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Cover images for "Angus is Here" by Hadley Dyer and Paul Covello, and "Rodney was a Tortoise" by Nan Forler and Yong Ling Kang

When A Pet Dies

February 21, 2024

Soon after learning my dog was seriously ill and unlikely to recover, I had a dream. Georgia and I were walking. She was on a leash that kept getting longer as the weave of its nylon fabric unravelled, until it was hanging between us by only a thread. I woke up before the last remaining…

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Photo of Anne Dagg alongside the cover of The Girl Who Loved Giraffes

Happy Birthday to the World’s First Giraffologist!

January 24, 2024

On the eve of Anne Innis Dagg’s 90th birthday, I challenged myself to sum up her life in 90 words. 1930s A Canadian girl sees her first giraffe and falls in love. 1940s She begins to dream of studying giraffes in Africa. 1950s She does it. 1960s She writes a book and gives university lectures…

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Best Books of 2023

December 21, 2023

Book lists abound at this time of year. One of my favourites is Goodreads’ “Your 2023 Year in Books.” The list comes as a display of covers that reminds you visually of some of the titles you rated highest. This photo shows me one summer day early in my reading life. These are some of…

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Six Tips for Staying the Course After Rejection

November 15, 2023

You slogged through several drafts of your project, probably many drafts. You worked with feedback from trusted colleagues in exchange for feedback on their work, or from a hired editor, to help you get your project to a publishable state. Not only publishable; this book is going to be great! you told yourself. You experienced highs and lows…

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Falling Into Autumn

October 11, 2023

Like this photo, this fall seems to have a lot going on. So thankful I am that I am able to engage in all this… I’m taking a fitness class that has me working on cardio, strength, and balance, to supplement what walking the dog does for me. I’m singing with a women’s choir, Just Sing,…

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Photo of Kathy Stinson wearing an orange shirt

Beyond the Orange Shirt

September 13, 2023

Are you planning to wear an orange shirt on September 30? Great. It’s a way of honouring all the children who attended Canada’s Indian residential schools and their families – a visible reminder of the stripping away of culture, freedom, and self-esteem experienced by generations of Indigenous children. Why orange? For First Nations going back…

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Summer is here!

June 28, 2023

Whatever your plans for the summer season now upon us, I wish you days — or at least moments — filled with all you find beautiful in your life. And lots of time for reading some great books too!

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Making Poems and Making Photos: Observations at Sage Hill

June 7, 2023

Both are ways of being in the world that   make you stop and notice or notice and stop.   First time you approach a subject you don’t know where it will take you.   Sometimes you need to get closer, sometimes to step back.   What you create depends on your angle in relation…

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An image from the poem "You Are Old Father William"

Becoming A Poet

May 17, 2023

Today I’m on my way to Saskatchewan to participate in a Sage Hill Poetry Colloquium. Anticipating my departure, I recalled several poetry landmark moments in my life, leading up to this one. As a child I loved Lewis Carroll’s “You Are Old Father William” so much I memorized it with no one telling me to…

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Off to the dump he went for scraps of wood and cardboard, and to the wharf where fishermen painted their boats, to collect what was left over. At the beach he strode into the waves to fetch a can bobbing close to shore. At home Maud peeled back the dry layer of paint to get at the fresh paint underneath.

Getting to Know Maud Lewis

April 12, 2023

In contrast to the often bleak landscape and harsh climate of rural Nova Scotia that formed the backdrop of her life, Maud’s paintings brim with vivid, joyous colour. Was she escaping the miseries of her life through her painting? Or was she simply adept at seeing the beauty in the world and expressing it through…

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Right away Maud began adding touches of colour to the dull little house, humming happily to herself. Sadly, when her paint supplies ran out, there was no money for more. Everett knew what to do.

Early Buzz for A Tulip in Winter

March 15, 2023

Sometimes a book, no matter how well written and illustrated, edited and designed, fails to find its intended readers. The reason is sometimes a mystery, but how much effort a publisher puts into promoting a book definitely has an impact. Lucky is a book whose publisher’s publicity department is hard at work even before its…

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fence in snow

Winter Photography

February 22, 2023

My Instagram profile identifies me as “A writer of kids’ books with a passion for photography.” This blog post offers you a sampling of pics taken so far this winter (all with my iPhone 11 Plus) that I haven’t posted there. One of my favourite subjects in every season is my dog Georgia, who inspired The…

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book cover

The Poetry Project

January 25, 2023

I’ve been writing poems lately. Some days I’m surprised and pleased by what I write and think I might someday have something worth submitting somewhere. Other days a voice in my head says: You can’t write poetry. Whatever made you think you could? Why are you torturing yourself trying to write something no one will…

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Why “Genitals”?

December 28, 2022

I love to hear from readers of my books, whether they’re expressing delight in what they’ve read, or questioning some aspect of what they’ve read. In 2019, a reader who liked The Bare Naked Book (the 1986 version) expressed disappointment with the inaccuracy of the “penis” and “vagina” spread. — “Our identity does not always…

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Cover of A Tulip in Winter: A Story About Folk Artist Maud Lewis

Holiday Book Shopping Made Easy

November 30, 2022

Many readers are enjoying the pleasures of browsing their local bookstores for holiday gifts these days, others the pleasures of shopping online. New buttons on the book pages of my website will make it easier for you to quickly find what you’re looking for, whichever your shopping style preference. You are looking for books by Kathy Stinson for all…

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Canadian Books

“I Read Canadian” 2022

November 2, 2022

For this year’s “I Read Canadian” Day (that’s today), I decided to list books by Canadian authors I’ve read in the past year. And — to adopt a phrase used by the cheesiest of stories online — you won’t believe what I discovered! More than half of the 100 books I read were Canadian! Here are some favourites: Canadian Fiction Butter…

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Kathy Stinson making a toast to Anne Dagg

Close But No Cigar

October 7, 2022

Ever wonder where the expression “Close but no cigar” originated? I had two occasions last month to wonder. This is what I learned. Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, players who succeeded at fairground games of strength, accuracy, and skill were commonly awarded a cigar as a prize. The games were notoriously…

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Where Was I This Summer?

September 7, 2022

Name the location of one of the photos: town, city, or body of water, and I’ll email you a sneak peek at the cover of my next book—weeks ahead of when I reveal it in a blog post!

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Kathy Stinson, author's workspace

Another Peek at Where I Write

June 22, 2022

Last month I told you about my desk and the wall beside it. The wall behind my desk tells more stories about my life as a writer. The Painting For my first young adult novel, set in Nova Scotia, Thistledown Press hired Iris Hauser, a Saskatchewan artist to create a cover. They knew the setting was…

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The desk where Kathy Stinson writes

A Peek at Where I Write

May 25, 2022

All around me in the room where I write are things that act as symbols for much that keeps me going when the writing gets tough: who owned my desk before me; writer-friends; illustrators whose art has perfectly extended the stories I’ve written; the determined minds and open hearts of writers and artists who’ve participated…

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Canadian Independent Booksellers Day

Canadian Independent Bookstore Day

April 27, 2022

Saturday, April 30 is your chance to celebrate heroes of the Canadian book business, Canada’s independent sellers. Read my take on why they deserve celebrating, and I’ll then tell you what they’re doing to celebrate you, their customers. My friend says, “Books are cheaper somewhere else.” But when people buy cheaper, author royalties are correspondingly…

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Kathy Stinson at age 70

“How terribly strange to be seventy”

April 6, 2022

… as Paul Simon wrote in the lyrics of “Old Friends” while still in his twenties. My birthday is this month. Friends older than I am smile or even laugh when I say how strange it feels to be on the brink of seventy. “You’re so young,” one said to me recently. I suppose in…

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Books by Women: Pluck: A Memoir of a Newfoundland Childhood and the Raucous, Amazing Journey to Becoming a Novelist by Donna Morrissey; Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi; “Indian” in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Power by Jodi Wilson-Raybould; Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan; and Dedications: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver

More Books About Women

March 8, 2022

This International Women’s Day post picks up from last month’s post left off, and offers my reaction to a few books by women—fiction and non-fiction—that I’ve rated highly on goodreads so far this year. Pluck: A Memoir of a Newfoundland Childhood and the Raucous, Amazing Journey to Becoming a Novelist  by Donna Morrissey As a longtime…

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Books About Women: The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson, Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier, The Girl Who Loved Giraffes by Kathy Stinson, Love Every Leaf by Kathy Stinson, and The Lady with the Books by Kathy Stinson

Books About Women

February 2, 2022

When I delivered the 33rd Helen Stubbs Memorial Lecture in the fall of 2021, one of my themes was women. I started it with a reading from Saturday Walk, a book I’d read as a child, back in the 1950s. It’s about a young boy walking with his dad observing all the men at work…

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How 7 nudges led me to my new project for the new year

December 29, 2021

A number of things late this year have been nudging me in a new direction for my writing. It started in November when I decided to go through a file called “Scribblings” to see just what I’d stuffed in there over the years. “Scribblings” contained notebooks and loose pages; writing exercises I’d done with various…

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Are You an Echo? by David Jacobson and What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

Pandemic Connections

November 24, 2021

What do these books have in common? 1. Both were signed to me personally and mailed to me from the US by their authors. 2. I value both books highly, and even moreso the connections I’ve made with their authors, whom I have never met. This would not be the case, were it not for…

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Young Kathy Stinson

“The Reader I Was, The Writer I Am”

October 27, 2021

How could I say no? It was an honour to be asked, back in February 2019, if I would “consider speaking at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books in Toronto” as the 33rd annual Helen E. Stubbs memorial lecturer in the fall of 2020. “This lecture series,” Martha Scott wrote, “is held in the…

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Beyond Orange Shirt Day

September 29, 2021

Like many Canadians, I’m horrified and saddened by stories that continue to come out about the mistreatment, past and present day, of Indigenous people in this country. So I’m pleased to know that starting tomorrow, we will be honouring the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities with a National Day…

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Do You Love Giraffes?

September 8, 2021

The subject of my latest book, The Girl Who Loved Giraffes — Anne Innis Dagg — wants to share her life-long love of giraffes. If you’re 7-17 years old, you can meet with her and other young giraffe lovers from around the world online every month by joining the Junior Giraffe Club, set up by…

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New books by Kathy Stinson

Summer Reading

July 7, 2021

Whether you’re spending your summer close to home or venturing farther afield, I hope you’re enjoying the luxury of some summer reading time. Whether on a beach or an apartment balcony, in a hammock or a tent, there’s something special about the longer, warmer days that says “Relax. Let yourself sink into one of those…

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giraffes

Today is World Giraffe Day!

June 21, 2021

June 21 is World Giraffe Day — a celebration of the animal with the longest neck on the longest day of the year. (Or the longest night, depending on where on the planet you live.) Did you know that a giraffe’s hooves are as large as dinner plates? Or that a giraffe gives birth standing…

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Francois Thisdale's workspace

Did You Miss the Launch of The Girl Who Loved Giraffes?

