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5 Highlights of the 2018 IBBY Congress

  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

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

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

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…?

… 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 In recent months I’ve invited kids to listen to an unpublished story and imagine they’d been hired to illustrate it.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”

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!”

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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!

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"

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

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?

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

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

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…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. . .

. . . that takes away the need for words.
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Storywalk with The Man with the Violin

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

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

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 – an animation/video design…
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First Book Canada

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

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?

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”

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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”?

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

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

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

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?

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

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”

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…

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

  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

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

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

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?

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

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?

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

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

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?

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!

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

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

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?”

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

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

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

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

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…

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

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

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

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

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

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”

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

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

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

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

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,

Kathy Goes to Washington [slideshow]

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

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. Image courtesy of Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0 Especially fun when…
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My Pinterest ABC

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

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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The Man with the Violin at The Bookshelf

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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Last “Photo of the Month”

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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Celebrating “The Man with the Violin”

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

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 virtual assistant 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…
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Books and Violins and Music in General

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

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

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!

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?

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”

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

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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Plans for Another Kathy Stinson Board Book

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

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

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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Help For Your Picture-Book-Writing Woes

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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Meeting Joshua Bell

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

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?

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

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

“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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Writing by the Sea

Picture yourself writing on the beautiful south shore of Nova Scotia in September. (The best month to be there, say the locals.) Imagine getting expert feedback there from one of Canada’s leading editors and one of Canada’s leading writers for young people that will help you take your current project to new heights of brilliance.…
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Good News from Africa

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

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

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

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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What organizations have you found helpful to you as a writer?

Canada Council for the Arts A national agency created to foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts. Canadian Children’s Book Centre A national not-for-profit organization and registered charity founded to promote, support and encourage the reading, writing and illustrating of Canadian books for children and teens.…
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“An Intimate Examination of Sock Fluff” Part 2

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

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?

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

“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?

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?

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?

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

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

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?

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

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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"

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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Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Above all, read. Read lots. Read widely. And write. Check out these links: if you need help getting inspired and staying organized for ideas to prime your writing pump for some “rules for writers” by some good ones for more of my tips on writing Okay, suppose I’ve done that and I’m sure I’ve got…
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A Star for Starfall

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?

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!

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?

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?

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?

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?

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?

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 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!

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

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”

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?

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?

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

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

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"

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 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

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?

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

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?

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?

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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The Up Side of Email

Sometimes I lament the time it takes to keep up with emails, as many people do these days. But I received a few recently that made me very glad for this way of connecting with people I might otherwise not hear from at all. Like this one: Hi Kathy!! I just bought and read your…
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An Ancient Child by Lynn Davies

Posted here with the poet’s permission: An Ancient Child The doctor’s waiting room, the quiet flip of  magazine pages. My daughter’s right lung still crackling, and I wish for recovery and punctual doctors. Looking at the floral patterns of china I’ll never buy, when suddenly my daughter laughs, holds up for me to see spread…
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Multiple Viewpoint Novels

A writer-friend of mine has been thinking lately about the possibility of having multiple viewpoint characters in a novel she is working on. Since she’s been wondering what that might look like, I sent her a copy of Fish House Secrets which is told from two points of view, as a trade for her book…
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Teacher's Guide for Highway of Heroes

Teachers making plans for Remembrance Day lessons will be interested in knowing that Fitzhenry & Whiteside has produced an online Teacher’s Guide for Highway of Heroes – both the fiction and non-fiction components of the book.
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The Launch of Highway of Heroes

On Sunday, October 17, the Royal Canadian Legion in Fredericton held a memorial service for soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. It was held outdoors around the monument to fallen soldiers that was unveiled a year ago. It was a moving ceremony with a laying of wreaths by various dignitaries and members of the fallen…
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World Food Day

There are serious approaches a person could take to World Food Day, but one of my ongoing aims in life is to be less earnest in my writing. (Hard when my best ideas for books lately seem to be about serious stuff.) So on this WFD, instead of blogging about world hunger, genetically modified foods, or…
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Highway of Heroes – The First Review is In

Appropriate, I think, that the first review for Highway of Heroes appears in Fredericton’s “Daily Gleaner” on the day I’m preparing to go there to launch the book. If you’re in the Fredericton area, I hope I’ll see you – at the bookstore in Oromocto on Friday, Westminster Books in Fredericton on Saturday, or at…
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Writers by the Sea

