More Information on Books and School Visits

Friday, 18 September 2015

Picture Book Magic

Stories like soup need some simmer time.
A new book is in the works. 

This time it's a picture book and I've been mulling it over since 2008. Yes, 7 years does seem a bit lengthy, but sometimes that's what happens with stories. Like a good soup, they need time to simmer to reach perfection, for all the ingredients; story arc, characters, text, and voice to blend together into a rich literary meal. At least that is the intention.

If only I could draw like this...

Today I began working on the dummy book, which is a rough mock up of a picture book, including illustrations.

You didn't know I was also an artist? 

That may be due to the fact that I can only draw stick people, with wobbly arms and knobbly knees. However, even stick people will help me "see" how my text can work with illustrations and where I need to "say" more or less and how the story flows from one page to the next. The words I write must allow the artist to use their imagination to complement and supplement the text.

Fewer words allow the illustrator more freedom.

In order to do this I have printed out, A Cat is Better Than No Pet at All, spacing the text on each page as I envision the story to flow.
Now I have a very good visual of how the book will look and can make the necessary edits. And a lovely paper carpet for my kitchen.

Dummy picture book layout found on

I used a dummy format that Debbi Ohi graciously shared on her website, She is the renowned author and illustrator of Naked, I'm Bored, and Where are my Books? Visit her site here for more incredible writing tips.

My goal is to have a submission ready manuscript, minus any actual artwork, by the end of October. 
This seems achievable as long as I keep to my writing schedule and unplug from all things bright and shiny (read: The Internet.)

Wish me luck as I do love a good cat meme...

Friday, 24 July 2015

Clan Carmichael's Family Travel Blog has Begun!

The View from Hillview

The next step in our journey has begun! Follow along over at our family blog, The View from Hillview, to see our adventure unfold.

We are the right side of the house, with the red garage.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Look out England! The Carmichaels are Invading!

The Carmichaels are moving to England. 

Yup, we are taking the plunge, making the leap, soaring into the wide blue yonder...however you phrase it we are embarking on a two year long family adventure, starting...TODAY!

Late this afternoon we will board a plane to London to begin our search for houses and schools. Luckily, my step-mom and step-dad, (long, long story which is its own blog post) have a house in High Wycombe and have offered to take the girls for the house hunting portion so we don't have to drag the girls through dozens of homes.

THAT would be an excruciating experience that no English agent would survive.

The Royal Chase Hotel
Our Home Base for the next 10 days
Please send good vibes to the girls as they enter new schools and friendships. 
This will be an empowering and world expanding opportunity for them, yet stressful at the same time.

Cheerio, pip pip and all that rot!
(Just getting my English on.)

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Book Signing at McNally's May 23rd!

Quite excited to return to McNally Robinson Booksellers this Saturday from 2-4pm for a book signing. If you missed my launch, this is a perfect time to come and get a book signed. 

I will be sitting to the left of the cash desk, with a bunch of balloons, a pile of books, and possibly in need of coffee and a hug. 

Leaving Winnipeg and the most amazing bookstore a writer could want for a two year European Adventure is bittersweet, peeps.

Hope to see you on Saturday.

I do believe this is a good likeness of me at
our first football game.
Yes, I will be THAT fan.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Humble Bundle n' Spaghetti! Mmm, Mmm, Good Cause!
Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food, Partners with Humble Bundle to Promote
Children's Literacy and Celebrate Children's Book Week!

I am super excited, and really quite proud, that 
Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food has been included in 
Humble Bundle's first ever kids focused book bundle.

What is Humble Bundle?

Humble Bundle bundles together titles of like genre books, comics, and games for sale and ALL proceeds go to charity.

With the Humble Kids Comics Bundle, readers pay what they like for the entire collection. The total value for ebooks in this bundle is over $200!

What charities can I choose?

With Spaghetti's package, purchasers choose a charity of choice between Every Child a Reader (, or The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (

Be sure to get your bundle by May 13 and please help spread the word. 

Check out Humble Bundle Here: Take me to Humble Bundle!

I almost forgot! 

Humble Bundle, The Children's Book Council, Little Pickle Press, and Spaghetti, and their efforts to support children's literacy caught the eye of Publisher's Weekly.

