The Frame-Up

June 5th 2018

The Frame-Up - Bookcover

The Frame-Up Characters and Locales: Merrymaking

 

One of the most popular paintings at the Beaverbrook Art Galley is Merrymaking.

 

 

Merrymaking, Cornelius Krieghoff, 1860, oil on canvas

 

This locale, home to the White Horse Inn, is very important to the plot of The Frame-Up.

The painting is one of the paintings to be restored by the strange art restorer, Archibald Sneely, and is home to dozens of gallery residents.

Mona Dunn escapes into this painting at a critical point in the story, only to find herself surrounded by a less genteel group of individuals.

 

Merrymaking, painted by Canadian Cornelius Krieghoff in 1860, was one of the most popular paintings in the art gallery and Mona knew why: it was the perfect French Canadian Christmas card, thanks to the party at the White Horse Inn, the snow, and the sleighs. Mona had never been in the painting, but she’d spent many evenings outside the frame, listening to the lively accordions and fiddles, wishing she could go for a sleigh ride.

 

I knew from the very beginning that Merrymaking needed to be in the book.

A careful examination of the painting shows us that there is quite a lot going on, and some of it seems less than Christmas-card-like.

In fact, there were too many story possibilities in the painting not to include it!

It’s a lively painting, and very accessible, so its no wonder it’s a patron favourite!

As with the last two paintings, it’s worth taking a look at the book cover again. Who knows what you might spot there?

 

 

 

 

The Frame-Up Characters and Locales: San Vigilio, Lake Garda

 

I’m not going to lie: this is one of my favourite paintings in the world!

 

San Vigilio, Lake Garda John Singer Sargent, 1913. Oil on canvas

 

John Singer Sargent has long been one of my favourite painters, and it’s no coincidence that the boy protagonist in my story is named Sargent Singer.

And this painting, with its azure blues, golden light, shimmery shadows, captures what must surely be one of the most bucolic rocky piers in the world.

Though Sargent is well-known for his arresting portraits, and at one time, was the most highly paid portrait painter in the world, I have always been drawn to landscapes.

And I’m not the only one.

 

In The Frame-Up, San Vigilio, Lake Garda is Mona Dunn’s special place, the place where she goes to escape the often tedious world in which she lives.

Mona sat on the stony pier and dangled her feet in the lake, trying to decide if she should grab a fishing pole. As she stared at the lapping waves, a ridiculous that presented itself to her: did Sargent Singer like to fish? Horrified, she she shut her eyes, but there was no escaping the memory of him staring with such intensity at her portrait, making those funny faces, looking at her as if she was alive. That was the worst, him looking at her as if she were a real person.

 

If you look carefully at the book’s cover, you may be able to spot the painting!

 

 

San Vigilio, Lake Garda plays an important part in the story, and I am confident that when you read the book, you will come to love it as I do!

Next week: one last locale. We’re visiting Quebec, Canada

The Frame-Up Characters & Locales: The Terror

 

At least half of the characters in The Frame-Up are actual paintings.

Most of these paintings have been part of the Beaverbrook Art Collection for decades, which is why they are included in my book.

What would it be like to live in close quarters with the same people for decades on end?

Today, I thought I’d introduce you to an important locale in the book:

The Terror

 

The Crew of the MHS ‘Terror’ Saving the Boats and Provisions on the Night of 15th March (1837) George Chambers, 1838. Oil on canvas

 

I always knew this painting would be included in the book. There is something so perilous, so frightening about the scene, which depicts the the abandoning of the ship during the ill-fated Franklin expedition.

In his book, Masterworks From the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Editor Terry Graff says this of the artist:

 

George Chambers was an English marine painter. At the age of ten, he served as a cabin boy on a coasting vessel and later apprenticed to the master of a brig, or sailing vessel,  in the Meditteranean and Baltic Seas. He had a natural talent for art and impressed the captain and crew with his remarkable drawings of sea vessels. At his request, the captain released him from serving his apprenticeship so he could devote himself full-time to his painting. Chambers went on to have several exhibitions, including at Tate Britain, the National Galleries of Scotland, and the Royal Academy of Maritime Pictures, and to become arguably the most important marine painter of the nineteenth century.

