Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summertime Writing

I find it especially hard in the summertime to maintain a regular schedule of daily writing. There are so many distractions--invitations from family and friends for weekend gatherings, a strawberry social, a concert in the park, a reunion picnic.

At home, the outdoors calls me to come and enjoy it while the weather is good. I should weed the garden, finish painting the lawn furniture. But I'd rather sit in the shade with a good book, a cup of coffee or a cool drink, and a light breeze to keep the Southern Ontario humidity at bay.

As I stretch out on the chaise longue, I remind myself that writers are people who read. And just this morning I printed off the first chapter of the first draft of my new novel, so that I could take it outside with me.

At this time of year, it's all good.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Author Visit

This is a view of part of the class I spoke to at the Picton Library on Thursday, June 18th. They were such a great group of kids to talk to. Today the librarian informs me that already one of the students has come back to the library to get a card and take out Sky Lake Summer. On the day of the visit, those who had library cards borrowed most of my books from the display. I'm glad there was one left for the newest library patron. My thanks to the Grade 5 class, their teachers and the library in Picton for hosting the event.

Read on!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 22, 2009

Reluctant Reader No More

"Catherine used to be a reluctant reader, until she read one of your books."

Now those are the words a children's writer loves to hear. When Catherine's mother saw how much her daughter enjoyed that first book of mine, she went out and got her the next one. "Catherine read it in four days!" her mother said. "All by herself!"

Last Thursday, at the Picton Library, I gave a presentation and a reading from Trouble at Turtle Narrows to a class of Grade 5 students. Catherine is in Grade 4 and is home-schooled, but she came with her mother to hear me and to have me sign her books. Now I have a new young friend, and Catherine has discovered the joy of reading.

It was a delightful group of children gathered there on the floor in front of me--good listeners, full of questions about the books. Their teacher is reading Treasure at Turtle Lake to them, and they were pleased to hear about the sequel. Such a pleasure to talk to kids who are familiar with the characters and the setting. Thank you to their dedicated teacher, who is himself enthusiastic about reading.

Happy summertime reading!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Children's Literacy Panel

Photo, left to right: authors Caley Fiddick, Ted Staunton, Richard Scrimger, Linda Hutsell-Manning, Peggy Dymond Leavey & illustrator Brenda Clark.

I was part of a panel recently, discussing children's literacy in front of a group of retired teachers. We were given a number of interesting discussion points (getting published for the first time, whether being published affected one's lifestyle, problems resulting from contracts).
As well, we answered questions from the floor. How do you explain the success of Harry Potter? --the right book at the right time.

Has the current recession affected your writing income? The number of returns has affected everyone's royalties negatively. Events such as BookExpo Canada have folded. Publishers may be accepting fewer manuscripts these days, needing to be sure a book will do well in the marketplace.

Does your writing income now support you? Those who said it did, stressed the importance of a healthy schedule of speaking engagements and school and library visits for which they are paid. (Amen, to that.)

How important are contracts? Everyone agreed they are very important and should be read with great care. Those with agents might be able to trust him/her to read all the fine print, but for the rest of us, read every word and consult a contract lawyer if necessary. I've discovered that a publisher actually expects an author to negotiate the terms of a contract with them.

For me, the best part about events like this one is the opportunity to talk to others in this crazy business.

Till next time,
Posted by Picasa