They came and wrote  – in the fish house, the old barn, the farmhouse, and on the beach. They wrote about kids who are lonely, who don’t fit in, kids curious, funny, or angry. They wrote all morning, and sometimes again in the afternoon or evening. When they weren’t writing, they were talking about writing,…
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My Latest Book – Highway of Heroes

Each time a fallen soldier returns to Canada, thousands of ordinary Canadians from all walks of life line the bridges over the Highway of Heroes to pay their respects to the soldier and the soldier’s family. Highway of Heroes is a photographic picture book that tells the fictional story of one boy’s journey down the Highway…
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What I Read on My Summer Vacation

The Present Tense of Prinny Murphy by Jill MacLean A great companion book to The Nine Lives of Travis Keating. And I hear there’s to be a third book about this community of kids living in a Newfoundland outport. Can’t wait. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley I don’t read…
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International Literacy Day

I thought it would be appropriate to end my summer reading series of blog posts on International Literacy Day with an excerpt from my novel, King of the Castle –  inspired by Elijah Allen, a school caretaker who learned to read when he was a grandfather, and then went on to urge youngsters in Canada’s…
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Summer Reading Excerpt #8

Summer storms can be fun, but not when you’re alone in a graveyard at night – like Matt is in One More Clue, the last in a 3-book series of summer adventures for young readers. … Just then a flash of lightning lit the sky. On the wind rode another rumble of thunder. If Matt…
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A Potent Argument for Reading Aloud

Do you read out loud to your kids? Do you read out loud to your friends? Here’s a very short excerpt of a book I’m reading – Frankie & Stankie by Barbara Trapido. Not one of the books quite throws at Dinah, as Pride and Prejudice does, how dialogue can lift and dance on points, how sentences…
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Summer Reading Excerpt #7

Is there anything more wonderful when you’re a fifteen year old girl, than dancing through a summer evening with a boy you really like – except when he walks you back to your cottage after? Walking back to the cottage, Daniel keeps his arm around me all the way, and we talk some more and…
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Summer Reading Excerpt #6

In The Great Bike Race, the second in a 3-book series of summer adventures… … “Hey, Matt!” Lennox laid some rubber in front of the ice cream store. “Look at this new baseball I just got.” He thrust it into Matt’s hand. “Wanna go try it out?” Matt crammed the last of his cone into…
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Summer Reading Excerpt #5

Fish House Secrets is a young adult novel about two teens from very different backgrounds whose lives intersect for a few days on the south shore of Nova Scotia. This excerpt comes before the two meet. Jill Birds flap and shriek. A maze. Which way? A mother holds a little girl’s hand, leads her away from…
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Summer Reading Excerpt #4

From Seven Clues, the first in a 3-book series of early chapter book summer adventures — … The wheels of Matt’s plain, old bike and David’s new BMX spun freely along the pavement. The breeze cooled the boys’ faces and necks. But they had not gone far when Matt’s bicycle ground to a stop. “Oh,…
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Wow, look how long my story is!

Regular visitors to my blog may find this advice from me familiar, but I hope they’ll forgive me recycling it so I can participate in a blogfest. (I am supposed to be on holiday this week, after all!) Watch for places in your manuscript where “less is more” – where fewer words would create a…
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A Proud Month

This has been quite a month for me and my family. My son graduated in the top 10 percent of his class, having completed his MBA while working full time. My daughter danced up a storm at a recent performance put on by the school where she’s been having a great time mastering the art…
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Summer Reading Excerpt #3

This week’s summer reading excerpt is taken from One Year Commencing. In Chapter 4, Al is trying to figure a way out of doing what a court order has said she has to do – stay at her dad’s for a year, and after that decide whether to stay with him or go back out…
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Spring Gardens

When I’m not juggling writing, editing, and time with my family, one of my favourite pastimes at this time of year is gardening. Gardening is a lot like writing. How? When you make a change to solve one problem, it often creates a new problem to solve. You often have to yank out and discard…
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How's the Novel Going?