June 9, 2021

Hearty thanks to the over 100 people who tuned in to hear multiple perspectives on this picture book biography last week. Editor Bev Brenna interviewed me, illustrator François Thisdale, the book’s subject Anne Innis Dagg, and Anne’s daughter Mary. We got brief perspectives from cohosts Fitzhenry & Whiteside and The Bookshelf too. Watch the recording…

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First the Movie, Then the Book

May 12, 2021

It’s not every time you see a documentary that you get to meet its subject right after. Or that you know — before the film is over and even more once you’ve heard the subject address the audience — that you want to write a book about her for kids. Or that the subject agrees to let…

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What you focus on grows

What You Focus On

April 14, 2021

There is much to love about spring in Canada: longer days, warmer temperatures, trees budding, flowers blooming. This year it may be harder for many to find or hold onto hope in the season than other years, with all that has been lost by so many since last spring, and with so much uncertainty about what the…

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Bare Naked Review

March 24, 2021

There’s nothing quite like having a reviewer as highly respected as Dana Rudolph, founder of Mombian (a blog, resource directory, and book database for lesbian moms and other LGBTQ parents), totally get and appreciate all the decisions made during the course of creating one’s book. When Annick Press and I decided to update The Bare…

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IBBY Children in Crisis Fund

The First International IBBY Canada Meeting

March 10, 2021

Last weekend, over a hundred people gathered from around the world to attend an IBBY Canada meeting. As a program presenter I logged in early and to see faces rapidly filling the screen as others joined the meeting was truly exciting. There were the faces of friends and colleagues from across the country, many whom…

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I Read Canadian

February 3, 2021

I Read Canadian Day is a national celebration of the breadth and diversity of Canadian books for young people. Join the party on February 17 by encouraging any kids or teens in your life to read a Canadian book for 15 minutes or by reading one to them. You’ll be helping foster a love of…

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Cover of The Bare Naked Book. Words by Kathy Stinson. Pictures by Melissa Cho.

A “Bare Naked” Reveal

January 6, 2021

The original publication of The Bare Naked Book in 1986 caused quite a stir. It was considered pretty daring at the time to show naked bodies and talk about them frankly in a children’s book! But we knew it was important for children to see different bodies being celebrated and to learn about their own. The book was…

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Christmas 1945 by Humphrey Carver

Season’s Greetings

December 16, 2020

Like many, my partner and I send out fewer cards than we used to. We may not have sent any last year. We are sending out a handful this year, but I wanted to share our card with all who read my blog as subscribers or as occasional visitors. The message inside reads:   As…

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photo-edited

Photo Walking

November 25, 2020

It’s been a tough bunch of months. There are more tough months ahead. I know how privileged I am to be having, personally, a “not too bad” pandemic, as far as pandemic experiences go. I’ve been lucky to have writing projects on the go that are engaging my heart and mind. And I enjoy photography…

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The Lady with the Books

Comfort, Hope, and Connection through Children’s Books

October 7, 2020

“Kathy Stinson’s stories have always found ways to offer hope and comfort, easily getting into the heads of her characters and recognizing what is important to them,” says Helen Kubiw in her CanLit for Little Canadians review of my latest book. Writing a story often begins for me with wondering, What would it be like…? To…

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Dark Spring

September 21, 2020

A strange title for a blog post at the beginning of autumn? It was prompted by an email I received last week from the chaplain at the Junior School at Havergal. She said: One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is help our girls process their Covid experiences in a diary (I’m doing…

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hello summer

A Summer for “Goodbye…Hello…”

July 1, 2020

When I was a teacher (eons ago), one of my favourite writing assignments to give students came with the change of seasons. The idea was to write a “Goodbye…Hello…” piece based on things they were leaving behind and things they were looking ahead to. Something like, depending on the season: Goodbye hockey. Hello baseball. Goodbye sandals.…

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tulips

Do you love tulips?

May 13, 2020

I do. I also love photography and playing with filters. Early this spring, impatient for tulip season, I found a photo from a year previous and played. Do you like these? Please follow me on Instagram!

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The Dog Who Wanted to Fly video

Children’s Book Resources During Covid19 and Beyond

April 29, 2020

Imagine a youtube channel devoted to video resources all about Canadian books for children and youth?     Bibliovideo has been launched! The program will bring readings, interviews, activities, trailers, and reviews to teachers, parents, and kids of all ages. The closing of schools and libraries motivated the Canadian Children’s Book Centre to work hard to…

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In the words of the late Jean Little

April 12, 2020

I feel like the ground in winter, Hard, cold, dark, dead, unyielding. Then hope pokes through me Like a crocus. — Jean Little If you’re feeling at all these days like the frozen ground in winter, my wish is that hope will soon come to sit alongside your fears, your sadness, your despair, your numbness, your…

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It Began with a Page

Picture Books about Remarkable Women

March 11, 2020

My local librarian recently urged a new book upon me: It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way, written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morestad. Gyo’s name rang a bell. I couldn’t think why. Soon I recognized her as the creator of books my children and I enjoyed together, forty-some…

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Banff Writing Retreat

On Coming Home from the Banff Winter Writers Retreat

February 12, 2020

“We should celebrate what we’ve achieved here. Just getting ourselves here was an achievement,” said a fellow writer on our last evening together. In the plane on my way home, I reviewed the reams of rambling ‘thinking’ notes I’d made while away — to get a sense of how far my project had come during…

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Kathy Stinson's grandson Daniel playing the ukulele

Dedicated to My Grandson Daniel

January 1, 2020

The new year for Daniel means a new home — in Boston — a new school, and new friends. He told me in November, “When I come to your house at Christmas, I’m going to give you an extra big hug so you won’t miss me so much when I move to Boston.” As we…

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Anne Dagg

3 Books, 3 Illustrators, 3 Publishers

December 4, 2019

Exciting news about upcoming books — François Thisdale is currently working on illustrations for The Girl Who Loved Giraffes and became the world’s first giraffologist (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)! “The Girl…” is Anne Innis Dagg. We recently had fun celebrating a year since our first meeting. Marie Lafrance has completed illustration of The Lady with the Books: A Story…

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Why Zora? Why Walter? Why Ivy? and Other Name Decisions

November 6, 2019

Naming characters is sometimes easy. It’s usually not, for me, but it’s always fun perusing baby name websites for possibilities. Kelly in Red Is Best is Kelly because Kelly is the name of my daughter who inspired the story almost 40 years ago. I named the boy in Big or Little? Matthew after my son who inspired that book.…

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Reading 2019 GG Books

October 9, 2019

Of this year’s 35 nominations for Governor General’s Literary Awards, I have so far read three – all of them, coincidentally, connected to my work at CNIB. Late Breaking by K.D. Miller – Fiction  K.D. Miller was on staff in the CNIB Recording Studio during most of my almost sixteen years there. Alex Colville paintings served…

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If you see red, photograph it.

The Red Rule of Photography

September 25, 2019

Hard to believe perhaps but the author of Red Is Best — who thinks she knows a few things about taking pictures — learned only just last spring that there is a “Red Rule” of photography, which is quite simply: Looking at my Instagram posts, I was surprised how few contained red before I started a “Capture…

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Who is The Lady with the Books?

September 11, 2019

Hint: She said, “If the war is really over, if one is to believe in peaceful coexistence, the first message of peace will be these children’s books.” She is also the subject of an upcoming book (by me) that members of IBBY-Canada got a peek into at the AGM in June. Readers of the book…

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Summer Reading, Reading Aloud

June 26, 2019

I love to read aloud. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been a volunteer at the CNIB for 15 years now. I’ve recently completed narrating my 50th book there (Beholden by Lesley Crewe). It’s called narrating because it’s not always a matter of simply reading the words on the page, clearly and accurately with no extraneous…

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books

“Are you working on a book right now?”

May 29, 2019

After “Where do you get your ideas?” and “How long does it take you to write a book?” readers often ask, “Are you working on a book right now?” My answer is always, “Yes.” At a launch of The Dog Who Wanted to Fly this spring, I was asked, “Do you ever work on more…

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Harry and Walter in Korean and The Dance of the Violin in Turkish.

New Editions

May 15, 2019

The promised bean-spiller about recent projects is coming soon but it’s been pre-empted by the same-day arrival of exciting new editions. . . Harry and Walter in Korean and The Dance of the Violin in Turkish. English-language versions of both books are now available in paperback too. Happy reading!

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Kathy Stinson website

KathyStinson.com — 20 Years Already?

May 1, 2019

The World Wide Web was invented by an English scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, in 1989. Through the 1990s, it became increasingly useful and popular. Thanks to my tech-savvy sister, Janet Barclay, www.kathystinson.com came into being in 1999.   Janet wrote about last year’s total makeover of my site (after many updates along the way) on her own site: Janet Barclay:…

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Subscribers, did you know…?

April 16, 2019

There was a glitch in last week’s blog post in that the main photo (the ‘Can your dog fly?’ contest winner!) didn’t appear in your email. Not sure why, but if you click on the Title of the Blog Post in your email, you will see one joyful flying dog. Trashed it already? Click here…

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flying beach dog

And the winner is…!

April 12, 2019

Thanks to all who participated in the “Can your dog fly?” photo contest. There is clearly a wonderful assortment of canine companions with prize-worthy aspirations out there. A panel of independent judges has declared the contest winner. Congratulations to Michael Greenlaw, who will receive a signed copy of The Dog Who Wanted To Fly for his photo…

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The Dog Who Wanted To Fly

Can your dog fly?

March 19, 2019

The long-awaited The Dog Who Wanted to Fly is now out! Send me a photo of your dog — especially if she or he can fly — for a chance to win a signed copy of the book and a chance to have your dog featured on my blog! Deadline for entries: April 10, 2019

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"Photography is a love affair with life" Burk Uzzle

Photographers On Photography

February 27, 2019

Here are two of my favourite quotes about photography, superimposed on photos taken at and near my home.   Both quotes help explain what I love about indulging my passion for photography. I see things I might not have seen, had I not been looking in the way I do with as a photographer. That can be…

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Crossword puzzle

25 Random Things About Me

February 6, 2019

A friend recently sent me a “Memory” of hers that popped up on Facebook. It was something I’d tagged her with ten years ago. What’s still the same? she asked me. What has changed? Here’s my answer. THEN: I am going to Liberia in February. NOW: One of the writers I worked with there has…

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Why Write for Children?

January 9, 2019

A more eloquent answer to this question I have never heard, than in Deborah Ellis’s talk at the IBBY Congress in Athens last year. Thanks to Deb for permission to quote excerpts. On November 20, 1959, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It states that…

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My 23 Favourite Books in 2018

December 12, 2018

Neil Gaiman says, “Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you’d most like not to lose.” I agree. I can’t even decide on my favourite five from the books I’ve read just this year. I can pick one favourite non-fiction book, in part because I read less non-fiction than fiction, and…

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letting go

Stepping Away, Letting Go

November 21, 2018

Sometimes the best way to renew waning enthusiasm for a project is to step away from it for a while. But what if you step away for a short time, then a longer time, and your enthusiasm simply doesn’t come back? Should you just let it go? Chalk that one up to ‘good practice’ despite…

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5 Highlights of the 2018 IBBY Congress

September 19, 2018

  Kathy Goes to Greece – A Slideshow What made me decide to attend the 2018 IBBY Congress? It was in Greece. Canadian Deborah Ellis was delivering a keynote. Having been recently researching the life and work of Jella Lepman, I wanted to experience firsthand how such a conference would express the ideals that underpinned…

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the dog in Kathy Stinson's next book

Who is that dog…? Part 2

September 12, 2018

Earlier this year I posted a teaser for my next book. Now “that dog” is featured on Annick’s Winter/Spring 2019 catalogue — front and back! Thanks to Brandon James Scott for his perfect capturing of Zora’s personality and her emotions.

