Coming March 2020

The Copy Cat

Podcasts You Should Know About!


One of the things I love doing is listening to podcasts about children’s books.

They are hosted by passionate educators and writers and they have one thing in common: they love children’s literature!

The upcoming long weekend is the perfect opportunity to take a listen to one of these wonderful podcasts, so I thought I’d share a small list of my favourites!


Books Between


Hosted by Corinna Allen, I ADORE this podcast!  Corinna always ask the questions I would ask and has the best guest! A real treat in every episode!



Click here to start listening!


KidLit Drink Night

Hosted by Amy Kurtz Skelding, this podcast hosts great discussions about books and my throw in the odd recipe as well…



Click here to start listening!


Fuse 8 n’ Kate

Hosted by Betsy Bird and Kate Ramsey, this is all about picture books and is such a delight!

Click here to start listening!



Secrets of Story



this is not just about kidlit, but SO helpful for writers that I need to include it!

Click here to start listening!


Reading with Your Kids Podcast


A fun podcast (I was recently interviewed!)!

Click here to starting listening!


I’d love to hear what podcasts you love!  Happy Labour Day!

End of Summer


I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to let the summer go…

It was 10C when I woke up this morning.

Which means fall is coming.

But what better way to celebrate the end of summer with some great middle grade books that take place in summer?

Savour the warmth. Take those last outdoor swims. Eat that ice cream.

And read!

Here are five books that evoke those lazy days of summer:

The Penderwicks



Because of Winn-Dixie



One Crazy Summer



This One Summer



All of these books are great reads for your end-of-summer hurrah!


Happy reading!



Some books to read in the aftermath of Charlottesville


This has been a terrible week.

Hate marched, its opponents were murdered or injured, and a country realized that the leadership to address racism and bigotry was not there.

Of course, many would rightfully argue that we have lacked true leadership on that issue for hundreds of years. And not just in America.

But we can change that. And one way to do that is through books, especially children’s books. Here’s a short list of books we could all benefit from reading this week and the coming months. I’ve also tossed in a couple of adult books.

We need to learn. We need to do better.



Recent Books I’ve read that I know are going to be “Forever Books”


Don’t you love to reread favourite books?


Most of the time, those books are books I read when I was much younger:



But this summer I’ve had the pleasure of reading two books that I am positive are going to require multiple readings over the course of my life:


ORPHAN ISLAND by Laurel Snyder



The Description:

For readers who loved Sara Pennypacker’s Pax and Lois Lowry’s The Giver comes a deep, compelling, heartbreaking, and completely one-of-a-kind novel about nine children who live on a mysterious island.

On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?


My Goodreads review:

There are almost no words to express my Wonder at what author Laurel Snyder has achieved in this book. Part childhood meditation, part mystery, part glorious wonder, this book is amazing. A true achievement and an author at the top of her game.


Weeks later, I’m still thinking about this book. And I know I will want to read it again soon.





The Description:

Things Finley Hart doesn’t want to talk about:
-Her parents, who are having problems. (But they pretend like they’re not.)
-Being sent to her grandparents’ house for the summer.
-Never having met said grandparents.
-Her blue days—when life feels overwhelming, and it’s hard to keep her head up. (This happens a lot.)

Finley’s only retreat is the Everwood, a forest kingdom that exists in the pages of her notebook. Until she discovers the endless woods behind her grandparents’ house and realizes the Everwood is real—and holds more mysteries than she’d ever imagined, including a family of pirates that she isn’t allowed to talk to, trees covered in ash, and a strange old wizard living in a house made of bones.

With the help of her cousins, Finley sets out on a mission to save the dying Everwood and uncover its secrets. But as the mysteries pile up and the frightening sadness inside her grows, Finley realizes that if she wants to save the Everwood, she’ll first have to save herself.


My Goodreads Review:

If you ever want to read a truly magnificent book about the inner lives of children, especially ones who are hurting, this one is for you. The story of Finley, sent to stay with her grandparents for the summer (grandparents she’s never met) while her parents contemplate divorce, this book is a beautiful treatise in imagination, pain, friendship, and hope, and is truly one of the finest books I’ve ever read. Legrand is a remarkable writer.


I love knowing those books are out there, waiting to be reread again!

How about you? Any book you are dying to reread again?



Don’t you love summer?

If you’re like me, you’ve been soaking up the sun (a bit), working (a lot), and reading, reading, reading!