 

In The Frame-Up, the painting serves as an important locale, and our heroine Mona Dunn must brave the stark and dangerous landscape if she hopes to save the day.

I loved the idea that the characters depicted in the painting had to spend their days re-enacting this horrible event, and then, once the Gallery was shut down for the night, could escape and warm up elsewhere.

Personally, I can’t imagine having the nerve to step into this painting, and it says a lot for Mona’s character that she’s willing to. There’s an important secret hidden behind the walls of ice, one that can only be found if Mona is brave enough to try.

The howling wind almost knocked her off her feet, tossing icy particles that stung her eyes. She moved timidly, testing the ice with each step. The wind whirled another cyclone of snow and ice, out of which stepped a man with a grizzled face.

“Lord thundering’, what are ya doing here? It ain’t safe!”

 

If you look at the cover of The Frame-Up, you might be able to spot this painting!

 

Next week, we’ll head to a locale in Italy!

 

 

 

 

Giveaway Winner + The Frame-Up Cover and What Prompted Me to Write The Book

 

Happy Friday and big congratulation to @goldenteach, who won the books!

 

Don’t worry – more giveaways to come, including an ARC of the Frame-Up VERY SOON!

 

Speaking of The Frame-Up:

 

I was so happy to be finally able to share the final cover of the book this week!

I think Ian Schoenorr did a spectacular job!

 

 

And while I love the painting in the center, it’s the frame that blows me away. When the books comes out, it will be in gold foil and I can’t wait to see it!

Best of all, the frame gives you a sneak peek of some of the paintings and some of the story, and is its own little puzzle box.

Greenwillow Books has done a spectacular job designing the book, the highlight of which, along with the cover, will be fifteen colour glossy pages of the masterpieces that are actual characters in the story.

In the coming weeks, I’ll share the paintings with you to whet your appetite, and to explain why I chose them, but today I thought I’d start with why I wrote the book.

If you haven’t gone to read my post revealing the cover, hop over here now!

 

There’s background about the book and links for pre-ordering! You can also find the pre-order links on my Welcome Page! Pre-Ordering is a wonderful way to support books and helps drive early sales!

I wrote a cover letter for The Frame-Up Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) and thought you might all like to read it, too:

 

Have you ever wanted to step inside a painting, see what it feels like to be on the other side of the frame? I’ve wanted to do that my whole life, ever since I watched a movie as a kid where the painting’s creepy eyes ‘followed’ the main character around the room. And when I read the first Harry Potter book I fell in love with the idea of the Hogwarts paintings having lives of their own, separate, and often apart, from the wizards they shared a home with.

            It’s late 2015. I’m sitting in my living room, staring at my great-grandmother’s painting of a cow. I wonder if it mooed a lot while it was being painted. And then I wonder what the purple lady in a nearby painting will think if the cow suddenly wanders into her painting. Will she shoo it away or invite it to stay for a visit? There’s a story there. A book even.

            I’m lucky, I grew up with art and artists and own nice paintings, but I live near a place with amazing paintings: The Beaverbrook Art Gallery, a place I’ve visited since I was young. The more I thought about setting my book at the gallery, the more excited I became. Many of the paintings have been there for decades. Surely by now they’ve created their own world. I started to make a list of the questions I’d like to ask them; do they get sick of one another and of people staring at them; is it hard to sit still for hours on end; do they wish they could talk to us? The more I wrote about their world, the more I wished I could step inside it myself.

            Now, when I visit art galleries, I talk to the paintings and imagine what it was like the day they were painted. Oh sure, they don’t usually talk back, but they might someday. And I keep a careful watch out of the corner of my eye, because you never know when one of them might slip up and I finally get a chance to make a new friend. Art has always been magical to me. I hope that when you finish this book, you’ll be inspired to visit an art gallery or to paint a masterpiece of your own. I promise that once you start to think about paintings as living things, they come alive for you. Happy reading and painting, Wendy

 

What I DIDN’T want in telling this story was for the characters in the paintings to be able to leave, a la Night at the Museum. When you read the book you’ll see the world beyond the frames is its own separate society, with its own rules, and its own problems.

