More Information on Books and School Visits

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Family of Spies Launched!

It's official! 
Family of Spies has launched and will land on bookstore shelves over the next few weeks.

My thanks to everyone who came out to McNally Robinson Bookseller's to celebrate. 
What a party!

Jamie and I. Excited. Nervous. Pens ready.

Illustrator, Jamie Gatta and I, were thrilled to see so many students from Beaumont School. And of course I was proud to introduce Kennedy who created the awesome Family of Spies' book trailer, which you can view here: Family of Spies Book Trailer.

McNally's atrium was packed with kids, adults, friends, and family and looking on a sea of smiling faces, is something I will never forget. 

Family of Spies was inspired by family lore that swirls around my grandfather's still-sealed World War 2 records and my cousins from across North America, including Hawaii, flew to Winnipeg for this event. We quickly planned a Winnipeg Crawford family reunion and re-introduced ourselves after decades of separation. Books aren't just about getting lost in a good story, they can bring families together! At least they are, if you are a FAMILY OF SPIES! 
Gorgeous cookies by Prairie Ink.

(See what I did there? Clever, yes?)

A huge thank you to McNally's launch staff who seamlessly guided the afternoon. You make every author, whether they've published one book or twenty-five books, feel like J.K. Rowling.

Family of Spies was completed on the day movers arrived at our home in Hertford, England to pack us for our return to Canada. While in England, I met two writers through The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and we formed a critique group called, The Streamers. (Named after our pub, The Millstream. Of course.) This novel would remain unfinished if it weren't for The Streamers. Alice and Louise graciously agreed to do my book launch introduction via video, and as expected everyone found them as funny, thoughtful, and amazing as I do. As they took us down "memory lane" of how we three met and worked so well together, my heart was full. I am happy to say, The Streamers has gone international, and we meet via Skype every three to four weeks to critique each others work.

Two thirds of The Streamers: Alice and Louise from Hertford, England

Sharing the writing journey of Family of Spies
And then the presentation continued and in what felt like just a few minutes, I was signing books.
Thank you!
Signing, signing, signing. Smiling, smiling, smiling.
E.H. Crawford
 This day was made possible by Yellow Dog, an imprint of Great Plains Publications. 
Thank you for all you do for Canadian writers.
And my thanks to my cousin, Jim Crawford of Newfoundland - our family historian. Thank you for helping me keep all our Crawford Harrys and Henrys straight. 

Finally, I am extremely grateful that I am fortunate enough to write books and find an audience who enjoys the stories I create.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Family of Spies Blog Tour Schedule

And so it begins! 
So excited to start the tour for 
Family of Spies.
Won't you join me as I travel the Internet and visit bloggers across the globe?

April 30, 2018 – Chapters Through Life – Review

May 1, 2018 – Chapter by Chapter – Interview

May 2, 2018 – BookHounds YA – Guest Post

May 3, 2018 – BooksChatter – Interview

May 4, 2018 – Stacking My Book Shelves! – Interview

May 7, 2018 – Belle’s Book Blog – Spotlight

May 8, 2018 – Writing Pearls – Review

May 9, 2018 – Mango Bubbles Books – Review

May 10, 2018 – CanLit for LittleCanadians – Review

May 10, 2018 – MG Book Village – Review

May 11, 2018 – laura’s bookish corner – Review
Available Now!
It will be a busy two weeks. 
Hope to see you in the comments section.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Fact vs Fiction in Family of Spies

I am currently creating a new website and will then have a separate tab for a Fact vs Fiction page for Family of Spies for easier access for readers. Until then, this is where you can find the details surrounding the background for my latest novel.


Family of Spies is loosely based on the mystery revolving around my Rhodes Scholar grandfather, Edward Hugh Martin Crawford. He was a pilot with the R.C.A.F. and was awarded an MBE based on his involvement in World War 2. Eighty years later, the details of his military career remain sealed. Our family lore of code-breaking, secret missions, and connections to Bletchley Park, fueled my imagination when writing this story.

