Friday, February 11, 2011

Still Milking the Award

Here's a photo from Creative Burlington awards night. I'm in the middle. Barbara Orr (writer) is on your left and Don Ford(The Burlington Post)is on the right. They presented me with my award, performing the opening-of-the-envelope-with-the-winner ceremony.

As in all the arts, merit is not always rewarded fairly. The real successes in a writer's life have to be measured internally. Certainly, I have my share of fan mail to show me that my stories have connected with my audiences. I have two readers(that I know of) who have gone on to foster many guide dogs as a result of reading the Bringing Up Beauty Series. A girl with an eating disorder wrote me over Walking a Thin Line.
A waitress spontaneously hugged me because her daughter had read Grave Secrets the night before after one of my school visits, her first book ever. There have been so many great testimonies to emotional responses to my stories.

I guess I'm listing these non-trophies because I'm feeling unhappy with my commercial success of late. I love all three of my jobs, writing novels for kids, editing Today's Parent Toronto and spending time in schools as an "artist in education" or as a visiting author.

But I would like the option of donating more to charity, paying off my mortgage as well as handing out down payments to my wonderful kids who give me so much joy. Or taking a friend to lunch and paying the tab.

Instead, I'll take another moment to savour this award as I sip from my cup of coffee this morning, watching the sunrise. Ahhh.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Award winning can be fun

Just before Halloween, Andrea Gordon of Burlington Public Library forwarded me a notice about this literary achievement award. With the recommendation letter of another writer Gisela Sherman, I dutifully submitted my CV and an excerpt from my favourite book so far, Last Chance for Paris.

I also forwarded the notice to my daughter and what fun, both of us became finalists along with a communications writer named Bobbi Smith.

It was time for Burlington to vote for their favourite.
I'm not sure if anyone read our excerpts or if we just
got all our friends to vote for us. Creative Burlington drew
1,500 votes which was amazing for a first year event.

A few weeks ago our artist statement was video taped and we got an "artsmatter" t shirt. The rest of you can buy one for $15 from

Last Thursday, I won the event. My camera chose not to work so you won't see me grinning along side of our new mayor Rick Goldring. But here is the the plaque. Because there was a great silent auction full of theatre and dinner certificates, I pretty much spent my whole award.
No paying off my mortgage early, I'm afraid.

Still how nice to be so celebrated. Thanks to all for voting and for their congratulations.


Despite an awful publishing climate out there, the seventh annual CANSCAIP Ontario Library Association book launch drew over 30 applicants this year. We cut our list down to 23 and had a tremendous launch Friday February 4. This photo obviously doesn't show all our plucky quick witted presenters.

You can't keep that many writers in one spot when there are so many librarians, publishers and books out there for them to visit. Still at least all of these have their eyes open. Congratulations to all of them. Good luck with your books.

Science North and Macleod Public School

Why go to Sudbury in January? I love Sudbury any time of year but especially in the winter. I skated on Lake Ramsey and enjoyed the Imax Festival. This time I enjoyed a personal tour of the renovations and will be excited to return in the spring and see the Rescue Animal exhibit and the all Canadian Born to be Wild Imax film of lions.

During the week I taught a great bunch of grade five writers in Macleod Public School. They wrote terrific poetry and wonderful stories but there are new privacy rules in place. Out of respect for these, I can't publish photos or even snippets of their wonderful work. But it was a lot of fun writing with them. What a lucky writer I am.

The Residency that Got Away

Every Canadian YA writer I know applied for the Writer in Residence position at North York Library and it should be easy to hate the winner of the post Allan Stratton, especially since he'd only written a couple of YA books and wasn't a member of CANSCAIP.

But then I read Chanda's Secret and wanted to applaud.
When I contacted him to try to get him to join CANSCAIP, I instead persuaded him to speak at the January meeting.

How generous of him to say yes and he spoke about the luck involved in getting the book into a movie. The happenchance of being at the right place in the right time which kind of convinces me that it's okay for a writer to go out once in a while and not keep there fingers to the keystone, so to speak.

Over dinner he told me about his residency and how much he enjoyed it. So despite all logic I applied once again, this time for the children's writer residency at Osborne Public Library. Hopefully, something good will come of it.

A Decade at CANSCAIP

Lena Coakley was a fabulous executive administrative for CANSCAIP but she's also a talented writer. We bought her picture book On the Night of the Comet and were mesmerized by the story. Lena made a dedicated pursuit of an American agent as she wrote a fantasy. This fall The Witchlander will come out and Lena's decided to devote herself to writing rather than other kids' writers.

January was her last meeting and here she is hugging CANSCAIP's vicepresident Karen Krossing goodbye.
It was the only shot that I could capture them together, if ever so briefly. Good luck, good fortune and many great books Lena.