Let’s just ignore the fact that I’ve been working on it since 2004 – granted with a few other projects sprinkled in there – and say that today I think draft #34 is going well! This winter I undertook a complete restructuring and delved deeper into what makes its main characters tick. I’ve eliminated an…
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Summer Reading Excerpt #2

The second in my “summer reading” series is an excerpt from “Between Mars and Venus”, one of the short stories for young adults in 101 Ways to Dance. One evening shortly before summer holidays, Susan takes Melina, the new girl from school, to the beach near where they live. … The water is like glass. There…
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Organ Donation

Kristin Millar was diagnosed with a heart condition when she was still in her teens – the one that some apparently healthy people don’t find out they have till they drop dead on the basketball court. Late last year, when she was twenty-six, the defibrillator that kept her heart beat regular failed. An external pump…
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Mother's Day

Sunday was Mother’s Day. My kids took me and their stepdad to dinner the night before the official Mother’s Day, at one of their favourite Toronto restaurants and they gave me the lovely roses you see pictured here. I’m grateful for their presence in our lives and I imagine that as I grow older, that…
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Summer Reading Excerpt #1

In the coming weeks, my blog will feature periodic postings of “summery” excerpts from some of my books – starting today with a short snippet from – hot off the press! – Marie-Claire. All four of the original Marie-Claire stories appear in this handsome treasury edition. “Lucille, do you mind if we find somewhere to…
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The Osborne Collection

Last week I said I’d say more on the subject of scrapbooks. I started keeping one in 1982 after my first book, Red is Best, was published. I put my rejection letters in it, the letter Annick sent saying they’d like to meet with me, the earliest Robin Baird Lewis sketches I saw that convinced…
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Happy B-Earth Day to me!

Can’t believe I let this opportunity to mention a great book about one of Canada’s first environmentalists go by yesterday! I’m referring of course to Love Every Leaf: the life of landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. I’ll blame it on being too focused on my birthday. 🙂 I’m grateful to Linda Granfield for sending me…
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“Babysitting Helen”

When I was introduced to teen writers at an event in Guelph last year, one of the participants said, “Kathy Stinson! Did you write “Babysitting Helen“?” It’s not the ending of the question ‘Did you write…?’ that I’m used to hearing! The girl had read the story in her grade nine English class – probably…
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Editing Tips

1. Having trouble with a novel you’re working on? Or a picture book or short story? Try remembering what drew you to writing it in the first place. We often get so enchanted by our characters and new possibilities a story presents to us that we lose sight of why we wanted to write it.…
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April is Autism Awareness Month

Autism affects 1 out of every 110 children, 1 of every 70 boys. One of those boys is my grandson Peter. You can listen to the 2010 World Autism Awareness Day message from United Nations Secretaray-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon here. If you missed the Autism Speaks Canada insert in last weekend’s Globe & Mail newspaper,…
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Seaside Writing Retreat & Workshop

Sometimes, whether you’re a writer who appreciates a regular writing group or one who prefers going it alone, there are often points when working on a project, when you long for uninterrupted time to focus on it, or feel the need for fresh eyes to assess how it’s going. The workshop/retreat that Peter Carver and…
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A Writing Group to Celebrate

Writing is a solitary occupation, and some writers like to keep it that way until it’s time to submit a manuscript to a publisher. Others, like me, prefer to meet regularly with a group of fellow writers – to get feedback on works-in-progress, to share in the trials and tribulations of the writing life, and…
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More on Kids, Books and Libraries

I don’t think anyone needs convincing that learning to read is a necessary life skill. Reading aloud to kids is a crucial part of motivating them to want to learn to read. It’s probably also the easiest and most fun way to motivate them. For many people happy memories of being read to as a…
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Gotta Love Your Library!

The Teen Advisory Group at the Guelph Public Library launched a campaign recently to encourage residents to discover new books and authors, to use their library more often, and to become more active in their community. They asked all kinds of people to submit a response to their campaign. Here’s what I sent: I still…
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A Writer’s Professional Development

The past month has involved me in three events that fall into the category of professional development. The Writers’ Union of Canada offered a Symposium called “Secure Footing in a Shifting Literary Landscape”. Betsy Warland and Ross Laird were two of the speakers. They explored the question of whether this is the best time in…
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Children's Literature Conference – March 5-6, 2010

“The Environmental Imagination and Children’s Literature” may be a strange name for a conference, but the names of its speakers are not. David Almond and Susan Cooper from the UK, M.T. Anderson from the US, and Sarah Ellis and Tim Wynne-Jones from Canada are the writers on the program. Other children’s literature experts will be…
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Reading Liberia Photos Now Up

A sampling of captioned photos that I took in Monrovia between January 31 and February 4 is now up. I’ll be showing these and more at IBBY Canada’s AGM on Saturday, February 27. It is thanks to IBBY Canada that I have had the amazing opportunity to visit this remarkable country. View photos
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The People in my "Neighbourhood"

