Tag Archives: Canadian author

Interview with Janet Sketchley & a book giveaway!

Today I’m delighted to introduce to you Janet Sketchley, author of the Redemption’s Edge Christian suspense series and the devotional collection, A Year of Tenacity. She’s an Atlantic Canadian writer who loves Jesus and her family, and enjoys reading, worship music, and tea. You can find Janet online at janetsketchley.ca.

Welcome to my interview corner, Janet. Thank you for taking the time to do this. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I don’t think I’m very interesting… that’s why I write about my imaginary friends. I like my life, though, and wouldn’t trade it: I’m blessed with a wonderful husband and three adult sons, I get to live in Nova Scotia, and I love the beauty of nature, especially rivers and the ocean.

I fully understand your love of Nova Scotia’s beauty and the ocean never far from us here.  🙂 When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you?

I have memories from childhood of writing some spectacularly bad stories, or at least the openings of stories. My earliest inspiration probably came from the Anne of Green Gables and Black Stallion books.

As a writer, do you do much reading? Who were/are your favourite authors or books or genres?

I read way too much! I’ve gone through phases of different genres, and now I read fairly widely but most enjoy clean or Christian mysteries, science fiction, and fantasy.

Have you ever felt like giving up? When did you finally believe in yourself so you can say “I am a writer”?

I’ve quit a few times ** God always nudges me back to it, and when I’m not writing, there’s a part of me that’s miserable. I think the turning point for me was realizing that I need to write, whether I’m published or not. The freedom to embrace the gift and do what makes me feel alive without needing to show proof of “success” was crucial.

I appreciate what you said as I’m still sorting out how it all fits together for me. Do you have a favourite motto or quote or Bible verse that you try to live by and that helps to keep you going?

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” That’s my life verse (and it’ll take a lifetime to fully apply it!).

Agreed! What support groups do you have in place that help keep you inspired?

I’m part of a local writers’ group who meet face to face for encouragement and critiquing, plus I’m connected to writers across Canada through The Word Guild and InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. I’m also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, despite being Canadian. Interacting with other writers encourages me, and I learn from those with more experience.

Great reminder. What do you remember about the very first time you were published? How did that come about?

I don’t remember much about my very first time in print, with a short article, but I was always excited to receive a printed copy of my submission. Publication of my first novel was a very surreal feeling. After so many rejections, I didn’t know what to do with a “yes.” It was a thrill to receive a box of my books and to actually be able to hold a copy of what had been a dream for so long.

How exciting! What have you had published thus far, and of those what have you most enjoyed writing?

My Redemption’s Edge series is three novels plus a bonus feature book. Each of the novels had parts I enjoyed – those moments when inspiration flows and I type as fast as I can to keep up. Also, this year I released a non-fiction book, A Year of Tenacity: 365 Daily Devotions

Bravo! I like having a daily inspirational reading, so my copy of Tenacity will be arriving soon from Amazon. What process do you go through when writing and perfecting your work?

This is still evolving. I’m becoming more of a plotter, more aware of the underlying structure of fiction and how best to build on it. Not that writing should ever be mechanical, but the better foundation I can lay in the planning and early draft, the stronger the final work will be, and the simpler the rewrites. For me, there will always be rewrites…

What method do you use to keep track of your writing ideas?

I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s OneNote software. It’s like a virtual binder, and it lets me keep track of ideas, links, images… everything that inspires me.

Sounds very convenient. What inspired you to write the Redemption’s Edge novels?

Essentially, I started writing book one, Heaven’s Prey, because it wouldn’t leave me alone and I wanted to get it out of my head. The following books in the series grew from seeds of ideas that stuck with me over the years.

How long did it take you to write each of the three books, approximately? Did you have to do much research for any of them?

From my earliest notes to the actual publication of Heaven’s Prey was almost 20 years. A lot of that was rewriting again and again, plus writing a few drafts of book two, Secrets and Lies. Book three, Without Proof, took about a year, and I would like to have had longer with it. I’m not fast at this. Each one took some research, most of which I was able to do online. Sometimes that had me wondering if I’d trigger some government agency to come check on me! I’d been a Formula One racing fan for years, so I’d already absorbed most of the racing information I needed for Heaven’s Prey.

