER my presentation to tell me that the "other" author they've had visit their class was....Robert Munsch!!!!!

That's some intimidation factor!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Book Week Ending

It was the train back to T.O. Saturday morning, November 21. You've noticed the date of this post? You're wondering what happened to me posting promptly? Answer: It took about 30 seconds for my regular life to swamp me and divest me of book touring "star" status, ha ha!

Sights Seen from a Train
  • the many marvelous and varied shades of November brown
  • the staggered and stacked irregular rectangles of the Niagara Escarpment's limestone cliffs
  • deer snacking in a cornfield
Most Memorable Moments
  • seeing the girl diagonally ahead of me sleep slumped over her book as it rested on the pullout tray (as someone who has huge difficulty sleeping in any sort of moving vehicle, this was a marvel to me)
  • the wonderful lady beside Scot who was going to give our book to her grandchild
  • waiting to see if Scot would be kicked off the train for not having his ticket 
    • In his defense, the London lineup was colossal so we each went to different automatic ticket machines, fondly nicknamed "useless buckets of job killing bolts" by one employee early this week. Scot scanned his e-ticket and then, while the machine was preparing to print the real ticket, it promptly went out of service. This meant the next machine didn't recognize the e-ticket as valid. Train pulls in. No person to speak to. We both got on the train anyway. Suspense ensues. Scot tells his tale to a helpful conductor who found out that the ticket was indeed printed after that original machine came online, not that that was any good by that time. Still, Scot was not kicked off the train.
So then it was a car ride back home where my family was very glad to see me. Okay, so technically I found myself in an arena before I even made it home...such is my regular life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day Five Down

Off to London early in the morning.

Sights Seen from a Train
  • crumpled and lonely leaflet litter see-sawing in the breeze on a station platform
  • the scraped and scarred land of a gravel pit adorned with a rectangular jewel of turquoise water
  • fog shrouded barns and silos
  • combed cornfields rolling off into the distance
Most Memorable Moments
  • the two student greeters who made Scot and I feel so welcome at their school
  • posters on the school door and library made especially for us about our book
  • the respectful quiet clap of appreciation to welcome us
  • the girl who proudly handed us her autograph and drawings
  • seeing all the different writing projects from many grades proudly displayed all over school
And today's bonus
Sight Seen from a Taxi: Fatty Patty's Restaurant (complete with tagline proclaiming it to be A Food Experience). In fact, it might actually bump the Hefty Hoagie from the other day out of the running as the name of a super setting for a small town drama novel.

The Book Week presentations are now finished. Hard to believe! I'm sad to be done although admittedly a bit worn out. More profound thoughts (maybe) and pictures later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day Four Down

Toronto today. What a busy day!

Most Memorable Moments
  • the boy who had written and illustrated his transportation story and read it to Scot and I in front of his fellow students
  • the beautiful pink potted plant given to me 
  • the audience of kids who, despite an indoor recess and pent up energy, were amazing attentive listeners
Sights Seen from a Train
  • for the first time in five days, no train today!

And the CCBC and TD Book Awards gala at night. Wonderful to see the winners announced and hear them speak. Self-centeredly even better to see my book displayed on a screen maybe 20 feet tall. I will have to write on it all later. Sensory overload!!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day Three Down

Today was Hamilton. Another couple great groups of kids, and an interview with Hamilton's Cable 14.

Most Memorable Moments
  • the girl who, while lining up to go back to class after the presentation, turned to me and shyly said, "Thanks for your words."
  • the posters about transportation a class had made and hung on the school hall wall to prepare for our visit
Sights Seen from the Train
Too dark to see much but too tired to read, so I stared out the window anyway...
  • the startling whoosh when trains whizzed by in the opposite direction
  • the polka dot parade of headlights on the street
  • glimpsing windows and their illuminated impressions of life 
And a bonus today:

Sight Seen from a Taxi
  • the Hefty Hoagie restaurant (doesn't that sound like a perfect setting for some hometown drama novel?)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day Two Down

Kingston kids were terrific! I'll post about all the week's visits after the Book Week tour when I'm not so tired.

Most Memorable Moments
  • Being asked what it was like knowing so many kids would be reading my book (Awesome question from a grade 1 kid!!)
  • Being gifted with a school pen (I love pens!)
  • Hearing a Lebanese woman on the train talk about how she was travelling for love
  • Hearing two different cabbies dis their two (different) cities as the worst in Ontario

Sights Seen from the Train
  • The endless rippled blue of Lake Ontario
  • An older model tractor abandoned in a fallow field (Why....?)
  • A pile of TP on the lumpy green floor of the train bathroom which, sadly, I could see from my seat until someone unstuck the door and closed it (!!)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day One Down

Ottawa library presentations went well. Great groups of kids! I think presenting with Scot Ritchie is a great way for the kids to see how both the words and the pictures are made. I'll post a roundup once the week's done; small updates as I'm able.

Today's Sights Seen from Train
  •  Sadly, none. It was too dark to see out the window.

Most Memorable Moment
  • Seeing Scot draw a hamster driving a station wagon to great gales of grade one laughter!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Book Week Beginning

To begin my Canadian Children's Book Week tour I spent most of the day traveling. First by car, then by VIA train. Kind of appropriate seeing as I'm touring about a book on transportation.

Best Sights Seen from the Train
  • A flock of wild turkeys
  • Feral apple trees, with lots of apples on them! (Why doesn't someone pick them and make applesauce? Only 1 year did the wild apple tree near me bear fruit and it was the best applesauce I've ever tasted.)
  • A hawk in flight
  • A turquoise vinyl three-seater sofa plunked in a field and facing the train tracks (cheap entertainment???)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Is Work for Hire for You?

Are you wanting to work for hire? From my perspective, you should ask yourself these questions:

Can you meet deadlines?
Your deadline is critical, and you may only have a month or so to get the job done. The packager needs you to meet your deadline because they have to put your words together with the visuals in the design. They are likely putting together several titles in a series at once and it all has to come together by the deadline they have with the publisher. You cannot hold up the process.

Do you like doing research?
Nonfiction titles will most definitely involve research. Know your way around a library? Not scared away by academic texts? Can you tell a reliable source from a not-so-reliable one? Excellent!

