Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Stellar YA authors Carrie Jones and Meghan Kelley Hall are co-editors of this most awesome anthology that will hopefully touch many kids/teen lives by letting them know they are not alone in their struggles. Read how these two amazing writers came up with the idea here. Anyone who has experienced bullying (and, honestly, not too many people haven't!) knows just how painful and just how devastating to ones self-esteem it can be. The list of authors appearing in this anthology is incredible: Heather Brewer, Mo Willems, Ellen Hopkins, Cecil Castellucci, Eric Luper, Carolyn Mackler, R.L Stine, Alyson Noël, Lauren Kate, Lisa McMann, Lauren Oliver, Nancy Werlin, Jon Scieszka, Nancy Garden and Deborah Kerbel--to name but a few.
Once again, I'm not quite sure how I found my little old self on such an amazing list. I only hope my story will give strength to those who read it.
Here's looking forward to 2011! May it be filled with good health and much happiness for all of you!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
One thing I don't need to to be reminded of is that MIND GAP will be released soon! Yay. I know it's only mid December and I have all the way until the end of January to go, but I'm getting super excited. Can't wait to hold it in my hot little hands. The first review for it just came out in CM Magazine--you can read it here (but, really, don't because it tells too much about the plot--bit of a spoiler.) Hey, how about read the first chapter instead?! Here is the blurb:
Fourteen year-old Jake MacRae’s life is spinning out of control. He is making all the wrong choices—gambling, drinking, hanging around gang members—and now he has been asked to make a special delivery. What should he do? Jake knows either way, his decision will seal his fate, but what he doesn’t realize is that this decision could not only destroy his life but the lives of those close to him. Before Jake makes up his mind, he receives a mysterious text message inviting him to a flash party on a midnight subway train. As Jake steps off the platform he has no idea he has just boarded a train bound for his worst nightmare. And what’s more—he can’t get off.
And here's chapter one (let me know what you think! I can take it. Well, maybe.)
“In or out?”
Jake shaded his cards with his left hand. He peeled up the corners with his right. Two of clubs. Ace of spades. He glanced at the cafeteria table. Face up, in a neat row, lay the seven of diamonds, the two of hearts and the jack of clubs. Deuces, he thought. Story of my life.
“Come on, man—in or out?”
Over the hum of gossip, the shuffling of feet, and the grinding of chairs, Jake heard a twinge in Cole’s voice. He looked up and their eyes locked for a second. Jake could read his best friend like cheap magazine. Cole had a big mouth, but he got nervous quickly. He was bluffing.
“In,” said Jake, tossing his second dollar into the pile. He shifted his gaze to the dealer.
Damon was more difficult to read. From his greasy hair, to the tattoo of a crown dripping blood emblazoned across his knuckles, all the way down to his brand new Nikes; the guy was stone-cold.
Damon threw a buck into the pile. He kept his gray eyes trained on Jake as he slowly flipped over another card and placed it next to the jack. Queen of clubs.
Cole checked and began chewing his lip.
Too obvious, thought Jake, battling the urge to smile. He pushed a stack of four quarters into the growing mound. He had a lousy hand, but at this point, he had nothing left to lose.
Cole shook his head and swore. He threw down in his cards and began shoveling fries into his mouth. He seemed to be taking his losses much harder these days.
Damon flipped over the final card dragging Jake’s attention back to the game: Ace of diamonds.
Two pair, thought Jake, ace high. Nice.
Jake willed his pulse to slow. His mouth was a thin line. He ran a hand through his thick hair. Then he picked up his last stack of coins and tossed them casually into the heap. Nine bucks. Ten if Damon continued. Not what you’d call a fortune, but hey, it was better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Jake slipped his hand into the pocket of his jeans. He shifted his cell phone. Stray nickels and dimes danced between his fingers. If he lost this hand, he could kiss next week’s lunches goodbye. Like he’d done this week. And last.
“Call,” said Damon. He placed his two cards onto the pile of money as though he were claiming it. He had a pair of aces.
Jake let out his breath. The deuces came in handy after all. He turned his cards over one by one. Jake watched Damon’s eyes darken. Suddenly they reminded Jake of shark eyes—cold and lifeless. Jake stretched out his arms to rake in his winnings.
“Why gentlemen,” said a deep voice. “You wouldn’t happen to be partaking in the quite illegal and most suspendable act of gambling, would you?”
Jake peered over his shoulder at the towering six-foot-six figure of his English teacher, Mr. Dean.
“At the very least it would mean a week’s worth of detentions for each of you.”
Cole could wriggle his way out of a clogged pipe. Trouble was, his mouth was quicker than his brain. “Gambling? Us? Course not, Sir. We’re just having an enjoyable game of Fish. And this money here?” he motioned his chin toward the pile, “Why, it just happens to be sitting on the table, doing nothing.” He sat back looking pretty proud of himself.
“Nothing?” Mr. Dean frowned. “Hmm, I see.” He scratched his chin. He volleyed glances from Damon to Cole finally settling on Jake. “Well, if this money is just doing nothing, then I’m sure you gentlemen wouldn’t mind if I donate it to the Salvation Army where it can do something?”
Jake rolled his eyes and scowled, but he kept his mouth shut.
Mr. Dean patted Jake on the shoulder. “Life is an endless series of choices, Mr. McRae.” He leaned in, scooped up the loot and strolled off humming Amazing Grace.
Jake gave Cole a shove. “You idiot.”
“What’d I do?”
This money just happens to be sitting here doing nothing…” Jake mocked. “Couldn’t you have come up with something better?”
