THE COPYCAT

Coming March 2020

The Copy Cat

Remembrance

This week marks Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the United States.

It’s a bittersweet time, thinking of the sacrifices made on our behalf. We are proud of them, and sad for them, and most of all, thankful for them.

Clearly 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. I am reminded again and again that the only thing that helps us make it through difficult times is by sticking together for the common good. Certainly my grandfather must have thought that when he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force at age thirty-nine.

For me, November is also a month for remembering my parents and my grandfather, all of whom passed away this week. It’s a funny thing, how grief can be so white hot in the beginning, then eventually settle to a lovely shade of evergreen.

I often feel a pang of grief when I finish a writing project, too, for my characters have become fully formed individuals who continue to live on to me.

I’ve been writing another book, a book I personally find kind of creepy, and I wonder as I write what the final version will be, where it will go, what kind of life (if any) it will have.

Books are living things and I can’t tell you how often I’ve finished reading a book and grieved that it was done, which for me, is the highest compliment a reader can give an author!

But enough melancholy! We are six weeks away from the holiday season and I’d like to give you a chance to win a gift from me!

How about a copy of every one of my books, plus the companion Christmas story to The Frame-Up?

Leave me a comment below, and I will choose a winner on November 17th and pop it in the mail to you! And of course, this giveaway is a open to both Canadian and U.S. readers!

Good luck!

UPDATE!

Congrats to Michelle Carlos – who’s the winner! Thanks for entering everyone and stay tuned for more giveaways!

October

Hi everyone!

Can you believe it’s almost Halloween?

I’m not sure what Halloween is like in your neck of the woods, but it’s a little strange here – contactless Halloween if you will.

If you like Halloween, I suspect you also like spooky books, so I thought I’d share a recently released one with you:

Written by my writer pals Heidi and Kati, this is on my TO-BE-READ-BEFORE-HALLOWEEN list!

A brief description:

Stranger Things meets The X-Files in this eerie, heart-pounding middle grade adventure about a young boy and girl who must protect their small town from otherworldly forces threatening to destroy it.

Rae’s father vanished without a trace—and Rae knows what happened to him. But no one believes her when she says that her father didn’t run off, that he was actually taken. Now, a year of therapy later, Rae’s mother decides they need a fresh start, and so they move to a new town in the hope that life can return to normal.

The problem is, there is nothing normal about the town of Whispering Pines.

No one knows this better than Caden. He’s lived in Whispering Pines his entire life, and he’s seen more than his fair share of weird—starting with his own family, as the town is the perfect home base for his mother’s ghost hunting business.

When several kids go missing and then show up like zombies with their eyes removed, many locals brush it off. Just another day in Whispering Pines. But Caden has a dark secret, one that may explain why someone is stealing eyes. And Rae, who knows how it feels to not be believed, may be just the person Caden needs to help him put things right.

*************************

DOESN’T IT SOUND AMAZING? You can order the book online or through your local independent bookstore!

I’ve never tried to write a spooky book before, but have spent the last few weeks working on an outline for a new MG book that definitely gives me the willies!

In my experience, a thrilling spooky book can make even the most reluctant reader turn the page to see what happens next!

How about you? Any good recommendations for me?

And if you’ve yet to pick up a copy, I highly recommend THE COPYCAT, which is filled with plenty of spooky fog and strange shenanigans!

While it’s not middle grade, I am completely engrossed in Kathleen Peacock’s YOU WERE NEVER HERE. I’m about a third of the way through and I have NO IDEA what is about to happen and it is literally the most delicious feeling!

Highly recommend (and she’s from New Brunswick, too!

I hope you all have a very happy halloween. Save me some rockets!

WHERE HAS THE SUMMER GONE?

I mean seriously…

This has been a strange summer (soon to be followed by an even stranger autumn I suspect), but I have managed some great overnighters and day trips here in New Brunswick:

The Fundy Trail. Every view is fantastic.

And I still have at least one more trip up my sleeve in September.

Even better: I have finished my revisions!!!!!

The historical middle grade novel I’ve been wrestling with for a LOOOONG time is finally complete and is currently with two readers. My hope is to send it to my agent by the end of September. What happens then is TBD!