When the two worlds collide, that’s when the fun starts!

 

Next week, we’ll start talking characters!!!!

 

Have a great week!

 

 

A Birthday/Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

 

It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! is about to celebrate its first birthday on February 7th!

And since that’s close to Valentine’s Day, I thought we should have a giveaway of not just a hardcover copy of It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! but of Carter Higgins’ wonderful new picture book, This is not a Valentine!

 

 

I loved Carter’s book so much and I think you will love it, too! It would be the perfect present for your valentine!

 

And as a treat, I’m throwing in a box of Ganong’s Delecto Chocolates!

Once you read It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! you’ll understand the importance of Ganong Chocolates to the main character, Tracy.

 

For a chance to win this great prize pack, leave me a message below, or follow me on twitter @wendymacknight or on instagram @wendymcleodmacknight.

 

I’ll pick a winner next Thursday!  And teachers – let me know if you’d like me to throw in a Skype visit, if you win!

 

Good Luck!!

 

 

 

 

Goals

 

Do you make goals for yourself?

 

I used to make excessive and elaborate goals for myself at the beginning of each new year.

Many were health-related (from both a physical and mental health perspective), some were professional goals, and some were as simple as “have more fun”.

What I’ve discovered is that to be attainable, a goal has to be realistic, specific, and time-limited.

 

Which may explain why my goal of “Meeting George Clooney at Lake Como for champagne someday never worked out.

 

 

So, for 2018, I’ve made a list of specific writing and personal (though not too personal!) goals for myself:

  • Read 150 books (oh my!)
  • Continue to read and take whatever courses I can get my hands on in order to improve my writing
  • Organize joint events with other authors in June, both to promote the launch of THE FRAME UP and frankly to meet some of my author friends in real life!
  • Do more school visits – I love talking to kids about books and reading and writing
  • Edit my next book for Greenwillow Books and complete at least one more middle grade novel
  • Stop being shy about promoting myself and my books
  • See my agent Lauren in person again!
  • Stay in my own lane. In other words, I’m going to try really hard to do me this year and NOT try to do anyone else!
  • Fall in love with writing again! This may mean giving myself permission to work on little side projects that will never see the light of day!
  • Be joyful and remember what a gift it is that people are willing to read my work
  • More giveaways!

Next week is my birthday week, so stay tuned, I’m going to come up with a fantastic January book giveaway for you!

Any goals you’re willing to share? I’d love to hear!

 

 

A New Year

 

A Clean Slate. A Blank Page.

 

 

Does such a thing exist?

I think of that a lot this time of year, when we are mere steps into a new year, filled with possibilities and hopes.

The reality, of course, is that we bring the old year with us.

We bring our learnings, our lessons, our unfulfilled dreams, our happiest memories.

We start again, hopeful.

So it is with every writing project.

Last year was a huge year for me. My first book was published.

 

 

I edited The Frame Up, which is coming in early June. (and boy am I ever dying to share the cover with you!)

 

Don’t you love those blank book covers on Goodreads? NOT!

 

I passed in my next book to my editor.

And I wrote two other books that may never see the light of a printed page. Such is writing.

I am beginning another book and toying with two other ideas.

None of those things exist, I believe, save for the existence of the thing that preceded it.

So I enter 2018 not with a clean slate, but with a lined face and heart, and a spark of hope. Mostly, I wish for peace, for me and everyone on this gorgeous blue planet we call home.

 

 

I can’t imagine needing anything else.

I’ll end this post with a quote by one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, a quote that seems to pop up all over Facebook and Twitter this time of year, and which is worth hearing again and again:

 

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.

Neil Gaiman

Holiday Break

 

It’s Winter Solstice, Hanukkah is ending, Christmas will be here soon, and then the new year!