Are you able to distill a big concept into an age appropriate package?
You need to be aware of expectations in sentence length, the use of contractions or not, and vocabulary. Look at the book Children’s Writer’s Word Book for a solid overview. Also be aware of what concepts kids are taught at different grades so you’ll know which ideas/facts should be known and which are not. Look up your local provincial or state board of education and you’ll probably find the curriculum expectations all laid out.

Can you write quickly and clearly?
There is little room for creative license in this type of writing. Plain and direct language is needed. Example: In my creative writing I might describe a con trail as “jets chalking the sky.” In educational work for hire it’s just a con trail with the definition to follow or written in a glossary.

Are you a team player?
This is the publisher’s and/or the packager’s vision for a final product. You yourself might approach the whole topic in a differenet way, but that’s not what you were hired to do. You have to carry out someone else’s direction. You need to understand that a topic expert, an educational expert, and someone at the publisher as well as your editor at the packaging company are all going to comment on and have input into your work. All these views need to be incorporated into the final text.

If you answer yes to all those questions then give it a try. With a background in a particular science or other disipline, you might start there by looking for publishers who specialize in science or who produce books on history. Try writing some nonfiction for magazines to build up your writing resume. When you’re ready for work for hire book work, SCBWI maintains a list of educational pubilshers and a list of packagers for members. You can also find this type of info in Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market. Good luck!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Renaissance Books Are Out

One of the great things about doing work for hire is being able to spend time researching topics that fascinate me. The Renaissance is endlessly interesting to me because it was such a pivotal point in history. My two books are part of a whole series, so my topics were 

Cities and Statecraft in the Renaissance


Religion in the Renaissance

When I do work for hire I always like to find something within my realm of experience to bring to the project. This doesn’t have to be large, but I find it helps me as a starting point to connect to the topic on a more personal level. I mean, I’m trying to connect kids wtih the topic so hopefully I myself connect to it first. 

With this series I spent time remembering my trip to Europe some decades ago. I strolled those streets in Florence, often considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. I visited the cathedrals there and in Rome and many other major cities. This is my photo of the Duomo in Florence. Photos don't do the detail on it justice. 

One of the things that fascinated me most while I was pretty much anywhere in Europe was the History, and I do mean that with a capital H. Everywhere there were places or buildings that had existed for centuries, and they were  simply a part of the everyday lives of the people who lived there. That’s not something many North Americans experience in the same way.

I remember the marble cathedral steps worn down in the middle by the passage of thousands of feet through time...the bronze polished by hundreds of hands wanting their own little bit of good luck. Yes, that's me getting some good luck from the boar in the Florence market.

It's very satisfying to see this project finished. I worked with Bender Richardson White for Crabtree Publishing. I hope these books help to hook some kids onto a small piece of history.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Work for Hire for Higher Pay

Anyone who writes seriously knows that it’s very difficult to make enough money at this gig to support yourself let alone a family. Most of us have other jobs or do other writing related things to bring in some income (or have gainfully employed and understanding spouses). 

One of the options available to a writer to earn a little more money is work for hire. I’ve done a lot of that this past year. In fact, I have six books just out or about to come out (I’ll post them here in the next few days but you can also see them on my website now). I sound prolific when I say that. I'm not, really. That’s all part of work for hire. 

What does it mean when I work for hire? In my case,
a packager I met at a conference has approached me to write book(s) that are:

on a specific topic 
for a specific publisher 
with a specific page length and 
an age, vocabulary/concept target 
for a set fee. 
These books are designed to be used in a classroom and are usually part of a series specifically designed to meet a school curriculum requirement. Yes, they’re usually nonfiction books (although there are packagers who produce fiction series).

I go do the job I was hired to do, I get paid, and that’s it. Not many of these types of books make it onto awards lists or get shelved in bookstores. There’s little glory. But they
are used in classrooms, they do make it into libraries, and they really help kids with school. 

My background in writing on the job (magazine writing) really helps here. No, work for hire is often not particularly creative, but it does require skill. And I can still pursue my own creative ideas separately as well. It just means I have to work extra hard to carve out the creative time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weeks Past, Present and Future

Ack! What happened to last week? Two out of three kids home PD day...tour details to attend to.



5 Cities
5 Days
11 Presentations

That will be next week for me. Canadian Children's Book Week beginning November 14 will see me in Ottawa, Kingston, Hamilton, Toronto, and London. This is this year's poster.

I'm really looking forward to touring with Scot Ritchie as we talk to kids about our Grade 1 Giveaway Book. Hope everyone celebrates with a book or two--or seven (it's a WEEK after all).

I'll try to blog about it. But this means there's technology to master this week, and maybe some other posts here on some other stuff I've been up to this year.

If you smell smoke, it's not your neighbour burning leaves, it's my brain.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Legend of the Flying Canoe

I love Halloween. This year I bring you the Legend of the Flying Canoe, or La Chasse-galerie.

I came across this Quebecois legend while researching Let's Go!. You cannot have a history of transportation in North America without a canoe. Of course there was no place for this legend in my book, but I find it fascinating all the same.

Couple together a canoe with a story involving the devil and you've got a Canadian Halloween classic...okay, so what if the actual story involves New Year's not Halloween? To me it's a better story for this time of year.

The animated National Film Board film of the legend is definitely worth a watch. It's about 10 minutes long. Roch Carrier retold the story in The Flying Canoe, published in 2004 by Tundra Books. The legend has even made it onto a postage stamp, as seen here.

And it's Canada, so there's even a beer alluding to the legend. (It's good, too.)

So here's to Halloween! And may your travels tonight or today lead you safely home.

Friday, October 30, 2009

I Got the Giveaways!

The courier came with my copies of the TD Grade One Giveaway editions of Let's Go! and On y va!

Wow. They are lovely. What can I say? Thank you to all involved!

It's the first time I've seen the French edition. Someone around here remarked to me that they didn't know I spoke French that well. Um, like I told them, I don't. The credit for that goes to the translators. My grade 13 French is a little rusty, but I did manage to read the translation. Fascinating to see my words transformed into another language. And high praise to them for making the translation work in the space they had to fit it into!

I'm looking forward to touring some of Southern Ontario this coming Book Week. Appropriately enough, it might involved several modes of transportation (car, train, bus...).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Paddle to the Sea

Today is my two-year blogoversary! Where does the time go? So I suppose I'm feeling a little nostalgic and hope you'll allow me a little diversion down memory lane. When I was in elementary school, unlike my own kids, we didn't get regular movies during lunchtime. In fact, we didn't have DVDs or even VCRs to show movies for those times we actually did get to see movies.