Check out the Publisher's Weekly article here: Publisher's Weekly

Together we can help get books into the hands of ALL children!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Reluctant Reader No More - Thanks to J.K. Rowling & Chris Colfer!

Thanks to J.K. Rowling​'s Harry Potter Series, my 10 year old has turned the page in her reading confidence and ability. The magic found in Rowling's books has transformed how my daughter views herself as a reader. 

When her best buddy suggested she read The Wishing Spell, the first book in The Land of Stories Series, by Chris Colfer, she hesitated. It is a big 400 page book, with few pictures to break up the text, but she was on a reading high, thanks to Harry, Hermione, and Ron. As she gingerly opened the book, she immediately fell in love with Colfer's imaginary world.

Highly recommend this series!
Now, I often find her at 10:00pm, well after bedtime, secretly reading, because she is "at a good part" and has to see what happens next. To her, every scene in The Wishing Spell is  "a good part." 

The reader in me is thrilled to have a fellow book lover in the house, the mom in me is proud that my once struggling reader is now ranked above grade level, and the writer in me knows what a feat it is to write a book full of "good parts" and no slow, boring sections.

Thanks Chris Colfer for sharing your imagination with millions of kids. Please keep writing.  My daughter never wants this series to end.

Monday, 27 April 2015

The FAQ's on a Blog Book Tour!

We are just one stop into the Forever Julia Blog Book Tour and it has come to my attention that some folks have never heard of a blog tour.

Naturally I decided to plagiarise myself and steal from one of my old blog posts from my Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food Blog Tour.

I believe I am safe, as I promised not to sue myself.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions, which should provide a good review of how a BBT works.

Q. What exactly is a blog book tour?

A. It's an online book tour that stops at various blog sites, where the book in question is discussed. In this case, Forever Julia.

This can be done, by posting a book review or by conducting an interview with the writer - aka Yours Truly. Once the host blogger posts their review or Q & A, a lively discussion follows.

Q. Who can post comments or ask questions?

A. Well, anyone - which includes you! Maybe you are wondering how writers come up with ideas. Perhaps you relate to one of the characters and you want to share your experiences with others. Or you may possibly want to know what Julia's favourite colour is - who knows? But if you ask it, I'll try to answer it.

Q. Am I obligated to buy the book if I follow the blog tour?

A. Absolutely not! But, of course we hope you fall in love with Julia and want to read Forever Julia from cover to cover. Or give it as a gift. Or share it with your students. Really the possibilities are nearly endless!

Q. Why isn't there a "traditional" book tour?

A. Although jetting from city to city is a writer's dream, the world of publishing has changed immensely over the past 5 to 10 years. Extravagant book launch tours are a thing of the past and are now reserved for the biggest names in literature.

Q. Who hosts the blog stops?

A. Extremely awesome bloggers, with large followings have graciously agreed to host our tour.

Q. Are there any other benefits to taking a virtual tour?

A. Most definitely. Blog tours create permanent posts discussing Forever Julia. They'll be there...FOREVER. If you're 21 and posted pictures of your Spring Break trip to Daytona Beach, this may be a problem, but for authors this is MARVELLOUS! When readers are searching for information about a book, author, or topic, up will pop these blog posts.

Q. How do I know where the Forever Julia Tour will be stopping?

A. Here are the dates and blogs that I'll be visiting. (Click on the Blog Sites and you will be magically taken to their outstanding blogs.)
Order at your local bookseller or
through Amazon!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Forever Julia Blog Book Tour Begins...

Climb aboard the Blog Book Tour for 
Forever Julia!

Hope to hear from you along the way. 
Feel free to comment, share, and tweet with us as we travel the internet, meeting new readers.
Order at your local bookseller or
through Amazon!

Friday, 24 April 2015

Forever Julia Launched!

Forever Julia Launched! 
What an event and what a night.
All those happy, smiling faces of family and friends staring back at me!

You have my thanks. 

Mom decorated our Prairie Ink table in colours to
 match the book cover.
Of course.

Chef Geoff and I, giddy as fools.

This is truly Cake Art.

The night started with dinner in Prairie Ink restaurant where I was surprised by this book cake. All due to my mom and Pastry Chef Geoff.