I’ve also started plotting another novel, which has got me VERY excited. It’s different than anything I’ve ever written, so we’ll see….

School is about to begin again, and this will be the first time I won’t be in schools in person in several years.

However, I am offering free Q&A sessions online for teachers, so grab your spot soon.

And if you’ve never read IT’S A MYSTERY, PIG FACE! Simon and Shuster is currently offering it for FREE on kindle! Get your copy today!

It really is a fun book….

How about you? Anything exciting going on in your lives? I’d love to hear about it!

Finally, thought I’d share a list of books I’ve read in the last month that are well worth a read:

Wow

A PURE DELIGHT

I LOVE HER CHARACTERS AND WORLD BUILDING
THE MORE YOU KNOW, THE MORE HORRIFIED YOU ARE
BRILLIANT YA

I hope you all have a fabulous Labour Day Weekend. And for those of you going back to school to teach or are sending kids back to school: GOOD LUCK!!!

See you in September!

Summer!

I love summer!

Autumn used to be my favourite time of the year, but the older I get, the more summer makes me happy – the warmth, the trees, baby critters (there are four baby raccoons living behind our shed right now!)

Other things making me happy:

THE COPYCAT has been chosen as a 2021 Rocky Mountain Book Award Nominee!

If you look at the list below, you will understand how thrilled I am – the other authors are all amazingly talented!

How it works:

“The Rocky Mountain Book Award invites students and educators to participate in our readers’ choice program. This program is designed to stimulate the reading interests of students in grades 4 – 7. The Rocky Mountain Book Award is an Alberta based program designed to connect young readers with exemplary Canadian literature.

The Rocky Mountain Book Award is a readers’ choice program, which invites students to choose the best book from a shortlist. This Alberta-based program is designed to stimulate the reading interests of students in grades 4-7. Students and educators are invited to read exemplary Canadian literature, and then the students vote for their favorite book. This award program is for schools, libraries, and interested groups of students. This may include children who are being home-schooled or families who wish to become involved in reading good Canadian children’s literature. Each reading group must have a teacher or adult leader.”

In this case, it is absolutely an honour to be nominated!

If you recall from previous posts, I am a HUGE proponent of OWN VOICES books and truly support the Black Lives Matter movement. One of the best ways I know to learn about oppression is to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes through a book.

Let me suggest these three to get you going:

All three are wonderful, powerful reads!

I hope you are all staying healthy and enjoying the summer weather.

These are challenging times, but I believe we will get through them!

xo Wendy

Still here!

Hi guys!

I’ve been quiet on this site, as frankly I didn’t have much to report, but the spring weather (finally) has brought me out of hibernation, so thought I would share news!

  1. Turns out selling a new book during a pandemic is NOT easy. Trying not to be too bummed about it! But if you haven’t bought The Copycat yet, please think of doing so!!!! (pretty please with sugar on top?)

2. The Copycat has gotten some lovely reviews, which I am seriously grateful for!

Colline’s Blog gives The Copycat 4 stars!

Elena Reads says The Copycat is going into her reread pile!

School Library Journal had this to say about THE COPYCAT:

MACKNIGHT, Wendy McLeod. The Copycat. 432p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Mar. 2020. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062668332. 

Gr 5-8–Set in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, this lightly fantastical novel explores themes of belonging, self-awareness, and individuality with a unique premise about inherited shapeshifting abilities. The author admirably steers her 12-year-old protagonist, the indecisive but determined Ali, through the fog of coastal Saint John as well as her confusing middle school social life. After Ali’s family moves in with her grandmother, she unexpectedly gains the ability to turn into anyone or anything—a skill her father and grandmother possess, but is believed to have passed over Ali. Her newfound power forces her to confront her desire to be accepted by her peers. Add in a longstanding family feud, a secret about her uncle’s death, and the terrors of making friends at a new school, and readers are presented with a story brimming with angst, magic, and drama. Though the narrative is slow to start, once Ali embraces her abilities and takes charge, the action comes fast, with MacKnight mining Ali’s special skill for comedy and suspense. MacKnight also writes from a deep understanding of the push and pull  between wanting to stand out and wanting to fit in. As Ali struggles to figure out the right things to do, readers will grow to admire her, even as they relate to her growing pains. Voracious readers will also appreciate that, in her lonely moments, Ali takes solace in kid-lit mainstays like Stuart Little and The Golden Compass. VERDICT A fun and fast-paced romp with a relatable protagonist and a touch of the supernatural.–Abigail Garnett, Brooklyn Public Library