Movies were rather rare occurrences so they were a pretty big deal. When the teacher wheeled in a tall squeaky metal cart with a big reel projector on top, she also reached to the ceiling for the string and pulled down the white projector screen. The lights were dimmed. Then the countdown began as the reels click-clicked and whirred away. It was all very exciting.

Except we saw the same movies--a lot.

One of the movies we saw regularly (like at least once a year) was Paddle to the Sea. I loved that movie. It's the story of a toy carved wood canoe and its journey by meltwater, creek and river to the sea. A few years ago I came across the book by Holling C. Holling in a library sale bin and promptly bought it for a bargain. (The copy I bought was an early printing, much dog-eared and worn.) I thoroughly enjoyed sharing the story with my son as it brought back my memories of the film.

So imagine my delight to stumble upon the actual link to the actual NFB film by Bill Mason a few days ago! I watched it again, all 20 some minutes of it. To me it's a classic.

If you have some time, enjoy.

Or the actual link is

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Secret Identity--Revealed!

In the past week two people I interact with in different capacities during regular parental life have told me their kids have received my book at school (and really enjoyed it, but of course!). Obviously some schools in my area are already giving out their TD Grade One Giveaway books. Both individuals never knew I was an author.

That gives me cause to pause.

I'm not hiding the fact that I write from my everyday life, but I suppose I don't proclaim it either. Why does it feel a little like my secret identity has been revealed, my cover is blown? I've never actively tried to keep my author job title a secret. Maybe I'm just not good at self promotion. Maybe I'm shy.

Soon there will be about 500,000 kids with my book in hand. That's awesome...humbling...and maybe more than a little difficult to really wrap my head around. As part of the Giveaway program, it looks like Scot Ritchie, the book's illustrator, and I will be touring some of southern Ontario for Canadian Children's Book Week. I won't be able to hide behind my identity as just a normal mom then, will I? It should be--gulp--fun!

Friday, October 9, 2009

My Carpet of Leaves


Leaves lie all over the lawn
like a carpet of embers
fallen and fading
discarded, decaying
to feed my mind with
impressions, promises
though cold encroaches
once winter is weathered
warm winds will
bring green

text and photo copyright Lizann Flatt, 2009

For more poetry, visit this week's Poetry Friday Roundup at Anastasia's Picture Book of the Day

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Support for Just One More Book

This is a clip of a press release that came my way this morning:
Making Andrea a Breast Cancer Survivor
Posted: 07 Oct 2009 11:49 AM PDT
The Just One More Book!! children’s book podcast will be taking an indefinite hiatus so that Andrea and I can focus on making Andrea a Breast Cancer survivor.  We received the results of Andrea?s biopsy, yesterday. This morning we met with a surgeon and discussed the treatment process.

The full press release can be seen here.

I'm thinking of Andrea and Mark and sending my support and best wishes their way for this challenging time. That sounds so lame but I do mean it sincerely. These two have so selflessly done so much for the love of books and for reading. Thank You! I'm urging the universe, the powers that be, the many varied creeds or spiritual belief systems, to give back to them now.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Serious Incident with the Dog in the Daytime...or Surviving SCBWI CE Agents' Day 2009

This past weekend it was off to Ottawa for the SCBWI Canada East Agents’ Day. There’s something so energizing about going away with friends for a conference; anticipating the people you’ll meet, the new things you’ll learn, catching up with old friends. But for me there was also a lot of stress because, as Regional Advisor, myself and a few others were organizing this thing.

On Friday morning my good friend and Assistant Regional Advisor, Alma Fullerton, had arrived at my place and was hauling conference stuff out to my car. She’d just walked out the door when the doorbell rang.    ???

I wasn’t sure why she was ringing the doorbell seeing as she’d just been in and out about 5 times, but whatever. I open the door and there’s an older woman standing there. I’m momentarily confused, thinking she might be a client of my husband’s, but then I see she is carrying leaflets.

She very pleasantly informs me that my sister or friend said I was home (thanks Alma!!) and asks if I believe that all good people go to heaven. I must have stared at her with some sort of incredulous look on my face, which was really me just being stressed and trying to hurry out of here, because she then says, “It’s a very good question, isn’t it?”

“Um, I’m really in a hurry and need to go," I explain and then ask if she could just leave me something so I could deal with this later.

She was very understanding. She wishes me a good trip and as she’s leaving she says, “I was also supposed to ask, do you still catch pickerel in that lake?”


This sends so many thoughts racing through my mind (someone actually wanted you to ask this, whom did you agree to ask this for, why do you want to know, when have you ever been fishing here, it’s more like a big pond not a lake, I don’t think I’ve ever seen pickerel here....). I said what I hope was a coherent and polite: no, no pickerel here.

(Meanwhile Alma is snickering in the background.)

So we finally get off on the road. No wait, I had to put air in my tire to get rid of the stupid yellow tire pressure warning light on my dash. Didn't work. But as has been happening lately, as soon as I’d driven for awhile and the tires heated up it went away. Note to self: get that looked at.

Okay, so now we’re on the road. Well, sorta. We stopped in Huntsville to get a couple things we still needed for the conference, and the store just happened to sell Cheetos. Now, properly armed with road trip munchies, Alma and I were off on the journey.

It was a gorgeously sunny day. The fall colours are about halfway to peak and the reds were spectacular. I kept wanting to stop and take pictures in Algonquin Park like the many other people I had to steer around, but we were on a mission and, well, this really big truck kept looming large in my rearview. Not my fault I was behind a slow Suburban, license plate: Rebel Yell (seriously the plate, although not that spelling).

After the Park the leaves got dull, as in the colours weren’t nearly as notable. Fortunately, some great conversation and Cheetos were the focus for awhile. Talking to another writer about writing never gets boring. And I was finally able to pass Rebel Yell. We are soon thoroughly sick of Cheetos and scrape the orange paste off our fingers.

So you’re wondering about the dog, no?

Somewhere between Barry’s Bay ("Come for a visit/Stay for a Lifetime" gad that sounds creepy!!) and Golden Lake, we’re going down a slight hill.  I see a dog on the side of the road. I’m keeping my eye on the dog and suddenly it makes a break for it, across the road. !@!@#. My brain does the mental gymnastics and realizes that--ohmigod--if I hit this poor dog it’s gonna make a huge dent in my car and probably put the kibosh on making it to Ottawa today.