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Author's Children

Looking Back, Moving On

June 20, 2018

By Father’s Day my dad’s apartment was empty. In the days since his passing in May, my sibs and I discovered many things there, things that, of course, brought back memories — happy ones over many years helping blur more difficult, recent ones. The two items pictured in this post are a reflection of a…

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The Word Collector

A Book Recommendation for Kids AND Writers

April 18, 2018

When I told friend and fellow writer Jean Little I was thinking of auditioning to read for the CNIB, she said, “Well, they don’t take just anybody you know.” It’s true! But they took me. This month I read Book #45 on my list of those I’ve narrated since passing my audition in 2004. Narrating The Word…

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Dog in Korea

Who is that dog…?

March 16, 2018

… and what is the cat saying? In recent months I’ve invited kids to listen to an unpublished story and imagine they’d been hired to illustrate it. Here’s how one young artist in Korea depicted one scene. Annick Press has since hired an illustrator who seems to be having as much fun with the story…

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My Daughter “On Family & Friends”

February 21, 2018

The little girl who insisted on wearing her red stockings 37 years ago — thereby inspiring “a Canadian classic” — celebrated her 40th birthday this month. Her brother and his wife hosted a party in her honour. Among the guests were women Kelly has been friends with since high school (and some even longer), her…

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“Let’s Read!”

January 31, 2018

My thanks to the Family Literacy Committee of Brant for choosing The Man with the Violin as the book they would plan events around to encourage family reading this year — and for purchasing 700 copies to support their efforts! Everyone’s enjoyment of the “Let’s Read” events in Paris and Brantford this weekend was greatly…

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5 Steps to Writing a Novel

January 17, 2018

For some months now I’ve been mentoring a writer working on her first novel, through CSARN (pronounced see-sarn, short for the Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network). As mentor, I am getting paid and my mentee can be reimbursed for expenses. My mentee has encountered the usual stumbling blocks that come with writing a novel. She…

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A Happy Way to End (Almost) 2017

December 27, 2017

It was a traveling sort of December, most recently to Ottawa for the Canadian premiére of the musical adaptation of The Man with the Violin. Very exciting to celebrate this book once again with Dusan Petricic (its illustrator who came all the way from Belgrade for the event), Rick Wilks of Annick Press, Joshua Bell…

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Coming Soon!

November 15, 2017

My wonderful webmaster who also happens to be my wonderful sister is working on a new website for me. What do you like about what you see here now? What don’t you like? Is there anything you wish was here that isn’t? Anything you wish wasn’t? Answer any of these questions as a Comment on this…

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5 Reasons You Want to Be Invited to the Knowlton Literary Festival

October 18, 2017

Danny McAuley — Owner of Brome Lake Books. I knew just from our emails beforehand that I was going to love Danny. He and his wife Lucy made sure they had a good supply of a range of my titles at the Festival. They told me a great story about a woman coming into the…

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Where you'll find me in Autumn 2017

September 13, 2017

The Eden Mills Writers Festival last weekend marked the beginning of a busy season of “being an author” (as opposed to actually writing, which I hope to be doing a fair bit of too). This photo is the audience for some other authors. My group was a tad younger. Coming up… September 14 – Reading…

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Kathy Goes To Korea – A Slideshow

June 22, 2017

Big thanks to the Canadian Embassy in Korea for inviting me to participate in the Seoul International Book Fair! Great fun to meet some of my Korean readers and discover how thoroughly they have embraced Red Is Best, The Man with the Violin, King of the Castle, and What Happened to Ivy. Thanks especially to…

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A Successful Retreat and One Happy Writer

June 7, 2017

I hereby declare my writing retreat a success. On the morning of my last full day there, I hit Send! I could go home happy. Not only did I accomplish what I’d hoped to with my novel manuscript (my first for adults), I also managed to do some work on a picture book text and…

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Solitude – Not Just for Writers

May 17, 2017

Margaret Buffie is a writer-friend I’ve seen far too little of in recent years. Facebook has kept us connected to a limited degree, enough for us to appreciate that we’re both passionate about photography and nature and family and our summer places in northwestern Ontario. (Or is hers in southeastern Manitoba? I’ve been to hers…

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What do these books have in common?

April 19, 2017

Sylvia Schwartz was a photographer who specialized in children’s portraiture. Her sister Ruth was a bookseller. Sylvia established the Ruth Schwartz Award in 1976 to recognize “artistic excellence in Canadian children’s literature.” In 2004 the family renamed the award the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards, ten years after establishing separate awards for picture…

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Canada 150

March 29, 2017

I’m having mixed feelings about all the attention being given to “Canada’s 150th Birthday.” I wish I could feel more enthused. It’s strange. Much about Canada makes it a wonderful country, well worth celebrating. And yet. . . When the new Canadian flag was hoisted up the flagpole at my school for the first time in…

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Announcing . . . The Dance of the Violin!

March 8, 2017

A new picture book about Joshua Bell by the same team that brought you The Man with the Violin. This interview with Open Book will tell you all about it. Read on!

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Standing Ovation for "The Man with the Violin"

February 15, 2017

The sold out audience in the four tiers of seats at the Kennedy Center rose to their feet with a roar on the afternoon of February 12, when the world premiere of the orchestral adaptation of the book, The Man with the Violin, ended.   Behind the orchestra was a large wide screen on which was projected imagery created by…

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World Premiere – The Man with the Violin

February 8, 2017

The exciting news I shared last June — about the musical adaptation of The Man with the Violin in the works — is about to become a living thing. The man with the violin, Joshua Bell himself, will play the part of the solo violinist who was ignored by thousands when he played in a…

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“Creative Vision?” Who Me?

January 18, 2017

I’ve been taking another online photography course. Different instructors this time — the folks who set up oopoomoo.com and oopoomoo Creatives. I was delighted to win free entrance to the class with a couple of my photos back in the fall. Thank you, oopoomoo! Samantha and Darwin’s Resolve, is more about discovering who you are as a…

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My Year in Review

December 28, 2016

One of my favourite photo editing tools, PicMonkey, recently came out with templates for all kinds of neat photo projects, including one that helped me create this — How many selected significant events, captured here, can you identify? To the first person to list all 9, I’ll send a big e-hug. Oh what the heck.…

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The Baby's Stocking

December 21, 2016

Hang Up the Baby’s Stocking by Emily Huntington Miller Hang up the baby’s stocking. Be sure you don’t forget! The dear little dimpled darling, She’s never seen Christmas yet! But I’ve told her all about it, And she opened her big blue eyes, And I’m sure she understood it — She looked so funny and…

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O Homem do Violino, Violinist, and Now…

December 14, 2016

Slowly but surely The Man with the Violin is making its way into the world outside of North America. Esrarengiz Kemanci is its sixth translation

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Kathy Stinson, As Photographer

November 30, 2016

Photography – it’s becoming almost as big a part of who I am as writing is. So I’ve added a new page to my website. And I recently joined Instagram which will be only about  photography. I hope you’ll check out both!

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Books about Kids & Divorce

November 23, 2016

As timely as ever… One Year Commencing — published in 1997, but would having to decide which parent you want to live with be any easier now than it was then? Thistledown Press doesn’t think so. This book and 4 more YA titles are on sale for 30% off this week, through their website only.…

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So You Want to Write a Picture Book

November 9, 2016

This may be NaNoWriMo but two of my three current writing projects happen to be picture books and that’s where I’m focusing most of my attention this month. I’ll also, in the coming days, be offering practical guidance and (I hope) inspiration to others writing picture books. Tomorrow evening I’m offering a presentation on “Writing…

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Book Cover Reveal

October 26, 2016

Not out till 2017 but I’m too excited about this to keep it to myself any longer…

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More Making Pictures with JoyfullyGreen.com

October 12, 2016

So, I thought I’d taken a pretty cool photo of a clam shell on the beach this summer and posted it for the assignment on symmetry in the class I’d been taking the month before. (The “classroom” stays open even when the class is officially over.) The instructor, Joy Sussman, suggested: I think this would…

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September Weekends

September 21, 2016

Labour Day weekend on the south shore of Nova Scotia included happy hours with family and then with beloved writer-friend, Budge Wilson. My first weekend home after a long summer away, I made seeing family here a priority: son, daughter, sister, dad, and attachments where applicable (including this lovely boy I hadn’t seen since July). …

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A Busy Fall Ahead

September 7, 2016

Writer Sarah Ellis once gave a talk in which she distinguished between “writing” and “being a writer.” I may be busier “being a writer” in the coming months than I’ll be busy “writing.” Fortunately, I have a new picture book that’s finished which Annick has scheduled for publication in the spring of 2017. (More on…

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Something About A Beach. . .

August 31, 2016

. . . that takes away the need for words.

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Storywalk with The Man with the Violin

August 10, 2016

Storywalk® is an innovative way to get people of all ages to take a stroll while reading children’s picture books. Pages of a book are transformed into wind-and-rain-proof signs that are then placed on a playground, at a fair or music festival. The project originated in Vermont and Storywalks have now taken place in every…

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Summer Time

July 13, 2016

How lucky I am to be waking up with Peter to this view again this summer. 

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Exciting News for The Man with the Violin

June 22, 2016

New editions — Korean and Portuguese coming soon too. But that’s not all that’s been happening with this book lately.     The National Arts Centre has big plans. The multi-talented composer Anne Dudley has been laying the groundwork for a musical treatment of the book — for orchestra, solo violin, and narrator. Normal –…

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First Book Canada

June 8, 2016

Many of the kids in this pic took home their first ever “mine for keeps” books yesterday thanks to First Book Canada. Owning a book is a new concept for some of them. When I handed one boy his copy of The Man with the Violin he asked me, “Do I bring it back tomorrow?”…

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When Green Is & Isn’t Best

June 1, 2016

Sure, I wrote Red Is Best – first published in 1982 and still going strong. Those Green Things – first published in 1985 and again in 1995 with new illustrations when sales began to flag – has now been officially declared out of print.    Don’t tell anyone, but I actually like green more than…

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Why Colour? Why B&W?