Home again from Liberia, I was contemplating what aspect of my week there I would blog about – what illustrators were learning and doing with Gord Pronk while I worked with writers? how a group decides which “personal heroes” qualify for inclusion in a Liberian anthology? the fun we had with an oral “dialogue” exercise?…
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Last Word from Liberia

Once again it’s late at night. And what can I say except that once again it’s going to be tough to leave this amazing country and the remarkable group of people I’ve had the privilege of working with here. We’ve had some animated discussions about all manner of things. We’ve heard some great stories too,…
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It's "Wear Red" Day

Did you know that today is “Wear red” day? And no, I didn’t make that up! Even though as author of Red is Best, maybe I should have. 🙂 Red’s not your colour, you say? You have nothing red in your closet? Why not – just for today – borrow something from your sister, your…
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Heroes in Liberia

Well, it’s WAY past my usual bedtime for a week night. I’ve been lost in the pages of personal essays written by Liberian writers about people who have been important to them, people who have inspired them in some way. Each day I am here in Liberia, I learn more about the remarkable people I…
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Back in Liberia

I’m sitting on the fourth floor balcony of the Cape Hotel in Monrovia in shorts and t-shirt listening to a mixture of surf and hotel generators, and the occasional honking of a motorcycle horn. It’s just after nine o’clock at night. African music has been added to the surf/generator mix as I type this. Who…
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Another Thing About Reading

So, what do I have in common with two football players, a policeman, and a woman in pyjamas? We were all part of Family Literacy Day at Dr. J. Seaton School in Sheffield this week. Linda Fleming (in pyjamas like most of staff and students that day) organized the event at which two Hamilton Tiger…
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Children's Book Suggestions

Did you know that the “Blogged” sections on the book pages of my web site sometimes contain good suggestions for books by other authors besides me, that you or the young readers in your life might enjoy? Take, for example, a post this week by blogger, Sue Fisher, who is Curator of the Eileen Wallace…
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Does Your Writing Life Need A Boost?

Peter Carver and I are now accepting applications to our week-long, seaside writing workshop/retreat, taking place in August this year, on the south shore of Nova Scotia. If giving a writing project of yours the time it deserves is one of your resolutions for the new year, why not consider submitting an application. You can find more…
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The PIRDY Plan

Walking my dog one morning in the last week of 2009, lamenting the fact that another year had gone by and I had yet to figure out how to fit time for all my interests into my life, I came up with a plan I think will help me do it. (Notice I don’t call…
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Other Holiday Traditions

Years ago, when I first started celebrating Christmas with the Carver family, toward the end our turkey dinner my father-in-law Humphrey would begin a round of toasts. Each person at the table would in turn propose a toast to someone not at the table with us. Because the Carvers had extended family all over the…
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One Dickens of a Messy Manuscript

Did you know that Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in just six weeks because he was in desperate need of some cash? Or that the manuscript he submitted to his publisher was a sloppy mess? Whether you’re heartily embracing “the festive season” or you’re grumbling humbug and trying to avoid the whole scene, be…
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Christmas Shortbreads

An email from a friend told me about the Christmas baking she’d been doing. I responded to her: You will be happy to know that even this grinch sees baking shortbreads as a must-do every Christmas. It’s even a want-to do. One year I baked shortbreads and other delightful sweet nibblies in the company of…
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Talented Young Writers

A bug has been spreading through the community of Guelph’s teens this year. I’m not referring to H1N1 but to the Writing Bug. There were three times as many submissions to GPL’s 2009 teen writing contest as there were in 2008. This year was the second year I had the pleasure of judging stories for…
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Cormac McCarthy's Typewriter

A recent article in the New York Times informs readers that Cormac McCarthy’s typewriter is about to be auctioned off. It’s expected to go for between $15,000 and $20,000. That’s a lot of money for a typewriter that has, according to McCarthy, “never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a…
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Students All in a Buzz

Nancy Evans is a teacher-librarian in London, Ontario. She sent me a thank you note recently that made my day and she’s given me permission to post it here, along with the accompanying photos. I wanted to sincerely thank you for sharing time with us. Our students are all in a buzz this week as…
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A GG for Greener Grass

Last night Caroline Pignat received a Governor General’s award for her young adult novel, Greener Grass. Not surprising when you look at the reviews. And needless to say, she’s delighted. The book is set in Ireland, and she’s going to take her parents there with some of her prize money. What makes Caroline’s win sweet…
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A Book for Every Youngster