Can’t happen!!!!

So I slam on the brakes and the seat belts lock. Alma braces herself for impact. There’s a tight camera shot of my face going “oh-crap-oh-crap-that-dog’s-gonna-hit-me!” and in the next instant there’s a tight camera shot of the dog, who has actually turned to look in my direction. His ears are lifted and his face is saying “oh-crap-oh-crap-that-car’s-gonna-hit-me!!!”  He puts it in high gear and high tails it off onto the other side of the road. Collision and disaster avoided. Phew!

Takes awhile for both Alma and I to stop shaking. Other than seeing Rebel Yell pull into the Renfrew gas station as we were leaving, nothing much else of note happens...until we get to Ottawa and we’re yakking so much I miss the exit we wanted.

Checked in, ate some of the best Greek food (my fave) I’ve ever had, including that which was actually consumed in Greece, then Alma and I went to the airport to pick up our speakers. As we’re driving back from the airport I’m behind someone who’s swerving over the yellow line and back again on a dark and fairly busy Ottawa road. This strikes fear in the hearts of our US guests who must be thinking ‘Exactly what kinda people are you over here???’ Kidding about their thoughts...I hope.

The Actual Agents’ Day Event

Saturday starts very early for Alma and I. I scarf down probably the worst cereal bar I’ve ever eaten in my life, cough up a lung (did I mention I’m not exactly in peak health?) and we arrive at Library and Archives Canada. We unload and unload boxes and bags of conference paraphernalia. Connie and Stephanie are there to help. Michelle and Rachel arrive (with donuts--yay!) soon afterwards. Coffee gets made, books are set out, badges arranged artfully and now we’re in business. Time to kick off Agents’ Day 09.

We were fortunate to hear from both Mark McVeigh, literary agent and founder of The McVeigh Agency, and Edward Necarsulmer IV, Director of the Children’s Department at McIntosh & Otis. Each agent gave a very informative talk. We heard how to put together a query letter and questions to ask a prospective agent. We learned about how each agent likes to operate. Then we had a separate Q&A session with both so that we could really see some differences in approach and got a lot of info about contracts and all sorts of stuff writers and illustrators want/need to know. After lunch, both agents did a first pages panel, looked through illustrators’ portfolios and gave detailed feedback on some attendees’ manuscripts.

It all went very well except for the stench of diesel exhaust that seeped into the auditorium at one point. I went to ask the security guards about it and one immediately picked up the phone to call the engineer. Said engineer came to the auditorium and, through bites of his green apple, I was able to decipher that he was telling me he’d go check it out. Later on he came back, sans green apple thank god, and said it was a  vehicle in the parking lot and the ventilation fans were pulling in the exhaust. It would just take time for it to clear through the system.


He didn’t think it was a big deal. Still, it turned many of us an unpleasant shade of gray for awhile and I overheard two people joke that they wondered how many brain cells they’d lost from breathing that in. 

I enjoyed myself in spite of worrying and coughing excessively through it all. On Sunday the agents were safely delivered to the airport after driving by the Parliament Buildings where some sort of ceremony or demonstration was in action. We honked for something, just like the sign suggested.

Road trip home was rainy and uneventful.

My huge and heartfelt thanks to the speakers for being so generous with their time and expertise, for the attendees for attending and being the smart, funny and interesting people they are, and to the volunteers who helped make it all happen: Alma Fullerton, Rachel Eugster, Michelle Jodoin, Stephanie Rainey, Peggy Collins, Christine Tripp, and Connie Topper.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here are some other perspectives on the event:
Peggy Collins
Von Allan part 1
and Von Allan part 2 (awesome notes!!)
Terry Lynn Johnson

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Proof in the Page Proof

Yesterday's email brought an exciting surprise: a page proof! I got to verify the punctuation and wording for my poem, "Bedtime Teeth."

It's to be in an anthology called Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems, and it's edited by none other than Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, and to be published in March 2010 by Candlewick. It's a companion to this lovely book:

The poem I share the page with, by Kaye Umansky, is terrific, and the artwork for our page is perfect! Bright, colourful, lots of fun! I've pinched myself. The proof was proof that I wasn't really imagining all this!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Survived the Start of School

Happy 9/9/09 all!

Yesterday was the first day of school here. All three kids were excited. No one needed waking up. They had their outfits picked out days earlier. I knew what we'd have for breakfast. We got to the bus stop early. They were eagerly chatting about what their friends might have done all summer, what class would they be in, if any new kids would come to school.

I have to admit to feeling at loose ends all day. I kept wondering how it was all turning out for them. I felt like I was in a time warp because so much time went by and I hadn't been interrupted for snack suggestions, to break up squabbles. At the end of the day I waited with some nervous trepidation for the three reactions. And then everyone pronounced the day a good one! Everyone was happy with their classes. Hurray!

Today? Had to wake up a couple. Nobody knew what they would wear. I scrounged for breakfast fodder. We had to rush to the bus.

Yes, the normal routine resumes....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Shopping for Excitement

Wherein I witness a scene worthy of being written into some story!

Yesterday I took my kids to a city, to a big mall, to do a bit of back-to-school shopping. This is a big deal because we live in the boonies. It was fun to be part of a huge crowd, the selection, the hustle bustle. But we got a bit more excitement than we'd bargained for.

After waiting for daughter 1 to try on some clothes, the four of us were waiting in the lineup to pay. And waiting. This was about the fifth line of the day and we were all getting a little weary. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I see something go whizzing by. I feel a breeze as someone has just narrowly sprinted around me. Instinctively I check and all my kids are accounted for. And then over the tops of the clothing racks I can see the heads of two guys running full tilt through Big Department Store floor. They were taking different paths but going in the same direction.

The kids and I sort of looked at each other. We made up scenarios for why those guys were acting like that. (Late for an appointment? Pranksters? They just did something bad and were booting it outta there?) We haven't moved one inch in line.

Not three minutes later we hear loud swearing and cursing. About 15 feet away two men and a woman are steering an unshaven older man through the store aisle. They have the man's hands pinned behind his back. This odd parade has stopped because a kid and a stroller are blocking the aisle.

