“It is true that whenever a person loves a dog he derives
great power from it.” - quote from a Seneca Chief
Have a look around…
. . . my website tells you everything you need to know about my books, my writing projects, and what I can do for you.
January 2014 * Looking back on last year, I’m thrilled by how much cozy reading time there was–and looking forward to more this year. In the meantime, here’s a list of the my Top 13 reads of 2013. They’re an eclectic mix of children’s lit, YA, lit fic, and NF–in no particular order. I hope you enjoy some of them, too!
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen by Susan Nielsen
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
One Year in Coal Harbour by Polly Horvath
The Humans by Matt Haig
It’s All Good by Gwenyth Paltrow and Julia Turshen
Every Day by David Levithan
Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
The Light through the Trees by Luanne Armstrong
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
November 2013 * It’s official–and SOOOOO exciting! This year’s TD Award winner is One Year in Coal Harbor by the crazy-talented Polly Horvath. Even better–it also topped the first-ever fan choice award. Go Polly and Primrose!
October 2013* It’s still another two weeks until the TD Award winner is announced, and the waiting is torment! So in the meantime I’m taking solace in the wonderful writing of the next generation writing for children. This year’s UFV English 315 class is filled with talented young writers–some of whom may end up nominated for this award someday! We’re also having super interesting discussions, and the students are thinking deeply, as evidenced by this insightful reflection . . .
What have I learned? (so far…)
Will van Delft
1. This is the tension: simplicity without compromise
2. This is another tension: innocence vs. experience
3. “Olivia” books are really funny. I’ll probably buy them all.
4. “First write a story you want to be told, then go from there.” –Michelle Superle
5. JKW (just keep writing)
6. Remember #5, even when the ideas still don’t seem to be coming.
7. If you want any story to sound good, get Graham to read it out loud.
8. “Story is one of the most serious intruders into the heart.” –Jane Yolen. Writers have a big responsibility… it’s like we’re the ones holding a scalpel over a really delicate surgery. We cannot (and may not) shy away from what needs to be done, but we should proceed carefully; any pain inflicted should be for the sake of healing.
9. Don’t underestimate the capability of the hearts and minds of children.
10. If you want to write, you must also read.
11. (I don’t want to write this one down) Revision is a must.
12. One last quote: “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison (emphasis mine)
September 2013* Stories like these show better than I ever could why I wrote Black Dog, Dream Dog. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy . . .
July 2013 * Just got back from a whirlwind visit to Toronto–for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award jury meeting. Choosing a winner from SOOOO many amazing Canadian books this year was a great problem to have, and it was wonderful to engage in stimulating debates with peers from all over Canada, especially Maria Martella of the amazing Tinlids. According to the binding legal agreement I signed ;) my lips are sealed, though–you’ll have to wait until October to find out the winner and honour books . . .
April 2013 * Finally–the wait is over! After years of dreaming about donating the royalties from Black Dog, Dream Dog to the needy rescued canines at Animal Advocates, I finally received my first cheque! Actually, I asked my publisher to send it STRAIGHT to the dogs, where it’s now providing a little TLC to those who need it most. So . . . the dogs say THANKS! for buying Black Dog :)
September 2012 * I’m thrilled to share my exciting news: I’ve just started my DREAM JOB teaching children’s literature and creative writing at the University of the Fraser Valley. This step forward proves that perseverance and dedication DO pay off in the end :)
Success can be bittersweet. In this case, accepting the position at UFV meant leaving Arion Therapeutic Farm and another lifelong dream–to live on a hobby farm. I remind myself of the old saying about doors closing and windows opening, but really, I just miss the heck out of these smiling faces!
July 2012 * Check out my latest writing projects on tujawellness.com This website is a go-to for wellness inspiration with a hearty does of fun! I’ve shared insider tips on great places to find wellness in Kelowna and Vancouver. Plus, check out my columns about Reading for Wellness, finding the best teas in Canada, and getting whipped into shape by my amazingly inspiring yoga teacher, Pam Rader.
