Saturday, September 29, 2012

Q & Q Writer Series featuring Urve Tamberg

Website: Urve Tamberg

Notable Review (s):CM Magazine

The Q&Q:

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality? 
Hmmm - only one word? I think that would be "determined". My mother would have said "stubborn", but I'll stick with "determined." Final answer

2) What is your deepest desire?
Not becoming old and senile. I can't do much about the "old" part, so I'll work on not becoming senile.

3) Your greatest fear?
I fear any kind of harm coming to my children and family.

4) Your favourite colour?
Lime green

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
Hallelujah, but only when it's sung by K.D. Lang. I can't sing, so I'd have to be in the car so no one can hear me

6) A movie that made you cry?
Almost anything these days. Even James Bond can make me cry. 

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
I loved Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, and The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. There's no one book that I go back to but those are a few of my favorites

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
I only have one book so let me say I like feisty female characters. Someone  who is clever, and smart, and funny.  

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
The slowness of it all. I'm not a fast writer, and I like results. So the writing process is a love/hate thing for me. 

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
That's a tough question. I can't think of of anything really interesting, so I'll have to pass. 

Thank you, Urve!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Q&Q Writer Series Featuring Gillian Chan

Website: Gillian Chan
Published Book(s): An Ocean Apart, A Foreign Field and many others which you can find here.
Upcoming Book (s): A Call To Battle. Launch is at the Bryan Prince Bookseller on Sept 30, 2012 at 2 pm.  
Notable Review (s/ Achievements): A Foreign Field is the winner of Ontario Library Association's White Pine Award, among other awards.

The Q&Q:
1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?

2) What is your deepest desire?
For those I love to be happy

3) Your greatest fear?
Something happening to my son and husband

4) Your favourite colour?
I have two of which I am equally fond - any shade of either green or grey

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
American Pie - Don MaClean

6) A movie that made you cry?
Captains Courageous starring Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew. No one will watch it with me as I start crying when the titles come up and don't stop all through the film.

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
"Heart of Darkness" by Conrad. The ultimate unreliable narrator and I do like unreliable narrators.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
Ben Larsson from "The Turning" as he is so unremittingly bloody minded - not without good cause.

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
Having to leave behind characters when I finish "their book" and start work on another .

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
Some people are Star Wars or Star Trek geeks, I am a geek about the Norse  (don't ever, ever call them Vikings!). I have been researching that period of history endlessly and there will be a book one day.

Thanks Gillian! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Q&Q Writer Series Featuring Patricia Storms

Published Book(s):

Notable Review (s):
The Q&Q:
1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?
Challenging, especially to myself.

2) What is your deepest desire?
Peace of mind.

3) Your greatest fear?
The sudden loss of the life I’ve built for myself.

4) Your favourite colour?

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
Paul McCartney’s Mull of Kintyre

6) A movie that made you cry?
So many movies make me cry. For example, I got quite blubbery watching ‘Up’.

7) A book you have read more than five times?
Anne of Green Gables.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
Well, since I’ve only written one kid to date, ‘The Pirate and the Penguin’ would be the favourite child.

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
Crippling self-doubt.

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
As a teenager I fell in love with the music of Noel Coward, and went to great lengths to memorize pretty much all of his songs. For some incomprehensible reason, this did not impress my peers.

Thanks, Patricia!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Q&Q Writer Series Featuring Adrienne Kress

Adrienne Kress is a writer and actress born and raised in Toronto, Canada.  I met her for the first time at the Toronto MG/YA Writers Group. A vibrant, bubbly personality, and a great writer to boot, Adrienne is a fun person to while away the evening with.
The starred review in Publishers Weekly praised her first novel Alex &  the Ironic Gentleman as “a wonderful blend of whimsy and moral” and at the heart of this story is Alex Morningside, a lovable tomboy with a knack for trouble and a quest for adventure

Read more about Adrienne on her website here. Her latest book The Friday Society will be released December 6, 2012 by Dial. Can't wait!