It looked too good to eat, but we still found a way to gobble it up!

Suzanne and Mel; two of The Anitas.

My dear work peeps. xo

This was my smile for 3 days prior and 3 days following
the launch. (My face still hurts.)

The original "Anita", mentor and friend.

Karen McKim of Macdonald Youth Services

Lady Gray. I adore you.
My Forever Julia Dramatuge.

Cross eyed excitement.

"I want this moment to last...forever!"

Standing room only!

Week two, going strong;
thanks to the support of Winnipeg Readers!

Forever Julia at #1 out of the gate!

Again, my thanks for your continued support. 
See you again for the launch of...

Ford and Ellie: Family of Spies

(I just have to finish writing it!)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Organization vs Chaos: Creative Minds Unite

It is good to be different. It makes us each unique and stand out from the crowd.

I knew that my brain was like a swirling mass of thoughts, ideas, and never complete to-do lists, but never have I had the chance to "see" how my brains sorts and categorizes things so visually.

Until yesterday.

For 4 solid hours my dear pal and incredibly talented children's book writer and artisan, Christina Janz and I crafted buttons onto my soon to be stale-dated book marks for my book launch this Thursday.

(Yes. I am Scottish to the core and the thought of wasting those book marks was driving me squirrely.)
What a genius idea!

And like all my great ideas, it came to me at 2 a.m. a few weeks ago.

Button those suckers up, just like the book cover, I thought. 

Genius! Unique! One of a kind! 

Then my old pallie Monsieur Procrastination moved into our spare bedroom and stayed until mid day Sunday, when I packed his briefcase and released him into the Park out front.

This is when the reality of my sewing ability came crashing head on into my grandiose Buttoned Book Mark plan

9 down, only 91 to go. Captain, we have a problem...
One hour in, and 9 book marks later, I knew I had a problem, so I did what all self respecting authors do, I posted my troubles on Facebook, looking for a laugh and hoping for insights on how to increase my production time. 

What I didn't expect was an offer of help!
Best Invention Ever.

And thank goodness for Christina and her natural artistic talent and her deft use of a needle! And to boot, she introduced me to this fantastic little gizmo that threads your needle for you! What a gift for a 45 year old who is one prescription away from purchasing progressive glasses!

Once we had completed our sweat shop fun crafting morning, I noticed something peculiar as I began counting bookmarks. I started with Christina's pile, and blazed through her beautifully fanned out collection. Then I looked at my share. It was a tad bit more difficult to count as it appeared my side of the table been hit by a wind storm. Needles, button bags, and bent paper clips littered my chaotic pile.

"Look!" I said. "This is the perfect visual of our minds. Your bookmarks are a picture of organization, mine are a frenetic chaotic minefield!" 

Or something to that effect.

Yet, both of us are creative souls with imaginations we feed with writing, reading, and long hours spent day-dreaming up new worlds filled with "what-if" scenarios.

Three cheers for differences! 
And organization! 
And of course to chaos, who runs my creative mind! 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

All Aboard the Blog Book Tour for Forever Julia!

Yup, it is that time again! Time to ride the information super highway to promote my latest book, Forever Julia.

Launching at 7:00pm this Thursday in The Atrium at 
I'll be appearing around the globe on various bloggers websites near and far from 
April 27th to May 10th!

What?! Never been on a BBT? 
I'll be posting my "itinerary" next week so you can take a peak and see what the hullabaloo is all about!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Blast Off to the Forever Julia Book Launch!

Thrilled to see this end cap!
Look out world! Forever Julia is launching next week at McNally Robinson Booksellers! 

There will be a wee introduction, a quick reading, chardonnay and Shiraz on hand, and even McNally's most famous Imperial cookies! Somehow they will work their magic and morph my book cover into a yummy treat.

Forever Julia hanging out with
Empty Cup and Enslavement!
Go Anitas, Go!

Now remember, peeps, Forever Julia is a far cry from Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food. Forever Julia is intended for audiences aged 13/14+, but your children are welcome to attend and hang with my girls, who will be model citizens enjoying every facet of the evening, sitting quietly, with ankles crossed, in the audience.

Or they will run like feral children through the store, acting like McNally's was built for their entertainment alone.  

My money is on the wild animal option.