Wow! Twenty years! It certainly paid off as Heaven’s Prey is a gripping story. I’m glad you still have your freedom after Without Proof. 😉 Did you find any of the stories difficult to write, or more so than the others? If so, how did you stick with it and why?

Heaven’s Prey was definitely the hardest. As I said, this one came to me, I didn’t go looking for it. One of the challenges in each rewrite was to deepen the hard places where I wanted to stay on the surface. I had to be true to the characters and their story without traumatizing the reader. It’s still too much for the most sensitive, although other readers tell me it’s not as dark as I say it is. This sounds crazy, but I stuck with it for the characters. I said as long as I could learn how to make their story better, I’d do it for them. That’s why I kept going back to the story even after taking a break to write the next one. If writing a novel is a form of birth, this one definitely had the longest gestation.

I find it amazing how characters we write seem to take on a life of their own and have to be heard. Heaven’s Prey is the hardest one of the three to read, but it’s worth staying with until the end. How did you go about finding a publisher? an editor? and do you have an agent?

I’ve attended the Write Canada conference for many years, and connected with my agent there. I received a couple of invitations to submit my manuscripts that way, too, although the timing (and quality!) wasn’t right. My agent and I had pretty much lost hope when I heard about a new start-up publisher in the US. I submitted my proposal with my agent’s approval, and was shocked to be accepted. The second shock was working through the editorial process and discovering how much work still needed to be done. The third was my publisher closing its fiction line, and my taking the plunge into indie publishing.

Good for you for your determination and passion! Please tell us, what honours your books have received thus far.

I’m pleased that each of the novels has been short-listed for The Word Awards in the suspense category. They didn’t win, but being a finalist is an affirmation in its own right.

Congratulations for the recognition. How do you consistently write? Do you have writing goals .. daily? weekly? monthly? long-range?

This past year, I’ve been terrible at this. I do have writing goals, but have not been meeting them. Consistent, daily writing time with a solid, three-hour chunk of focus is what I need to regain.

What other interests do you have for a change from writing?

I’ve already confessed that I read too much. A special, relaxing treat is to spend time cross-stitching or knitting, often with my favourite music playing. Less relaxing but important to my health is exercise. I run twice a week, and join my husband for a couple of gym classes as well. This is not my idea of fun, but writing is sedentary and I was developing some aches and creaks.

Oh, do I hear ya regarding those aches and creaks! I get so involved in what I’m doing I forget to get up and walk around, and then I pay for it. Do you have other projects in the works? If so, can you give our readers any hints?

Fiction-wise, I’m working on a new series, the Green Dory Inn Mysteries set just outside of Lunenburg, NS. It starts with a novella that will release in the new year, followed by a full-length novel I’m writing now.

Sounds interesting! Is being a writer/author all you had hoped or thought it would be?

It’s different than I imagined when I started writing seriously as an adult, but by the time my novels were published, I’d spent enough time around more advanced writers to know they’re still human like the rest of us. It’s not glamorous or exciting, it’s long hours slogging to craft the best story we can, while balancing life’s regular responsibilities. It’s definitely not making me rich. But those moments when I hear from a reader that something has made a difference in her life? Those are priceless.

The balancing act is its own challenge, I think. Do you have any advice for hopefuls?

Involve yourself in a writers’ group with people farther ahead of you on the journey. That can be in person, but it can also be online. Listen to them and learn what to expect. Keep writing, every day if possible. Little bits add up. Give yourself permission to enjoy the process, because it’s a long one. Strive for excellence, but don’t let that paralyze you. If you can, attend a conference. It’s amazing the difference to your mindset, just being around other writers and learning with them. And like any other dream, don’t let it own you. You are more than this one aspect of who you want to be. Don’t miss the rest of life while working toward the dream.

What excellent advice, Janet, and helpful to me. Thank you! This has been a wonderful interview; I’m impressed with your … tenacity.

