Sunday, May 4, 2014

2014 BC Book Prizes

I wasn't able to attend last night's celebration of BC authors, but was definitely there in spirit. How wonderful that we have an annual event to recognize the depth of writing talent found here on the lovely west coast of Canada.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the 2014 BC Book Prizes! To read the complete list of nominated authors and prizes, please go here.

The Book Prizes Gala has always been a favourite night for me. It is a thrill to see the huge gathering of avid booklovers coming together to celebrate the written word.

Last night, for the second year in a row, a children's author was chosen to receive the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence. Congratulations to my colleague and friend, Kit Pearson!

In the jury's comments it was noted that, "In a career spanning three decades, Kit Pearson has demonstrated mastery in that most traditional of genres, the novel for young readers. In both her fantasies and her historical fiction she looks to the past: to Canada's war guests, to the War of 1812, to Alberta in 1949, and to Mayne Island in the 1930s. She sees children as those residents of the past who are largely overlooked in the story of where we have come from."

If you'd like to learn more about Kit and her books, please go here.

Writers spend much of their time alone at their keyboards, dressed in their dog-walking clothes — writing is by nature a solitary and casually-attired profession. But once a year, the BC writing community dons glamourous outfits and joins with one another in a great celebration of books, authors and their amazing accomplishments.

Thank you to the juries and organizers of such a remarkable event. And hearty congratulations to all the writers in this province (and everywhere!) who toil at their keyboards day after day, creating inspiring works for us all to read.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

In Praise of Reading (and Writing)

I have been an avid reader for most of my life and have found so much comfort and solace in books. Reading was always a favourite activity and one I could count on when life took its inevitable difficult turns. Books taught me a lot about the world and other people. They gave me hope and satisfied my curiosity. Books were very good friends.

Little did I realize, when I was younger, that avid readers often become writers. That's what I always tell students in the schools that I visit. Then I ask the group, "Who likes to read?" I invariably find keen readers (like my younger self) who love nothing more than to immerse themselves in a book. I tell them that they may become writers someday. The children are always thrilled.

I am frequently asked by other adults about how to break into writing, and how to get a manuscript published. My advice always begins with a suggestion to read. Read widely and read voraciously; read in the genres you wish to be published in and read other ones, too. When you are reading, you are learning about the ways that words can be strung together and what makes a compelling story. You are discovering how to create a memorable book. You might need to read hundreds or thousands of books before you are ready to write one. (Most people don't want to hear this; they want a faster road to publication.)

But getting published is not a speedy process. It can take years and years. You've got to love reading and writing more than the idea of getting published. And not everyone does.

I had a fall some months ago and have been on a long, slow recuperation from a concussion. In the early days, I wasn't supposed to read or write. It was very tough to give up those activities. The months have passed and I am thrilled to be back to reading several books in a week, and also polishing a manuscript to submit.

Reading and writing: what wonderful pastimes! So happy to have them as an integral part of my life.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Spring Break!

Today marks the beginning of Spring Break in BC. Children and teachers have earned a well-deserved hiatus from their studies and will now enjoy a relaxing and rejuvenating couple of weeks. 

The weather in our part of the world is cooperating for the young holiday-ers. We have a lovely spring sun overhead and bright flowers blooming. In my neighbourhood, there are beautiful purple crocuses and sparkling white snow drops. The grass is turning from winter brown to green. And the robins are chirping! 

I like to think that spring is the hopeful season, one that takes us out of the doldrums of winter and makes us feel alive and vibrant again.

If you are on holidays, have a wonderful time! Enjoy your days with the children in your life and take a few moments to look at nature together and observe the delightful, hopeful signs of spring.

(Apologies to those across the country who are still in throes of winter. Come for a visit!)


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Interested in Writing Kids' Books?

It's that time of year again!

If you are interested in writing or illustrating books for children, and are in the Vancouver area, you might like to attend the annual "Getting Started in Children's Books" panel. It will be held at the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library on March 10. Panel members are published authors and illustrators who tell their story of how they got published and then answer audience questions about the publishing process. It is always an inspiring and informative night. I highly recommend it!

Check out this link for more details, or see the poster above.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Serendipity 2014

If you are in the Vancouver area, and interested in the future of children's book publishing, you might want to mark March 8 on your calendar. This date is the annual conference, Serendipity, hosted by the Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable. It is always an inspiring event. In fact, it was at this conference many years ago where I first decided I might try my hand at writing a book for children. That's how inspiring it is!

This year's conference, held at UBC, is titled "Children's Literature in a Digital Age" and has a program of speakers who will talk about their own books and also what they see on the horizon in terms of social media, apps for children and electronic publishing. Lots for us to learn!

One of the best books for kids I read last year was called Better Nate Than Ever, and guess what? The book's author, Tim Federle, will be speaking at Serendipity. Very exciting!

So get your registration in and get ready to be inspired. See you there!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

Here we are at the beginning of a brand new year. Happy 2014!

It's good to think of the promise and fresh start this annual occasion brings.

Some people are keen to make resolutions and I am often one of them. But in recent times, my goals have been simple: to read more and write more. And that is what I hope to do again this year. (Maybe travel a bit too.)

To those of you (hello teachers and students!) who have returned to school after the holidays, good luck! I remember from my teaching days how much vital learning takes place between January and June.

As we embark on this shiny New Year, I wish you health, happiness and many good books to read!