In Canada, there’s still a month until school starts again, so I thought I’d share some new middle grade books releasing this month that are worth checking out:


Zinnia and the Bees



The Description:

Talk about having a lousy day. While Zinnia’s seventh grade classmates are celebrating the last day of school, she’s cooped up in the vice principal’s office, serving detention. Her offense? Yarn bombing a statue of the school mascot. And when Zinnia rushes home to commiserate with her older brother, Adam, who also happens to be her best friend, she’s devastated to discover that he’s left home with no explanation. Just when it looks like Zinnia’s day can’t possibly get any worse, a colony of frantic honeybees mistakes her hair for a hive and lands on her head! Told from the alternating perspectives of Zinnia a humorous young loner and knitter and an unintentionally comical hive of honeybees, this quirky, heartfelt novel will strike a chord with anyone who has ever felt alone, betrayed, or misunderstood as it explores the challenges that come with learning to trust yourself and the often messy process of discovering the true meaning to home.

I’ve read this book already and loved it!


The Countdown Conspiracy



The Description:


Ambassador, you are go for launch in T- minus 5…4…3…2…. Get ready to blast off with this high-action, high-stakes middle grade adventure that’s perfect for fans of Chris Grabenstein and Peter Lerangis!

Miranda Regent can’t believe she was just chosen as one of six kids from around the world to train for the first ever mission to Mars. But as soon as the official announcement is made, she begins receiving anonymous threatening messages…and when the training base is attacked, it looks like Miranda is the intended target. Now the entire mission—and everyone’s lives—are at risk. And Miranda may be the only one who can save them.

The Martian meets The Goonies in this out-of-this-world middle grade debut where the stakes couldn’t be higher.


Karma Khullar’s Mustache



The Description:

Debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable—but all too relatable—subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this sweet and charming novel in the tradition of Judy Blume.

Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.

With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.

Again – I’ve read this book already and it’s delightful!


Kat Greene Comes Clean



The Description:

Kat Greene lives in New York City and attends fifth grade in the very progressive Village Humanity School. At the moment she has three major problems—dealing with her boy-crazy best friend, partnering with the overzealous Sam in the class production of Harriet the Spy, and coping with her mother’s preoccupation with cleanliness, a symptom of her worsening obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Read this one, too and it is heartwarming and wonderful!


Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies



The Description:

Twelve-year-old Devin Dexter has a problem. Well, actually, many of them. His cousin, Tommy, sees conspiracies behind every corner. And Tommy thinks Devin’s new neighbor, Herb, is a warlock . . . but nobody believes him. Even Devin’s skeptical. But soon strange things start happening. Things like the hot new Christmas toy, the Cuddle Bunny, coming to life.

That would be great, because, after all, who doesn’t love a cute bunny? But these aren’t the kind of bunnies you can cuddle with. These bunnies are dangerous. Devin and Tommy set out to prove Herb is a warlock and to stop the mob of bunnies, but will they have enough time before the whole town of Gravesend is overrun by the cutest little monsters ever? This is a very funny “scary” book for kids, in the same vein as the My Teacher books or Goosebumps.

This book is a HOOT and your kids are going to devour it!


Any and all of these books will be a great addition to your home or school library, or ask you local library to order in a copy!

Happy reading!



Giveaway Winners and a Chocolate Dance!


We have winners!

We had such a great response to the giveaway that I decided to add another package!



Congratulations Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Gettler!


Can’t wait to talk to your classes!!!!

And in other news:


I’m being induced into the Chocolate Lovers Society during Chocolate Fest 2017!





Cannot wait to go home again, see old friends,  AND eating some chocolates and chicken bones (my favourite!)


See you in St. Stephen on August 11th!

If you want to learn more about Chocolate Fest, click here!


Recharge Those Batteries!

Everyone needs a break now and then

I’ve been working so hard this past month, revising book two, that I feel like my closest relationship is with my computer.

But earlier this week I slipped away for an overnighter in Bar Harbor, Maine.

It was just what the doctor ordered.

There was walking, ocean views…



Good coffee and blueberry muffins…


Excellent Meals.


And conversations with real people.




Now I’m back, refreshed, doing the big push to hand in this round of edits by the end of the month.

Late last week, I was panicked, worried that going away was a mistake and I wouldn’t have enough time to to get my edits done if I went away.

But sometimes we need to unplug and step away from a project for a couple of days. Issues I thought were impossible are suddenly more manageable.

And the salt air made me sleep like a baby!

Now if I can just put my other baby to bed…


Classroom Swag Pack Giveaway!


It’s been six months since It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! was published!


I’ve learned a lot during that time, but the biggest thing I’ve learned is that I love classroom visits!

The chance to connect with kids and their teachers is amazing! I love talking to them about writing and publishing and about other middle grade books I love!

