Wednesday, May 18, 2016

SCBWI Summer Reading List



For the first ever, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) has compiled a Summer Reading List of books written by its members worldwide. There are over 1400 titles from 350 publishers, and the books are organized by reading level and are for kids from Kindergarten through Grade 8.   

It’s exciting to see how many Canadian writers are on this list, and quite a few are from the Toronto area, including [deep bow] me.

This is a good place to search for good books for your kids as well as support your local illustrators and writers.  

            Link to Canadian Authors (pdf file): 

I hope you'll share this list your friends and family and help promote the joy of reading as well as the love of writing by authors around the world.





Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Beliefs That Held Me Back



It’s very interesting how a belief, whether true or false, can determine the path we take in life.

            While I was in secondary school, I remember studying books by D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce and E.M. Forster.  In reading their bios I found their lives to be so very depressing that I developed this unshakeable belief that writers were generally unhappy people – and at that time my focus in life was to be happy.

            I didn’t even know this belief had become ingrained in my subconscious until much later, when I found myself writing in my very first journal, on the very first line: “I want to be a writer.”   

“NO WAY! NEVER!” That’s what every single cell in my body screamed at me.

            I didn’t question my reaction in any depth. It felt natural. Also, I didn’t believe I had anything to say. My mind was blank of any story ideas and I didn’t pursue it until much later, after university, when I was working in Manhattan and I got this deep, restless desire to write.

            At first I ignored the feelings. My subconscious – and erroneous – belief about all writers propelled me away from what I was only then beginning to realize was my dream to create stories.  

            The thing is that the more I suppressed this desire the more restless and intolerant I got. In sum, I became increasingly unhappy, the very thing I was striving to avoid.

So one day I decided to sit myself down in front of a blank computer screen.

            For me, the best time to write was before I went to work. So at 5.00 every morning, Mondays to Fridays I would get up and write for two hours. The days I missed left me feeling empty and restless. And the days I wrote, I felt energized and excited to be advancing in the direction of my dream.

            The result?

1)                   In 2013 my very first middle grade novel UP IN THE AIR was published by Jolly Fish Press.
2)                   I recently finished the sequel.
3)                   In April 2016 I signed with a literary agent.
4)                 And I have another manuscript waiting to show her as well as many story ideas to fill a book.

Who knows what my horizon now holds?



I’m glad I challenged this deep-seated belief of mine. It’s not that my life is a bubble of continuous joy. I have periods of depression and frustration, even flashes of having failed to live up to my own expectations – which I think most people experience at some point or another.

But I’m doing what I love, and that grounds me and gives me purpose as well as a sense of direction on those occasions when things don’t go the way I envisaged.

So whenever I catch myself saying anything remotely resembling “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t”, I stop and take a deeper look at what’s behind these fears before choosing the path I really want to take.
   

            … Not that I succeed all the time. After all, life is a work in progress.