Cursing man shouts, "Effing security guards! You'll hear from my lawyers!" and "Eff! My lawyers are going to deal with this!!"

Man that man could yell. Nothing wrong with his lungs. Anyway, the mother of the kid and the stroller twigs in to what's going on and gathers her kids out of the way. The alleged shoplifter is lead away down the shopping aisle right beside us, hollering all the way.

My kids and I are kind of stunned for a second. Then wow! We just witnessed a takedown. They remark that little kids shouldn't hear bad words like that. Conversation ensues about what might happen to the man now. Does he go to mall jail? Will the police come? and the like. Sure made the rest of the time in line pass quickly.

Of course, if you were going to write about it you'd need to add a lot more to elevate it above mere incident status. But so many jumping off points for creating a many ways to add it into a story to develop a plot....

I think so, anyway.

Monday, August 31, 2009

What's Up With That?

Why is it that both

a) inspiration for two new story premises
b) inspiration for how to revise two different wip pbs

comes at a time when I'm crashing up against deadlines for 2 wfh projects which have to be squeezed into the hours between

1) back-to-school shopping for the kids that I haven't started
2) ferrying multiple kids to multiple activities
3) staving off exhaustion by trying to get some sleep
4) squishing in those omigod-where-has-the-summer-gone and I-haven't-even-done-this-yet activities

all while fighting off an allergy induced fog or, if I break down, an allergy-med induced haze?


(Yeah, so why am I here doing this even?)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Camoed Caterpillar

I went to check on my black currant bush to see if some of the currants were ready to be picked when--surprise! I noticed this weird camouflaged caterpillar. Lucky I saw it before I touched it. (Shudder)

What the heck kind is it? I haven't been able to find out. Is it even a caterpillar? Wish I knew.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wicked Weather

Boy did we have some thunderstorms yesterday early evening! Downbursts, tornado warnings, heavy downpours. I heard the booms and crashes, however I must admit I missed most of it because my girls and I were watching the Hannah Montana movie in the basement. Maybe that was a good thing.

I did catch the post storm show. The aftermath in the sky was beautiful...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Review

I love Google Alerts. This one came in yesterday:

A lovely new (or new to me) review for Let's Go!

Are you an author? Ever tried out the Google Alert thing? It's a wonderful way to find out when something about your book is posted online, or at least when Google finds out about it.

When you set up the alert, make the keyword(s) your book title. So long as you're not offended when you see it auctioned on ebay, it's fascinating to see where it pops up!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Suspended Sneakers

Yesterday evening and again this morning, I couldn't help but notice the proliferation of abandoned running shoes, or sneakers, in town. Okay, so two pairs perhaps doesn't constitute a proliferation, but if one sighting is odd, what does that make two?

And these shoes weren't simply lying on the sidewalk or tossed to the side of the street. Both pairs were prominently displayed as if someone wanted them to be spotted by all passing motorists. Tied together by their laces, one pair was hanging from a hydro wire stretched across a main road while the other was suspended from the horizontal arm of a traffic light at a popular intersection. Hmmmm.....

Is there a secret movement, um...afoot?

Monday, August 17, 2009

SCBWI Canada East Agent's Day

Putting on my volunteer job's hat for a moment. Why not come to Ottawa to find out all about what agents do?

Agent's Day 2009!
September 26, 2009
Library and Archives Canada
Ottawa, Ontario


Mark McVeigh, Literary Agent, Founder of The McVeigh Agency, New York
Edward Necarsulmer IV, Director, Children’s Department, McIntosh & Otis, New York

For more information and to register, see the Events page of the SCBWI Canada East website for the conference brochure and registration form.

Spread the word!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stick? No, snake!

This little snake was sunning itself on my driveway. It was hard to spot because it looked like a stick until I got a really good look at it.

I live in a highly forested area, so I see a lot of sticks on the driveway. Er... at least I always thought they were sticks.

Better start paying more attention to those supposed sticks.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Whitby Weekend

So this past weekend we're at the Ontario Lacrosse provincials in Whitby for number one son (yes, I know it's Wednesday the summer goes). It's a big deal in the Ontario lacrosse world.

We wade through crowds and cheer ourselves hoarse. We smell smells that have no place outside a locker room but, well, that's what you get when it's hot and kids in heavy protective gear, which has to be used over and over again, run around and run around and run around more in a confined space.

At each arena we thread our way through the parking lot to the door. I'm seeing all sorts of stickers on cars that flash support for this home team or that home team. There are numerous pictures of lacrosse sticks: singly, two of them crossed, oriented horizontally and oriented vertically. I read slogans urging me to hug a ref. I am informed that it takes balls to play lacrosse.

When we pull up at, like, the fourth different arena of the weekend, the car beside me is sporting this sticker:

No kidding. We had a good laugh.

Driving around with that on your bumper? I think that takes balls.

[And the home team? Made it all the way to the semi finals but was stopped there. Not bad! Hawks rock!]

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Week Website

The new website for this year's Children's Book Week is up!

It's simply and it's a great resource of everything you want to know about it.

And since I wrote this year's TD Grade One Giveaway book, rumour has it that I might be doing a bit of travelling too.

I'll spill when there's something to spill!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Struggling with Summer

Judging by the gaps in my posts here, it's probably obvious that I'm struggling with the summer thing. I love summer, but it's a challenge to fit in my writing work with the kids home.
There are kids swimming lessons,
kids sports practices
and games
and tournaments,
play dates,
and relatives that come for a visit.

This region of the province, Muskoka, is considered vacation land or cottage country, so the population doubles in the summer. They're all here to relax! The whole atmosphere becomes vacation!
this event,
that festival,
the must-attend annual celebration,
the new cool location.

Not that I pay attention to all of that. But it's there.

The kids...the things to's all good; I just have to figure out how I fit my own stuff into it.

And I'd better figure it out. I've got another book project to complete.

(Speaking of distractions, in the midst of typing this, I just saw a bear in my backyard!)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Slug Sightings

I saw this slug today. Definitely not unusual considering all the rain we've had. But apparently this year the slugs are getting so confident, so bold and so sure of themselves they're...

... hitching rides to your garden. Sheesh!

(No kidding, this slug was on somebody's car in a parking lot when I saw it. I didn't make this up.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Me and My Manure

I'm in Home Depot today wandering down an aisle when an orange-aproned older gentleman says, "Can I help you, ma'am?"