Picture this. I’m having breakfast (last week), listening, as usual, to CBC Radio. Andy Barrie is interviewing a bookseller and children’s author because it’s Canadian Children’s Book Week. After a few minutes, after several American titles have been mentioned, I grumble to my husband, “You’d think one of them could name a Canadian title.” (I…
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Coffee Shop Author

Could I write a book in a coffee shop? I’ve always thought of myself as a writer who needs a quiet room, free of distraction. I have trouble resisting the sound of human voices. So how could I possibly write anything more challenging than a shopping list in a coffee shop? Why would I even…
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Inspirational Role Models

It seems fitting, it being Inspirational Role Models Month in the US, that I should meet this week with a professor from Smith College to discuss her work on a book about Cornelia Hahn Oberlander. “Like you,” she said in her initial email contact, “I was asked by Cornelia to write a book, and like…
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The Bite of the Mango

I have just finished reading The Bite of the Mango by Mariatu Kamara with Susan McClelland. It’s Mariatu’s story of how her life in Sierra Leone was changed when the rebel army attacked her village and cut off her hands. The back cover says it’s a story of “immense courage, resilience, and hope.” Reading of…
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Bringing Robert Frost Home From Newfoundland

A man carried stacks of National Geographic magazines from his truck to a table in the Deer Lake Library. They dated back to the 1950s. One issue caught my eye. The face on the cover was not one I expected to see on a NG cover. It was the April 1976 issue. Inside, unrelated to…
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Touring Newfoundland's West Coast

My travels as a Canadian author have taken me to every province and territory in the country. Last week returned me to the west coast our easternmost province. Readings and writing workshops took me to its northern tip (only one road goes there), south to Port aux Basques and to many gorgeous spots in between.…
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Kathy Stinson as Editor and Mentor

I’ve done plenty of ‘shameless self-promotion’ here and would like to devote today’s post to the books of other authors I have had the pleasure to work with. Rough Magic by Caryl Cude Mullin is not the kind of young adult novel I would ordinarily pick up and read, but when the managing editor at…
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A New Honour for “Love Every Leaf” Subject

Congratulations to Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, who has been promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada “for her influence and contributions as a landscape architect who sets new standards of excellence through her environmentally responsible landscape designs.” Members of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects will have the opportunity to hear her speak at the organization’s…
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A Title “of Exceptional Calibre”

When my gardening plans got rained out this afternoon, I opened up my copy of “Best Books for Kids & Teens” which had just arrived in my mailbox. As I always do, I turned to the index in a hopeful (and egocentric) search for my name. (“Best Books…” is the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s annual…
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Another Treasure for My Pocket

Last night, at the CANSCAIP Mentor’s Dinner honouring my husband, Peter Carver, I learned from Rick Wilks of Annick Press that A Pocket Can Have A Treasure In It has been short-listed for the Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Award. Let’s hope that the young readers at Market Lane Junior School in Toronto make their selection for…
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More On Africa

I’ve just finished reading The Native Commissioner by Shaun Johnson (winner of the Best Book In Africa Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2007). I bought it while in South Africa, thinking it might offer me useful insight into the complex world of that beautiful country, and it did, to some extent, though of course there is a…
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A Pocket… Goes to Italy

A Pocket Can Have A Treasure In It will be on display in a special exhibition of recent books for toddlers and babies, during the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) Congress in Rome in August. A Pocket Can Have A Treasure In It has also been shortlisted for the 2009 CLA Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award, recognizing an illustrator…
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The ABCs of European Travel

Cruising down rivers and canals from Amsterdam to Budapest had its lovely moments, but the experience paled in comparison to our visit to South Africa and to my own time in Liberia in February. Not that I’m ungrateful for a season so rich in travel opportunities, but I do understand why “Another Bloody Castle” is…
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Green Roofs Updated

I asked my son the other day, “If I say ‘Cornelia Oberlander’, do you know who I mean?” He’s a busy guy, working on his MBA while working full time, so I wasn’t sure how much he took in of the book I had written about her. “Yeah, she’s the Green Roof Lady,” he said. I…
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Facebook Frustrations

My apologies to anyone who has gone in search of my South Africa or Europe photos, only to be asked, annoyingly, for Facebook login information. I specified that I wanted “Everyone” interested to be able to see the photos, but apparently Facebook doesn’t interpret “Everyone” the way I do. (Facebook may soon lose me; it has…
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South Africa