May 18, 2016

Ever wonder why only some of the people in The Man with the Violin (now available in paperback) are in colour? Nan Forler, a writer-friend who happens to also be a Kindergarten teacher, wrote me recently and passed along some of her students’ thoughts on the subject. She didn’t pose the question herself, but once…

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“When I’m Sixty Four”

April 27, 2016

Did you know that Paul McCartney was 16 years old when he and John Lennon wrote “When I’m Sixty Four”? Paul and Ringo are the only two Beatles who lived to see 64. John was murdered at 40 and George died from lung cancer at 58. When the song was released in 1967, I was…

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Reading & Writing at Fool’s Paradise

April 13, 2016

Writing for more hours of my days at Fool’s Paradise than I imagined possible left little time for reading and for those intense four weeks I had little interest in any fiction beyond my own. I did, however read three books: Doris McCarthy: Ninety Years Wise by Doris McCarthy Celebrating Life: The Art of Doris…

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Happy Birthday to A Great Dog

March 31, 2016

Today would have been Keisha’s tenth birthday but five weeks ago we learned she had cancer and four weeks ago she visited the vet for the last time. For a week Peter and I together mourned her loss, at home, received condolences from family, friends, and dog-walking acquaintances, and poured over hundreds of photos in…

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Fool’s Paradise, Here I Come!

March 9, 2016

Following the death of landscape painter Doris McCarthy in 2010, the Ontario Heritage Trust established the Doris McCarthy Artist-in-Residence Centre, at her request, on the property where she had lived for over 60 years. Her mother did not approve of her purchase of the land in 1939 and referred to the property as “that fool’s…

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Restaurant reflections-edited

Editing and Editing

February 24, 2016

Sometimes a sentence flows to paper or screen on a writer’s first approach. Other times it takes editing to get the tone and intended impact just right. During online photography classes with Joy Sussman, I’ve been learning that this can also be true of photographs. Here is an early version and the final version of…

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"The Art of the Pattern" — A Photo Assignment

February 10, 2016

My passion for Photography, which I wrote about in the fall, continues unabated. I’m now taking my second online class with photographer, Joy Sussman. (Many of her students are taking their fourth or fifth course with her, she’s that good.) I’m also working on completing a draft of a novel. Thus the brevity of this…

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FOCUS 2016

January 13, 2016

Two books I’ve read since my blog post referring to an article “Addicted to Distraction” have helped cement my resolve to sharpen my focus and reduce the stress that comes with living distracted: The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains by Nicholas Carr and The Distraction Trap by Frances Booth. Recommended reading…

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Are You “Addicted to Distraction”?

December 30, 2015

My sister once wrote a blog post that inspired me to sum up my New Years goals or resolutions in one word. My word for 2016: FOCUS. I don’t think I’ve ever found it as difficult to focus as I have in the last months of this year. So many pleasurable activities have been calling…

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Reading Aloud

December 16, 2015

I love reading aloud to any willing audience. This week is giving me lots of chances to do so. Reading Christmas-y excerpts from Brian Doyle’s Angel Square to my Book Group. Reading Draft #5 of a story-in-progress for feedback from one of my writing groups (I’m lucky to have two). I’ll be reading that draft…

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I Am A Writer, I Am A Photographer

December 2, 2015

Every writer I know has had trouble making the statement “I am a writer.” I can say it now — after 30+ years spent writing — on most days. I’ve been making photographs for a shorter time. Taking them for a long time, yes. Making them, no. So I am not yet comfortable saying “I…

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Celebrating Excellence in Canadian Children’s Literature

November 18, 2015

Facebook reminded me recently that one year ago The Man with the Violin won a TD Children’s Literature Award — as if I will ever forget such a fantastic season of celebrations! Tonight I’ll be attending the Awards ceremony again, eager to hear which books will be this year’s winners, and happy to celebrate all the books’ writers, illustrators,…

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A Passion as Strong as Writing? Really?

November 4, 2015

I’ve found a passion that rivals writing. For me, that’s saying a lot. I’m not new to photography. I think I took my first pictures, black and white, with a Brownie camera during a visit to Niagara Falls when I was ten or eleven, and have continued shooting with various cameras throughout my adult life.…

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Finding the Light

October 14, 2015

Often when I’m walking in the woods near our home, I’m struck by the light filtering through leaves, hitting the trunks of trees, or the water, a heron perched on a log, or a rocky cliff on a distant shore. I sometimes take pictures at such moments and this week I’ve started an online photography…

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“Green 15”

September 30, 2015

Sometimes when it was my husband’s turn to drive this summer, I read aloud from William Trevor’s Selected Stories to help pass the miles. We often marveled at how compelling a story was for how much Trevor left out of its telling. I was reminded of one of my (many) favourite quotes about writing, which…

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Summer Reading, Fall Reading…

September 16, 2015

Wiggling slowly back into a regular work routine, as temperatures fall (especially over the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival weekend!) and as leaves begin showing their fall colours in my part of the country, I’m pausing here to recommend two very different books I gave 5-star reviews to this summer. A way of trying to hold…

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Where do you like to work?

August 26, 2015

The third in my series of sister-inspired posts this summer is about the kinds of environments people like to write in — a topic I’ve touched on in the past but with a different slant this time. Some people thrive on having lots of stuff around them when they’re working. For others, having too much…

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5 Songs for a Desert Island

July 29, 2015

This second post in this summer’s series of three was inspired by my sister’s blog post about her answer to a question put to her by a prospective client: What 5 songs would you want to have with you if you were trapped on a desert island? This of course got me to thinking about…

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holiday

A Holiday in Your Honour

July 1, 2015

This summer my blog will feature of series of posts inspired by my sister. (This is not the first time she has inspired me.) In a recent blog post of her own, she mentioned a question she posed to her followers on Facebook: If a holiday was named in your honour, what would it commemorate,…

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Book Groups & Summer Reading

June 17, 2015

The last Monday of the month for some years now I’ve been meeting with a group of women to discuss books. My idea for this post was to write about this group, as we’re soon to take a break and embark on the season of summer reading, perhaps mention a book or two we’ve read…

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One Woman’s Story About Red

June 3, 2015

Since the publication of Red is Best I’ve been treated to all kinds of stories from people of all ages about their experiences with the colour red. This spring I was privileged to hear one of the most moving of such stories. At a volunteer appreciation event at the CNIB, I had the pleasure of…

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How to Write a Picture Book

May 20, 2015

On Today’s Parent’s recent list of the 100 best Canadian  kids’ books of all time are two books by yours truly — my first and my most recent, both of them award-winning picture books. Next year will see the publication of my 12th picture book, being illustrated right now by the wonderful Qin Leng. A…

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Write for a Better World – Choosing a Winner

May 6, 2015

World Literacy Canada does some fine work “to promote literacy and foster a culture of global citizenship among Canadians”. I had the opportunity recently to judge stories by students in grades 5 to 8 who entered WLC’s “Write for a Better World” contest. Reading 20 of the hundreds of entries and narrowing them down to…

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Authors Support Indies Day

April 22, 2015

Saturday, May 2 is Authors Support Indies Day. It’s a great chance for readers to meet and chat with some of their favourite authors, who will be hanging out as “guest booksellers” in their local independent bookstores. Says one of Canada’s best known authors, Ann-Marie MacDonald, “Independent bookstores enrich our communities. They provide gathering places…

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National Volunteer Week

April 8, 2015

Next week is National Volunteer Week — originally designated in 1943 to recognize “the vital contribution women made to the war effort on the home front”. Studies indicate that volunteers generally like to be thanked but I suspect that what matters most to many volunteers (like me) is the satisfaction of knowing one is making…

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Stabbing the Pumpkin

March 25, 2015

When I told members of my writing groups that a story of mine placed second in this year’s “Ten Stories High” contest, they wanted to know which one. I told them: “Restraint”. They looked at me blankly. “You know,” I said. “The one that starts with Larry stabbing the pumpkin.” Immediate recognition. Amazing how a…

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How To Write

March 11, 2015

I keep a file I call “Random Thoughts” alongside any writing project I’m working on, especially if it’s a long one. In “Random Thoughts” is where I write about issues I’m sorting out: whose point of view is best for this story or scene? what might this character do next? is this action in keeping…

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One Lucky Mom, One Lucky Daughter

February 25, 2015

It’s not every day that a mom gets to hang out with her daughter on a beach on the Indian Ocean. Thanks, Peter, for capturing this moment at Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa — and to Peter and Kelly both for helping make it possible.

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Kids, Get Writing!

February 11, 2015

  When I was in grade school, I wrote a story that went like this: One day Carol asked her mommy if she could go and sit on a rock. Her mommy said she could. After a while she saw a thing come out from behind a rock. She said, “Hey Mr. Turtle, where did…

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A Celebration of Poetry

January 14, 2015

Poetry is not a big part of my reading life, but that’s not to say it hasn’t been important – as evidenced in “An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff”, a keynote I delivered at a conference a few years ago. In 2015 Brick Books celebrates 40 years of publishing poetry in Canada with what promises…

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“One Word” for the New Year

December 30, 2014

Almost a year ago I was inspired by my sister’s blog post to think of just one word to sum up my goals or resolutions for the new year. I’m sure one that came to mind was “patience” because even as I get older and supposedly mellower, I still struggle with being impatient for things…

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Best Books of the Year

December 24, 2014

One of things I like about December is perusing various lists of the “best books of the year” to see how many I’ve read and which ones I’d like to read. Here are my “best books” of the year. Unlike most lists, these are books I read this year, not necessarily published this year. (And…

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Where can I buy your books?

December 10, 2014

Depending on where you live and/or your shopping experience preferences, there are a number of options for buying my books and those of other authors. I personally love to browse the shelves, reading jackets and getting a feel for the book in my hands. I like the diversity of selection in an independent bookstore, and I…

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November Beauty

November 26, 2014

I’ve often thought of November as an ugly month. It’s cold compared to what’s come before and it promises colder to come. Leaves that offered brilliant colour to the landscape have fallen and are likely blowing around in a raw wind or else lying sodden on the ground. I’d once have said “November beauty” is…

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How does it feel to have won the TD Children’s Literature Award?

November 13, 2014

When TD and CBC interviewers asked me this question the night of the gala celebration of this year’s TD and CCBC Book Awards, I believe I responded with something like, “Uh, ba, da, duh, ba, uh, um, daba dah…” How often do we find ourselves thinking, after it’s too late, ‘Oh I wish I’d said…’?…

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Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

November 5, 2014

The most recent “pin” on my “C is for Causes” Pinterest board links to the website for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières. I chose as its cover image a photo from the site that I hope will entice Pinterest browsers to look into it, look around the site, and decide to spread word about the…

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A House with No Windows, No Mirrors

October 22, 2014

Imagine living in a house that had no windows and no mirrors. That’s what a house without books would be like. Books open windows onto worlds unlike our own and thereby create empathy for those living lives different from what we know. And by reflecting back to us our own experience of the world, books validate…

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Why did Joshua Bell do it again?

October 8, 2014

According to a Washington Post article last week: 1. He hoped it would get people to stop asking him about his first Metro station concert that he did as part of a social experiment. I wonder if he’s been asked more often since the publication of The Man with the Violin which has attracted awards all over…

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Congratulations to my Online Profile Developer!