Family of Spies blends truth with imagination. Here is a list of where fact and fiction met to create a story with verisimilitude.


Edward Hugh Martin Crawford - born 1894 died 1972

Edward Hugh Martin Crawford Circa 1944
Born at Benton, NL he attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar for Newfoundland and received a BA degree in Jurisprudence, Bachelor of Civil Law, and Master of Arts. He moved to Winnipeg and was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1921. He was made a King’s Counsel in 1939, and during the Second World War, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Wing Commander and received the Member of the British Empire (Military) Medal. His war records remain sealed.

His involvement with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) as a Spy Master.

General Carl -Heinrich von Stülpnagel - born 1886 died 1944

He held many posts in Nazi Germany and played a role in the “July Plot” – a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler— on July 20, 1944. The chief aim of the plot was to take control away from the Nazi party and seek peace with the Allies. General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel stayed in Paris from 1942-1944. The assassination attempt was discovered and he was ordered back to Berlin to face trial for treason. He was sentenced to death and executed on August 30, 1944.

His meeting with SOE Agent Morah a.k.a. “Scout.”

Sir William Stephenson – born 1896 died 1989

Master spy from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Code Name: Intrepid. Stephenson is believed to be one of the real-life inspirations for the fictitious master spy, James Bond. Stephenson was in charge of British Security Co-ordination in the Western Hemisphere, with headquarters in New York City. He set up an allied agent training centre near Oshawa Ontario called Camp X for infiltration into Nazi-occupied Europe.

Although our family if rife with rumour, his association with Edward Hugh Crawford, is a work of fiction.

Jean Moulin – born 1889 died 1943

He was the leader of Armée secrète (French Resistance) and was captured in June 1943 when Germans raided a meeting of several resistance leaders. Moulin was interrogated by the Gestapo in Lyon and Paris and died, as a result of torture, on a train taking him to Germany.

His association with any characters in this book is fiction.

Harry Crawford – born 1919 died 1990

Harry was Edward Hugh Crawford’s nephew and was a codebreaker in the (Royal Air Force) RAF at Bletchley Park during World War 2.

All Other Characters in the novel are fiction

The Special Operations Executive

The Special Operations Executive was ordered by Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, to “set Europe ablaze” in efforts to undermine German-occupied countries. The SOE’s primary task was to work with resistance movements, chiefly the French Resistance.

The SOE agents in the book are works of fiction, but based on research on real agents and the missions they undertook.

Physician Network

This was a spy network organized by British SOE agent, Francis Alfred Suttill (Code Name: Prosper). The network was controlled by the SOE and was its largest network in France. The Physician Network was compromised and destroyed by the Germans in the summer of 1943.

Any connection to characters in the book.

Female Agents

Female operatives worked for the SOE and were trained to handle guns and explosives, memorize complex codes, organize munitions and supplies drops, endure harsh interrogation, and, in some cases, were in charge of thousands of men.


Hotel Du France

It does not exist; however, the German military did take possession of any building they desired to use as interrogation centres.

Hotel Raphael

High-ranking officers of the German command lived in this luxury hotel. During the attack on Adolf Hitler, General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel and some of the other conspirators used Hotel Raphael as a headquarters.

It is not known if General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel resided in this hotel during his time in Paris.

Madame Bellerose’s house

This is a completely fictional home on a fictional street.

The Rental Apartment

The location of the apartment where Ford, Ellie and Gavin stay while in Paris is close to an actual rental location. When writing apartment scenes, I referred to photos of that apartment to capture details.  

All other locations

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Family of Spies Book Launch

It is official!

The McNally Robinson launch date for my third novel 
Family of Spies
is set for April 29th at 2:00 p.m. 

Please join me in McNally's atrium for a fun-filled afternoon. Of course there will be cookies, clues, and prizes! 

This is a family friendly event, with special guests from the Adopt an Author program at Beaumont School.