I’ve enjoyed all the books in your Redemption’s Edge series, and now we get to the fun stuff … the offer of one of your books to one of our readers! 

 

 

 

Readers, and writers who read 🙂 – check out my reviews of the above three books by Janet:  Heaven’s Prey   Secrets & Lies    Without Proof

Janet is giving you the chance to win one of her novels depicted above — winner’s choice. One person will win a print copy if you are within Canada or continental US, or an ebook if you are elsewhere in the world. How cool is that!

If you’d like a chance to win one of the three suspense novels shown above, simply leave a comment about anything that stood out to you in the interview, and also say which book would be your choice should you be the fortunate winner. Using random name picker I’ll be selecting one name at 9:00 PM EST on November 30, so you have a little over a week as of this posting. If your name is chosen you’ll receive an email in which I’ll ask for your information so a book can be sent to you.

And PLEASE … PASS THE WORD ALONG!

Janet’s writing is professional and enjoyable to read. You can go to Amazon (.com or .ca) to find all her books mentioned in this interview. Just type “Janet Sketchley” into their search bar to see them all.

Remember, you only have until November 30 to enter the draw, and please send your friends this way.  🙂 

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

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Book Review: Secrets & Lies – by Janet Sketchley

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Secret & Lies: a Redemption's Edge novel, book 2
Author: Janet Sketchley
Publisher: Janet Sketchley
Date: October 23, 2014
Genre: Christian suspense, fiction 
Pages: 320
Price: $13.99
My rating: a suspense-filled story of redemption and trust

 

Today being my birthday, I think a review of an adult book is a good idea, along with upcoming news for you. 🙂

This novel, Secrets & Lies, is book 2 in the Redemption’s Edge series by Canadian author Janet Sketchley.

I didn’t obtain the three books in order of publication so didn’t review them in order, but if you want to read my reviews in order you can find book 1, Heaven’s Prey HERE, and book 3, Without Proof HERE.

Even though Secrets & Lies is book 2 of the series, the author gives enough details so that if readers have not read book 1 they aren’t feeling adrift not knowing how the characters connect. Janet Sketchley did an excellent job of writing a novel that sits comfortably in the middle of the trio, and that can also stand alone.

After her teenage son dies from a drug overdose and her husband leaves, Carol and her other son move from Calgary in western Canada to start a new life farther east in Toronto. Her brother is in prison for murder and she wants to have nothing to do with him. Thinking she has found a safe place for herself and her son, Carol is shaken when a detective arrives at her apartment to give her a warning from her brother. When she receives a threatening phone call, someone who believes she knows where her brother hid stolen money, she turns to the friendship she has with a late night radio deejay.

There are drug lords, concerned neighbours, a break-in, a love interest, a friend with his own dark secret, her son’s Christian girlfriend, and more – all complicating Carol’s life. She is sure she can’t ask God for help.

Secrets & Lies is well plotted, planned and presented.  Janet Sketchley is a skilled author who weaves situations of drama, romance, and suspense into a believable story. Although it has a Christian thread running through it, it is not religiously heavy-handed at all.

Watch next week for my interview with Janet and your chance to win a copy of one of her Redemption’s Edge novels!

You can find Secrets & Lies: a Redemption’s Edge novelwritten by Janet Sketchley – on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by featured authors and illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: I Love Sharks, Too! – by Leanne Shirtliffe

 

 

 

 

 

Book: I Love Sharks, Too!
Author: Leanne Shirtliffe
Illustrator: Lorenzo Montatore
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Date: June 6, 2017
Genre: children's picture book: age 3-6; Pre-school-K
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99 
My rating: educational and fun at the same time 

I Love Sharks, Too!, by Canadian author Leanne Shirtliffe, is a book to experience and enjoy. If you ever wonder about sharks but you don’t want to get into heavy science facts, or get too close to them in person, this would be an enjoyable read for you. Written for children it’s safe and fun. 🙂

Stevie is a little boy who loves sharks. He loves them so much he wishes he were one himself. He thinks about them a lot! And why not? Sharks are amazing creatures!

