Goodreads Discussion Group Guest Author

All Good Children coverIf you’re interested in young adult novels, you should:

(a) read Daniel Pinkwater’s Young Adult Novel; and

(b) join the Goodreads YA Reads for Teachers (and Any Other Adults!) discussion group.

I am the group’s Guest Author this month, so I’ll be talking with discussion group members and visitors about the writing life, my award-winning teen novel, All Good Children, and any odd questions that come to my mind and yours.

Today I’m asking about narrators and gender, and whether readers have any preference in mixing up the two. (I seem to have a preference in writing from a boy’s perspective when using first person. What does it all mean?!)

If you have any questions or comments about All Good Children or other YA novels you’ve been reading – or writing –  please join in. The discussion is open to everyone. Don’t be shy. I’ll be popping by to chat all month.

You can enter the discussion by clicking this link.

Hope to see you there.

QWF Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Proud pup

I’m taking a breather from picking up after the puppy to say, wow, it was such an honour to win the Quebec Writers’ Federation 2012 Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature for my middle-grade comedy, 26 Tips for Surviving Grade 6 (James Lorimer & Company, 2011). The book was shortlisted with Monique Polak’s Pyro (Orca Book Publishers) and Lori Weber’s Yellow Mini (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) – lovely company indeed. The awards were announced at the QWF Gala on Tuesday, November 20th – a wonderful party at Lion d’Or in Montreal.

I owe thanks to everyone at James Lorimer & Company for making this book happen, most especially my editor, Carrie Gleason, for her encouragement, insight, hard work, and all-around wonderful temperament. Humour can be a hard sell, and to find an editor who so loved my quirky characters and goofy situations meant the world to me.

I heard someone once say (I forget who, but I suspect it was an editor or publisher), “It’s your manuscript, but it’s not your book. Not just yours, anyway.” So true. Awards go to writers (as they should – no argument there), but there are MANY other people involved in the evolution from promising manuscript to award-winning book – editors, copy-editors, designers, marketers, publishers, granting bodies, supportive literary communities – without whom awards would never be won. So thank you.

The QWF puts on a great party to celebrate English literature in Quebec. It’s a moving experience, attending the Gala and hearing authors speak about how much support they receive from each other. It makes me want to move to Montreal. (And that’s hardly the top attraction.)

(Photo taken just before he snatched the statue and ran.)

You can read more about the Gala and the many other books honoured with awards and nominations on the QWF website and this Montreal Gazette article.

And that’s it from me this week. Ernest has dragged my award off to the living room, with a jaunt in his step as if he’d caught a goose, so I really must go now before he gnaws my name off the engraving.

We interrupt this blog…

Should I blog or play with the puppy?

…to bring you PUPPIES!

Well, just one puppy. But what a puppy. Sigh. I’m smitten.

Puppy’s vital stats:

Name: Ernest  (AKA Ernie, Ernesto, Che, and occasionally the names of my cats and children when I get confused)

Age: 3 months; he’s been with us since age 8 weeks.

Breed: Labrador/Boxer mix (Chosen because one of the owners – either me or my spouse, I’m not pointing the finger here – misled the other into thinking that boxers were low-energy dogs that would balance the high-energy Lab genes. HAHAHAHA. Jogging, anyone?)

Status: Adorable

To anyone who actually reads my blog, I apologize for the several weeks of silence, but my life has become a series of brief visits to the computer in between training, fetch, and piddle sessions. I’ve been using those visits to actually write a book. (Well, revise, but that’s the main part of writing for messy drafters like me.) Blogging has taken a back seat.

But it’s not all I’ve been neglecting. There is a long list of things I have NOT been doing lately:

  • house-cleaning;
  • regular bathing;
  • cooking;
  • working (i.e., for pay);
  • answering emails;
  • blogging.

And here is my list of things I HAVE been doing:

  • walking
  • cleaning up pee
  • practicing “sit,” “off,” and “high five”
  • writing a book
  • ignoring my cats
  • ignoring my children
  • ignoring my husband
  • repeating “You’re so cute! How can you be so cute! Oh my god, you’re just so cute!” ad nauseum.

Clearly I am too busy to blog.

Should I blog or walk the dog?

I was feeling bad about leaving this blog reading, Come to my event that happened last month, so I thought I better just pop in while Ernest is napping and make my excuses. Now that that’s taken care of, I really must go. We’re working on “drop it” and then we’re off to the woods (for the third time today – it has been over a year since my old dog Charlie passed away and I really haven’t been for a walk since, so I have some lost time and saggy muscles to make up for).

I figure it’ll be another week or two before I can tear myself away from the little pooper. But I will return eventually with a Friday Fable.

Oh, they grow so fast.

Ottawa Teen Author Fest: Write On!

If you’re a young writer in the Ottawa area, please come out on Wednesday for a discussion panel of YA authors, part of the Ottawa Public Library’s Teen Author Fest. Here’s the blurb:

Write On!Find out what it takes to write like a pro from a panel of published authors.

Discussion panel: Max Turner, Catherine Austen, and Lesley Livingston

Wednesday, October 24, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Ben Franklin Place, The Chamber, 101 Centrepointe, Ottawa, ON

We’ll be answering questions from a moderator and the audience, so if you have questions about our writing or yours, please come out to ask.

For more information on this and other Teen Fest events, visit the Ottawa Public Library website.

Profread One Least Time

Nemesis, who brings you just what you deserve

In submitting a manuscript to an American publisher last week, I wrote a cover letter mentioning that one of my books (All Good Children) was nominated for two YALSA awards. I read through the letter and manuscript excerpt, made a few revisions, proofread it a final time, and was just about to send it off by email when I made a tiny last-minute change.

The last-minute change is my nemesis. (As in the divine retribution that comes to the cocky.)

I altered “was nominated” to read “is a nominee.” Oh yes, what an improvement.

Did I proofread my letter again? No. Honestly, why should I? It was perfect last time I looked. I made the change and pressed “send.” And off went the submission into a stranger’s mailbox.

But when I glanced at the letter to jot down a record of the submission, I noticed that I hadn’t quite changed “was nominated” to “is a nominee.” I’d actually changed it to “is a nominatee.” Yup. I had written, ever so proudly, that my book was a nominatee for some awards (very presitidigious awards).

Did I really send that to an editor? Yes, I totality did.

Do I expect the editor to even glance at the manuscript following that letter? No, I reality don’t.

Say, is that a literary agent? Attact!

Those last-minute changes show up as typos all over my letters, posts, and manuscripts. (Like the blog post in which I christened Deadline? What Deadline and noted that the name might not be a good choice for a writer trying to keep her clients and “maybe attact an agent.” Hmm. I don’t think the blog name is the problem.)

But what’s a silly blog post or one weeny cover letter compared to my brilliant last-minute change of name in a manuscript I sent out this summer? I read the whole thing through until it was perfect. Well, almost perfect. Two characters had similar names, which might confuse an inattentive reader. So I did a last-minute search-and-replace to change “Tony” into “Randy.”

What could be simpler? It was a minor character and he seemed even more authentic as a Randy. It would have been a big improvement if it hadn’t left my heroine, Tina, sitting in a srandy silence and complaining about the monorandy of her waitressing job.

Yeah, I sent that one out, too. I’m serial.

It’s not that I don’t proofread. I proofread MANY times. I just can’t leave well enough alone. I always fall for that last-minute altercation.

Take my advice. If you change ANYTHING in your submission, read the WHOLE THING over again before mailing it out.

Just do it. On more timer.

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