So I’m taking next week off from blogging, and will be back on January 5th!

 

I wish you and your families the happiest of holidays, and the most blessed of new years!

 

Your support this year has meant the world to me. And beginning in January, we’re going to start talking about book two and hopefully have a cover reveal VERY soon!

Until then, take care and I will see you in 2018!

Much love!

 

Wendy

 

True Friends and Good Writers

 

2017 is quickly drawing to a close.

 

And with it, the end of my debut year as a children’s book author.

There have been many ups and downs this year – happy surprises, thrills, and the odd disappointment (how is it I DIDN’T make the New York Times bestseller list?) but by far, the loveliest surprise was going through it with all the other 2017 debut authors.

They are an illustrious group and many of them did make it onto the NYT Bestseller lists: Stephanie Garber, Angie Thomas, Nic Stone, Karen McManus to name but a few.

We represented the diversity of person-hood and spanned continents. We wrote groundbreaking books, diverse books, own voices books, fairy stories, funny stories, old-fashioned adventures.

But what we had in common was two-fold:

  • we wanted to tell good stories to children and teens; and
  • we we wanted to do that in a respectful way.

Sometimes, over the course of this year, I’ve forgotten just how fortunate we debut authors were. Not only to break into the publishing world, but to have each other to ask questions of, to celebrate with, to commiserate with, to cry with.

E.B. White once famously ended his masterpiece, Charlotte’s Web, with the following line:

It is not often that someone comes along that is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

 

 

On this day, the day that the last #2017debut, Amanda Searcy’s The Truth Beneath the Lies, is published, it seems like the most fitting quote to end a remarkable year.

So a toast to true friends and good writers.

It has been an honour to go through this debut year with you all.

Cheers!

 

 

 

Winner and my Favourite YA books of 2017!

 

We have a winner for last week’s giveaway!

Congrats Kristin Crouch!

 

Thanks to everyone for participating! More giveaways to come in the new year so stay tuned!

 

Since people are still book shopping, I thought I’d share my favourite YA books of 2017, so you still have time to order them!  Next week, we’ll talk middle grade!

 

I loved all of the following, and they are in no particular order but made me one happy reader in 2017:

 

 

Happy Reading!

Holiday Giveaway – The Two Middle Grade Books I Read in One Sitting!

 

It’s December 1st!

 

Source

And since I love the hustle and bustle of December, and all of the holidays that are included, I thought I might put together a gift for YOU.

It’s been a thrill to have my first book published  and a thrill to edit the next one, which you’ll hear more about in the coming weeks when the cover is revealed.

To thank you for your support this year, I’ve decided to not only give away a hardcover copy of It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! but also two middle grade novels that I loved so much I read them in one sitting: The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore and The Someday Birds by Sally Pla. I’ll even throw in some Pig Face bookmarks.

 

How to win:

 

  • Leave a comment below
  • or Retweet and Follow me on Twitter @wendymacknight
  • or Leave me a comment on Instagram
  • or do all three things to up your odds!

I’ll announced the winner next Friday, December 8th!

And stay tuned, I may have another giveaway in the next two weeks!

 

Have a great December!

 

 

Great Book Resource!

 

I love to share writing and reading resources.

 

One of my favourite ones is Book Riot, a wonderful site chock-full of great articles, reviews and news from the book world.

 

 

Of course, my favourite section is the Children’s section, and I can’t tell you how many great articles I’ve read there, and how many recommendations for books I’ve gotten there that have turned out to be fantastic.

One of my author friends, Karina Yan Glaser is a regular contributor to Book Riot and I love her articles.

 

This is the time of year that parents and other adults are searching for recommendations of good books for the children in their life.

Book Riot is the perfect site to visit!

Have a great week. Next week: HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!

 

 

 

 

It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! Chosen as a Best Book of the Year!

 

 

Am so happy to announce that It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! has been chosen by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s as one of its Best Books for Kids and Teens 2017!