Books on Beechwood had this to say about The Copycat:

Set in the author’s home province of New Brunswick, The Copycat by Wendy McLeod MacKnight finds Ali Sloane starting classes at a new school in yet another new town. Having long since learned that being a bit of a copycat is a good way to fit into a new school, actually being able to physically change your appearance to copy someone else’s is not exactly what Ali had in mind. Though she thinks this strange Sloane family inheritance is going to take new friendships completely off the table, not only do her new classmates surprise her, but they help her accept this new aspect of her life and come to the realization that there’s no better person to be than herself.

I have a new friend!

First came Brownie:

And then suddenly Rusty showed up this week. I’m not going to lie: I love a groundhog. Am even following Chunk the Groundhog over on Instagram. So Rusty is a welcome addition!

I’m connecting with readers!

I’ve done several virtual class visits, but have also done some one-on-one sessions with kids and their parents who are homeschooling because of the virus!

If you’d like a (free!) Skype or FaceTime visit, send me an email at wendy@wendymcleodmacknight.com.

Well that’s my news! The world is slowly opening up, and I hope that you and yours are safe and healthy. In the end, that’s all that matters!!!

Talk soon!

Thinking of You All…

Wow, what a difference a few weeks makes.

Around here, April has come in like a lion, which seems apropos, given our collective angst over the state of the world right now.

We are well here, and hope you are the same, but if you are anything like me, I suspect you are having difficulty concentrating, and may be more than a little nervous.

At times, like this, I turn to things that give me comfort: reading, watching TV or movies, baking, going for long walks (if the weather cooperates!). I am also painting every wall and cleaning like I expect a health inspector to show up at any moment!

Let’s just say I’m NOT losing weight during this isolation period…

Unlike many of you, I don’t have kids at home that I am also trying to entertain/school.

There are lots of good resources out there, but since I’m a writer, thought I’d share a couple of links where you can find authors reading their works out loud:

Huffington Post article. For some reason, they described me as a detective fiction writer. Perhaps that’s a sign?

CBC also shared a list of authors’ reading online.

Also, if you visit my instagram page, @wendymcleodmacknight, look under the IGTV symbol – I’m reading from all three of my books!

My friend Jarret Lerner is sharing all kinds of activity pages on his website. Click here to access them!

Finally, we all need to reach out to one another during these stressful times! Feel free to drop me a line at wendy@wendymcleodmacknight.com – I’m always here (where would I go?) and happy to chat!

And thanks for supporting The Copycat! It’s a strange time to be launching a new book, and your support cheers me immeasurably!

STAY SAFE!

Virtual Copycat Book Club/Online Reading

Since I can’t go to schools or libraries to do visits, I wanted to create a forum for talking about the book.

To that end, I’m creating a members-only Facebook group for kids, parents and teachers. If you’re interested in receiving an invite, email me at wendy@wendymcleodmacknight.com and I’ll send you an invite!

I’m also reading from my books on my Instagram IGTV channel!

check it out! https://www.instagram.com/wendymcleodmacknight/channel/

Most of all – stay safe! We will all get through this together!

Book Tour Postponed

Hi guys!

Unfortunately, because of the Corona virus, I’ve been forced to cancel my school visits to Saint John and the Kennebecasis Valley and my Saint John launch!

I’ll get there as soon as it is safe again!

In the meantime, I’m going to be working on content for the website that can be shared with readers and probably putting up a few videos, so stay tuned.

Most importantly, stay safe. These are challenging times. Be kind to yourself and others and we will all get through this.

Thought I would share some pictures from recent school visits and the book signing at Westminster Books!

Thanks for all your support! And remember: you can still have The Copycat sent to you! Or purchase it on kindle or as an audiobook!

Talk soon!