Here's the Q&Q scoop:

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?
2) What is your deepest desire?
Buttered toast.
3) Your greatest fear?
4) Your favourite colour?
5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
Any Disney/Musical number. But definitely also Adam Lambert's "What Do You Want From Me". Which can only be sung loud and proud. While doing the cool-down for Body Pump at the gym.
6) A movie that made you cry?
Wait, there's a movie that doesn't make me cry?
7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
As an answer to both questions: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
I don't answer questions that use the word "oeuvre". But I am now hungry for eggs.
9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
The voices in my head.
10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
That despite evidence to the contrary, every time I see Steven Spielberg interviewed, there's a moment where I truly think he's related to me and that we've met several times. I have no idea why this is.

Thanks for spending time here, Adrienne!



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tara Trilogy published by Rupa Publications

Aaaarrrghh! Have I really been away since May? Shame on me. The only excuse I have is this was the last summer with my son who started University this year. I wanted one glorious summer when we were still a huge part of his world. I know there'll be many more summers but they will never be the same. Nuff said!
So, here are the covers of the Tara Trilogy published by Rupa Publications in July this year. I love all the book covers and here they are:

Beautifully done!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Children's Story Jam at the TPL with Small Print Toronto

Someone Stole The Toilet...

A lively workshop to get feedback on my latest work-in-progress from a discerning audience at the Northern District Branch of the Toronto Public Library courtesy of Small Print Toronto with Chris Reed, Artistic Director, and Vikki Vansikkle, Writer and Mediator.
June 6, 2012 from 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm.

So if you like Mumbai, exotic foods, and er...toilets...come on down and give me some feedback!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Blue Met Festival in Montreal

This past Wednesday and Thursday I was invited to present at the Blue Met Festival for Children 2012, in Montreal. My first time there, I wasn't quite sure what to expect but I came away tired and strangely energized, wanting to do it all over again.
For the first one at the Montreal Children's Library, Richmond Branch, I was welcomed by the librarian, Carmen Mandrila and the wonderful Monique Polak who dropped by with a bunch of her journalism students. Here she is enroute to my prez with her students. Great students with some very insightful questions.
My second presentation was at the Westmount Public Library. The wonderful Wendy Wayling had invited a Grade 6 class from a nearby school and I have to say they were a fabulous bunch of kids who had me impressed from "good morning."
Here's me having a blast in Mon-real! Enjoy...
With Monique and a friend at the Blue Met Reception at the OPUS Hotel
Met a fellow Cormorant author Peter Dube

Monique with husband, Michael and friends.

Monique et moi

With Wendy Wayling of Westmount

"There's No Frigate Like a Book To Bear us Leagues Away."My sentiments precisely!

A riveted audience. I can't tell you who had more fun :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Q&Q Writer Series featuring Linda Granfield

I first met Linda Granfield through email when we were discussing the "Mash-up" planned for the launch of the Anthology,  Piece by Piece: Stories About Fitting Into Canada edited by Teresa Toten and published by Penguin. Her wit and humour won me over as we wondered just how this mash-up was going to mesh out. She was even more wonderful in person!

Linda loves writing historical non-fiction and she has a really cool website. She lives by the motto:
"Every Day Is Remembrance Day/Veterans Day." Linda is best known for her book: In Flanders Fields: The Story of The Poem by John Mccrae. The entire list of books can be found here.

And here's a peek at make Linda who she is... 

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?
2) What is your deepest desire?
I want to see my now-adult children (2) remain healthy and happy.

3) Your greatest fear?
Snakes, even pictures of the real things.

4) Your favourite colour?

5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
Any Beatles or Dusty Springfield song.

6) A movie that made you cry?
Field of Dreams (every time!)

7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
"Little Women" made me want to be a writer.

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
No favourite child--but "In Flanders Fields: the Story of the Poem by John McCrae" changed my writing-life.

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
The paper "mess"--from research, drafts, letters, edits. After recycling, I'm still running out of places to put it! And I can't write and file at the same time, so the paper piles grow.....and grow....

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
I collect "perfume cards" from the fragrance counters in stores. Well-designed, free, mini-art made of paper, wood, ribbon, silk, etc. I have nearly 500 different perfumes represented, from stores in a few countries. (See what I mean about "paper"!)