October 1, 2014

Because my sister is clever in so many ways I’m not, I have an attractive, helpful, well-maintained website and blog, and have had a presence on Facebook and other social media networks for some time. This month, thanks to Janet, my online presence has been further updated. KathyStinson.com became “mobile-friendly” so it’s much easier to…

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The Man with the Violin Goes to Brazil

September 17, 2014

Of course Joshua Bell – the man with the violin himself – has been travelling internationally years now. But the book inspired by his concert in a metro station is now travelling too. Serbian, Portuguese, Chinese, and French language rights have been sold to various places around the world, in addition to certain iconographic video…

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Writing by the Sea Again

September 3, 2014

It won’t be long now before I’m writing by the sea again, in the fish house that inspired me last year to set up my “fish house” in the furnace room back home in Ontario. I wonder which of the writers attending our Seaside Workshop/Retreat this year will find the magic that can happen when…

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“Who should I get to illustrate my manuscript?”

August 20, 2014

That’s just one of the questions posed in the chapter “Illustration” in my e-book Writing Picture Books: What Works and What Doesn’t. The answer? No one. Not your brother or friend who likes to draw or your talented aunt who painted the picture over the sofa at your cottage and would love to illustrate your book. Only…

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A Poem for Parents of Sons

July 30, 2014

When I did the keynote address at CANSCAIP’s Packaging Your Imagination conference a few years ago, I included in my talk a number of poems that have been favourites at different times in my life. Here’s one that didn’t make it into “An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff”. I think it came to mind recently…

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One Voice In A Grand Choir

July 16, 2014

Trying to recall the exact words on a poster I saw in a school library some years ago, I did an internet search and discovered this: Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best. — Henry Van Dyke The words on the poster may not…

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Read by the Sea

June 25, 2014

What a great way to kick off summer — with a Nova Scotia literary festival! Quite apart from the fun of reading The Man with the Violin accompanied by The Wild City Roses on fiddle, guitar, and accordion was the fun of seeing old friends like Sheree Fitch, Norene Smiley, and Trudy Carey. It was also great getting to know…

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Another Man with Another Violin

June 18, 2014

If The Man with the Violin has whet your appetite for another story about a man and a violin — and even if it hasn’t — I have to recommend Strong Hollow by Linda Little. Strong Hollow shows how music comes to be a vital part of a young man’s life, even though (unlike Joshua…

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10 More Days Till…

June 11, 2014

And the Wild City Roses and I are cooking up something that promises to be quite special. If you’re in the area, hope to see you there!

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A Few of My Favourite Things

June 4, 2014

No, this post has nothing to do with “The Sound of Music”. Before anyone gets offended because they’re not in this photo, let me point out that I’ve clearly stated these are a few of my favourite things, and yes, I do know that people and animals shouldn’t be referred to as things anyway. I…

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Pleasant Memories of Book Week

May 21, 2014

A few people caught me out with my “Home Sweet Home” post last week. I wasn’t really home yet; I followed up my Book Week tour with a visit with friends in B.C. But I really am home now, and I’m busy with Book Week follow up, writing reports and so on. Here’s the “mini report” that may also…

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Home Sweet Home

May 14, 2014

It’s great to travel but I must say it’s great to get back home too.

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TD Children’s Book Week in Alberta

May 7, 2014

Canadian authors and illustrators are meeting with readers all across the country. I’m about half way through meeting with 18 groups of kids from Kindergarten right up to Grade 12 in Calgary and in Lethbridge and area, hoping to inspire them to read more and to write, too. These enthusiastic audiences inspire me to keep…

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One Book, Two Books

April 30, 2014

Torontonians have been reading and discussing The Cellist of Sarajevo this month as part of TPL’s “One Book” program. The novel is set during the siege of Sarajevo when a cellist chose to play his cello in the street to mourn the deaths of 22 citizens shot while lining up to buy bread. It is,…

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“Music Tells A Story”

April 16, 2014

Today’s offering is a guest post from Paule Barsalou, Artistic Director of the Suzuki String School of Guelph. Thank you, Paule, for agreeing to being my first guest blogger! The Man With The Violin is going to the Suzuki String School of Guelph Spring Concert! On Sunday, April 27 at 3 pm at the River…

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Welcome Home, Soldiers

April 2, 2014

Since deciding in 2010 to donate a portion of proceeds of Highway of Heroes to Wounded Warriors, I’ve become even more aware of the importance of the work that the organization does to support soldiers who return home injured or traumatized and to their families. Stories of soldier suicides in recent months have underlined the…

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Kids Lit Quiz

March 19, 2014

My granddaughter will soon be celebrating her twelfth birthday. She’ll receive as a gift a copy of Alice in Wonderland printed in 1866 that has been passed down through her family for generations. Can a 12-year-old appreciate what an amazing gift this is? This one will. Claire comes from a long line of book lovers…

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A Summer Place

March 5, 2014

This post serves as a reminder – especially to those who have been braving this winter’s wintry weather for weeks now – that there are other seasons in the year, and the one pictured here will come again.

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Your Chance to Write by the Sea

February 19, 2014

Every morning that I’m free to work on my current project – to write a new section, revise an existing one, or bash out some notes to help me work through a logistical problem – I approach my writing desk with eagerness for what might happen there this time. This may be because I love…

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Joshua Bell reading the book he inspired, "The Man with the Violin"

Kathy Goes to Washington [slideshow]

February 5, 2014

A big thanks to Annick Press for making this adventure possible. Thanks also to Kerri Poore of Politics & Prose for her part in making the bookstore event such a success. For the photos that make up the slideshow, thanks to David Schuller, Marketing and Publicity Assistant at Politics & Prose for those taken at the front of the…

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A Digital Book Award (and more fun) for The Man with the Violin

January 29, 2014

Excited to be heading to Washington D.C. in a couple of days to celebrate The Man with the Violin with a joint signing with Joshua Bell – the man with the violin himself – at Politics & Prose Bookstore on Saturday morning. Especially fun when Digital Book World has recently given the ebook version a…

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My Pinterest ABC

January 15, 2014

If you haven’t joined Pinterest yet, you’re missing out on a good, fun way of finding and organizing all kinds of material relating to your interests – however many and however varied they may be – and of sharing your interests with a whole world of people who share those interests. I joined Pinterest last…

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Losing Weight in the New Year

January 1, 2014

With the arrival of a new year often comes the tendency to reflect on what’s working well in our lives and where we’d like to make improvements. One of the most common resolutions made is “I’m going to lose weight!” A worthwhile goal for many, no doubt. But whatever your bathroom scale says, there may…

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Last “Photo of the Month”

December 25, 2013

When I posted Photo of the Month #1 almost two years ago, I had every intention of showcasing one of my photos each month. It hasn’t turned out quite that way. Although this will be my last official “photo of the month”, I’ll still be putting up a photograph from time to time, but I’ll…

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The Man with the Violin at The Bookshelf

December 19, 2013

Thanks to the great staff at The Bookshelf in Guelph for welcoming me, The Man with the Violin, and three musicians into the store on Saturday. Starting at 10:45 or so, three students from the Suzuki String School of Guelph played violin to help attract people to the area in the store where a reading of…

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Celebrating “The Man with the Violin”

December 11, 2013

In Guelph! Join me and the Suzuki String School of Guelph at the Bookshelf (41 Quebec Street) at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 14. I’ll be reading the book, students will provide the music, and there will even be a chance for you to try a few notes on a string instrument yourself, courtesy of…

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Finding Book Info at KathyStinson.com

November 27, 2013

One of the things I’ve liked about my website for some time is the visual gateway into information about my books that my tech-savvy and creative website manager set up on the Books page. Depending on the book, a reader can find Reviews, Excerpts, Ordering info, Interviews, Discussion questions or Activities, and always an answer to…

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Books and Violins and Music in General

November 13, 2013

Don’t you love this display at Vancouver Kids Books? Clever thinking on the part of its designer. Good news for The Man with the Violin continues to roll in. It has already being reprinted. Starred reviews and others it’s attracted are lovely. It’s fabulous that the book is being made available at Joshua Bell’s North…

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Going to the Fish House

October 30, 2013

During our Seaside Workshop/Retreat this year, I spent the quiet-time hours of the morning writing in three different places: my upstairs bedroom with the door closed and the light off on a daybed in an secluded corner of the upstairs hall of the house in the fish house, pictured here, about a 5 minute walk…

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Across this Country

October 16, 2013

September in Nova Scotia. October in British Columbia. November in Alberta. What wonderful opportunities to meet readers across this wonderful country of ours. I’m often in Nova Scotia in the early fall. Knowing this, organizers of Word on the Street in Halifax invited me to take part. My audience at the CBC tent included (much…

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RED Hair & RED Trimmed Pajamas in a RED Room IS BEST!

October 2, 2013

Red Is Best is now older than I was when it was first published. It has appeared in hard cover, soft, and in board book formats, as an Annikin, a Gage big book, and as an e-book. And it’s been translated in many languages so kids in other countries can enjoy reading it too. Wow.…

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What does "The Man with the Violin" really care about?

September 18, 2013

As my loyal followers know, “the man with the violin” in The Man with the Violin (now available) is Joshua Bell. As well as caring about making beautiful music, this virtuoso violinist also cares about doing what he can to ensure that kids have access to music education. In the postscript to the book, he quotes…

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“Writing With the Old Ones”

September 4, 2013

Having read several novels by Richard Wagamese, (Ragged Company, Indian Horse, and Dream Wheels), I knew as soon as I found out he offers workshops, that I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from him. In the spring I registered for a workshop that was to take place in August, and was sent a copy of his handbook,…

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Claire Mackay, 1930-2013

August 21, 2013

Across the country, news of Claire’s death on August 11 was met with much sadness. Friend, writer, mentor, a founding member of CANSCAIP, wife, mother, grandmother – it goes without saying she will be missed. Among words used to describe her on CANSCAIP’s Facebook page (and elsewhere) are: kind, funny, smart, wise, witty, wonderful, a…

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Help For Your Picture-Book-Writing Woes

August 7, 2013

Sometimes you get a great idea for a story, you write it with a great sense of ‘This one is going to be great!’ But when you read it over (or get feedback from your trusted writing group), you discover it’s definitely not as good as you were sure it was going to be. (It…

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Plans for Another Kathy Stinson Board Book

July 31, 2013

I was delighted when Annick Press decided to make Red is Best available as a board book, and even moreso when I discovered this photo on flickr. This year Annick decided to make Big or Little? available as a board book, too. I’ve changed some of its words so the book’s very young readers will…

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Photo of the Month #12

July 17, 2013

I sometimes get teased because I like taking pictures of my food. Like this spinach salad full of strawberries, blueberries, and toasted almonds. What makes this salad special is that it was made by an old friend who insisted on bringing it to my house when we got together this spring for a long overdue…

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More Books for Liberian Children

July 3, 2013

I knew the first time Gii-Hne Russell read his story “A Time to Bathe” during one of the workshops I conducted in Liberia that it would one day become a book Liberian children would love to learn to read for themselves. (That’s the point of the Reading Liberia program I became involved with in 2008.…

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Meeting Joshua Bell

June 12, 2013

What an evening! On June 5, I attended a concert at Roy Thomson Hall featuring Joshua Bell as guest virtuoso violinist. Hearing and watching him play his multi-million- dollar Strad was even more exhilarating than I’d imagined it could be when I wrote these words (in my upcoming fall book, The Man with the Violin): “The high…

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What 1 Movie & 2 Short Stories Taught Me About Writing

June 5, 2013

After I saw the Australian movie Jindabyne recently, I decided to read the Raymond Carver short story on which the movie is based. It was fascinating to see how Beatrix Christian adapted the short, spare text of “So Much Water So Close to Home” to create a compelling 2-hour movie. So often when we see…

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Whose Point of View?