I’d been told to expect elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and more. And I suspected that if we did, it would be fun. But I had no idea how exciting it would be. For fifteen years my husband’s cousin John and his wife Veda urged us to visit them in South Africa. When we finally went…
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Good News for Love Every Leaf

When Menelik-Llord Aidoo, one of the writers I worked with in Liberia, wrote a piece about a comic book he’d read as a child, about George Washington and his love of nature, I was glad I’d brought Love Every Leaf with me, to plant the idea with Liberian writers that they might like to consider writing biographies, too.…
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Looking Ahead… And Looking Back

Even as I anticipate heading off with Peter, imminently, on the first winter holiday either of has taken to a warm place, and returning to a basement much transformed during our time away, I feel the need to return once more to moments from my time in Liberia – for my own pleasure in reliving…
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Reading Liberia Pictures

Come visit my “Reading Liberia” photo album!
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A New Year's Approach to Email

It felt great to be back in my novel-in-progress this past week and I’m really pleased with the progress I made. I started on Monday with 103 notes to myself [embedded like this in the manuscript] and I dealt with enough of them by Friday that I now have only 20 left – and that’s with having added…
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7 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

My sister Janet tagged me earlier this week. I’ve decided to use her challenge to “play along” with her as an opportunity to write about some of the things I’ve only thought about blogging about this month. 1. Perhaps a children’s writer should not admit to this, but for years I’ve felt rather “bah humbug” about…
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Kathy Stinson & Cornelia Oberlander Visit Crofton House

Imagine having the chance to meet the author of a biography you were reading, and the person the biography was about, too? That’s what happened for a group of Grade Six students in Vancouver on the last morning of my Book Week tour. When I asked Cornelia Oberlander (about whom I wrote in Love Every Leaf) if…
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Children's Book Week 2008 – A Breakfast Surprise

On Monday morning I walked into the dining room at the Sylvia Hotel. A woman at a table at the far end of the room waved. At me? I didn’t expect to see anyone I knew there; there must be someone behind me, I thought. But the woman seemed to be looking at me and…
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A “Desert Island” Author

That’s how I was introduced last week before speaking to the Children’s Literature Roundtable in Vancouver. “The great thing about Kathy is that she is the ultimate desert island writer,” said Shannon Ozirny, a dynamic young grad student, soon to be fantastic librarian. “Now, I know you’re all wondering, ‘What the heck is a desert island…
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A Sister Visit

Today my sister is coming. I’m pretty excited because she hasn’t been here since the day after we moved in, when she did a great job helping me get our new kitchen organized.  We instituted what we call our “sister visits” a number of years ago, when we discovered that much as we enjoy visiting in…
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Settling In

We moved house a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve had lots of people ask how we’re “settling in” and how we’re enjoying the new place. I’m really enjoying getting set up here, but I’m also very much looking forward to just “being” here – writing, reading, doing puzzles, and of course taking Keisha for…
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A Word on the Street Surprise

It’s always nice when a fan of one’s books comes up to you at the end of a reading, and yesterday at Word on the Street was especially so.  At the end of a long afternoon of reading and signing, on a gorgeous fall afternoon, a woman sat down beside me in the Little Reader’s…
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School Visits

On Monday I visited three schools in Monrovia, along with Wendy Saul, a professor from Missouri who has been working with teachers here, and Florence (I don’t know her last name), one of the teacher-leaders. Our purpose was to assess how well the classroom teachers we visited were applying what they’d learned about teaching reading,…
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Reporting from Liberia

How do I capture in a brief blog entry some essence of my time in Liberia so far? Already I know it will be hard to say goodbye to the people I am getting to know here – the We-Care Library staff, the writers, the teachers, and the other people CODE has sent over from…
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The Bare Naked Talk

Who knew that talking about book censorship with university students (and assorted others) would be so much fun? The room at St. Jerome’s in Waterloo was packed last night – a great start – and people responded with great laughter and affection to readings from a few of my books that have been deemed by…
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Children's Book Week 2008 – A Few Highlights

Between November 17 and November 21 I met with roughly 900 kids and the many adults (teachers, librarians, and parents) who accompanied them to a total of 17 readings. Here are just a few moments from that week that I carry with me still, now that I’m home again. 1. When the bell rang to end…
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Come See Me at "Word on the Street"

Yes, I’m back from summer holidays, have now moved house, and on Sunday I’ll be reading at Word on the Street in Toronto.  Come find me there and you might even meet some of the inspiration for some of my books.
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Summer Reading

