Reading with a difference

Last month I did readings at St. John’s School in Vancouver. I spoke to students in Grades 6 and 7, and the focus was a little different than many of my readings.

These kids are in a design class, and they were studying various aspects of the design of picture book covers. So my talk was more focussed on the illustrations than on the writing of the books. Of course, there was still a lot of discussion on the stories behind the stories, but we also examined early illustrator sketches and reasons for major changes in the design or illustration of the books.

I had never considered my books from so purely an illustrative (is that a word? I guess it is now…) point of view, and found it really informative and fun. The kids also had a lot of good questions to ask me, which further pushed me to think about my stories from that point of view.

A little brain stretching that day, and I enjoyed and appreciated it. Thanks, St. John’s!

Announcing a new kind of angel...a Song Angel!

I’m happy to say that my young adult novel, Song Angel, is on the shelves. It’s available at Vancouver Kidsbooks and Amazon.com. If you’re a teacher or teacher-librarian, you can also purchase it at United Library Services. It’s aimed at Grades 6 to 10.

Song Angel is an experiment for me. I self-published it, and so far it’s been a good experience. An American company called Booklocker did the heavy lifting; they typeset it, got the ISBN and had it printed, and their graphic artist designed the cover. I’m very happy with the physical package….it’s a fine-looking book! (and it’s available from Booklocker and Amazon as an epub!)

I’ll keep you posted as I explore this self-publishing adventure. Because now the rest is up to me, which mostly means marketing. Which means time. Which makes me laugh.

However, I’m starting here and it’s working!

I mean…you know about it, right?

Summertime, and the writin' has not been that easy...

I haven't had as much time to write this summer as I would have liked, but when I have, I've been working on a middle grade novel. Its working title is MagiGirls. Sometimes I like the title, sometimes I don't. We'll see when publishing time comes if it stays or gets the boot.

As a kid, I loved stories about supernatural creatures like fairies, mermaids, angels and witches. One of my favourite books was The Witch Family, by Eleanor Estes. It's about a little witch who lives on a glass hill, under which lives a mermaid. With my wobbly drawing skills, I also liked sketching and colouring these creatures, too. 

So I decided to take my old-time interests and write a now-time novel. It's a lot of fun, mixing elements I enjoyed as a child with a more modern sensibility. It has taken me forever, but I will get there.

Eventually....

READING LIGHTS

Le Camion 21 is a translation of my earlier story, Number 21. It's the most autobiographical of my books; it tells the story of my first family - Dad, Mom, my sister Laurie and my brother Duncan - and Dad's truck, Number 21. The only parts that are not true are where I needed to bolster my somewhat sketchy memory of things that happened a LONG time ago. (Sometimes I'm lucky if I can remember what happened yesterday.)

Recently, Le Camion 21 was chosen as one of this year's Reading Lights. Reading Lights is a co-project of the Children's Writers and Illustrators of BC (CWILL BC) and the Vancouver Public Library (both awesome institutions!). These two groups have now placed 60 plaques all around Vancouver in places kids hang out - schools, parks, community centres and playgrounds. They feature excerpts and illustrations from BC picture books, and are intended to "spark an interest in stories and reading". 

Le Camion 21's plaque is near Strathcona Park, on Prior Street at Campbell. Another of my books, I Heard My Mother Call My Name, is on a plaque near Carnarvon Park, on W. 19th Avenue at Carnarvon Street.

It's a privilege to be featured on these lovely plaques. 

Decembering

As the rain falls and falls and falls in Vancouver, it's time to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book. As much as I love writing, I love reading other people's work just as much. 

When I'm reading a book I'm crazy about, I have a habit of repeatedly checking the photo of the author on the back cover, to gaze at the person who can put words together in such a wonderful way. Other people gasp at amazing stick-handling in hockey or an awesome angle that makes a photograph come alive; I revere the placement of words to create worlds that come alive in my mind.

Lovely rain.

My inspirations

Hello, and welcome to my first ever blog post!

As you likely know, I'm a children's book author from Vancouver, British Columbia.

Some of you might wonder, how did I make the leap from my training as a teacher, and my work as a teacher-librarian, to writing children's books?

I am lucky to have many inspirations in my life. Here are a few:

 The Real Number 21 truck- her father's- that inspired Nancy's book

The Real Number 21 truck- her father's- that inspired Nancy's book

1) My family: I am so fortunate to have three beautiful children, Josh, Bianca and Luke. From the time they were born, they have been constant sources of inspiration and creative forces in my life.

 Nancy and her kids in their car, packed up for camping!

Nancy and her kids in their car, packed up for camping!

2) My work: As I mentioned, I have worked as a teacher-librarian for the past 35 years. I absolutely love my work, and am constantly learning from the myriad groups of children that I have taught, and read to, over the past several decades. I am my happiest when among curious new readers!

3) My personal experiences: They say to write what you know, and I am a firm believer in this adage! I am a British Columbian, and am proud to come from such a beautiful part of the world. From Camping to Number 21, my children's books reflect fond memories of my own childhood,  my family history and a true lifelong love of nature.

The books I write are from the heart. I hope you enjoy reading them with your family.

Thanks for reading! 

- Nancy