Family of Spies, is a middle grade novel loosely based on the mystery revolving around my Rhodes Scholar grandfather, Edward Hugh Martin Crawford. He was a pilot with the R.C.A.F. and was awarded an MBE, based on his involvement in World War 2. Eighty years later, the details of his military career remain sealed. Our family lore of code breaking, secret missions, and connections to Bletchley Park, fueled my imagination when writing this story. Back in 2013 when I began research for this novel, I wrote a blog post exploring my grandfather's life. You can read it by clicking here: The Queen's Rum Runner.

When cousins Ford, Ellie and Gavin, discover their great-grandfather was a rogue World War 2 spymaster, they must outrun MI6 and the CIA through the streets of Paris, relying on their wits and Ford’s newfound clairvoyant skills to unlock Great-Granddad’s spy secrets buried in the past. Great-Granddad hid something important to the war effort and these agencies want it back!

And finally, a huge thank you to my editor, Stephanie Berrington of Yellow Dog, an imprint of Great Plains Publications, for working with me to strengthen every passage of this novel. 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Meet The Streamers!

Writing is primarily a solo occupation and can be a little lonely at times. Writing groups build a community of like minded folks, people who truly "get" you.

When we moved to England in 2015, I sorely missed my Winnipeg writing group, The Anita Factor and already homesick, I soon became writer sick. I needed to find a new "tribe" with whom a could talk story and so I began a search for fellow children's authors. Within a few months, and my first British Isles SCBWI event at Hertford's Leaf Cafe, I found two writers also searching for a writing group. Kismet? Karma? Fate?

Who knows, but from our first session at our local pub, The Millstream, we knew we had struck gold in finding each other and quickly named ourselves The Streamers. 

The Streamers:

Alice Hemming, Louise Morriss, and Me.
 Apparently, we are selfie-challenged. 
 Perhaps, it was the fizz. 
We may not have been calm, but we carried on.
Definitely the fizz.

Since then we have been to conferences together, workshops, agent meet and greets, and have completed many books together. Now that I have returned to Canada, The Streamers has gone international and we hold our crit session via facebook video. Technology is a wonderful thing.

Alice and Louise are two of the most talented writers I have met. Alice has NUMEROUS books published, with one more launching in April 2018! We had the pleasure of working on this book in our group and to see the initial illustrations and cover design is so exciting.

Louise is on the cusp of her first contract, with heaps of praise with her short listed entry in last year's Hook Competition through the SCBWI conference in Winchester.

With another transcontinental meeting coming at the end of the month, I am counting sleeps until I can hear their lovely voices and laugh the day away. Together again.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

I've Been Adopted!

That's right. I've been adopted, but its not quite like it sounds. Beaumont School in Winnipeg, Manitoba has adopted me as their author in residence and I am beyond the moon excited.

Beginning in October, I will visit the school on a monthly to semi-monthly basis to share the behind the scenes details of publishing my middle grade novel, Family of Spies. Together we will journey through revisions, book designs, promotional considerations, more revisions, marketing decisions, final last minute revisions, book printing, culminating with the book launch.

I am so grateful to Prairie Bookings  for being so incredibly forward thinking and responsive and to Colleen Nelson who referred me to this author service. Colleen is the award-winning author of the following; Blood Brothers, Finding Hope, and 250 Hours, and many more! She champions fellow writers, always looking for ways to offer support and is a model of kindness.

I cannot wait to meet the Beaumont students and introduce them to Ford, Ellie, and Gavin. 
A world of espionage, secret agents, and clairvoyance awaits!
*Just found out one more school is interested in adopting me! 
More deets to follow...

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Judging a Book

As I journey down the publishing road of Family of Spies, I have started to research middle grade book covers. Since readers do judge a book by its cover, getting this right is imperative.

Yesterday, I met with Winnipeg's McNally Robinson who graciously shared their knowledge on what draws readers in, what sells, and the key features of an older middle grade novel cover.