Upcoming Book Signings!

Holy Cow! The Copycat comes out in less than two weeks!

I’m already lining up school visits and book signings, and I wanted to give you plenty of notice of where I’ll be in March!

Also: if you’d like a free Skype visit with your class or are in New Brunswick and would like an author visit, drop me a note – I love talking to kids about writing, reading, what it’s like to be an author, how to get published, the whole she-bang!

The Copycat will be available to purchase on March 10th, but if you want to be sure you get your copy on that day, pre-order now!

Pre-orders are fantastic for authors – they build buzz and tell the publisher and booksellers that this is a book to watch for!

Books Signings:

MARCH 14:

I’ll be signing at Westminster Books in Fredericton from 11 to 1 on March 14th! Come by and say hello! They’ll be copies of my other books as well!

MARCH 21:

I’ll be doing a reading/book signing at the Saint John Free Public Library at 2 pm. Come by and say hey!

And stay tuned, as there will be more giveaways in March, along with more news!

I can’t wait for you all to meet Ali and discover the mystery of The Copycat!

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Guys! We’re a month away from the publication of The Copycat, and I want to do an exclusive give-away just for my blog followers!

How about an Advanced Reader’s Copy of the book? And a copy of The Frame-Up? Oh heck, let’s toss in a copy of It’s a Mystery, Pig Face, too!

To be entered in the draw, all you need to do is be a blog follower and leave

a comment below! I’ll draw a name on Friday, February 7th!

UPDATE: for some reason, my blog letter didn’t go out last week, therefore, am continuing the contest until MONDAY, FEBRUARY 10th!

Good luck!

Happy New Year and Book Giveaway!

We are already ten days into 2020 and I don’t know about you, but what with the terrible fires in Australia, and other dreadful news, I wondered about going back to 2019!

Best to keep calm and carry on!

In happier news, we are now exactly two months out from the release of The Copycat!

I’ll be all over the place in March and April promoting the book, but I thought a cheerful way to kick off 2020 would be to give away an Advance Reader’s Copy!

Want a chance to win a copy?

Leave me a note below, or on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook by Friday January 17th and you could win a copy! Open to Canada and the US!

This is also the perfect time to pre-order your copy at your local indie bookstore or online. Click here for options!

Pre-orders help build momentum and buzz, and make we authors feel awesome!

December!!!

Can you believe it is December????

The tree is up, and incredibly, it is fatter in person than it is in this photograph! They say the camera adds ten pounds, but in this case, it seems to have subtracted them!

November flew by, filled with tons of events, the husband’s birthday, and writing!

It is also only three months until The Copycat comes out, so I am starting to think about books launches, school visits, the whole she-bang. More on that in the new year!

You can also expect a Copycat ARC giveaway in January, so stay tuned!

Other things I’m thinking about this month:

How the holiday season is so fraught for some people, especially those missing family members or friends. I know I especially miss my parents and my sister these days, so big hugs if you are going through the same thing.

How lights cheer me up. When you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or some other festival, seeing the lights covering people’s houses and windows makes me feel better during these shortest days of the year. It may be pitch black by five o’clock, but those lights are keeping me going!

How this has been a banner year for kid lit. I’ve read fantastic books this year, including:

These are guaranteed good reads!

Mostly though, I want to thank you for sticking with me this year! I am excited to share my adventure in 2020 with you and hope you have a wonderful and peaceful 2020!

November!

“October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces.” 
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix

Already November, which for my oldest child, means Christmas music!

Personally, I kind of like November, in spite of the blustery days and bare trees. Snow is a constant threat in New Brunswick in November, but today the weather is balmy and windy, so who knows what the month will bring?

I’ve been exceptionally busy this past month: revising a WIP, a couple of tours at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, a few meetings with book clubs who are studying The Frame-Up. I am also starting two more projects, because it is always nice to do NaNoWriMo, even if I will be mostly writing by the seat of my pants!

I have more book club events in the coming weeks. If your book club is reading The Frame-Up, I’m happy to Skype in!

I’ve also been mentoring a class in Rochester, New York!

So far, we have met twice online and I have sent them two boxes of books. It is so much fun answering their questions and talking about books and writing!