I am donating $1 from every book sold at McNally's from April 16th to May 7th to Macdonald Youth Services. Macdonald Youth Services will be on hand at the launch to share information about the important work they do with at risk youth in Winnipeg. Please consider MYS, if you are looking for a new charity to support. The boys and girls they support are our neighbours and our community members, who desperately need love, kindness, guidance, and compassion. 

Hope to see you on Thursday, April 16th at 7:00pm 
in the Atrium of McNally Robinson Booksellers!
(1120 Grant Avenue)

Monday, 30 March 2015

Writing 35,000 Feet in the Air

Writing Supplies Ready
I'm getting ready to go on holiday and since I am an excellent over packer, I have no fears I will be in need of anything. What I did double and triple check, though were my writing supplies.

  • New writing notebook. Check. 
  • Chapter outline & last 20 pages of Ford & Ellie. Check, check. 
  • Five pens, a highlighter, and pink sharpie. Check, check, and double check.

I can hardly wait for the flight - 8 hours of uninterrupted writing time. Of course I have both kids outfitted with books, movies, and drawing supplies. Hopefully The Drew can keep himself occupied until we get to The Dominican Republic.

Hmm, maybe a quick stop at Shopper's for Wired Magazine would be a good idea.

Must guard this time wisely... 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

FriesenPress - Best Field Trip. Ever.

What a way to be welcomed! And what a way to make your guests feel important.

Last week, the girls, my step-mom and I hopped in Lexie and crawled along the ice-covered highway to FriesenPress in Altona, Manitoba to see Forever Julia fly off the presses!

Best Field Trip. Ever.

My 14 year old was the official photographer and she did an outstanding job. My job was to take copious notes about each station in the printing plant.
Outstanding Work, Daughter!


I did not do such an outstanding job. 

Apparently it is 100% impossible to keep focused on note taking when you see your book chapters zoom by on a bigger than your 10-year-old roll of paper. See Exhibit A.

Therefore, notes were not in aplenty. One could say there was no unnecessary use of paper. Yes, or one could admit there were, in fact, exactly zero notes taken.

Instead see Exhibit B for my visual summary of the printing process.

The machine below is the Commander 240 and it prints, folds, slices, and dices your manuscript into book form. It is like the Slap Chop for writers.

It may possibly be more than one machine, linked together by some magical force similar to electricity, but I cannot be sure of that because I lost track of those details when I saw my Chapter 31; "Signs and boobs, and thigh-high boots. Oh my." - rush past me on that massive conveyor belt. (Plus, I had long since forgotten to take notes. See Exhibit A for a refresher.)

All I know for sure is when you look at this photo montage, you should begin at number 1 and finish at 7. I think.

Exhibit B
Our tour guide and one of Friesens' account managers, Aaron, made the trip absolutely unforgettable when he gave us the metal book plate for the cover of Forever Julia over coffee and cookies. Yes, I said cookies. Can you imagine this happening with any other printer?

The whole experience made me as wide-as-the-prairies, Manitoba proud. Yes, I went there. I referenced the prairies.

My thanks to FriesenPress. You are a class, Manitoban, act!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Devious Mind in Need of a Poker Face

All I can say is, "WOW!"

This is the Forever Julia kit Great Plains Teen Fiction sends to book reviewers, journalists, book bloggers, and librarians. My pal, co-worker, and Pembina Trails School Division's Educational Media/Library Consultant, Heather Eby brought the kit to work today so I could hold the Advanced Reading Copy. (Heather has a very fancy title because she is a literary queen, reading more books a year than anyone I know. Yes, that's right; she's a librarian's librarian.)

Holding the printed copy of Forever Julia was such a thrilling moment, I overheated and nearly slipped into delirium, taking every ounce of my constraint not to slip this ARC into my purse and slink away. 
Yup, I contemplated stealing my own book. I am devious that way.
However, since I have zero poker face, I wouldn't have gotten far, plus I kept walking around the school like this:

Worst thief. Ever.

Next step:

Book Launch at 7:00 pm on April 16th at 
McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Hope to see you there!
Yes, there will be wine. And books. And excitement. 
And possibly balloon animals.

(Okay, no balloon animals, but for sure wine
& a bookstore full of excitement.)