One day, every time his mother spoke to him about something, he replied with a shark fact that fit the topic. When his mother said to stop squirming, he told her that whale sharks can’t stop moving or they’ll die. When she told him to use his manners at dinner, he said bull sharks tear their food apart with their fifty rows of teeth! When she warned him about trying to scare her, he had a fact about hammerhead sharks’ eyes.

They really weren’t communicating very well all day. Even when she told him to turn out his light at bedtime he replied with the fact that lantern sharks glow in the dark. Imagine what that must be like.

Lorenzo Montatore’s illustrations in I Love Sharks, Too! are full of energy and will make young readers – and grown-up ones – giggle. His art for this story is bold and crazy – which suits the story well. It’s enjoyable and educational at the same time.

I Love Sharks, Too! has a surprise ending, a satisfying one. The actual story is followed by eight pages of very interesting shark facts humorously illustrated. 

You can find I Love Sharks, Too! by Leanne Shirtliffe on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Sarah – by Jean Edwards Stacey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Sarah
Author: Jean Edwards Stacey
Illustrator: Necie
Publisher: DRC Publishing
Date: October 15, 2016
Genre: Children's picture book; music
Pages: 40
Price: $12.95
My rating: a story about generations of family

 

Sarah by Jean Edwards Stacey is a “traditional song made famous by Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers, featuring Ray Johnson.” Ray inspired this book to be written as it was a song his father used to sing.

The story goes that a young couple married and had a son a few years later. That son grew up, married, and he and his wife had a little girl. They named their daughter Sarah, after her grandmother.

Sarah liked to ask her grandmother about how her grandparents met. The story goes on, humorously, about her grandfather trying to date her grandmother, about her great-grandmother trying to chase him off, and how funny it all was years later.

The illustrations are bright and sunny. In the back of the book is the sheet music with the words of the song.

You can find Sarah by Jean Edwards Stacey on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and on Chapters.Indigo if available there.

Your comments here for the author and illustrator are very much appreciated.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Sky Pig – by Jan L. Coates

 

 

 

 

 

Book: SkyPig
Author: Jan L. Coates
Illustrator: Suzanne Del Rizzo
Publisher: Pajama Press
Date: April 1, 2016 - Canada; September, 2016 - USA
Genre: children's picture book; 4 - 7 yrs; K - 2
Pages: 32
Price: $19.95
My rating: a sweet story of determination and friendship

 

If this book looks familiar to my regular readers, it is because I mentioned it in this blog post last year. 

Here is Jan reading her book at the launch in May of 2016.

 

 

 

SkyPig by Jan L. Coates is a sweet story about friendship and determination. 

Ollie, a little pig, wanted so very much to fly. He watched birds, and airplanes, and bugs, and things being blown in the wind, and he wanted to fly more than anything. His friend Jack, being an inventive boy, did all he could to try to help him attain his dream – even though everybody knows pigs can’t fly.

To launch Ollie airborne they collected leafy branches and fastened them onto his back. They climbed all the way to the top of a very high hill, and Ollie did his very best to fly. Just when he was thinking, “I’m flying! I’m flying, I’m …” Crash! he came down hard, and sadly limped home.

Since that unsuccessful attempt didn’t dampen Ollie’s determination, Jack helped him construct a kite (fail), then wings with feathers and things (fail), and more inventions to try to make Ollie fly. Nothing worked, and nothing made Ollie smile, until the day they discovered something wondrous. 

Illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo created amazing illustrations for Sky Pig. To quote: “The illustrations were rendered with plasticine, polymer clay, paper collage, milkweed fluff, watch gears, and other doodads.”  Take a close look at the cover illustration to see many of those doodads.

Sky Pig was a selection for the 2016 Best Books for Kids & Teens, won the 2017 Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for excellence in illustration, and was a finalist for the 2017 Shining Willow Award.

Sky Pig by Jan L. Coates is an inspiring story written with repetition of some phrases and humour children will love. Her word choices are delightful. Suzanne Del Rizzo‘s illustrations are gorgeous and complement the story perfectly. When you get to read this book, watch for two little friends who appear in almost every picture with Ollie and Jack, adding a smile for the reader.