Other things I’ve been up to:

I devoured Book two of the Book of Dust Trilogy by Philip Pullman. It is fantastic, but I think it has moved to YA, not MG anymore, though of course there will be some #mglit readers who will be fine with the (very) adult content.

As always, it was fantastic, and clocking in at 600+ pages, a long read. Now I am desperately waiting for the conclusion!

Oh and the best news of all is that the French-language rights to The Frame-Up have sold! Can’t wait until French-speaking kids are able to read in the book in their mother tongue! Hooray!

That’s my news! I hope you have all been well!

Things I’m thankful about!

This Monday is Thanksgiving here in Canada, always a great time of year to reflect on the good things in our lives!

This year, I’m thankful that The CopyCat is complete and will be published by Greenwillow Books before the end of Winter. I can’t wait for you to read it!

I’ve also been reading like there’s no tomorrow this fall, and have to recommend the following books for YOUR to-be-read piles:

Seriously, these are all AMAZING books!

Other things I’m thankful for:

I’m mentoring a class in Rochester, New York and they are WONDERFUL! We have another online meeting soon, and I am already scheming how to visit them in person in the spring!

Fall. I hate to see summer end, but then I remember how magical fall is, and I am okay…

Most of all, I am thankful for my friends, my family, and YOU.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

September

Seriously. How did this happen?

I am finally on the home stretch re: my work-in-progress.

Every time I write a new book it’s like I’m learning to write all over again.

While it could be me, it could also be that every book wants to be written in its own way.

I have this dream of being a plotter, but the (sad?) truth is that I KNOW I am mostly a pantser who starts with an interesting idea and then rewrites it completely four times.

Fine. I can live with that.

I’m about to pass it into my agent (I hope!), then have another project to write and another project to research. I like having multiple things on the go.

I’m hoping to complete my initial research by November 1, because there is nothing I love more than participating in NaNoWriMo.

I just love the camaraderie and comfort of knowing that thousands of people are also drafting a novel at the same time I am.

I get asked all the time how I get my ideas.

I’d like to say they come easy, but that isn’t true. Sometimes I worry an idea for months, like a dog worrying a bone, until there is enough there for me to put some meat on the bone. (What is it with all the bone analogies here?)

I’ve also got some classes and schools I’m mentoring this fall, and if someone is looking for me to visit their classroom via Skype, drop me a line! I love to do Skype visits and they are always no charge! I also do Skype visits with book clubs!

I’m also teaching a writing class at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery on the afternoon of October 16th, so if you’re interested, Contact the front desk at emailbag@beaverbrookartgallery.org or by calling (506) 458-2028.

And soon enough, I will be hosting an Advanced Reader Copy giveaway here on this site! Stay tuned!

Have a wonderful rest of September!

THE COPYCAT COVER REVEAL!

I’m so excited to share the cover of my next book, THE COPYCAT, which is being published by Greenwillow Books on March 10, 2020!

The illustrator is Erwin Madrid and I love it!

Those of you in the Saint John area may recognize the house on the cover!

I was thrilled to do the formal reveal on Mr. Schu’s blog Watch.Connect.Read.

For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Schu, he is the Ambassador of School Libraries for Scholastic and a lecturer at Rutgers.

Most importantly, he is a wonderful champion for children’s literature!

You can read my interview with him here.

I’ll be sharing how to pre-order the book next week, but now, without further ado, scroll down and get your first peek at The Copycat! I can’t wait for you to meet Ali and her family and friends!

A brief description from my publisher:

A funny, unpredictable, and heartfelt new novel from Wendy McLeod MacKnight, the author of The Frame-Up. Ali has always acted like a copycat to make friends, but when she unexpectedly inherits the ability to change her appearance at will, fitting in seems impossible! Luckily, with the help of her family, new friends, and a touch of magic, Ali might just survive middle school after all. A great pick for fans of Dan Gemeinhart, Erin Entrada Kelly, and Diana Wynne Jones.