I am tempted to say no thanks, because I'm not in a hurry (and I hate being called ma'am--I don't think I'm that old yet), but I get the sense he'd rather not be putting together whatever it is he's been wrestling with so I say, "Okay. I'm looking for some cow manure."

He says, "Well, for that you should get yourself a cow."

Ha. ha. Not laughing. That can't be the first time he's said that, right?

"Yeah, I know," I reply. "But that's, um...not happening."

So I follow him down the aisle where I get to choose between the cow variety and the sheep variety. It's even advertised as "no odour"! Woo hoo. There's the premium brand and the discount brand. Since I am only trying to help along my up-until-now pitiful patch of rhubarb (Who the H can't grow rhubarb!? Me apparently.) I don't really want to make this an overly complicated exercise. I point to the cow stuff that's on sale and say, "Thanks, I guess I'll take this then."

He offers to carry it to the cash for me. Gosh, that was nice. After my "Thank you, have a great day," me and my manure went home.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Went on Road Trip...went to jail!

This past weekend saw me far from home. I went on a six-hour road trip for my son's lacrosse tournament. I did not grow up with rep sports of any kind, so having kids who by times travel for their sport is a new thing for me. Costs aside, I've decided to embrace the madness.

I mean, if I'm going to have to go to towns or cities within the province that I'd not necessarily actually choose to visit, I figure why not make the most of my time there? There's gotta be at least one interesting thing in most of them, right? This weekend it was Cornwall, Ontario.
So we hopped in the car and started on our odyssey. What a cool drive. We started in our granite outcroppings and boggy forests and lakes, drove through rolling forested hills, and on to the Ottawa valley with its flat farmlands. Fascinating to see the land change. And then we were there (only two major bicker sessions between the kids, yay!).
Check out this bomber out front of the place we stayed at! That's the St. Lawrence River in the background. For scale, a nine-year-old is about as tall as those bushes.
Too bad the bomber's also a pigeon perch.

Spent Saturday in an arena. But before the gold medal game on Sunday we had some free time. Yay! I went to jail. Here I am behind bars.
That cell was rather cramped. Lucky I was only visiting. The Cornwall jail, which was in operation from 1834 until 2002, is now a museum. It was quite an eye opener for us all. I'm not sure which we all found most fascinating, the graffiti all over or the replica gallows from the days they hanged offenders in the courtyard. Or maybe it was the story of the bodies still unaccounted for that were buried in that courtyard.

Right after that it was off to lacrosse for the final game. After the weekend's tie, win, win, win, the Hawks lost this final game by two. They did themselves proud and took home the tournament silver medal. Congratulations!

Then it was the six-hour drive home. We pushed through pretty quickly, because it was Sunday and the kids have this last week in school. Nor was I looking forward to driving during peak deer/moose roaming hours. We did stop for a break at my fave picnic spot on Golden Lake where my daughter found this dragonfly in the water.
Jumped back in the car and finished the journey. Only one deer sighting, and it decided not to play chicken with me. Phew!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A name, a name...what's with my name?

Lately a bunch of things have come up for me, all related to names. For one, I’ve been toying with a tagline for my website based on my name. More on that in yesterday's post.

This week I had a fun Facebook wall comment thing going with Pamela Ross and Carolyn Double Owen about being called names as kids. We’re all claiming to be in contention for the most easily abused last name. Pamela’s was Morak aka moron. Carolyn’s was Double aka double trouble. Of course I am Flatt (yep, pancake, tire, you name it).

I can still vividly recall my worst name related incident. It was grade 7, and a certain male whose name I remember to this day, but who shall remain nameless here, stood up in geography class just after the teacher stepped out into the hall. He proclaimed to the entire class his opinion that I, Flatt, was the Great Plains and another unfortunately named girl with the last name Biggs was the Rocky Mountains. Sadly our chests did indeed mirror our last names. I was mortified.

Uh, yeah. I think I win. Sorry, gals.

But there are other benefits to an unusual name, and time generally takes care of the frontal development issues. As I said yesterday, at least it's easy-ish to find you on the internet if you have an odd name.

I had a lovely exchange this past week with a woman doing family genealogy. Turns out our families are indeed related. The great-great grandfathers were brothers. And this winter another distant relative sent me a lovely poem written by her grandfather in memory of my great-grandfather.

Then there are the famous Flatts you might actually have heard of. Rascal Flatts just named their band that because it was memorable according to this article or this one. And there's Rachel Flatt the US figure skater. My figure skating daughters like to imagine they might just be even a tiny little wee bit related to her.

So here's to all of you out there with names that people have toyed with, mutilated, and otherwise abused. Maybe we're memorable.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To Tagline or to Tag Line?

If you troll the internet for advice for writers, many sites urge writers to come up with a tag line or tagline. Sometimes it’s lumped in with something called a platform (yikes), sometimes it’s called branding, and sometimes it’s just a tag line. You know, that one line used to describe a product, business, movie? I like to think of it as a slogan.

So I started thinking of one for myself. But I write nonfiction, poetry, short stories, and fiction (although no book-length fiction is yet published that's the longterm goal). How to sum all that up? Should I even try?

I have an odd name, both first and last. I can admit that now. I hold no grudge against my parents for this, honestly! But it was hard having such an unusual name growing up. Today it actually makes electronic life on the internet much easier because there aren’t a bazillion others in the world out there with my same name. I’ve decided to play off my odd name in my tagline and came up with "flatt-out fantastic."

I guess it’s basically like this:

Books by Lizann Flatt...Flatt-out Fantastic!

or as it is on my website

books by Lizann Flatt
Flatt-out Fantastic!

Of course, it might actually fall flatt (okay, bad pun). But I’ll wear it for awhile and see how it feels.

In case you've been thinking about one for yourself, here are some helpful resources more related to authors and writing. (If you google “tagline” there’s a ton of info out there.)

Creating Author and Publisher email taglines

author branding from Booksquare

author Mitali Perkins on branding generally

good look at taglines in general and how to come up with one

What’s your tagline? I’d love to hear how you came up with it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Today marks the day when I finally admit I'm bored to death of the Blogger template I've been using since day one. So, with a few clicks of the mouse, I have given my home here a makeover. What do you think?

If only spring cleaning my real house was this easy. Sigh.


