Summer Fun

Sometimes it’s hard to sit down at the computer in the summer, and this year it’s been harder than ever. I only wrote one thing this summer, and it’s the opening paragraphs of a new book for kids. Fantasy! A new genre for me. Can’t wait to get back at it.
Here’s the first paragraph:
The awesomest thing about being a shifter is flying. I’ve only done it once for like, 10 seconds, but it was amazing. Incredible. I was a snowy owl. Most of the other kids in the class chose eagles and falcons, but for me, the silent glide of the owl was what I wanted. People don’t realize that shape shifting isn’t just about changing shape. It’s also about changing energy. And it’s hard. I got stuck as a tree for almost a week once. Boring. Who knew being a tree took so much energy. I mean, you know it’s going to take energy to fly, that’s why we only tried it for 10 seconds, but I thought being a tree would be easy, so I didn’t put enough energy into the change, and that’s how I got stuck there.

Interview with Trudee Romanek

Here is the second of the two interviews I did, this one with Trudee Romanek

In Trudee’s novel, Raising the Stakes, Chloe is determined this will be the year her high school improv team makes it all the way to the top. She is doing everything she can to help her team perform better. So why are they all getting mad at her?

1) What do you, Trudee Romanek, have in common with your protagonist?
I’ve always wanted to do things really well, even if that meant I had to “encourage” (okay, “push”) other people harder than I should. As an adult I sang in a quartet. I’m sure I drove the other three women crazy with my requests for extra rehearsals, more challenging harmonies, just one more run-through a little faster, and so on. But like Chloe, I (finally!) learned that I can’t force anyone but myself to dig deeper, go further, or want more.

2) Finish this sentence – “One time when I was performing, __________________.”
One time when I was performing in a play, I discovered that if you freeze for a tableau with your face downward and your mouth open, you will drool all over the stage! Your only options are to A) break the tableau (gasp!) to close your mouth, B) go ahead and drool (Eww!), or C) make disgusting sucking noises so as not to! VERY important lesson learned.

3) Do you follow any rituals when you write, like using the same pen?
Hmm. Not really. I often do a writing exercise to get my vocabulary limbered up. Those I sometimes handwrite in pen. Most often though, I write at the computer, typing with just my two index and middle fingers. (I look a bit like a raptor, I’m sure.) A friend knit me a pair of “writing socks” that I often wear, though only if my feet get cold.

Don’t forget to check out our Goodreads giveaways atL

New book arriving

book cover draft

There’s nothing as exciting as a new book coming out. It’s that time again, and, yes, again I am super excited. This one is about a girl who really, deeply, wants to be a dancer, but has a few lessons to learn along the way. I hope she doesn’t make the same choice I did as a girl and stop dancing for a long time. “Shimmy” should hit the shelves in the fall. Yay.

My lovely friend Laurie drew a picture of me dancing. Here it is. Cute eh?

Laurie's art belly dance

Summer Again

It’s been a shockingly long time since I wrote on my blog. Life’s so busy these days. But now it’s summer again, and I hope to get back at it. At this moment, I’m sitting in my office working on a new book, this time non-fiction. It’s my first time writing non-fiction for kids, and I’m having so much fun. More to follow soon.

Summer walking

It’s summer. It’s 30 degrees outside. Those words have a lot of meaning to a person who lives in a climate like this one, so when summer comes, mostly everything else falls away and it’s hard to get writing or anything else done. I’ve given myself a challenge to get out of the city every weekend this summer, so here is a smattering of the things I have seen while walking around this beautiful island.

Some creative person has made a few wooden owls and hung them in trees where they stare down at passers by just like their live brethren do.

One of the things I love best to do is to poke my nose into tide pools. This sea star shone so brightly we saw it from half the beach away.

Sea Stars
Sea Stars

Because our views are so spectacular around here, we sometimes forget to look at the things closest to us, but when I have my camera out, I try to remember to do so.

Fiddle heads
Fiddle heads
prickly but beautiful
prickly but beautiful

Found art

On a visit to a local beach we stumbled across this beautiful stone picture. It really made me think about where we find art and how we can use the things around us to build it. I’m going to try and make some art out of the things I find in my garden.


Summer Fun

West coast merman washed up on the beach at Sombrio.
West coast merman washed up on the beach at Sombrio.

My son and I spent a lovely day at Sombrio beach on Monday. We came across this merman. He seemed to be sleeping, but his breath was strong, and his heart pulsed on his chest. I’d like to write a story about him some day. Thanks Rowan, for pointing him out to me.

My friends Michelle Mulder, and Alex Van Tol, both authors of amazing books for kids, have tagged me in The Next Big Thing Blog Tour. You can check out their blog posts and find out what they’re working on, and here’s some info about what I have been working on.

What is the working title of your book?
Hmmm… the working title is So Much For Democracy, but I don’t like that. Too many words. I’m searching for something punchier.

What genre does the book fall under?

Juvenile Fiction, though I hope it will appeal to older audiences too, since it’s a story about family and culture and life.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve wanted to write this book for many years, but it’s taken me this long to figure out how. When I was 11, my family moved to Ghana and lived there for a couple of years, so I spent my early teens in Accra. In many ways my life was just like it was for my friends back home. We went to school, quarreled with our siblings, did homework, and hung out. But there were also many things that were different. Some of the differences were simple things, like having pythons for class pets, but other things were bigger, more important, like learning how to deal with the poverty we saw around us and how to cope with the strong military presence in the country. There were illnesses we’d never heard of, and sometimes limited access to clean drinking water and electricity, and in 1979, there was a coup. These are the things I wanted to explore in my story.

How long did it take to write the first draft of the story.

The first draft took only a few weeks, but it was terrible. Terrible. The next draft took longer and was much better. Yes, I learned my lesson.

What else about your book might pique your reader’s interest?

Other than a teacher who carries a python in her pocket? Well, the story’s really about a Canadian girl’s struggle to find her way living in a new land as her mother takes away more and more of her freedoms and the world around her becomes more and more dangerous.

That’s it from me. Now I’m tagging writer Laurie Elmquist. Check out what’s she’s working on.

Beginnings and Endings

I’ve been thinking about beginnings and endings, how hard they work. I mean, think of all the things beginnings do. A good beginning hints at truths to come, tells us about the characters we’re about to meet, sets the mood of the story, and gives information, at least a little bit. Phew, how tiring. And then there’s endings. What makes a good one? An element of surprise? A sigh of relief? A good cry? Jack Hodgins says good endings are found not created. Maybe that’s true. And maybe that’s true of beginnings too. So that’s what I’m aiming for. You?