We found some key similarities in popular titles. More often than not, the faces of the characters are not revealed, leaving more to the reader's imaginations. Certain colours seem to dominate: blues, purples, blacks. Mysteries do lend themselves to a darker cover after all. Each book title has a striking font which reveals a glimmer of the story's tone.

These stunning covers topped the list:

The Girl Who Drank the Moon was our favourite. 
I loved it so much, I bought it and can't put it down.

Then I found these gorgeous books this morning:

I have read many of these titles, and now want to read them all!

Which ones do you like best? 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Family of Spies Launching Spring 2018!

It's official!

Family of Spies will launch in spring 2018!

I am extremely happy to have another book published with Great Plains Publications under their new teen and middle grade imprint, Yellow Dog Press. Partnering with editor Catharina de Bakker on Forever Julia was a dream and I can't wait to work with her once more.

Soon I will start revisions, which will take me into November/December and in the mean time discussions around cover designs begin.

Book covers are always important, but with this age group they can make or break book sales. This week I am meeting with McNally Robinson who have graciously agreed to discuss what makes a middle grade cover pop off the shelf.

Then to plan the book launch. 
Spy theme? 
Yes please!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Write to Write Another Day

Writing a book is thrilling and exciting, and at the same time an extremely difficult business full of rejection, critique, and struggle.

I have often been asked, how I take a nugget of an idea and turn it into a bound novel. So today, I thought I would distill it down to;

The Creation of a Book in Seven "Simple" Steps:

1. A writer combines their passion for words and storytelling with bits of their heart and soul to create a first draft.

2. To produce the best possible manuscript, a lengthy period of editing, rewriting, and revising follows.

3. With heart a' flutter that book baby is then submitted to editors and publishers to find a home.

4. Contracts are signed.

5. Further edits are completed at the request of an editorial team.

6. Cover reveal! Happy Dancing begins.

7. The launch. Happy Dancing continues.

However, this takes time, patience, and an extremely thick skin. Think Earth's crust magnitude.

Not mentioned in the above process are the rejections that flood in. Sometimes it is tempting to quit under the weight of the "no's", the "sorry this is just not for us", or "we like it, but not enough to really get behind this project." Ouch.

However, I am exceedingly stubborn and will not go silently into any good night (er' whatever).

To combat rejection woes, I have developed a (mostly effective) strategy. Perhaps it will work for you. If nothing else, you may find it delicious.

Three steps to overcome writing rejection:

1. I repeat over and over again the following mantras:

"Real writers write, they don't quit."

"Winners don't quit and quitters never win."

2. I write to write another day:

This is more than just a clever sentence. I find the best way to assuage the sting of rejection is to write myself back in the game. Essentially, I write to renew my passion, pouring myself into a new project. This creates the writing fuel I need to continue.

3. Chocolate:

Eat. All. The. Chocolate.

What are your salves for rejection?

Friday, 26 May 2017

The Business of Writing

See? Creating worlds is very cool.
Writing grant apps? Not so much.

Being a writer isn't only about creating imaginary worlds and characters to explore them.

It also includes tasks that range from writing grant applications to writing bios both lengthy and short and sweet. It also means perfecting blurbs, tweets, and elevator pitches to catch and hook the attention of readers, editors, and publishers.

All of these efforts take creative thought into a different direction and help to promote both a writer and their work. It is the business side of our industry and is as important to a writer's career as is writing the best book possible.

Today, I work on author bios for Sourcebooks, who purchased Little Pickle Press, the publisher of Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food. Author Bios are basically a humble or even not so humble brag about yourself and can be quite challenging. The goal, in my mind, is to encapsulate who you are, your writing style, and to pique interest in your work. No worries. I have a fresh pot of coffee brewing and a chocolate reward waiting.

This may need some work...

You can purchase Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food by clicking here.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

A Dummy Layout is Never Stupid

A Dummy Layout is Never Stupid.
(I know. Lame joke. I couldn't help myself.)

This is Peaches. 

Hopefully not the final version of this magic-wielding peacock, but it isn't half bad for someone who is drawing challenged.