Ali and her parents have moved at least once a year for as long as Ali can remember. She’s attended six different schools, lived in dozens of apartments, and never really felt at home anywhere. But Ali’s parents say living in Saint John, New Brunswick, will be different. They’ve moved in with Ali’s great-grandmother—a spunky 99-year-old with a quirky old house that has room for all of them. Ali wants to believe this will be their last move, but everything seems too perfect to be true.

To Ali’s surprise, things are different this time, but not in the way she hoped. She’s finally inherited the Sloane family powers—the ability to change her appearance into any living thing. Ali is a Copycat. Literally. And being the new kid at school is hard enough without worrying about losing control of your powers and turning into your teacher. Luckily, Ali’s new friends are eager to help her use her newfound power. But as Ali soon learns, being a Copycat is no substitute for being yourself.

Wendy McLeod MacKnight’s The Copycat is an imaginative and surprising middle-school story about friendship, family, and self-confidence that is perfect for fans of John David Anderson’s Posted and Katherine Applegate’s Wishtree.

What do you think????????

Have a great week!

The Dog Days of Summer!

Can you believe August is almost here?

Can you believe I haven’t written a post in three weeks?

In my defence, I had tons of company for the first two weeks, a college reunion, and a flying trip out of town.

There is nothing like a mini-vacation to clear the cobwebs from your mind…

The red roof in the distance belongs to the Algonquin Hotel and I promise that if you ever visit St. Andrews, New Brunswick, the Algonquin will not disappoint.
Who doesn’t like a Llama? This one shows up at 12:30 each day at Kingsbrae Gardens.

But now I am back and buckling down to finish my revisions for book four!

Which means: The Copycat is pretty much in the can! It won’t be long until I can do a cover reveal and there are advance reader’s copies! Stay tuned!

With August beckoning, I am reminded that many teachers are heading back to school soon (!)

So I’m running a twitter giveaway just for teachers, throwing in a one of my favourite reads this summer, All of Me by Chris Baron!

Yes, those are Brady Bunch Funko Pops in back. Found them for $5 each and bought them all. Do not judge.

If you’re a teacher or want to share the giveaway with a teacher friend, click here. Good luck!

Have a fantastic week!

JUNE!

I love June!

The days are getting longer, the nights are warmer, things are beginning to bloom, the pool has reached 82 degrees (which is the only temperature I swim at!)…

And even better, The Frame-Up is out in paperback!

While I adore hardcovers, I am a true fan of paperbacks, since they are so much more affordable!

SO LET’S DO A GIVEAWAY, SHALL WE?

To celebrate the paperback version, I’m having an exclusive giveaway for subscribers to this website!

Leave me a note below and you’ll be entered for a chance to win 2 paperback copies of the book! I’ll draw a name on June 20th!

One for you and one to give away!

GOOD LUCK!

CONGRATS AMY – YOU WON!

Book Review:

I don’t typically review books on this blog, but I absolutely have to recommend OUR CASTLE BY THE SEA by Lucy Strange.

For those of you who are fans of Kim Brubaker Bradley’s THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE and THE WAR I FINALLY WON, this book will be a special treat!

Last week I found Lucy’s first book, THE SECRET OF NIGHTINGALE WOOD, and loved it so much that I needed to read more of her work right away!

Her new book is equally good.

Set in England at the start of World War II, the book tells the story of Pet (short for Petra), who lives in a lighthouse (which she calls the castle) near a small village on the coast with her sister Mags (Magda), their lighthouse keeper father, and their German-born mother, Mutti.

With England at war, the world as Pet knows it is no more, as everyone in her sphere is gripped with the fear of an imminent invasion by the Nazis.

When their mother is taken to an internment camp German after acts of sabotage in the local village, the bond between the sisters becomes frayed. Secrets threaten to tear the once close-knit family apart. Can Pet, who is both enthralled by the sea and yet terrified of it, solve the mystery of who has being committing the sabotage and save her mother? Can she find a way to connect to her sister once more and discover who the mysterious man at the top of the cliff is? Can she find a way to cope with the losses that war brings?

Filled with beautiful language, evocative images, and unforgettable characters, this story is compelling and thrilling and un-put-down-able! With tons of twists and turns, readers will be left guessing until the end.

Now I just have to wait for Lucy to write another book!

5 stars!

Author of Children's Literature

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