May 22, 2013

Like many writers, I’m drawn to stories told from multiple points of view. I think this is because, as writers, we’re fascinated with the different ways people perceive and experience the world, and how that influences their behaviour. We may also be keen to see events from all sides. But which of many possible viewpoints are needed to…

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Introducing: The Man With the Violin

May 8, 2013

It started with a forwarded email late in 2011, containing a link. By February 2012, I had sent to Annick Press a manuscript for a picture book version of the story that had so captivated me . By August, Dušan Petricic was on board to illustrate a much crisper version of the story than what I’d originally…

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Stuff bloggers have said about Me

April 24, 2013

“Kathy Blogged” has disappeared from the Author menu on my website. Those words never quite captured what they were trying to say: Here are some blogs where Kathy Stinson is mentioned. But rather than just see some of the neat things bloggers said totally disappear, I decided to put a few of them into a…

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Photo of the Month #11

April 10, 2013

I wasn’t crazy about writing when I was a kid, but I did like it when the teacher gave us a picture as a starting point, especially if the picture inspired questions. Who? What? Where? And the best one: Why? What would I have written if she’d given us this photo (which she couldn’t have…

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Thank You, Terry Fallis!

March 27, 2013

While waiting for editorial feedback on What Happened to Ivy last winter, I started work on some short stories, thinking they might be less overwhelming – more easily broken into smaller chunks of work – than another novel would be, even if I was aiming to have enough stories, eventually, for a collection. Of course…

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Writing Picture Books

March 13, 2013

Need help with your picture book manuscript? From the introduction to the updated e-book version of Writing Picture Books: What Works & What Doesn’t: Many books aim to help writers write better books, but not many with the specific purpose of helping writers write better picture books. Why is this? Because writing picture books is…

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Author Interview

February 27, 2013

An interview for The Winnipeg Review – ‘Profound Disability, Ably Explored‘ – offers insights into the writing of What Happened to Ivy. Thanks, Marsha, for posing such thought-provoking questions!

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Photo of the Month #10

February 20, 2013

It’s easy to love the colours of a Caribbean sea, captured during my first ever vacation to a warm place last month. But there’s beauty to be found in the often monochromatic world of a Canadian winter too. On the first day of this winter, I was struck by the bits of ice forming on…

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Our 7th Seaside Workshop/Retreat

February 6, 2013

Word is spreading across the country that the place to be in September is at the Seaside Workshop/Retreat that Peter Carver and I have been offering for several years now. Thanks to all participants who have shared their enthusiasm for the experience. We offer time to write free of interruptions, feedback on your current writing…

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Writers’ Blogs I Like Reading

January 23, 2013

Sometimes after a lengthy interruption to one’s writing life, it’s hard to get back in the groove. Whether time away from a project is for holiday celebrations, vacation, tending to the needs of family or friends, or for work that’s sure to put bread on the table next month, there’s an inevitable break in any…

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A Plug for CANSCAIP

January 9, 2013

If you enjoyed any of the instalments of “An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” posted over the past 14 months and would like to read it in its entirety, you can find all the pieces of it by selecting Speeches in the Blog Categories or by entering Sock Fluff (or even just ‘fluff’) in the…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 14

January 2, 2013

The last excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011… I rather like it that the last installment of this ‘spectacular’ and ‘inspiring’ Packaging Your Imagination’ keynote is landing at the start of the new year. I hope it will inspire you in whatever your undertakings may be this year……

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Review of The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock

December 19, 2012

The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 by Molly Peacock is a beautiful book. Of course it’s beautifully written. The story of this 18th century botanical collage artist is by poet Molly Peacock, who draws fascinating parallels, along the way, between her own life and that of Mary Granville Pendarves Delany.…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 13

December 5, 2012

The next excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011… Here’s one more bit of ‘sock fluff’, from my youth. Feel free to join me if you know it. Don’t you just love the rhythm, the language, the passion, and the innuendo in Part 1 of “The Highwayman” by Alfred…

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Kathy Stinson and her father

Photo of the Month #9

November 28, 2012

Since the two Sock Fluff posts straddling this one address some of my reading pleasures when I was growing up, I thought it would be fun to post a photo of me taken during that period of my life. Here I am with my dad. I blogged about him in the month of his birthday…

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CANSCAIP’s 28th & 35th

November 14, 2012

Last weekend I attended the 28th Packaging Your Imagination conference organized by CANSCAIP – the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators, and Performers. It was a great example of what the organization, as I see it, is all about: creative people sharing information, knowledge, and wisdom with others. Every person who attended will have picked…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 12

November 7, 2012

The next excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011… All the bits of sock fluff I’ve inspected so far have come from socks worn in the second half of my life. I’m now going to pull out a few bits of fluff from the first half of my life.…

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Congratulations, You’re #10,995!

October 31, 2012

This month Amazon added a “new feature” to “make it easy for readers to discover the best-selling authors”. Excuse me, but is there a literate person on Earth who needs Amazon to tell them that the Twilight series sells more books than the Our Canadian Girl series, or that R.L. Stine sells more books than…

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Review of OS X Mountain Lion Pocket Guide by Chris Seibold; O’Reilly Media

October 24, 2012

Whether you’re a new Mac user or have just upgraded from an earlier Mac operating system, you’re sure to find lots of useful tips in this guide to using Mountain Lion. But don’t be fooled. This “pocket guide” weighs in at a hefty 266 pages. Most of the new features of Mountain Lion make it…

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Making the Big Switch

October 17, 2012

I bought my first computer in 1983. It was a Commodore 64 and it was great. I’ve had many computers since, all of them (despite urgings from Mac-user friends) IBM clones – PCs – until this summer. While at the cottage, a long-time Mac-user cousin said, “What you want is a MacBook Air.” “Oh yeah,…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 11

October 3, 2012

The next excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011… One of the greatest pleasures I know, while driving, is watching my odometer in anticipation of a symmetrical reading. I find beauty in numbers like 010 010 and 088 880. Even 135 351 is lovely, or 075 075. Sometimes I’ll…

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What Happened to Ivy Giveaway

September 26, 2012

Suppose you’re a teenage boy with a severely disabled younger sister. You love her to bits, mostly, but it also ticks you off how she can totally mess up your social life and make you feel like an outsider even in your own family. Suppose a girl moves in across the street from you and…

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Books About Writing

September 19, 2012

Our house in Nova Scotia still echoes with the voices of the six writers who were here last week, taking part in our Seaside Writing Workshop/Retreat – a stimulating and inspiring group. Among many books recommended as we discussed the writers’ works-in-progress were a number about writing. Writing Picture Books: What Works & What Doesn’t by…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 10

September 5, 2012

This excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011 will make most sense to you if you’ve read Part 9 of “An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff”… Bring me back something interesting, Gran whispers as I head off to the beach. If I could, I would bring you the plick…

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Photo of the Month #8

August 22, 2012

This is my mother dancing with my father in 1974. It’s one of my favourite pictures of her. Sadly my mother passed away in 1996 with COPD, the same condition that took the life of Peter Gzowski. She would have been 86 in a couple of weeks. If you’re still watching over me, Mom –…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 9

August 1, 2012

The next excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011… I would never write another poem if only I could show you in a few perfect lines what the touch of your fingers on my aging cheek means That’s “Poem for Sonia” from Hold the Rain in Your Hands: Poems…

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Photo of the Month #7

July 18, 2012

Is there anything more lovely than a summer sunset over a lake? This photo was taken looking out over Lake Huron on the way to the cottage in 2008. How many summer sunset photos do you have in your collection? 🙂

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 8

July 4, 2012

The next excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011… I hope everyone here knows how Grandpa took Joseph’s blanket and with his scissors and his needle turned Joseph’s worn out blanket into a wonderful . . . jacket. And how through the years it became a vest, a tie,…

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Photo of the Month #6

June 27, 2012

I love the colours in this hammock. I love reading in it, too. But although we’re coming into our fourth summer in our current home, we haven’t yet found a place to hang it. Soon I hope, though, now that the heavy-lifting part of the work on my upcoming ya novel is done. (More on that…

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Golden Moments at the Golden Oaks Awards

June 13, 2012

Hackmatack and Silver Birch events this spring were fun. It’s gratifying to see hundreds of kids excited about reading. But the event surrounding the awarding of this year’s Golden Oak was downright inspiring. What makes the Golden Oak different from other “tree” awards is that the readers who vote to determine the winning book are…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 7

June 6, 2012

The next excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011… I feel like the ground in winter, Hard, cold, dark, dead, unyielding. Then hope pokes through me Like a crocus. This poem by Jean Little called simply “Surprise” expresses how I feel when a story isn’t working. “I feel like…

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Photo of the Month #5

May 30, 2012

A ten-minute walk from my home, I can enjoy this lovely view. Well, not quite. Since this photo was taken two years ago, a metal barrier of sorts has been embedded in the rock with a sign attached warning hikers “Deep Gorge Keep Back from Edge”. If I were drunk or otherwise inspired to foolhardy…

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Red is Still Best

May 16, 2012

There have been 37 printings of Red is Best in Canada since it was first published back in 1982. That doesn’t count the many foreign editions and reprints this “classic” has enjoyed. A month rarely goes by that I don’t hear from someone who loved the book as a child. But that’s not the end…

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Hope & the Highway of Heroes

May 9, 2012

How apt that the student assigned to introduce me and Highway of Heroes at the Hackmatack ceremony in Moncton in April was a girl named HOPE. The phenomenon of Canadians lining the bridges over the highway whenever a fallen soldier makes the journey is a comfort to the families who travel with them, but we…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 6

May 2, 2012

The next excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011… My son is in the bathroom shaving the water runs. I hear the scrape across his upper lip, the rinse, the tap three times on the side of the sink which makes me wonder if this is some primordial or…

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Photo of the Month #4

April 25, 2012

There’s a bit of a disconnect between the mood in this photo and the mood I’m anticipating at the Hackmatack celebrations in Moncton this week, when hundreds of kids from all over New Brunswick will gather to honour the authors of books they have been reading this year. But there is a connection. Both came…

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Happy Birthday to Me

April 18, 2012

Between now and my next post, I will turn 60. Turn can mean ‘curdle’ but it can also mean ‘twirl’. I’m choosing to believe I’ll be twirling into my next decade. I can’t pretend I’m 100% enthusiastic about my upcoming birthday, but – please pardon the cliché – it’s better than the alternative. And so…

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A Place for Group Creativity and Solitude

