The Copy Cat

Coming March 2020

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!

It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! in the news!


Pig Face got lots of love this week thanks to St. Stephen Storyfest, which was a huge success!


Check it out:

St. Croix Courier Article: (sorry there’s no online link!)


Telegraph Journal Article:


Interview with CBC Information Morning Program:

Click here to listen to the interview, which is about eight minutes long!


The Hiding Spot Blog

I was also interviewed by the wonderful blogger Sara Grochowski (if you’re not following her blog you must – it is so good!) over at her The Hiding Spot Blog!


Book Signing

I’m at Chapters in the Regent Mall this coming Saturday, April 15th, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Come up and see me and buy a copy of the book!


So happy to see It’s a Mystery Pig Face! getting so much attention!



Public Speaking and School Visits


I’m not typically nervous about public speaking.

I had the kind of job where that was required from time-to-time and I always enjoyed it.

So why am I so nervous about all of the school visits I’m doing next week?


I’m not sure if it’s a fear of not being entertaining enough or educational enough, or not being something enough, but I know it’s mostly because it’s something new.

And that once I do it a few times, it will get easier and easier.



I’m not alone in this sudden nervousness at presenting to kids, so I thought I would round up a few resources I’ve found that have helped me with my preparation:

This really great post over at the Writers Unboxed website.

Another great post over at BookMoot.

And this great post over at Publisher’s Weekly.

My materials are ready. Mostly though, I am taking the attitude of allowing the experience to lead me. One thing I do know is that kids are curious beings and things are going pop up that I am not expecting.

The great thing about next week is that all of the kids have read the book. That is a real gift, and I can’t wait to hear from them what they liked about It’s a Mystery, Pig Face!



My love affair with books about large families!


I just finished reading an advanced reader copy of Karina Yan Glaser’s wonderful The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street.


Unfortunately for you, it won’t be released until October 3rd, but I certainly would not want to leave you hanging until you can get your paws on this delightful book (you can read my Goodreads review here).

You see, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is a welcome addition to the canon of children’s books about families with large numbers of children and their lives and adventures.

These kinds of books have always been a favourite of mine. I come from a family of three children, although there were only two of us until I was nearly ten years old. I longed to be part of a large family with many brothers and sisters.

Though my parents wouldn’t accommodate me, my librarian did. To that end, let me share a list of books, in chronological order, which I think The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is a direct descendent of. You’ve got six month to read them all (okay – some of them?) and believe me when I tell you: you will love these families as much as I do!

Little Women:



If you’ve never read this wonderful story about the four March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy – then by all means, get it TODAY. A true delight. Made a writer out of a lot of readers.


The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew:



Written in 1880, this story of the five Pepper children – Ben, Polly, Joel, Davie and the perfectly-named Phronsie – is a delight. Yes, it is old-fashioned. But you sure want to be part of that family.


Rainbow Valley:



Anne of Green Gables grows up and has six children, whose adventures are told in this book, plus Anne of Ingleside and Rilla of Ingleside. The kids – Jem, Nan, Diana, Walter, Shirley, and Rilla are every bit as delightful as their mother.

All-of-a-Kind-Family Series



I read this book in elementary school and was so taken with the family that I decided I needed to move to New York City and convert to Judaism. Neither of those things have happened yet, but I’m not discounting the they might still. The story of Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, Gertie and Charlie is so delightful you will immediately go off in search of the sequels, which are equally good.

The Penderwicks



This series is so wonderful and the characters – Rosalyn, Skye, Jane and Batty – are so lovable, that it’s like slipping into a warm bathtub. Beautiful stories.

And thus we come to:

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street!



The good thing is, you have time to read all of the other books before this one comes out. But now I’m looking for more suggestions for me, especially ones featuring People of Colour. Can you help me out?


Happy reading!

I’m Being Interviewed over at the I Write For Apples Blog!


Want to read my latest interview?

I talk about It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! my path to publication, and the best thing about being a debut author.