I didn’t hear anything brilliant shooting out of your mouth. And I guess you’d a wanted a pile of detentions instead?”
Jake picked up his cards and threw them across the table.
Cole sneered. “Think of it as bail.”
Damon was leaning back in his chair. “Forget it. It’s chump change. Let’s talk real business.”
Business. Right. Jake had avoided thinking about it all day. He reached over and grabbed a few fries from Cole’s plate. They were cold and tasted like cardboard.
“My brother says you guys have been hanging around the coffee shop long enough. He wants you to do a favour for him.”
Vlad was what you’d call king of the 5 King Tribe. He was the kind of guy you did not want to disappoint.
“We’re in,” said Cole all too eagerly. He glanced at Jake, but Jake didn’t say a word.
“Good,” said Damon. “Vlad will be happy.”
“So, um, what exactly does he want us to do?” asked Jake.
Damon was eyeing him like they were playing poker again. Only this time, Jake felt his cheeks flush.
“Meet at the coffee shop at one o’clock on Sunday. Pick up a package and take it to where Vlad tells you. A simple delivery.”
Simple, thought Jake. But what if simple gets complicated?
“Delivery. Sure,” said Cole. He flashed Jake another look. This one said: Be cool.
The bell rang ending second lunch. Damon grabbed the cards, shoved them into his pocket and swaggered off into the stream of students heading toward their lockers. “Sunday,” he called over his shoulder. He didn’t look back.
“What’s your problem?” asked Cole once Damon had disappeared. “Don’t you get it? When Vlad asks you to do something, you do it.”
Jake didn’t respond. His thoughts were doing back-flips
“It’s just a delivery,” said Cole. “Like Damon said—simple.”
“Simple,” echoed Jake. He was nodding, but his expression betrayed his uncertainty.
Cole sighed. “Make up your mind, man—in or out…”
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
But today, is different! Today I'm thrilled to announce that Ghost Ride has been shortlisted for the Red Maple Award by the Ontario Library Association. I can't tell you how surprised and excited I was when I received the news. It's such an honour--especially given that the list is brimming with stellar novels by these awesome authors:
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
The non-heroic protagonist can be anything from an ordinary Joe (or Joanna) to a victim to a very flawed personality or an anti-hero. These warts-and-all characters are fascinating to create, and they can seem very real. When drawing a character in one of these modes, you must always consider the impact on the reader. A too-ordinary Joe can seem dull, and so readers will lose interest. A victim can seem weak, and a deeply flawed character can be so unlikeable that readers will turn away. An anti-hero will probably be a character who makes wickedness seem charming or appealing, or at least excusable.
It is quite possible to have an unlikable protagonist or co-protagonist. If you choose this route, you need to decide whether your character is evil, misguided, distasteful or wickedly charming. If s/he has redeeming features, they must be believable.Read more at Suite101: Creative Writing 101 - free Suite101 course http://www.suite101.com/lesson.cfm/16712/261/3#ixzz0tZMChkrF
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, by Mark Haddon
And, if you happen to be in the Toronto area on Sunday, June 20th, come join us at Nathan Phillip Square at 10am and Walk Now for Autism! You can't miss Team Justin with our purple t-shirts!
Friday, April 16, 2010
I was particularly interested in what he had to say about reading, reluctant male readers, new (or not-so-new) forms of media (Kindles, iPod's, PC's, Blackberries, etc.) and simply this: asking the right questions to excite and engage all learners. You could have heard a pin drop (okay, maybe the odd baby cry--which, by the way, didn't bother him one bit, in fact, he asked the mother who was about to leave with her baby to stay!), in the packed school gymnasium. So many of his stories and anecdotes hit home, I wouldn't know where to begin. Here is me caught on camera looking all captivated.
As a Canadian children's writer, I was particularly thrilled with his promotion of Canadian authors! And I absolutely loved when he told the audience that he often travels on planes and trains reading picture books--out loud! Since most of what I read is children's/YA books it made me chuckle as I often find myself sitting among people engrossed in the latest, greatest in adult literature. They cast a sideways glance, raise their eyebrows then frown as I proudly read my latest, greatest middle-grade fantasy or adventure or graphic novel or YA thriller or early chapter book...
I only hope I get another opportunity to hear Mr. Booth speak!
**photographs courtesy of Jagdeep Singh**
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Okay, I'm lying. I've just been lazy. But it's time to get unlazy (delazy?) and back to all this wonderful social networking!
First, the Markham Village Writers interviewed me! I was really excited to be asked. I mean I have sooooo many important things to say. You can read the interview here if you've got a moment: http://markhamvillagewriters.com/focus-on
Now way back, a month or two ago, I was honoured to be asked to present at an event with Eric Walters, Kenneth Oppel and Shane Peacock at Humberview P.S. As excited as those 600 students were to hear these amazing authors, I'm sure I was the most excited. They are all such fabulous writers and stellar speakers. I've heard them all before but could hear them a hundred times more and never get bored! Now, after Eric spoke about his organization, Creation of Hope, I was so moved that I had to do something, however small, to help out. I decided that since my own kids have way too much stuff, they would all get goats for their birthdays. (And since they are all about as stubborn as goats, I asked that they be named after my children!)
In case you haven't heard of it, Creation of Hope is an absolutely amazing organization where every single dollar goes directly to those in need. You can seriously change a child's life with just a few dollars! So the next time you don't know what to get for the guy(or girl or child) who has everything--buy them a chicken or a goat...or a bed, or mattress or books or socks or something--just tell them there is a child in Africa borrowing it for a while.