Thanks, Linda!

Monday, February 6, 2012

And the Final Day at SCBWI: Sunday, Jan 29, 2012

Having stayed up way past my bedtime the night before, I looked like a sleepy raccoon on Sunday morning. Thank God for the coffee and cake in the morning. The sugar rush helped as we headed back into the huge ballroom for some final doses of advice, panel discussions and information.

It started out with the announcement of the Tomie dePaola Awards and Art Showcase winners. All the entried were shown and they were beautiful. The judges must have had a tough choice.

Lin Oliver kept us laughing (and awake!) with entries from the Joke Contest: Pick a character from a children's book and create a campaign slogan for him/her/it. Here's one I remember: Captain Underpants - You can't get more transparent than this :)

Jane Yolen came on stage with a lovely announcement: she had started a grant to help midlist authors and had nominated a couple of writers already. It was heartwarming to hear of such a lovely gesture!

The illustrators were not left out in the cold and we had a chance to see the Bookmakers Dozen Panel comprising artists and illustrators in the Brooklyn area. This was moderated by Laurent Linn of Simon and Schuster. Amazing and talented panel which included: Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Peter Brown, Brian Floca, David Gordon, Brett Helquist, Aileen Leitjen, John Bemelmans Marciano, Sean Qualls, John Rocco, Sergio Ruzzier and Dan Yaccarino.

The last panel was about The Current Market for your Work: Four Agents' Views and comprised Ginger Knowlton (Curtis Brown), Regina Brooks (Serendipity Literary Agency), Chris Richman (Upstart Crow Literary) and Ken Wright (Writers House). A great discussion moderated by Lin Oliver.
The Good News: The market is still robust and there's always a place for a good story. But this is a "bestseller business" and the competition is fierce so your manuscript really has to stand out for it to get published.

What are they looking for?
  • A great hook
  • A classic story that is timeless rather than following a trend.
  • Do not follow trends (they were all unanimous about this)
  • Good, clean writing.
  • Universally identifiable theme with a global reach.
  • A twist on a known theme or an unusual POV. EG: A baseball story told from the POV of the Umpire.

And finally, a warm and inspiring talk from Katherine Erskine who told us to FOCUS on our work.

Finally it was time for the autograph party and goodbyes with promises to return. And I shall...soon.

Hope you enjoyed these posts. And hope to run into you someday, at a future conference. Ciao.

Monday, January 30, 2012

SCBWI Continued...

So, where were we? Oh yes, Saturday, post lunch. Started out with Love Triangles and Forbidden Love with NY Times Bestselling author, Cassandra Clare who gave us the deets in a clear concise manner. I will never, ever, write a crappy triangle again. I hope!

And then it was on to our next two breakout sessions. My first was with Arianne Lewin, Executive Editor, G.P. Putnam (Penguin) and she was just fabulous. We studied three excerpts from bestsellers to figure out voice and how to start a good fantasy (well actually, how to start any story well). Ari also gave us some great Do's and Dont's about writing fantasy. My favourite genre and favourite session!

My last session was with Tara Weikum, Executive Editor, Harper Collins, who spoke about YA Fiction. What's hot, what's not and lots of other good tips.

With heads imploding with information, we all headed to the Gala which was personally hosted and prepared by Lin Oliver (Thank you, Lin...the turkey breasts were superb;)). Met the fabulous Jane Yolen, Lee Wind, Emma Dryden, Chris Crutcher, Ellen Hopkins and Cheryl Klein among so many others. Not forgetting my very own peeps, Helaine Becker, Ishta Mercurio-Wentworth, Debbie Ohi, Maureen McGowan and Kari-Lynn Winters. Made lots of new friends and the air was thick with visting cards exchanging hands.

Headed off to the Alvin room for the International Mixer where I met with other authors from around the world and listened to Chris Cheng bring us up to speed. Brains turning to mush by this time but still managed to sit in the bar till midnight sipping lemon-green tea and chatting with friends.

What happened on Sunday?
Next post...and thanks for dropping by :)

Exhausted and time at the SCBWI Winter Conference 2012, NY

Wait a minute, exhausted and energized? You're probably wondering if I didn't lose a couple of marbles at the Grand Central station. I assure you, I did not. All seventeen counted and accounted for!