I actually had quite a delightful time sketching Peaches into existence when creating the dummy for my picture book, Peaches in a Peach Tree.

Recently, I completed a graphic novel and comic books workshop and not because I thought, like Peaches, magic would rain from me and I would suddenly be able to draw. That would be insane. (Although, a tiny bit of me hoped I would acquire more than stick man drawing ability.)

I enrolled in this class, because I was curious to learn more about the craft and to discover if I could somehow turn my novels into graphic novels. The instructors, Justin Currie and GMB Chombichuk, were dynamic and inspiring and shared their massive amounts of experience and talents with us and I learnt too much to do the course justice on this post. However, what helped me specifically with creating picture books was the idea that a thumb nail sketch didn't have to be perfect. This was quite freeing and when I returned to Peaches, I let my pencil loose and I gotta' say...

...maybe a little magic did happen today.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

And Two Makes it Real

"The only thing harder than getting your first book published, is getting your second book published."

I heard that ages ago, long before my first book was complete, years before it was even published. Once I began submitting manuscripts to editors and agents, I thought of that saying and grumbled, "I'd love to have that worry."

The reality of it hit me like a concrete wall of self-doubt as I started the submission process all over again with my second novel. The "no's"  arrived by post and email and those same feelings I had in my early days of writing descended, coupled with a new worry...

What if I was a one hit wonder?

What if Spaghetti was a fluke? A bit of good luck? Was it possible all I had in my was one good story?

My normally positive attitude was almost flattened. Almost.

The reason I was able to continue submitting, revising, and rewriting was because I made a few very smart decisions a few years ago. (I make many ridiculous decisions on an ongoing basis, so when my choices work out, they're quite a whoopdeedoo to me.)

The first brilliant thing I did was take a writing workshop led by Anita Daher. Not only did I learn more about writing in those eight weeks than I had in the previous eight years, Anita became my first writing mentor and a great friend. And to boot,  I met the most amazing circle of writers.

That's when I made my second most stupendous decision. I stuck with those talented women and we formed a writing group - a sisterhood of sorts. Seven years later, "The Anita Factor" is still together, meeting every second Thursday at McNally's, supporting each other through the dark hours of self doubt and celebrating each other's glory days of publications and award nominations.

Sheldon Oberman
The second wise move I made was to apply for The Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program run through The Manitoba Writers' Guild. When I was accepted, I had no idea that I would be fortunate enough to be paired with Carolyn Gray, then Executive Director of The Guild and incredible playwright. Under her guidance, I ditched fourteen of my darling chapters, replacing them with better written, faster paced scenes that actually contained plot! Yes, plot peeps. Every story needs one.

The final thing I did was listen to my inner voice. The voice that sometimes is hard to hear over the busyness of daily life. The voice that gets pushed to the bottom of my to-do list of laundry, work, and kids' soccer practices.The voice that knows me best.

I think it may be my ego. Or id. Or conscience? 
(Yes, that is a Finding Nemo reference. Of course.)

I'm not a student of Karma, or meditation, or Disney movies, so I'm not sure what it is called. But, whatever it is, that little voice that knows both my wildest dreams and worst fears, said to me long ago, "You can't stop writing, so don't ever try, sister." 

Even though that wee voice has whispered, chanted, and even shouted those words, for over a decade now, I have tried to stop writing. On occasion. But only when it all seemed too hard, the rejection hurt too much. However, abstaining from writing, not losing myself in the story-worlds of my imagination, hurt even more.

So, I've stopped the stopping and I just kept on writing. because only if you're writing and polishing your words can the good stuff happen, like having my second book, Forever Julia, picked up by Great Plains Publications in 2015. And man, two published books is the perfect way to squash self-doubt.

In fact, it makes me wonder what three books would feel like...

             Forever Writing

Thursday, 30 March 2017

No ghosts, goblins, or scary witches. At least not anymore...

Nervous. Excited. Hopeful.

Triple the feels today.

I've been working on two picture books for sometime now and this morning I submitted one of them to a publisher.