Well, it’s off to a great start! This morning I had a million reasons to get up and get going on my day, but I had to stay in bed to finish reading Dooley Takes the Fall by Norah McClintock first. You don’t often see “literary” and “page-turner” together in a review, but both words apply to…
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Six Word Memoir

My sister Janet, tagged me with the following challenge: Write a six-word memoir. Post it to your blog including a visual illustration if you would like. Link to the person who tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere. Tag…
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More Honours for Cornelia

Last week I had the privilege of attending the graduation ceremony at Dalhousie University where Cornelia Oberlander was receiving yet another honorary degree. Giving the convocation address, she spoke the importance of taking risks. To paraphrase: “To make the world a better place, we cannot keep doing things the same old way they have always…
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National Landscape Architecture Month

A couple of weeks ago I received a very excited phonecall from Cornelia Oberlander. She wanted to tell me that April 2008 – the very month my biography about her was being released – had been declared “National Landscape Architecture Month”. The reason? The American Society of Landscape Architects wants to encourage students and parents to “Discover…
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A Treasure for My Pocket

Two big surprises at the Literacy Conference in Burlington last weekend. The onsite bookseller, Different Drummer, had on hand a big stack of Love Every Leaf: The Life of Cornelia Hahn Oberlander – and it wasn’t scheduled for release till several days later! (It looks gorgeous, and after I spoke about it briefly during my…
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I've Got Mail

Once in a while something lands in your inbox that just makes your day. Such was the case for me recently, when a literacy consultant in Simcoe County wrote to tell me about the impact of my book King of the Castle on her and some people she knows. “I am writing a biography about…
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A Day Can Have A Surprise In It

My granddaughter was tickled to see that the book she got from me and her grampa for her 6th birthday – A Pocket Can Have A Treasure In It – had her name in the thanks and dedication. She also received, from both us and a great aunt, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, a wonderful new…
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A Pocket Can Have A Treasure In It

It’s now available! My first brand new picture book in sixteen years! Dave Jenkinson at CM (Canadian Materials) – a friend since I did my first Book Week tour in his province (Manitoba) in 1983 and who was sent a review copy – said, “Loved the imagination of it & the wonderful twist at the…
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Summer Writing Workshop/Retreat by the Sea

How does this sound? Five days in August in a spectacular Nova Scotia setting – indulging in private writing time, walking the beach, getting feedback on your work from me, my partner Peter Carver (children’s book editor for Red Deer Press and teacher of writing for George Brown College), and a small group of fellow…
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A Pocket… unveiled

What fun it was to read my brand new, hot off the press, advance copy of A Pocket Can Have A Treasure In It to a huge roomful of enthusiastic parents and their preschoolers on Saturday. The crowd that had gathered for Port Colborne’s first family literacy event to celebrate the joys of reading together…
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Progress?

I just finished a marathon, a marathon of reading — through 220 pages of notes, single-spaced, on my current novel project. They date back as far as February 2001! Lots of despair in there. One note says: I hate having a vision in my mind’s eye of what this novel should be, but feeling with…
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A Not-Typical Day in the Life – December 5

6:00 Worked on my novel. Wrote a scene that makes better use of material barely touched on in a previous draft. 7:15 Ate breakfast – yogurt with bananas and almonds and cereal – and did a crossword puzzle. 7:45 Took Keisha for a walk up the line. 8:45 Had a shower and answered emails. 9:30…
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My Web Site

My sister has been running lots of ideas past me recently, as she works on redesigning my web site. Hard to believe, but it’s been almost 10 years since she designed my first web site for me. It has been through a number of changes since then – quite apart from regular updates – but…
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Hurray! Another contract!

As if I’m not already delighted enough to have a new picture book coming out next year (the first brand new one in sixteen years!) as well as a biography for adolescent readers (my first ever biography!) — I have just signed a contract for a totally new take on the theme I explored in…
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Summer Reading

Today’s the day I decide which books to take to the cottage. Despite having a growing stack that includes Scotch River by Linda Little and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Saffan Foer, I’ve taken a couple of books by Chris Bohjalian out of the library, having very much enjoyed his Midwives a few years…
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A Busy June

Did you think I’d given up blogging after just two entries? No way! But it has been a busy six weeks, quite apart from all that’s happened in my garden. The novel has now been submitted (and I can soon go to the cottage and forget I’m waiting for a response to it). I’ve also…
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Stop the presses!