In honour of that, I want to do a giveaway specifically for teachers:

  • An autographed hardcover copy of It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! for your classroom
  • Bookmarks and postcards for all of your students
  • A free one hour Skype or Google Hangout session with you and your students this fall (if you live in New Brunswick, I’ll come to your classroom!)


To enter:

(if you do all of the things below they will be counted as multiple entries and will increase your chances of winning!)

By Friday July 21st. Can’t wait to talk to you and your class this fall!



On Editorial Letters


Until I got my first book deal, I had no clear understanding of what an editorial letter was



I think I had this strange idea that the editorial letter was a sweet note from my new editor saying how much they loved the book, and pointing out the odd grammatical slip-up.

I was wrong.




Oh sure, they love your book – they bought it after all. But if you thought you’d finished the hard lifting, having run through the gauntlet of the slush pile or online pitching to secure yourself an agent, and then had same-said agent pull off the miracle and actually land you a book deal, you will be very very wrong.

I got my second editorial letter this week for the book that Greenwillow Books is publishing in 2018.

It was a wonderful letter, full of kind words.

But then came the list of required fixes:

  • those characters who are not as fully formed as they might be
  • the glaring plot holes you didn’t catch yourself or that defy all logic
  • Pacing that is too slow or too fast.

And then there is the manuscript, line edited perfectly, and you wonder: “Why the heck didn’t I realize THAT was the best way to say that?” or “Who knew that wasn’t capitalized?”

It turns out my editor, Virginia, knew.

The best part of the letter was her last line: Enjoy the revision process.

As I read her comments, I was suddenly looking at my manuscript with fresh eyes and a renewed vigour.

I am excited about the next three weeks and digging into the work.

And then guess what?

There will be more revisions!



I think the editorial letter is a thrilling part of the publishing process, perhaps almost as thrilling as when a box of books with your name on it arrives on your doorstep.

It’s the beginning of the final assault, the chance for you and your editor to refine the book’s vision, your chance to make the book the best it can be.

Our readers deserve nothing less!

Meanwhile, I’m heading back into the revising cave! Have a great week!

Canada’s 150th birthday – a book party and giveaway!


July 1st is Canada’s 150th birthday.


In honour of that day, and seeing how everybody else is making their list of their ten best Canadian books, I thought I would share my own list!

These are in no particular order, because frankly, it was torturous enough to limit myself to ten book!


And if you leave me a comment before July 6th, telling me which of the books listed below you’d love to have a copy of, you’ll be entered into a draw to win that book! Open to Canada and the U.S.


Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

Seriously, you didn’t think I’d leave this off the list did you?



A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry

One of the finest books ever written and will haunt me until the day I die.



No Great Mischief, Alistair MacLeod

Beautiful story, East Coast at its best.



Lives of Girls and Women, Alice Munro

Hard to pick just one, but I read this as a young woman and adored it.



The Deptford Trilogy, Roberston Davies


Ok, I’m cheating, but read them all. Davies is so funny!



The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

I’ve been nervous around men and the state ever since…



There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen, Sheree Fitch

It’s hard to pick just one of Sheree’s books, but this one always makes me laugh!



The Coming of Winter, David Adams Richards

I read this at university and it blew me away. Richards is a native of New Brunswick (like me and Sheree Fitch) and has been called Canada’s Tolstoy, deservedly so.



The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje

A profound and beautiful book.



The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King

We need to read more Indigenous authors and this is a great place to begin!


My Wild Card:


The Sisters Brothers, Patrick Dewitt

Please, someone make a movie out of this book ASAP!



That’s my list! What’s yours?

Coping with Pet Loss through Children’s Books


I recently lost my seventeen year old dog, Indy, and it was heartbreaking.



I had forgotten how sad it is to lose a pet, since the last time I’d lost a beloved pet I was 14 years old.

That dog, Charlie, was a beautiful soul, and I was glad I got a chance to immortalize her in It’s a Mystery, Pig Face!


Of course, I always find tremendous solace in books, and it got me thinking of the wonderful children’s books that deal with losing a pet.

The New York Times just published a great article on this subject recently, and you can read the article here.

Personally, I have always loved Judith Viorst’s wonderful THE TENTH GOOD THING ABOUT BARNEY.



The NYT article focuses on picture books, but I’m interested in middle grade novels that deal with the issue.

And for the life of me, the only one I can think of is THE PENDERWICKS IN SPRING, where Batty has to cope with the death of her beloved Hound.


There are lots of nonfiction books, but I struggle to think of other fiction ones.

So am asking you all for your recommendations, since this is information I think everyone should have in their back pocket.

