I just received my copies of the latest Pot-Pourri — that’s the annual volume of youth writing published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (FOPLA). This lovely book contains all the winning poems and stories from last year’s Awesome Authors Contest, a youth writing competition held every winter by the Ottawa Public Library.
There’s a lot of good reading in this one slim volume. Some of the pieces are so moving and marvellous — funny, sad, fascinating — they rise above any age expectations you might have. I’ve read all the English pieces several times, and I’m still amazed at how talented their young authors are.
I had the good fortune of editing the English half of this year’s collection. I was one of several judges of the contest last winter, and as I was reading the entries all those months ago, knowing there would be some excellent pieces in the final book, I thought, “I hope I get to edit these.” And I did. And now I have the book in hand, and I’m so proud to have been part of it.
You can buy a copy of the 2017 Pot-pourri directly from the FOPLA website for $15 Cdn. (You can buy all the previous years’ anthologies, too, for a mere five bucks apiece.)
If you’re a young writer in the Ottawa area and you’d like to see your work in this anthology one day, it’s time to sharpen your pencils. The 2018 Awesome Authors Contest will be starting this month — I’ll keep you posted on workshops and deadlines once the contest officially opens. You’ll have lots of time to get your very best poems and stories ready. They might end up in a beautiful new edition of Pot-Pourri next fall.
In the meantime, enjoy reading this year’s collection.
That’s all from me for this Friday. Have a great weekend.
I updated my Goodreads account this afternoon, adding a dozen or so titles that I read and loved this spring. If you’re looking for a summer read, here are a few of my recent faves.
Written by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest; illustrated by Katy Schneider (HarperCollins, 2006)
“Every dog has a tail to wag and a tale to tell.”
My new favourite picture book. (It was published ten years ago, but it took me a while to discover it.) It has completely captured my heart, and made me feel just a bit more connected with my dog. Gorgeous images, beautiful words.
Written by Margriet Ruurs; illustrated by Nizar Badr (Orca Book Publishers, 2016)
“This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs.”
An extraordinary book, the making of which is almost as interesting as the final product. So worth buying, especially since a portion of the cover price goes to refugee settlement organizations. Just beautiful–the stone illustrations will astound you.
Middle Grade Novels
Written by Keith McGowan; read by Laural Merlington (Brilliance Audio, 2009)
“A contemporary recasting of Hansel and Gretel.”
I listened to the audiobook while cooking (not with children) and it completely charmed me. So many funny lines, such engaging characters–it’s a great story to cook to.
By Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers, 2016)
“Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest.”
Kelly Barnhill is my new favourite children’s author. All of her books are wonderfully written stories that sing. This one has some sinister characters and high stakes.
Adult and Young Adult Novels
By Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press, 2011)
“It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races.”
I love Sean and Puck (and Corr–oh how I love Corr, the water horse), and I feel as if they’re still out there in their world, continuing the lives I got a glimpse of in this wonderful book. It took me a while to get hooked, but then it reeled me right in.
By Matt Haig (Simon & Schuster, 2013)
“A funny, compulsively readable novel about alien abduction, mathematics, and that most interesting subject of all: ourselves.”
One of those books you’ll have to buy five times because you keep giving copies to your friends and telling them they just have to read it. I loved this book and I want all good things to come to this author.
By Dominic Couzens (Firefly Books, 2008)
“A photographic showcase of 150 birds at the extremes of nature.”
Gorgeous, fascinating, entertaining. This great big book captured the awe-inspiring diversity of nature and reminded me what a wonderful world we get to live in.
By Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz (Basic Books, 2007)
“What happens when a young brain is traumatized?”
A compassionately-written account of several stories of traumatized children this psychiatrist has worked with. Not depressing despite some very sad cases. A fascinating look at how genetic tendencies and early experiences interact and how we can improve or worsen the consequences.
If you’re looking for your next good read, try one of these or check out more of my faves on Goodreads.
Now I’m onto summer reading! (Feel free to leave a recommendation. My TBR pile is only a few feet high.)
Have a great weekend.
While browsing my online library catalogue, this book caught my eye:
It captured me not because of its great reviews but because I could have sworn it was in my TBR pile with a different name. I searched through the pile and found this:
Ah yes. Not quite the same book. Extremely similar cover, completely different book.
Apparently, this happens every now and then. Sometimes in a worse way:
Sheesh. They didn’t even change the kid’s clothes on that one. (Check out this Huffington Post article for more examples.)
(A word to designers here: if you’re buying usage rights to images that other people can buy usage rights for, maybe fiddle with the image a tad. By Gaslight is a wild re-envisioning in comparison with Long Drive Home.)
How do you feel when a new book comes out that has almost the same cover as your still-quite-recent book? Amused? Annoyed? Delighted? Honoured? (I’m thinking annoyed.)
But maybe a similar cover is an advantage, so long as the contents are good. Humans like the familiar, after all. And even a duplicate cover won’t lose a book any fans if the contents are awesome. Mockingbird and Long Drive Home are a perfect example of that. (Still, both were reprinted with new, not-as-good-but-at-least-unique covers:)
Todd Babiak’s Come Barbarians was published in 2013 with HarperCollins. Steven Price’s By Gaslight was published in 2016 by McClelland & Stewart. Both have had great reviews. And they’re both fine-looking books. By Gaslight was in fact voted a Best Cover of 2016 (annoying the Come Barbarians designer, I’m sure).
I confess that I bought Come Barbarians because of the cool cover. It’s that attractive. In both versions. I wouldn’t change it if I was either one of them.
In fact, I’m thinking the foggy green cobblestone street is good for at least one more novel. Change the coat to a cape and add a wizard in a window, and it would be perfect for a thrilling fantasy. Any takers?
Here is the last instalment of my favourite Can-lit journals aka short story markets.
NB: These are not ALL the magazines out there in our northern land. This is my personal list of lit-mags that publish the kind of short fiction I read and write, and for which I’m eligible to submit. (So you won’t find Ricepaper here because I’m not Asian Canadian, and you won’t find Arc because I don’t write poetry.) For a more complete list, see the Writer’s Guide to Canadian Literary Magazines & Journals on the Magazine Awards blog. (I’ve cribbed from their list and added the information I want at a glance: word counts, submission policies, and payments. Feel free to crib from my list.)
Riddle Fence (St. John’s, Newfoundland)
Room (Vancouver, British Columbia)
The Rusty Toque (editors across Canada)
sub-Terrain (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Taddle Creek (Toronto, Ontario)
THIS Magazine (Toronto, Ontario)
Understory Magazine (Halifax and Lunenberg, Nova Scotia)
untethered (Toronto, Ontario)
The Windsor Review (Windsor, Ontario)
That’s it! I’ll post the entire A-Z on my “Markets” page.
Remember to check out the magazines before you submit to them. Buy, borrow, subscribe. Find out which ones publish writing that’s to your taste and whose pages you’d be proud to see your work in. (I have a story upcoming in The Fiddlehead — now, that’s one I’m proud to be published in.)
Good luck. Have a great week.