But this is exactly how I feel right now, after four days in New York. Helaine and I landed a day earlier to explore a bit of NY and see the Met. It was fabulous and you can see a few of the pictures in my Facebook album.

The hotel was great, right in the heart of Manhattan. And those boys from my window sure lit up my day in the morning....

Friday was the Writer's Intensive and with much trepidation nine of us sat at a round table to open up our hearts and souls to be critiqued. My group was wonderful and so was the expert on the panel, Jennifer Laughran of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. We all came away a lot better for experience with a lot of honest feedback.
My afternoon session was with Kari Sutherland, Editor at HarperCollins Children's books. Another great session with a very knowledgeable faculty member wgo gave us excellent feedback on how to polish our work even better! I wanted to go back to my room right then, and get started with the polishing but that was when the rest of the Canucks started pouring in. And since the weather was so fabulous, we decided to walk around a bit and get a bite to eat. And that bite of pizza was the best I've ever had.

The above is one of the plaques on the road leading up to the NY Public Library and my favourite.

Saturday started with a hilarious speech from Lin Oliver followed by a powerful and touching keynote from Chris Chrutcher. I was completely blown away by the honesty and humour of his speech. And I was lucky enough to meet him at the Gala in the evening to tell him so.

The keynote which made me want to laugh and cry at the same time (exactly as Chris intended!) was followed by four expert impressions about Children's Books. On the panel were Jean Feiwel (Sr VP and Publishing Director, Feiwel and Friends-MacMillan), Barbara Marcus (Strategic Innovations Adviser), Nancy Paulsen(President and Publisher, Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin) and Rubin Pfeffer (Agent, East West Literary Agency).

After an informative snapshot of the world of children's book publishing, we were off to our breakout sessions. My first one was with Aimee Friedman, Senior Editor, Scholastic, who is also a NY bestseller author. She spoke about Series Fiction, discussuing the popular ones, how to write and pitch a series to an editior. Lots of good information!

And then it was lunch and there was still a lot more to look forward to. But for that you'll have to wait for the next post. Do come back :) And for more pictures, please visit me on Facebook.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Q&Q Writer Series featuring Jane Yolen

I do not know Jane Yolen personally and yet I do know her...through her words, her kind advice and her wonderful stories. I sense a kindred spirit who has figured out many struggles that I'm am currently wrestling with. Vist her website, especially the section for writers to see what I mean...

Award-winning author and known as the Hans Christian Andersen of America, Jane has written over 300 books in all genres and for all ages. Mentioning her books here would take too long, but you can find the entire list here.

 My favourite, as well as that of a few millions, is Owl Moon: a story that is calming, magical and timeless.

Jane graciously agreed to answer my questions and here they are:

1) In one word, how would you describe your personality?
Two words: Honestly lying.
2) What is your deepest desire?
To live forever. Or at least have written stories that do that.
3) Your greatest fear?
Snakes. It's always snakes.
4) Your favourite colour?
Wine. Though there are carpers who would point out that in my case "whine" is more like it.
5) A song you can't help singing along with, every time you hear it?
"Amazing Grace" and "Lay, Lady, Lay."

But if Fairport Convention is in town, "The Hiring Fair."
And these days half of the songs that Janis Ian or the Dixie Chicks sing.
6) A movie that made you cry?
"Truly, Madly, Deeply."
7) A book you have read more than five times? Or a book that influenced you the most?
As a child--probably "Ferdinand".
As an adult, probably "Moby Dick."

8) From your own oeuvre: your favorite child?
Possibly "Owl Moon" or "The Devil's Arithmetic" or "Ring of Earth" or "Girl in a Cage" or "Sword of the Rightful King." Ask me tomorrow it it might be a different list.

9) One thing you hate about being a writer?
Long waits.

10) One thing no one knows about you (and now will)?
My father did publicity for double bubble chewing gum, silly putty, and slinkies when I was a child and so I had more of all of them than any child had any right to.

Thank you, Jane! And I look forward to meeting you at SCBWI later this month.