April 11, 2012

Groupthink: the brainstorming myth, an article in the New Yorker, got me thinking recently about my writing group and how we’ve benefited from occasionally inviting guest fellow writers to participate in discussions of our projects and to share their work for feedback. It also helped me understand better why the Seaside Writing Workshop/Retreat works so…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 5

April 4, 2012

The next excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011… That was “After English Class” from Hey World, Here I Am! by Jean Little. In 1987, I had the welcome opportunity to travel with Jean in England, when the Canadian Children’s Book Centre organized an exchange of Canadian and British…

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Photo of the Month #3

March 28, 2012

Of all the photos I shot during a spring river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest a few years ago, my favourites fell into the category of “Doors & Windows”. This one was taken in Miltenberg, when I wandered away from the tour group, as I found I tended to do quite a bit. How about…

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Cornelia Hahn Oberlander & the Art of the Possible

March 21, 2012

Cornelia Hahn Oberlander refers to her profession, landscape architecture, as ‘the art of the possible’. I believe this phrase also describes the way this remarkable woman has lived her life. Cornelia decided at the age of eleven that she wanted to create parks when she grew up. She escaped Nazi Germany with her family when…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 4

March 7, 2012

The next excerpt from my PYI keynote in a series that started in December 2011… Up on Ipswich Road a girl my age, not a servant, boards with Doctor Griggs. Uncle Ingersoll says the girl’s so quiet you can hear snowflakes falling ‘pon her cheek. “Elizabeth,” I call when I pass her on the road…

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Organ Donation & A Grateful Heart

February 29, 2012

The person in the front of the canoe in this photo is Kristin Millar. The remarkable thing about this scene is that Kristin is attached to an LVAD (a Left Ventricular Assistive Device) – a pump that does the work the heart does for most of us, without our thinking about it much. But Kris…

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Photo of the Month #2

February 22, 2012

This month’s photo, like last month’s, was taken in Nova Scotia – this time on the beach at the Kejimkukik Seaside Adjunct. We’ve taken our Seaside Writing Workshop Retreat participants there each year, and hope to again this year, but in this photo it’s my lovely daughter enjoying the enormous sky and exploring one of…

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Good News from Africa

February 8, 2012

Laptops for Liberia have begun to trickle in. More are needed. Please help spread the word anywhere that a laptop of use to a writer in Liberia might be found. And don’t forget to email me if you have a laptop you’re finished using and would like to donate. Liberian illustrators are now bringing to…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 3

February 1, 2012

If you’ve missed Parts 1 & 2 of the keynote I delivered at Packaging Your Imagination last fall, you might want to go back to my earlier posts and start reading it from the beginning. If you’re ready for Part 3, read on! That’s an as yet untitled poem by Watchen Johnson Babalola, a Liberian…

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Le Rouge C’est Bien Mieux

January 25, 2012

With all the foreign editions of Red is Best already published, the announcement of more to come from the Sales & Rights Manager at Annick Press last week came as quite a surprise. Also, it’s now 30 years since the book’s first publication! But this year will see the addition of two new French versions,…

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Photo of the Month #1

January 18, 2012

I love taking pictures. Last summer someone complimented me on my eye and even said she’d like to hang some of my work in her gallery. I haven’t done anything about that yet, but her encouragement gave me the idea of sharing some of my photos on my blog. I hope that what I pull…

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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 2

January 4, 2012

As promised during the first week of December – the second installment of my Packaging Your Imagination keynote . . . Matilda Martin and Edna Bauman, Mam and Lucinda and me – my first time quilting with the women. Noisy greetings as we settle in around the quilt frame, then silence as each begins. Only…

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A Writer's Scribbles

December 28, 2011

Ever wondered what’s in some of those little notebooks writers interrupt conversations, or suddenly sit up in bed, to scribble in? As the year draws to a close, I’m going to give you a peek at a sampling of my 2011 scribbles, with remarks added at the time of this posting in square brackets. 4/4/11…

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Do you get along well with your publishers?

December 14, 2011

Here I am with Margie Wolfe at a party in spring 2006. Her company, Second Story Press, published King of the Castle (for readers of all ages) and 101 Ways to Dance. Margie and I don’t always agree about everything, but we get along famously just the same. (Thanks to Naseem Hrab for permission to use…

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sock fluff

“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 1

December 7, 2011

“Spectacular!” “Inspiring!” Two words people used to describe my keynote speech at CANSCAIP’s Packaging Your Imagination conference last month. Pretty gratifying feedback! You missed it? Fear not! I’m going to post the whole speech here at “Turning the Pages.” “Sock Fluff” was my introduction to Loris Lesynski, back in the early 90s, before it was…

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Do you ever visit book clubs?

November 30, 2011

I haven’t done it often, but within a reasonable distance from my home in Rockwood (which is near Guelph) Ontario, I do. So far I’ve only met with adult book clubs, but I think it would be fun to meet with mother-daughter, mother-son, father-daughter, father-son groups too. Depending on who your book club members are,…

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Did you create your own website?

November 23, 2011

I wanted a website that would help promote me and my books, but I had no idea about how to set one up, and wasn’t willing to take time away from my writing to learn. Luckily for me, my sister knew how to do it. Creating websites is part of her business. Since setting up…

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Will you come and speak at our conference?

November 16, 2011

If your audience is teachers, librarians, booksellers, writers, parents, students, or seniors, chances are I’d love to come talk about just about any aspect of writing, reading, or being a writer in Canada. I’m more than open to suggestions. In addition to the speaking fee, conference organizers should be prepared to cover the cost of…

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Three Trees for Highway of Heroes

November 9, 2011

All across Canada, each school year, thousands of students read books that appear on “tree award” lists and, come spring, vote on their favourites.  I’ve been lucky enough to have had several of my books nominated over the years: King of the Castle (Silver Birch) One Year Commencing (Red Cedar) Marie-Claire: Dark Spring (Diamond Willow)…

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Book Lovers Day

November 2, 2011

What better excuse than Book Lovers Day – the first Saturday in November – to plug a few of the great books I’ve read since August 9, also Book Lovers Day according to some calendars. (If you’re like me, pretty much any date is a good one for setting aside to curl up and do…

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Have you met any other authors?

October 26, 2011

I sure have! Most of the people in the photo here are authors. A few are illustrators. How many can you identify? Can you find me in there? All but one of the authors lives in Canada. Can you find her? She’s really famous! Meeting and hanging out with other authors is one of the great…

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Ontario Library Week

October 19, 2011

Can you remember the first book you borrowed from a public library? Mine was Saturday Walk by Ethel Wright. I borrowed it on a library card that was green and bigger than my current library card. Why would I remember that!? The book or the size and colour of my card?! Because it was a…

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What kind of books did you like to read when you were growing up?

October 12, 2011

Stories about families, about real people, or at least people that felt real to me reading about them. I loved: the books about Beezus and Henry and Ramona by Beverly Cleary (those that had been written when I was young. I caught up with more Ramona books when my kids were young) the Little House…

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Do you speak to teachers on their professional development days?

October 5, 2011

Yes, and it’s always a pleasure. (I was an elementary school teacher myself, before I was a writer.) I can discuss how to motivate students to write, how to excite them about reading, or I can conduct a mini-writing workshop, as a model for how teachers might like to work with their students, at any…

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How can we arrange a visit to our school or library?

September 28, 2011

It’s easy. Just send Kathy an email! But before you do, it’s best to first read about audience sizes and the cost of hosting a visit. Also about the kinds of things I might do with your students and the impact our visit might have. Find answers to other FAQs here.

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Did you like to write when you were a kid?

September 21, 2011

Not especially. I wrote stories in school, but not after school or on weekends, like some kids do. And I certainly didn’t think about being a writer when I grew up. But I did love to read, and I think that all the books I was reading over many years were turning me into a writer,…

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Heather Collins

How do you pick the illustrator for your picture books?

September 14, 2011

I don’t pick the illustrator for my books. The publisher does. They may ask for my opinion about the work of illustrators they’re considering, but the decision is ultimately up to them. What if you don’t like the pictures? I’ve been lucky to have illustrators who have brought wonderful visual ideas to the books, ideas that…

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"So You Want to Write a Children’s Book"

September 8, 2011

To me, he’s my sweetie Petey, my life partner of 26 years. He’s the dad of my stepdaughters, the stepdad of my own kids, and Grampa to our grandkids. To the community of writers of books for young people in Canada, Peter Carver is a writing teacher extraordinaire, an astute and caring editor, a trusted…

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A Star for Starfall

August 24, 2011

I’m doing as much editing as writing these days. One of the projects I’ve been working on as editor is a picture book collaboration between two newcomers to the world of children’s books, Diana Kolpak and Kathleen Finlay. Pretty satisfying to see a starred review (from galleys) for Starfall in the September issue of Q&Q!…

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Do you write full-time now, or do you have another job, too?

August 17, 2011

I do my best to write full-time, but I don’t earn enough money from book sales to make a full income, so I do other things – related to writing – to make up what I need. I work as an editor. I lead writing workshops for adults and for children. I speak at conferences.…

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Congratulations Again, Cornelia!

August 10, 2011

To her long list of awards recognizing her achievements, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander can add the Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award – the highest honor in her profession. The International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) presented the award to Cornelia in Zurich in June. Cornelia first set her sights on becoming a landscape architect when she was…

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Do you have any pets?

August 3, 2011

Updated April 2016. Yes! I had a wonderful dog named Keisha for almost ten years. She was a golden doodle. She’s practically famous because the illustrator of A Pocket Can Have A Treasure In It used Keisha as a model for the puppy in the story.   Now I have another golden doodle. Her name is Georgia. Never heard…

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How old are you?

July 27, 2011

I turned 50 in 2002, so now I’m… Yikes! How did that happen? Find answers to other FAQs here.

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How old are your children now?

July 20, 2011

I’m going to let you figure that out. Matthew (inspiration for Big Or Little?) was born in 1975 and Kelly (inspiration for Red Is Best and “Babysitting Helen“) was born in 1978. This picture of my kids was taken at Matt’s wedding in 2001. I also have two stepdaughters born in 1967 and 1968 and…

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What did you want to be when you grew up?

July 13, 2011

When I was growing up in the 1960s, most girls were looking at pretty limited options: nurse, teacher, or secretary. I liked school, so I wanted to be a teacher. I taught elementary school in Etobicoke (as far west as you can go in Toronto before you hit Mississauga) for five years. I also wanted…

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Can you help me get published?

July 6, 2011

I have no ins with any of the publishers I’ve worked with as a writer or as an editor, so beyond encouraging you to continue honing your craft (by writing lots and perhaps attending classes or workshops), there’s nothing else I can do to help you get published. However, there are lots of websites that offer…

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Reading Liberia – June 2011

June 29, 2011

June 2011 presented me with the opportunity to work for a third time with Liberian writers through workshops and one-on-one meetings – thanks to CODE (Canada) and to We Care (Liberia). The president of the country, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, expressed an interest in participating in the launch of the first Liberian-authored, Liberian-illustrated children’s books. She…

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Happy Birthday, Cornelia!