 

 

It’s a real honour to be included in a “best of” list by such a prestigious organization, and it’s fun that Pig Face is right beside his good friend Holly Farb, written by the wonderful Gareth Wronski!

 

The funny thing is, when you write a book you have no idea if other people will like it.

So I’m happy to end 2017 on such a high note and looking forward (I hope!) to making next year’s list with my next book, The Frame-Up!

And yes, Pig Face makes a wonderful holiday gift!

 

 

The Writing Process

 

Every book I write is different.

My writing process, for good or bad, is not.

Since I am in the throes of revising to meet a December deadline, thought I would share the exact process I go through to write a book.

Granted, I’ve only written nine books in the last three years (only three of which will likely ever see the light of day) but the following list is a somewhat humorous and oh-so-accurate depiction of my writing life:

  1. Struggle with idea (multiply this by 10)
  2. Run idea by agent.
  3. Agent points out the wonderful bits, kindly calls horrible bits “problematic”, suggests new bits, sends me back
  4. I write a synopsis
  5. Rinse, Repeat
  6. Final synopsis
  7. I do an outline, write character sketches, think of backstory that I will forget in about one week, realize my synopsis is so vague as to be almost incoherent, and promptly begin to write and throw away half of synopsis by the end of the first quarter
  8. Characters run amok
  9. Plot turns out to be plotless
  10. Someone who I’ve not been expecting shows up and decides they want to be in my book. I ask them to leave, but it turns out they are more interesting than half the characters I drafted sketches for and allow them to stay, at which point they completely bugger up the plot some more
  11. Finish first draft. Allow self one hour of solid jubilation then switch into a shame spiral, where I decide I really ought to call my agent and explain what a mistake she has made and then call my editor and give her money back.
  12. I do neither of these things because I am inherently selfish
  13. Begin draft two. Realize draft one must be set on fire. Characters taunt me. Plot holes are so deep I fall int them and take days to dig out. I soldier on, because I am Capricorn, and frankly, that’s what we do
  14. Finish draft two. Have some moments of jubilation. Come to shocking conclusion that my unmatched brilliance is unmatched because there is no brilliance. Somehow, dreams of writing like Neil Gaiman has given way to writing like the wanted ads or a bad Saturday Night Live sketch
  15. Send to critique partners
  16. Receive their feedback
  17. Move to fetal position. Check want ads. Wonder if my fifties is too late to become a plumber. Don’t care; plumbing is a noble art
  18. Crawl out of hole
  19. Take what is useful from critique partners and beta readers and my own understanding after doing first two horrible drafts
  20. Rewrite
  21. Discover there is a book there
  22. Finish third draft – there is no jubilation, but there may be alcohol and chocolate
  23. Send to agent
  24. There is a book there, but it is hidden under bad writing and ill-conceived plot and characterization
  25. Start fourth draft. Wait – there may be themes. Actually have decent descriptions. Characters more fully created and less likely to taunt me because they want to make the cut
  26. Finish 4th draft.
  27. Agent blesses me or sends me for counselling

Do it all again with editor

 

Am I alone in my misery????

 

 

 

The Joy of Wordless Picture Books

 

I don’t know about you, but the holiday season always seems like the perfect time of year to add to my picture book collection.  (Well actually, any time of year seems like a good time of year to add to my picture book collection, but never mind…)

And one of my favourite genres is the wordless picture book.

 

This is the ultimate example of how wonderful illustrations can tell a story.

It’s also a wonderful reading experience, curling up with a child and together, you and they add your own spin to the story.

When my children were young, they were crazy about Peter Spier’s wordless picture books:

 

 

 

Other wonderful options:

 

Zoom, by Istvan Banyai

 

 

The Red Book by Barbara Lehman

 

 

This year, I’ve added a new wordless picture book to my collection, one that combines two of my favourite things: The Nutcracker and Author/Illustrator Elly MacKay.

 

 

Most of you know that Elly is one of my favourite illustrators. Her work is magical, and her latest book, THE WALTZ OF THE SNOWFLAKES, doesn’t disappoint.