Poor Pike Present

I happened to look out my window just after dinner the other night, and something caught my eye. Something white was thrashing around in the water. After grabbing the binoculars I could tell it was a seagull. But the seagull was wrestling with something, something that was also white.

For a moment there I had a horrified thought that it was our cat. I mean, I know seagulls wouldn't likely attack the cat, but maybe if the cat had been injured and fallen into the water.... Anyway, it wasn't the cat.

Turns out this seagull was wrestling with a big fish. I must have seen the underbelly through the binocs. After some Herculean efforts, the seagull flopped the fish onto the dock and proceeded to peck and it. Tasty dinner, I guess.

Yesterday I went out to see what present the seagull had left us, and all that was left was a pike head. A bit icky, but it's the law of nature. I'm assuming the fish was already injured because I don't think the seagull itself would actually attack a healthy fish. Here's what I saw.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

No Opinion? Not Exactly...It Just Depends

The other day this research company calls and says they’re asking people in my area their opinions and would I have a few minute to answer a few questions.

About what? I ask.

It will be obvious once we get a few questions in, the guy replies.

I must have been temporarily insane or unreasonably curious because I agree to participate. It isn’t but a few sentences later when I remember exactly why I HATE surveys. Of all kinds. Each and every one of them. (This will relate to writing in just a sec, I swear.)

So this is obviously a public opinion poll on social and political issues. Ugh. The reason I hate surveys is because my answers, and hence I guess my opinions, never fit into their neat narrow categories.

It went something like this: The guy says, Answering either Strongly agree, Mostly agree, Neither agree nor disagree, Mostly disagree, Strongly disagree, Should Stephen Harper return to wearing sweater vests?

What!? How should I know? What’s the weather like when he might be wearing them? Where is he going when he wears them? Are they plaid or tartan or plain? How much do they cost? What does he think of them? And of course by now I’ve forgotten the categories so I have to ask what they are again.

Well, I don’t know, I say in exasperation.

Um, I can’t put that down as an answer, the guy says.

So I have to select Neither agree nor disagree. But that’s not entirely accurate. I would have an opinion if I had more information or if there was some context.

Or how about this one? Answering either Highly favourable, Mostly favourable, Mostly unfavourable or Highly unfavourable, What is your opinion of Canada Geese?

Uh, anything else to go on there? Are they eating my grass and creating huge lumps of green fecal residue on the lawn? Are they a fluid V flying overhead on a crisp fall afternoon? Are they honking melodiously from the nearby marsh on a warm spring evening? Are they hissing at me as I walk through the park? What!?

Uh, that’s all that’s written for the question, the guy says.

Sheesh. Guess I don’t know then. Oh, sorry, that would be the secret No Opinion category the guy says he can put my answer in.

But it’s not like I don’t have an opinion, it just depends!!!

It probably took me twice as long to do the survey because my reaction to pretty nearly every question was like this. Obviously those weren’t the real questions, but same idea. Is this a writer’s curse to make up all these scenarios? Do we all make a seemingly simple question into a philosophical exercise? Well, whatever. It was more fun than the boring answers they provided. I say here’s to enjoying the creation of nuances, grey areas, complex characters and rich back stories.

And the next time some guy asks if me if I have a few minutes to answer a few questions, I should just answer, well, that depends. Just exactly how much time have YOU got?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fawn in the Field

I'm doing my best not to grumble too much about the SNOW I saw falling repeatedly yesterday. And it's cold and rainy today. Um, what is the date again?? Anyway, it's obviously meaningless to the universe. So I will decorate my blog today with a photo from last week when it was warm and sunny.

I took this from the side of the road. You can hardly see the fawn, but since mommy was there and obviously nervous of me, I snapped this quick pic and left them alone.

Look carefully because there really is a fawn in the field.

(Hint: lower right quadrant)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Driving Distractions

I guess Ontario has now officially declared fines for people found talking on cell phones while driving. Not a bad idea, really.

But there’s another hazard to driving in this part of the province these days: Bugs. Specifically, mosquitoes--skeeters. Seems no matter how fast we run to the car, or how quickly we slam the doors, we end up with a plethora of the pests inside. And then what happens? We’re forced to swat and smack and squish the nasty nuisances so they don’t alight on your arms or legs or--too true--ankles to suck your blood while you're otherwise occupied trying to negotiate the roads. I get large itchy welts from the things so I can't just ignore them.

Tell me that performing contortions to dash them against the dashboard or whacking them against your window, or that slapping yourself in the face to flatten those that are feasting on your forehead, isn’t hazardous to your driving. I have even waited until I think we’ve eliminated them all before starting out on my journey. Inevitably I get down the road a little way when the whine of one of the wily critters sends my system into full-out search and destroy mode.

I can’t win. Here’s hoping skeeter season is over soon

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Late Mail Surprises

I had a couple nice surprises in the mail recently.

One was a package of my author’s copies of Babybug. My poem was reprinted in it. Back in May/June 08. See my blog post for more on that.

And then my publisher’s publicist sent me two nice review clips for Let’s Go! One was from School Library Journal (scroll waaaay down) (and I'm ignoring the fact they spelled my last name wrong) and the other from Professionally Speaking (scroll down some there too). Cool! Okay, so they were from last August and June. They’re new to me.

I really don't mind the fact this news came late. It’s kinda nice to spread good news out over time. You can enjoy each bit a little more, you know? But then again I always was the type of kid who could make, and enjoyed making, any sort of good thing--candy!--last as long as possible.

A little bit of sugar can go a long way, don’t you think?

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Daffodil Song

Daffodil, Daffodil
ruffled yellow sun
Daffodil, daffodil
shine when winter's done
No, it won't win any awards. But it's an inspirational sight for me nevertheless!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Did the SCBWI Canada East Spring Thing!

I finally have a bit of time to breathe. I have to say what a great time I had at the SCBWI Canada East Spring Thing. I mostly have my voice back again. There's something really energizing about spending time with others who write or illustrate for kids. (I only do the writing thing because I can't illustrate my way out of a mud puddle.) I checked into the same room I had last year. Still has that iron burn mark on the carpet. You know, there's gotta be a story there! Of course, I didn't get a picture of it again this year. But I did remember to take a few general pictures. They're not great. My camera doesn't do a great job of interior shots.