What are your go-to Middle Grade Novels that address pet loss?


A book you should read!


I just finished reading ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL by Leah Henderson.



For those of you who’ve not yet heard of it, here’s the description:


An orphaned boy in contemporary Senegal must decide between doing what is right and what is easy as he struggles to keep a promise he made to his dying father in this captivating debut novel laced with magical realism.

Eleven-year-old Mor was used to hearing his father’s voice, even if no one else could since his father’s death. It was comforting. It was also a reminder that Mor had made a promise to his father before he passed: keep your sisters safe. Keep the family together. But almost as soon as they are orphaned, that promise seems impossible to keep. With an aunt from the big city ready to separate him and his sisters as soon as she arrives, and a gang of boys from a nearby village wanting everything he has—including his spirit—Mor is tested in ways he never imagined. With only the hot summer months to prove himself, Mor must face a choice. Does he listen to his father and keep his heart true, but risk breaking his promise through failure? Or is it easier to just join the Danka Boys, whom in all their maliciousness are at least loyal to their own?

One Shadow on the Wall is about love and loss, family and friendship, and creating your own future—even if it’s hard to do.


This book reminded me of the power of books to take us to places we’ve never been and show us characters whose lives are different, and yet ultimately similar, to our own.

Beautifully written by Leah Henderson, the story is at times heartbreaking, scary, heartwarming, and inspirational. And a page-turner.

It casts a light on a culture and place in the world not often represented in books, especially children’s books.

And it belongs in every school and public library, so as many children as possible can benefit from its themes of family, tenacity, and joy, and are able to learn more about the wonderful (and at times heartbreaking) culture of Senegal.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It is a must-read in 2017! If you want to read my Goodreads review, click here.


If you want to read more about author Leah Henderson, click here.

Book Three


A short post because: I am almost ready to pass book three into my agent!!!!!

Cue the marching band:


This book has not been an easy write.

And I KNOW there will be revisions before we ever submit it to Greenwillow – God bless my agent for being so editorial!

But I have feedback. I am making the last few changes:



Every stage in the process is rewarding, even if it isn’t easy. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get this whole book-writing thing down someday. In the meantime….



I’ll have more next week!

Have a great week!

Is there a “right way” to write?


I stumbled upon a twitter thread yesterday by an author I greatly admire, Kate Milford.

She was commenting upon yet another tweet by the amazing Kelly Barnhill:


Kate agreed with Kelly and then went on to write an eloquent thread that basically busted a whole lot of myths about writing. If you’re not following Kate on twitter, you must start straight away and you can read the thread over there.


Early on, I often felt that I was somehow in danger of losing my membership in the writing club when I wasn’t writing. I remember reading Stephen King’s book On Writing and how he writes 365 days a year.



Perhaps I don’t have as much to say as Stephen?

While that may be true, the reality is that I am a percolator. I spend a whole lot of time thinking about my writing in my head before I ever put pen to paper or fingers on the keyboard.

On the other hand, when I am writing, I often start early and can go all day. I become an energizer bunny.

Other times, I need to decompress. I need to think or read or do anything BUT write.

But things are always running through my head.

I’ve had  people ask if I write every single day, and they are often surprised when I say no, just as they are often surprised when I share my intense hours when the muse does hit.

Mostly, I tell them that the important thing is to write.

But how and when you write depends on factors that are deeply personal to you – do you work, do you have kids at home, are you finishing another project – which makes a one-size-fits-all approach to writing impossible.

I am sure that a person’s writing gets better the more they write, which is perhaps why Stephen King gave this advice to begin with. Or maybe because it worked so well for him he figured it would work well for everyone else.

But for most of us, comparing ourselves to Stephen King, both in terms of talent and output, is a fool’s game.

It may take you a year to write your first draft.

It may take you a month.

There is no right way to do it.

And the only wrong way to do it, so far as I can tell, is not to write at all.

Keep writing!




Books I’m looking forward to….


My To-Be Read List is Soooo Long.

Last week, I shared a list of books I’ve read recently and loved.

Well how about some books I can’t wait to read?

Here (in no particular order!) are some Middle Grade books coming out between now and July 1st that I can’t wait to read!



And here are some books currently in my to-be-read pile that I cannot wait to get to:





So many books, so little time! But I want to read them all and then get ready for what’s coming next!


How about you? What MG books are you looking forward to reading soon?

Books I’ve read lately that I love!


Every once in a while I think it’s a good idea to share with you some of the amazing books I’ve been reading:

The following are in no specific order, but they will surely give you a great few hours of reading:





A mixture of mostly middle grade, with a dash of YA and Adult, these are great reads!!