 

 

The illustrations are absolutely glorious, and I can imagine many children poring over this book and inventing their own dialogue between the two main characters, a young boy and a young girl, who are initially reluctant, then enthralled, to attend the ballet.

I always want to step right into Elly’s worlds, and this book is no different. You can watch the short You Tube video below to see how she does the incredible world she does:

Want to buy Elly’s latest book?

Amazon.com

Chapters

IndieBound

 

And please, share your favourite wordless picture book titles with me! Would love to add to my collection!

Renovating a Book

 

I’m in the midst of a kitchen renovation, and it’s not fun.

we’ve just started the tear-out and it looks like this:

 

In other words, a total mess.

My latest book looks remarkably like this:

  • Things piled up  haphazardly.
  • Walls half torn down.
  • Cupboards and countertops waiting to be torn out.

When I look at these pictures I can’t imagine December 1st, when the reno is scheduled to be done.

But I trust that it will be.

 

I’m at the point in my revisions where everything is a jumble.

I feel like I’m groping in the dark.

I feel like it will never be pretty.

I can’t imagine being able to turn it in to my editor on December 1st.

But I trust that I will.

 

The thing is, you have to practically dismantle your book to see what needs to be there and what needs to go.

What you need to do to make it coherent.

The kitchen reno has a plan, but no doubt things will crop up and that plan will have to be adjusted.

The same thing is happening with my revision.

You can’t have a new kitchen unless you tear the whole thing apart.

Just like I can’t have a good book without tearing my WIP apart.

It’s not fun, but it can be very satisfying…

Someday, it might even look good….

I’ll keep you posted!

 

(On the kitchen and the reno!)

Books, Glorious Books

 

Have you been reading a lot this fall?

I’ve been a reading and writing machine, casting aside all other pursuits to get my current work in progress completed by deadline and greedily adding to my to-be-read pile.

 

Here’s some new releases that you will adore (I promise:

 

 

I also just read DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone in one sitting and it is fantastic!

 

 

And here’s the to-be-read pile, which is getting out of control.

 

There is so much goodness in this list that I don’t know where to start. I can’t NOT begin THE BOOK of DUST by Philip Pullman, and I suppose I should get to those library books, but this pile will be completed in the next two or three weeks.

Because soon it will be time to start planning my holiday list…

In the meantime, are you looking for books to give as gifts? Then pop over to SCBWI Book Stop – you can query authors, titles, mosey the shelves, see what you’d like…

 

 

And by all means, visit my page and say hi!

Have a great week and let me know what you’re reading this week!

Winner!

 

We have a Winner!

 

Lisa Maucione – You’ve won these three books! Hope you and your class enjoy them! I’ll be in touch to send them your way!

 

Thanks everyone for entering! Stay tuned for another giveaway in late November!

 

Meanwhile, I’m spending the next week dreaming about the release of Philip Pullman’s new book, . I cannot wait to read it! Hmmm. we may have to talk about HIS DARK MATERIALS next week…

 

 

Have a great weekend!

Book Giveaway!

 

First of all – thank you for the kind words about my friend Brian Carty. He will be missed forever, but his light goes on shining!!!

In honour of Brian and the fact that it’s October and I’ve just finished the first draft of my third book, I’ve decided to do a giveaway!

This time, one lucky winner will win not one, not two, but three MG books!

The 1st book is PATINA by the genius that is Jason Reynolds. I loved this book and think you will, too!

 

 

The 2nd book is NIGHT OF THE LIVING CUDDLE BUNNIES by my friend Jonathan Rosen in honour of Halloween and because it is one of the funniest books I have ever read!

 

The 3rd book is IT’S A MYSERY, PIG FACE! by moi, guaranteed to make your nostalgic for summer days and crave chocolate!

 

 

All you have to do is leave a comment and I’ll pick a random winner next Thursday night.

 

Open to the US and Canada.

 

Good Luck!

 

 

 

Author of Children's Literature

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