May 2012 * A big thank you to the BC Chocolate Lily Award for making Black Dog, Dream Dog the 2012 Chapter Book winner! Go Horatio! Here’s what he would have said if he was still with us:
Thanks for listening to my stories about writing Black Dog, Dream Dog in honor of Raise a Reader Day!
March 2012 * Spring is in the air, and that means things are growing…apparently even things that were planted in December 2011: Black Dog, Dream Dog has been nominated for the really cool BC Chocolate Lily Award, the super awesome Hackmatack Children’s Choice Award, and has ramped up to finalist in the People’s Book Prize!
I say hooray, and thanks for the love, awesome readers! I’m so happy you’re loving Horatio’s story.
October 2011 *
On site at Compact Orchard in Lake Country, with the ever patient Madeleine van Roechoudt. A third-generation orchardist, Madeleine is now office manager of the orchard where her grandfather pioneered the dwarf trellis planting system in the Okanagan. Madeleine, her dad Mark, and their orchard manager Raymond Fisher deserve huge props for putting up with my endless questions and teaching me boatloads about growing apples. Here, Madeleine and I make harvest look like a snap ;) (It was pretty easy for me, as I mostly swanned in and took notes–the one half-day I put in nearly finished me!)
October 2011 * A year ago, I moved to where the apples come from, which seemed very fairy-tale-ish indeed. Kelowna’s spectacular orchards fired my imagination and inspired the ideas for my novel-in-progress, Oh, Little Orchard Town.
With a working first draft now in the vault, it’s time to start sharing. You can hear an excerpt at a reading in my *new* hometown on Saturday, October 29, 2011.
Join me for my inaugural reading in Kelowna, where I’ll be teaming up with some OC colleagues as we share our latest work.
The party starts at 7:30 at the Bohemian Cafe (524 Bernard Ave.) and goes on as long as we want (apparently “afterwords” we’ll be wandering to various downtown watering holes). There WILL be wordsmithing…
September 2011 * When an author tells you she “blew them away” at her reading, sometimes she’s telling the truth. Like when The Word on the Street in the Kids’ Tent literally blew down on Sunday, September 25.
We can’t blame this one on the big bad wolf, but never let it be said that the reading of children’s books lacks excitement. It does not! Especially when I’m doing it…
August 2011 * Telling your stories… I’ll be teaching a few workshops this Fall in the UBC Okanagan campus Continuing Studies program. Check out A Taste of Adventure: Travel and Food Stories in September and The Magic Words: Writing for Children in November.
Huge shout out to one of my mentors, a reigning queen of Canadian children’s literature scholarship. Judi Saltman, the founder of the Master of Arts in Children’s Literature program at UBC, has won the 2011 IRSCL Award for her stunning history of picture books in Canada, Picturing Canada, co-written with Gail Edwards. Check it!
Wow–very exciting: Black Dog, Dream Dog has placed as a finalist for the People’s Book Prize. So THIS is how it feels… :)
On April 17th, 2011, I did a book talk at the fabulous Christianne’s Lyceum in Vancouver, with the Book Bandits club.
They asked GREAT questions that really made me THINK! Also, we rocked a crossword puzzle and a few rounds of Pictionary, all with questions related to Black Dog, Dream Dog. I wish I was a kid doing summer programs at the Lyceum–check out the cool programs, and send your kids, or go yourself if you’re allowed…
Looky here! My academic book was released by Routledge last Spring:
Check it out! Black Dog, Dream Dog is getting some great reviews. It’s “Highly Recommended” by CM Journal and praised as “skillfully told” in the Deakin Newsletter. I’m also tickled to hear that apparently it’s #11 on the Kidsbooks Edgemont Village bestseller list–New York Times, here I come!
I’m going to writers’ camp! Just kidding… But I was selected as 1 of only 10 Okanagan writers and community members to participate in a cool workshop through the UBCO writer-in-residence program. Our coach will be the awesomely, dauntingly, talented Annabel Lyon. This CanLit queen will help me to revise the first few chapters of my current novel-in-progress, Oh, Little Orchard Town.