The result of a conversation with the expert I consulted to check my novel manuscript for any errors in legal procedure and language means a far more significant revision than I was anticipating before it will be ready to show a publisher. I could view it as a major setback, but I can’t help feeling…
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Meeting a Reader and Writer

Joanna Perkin first wrote me in 2003 to tell me she’d enjoyed reading the first two Marie-Claire books. I wrote her back, she wrote me back, and so on. We kept up a correspondence – about books we’d read and about writing stories, because like me Joanna is both a reader and a writer –…
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It’s “Take Your Webmaster to Lunch” Day

I wonder if my sister cooked this one up as a way of getting me to take her to lunch. She’s clever enough to do something like that. Since 1999, when she designed my first website, Janet has been responsible for establishing and maintaining my presence on the World Wide Web. (I wonder how many…
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May is Vision Health Month

Because I’m so grateful for my own vision health, and because I love to read aloud (and do it well), I’ve been working as a volunteer reader and technician at the CNIB Recording Studio for the past 6 years. In that time I’ve narrated parts of various magazines and text books and 19 entire books.…
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Notes on a Work in Progress

When I’m working on a novel, I keep track of ideas and sort through my thoughts about them in a file I call Ideas & Thoughts. In case anyone thinks it gets easier when you’ve written several, here’s a note copied from my March 3 entry, two days after I’d started thinking about getting back…
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International Women’s Day

If you’re looking for a good way to celebrate International Women’s Day, what better way than with a gift to a young woman you admire? And what better gift than the inspiring story of a remarkable woman? May I say that Love Every Leaf: the life of landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander would be a…
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Liberia Lingers

I am well and truly home. I’ve celebrated my daughter’s birthday, visited with my son and his wife, had lunch with my sister and my dad, and settled back into daily routines with my husband and my dog. On the work front, I’ve sent a writer whose manuscript I’m editing comments to congratulate her on…
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Three Things About Reading

I was thinking about blogging about good books I’ve read lately when two things happened. I got a letter from a girl in New Brunswick who first wrote me almost seven years ago, and I was asked if I would go back to Liberia to do some more work with writers there. The NB girl…
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And speaking of lists…

Every year, Resource Links publishes a list of the best books in the categories of Picture Books, Fiction Grades 3-6, Non-Fiction K – Grade 6, Fiction Grades 7-12, Non-Fiction Grades 7-12, Professional Resources, Audio Visual Resources, and French Resources. And which Kathy Stinson book made the list for 2009? The 25th anniversary edition of Big…
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All My Bags AREN'T Packed

But I am ready to go. To Newfoundland. On Saturday. Or I will be when… Never mind. Talking to a group of Keene teens a few years ago (Keene is near Peterborough, Ontario), I was mentioning how much I enjoy traveling roads I haven’t been on before, as I had that morning, and realized that…
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I Want To Go Back to Liberia!

We did so much during the workshop hours, and yet there’s so much more that we didn’t do. I read a few responses to writing exercises while there, and more on the plane coming home – “neighbourhood” and “personal hero” pieces, and moving accounts of experiences participants had when they were five, ten, and fifteen years…
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Last Posting from Monrovia

Well, it’s hard to believe that a week ago tonight I had not yet set foot in Africa, and already my bag is packed, ready for my trip back to Canada, my heart crowded with people I had not even laid eyes on a week ago. So intense has been my involvement with Liberian writers…
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Off to Liberia!

Hard to believe that a week from now I will be meeting with writers in Monrovia! Sponsored by CODE, “Reading Liberia” is a program through which books written by Liberian authors for Liberian children will be produced, and teachers trained how to use them in their classrooms. Thanks to IBBY-Canada who put my name forward to…
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TPL's First and Best!

Hurray! Toronto Public Library has chosen A Pocket Can Have A Treasure In It for their 2008 “First and Best” list. That’s a list of the best Canadian children’s books for building reading readiness in children birth to five. To see the 2007 list, click here.
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What is it about me and titles?

Some months ago the subtitle on my biography manuscript had to be changed (and essentially, therefore, the whole title). Someone else had beat me to The Art of the Possible for their handbook about political activism. One of the working titles attached to my young adult novel-in-progress this year was Fault Lines. And didn’t Nancy…
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I've made it!

You know you’ve made the big time when your name appears as a clue in the crossword of a national newspaper. (Okay, so it had to be The Post.) The clue to No. 7 Down on April 30 was “Canadian Children’s author Stinson” 5 letters. That’s me! So I decided it was time to start…
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