Hop on over to author Dee Romito’s wonderful blog, I Write For Apples and take a read!




Interview with Kristin L. Gray, author of Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge


Kristin L. Gray is a treasure, as is her book, Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge.



I loved her new book so much I had to corral her into doing an interview with me!

But first, let’s hear about the book:



The Description:


Vilonia is determined to prove she’s responsible enough to care for a dog in this hilarious and utterly lovable debut novel.

Being responsible is NOT easy.

Fourth grader Vilonia hasn’t lost her rain coat in the three weeks she’s had it and she’s brushed her teeth every night and she’s volunteered to be the Friday Library Helper. But all that hard work is worth it if it means she can get a dog. Besides, this dog isn’t just because Vilonia has wanted one for pretty much ever. It’s also to help Mama, who’s been lost in one, big sadness fog for forty-three days—ever since Nana died. But Vilonia read that pets can help with sadness. Now all she has to do is keep the library goldfish alive over spring break, stop bringing stray animals home, and help Mama not get fired from her job. And she’s got to do all of it before the Catfish Festival. Easy as pie, right?

Tremendous voice, humor, and heart make this debut novel utterly lovable.


What I think:

This book is a delight from beginning to end, and the voice is fresh and funny and at times bittersweet. I guarantee you are going to love Vilonia!


The Interview

I love Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge and the idea that kids can feel so responsible for their parent’s wellbeing. What gave you the idea for the book?

I’m so glad you liked it, Wendy! Originally, the idea was for Vilonia to prove she was responsible by adopting a sickly puppy who’d been born preterm. In my grand plan, Vilonia would nurture the pup to health. Thankfully, I have a good relationship with our local veterinarian’s office, and in talking with the staff, I quickly learned that such stories, unfortunately, rarely have happy endings. I knew I wanted to write a hope-filled, light-hearted book that rang true. So I went home to think on it. I was momentarily stumped, but I wasn’t deterred. I still wanted use animals. I turned to google and my library for research. And wham! I was immediately hit with a flood of articles and posts on how pet ownership has been scientifically proven to help humans overcome a dozen obstacles – grief, anxiety, social anxiety, isolation, fear (of flying, for example), lethargy, stress, and more. I knew I had my story, my why. I just had to figure out the how.


What’s the one middle grade novel you’d take with you to a desert island?

I’d probably choose my favorite middle grade in recent years, WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead. (Ooh, or Kelly Barnhill’s THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON, as I’ve not read it yet! Spring Break goal!)


So here’s my dream dinner: you can host a dinner party and invite six middle grade authors (living or dead). Who would you invite and why? Bonus points if you tell me what you’re cooking for them!

Oh, six is not nearly enough! But I think a taco party would be fun, don’t you? I LOVE tacos, chips, and queso.

  • You! I’d so love to meet you, Wendy. We could talk art museums and heists and wear our matching leopard print shoes!
  • Madeleine L’ Engle – I admire her work so much, and I named my daughter after her. I’m overjoyed about The Wrinkle In Time movie slated for 2018. It’s produced by Ava DuVernay (a force) and starring Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon. All the exclamation points!!!
  • Kate DiCamillo – I adore her stories. They are simple yet hefty. She never fails to bring an emotional punch. I also read every single one of her Facebook posts. She is just so wise and sensible. I want her to adopt me, basically. (See also: Rebecca Stead).
  • Melanie Conklin – I’d give her a margarita or two because I’m dying to know what she is working on next!
  • Anne Ursu. I love that woman, her books, and everything she puts on twitter. She speaks truth.
  • My fellow 2017 debut Leah Henderson, author of One Shadow on the Wall. She is an absolute joy and a whole party in herself.


What projects are you working on next?

A quirky middle-grade mystery with a mostly all-girl cast. The research has been especially fun!

Thank you Kristin! What a fun interview!


Want to learn more about Kristin? Visit her website!

Author of Children's Literature