Watch out for thieving Squirrels in Fall 2020

The Squirrels Stole my Sister is the title of my forthcoming picture book

Good things come to those who wait.

Little girl in the 70s
Me as a squirrel-taming kid. (My sister cut my bangs.)

Years ago, I wrote a story about a clever squirrel who grew tired of waiting for a daily handout, so she decided to steal a whole bag of peanuts, along with the little girl carrying it.

I have a smidge more patience than that squirrel, and today it has been rewarded. I’ve just seen Sean Cassidy‘s first finished illustration for our picture book, The Squirrels Stole my Sister — coming out next fall with Fitzhenry & Whiteside — and it’s gorgeous.

My text for The Squirrels Stole my Sister was acquired by Fitzhenry and Whiteside back in 2013 (by their former Children’s Fiction Editor, Christie Harkin, who is now a consultant publisher and freelance editor). Its originally planned publication date was postponed when the book was orphaned. I wasn’t sure if it would ever be adopted again, as the text was over-long (almost 1000 words) and over-aged (better suited to fourth graders than kindergarteners), and I knew it would take a special eye to see the diamond in the rough.

So when Sharon Fitzhenry, the publisher, called me this August, I was expecting another delay. What a happy surprise to hear that the book is scheduled for publication next fall and  Sean Cassidy is illustrating it. But I needed to cut several hundred words in a hurry — so Sharon put me and Sean in touch and let the two of us work out the revision together. Read More

Funding Author Visits

Financial assistance for author visits is available throughout Canada, thanks to the generous support of our governments working with the literary non-profit community.

A couple of key funding programs have looming deadlines — so if you would like to invite me or another author into your school, library, or public venue for a presentation or writing workshop next year,  check out these potential sources of financial assistance, and apply soon. Read More

MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Festival 2019

Eagle-MASC Press release
Catherine Austen speaking at MASC Festival 2019
Me at MASC, about to read from 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6

I had a great time at this year’s MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Festival in Ottawa. The 3-day event was held at the Canadian Aviation Museum, where over 450 children aged 9-12 came from around the region — some of them getting up at 5:00 a.m. to arrive in time! — to enjoy a day of hands-on workshops with professionals from Canada’s children’s literature community.

I was one of 6 presenters this year, giving morning and afternoon workshops every day alongside authors Cary Fagan, Karen Krossing, and David A. Robertson, and artists Britt Wilson and Soyeon Kim. (Read the bios of all of these MASC presenters here.)

You can watch a few of us give readings and talks on the YouTube channel of the sponsor, Eagle Professional Resources Inc. Check out my reading from 28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6. (Be warned: there is singing.) Read More

MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Festival 2019

I’m ready for the MASC Young Authors and Illustrators Festival taking place in Ottawa April 9-11. I’ll be leading workshops with keen young writers coming to town from elementary schools across eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

This annual event draws hosting authors and illustrators from across the country. This year’s festival will feature authors Cary Fagan, Karen Krossing, David A Robertson, and me, Catherine Austen, and illustrators Soyeon Kim and Britt Wilson. Read More

Awesome Authors 2019 – Decision Time

There are so many more awesome entries than can be included in the final Pot-pourri collection.

Every year, the Ottawa Public Library holds a youth writing contest for which hundreds of local kids write stories, poems, and comics. The winners and honourable mentions are published in the annual anthology, Pot-pourri. But the contest’s title — Awesome Authors — applies to all of those who enter.

The contest deadline for 2019 has passed (it was February 19th — if you are still thinking about entering, hold that thought till next year), and the entries are currently in the hands of the judges, awaiting final decisions.

I’m one of those judges. Read More

Young Writers Workshop: Setting Exercise

I’ll be giving a writing workshop tomorrow at the Carlingwood Library to help kids aged 9-12 prepare their stories for the Ottawa Public Library’s Awesome Authors Contest.

We’ll do two story-building exercises: one on Character, and one on Setting. Read More

Awesome Authors 2019 – Submission Call

It’s time for all the young writers in Ottawa to get their awesome on!

The Ottawa Public Library wants you to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write a poem, short story, or comic (or all three!) to enter into the OPL’s 2019 Awesome Authors youth writing contest.

The contest is open to Ottawa students aged 9-18. There will be two age categories this year: 9-12 and 13-18. There are two language categories: English and French. And three genres: poems, short stories, and comics. (You can enter one piece in each genre in each language, if you’re an extra-awesome author, for a total of six submissions!)

You’ll find all the important rules here on the OPL website.

I’ll be judging the English fiction submissions in the 9-12 age category — and I can’t wait to read your stuff! Read More

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