You can find Sky Pig by Jan L. Coates on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and Chapters.Indigo when the book is available there.

Please encourage an author and illustrator by leaving a comment. Thank you.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 

Book Review: The King of Keji – by Jan L. Coates

 

 

 

 


Book: The King of Keji
Author: Jan L. Coates
Illustrator: Patsy MacKinnon
Publisher: Nimbus Publishing Ltd.
Date: September 1, 2015
Genre: children's picture book; age 5 - 8;  K - 3
Pages: 32
Price: $12.95
My rating: lovely story of discovering treasures hidden 
in plain sight

The King of Keji by Jan L. Coates is another book I purchased at the children’s book fair in 2016. Personal note: When Nova Scotia’s Kejimkujik National Park was in its early development stage my dad was one of the skilled workers on site making that happen. I was a young girl then and one weekend my mother, sister, and I went along and stayed overnight with Dad in one of the cabins a short but safe distance from the construction.

In The King of Keji we meet Jacob, a young boy who is tired of being second to his older brother. His brother is always king of the castle which makes Jacob the dirty rascal – a nursery rhyme game – so his grandfather teaches Jacob about being a king in nature. Gramps takes Jacob to Kejimkujik National Part for a weekend of camping, hiking, and searching for hidden treasure. Hidden treasure is different from buried treasure, so Jacob learns to look for the things hidden in plain sight, things he would otherwise easily overlook.

They discuss what treasures a king would have and thought of a sceptre,  antiques, turquoise, diamonds, jade, emeralds, and several more. Jacob finds a long piece of driftwood that works well as a sceptre and they set out. While hiking, Gramps takes pictures of the things they find. Some of the treasures were the emerald-green leaves of an ancient hemlock tree, the diamond sparkle of the lake, the jade colour of frogs sitting on moss-covered rocks, and the gold and ruby colours of the sunset that night. Jacob feels like a king with all that treasure – even though they took nothing away with them except pictures – and learns how to be more observant and respectful of his surroundings.

The King of Keji is a story very well told, full of description and the allurement of a nature hike in one of Nova Scotia’s beautiful provincial parks. The illustrations by Patsy MacKinnon are full of nature’s colours. The reader gets to appreciate the variety found in Keji park from the huge trees along the hiking trails, to the animals that live there and in the salt marsh, to the glorious sky as the sun is setting.

The King of Keji by Jan L. Coates encourages readers to be more aware of what’s around them in nature, and to appreciate the treasures already provided for us.

You can find The King of Keji by Jan L. Coates on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and sometimes Chapters.Indigo.

Thank you for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

Interview with Melanie Florence, and a book giveaway!

It’s amazing to me that I haven’t interviewed anyone on my blog since 2014! Today I have the remedy for that shortfall.

It’s my great pleasure to introduce to you Canadian author Melanie Florence who wrote Missing Nimâmâ – the award-winning picture book that I reviewed on April 25. See my review HERE.

Welcome to my blog, Melanie, and thank you for doing this
interview. Please tell us a little about yourself. 

