Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How Did You Put the River in the Book?

Figurative or literal? Good exercise in that when you are presenting to Grade one students.Yesterday while I was doing an author visit at Morna Heights Elementary I asked the teacher accompanying me to jot down the questions as the students asked them. I always get home and try to remember the wonderful questions kids ask me and finally thought to have someone record them for me.I had talked about the covers of my books , the lake and river aspect of each story and how I had put the Walton Lake in two of them and the Saint John River in one book.This led to the curious question of a little boy in the back. How did I put a river in the book?I realized he was taking what I had said very literally.Priceless! I explained it as best I could and hopefully he doesn't expect that when the book is opened water will come gushing out.Some other great questions asked yesterday were; Did you just start writing or did you ask someone who was already a writer what to do? (Grade 3)When you write books do you use a marker or a pencil?(Grade 2)What would you like to do except write?(Grade 4)The answer to that right now. Nothing. I spent the afternoon with Grade 5.They had recently finished reading The Year Mrs. Montague Cried. I walked in to see every student with the book on their desks or in their hands. They were anxious to meet the author and have their books signed. The principal had very generously bought a book for each Grade 5 student.What a great afternoon we had. I talked ,I read , they talked,they asked questions, they wrote a bit.We laughed and almost cried. (teared up for sure)I am including a picture with this entry, of the book The Year Mrs. Montague Cried on a desk.The desk is an antique one that is in my den not a desk at Morna Heights Elementary School but the photograph reminds me just how privileged I am to have been given again the opportunity to see it in another classroom and in the hands of young readers.Thankyou to Mrs. Keilty and her students.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hockey and Book Clubs

Sunday morning on the last day of the Sochi Olympics and what are most Canadians doing? Watching Hockey.I am writing a blog entry, listening to hockey while my husband watches it downstairs. I have no worries that if Canada scores I will hear a loud announcement from below. I care. Of course I want Canada to win but I don't care very much. I did enjoy the excitement and dramatic play of the gold medal woman's hockey game. I even left my office when Poulin got her goal in the last 54 seconds to go downstairs to watch the end of the tied game and the overtime when they were able to execute a win for the gold. What I care more about are book clubs, people reading books and even more, people reading my books. I care about that a lot. Yesterday I met with a Mother /Daughter book club. I t was a beautiful almost spring like day so it was understandable that their numbers were down a bit but the girls and moms that came were so kind. I really enjoyed the questions, discussion and comments.Afterwards three of the girls asked me questions about their own writing aspirations and I was happy to offer whatever encouragement I could. Perhaps they will find time and a place for their writing in their lives a bit sooner than I did.So here we are part way through the third period , Canada leading 2-0. Chances are that Canada will get the gold.We will all know soon enough one way or the other.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Snow Day

I got a snow day today,something I haven't enjoyed for awhile. I was supposed to be doing an author visit at Bayside Middle School. I must admit I was not looking forward to it. It's not that I didn't want to meet the 24 kids that have read my three books as a book club. I really was looking forward to that as well as meeting with three of Miss. Fullerton's Grade 6&7 classes. The reason that I wasn't keen about going was that I was exhausted from yesterday. Yesterday, I spent a busy and enjoyable day at Westfield Elementary School. I did seven, half hour presentations with students from K-5. The kids were fantastic.I started out a bit shaky facing a crowd of kindergarten kids after they had had a four day break,had lots of snow , were ready to celebrate 100 day and have a belated Valentine's party.Kindergarten is not my comfort grade level. I am in awe of how the teachers that choose to begin our children on their academic journey keep their sanity.Note to self (something I already knew but forgot)DO NOT ASK KINDERGARTEN KIDS IF THEY HAVE ANY QUESTIONS.From my shaky start things got much better. As always some of the kids questions were insightful and sincere.One grade 5 class came to me anxious for me to read the last chapter of Ten Thousand Truths to them. Their teacher had just finished reading up to the last chapter before lunch. The looks on the faces of the kids anticipating the end of the book read by the author was thrilling to me. My eyes fill with tears as I write this. What more could an author ask for than to see her work make a deep connection with readers? In the afternoon I did a writer's workshop with 16 kids. It was great. As always I am encouraged that telling and writing stories will continue with our youth despite the gloomy predictions. So today, I get a snow day to re-group.My Bayside visit will be re-scheduled and I will by then be ready and pleased to be there. My exhaustion is a good one but further proves that I stopped teaching at the right time.My energy is now for writing and on this snowy day I am in my office ready to get to work.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Another Monday Morning

On my way up the driveway this morning from getting my grand dog for the day I thought of how Monday mornings have such a bad reputation. I know how hard it can be to get up on Monday mornings and go to work after the weekend. Most Sundays I have a family dinner for my kids and other family members or friends. Most of the 10 people at my table last night had to go to work this morning.I don't let anyone help me with the dishes on Sunday night and we usually get right to a game of dominoes (which is currently our game of choice)but often don't finish it because people are thinking of having to get up for work the next day. I clean up after they leave because I don't have to work the next day. That is not entirely true .I do work on Mondays.I write on Mondays.And again I say "what a lucky duck I am ". On this beautiful February morning I get to walk down my driveway, back up ,have breakfast ,write in my journal, write a blog entry and then get back to work on the ending of the book I am working on.After lunch I will take the three dogs up the wood road and then get back to my office until the sun sets.I don't believe we should wish our life away and for those at work today I encourage you to enjoy those working days and take pride in the job you do. Life comes in stages and each stage brings it's own gifts.The stage I find myself living today is great and I love Monday mornings!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

In Good Company

I've been to Toronto and back.From the airport I took a shuttle to the Sheraton Centre and was warmly welcomed by my niece,Rebecca . We walked to her condo and had a lovely cup of tea. (a very maritime welcome)Later she walked me to Casey's Restaurant where I met members of KidCrit. In the very noisy atmoshere of a busy restaurant I attempted to make conversation with the authors sitting near me. It was wonderful to meet Wendy Whittingham, Don Cummer, Catherine Egan and Karen Bass.Catherine and Karen were also participating in the CANSCAIP mass book launch. The next morning my niece Rachel, who was also in Toronto,visiting her sister, and I met Anne Fullerton and had a wonderful breakfast at the George St. Diner. Anne is a former student who is following her dream to be an editor (and movie extra) and has left her NB home to live in Toronto.Anne was actually my first reader and editor for The Year Mrs. Montague Cried and was a student in the class "Mrs. Montague " taught that year.Anne and I walked to the Toronto Convention Center for the OLA Super Conference. I signed books in the OLA bookstore. I presented with 27 other authors at the CANSCAIP book launch which was a terrific experience.That night Rebecca, Paulo, Rachel and I walked to Chinatown and had a delicious meal celebrating Chinese New Year. Saturday night we went to Massey Hall to hear Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt.I experienced lots of other Toronto pleasures;St. Lawrence Market, the subway , a street car ride, a couple of cab rides, a walk to the waterfront, a picture taken with the Jack Layton statue, a walk by City Hall at night(no I didn't see Rob Ford) and so much more. Good company all around and a visit to remember .Thank you Rebecca and Paulo for welcoming me to your home and your city.