More Information on Books and School Visits

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

How to Write a Synopsis in 4 to 6 Easy-ish Steps

1. Procrastinate. Be sure to leave it until either the night before the deadline - at the very earliest - or better yet, push it off to the due date. 

2. Make sure you are working in a room with a large clock that tick-tocks* down the seconds so loudly that you no longer hear your inner voice ranting, "Why do I always do this!" *Added bonus: annoying sounds are guaranteed to diminish all creative thought. Perfect.

Snip snip here, and a snip snip there...
2. Include every last detail of your book, carelessly disregarding the finely worded request for a succinct double-spaced one page synopsis. Why? So later, when time is purposely working against you and you re-read the submission instructions, you can torture yourself with the trimming, snipping, and deleting of all your little darlins'. 

3. Throw a temper tantrum. This will make you feel extremely liberated for 30 seconds.Then return to your computer and rage-type out the following synopsis:

Once upon a time, there was this person, who wanted something really, really badly, but big trouble happened and it got really, really hard, but this person never gave up and they saved the day and lived happily ever after. 
The End

3. Part 2 - Pour yourself a beverage. Pots of coffee work for me, but you may prefer a tall glass(es) of Shiraz/Chardonnay/Bourbon/Vodka. I do not judge. Now delete each word as typed above.
4.Take 3 to 5 deep breaths, careful not to hold them too long or you may pass out. Especially if you are pulling an Ernest Hemingway, Oscar Wilde, or Edgar Allen Poe. Most likely absinthe and yoga breathing don't mix well.

5. Now, write out as simply as possible a very loose outline. Then add a few key details. Do not forget to include how the story ends. This is no time for clever hooks and mysterious innuendos. A publisher or editor needs to see the story arc.

6. Let your latest synopsis draft sit and simmer for awhile, but not too long as you are tight for time. (Please see item 1.) 

Who would miss one teeny egg?
How to spend those precious hours until you begin further edits?

Take up macrame. Craft a scarf, an extremely stretchy dog leash, or a groovy pocket square for your favourite suit sporting guy. Everything old is new again. 

Dig into the Easter chocolate your children have not-so-carefully hidden in their bedrooms.

Or write a blog post about it.

Happy Synopsis Writing!

Friday, 11 March 2016

What is Your Theme Song?

By the light of the silvery moon...
While listening to classical music on the drive home this morning - Claude Debussy's Claire de Lune to be exact - I had this funny sort of thought. 

Normally while driving, fresh writing ideas come to me or my current character's dialogue chatters on in my head. But today as I raced down the back roads of Hertfordshire, I began thinking about the composer of the beautiful music that flooded through my car.

Who was this Debussy?

Mozart, Quartet in C

How did he "think" up these songs? Did he hear the music in his head as he walked about town, like writers hear their characters' conversations? When Debussy showered, did great trills and crescendos crash down upon him, like words and passages do for me?

What would it be like to have music as great as Mozart, Beethoven, and Debussy lilt through your mind and carry you through each and every day?

I have often used music to set the tone for writing. Some characters I create prefer AC/DC, others The Weekend. Some, I feel even have a theme song that become synonymous with who they are. Music helps my creativity. 

I have now arrived home and have Claire de Lune cranked on my laptop. Its haunting melody surrounds me as I tackle the next scene in Ford and Ellie

Moon Fever on my brain.
How will Debussy's music shape my next passage?

Imagine, if you were the one to make music that others enjoy and use to help fuel their creative endeavours. Both current and classical music is often used in television and film as a movie's score and I then wondered further, "Was there one specific song that Debussy would have considered the score to his life? Did he have a theme song?"

My theme song changes quite regularly. Currently, it is Chumbawamba's Tub Thumping (I Get Knocked Down). Not because the lyrics are awe-inspiring or incredibly meaningful, but the energy of the song lifts my spirits and pumps me up.

What is your theme song?

Monday, 16 November 2015

Canada's Bullying Awareness Week

Why not pick up a copy?

I am very proud and extremely honoured that Forever Julia has been included in the 49th Shelf's list of Young Adult titles that deal with bullying. 

If you haven't read many Canadian authors, this is a great place to start. You may be surprised by the breadth and depth of talent found north of the 49th parallel.
And a sincere thank you to Colleen Nelson who compiled this list. Colleen is an award winning author of Young Adult fiction who is getting our teens reading and talking about tough issues.

"Canada's Bullying Awareness Week runs November 15-21, this year with the theme, "Stand Up to Bullying." The focus of Bullying Awareness Week is not about influencing the actions of others, but rather about understanding what we as individuals and community members can do to address the problem of bullying. And one thing that parents, teachers and librarians can do is make the following books, selected by award-winning YA author Colleen Nelson, available to the young people in their lives.

These are stories that can empower readers to "stand up to bullying" once and for all. "

*Colleen Nelson is an award-winning writer and teacher in Winnipeg. Although she was lured by the bright lights of Japan and New York City, she returned to the Prairies where she and her husband are raising their two sons. Finding Hope is her fourth YA book.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Forever Julia Wins Bronze Moonbeam Award!

Happy Dancing in my English Garden!

Thrilled to learn that Forever Julia won a Bronze Moonbeam Award in the category of Young Adult Fiction - Mature Issues 2015.

And by lucky coincidence The Drew has the day off, so we will wander into town for a latte and sticky bun to celebrate.

Thanks again to Great Plains Teen Fiction for seeing the importance of Julia's story, providing outstanding editorial suggestions, and designing a book cover that still takes my breath away.

Look what arrived today!

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!