I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO SAY! THAT’S ALWAYS THE HARDEST QUESTION. UMMM…I’M A FULL-TIME WRITER. I LIVE IN TORONTO WITH MY FAMILY. I LIKE HARRY POTTER AND DOCTOR WHO AND I CAN NEVER FIGURE OUT HOW TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION. 😉
Good answer, though. The questions get easier as we go along. 🙂
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you?
I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A WRITER. I WROTE STORIES WHEN I WAS A LITTLE GIRL OR WOULD TAKE A STORY I HAD READ AND REWRITE IT SO I WOULD HAVE A PART IN IT AS WELL. I THOUGHT I’D GO LIVE BESIDE STEPHEN KING AND TRADE IDEAS AND WRITE GREAT BOOKS THAT PEOPLE LOVED TO READ.
Now, that’s impressive – rewriting stories you’d read and writing yourself into them, I mean. You’ve proven you don’t need Stephen King as your neighbour to write great books. 🙂 As a writer, do you do much reading? Who were/are your favourite authors or books?
OF COURSE! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE HARRY POTTER SERIES. I’VE ALSO READ J.K. ROWLING’S BOOKS THAT SHE WROTE AS ROBERT GALBRAITH AND LOVED THOSE AS WELL. I’M A STEPHEN KING FAN. I LOVE NEIL GAIMAN AND KENNETH OPPEL. BASICALLY ANYONE WHO CAN WEAVE A WONDERFUL STORY THAT I CAN DISAPPEAR INTO.
Have you ever felt like giving up? When did you finally believe in yourself so you can say “I am a writer”?
ABSOLUTELY. WRITING IS HARD! I’M REALLY NOT SURE WHEN I COULD COMFORTABLY CALL MYSELF A WRITER – BUT I STILL DOUBT MYSELF SOMETIMES. I ALWAYS WONDER IF I’LL SELL MY NEXT BOOK. OR TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHICH IDEA IS THE RIGHT ONE TO WORK ON NEXT. ANY JOB WHERE YOU HAVE TO RELY ON SOMEONE ELSE IS TOUGH. 
Do you have a favourite motto or quote or Bible verse that you try to live by and that helps to keep you going?
NOT REALLY. I FEEL LIKE I SHOULD COME UP WITH ONE NOW! MAYBE “But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
I had to Google that quote … Albus Dumbledore of Harry Potter fame. It’s a good quote.
What do you remember about the very first time you were published? How did that come about?
OH MAN. WHAT A CRAZY TIME! I HAD ACTUALLY SENT IN A GRANT APPLICATION FOR A YA NOVEL I WAS WORKING ON AND HAD AN EDITOR CONTACT ME ABOUT IT. ALTHOUGH I WAS WORKING ON THAT, THEY ASKED IF I HAD ANY INTEREST IN WRITING A SPORTS BIOGRAPHY ON AN INDIGENOUS ATHLETE. I SAID YES AND DECIDED ON JORDIN TOOTOO. WITHIN A WEEK, THEIR SISTER COMPANY ASKED IF I WAS INTERESTED IN WRITING A HISTORY OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AND RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS AND AGAIN, I SAID YES. SO I SOLD MY FIRST TWO BOOKS WITHIN A WEEK. I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW EXCITING IT WAS TO SEE MY NAME ON A BOOK FOR THE FIRST TIME. IT’S STILL KIND OF EXCITING ACTUALLY.
WOW!! That’s amazing! Many writers would love to be in that position.
What have you had published thus far, and of those what have you most enjoyed writing?
HMM. MY SECOND PICTURE BOOK IS COMING OUT IN SEPTEMBER. MY THIRD NON-FICTION BOOK IS COMING OUT IN…ALSO SEPTEMBER, I THINK. AND MY…FIFTH??? NOVEL COMES OUT IN MAY. I ENJOYED WRITING ALL OF THEM. 🙂
Congratulations for taking the writing world by storm!
What process do you go through when writing and perfecting your work?
I DON’T THINK IT’S EVER PERFECT IN MY OWN HANDS…THAT’S WHAT MY EDITORS ARE FOR. I TRY TO CREATE A GOOD OUTLINE (I DIDN’T OUTLINE MY FIRST COUPLE OF BOOKS. IT’S MUCH EASIER TO OUTLINE THEM.) AND WORK FROM THAT. I TRY TO JUST SIT DOWN AND WRITE WITHOUT OVERTHINKING OR GOING BACK TO FIX THINGS. THAT HAPPENS LATER.
What method do you use to keep track of your writing ideas?
NOTEBOOKS! I HAVE A TON OF NOTEBOOKS THAT I’VE BEEN JOTTING IDEAS AND WRITING BITS AND PIECES IN FOR YEARS. IT’S HARD TO FIND THE RIGHT ONE LATER THOUGH. SOMETIMES I TYPE THEM INTO MY PHONE FOR LATER TOO.
You do better than I do. My ideas are definitely in need of better filing.
What inspired you to write Missing Nimâmâ? And why a children’s book?
I WAS READING ABOUT MMIW – OR TRYING TO – AND NOT FINDING MUCH. I COULDN’T BELIEVE THAT IT WASN’T BEING COVERED IN THE NEWS. NO ONE SEEMED TO CARE ABOUT THESE WOMEN OR THEIR FAMILIES. THEY DIDN’T HAVE A VOICE AND I WANTED TO GIVE THEM ONE. SO I WROTE MISSING NIMAMA. I REMEMBER SITTING IN MY EDITOR’S OFFICE, LOOKING AT THE STAMP COLLECTOR (WHICH SHE ALSO EDITED) AND SAYING “SOMEONE NEEDS TO WRITE A BOOK LIKE THIS ABOUT MMIW”. WE KIND OF BRAINSTORMED FROM THERE. WHY A CHILDREN’S BOOK? I DON’T KNOW. I HAD ALREADY WRITTEN A YA NOVEL ABOUT THE ISSUE. SOMEHOW I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A BEAUTIFUL STORY AS A PICTURE BOOK IF I COULD TELL IT THE RIGHT WAY.
For our readers: MMIW stands for “missing & murdered Indigenous women.”
You definitely told it in the right way. Did you have to do much research? Was it hard to write? If so, how did you stick with it and why? How did you come up with that title?
I HAD ALREADY DONE MY RESEARCH FOR ANOTHER BOOK ON THE SAME SUBJECT AND I’M A MOM. SO I WROTE IT FROM THAT PLACE – BEING A MOTHER AND CONSIDERING THE EFFECT IT WOULD HAVE ON MY DAUGHTER IF I WASN’T HERE ANYMORE. IT WAS INCREDIBLY HARD AND EMOTIONALLY DRAINING. BUT I REALLY FELT IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR ME TO WRITE IT. I THINK I CAME UP WITH MISSING MOTHER AND MY EDITOR THOUGHT USING THE CREE WORD FOR MOTHER WOULD BE BETTER. SO WE CALLED IT MISSING NIMAMA.
You said earlier you found your first publisher when you applied for a grant. How did you go about finding an editor? and do you have an agent?