Enjoy book this long weekend!

Words of Wisdom on Writing


We writers can be a solitary lot, given to highs when the work is going well and lows when it is not.

One thing that I find of great comfort are words of wisdom about writing. Some of my recent favourites, all of which I found on Pinterest:




I like to collect these quotes, along with other pieces of advice about the craft of writing on my Pinterest board, which you can check out HERE.

Would love to hear what pieces of writing advice you’ve collected on the way!

Revision Land


I am there. And can be a dark, dark, place.




But it doesn’t have to be!


Every time I go to revise a book, I employ different tactics. Usually, they involve the latest craft book I’ve read.

For example, for my current revisions I have used:







Each of them is excellent in their own way, and each has me thinking and rethinking what’s currently on paper.

So does reading other people’s work.


Need a cliffhanger? 

Hmm – I think I’ll reread The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands or Withering by the Sea by Judith Rossell, which are chock-a-block with them!


Need to remember how to go deep, emotionally?

I’m looking at you, The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw and The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla


Need Humour?

How about the Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White?



What I am learning is that there is no one way to revise a book, and so much depends on the book itself.

Oh, and here’s the most important thing:


Keep going to make it the best it can be, but remember to have fun! Because if you’re not having fun with your revisions, it means your reader likely isn’t going to enjoy themselves either…





Frye Literary Festival


I’ve been invited to do a reading at the Frye Literary Festival this evening as an Emerging Author.


As I haven’t emerged as anything for many years, this is quite a delight!

If you don’t know about this prestigious literary festival, click here.

If you want to come see me read, here are the details:

20 h 30 / 8:30 p.m.
PRÉLUDE : AUTEURS DU N.-B. EN ÉMERGENCE / PRELUDE: EMERGING NB WRITERS Caroline Bélisle, Sarah Cooper, Andrée Cormier, Spencer Folkins, Wendy McLeod MacKnight,
Félix Robichaud
Centre culturel Aberdeen Cultural Centre – 5$

140 Botsford Street, Moncton, New Brunswick


Hope to see you there!

Some thoughts about St. Stephen Storyfest



When Derek O’Brien, the CAO for the Town of St. Stephen, told me last summer that he wanted to start a literacy festival in St. Stephen and he wanted It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! to be the inaugural book, I was floored.

And honoured.

It seemed a full-circle moment for me.

I cannot recall a time in my life when reading wasn’t central to my well-being. Begging for one more story, thrilled when I could read by myself so I could read whenever I wanted to, I was the fortunate child who was taken to the library once a week to get a fresh stack of wonder.



What I discovered early on was that so long as I had a book, I was never alone, not even when I felt lonely.

Throughout my first career, I prioritized early childhood literacy and investments in libraries, knowing what a huge difference both make to a child’s development.

To be part of a festival designed solely to promote the love of reading in the community, particularly for kids, was like being invited to a reader’s paradise.

So two weeks ago I decamped to St. Stephen and had the great gift of spending two and half days with the amazing kids who attend St. Stephen Elementary School, Milltown Elementary School, and Lawrence Station Elementary School.

I went from class to class, chatting and talking to them not only about Pig Face, but about the importance of reading, the mechanics of writing (and rewriting), and how their stories are as valuable as any one else’s.


I admired their projects, their enthusiasm for the book, their enthusiasm for reading, their curiousity.

I admired their teachers, who were kind and enthusiastic.

I admire the community spirit I met at every turn.

I spent time at the Public Library with some wonderful book club kids (and wished there had been one when I was a child!)



On the night of the book launch, 100 people showed up. Many of them were kids and their parents. Others were community leaders, including the Mayor, who had already been in the schools encouraging the kids to read the book and reading it themselves.

I chatted with old and new friends, and I loved that we could chat about books!

I ate student-made Ralph’s Brownies. I wrote stories with kindergarten kids.

And I donated a whole bunch of new books to each of the school libraries I visited, because they never get enough new books.

The thrill of donating new books written by writer friends was amazing.

At the end of Storyfest, I returned home knowing three truths:

  1. our teachers are as fine and caring and inspirational as they have ever been
  2. that there is a book for everyone; all it takes is a gentle nudge (I had one boy come to the launch with his dad, who told me that his son was so inspired that he wanted him to meet me and how he couldn’t believe how keen his son was to read!)
  3. That St. Stephen is more magical than I could have ever put on paper.

I’m not sure who next year’s Storyfest author will be, but I know this: they will be very lucky, and the Town of St. Stephen will be waiting for them!


Thank you St. Stephen!

Author of Children's Literature