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Say what you will…

But starting the day with a cat who wants to hold your hand while you rub his ears and Neil Diamond sings, “Forever in Blue Jeans,” in the background is a very warm and civilized way to start the day.

Intro to Writing for Children at the University of Toronto

This fall, join me online with the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. I’ll be teaching Introduction to Children’s Writing (Course 1717, Section 075).
There will be two components – a weekly webinar on Wednesdays, from 6:30-8:30 PM (ET) and an offline component with assignments and exercises.
Modules will cover a variety of topics, from finding story ideas, genres and word counts, and editing. There will also be a module on publishing, covering both traditional and self-publishing options.
To sign up or get more information, please click here.

Starfest 2021 Romance Panel

Please join me at the 2021 Starfest Festival as I host an online romance panel with authors Courtney Milan, Farah Heron & Uzma Jalaluddin. Find full information & buy your tickets at

The flexibility of language?

Occasionally, I come across interesting threads and questions that people put online. A few days ago, a (White Male) had posted a thought and asked for advice.
In his post, he said something along the lines of “It’s Saturday morning and I’m in my office. My two teenage kids are upstairs, playing on their computers and practicing their programming skills. I see the gardener and his son arrive to tend our lawns. Here’s my worry. I worry that my kids will grow up and go into I.T., and talk about how hard they’ve worked to get there–and I agree on all of that, but my concern is that they’ll never understand the privilege they had to spend their Saturdays in their rooms, working on their skills, instead of working all day.”
And I thought it was a fair question. I also thought there were some interesting assumptions made…(of course, in the context of the question–will my children understand their privilege?–I would agree that the dad has to focus on certain points to the exclusion of others)…but what I wondered was if the landscaping son had an interest in his dad’s business. Was he being asked to work because family helps with the heavy lifting or was he looking to one day take over the business and grow it, and was using his Saturdays to get a sense of the company and its clients?
I also wondered about the comparison–one child gets the entire day with his father. The other children will be upstairs in their rooms on a computer. Is one situation considered luckier than the other?
Which is all to say that it had me thinking about the value and meaning we put into situations, how we view and filter experiences, and the flexibility of language (i.e., we create meaning in the words–some would argue the child who gets time with their parent is the luckier/more “privileged” one).
It’s all things I think about when I’m writing character and thinking about situations for said characters to experience, and in the end, great food for both thought and creation.

Good morning wishes

Good morning to everyone, but especially The Miss, who treated us to a full-throated & eight-octave soliloquy on why she should be allowed off leash to get closer to the coyote. It was the kind of speech that would have made Perry Mason & Shakespeare weep in both its poetry and logic. She lost her case, but the judges were impressed by her impassioned argument and vigour. And, of course, for doing all of this while seated and paying attention to us and not the coyote, she was given a conciliation prize of treats.

I was delighted to be part of the conversation with Alex Lewczuk, Jessica Burtis & Rebecca Bond as we talked about kindness, diversity, Maria & the Plague (gross facts included!), & why our stories matter. Listen to the podcast here,

Follow Up for TWUC’s Strategies for Writing Discipline

Follow Up for TWUC’s Strategies for Writing Discipline
There were a few questions we didn’t get a chance to answer yesterday and I wanted to do a quick follow up for those folks, as well as add a couple of extra thoughts to the question of creating and maintaining writing discipline.

The video for the Q & A is here:

The social media question starts at 0:18, daily schedule around 2:35, & writing groups at 3:5

As for the question of writing discipline:
1. Try substituting “discipline” for “kindness” and see if that helps. What is the kind thing for you to do today to feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction? (I find this can help me with prioritizing my tasks).

2. We talked about comparison being the thief of joy and how destructive it can be to compare ourselves to others. Here’s the thing. It can also be destructive to compare our Today Person to our Yesterday Person. Sure, we can have had a great writing week last week, but that doesn’t necessarily mean this week will be as productive.

I think about it like surfing (hilarious, since y’all know I am not about anything athletic!), but to catch and ride the wave, we have to paddle out to sea. Some days/weeks/months, we’re going to do a lot of paddling. Holding ourselves to the memory of that awesome wave as inspiration to keep going is one thing. Holding to it as a way to beat ourselves up is something else, entirely.

Every day is a new day with new goals and rules. It’s okay to be flexible to those daily changes and adjust our goals accordingly.

3. Set goals that are in your control. I try to keep up on the industry and read books on the craft. One book suggested that authors saying things like, “I’m going to find my agent in a year,” isn’t helpful and they shouldn’t do that.

And I thought, “Yes, great advice.”

The author then said, “You need to give yourself five years to meet a goal like that.”

And I returned the book to the library.

The advice, forgive me, is nonsense. It is not in our control if we sign with an agent. You know why? Because that’s someone else’s decision!

You know what is in our control? If we submit. How often we submit. If we take classes/seminars on how to pitch to agents.

I can set a goal that says, “This year, I will submit to twenty agents,” because that’s a goal that is in my control.

How long it takes to get an agent is OUT of my control—and what happens if the five year mark goes without someone offering representation? Does that make me a failure? Less of a writer?

Friends, choose goals that are in your control to achieve.

Happy writing!


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