I WAS ALREADY WORKING WITH MY EDITOR, CHRISTIE, ON ANOTHER PROJECT. ACTUALLY, I THINK WE WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT A POTENTIAL PROJECT. SHE LOVED THE IDEA OF THIS BOOK BUT THE PUBLISHER SHE WAS WITH AT THE TIME DIDN’T PUBLISH PICTURE BOOKS. SHE KINDLY OFFERED TO LOOK AT IT AS I WROTE AND GIVE FEEDBACK AND HELP ME FIND A PUBLISHER. WITHIN A FAIRLY SHORT TIME, SHE LEFT HER JOB AND STARTED HER OWN COMPANY, CLOCKWISE PRESS. SHE CONTACTED ME AND ASKED IF I WANTED TO WRITE IT FOR HER. SO THAT’S HOW I FOUND MY EDITOR AND PUBLISHER. 🙂 I DO HAVE AN AGENT IN THE U.S. NOW, SO THE PROCESS FOR ANYTHING I WORK ON NOW IS MUCH DIFFERENT. I FOUND MY AGENT THE GOOD OLD FASHIONED WAY – I WAS ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR AN AGENT AND SUBMITTED TO A BUNCH. I GOT OFFERS FROM A COUPLE AND PICKED ONE I FELT I COULD WORK WITH BEST.

What a fortunate string of events!

Did you have to change this story much for it to be accepted as a children’s book?