We gathered at the Kempenfelt Conference Centre to hear (left to right) Kathy Lowinger of Tundra Books, Karen Li of Kids Can Press, and Lisa Graff of Farrar Straus & Giroux. What generous and knowledgeable speakers! I came away with many ideas on how to snip, spruce up, and get going on the various manuscripts I have kicking around my computer.
I will remember the weekend for meeting new people, catching up with old friends, forcing everyone to have to listen to my hoarse croaking voice, reassuring one and all that I've never been to Mexico in my entire life, watching the torrential downpours and wind whipped pines, eating too much food, drinking too much coffee, and mostly for learning and laughing a lot.

Because I head the organization for the event I want to shout my personal thanks to those who helped me: Alma Fullerton, Christine Tripp, Michelle Jodoin, Rachel Eugster. Without you ladies it wouldn't have happened! THANKS!

So that's just my quick take on things. The "official" event wrap up will be posted at the SCBWI Canada Chapter site soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oh, Wow!!

It's finally official. Let's Go! has been announced as the 2009 Grade One Giveaway Book sponsored by TD Canada Trust and the Canadian Children's Book Centre.


This means that in November grade 1 kids all across Canada will get a special copy of the book!!!! For free!! That's like 500,000 kids. I'm kinda speechless.

While I have known about this for awhile, my family was starting to think I was delusional since, you know, if I say it's true it doesn't actually really truly mean it's true (good life lesson that, although sometimes you'd like to be taken on your word). But I can doubt my own sanity--on this matter--no longer. There's proof out there!!

Too cool.

This is a terrific program that's been in place for several years now. I know my own kids, who will sadly all be just past that grade 1 milestone next fall, have really enjoyed getting books from this program in the past.

I am truly honoured and lucky to have had such excellent collaborators with this book. Scot Ritchie. Maple Tree Press. Thank you!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cue the Crickets

I am so busy at the moment I need to neglect my blog for a couple weeks. Will talk more about a project I'm working on when it's more of a reality...and hopefully, possibly, betterbe done.

In the meantime, while the crickets chirp and frolic here, I recommend you check out Gregory K's blog for a fabulous month of poetry celebrations. Interviews with poets, poems, and more!

Hop on over to

But come back later this month, okay? Please...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Snakes in a Car

My kids thought it would be fun to drive around with their plastic snakes on the dashboard.

Actually, it was.

Driving down the highway, more than one car slowed down as they were passing us to take a second look. Hah!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So Cute and yet So Pesky

This past weekend I was visiting my parents. They have no snow left. Must be nice. Anyway, I saw this really cute raccoon hanging out in a tree at the end of their driveway. He just stayed there in the fork of the tree staring at us. I only had my phone camera, but still. Such a cute creature.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Your Story Doesn't Stink, Honest!

So I'm working on a student assignment (as part of my work for the Institue of Children's Literature) and I'm rereading the edits I made on the manuscript earlier that morning.

I read:
Wow! Good fart!

EXCUSE ME? What was I thinking???? Good gawd I am ashamed of myself.

But then I looked closer at my,, less than stellar penmanship. I realized that what I had intended to be a 'c' is in reality coming across as an 'r' and hence causing the confusion.

I pull out the old pen and emphasize the curve of the 'c.' Fixed. It now reads:
Wow! Good fact!

Phew! Caught that one.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shout Out to Shari

Many thanks to Shari Lyle-Soffe and her "Out of my Mind" About Books for Children blog for featuring my Let's Go! today.

You can see the entry here.

My showing there is part of a great series she's doing about books of particular interest to boys.

Thanks, Shari!!

(Now go visit her....go!)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring Thing 2009

Putting on my SCBWI regional advisor hat for a moment to announce our upcoming spring event.

The Canada East Chapter of the
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
presents our Annual Spring Writing Conference:

It's a retreat, it's workshops, it's fun! It's

The Spring Thing 2009!

April 24-26, 2009
Kempenfelt Conference Centre
Barrie, Ontario


Lisa Graff, Associate Editor, Farrar Straus & Giroux
Kathy Lowinger, Publisher, Tundra Books
Karen Li, Editor, Kids Can Press

Limited all-inclusive weekend attendance but lots of Saturday day-only spots. Come take part in the writing and illustrating inspiration, networking, and fun!

For more information, see the Events page of our website for the conference brochure and registration form.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pink Shirt Day

Today is Pink Shirt Day in Canada. I became aware of this because my kids’ principal is asking the students to wear pink to school, and my kids are all eager to participate. Much easier for the girls than for my son, but I assured him that I have some not-too-girly pink shirts kicking around he can try out.

The story of the day’s origins is quite inspiring. A male student from a high school in Nova Scotia was harassed for wearing a pink shirt. A few days later hundreds of students were wearing pink shirts to school in a show of support and solidarity.

Now isn't that an inspiring story! What's your favourite published story or book about overcoming bullying?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Freedom To Read Week

Freedom to Read Week 2009

It’s Freedom to Read Week in Canada! The official website has a ton of resources for how to celebrate. Fascinating to read the list of challenged books and magazines. Pick one up in support of our freedom to choose our own boundaries.

I can’t say I have a specific experience with book banning, but I can recall the buzz surrounding one of Judy Blume’s books. I think it was Forever. And if memory serves (hey, grade six was a loooong time ago) Deenie was also considered pretty shady. Can’t recall who exactly raised the fuss, whether it was just casual disapproval or more formalized as in a complaint from a parent. I do know that I read both. Particularly Deenie. I loved it. We girls passed it around at school, lending it to each other to read. I still remember Deenie’s hatred of her scoliosis brace. At a time when body image was becoming something I was starting to be aware of, and not in a good way, it was an important book to me.

Were you ever forbidden to read a book you really wanted to read?

May we always have access to books that are important to us, whatever our definition of important may be.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Flight of the Silver Dart

Big celebrations going on this weekend in the world of Canadian aviation. It’s the one hundredth anniversary of the flight of the Silver Dart.

Never heard of it?

First heavier-than-air flight in Canada. You know how those Americans have their Wright brothers and all that? We Canajuns have the Silver Dart.

Background on the Silver Dart here at the Canadian Encyclopedia.

And all the info on the celebrations in Baddeck, Nova Scotia from February 20 - 23 here:

Pretty daring to launch yourself up in the sky in one of those flimsy things, don’t you think? I mean, sure I have flown in an ultralight a few times when I was a lot younger, but at least I knew the thing worked!

Have a high flying weekend