Monthly Archives: January 2011

Underland Press, is looking for short stories for middle-grade readers

From the SFCanada listserve:

Victoria Blake, publisher of Underland Press, is looking for short stories for middle-grade readers, specifically 6th through 8th grade readers. “The stories we’re looking for have one or two plot branch points–sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure structure, in short story form. And by short, we mean short. Around 2,000 total, or between 500 and 1,000 words per chapter. And we pay… Interested? go to, which is our submissions / holding page. And please to pass this on to anybody / everybody. We’re looking for great stories, and the more submissions we get, the better.”

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Writer Education: Secure Footing in a Changing Literary Landscape

The Writers’ Union of Canada is offering an exciting symposium Secure Footing in a Changing Literary Landscape. The eight-city tour starts in Toronto on February 4. (Sorry if we couldn’t make it to your town this year.)
In Vancouver on March 10, 2011

Simon Fraser University, Earl & Jennie Lohn Policy Room, Rm 7000, 515 West Hastings
This full-day event is designed to address the creative and financial questions that arise as writers navigate print-based and digital literary landscapes. Writers – unpublished, emerging, or established – will gain an insight into their role in the digitalization of the literary industry.

The symposium also explores the importance of community and the need for writers to develop their own writing community.

Authors Betsy Warland and Ross Laird will illuminate the new landscape of digital literature and publishing and will discuss its impact on traditional modes of creation and publishing. A particular emphasis will be placed on emerging modes of creativity, innovation, economics, and community. Kelly Duffin, the Union’s executive director, will discuss authors’ contracts in the digital age.

Betsy, Ross, and Kelly will assist participants to define and develop their personal and professional strategies to encounter (and enjoy!) the dynamic environments of contemporary writing.

More info and registration here

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New Canadian Children’s Book Award Announced

I grew up loving mystery stories, so was thrilled to see this press release!

Toronto, January 19, 2011 — The Canadian Children’s Book Centre is
very pleased to announce a major new Canadian children’s literature
award. The John Spray Mystery Award will honour excellence in the
children’s mystery book format and comes with a $5,000 cash prize
which will be awarded annually beginning in November 2011. To be
eligible the book must be an original work in English, aimed at
readers ages eight to sixteen, and written by a Canadian author. A
mystery book can be a thriller, a crime novel, or a ‘whodunit’.

John Spray, President of the Mantis Investigation Agency, is delighted
to give the prize, saying that reading mysteries made him a passionate
reader at an early age and helped him find his chosen career. “For
many years, through the publishing career of my wife, Gail Winskill, I
became acquainted with both contemporary children’s literature as well
as the unwavering support of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre for
children’s writers and illustrators. While attending the 2010 Canadian
Children’s Book Centre Awards, I was struck by the absence of an award
for mystery writing. My childhood was spent rapidly turning the pages
of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, which morphed into the
Spillanes and le Carres on my adult bookshelf. Offering a prize for
children’s mystery books seemed to me to be a modest payback for a
lifetime of joy spent reading great mysteries.”

The John Spray Mystery Award is organized and administered by the
Canadian Children’s Book Centre, a national, not-for-profit
organization founded in 1976 to encourage the reading, writing and
illustrating of Canadian books for young readers. “We are thrilled
that John Spray has entrusted us with the co-ordination of this
important and generous new award that will recognize all the elements
that make a great mystery book. The winning book will be recognized
for its high literary qualities as well as for a great story with lots
of suspense and thrills. Although there already exist a few Canadian
literary awards for the mystery genre, this is the first one that
comes with a cash prize and such a generous one at that. This new
award is yet another way of bringing national recognition to the great
Canadian creators writing for young people.” said Charlotte Teeple,
Executive Director of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

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Who is Who in Canadian Writing? Call for Submissions

BOOKLAND PRESS’S WHO IS WHO IN CANADIAN WRITING

Publishers, librarians, literary agents, students, researchers, corporate executives, journalists, editors, and many others rely on Bookland’s Who Is Who In Canadian Writing. Each listing includes a short biography, contact information, selected publications, and awards. Selections are made by a directory committee based on merit and contributions to Canadian literature; there is no cost to participate.

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Red Cedar Awards: What Am I Reading?

This year, I am part of the selection committee for the British Columbia Red Cedar Awards, Fiction – a terrific honour, and my living room is full of books – I actually get to read and call it ‘work,’ and nobody can question what I am doing!

As great as ebooks are, I have to say that the feel, smell and touch of a brand new book cannot be surpassed. So far, I’ve read some terrific books for kids from grades four to seven, and in April, when we somehow decide on the final fifteen, I can guarantee a summer reading list that will ”blow your socks off.” I kind of like that expression – it came to me from out of nowhere!

I have also been chosen one of the judges for the Illinois Women’s Press Association (IWPA) – The IWPA has the annual contest to provide an opportunity for communicators across the state to gain recognition for their work as published journalists, book authors, photographers, as well as in advertising, among various categories. The IWPA is the oldest state affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women., along with:

Jennifer Brown Banks
Ashley Mouldon
DeAnna McCleary
David Berner
Joe Nowak
Sylvia Alston

Pretty soon, 30 essays or more should start arriving via snail mail!

And for my Bookclub this month, we are reading: Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America – have to have this read by next weekend. So in answer to, “What am I reading?” Everything.

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The StoryTelling Camp: For Dyslexic Children

This summer, I am thrilled to be participating in the StoryTelling Camp:

The Storytelling Camp, an innovative 4-day camp for 60-80 11-13-year-olds is launching its inaugural year on the premises of Immaculate Conception Church (3776 West 28th Avenue Vancouver) from August 2-5, 2011. This camp is intended primarily for dyslexic children who love to tell and listen to stories and have active imaginations, but are challenged reading and writing at their grade level.

As yet, I cannot direct you to a website, but that will come! I will be one of the workshop leaders, and let me tell you, the lineup is impressive (no names yet, but the kids will be so excited to meet some of these authors in person.
More on this later, when I have more information. This is going to be fun!

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Final Edits: A Good Feeling – The Process of Editing

Over the weekend, my publisher sent me the first 70 pages of my upcoming book, The Darkness Between the Stars. I have not seen the manuscript for at least six months, and although I felt some frustration about the delay in being able to work on it again, I realize there was a big advantage to looking at it again, with fresh eyes.

A second to final edit can be difficult. Often, as the writer, I want to make not just small changes, but full rewrites, and I did this, but for only a few pages – I was actually quite happy with the writing and the narrative arc.

Other writers might be interested in my process, at this stage of the book.

First, I read the whole section of the manuscript over, so that I can properly digest my editor’s comments and think about them, without actually changing anything.

Next, I put on my music (This time around I choose Teenage Fanclub – a mix from a variety of their albums). Those who know me and have followed this blog or heard me talk, will already know that I always write to music – rather than distracting me – it somehow frees my creativity. Once I’ve got my music on, I return to the manuscript and start to incorporate/think about/accept/reject my editors’ comments and do a little rewriting. This takes some time, of course.

Then I take a break and do some other work, perhaps go for a walk, read a book – just step away from the work.

Finally, I return to the manuscript and read it through out loud, making any final changes. I often advise my writers at suite101.com to read their work aloud; that way we can actually hear how it sounds. Only after I have completed all of these steps do I email the MS back to my editor – WOW, does that ever feel good!

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