NOT AT ALL. I HAD A GREAT EDITOR WHO WANTED IT TO BE AS IMPACTFUL AS POSSIBLE, AS DID I. WE DIDN’T WANT TO SUGAR COAT IT. WE WANTED IT TO BE AUTHENTIC AND I HOPE THAT’S WHAT WE DID. GRIEF ISN’T SOMETHING THAT JUST OLDER PEOPLE EXPERIENCE. CHILDREN EXPERIENCE IT TOO. AND FINDING THEIR OWN EXPERIENCES IN BOOKS IS IMPORTANT.
Missing Nimâmâ is a beautifully told story about a very sensitive issue here in Canada, and also in the United States. You have brought attention to a tragic situation on a level for children to understand. Please tell us, what honours has this book received thus far?
THANK YOU! WE WON THE TD CANADIAN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE AWARD AND IT’S SHORT LISTED FOR THE FOREST OF READING GOLDEN OAK AWARD. WE WERE A BEST BOOK FOR KIDS AND TEENS WITH THE CCBC. I KNOW THERE’S ANOTHER BUT I’M DRAWING A BLANK.
Okay, I went searching. It’s quite a list! The ones you didn’t mention are: 2017 Storytelling World Resource Awards winner, Stories for Adolescent Listeners category (if this isn’t the same as the best book for kids & teens with CCBC); 2017 Notable Books for a Global Society Award winner; 2016 OLA Best Bets Honourable Mention.
How do you consistently write? Do you have writing goals .. daily? weekly? monthly? long-range?
OH MAN. I HATE TO ADMIT IT BUT I’M WILDLY DISORGANIZED. I SHOULD HAVE A WRITING PLAN OR GOAL BUT I DON’T. I WORK GREAT UNDER DEADLINE BUT NOT AS WELL WITHOUT ONE. I THINK THAT WILL ACTUALLY BE MY GOAL. TO SET UP A CONSISTENT WRITING PLAN! I ALWAYS HAVE A TO DO LIST GOING. THAT HELPS.
To-do lists are great. What other interests do you have for a change from writing?
MOSTLY, I JUST HANG OUT WITH MY FAMILY AND DO MOM STUFF. I’M A BIG DOCTOR WHO FAN AND SO IS MY DAUGHTER, SO WE’RE WORKING THROUGH THE SERIES TOGETHER. MY SON LIKES IT ALSO BUT HE DECIDED TO WATCH FROM A DIFFERENT POINT.
Do you have other projects in the works? If so, can you give our readers any hints?
ALWAYS! I’VE GOT A NEW MIDDLE GRADE (HOPEFULLY FUNNY) NOVEL HALF-WRITTEN, A NON-FICTION MIDDLE GRADE OUT ON SUBMISSION WITH MY AGENT AND I’VE GOT A COUPLE OF OTHER IDEAS RUMINATING.
Thanks for sharing about your books to look for later. 🙂
Is being a writer/author all you had hoped or thought it would be?
ABSOLUTELY. I LOVE WHAT I DO!
It shows.
And finally, do you have any advice for hopefuls?
WRITE! SIT DOWN AND WRITE. EVEN IF YOU DON’T THINK IT’S ANY GOOD, KEEP WRITING. AND READ. READ AS MANY BOOKS IN THE SAME GENRE YOU WANT TO WRITE. AND OTHER GENRES. READ GREAT BOOKS. TAKE A WRITING CLASS. FIND OTHER WRITERS TO CRITIQUE YOUR WORK. JOIN CANSCAIP!

 

* CANSCAIP = Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators & Performers
Thank you, Melanie, for that excellent advice! This has been a fun and informative interview. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this in the midst of preparing for a book tour.
 

Now, as if all this has not been exciting enough, I am thrilled to be able to offer someone a copy of Melanie Florence‘s picture book! 

Readers, now it’s your turn. If you would like to have a chance to win a copy of “Missing Nimama” by Melanie Florence, please leave a comment about anything you found especially interesting or helpful in the above interview. Huge thanks to Melanie’s publisher, Clockwise Press, who has generously agreed to send one of you a copy of Missing Nimama – anywhere in Canada or continental USA.

You have until 6:00 PM EST on May 13 to enter the draw. Then one name will be selected using the “random name picker” tool. The next morning, Mother’s Day, May 14, I will post the winner’s name so check your email Saturday night because I will be contacting the winner for a mailing address.

 
Don’t delay, comment today! And please pass the news on to your friends, post on Twitter or however you communicate with the world.
Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