June 22, 2011

Renowned landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander is celebrating her 90th birthday this week, and is finally admitting to her true age. (Not quite true. She’s been far too busy this month for anything as trivial as a birthday, so the big party will not be held until August.) There can’t be many nonagenarians practising their professions…

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Endings & Beginnings

June 17, 2011

Last night, my husband, Peter Carver, marked the end of his 25-year career in teaching ‘Writing for Children’ by launching – at his retirement party – his first book, So You Want to Write a Children’s Book. Joining the students from across the years who gathered to honour him were: Peggy Needham, Peter’s much loved…

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“Baby Love”

June 15, 2011

Every writer knows the old saw about ‘killing your darlings’ – deleting favourite phrases, sentences, characters, scenes, etc., from a work as it evolves. I often reassure writers I work with that out-takes from one project can sometimes be used in another project down the road. I hadn’t yet killed the ‘Hannah as a teen…

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Is my ship sinking?

June 8, 2011

Sometimes I wonder if there’s a comparison between writers writing in the early 21st century and the passengers in The Poseidon Adventure. Some passengers on the sinking Poseidon insisted on staying put, believing that someone would come and save them. Others insisted on taking matters into their own hands on what they knew was a…

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What do you like writing better? Picture books or novels?

June 1, 2011

I love the spareness of a picture book, paring down sentences to their bare essentials. It’s a bit like writing poetry. But I also like being involved with characters for long enough to get to know them really well, the way I do when writing a novel, and I like trying convey them through words…

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My Dad, Doug Powell

May 25, 2011

My dad’s birthday is this week. I wrote this post about him in response to a challenge to “blog about great parents”. My dad didn’t tell me how to live a life of courage and integrity. He showed me, in how he lived his. When I was nine, and my siblings four and fourteen, he…

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The Fallen Canadian Soldier Project

May 11, 2011

I’ve blogged before about different ways Canadians have honoured fallen soldiers. But this winter I learned of another, after a neighbour attending a woodworking show with her husband came upon a display of portraits of Canadian soldiers who have fallen in Afghanistan. Stephen Gaebel describes the first time his paintings were exhibited publicly – on Remembrance…

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"Lead with your heart"

May 4, 2011

It’s still just once a week that I login at Yoga Today for an hour of yoga practice – usually on Monday morning, before I get back into my work and think I’m too busy to fit it in. But there’s one instruction that the women leading the online classes offer that stays with me…

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A National Poetry Month Guessing Game

April 27, 2011

April is National Poetry Month and as it happens, the book I’m reading at the CNIB right now is a novel written in poems, and so is the book I’ll be reading next. The stories in both are told from the points of view of different characters, so it’s been fun trying to match my…

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More Books (and Almost Books) by Seaside Retreat/Workshop Alumni

April 20, 2011

Having described the development of Jan Coates’s A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk in a previous post, I want to give a plug to three other writers whose work has benefited from participation in the seaside workshop/retreat that Peter Carver and I offer each summer. Anna Kerz brought the manuscript for The Mealworm Diaries to Nova Scotia…

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Why did you want to be a writer?

April 14, 2011

I’ve loved reading books for longer than I can remember. (That’s me in the picture, reading in my gramma’s backyard.) As an adult, I started to wonder if I would like writing them, too. I wondered if I could write something that people who didn’t know me would like reading. I was almost 30 when…

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Jan Coates, An Alumnus of the Seaside Writing Workshop

April 12, 2011

Jan Coates first came to our Seaside Writing Workshop/Retreat in 2008 to work on several picture book manuscripts she needed help with. Second Story Press had published Rainbows in the Dark in 2005, but since then, Jan had collected only rejection letters in response to her submissions. During sessions focused on her work, she got feedback from…

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Do you offer writing workshops?

April 8, 2011

I offer a number of workshop options – for children, teens, and adults; single sessions or a series of sessions; and in a variety of settings including libraries, bookstores, schools, and private homes. I’ve even conducted workshops in Liberia. (If you want me to travel that far to do a workshop, somebody (besides me) has to…

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What's your favourite book that you've written?

April 6, 2011

Hm. With that question I feel a little as if you’re asking me to say which of my children or grandchildren is my favourite, and of course there are different things that I like about each of them. Books I haven’t yet begun to write are somehow always more perfect than all the others. Of course,…

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Where do you get your ideas?

March 31, 2011

Ideas are everywhere and anyone can catch them if they practice watching and listening to what’s going on around them. Sometimes ideas come to me from my own experiences, sometimes from other people’s. Sometimes they come to me when I’m reading a book someone else has written, sometimes when I’m in the middle of writing…

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The Joy of Cutting Words

March 16, 2011

The last thing that a poet learns is how to throw away, And how to make you thrill and creep with what he doesn’t say. — J.R. Lowell Every writer, including me, knows the thrill of seeing words accumulate on the page. But a morning cutting 1000 words from a project can be just as satisfying as…

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March Break Fun

March 9, 2011

So, with the kids home for March Break, what are you going to do to help keep them entertained? (Besides reading lots of Kathy Stinson books, of course!) Why not take inspiration from the open-face sandwiches pictured here? (Get it open face sandwiches?) These faces were created by various members of my extended family at the…

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A Volunteer-Reader’s Anniversary

March 2, 2011

Seven years ago this week, I began volunteering at the CNIB Recording Studio in Toronto – reading books and teching for others who are reading. In addition to magazine articles and chunks of various textbooks, (and the foreword to a book being read by a male narrator), I have read a wide range of books – for kids,…

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Word from Liberia

February 23, 2011

Exciting news! The first page in the history of Liberian children’s literature has now been written! Yes, the first books written and illustrated by Liberian authors and illustrators as part of the Reading Liberia program have now arrived in Monrovia! Yvonne, one of the founders of the program, wrote: Hello Kathy, Guess what! We have…

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Writing Communities

February 16, 2011

At this month’s CANSCAIP meeting, a former participant at the Seaside Writing Workshop/Retreat that my partner and I offer in Nova Scotia each summer announced that we are now accepting applications for this years workshop/retreat. Since it involves living and working with five other participants (plus Peter and me), a lovely sense of community tends to…

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Writing Tip – How to Not Engage a Reader

February 9, 2011

An ongoing problem with the novel I’m working on has been a tone that feels detached, almost reporter-like, which makes it hard for a reader to engage with what one of the point-of-view characters especially is feeling. Much as I enjoy the revision process, I sometimes shy away from dealing with global problems like tone and voice.…

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Writing Workshops

February 3, 2011

This winter I’ve been rediscovering the fun of working with people who are just beginning to explore their interest in writing for children. The night of the first class (which I’m teaching through the Con Ed department of the Upper Grand District School Board), I wondered how I’d do with the fact that it runs…

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International Year of the Volunteer

January 27, 2011

According to Volunteer Canada, there are 12.5 million volunteers in this country, working to make a difference in their communities. The United Nations has declared 2011 the 10th International Year of the Volunteer. To help celebrate the impact volunteers make, the Toronto Association for Volunteer Administration has set an interesting goal: to collect 2011 images…

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A Well Earned Honour for an Outstanding Canadian

January 20, 2011

Patsy Aldana has been appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, recognizing “her contributions to children’s publishing in Canada and around the world.” Perhaps best known as publisher of Groundwood Books (which she founded in 1978), Patsy Aldana has also served as president of IBBY International, played leadership roles in publishing associations and school library coalitions,…

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Reading at the CNIB

January 13, 2011

For close to seven years now, following a successful audition, I have been a volunteer reader at the CNIB. Pictured with me in the booth at the Recording Studio in Toronto is Alex MacDonald, who has been reading for roughly twice as long. Ordinarily during a recording session, there is one narrator, seated, reading a book aloud inside…

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The First "Reading Liberia" Books

January 6, 2011

The first books for Liberian children by Liberian authors will soon be out. Imagine how exciting that will be for both the children who will hold those books that reflect their lives and for the writers and illustrators who created them! I first became involved in “Reading Liberia” two years ago, and I’m proud to…

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Revisiting PIRDY a Year Later

December 31, 2010

During the last week of 2009, I devised a plan to help me give more time to activities I enjoy, but never seem to find enough time for. I called it The PIRDY Plan (P for Photography, I for Internet, R for Reading, D for Drawing, Y for Yoga. And I was in the plan…

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Book Exchanges

December 23, 2010

Books often pass through the hands of many readers. This year I read Push by Sapphire. I enjoyed it (in the way one can enjoy a terribly sad story), but not enough to keep it. I gave it to my sister. When she was finished with it, she left it on the “Give & Take” bookshelf…

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Why I Want You to Care about Bill C-32

December 17, 2010

If you know any writers personally, you know that generally speaking we cobble together our livings from a variety of income sources. Royalties on book sales are rarely enough to support us, so we rely on fees for public appearances, editing and/or workshop services, and most of us also count on a cheque for the…

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A Gift that Really Keeps on Giving

December 13, 2010

Did you know that signing your donor card may not be enough to ensure that, in the event of your death, your usable organs and tissue will be donated to someone who needs them? The Canadian Society of Transplantation website provides information on steps you can take, wherever in Canada you live, to ensure that your…

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When Our Book Club Meets in December

December 1, 2010

When my book group gathers in December, we break from our usual practice of discussing a book we’ve all read. One year I read aloud to the group a story from Rick Book’s Christmas in Canada. Another year we all brought a short Christmas story or poem that we liked. Last year we laughed along…

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And More Ways to Honour Them

November 23, 2010

Last week, after my Nov 15 post appeared, I heard from a retired Canadian Forces officer who had read Highway of Heroes. Like me, he has been blown away by the show of support by the thousands of Canadians who have chosen to stand on the bridges over the Highway of Heroes, and he too…

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Tips for Writers

November 18, 2010

Vicki Grant gave an outstanding presentation at a recent CANSCAIP meeting. Unfortunately, I missed it, but because I am a CANSCAIP member, I was able to enjoy a distillation of her “10 Tips for Writing” and “10 Tips for Mystery Writers” through the minutes of the meeting (one of the great benefits of membership, wherever…

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More Tributes to Canada's Soldiers

November 15, 2010

Before presenting Highway of Heroes at the Canadian War Museum on Remembrance Day, I had the chance to visit some of the exhibits. Only those lucky few with tickets were allowed into Memorial Hall for the magic moment at 11 o’clock on November 11th, when the sun shines through a window onto the headstone of…

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Remembrance Day

November 10, 2010

I’ll be in Ottawa on Remembrance Day presenting Highway of Heroes at the Canadian War Museum, after a brief appearance on “A” Morning Ottawa. Meanwhile, in Springhill, Nova Scotia, a student will be reading Highway of Heroes to a school assembly. Around the gymnasium will be “Bridge Ceremony” banners made by the students. O Canada…

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School Vegetable Gardens

November 8, 2010

The headline “An edible education” in the Toronto Star the other day (Nov 3) caught my eye. “Scarborough high school’s garden supplies cafeteria, inspires students and feeds community”. “It’s believed to be Canada’s first school-based market garden,” the article says. I wondered if that was true. Cornelia Oberlander has been encouraging kids to plant vegetable…

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