SQUEEEE!  (I actually whispered my joyous scream, as my children are sleeping and it's never good to wake teenagers before 11 am during spring break.)

Strangely enough, the waiting time between submission and response is one of my favourite stages in the writing process. It's full of promise and wild fantasies. What if they adore my book?  What if they think it is the next BIG thing? What if they give me a 6 figure 4 figure advance? (Sometimes even fantasies are a bit ridiculous.)

Possibly even stranger is that I never rarely think negatively. No gloom and doom as I wait. It's not that I don't know there are zero guarantees in publishing and that receiving rejections are part of the game. I just choose not to dwell on that part. No need to ruin my bliss with reality.

So now, NOT a Halloween Book, is out there; looking for a publishing home. 
And I am enjoying the ride.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Spies, Code Breaking, Secret Missions, Clairvoyance? Yes, Please!

When cousins, Ford, Ellie and Gavin, discover their great-grandfather was a rogue World War 2 spymaster, they must outrun MI6 and the CIA through the streets of Paris, relying on their wits and Ford’s newfound clairvoyant skills to unlock Great-Granddad’s spy secrets buried in the past. Great-Granddad hid something important to the war effort and these agencies want it back! Family of Spies, is a middle grade novel inspired by my Rhodes Scholar grandfather and his still sealed World War 2 records. He was a pilot with the R.C.A.F. and family lore of code breaking, secret missions, connections to Bletchley Park, and links to Canada’s top spy, William Stephenson fueled my imagination when writing this story.

This is the manuscript I finished while we lived in Hertford, England. I typed the final words while movers packed everything around me.
Hit my deadline with no time to spare!
Once back in Winnipeg, the revisions began. Darlings were killed, scenes rewritten again and again, sentences tightened, character arcs strengthened and now two months later, I journey down the path to publication. My upcoming days and weeks will be filled with writing engaging hooks, synopses, and queries in search of a home for Family of Spies.

Wish me luck!

Monday, 7 November 2016

The Year of Yes

Yes, please. Yes, thank you. Yes, of course.
Our move overseas was full of changes and challenges for our family, not all of them fun. Some moments were downright unpleasant. 
However, rather than run naked through the cobble-stoned streets of England like a lunatic, I decided to challenge myself to try anything and everything that came my way while over here. 
(That is correct. Those were my only two options; Wild Nudity or Never Uttering No.)

I am now coming up to the 18 month anniversary of "Saying Yes", whenever possible, and so far all opportunities have proven possible. I've been pushed over, above, and beyond my comfort zone. This has been nerve wracking, nauseating, and exhilarating all at the same time. Who knew adrenaline could be such a rush. I know, lame, but sometimes you have to "say yes" to lame. See what I did there? 

So, this is me, doing something I never thought I'd ever get the chance to do. I got to be a reporter; not once, but twice.

I practiced head nods for this bit. Such dedication.
Here is my first interview and foray into the world of journalism. (That would be extremely small "j" journalism, as I have zero training, and truthfully the CBC will not be calling anytime soon.) In this video I speak to Karen Delahay, one of the founders of Hertford's leading visual arts venue; Courtyard Arts.

In my second Courtyard Arts interview I met the talented artist, Paul Hiles. His work illustrates his love of London and showcases his affection for 1950s/60s culture and style. His house was an homage to everything Mod.

I could have lived the rest of my days, quite happily in this kitchen.
My extreme gratitude goes to Courtyard Arts for saying "yes" to me conducting these interviews and to Dr. Mike Howarth for having faith in me to pull them off. He is a video wizard and was somehow able to edit out my mad-blinking affliction. 

If you are looking to get connected to the art scene in Hertford, England, follow this link to Courtyard Arts.

If you need anything to do with video, get in touch with Dr. Mike Howarth here: MHMVR

And finally, if you are considering your own, "Year of Yes"
I highly recommend reading Amy Poehler's book, 
Yes Please
Inspirational and hilarious. How could you say, no?

Buy it!