Monthly Archives: November 2012

Buy Local for Christmas Reads


X'mas photo-1

If you’re looking for a X’mas special on some humorous family reads over the holiday season (Middle Grade Novels -Grade 5-8), please consider the FRENCHIE SERIES (Books 1&2) on sale locally in NANAIMO’S CHAPTERS (local author section)and at the X’mas Bazaar at the Nanoose Bay Library on Saturday, Dec.8th between 10:00 -3:00.

Parents/Grandparents are choosing this humorous Frenchie Series (Books 1 &2) as a contemporary fiction choice with characters that all can relate to:

  • Ethan, the 13 year old who is “gaga” over French Bulldogs and determined to own one of his own
  • Grandma Sis,  the quirkiest, most eccentric and devious grandma,
  • Mel, an overwhelmed, single working mom who has no interest in adding a pet to life’s craziness
  • and, of course, all the many dogs and puppies…

These novels  are of particular interest to pet lovers, pet caretakers and families who have experienced pet-owner wannabe’s and puppy chaos. The third novel of the series is expected to be available in March, 2013.

During the month of December, these books will be sold at a discount, explained in the flyer photos below.  It makes them a most affordable X’mas gift/stocking stuffer and, of course, ensures some fun and entertaining reading over the Christmas Holiday Season.

Flyer Price List-2X'mas Book Special-3







Frenchie’s Best Friend  -Follow the Blog  

                                                         Frenchie X 2- Follow the Blog                                                               

Happy Holidays to my Local Readers!












10 Reasons why MG and YA Authors Must Read: Writing Irresistible KIDLIT by Mary Kole


Having recently wrapped up my third MG novel of my Frenchie series, Writer’s Digest’s promotion of Mary Kole’s book, “Writing Irresistible KIDLIT –The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers” caught my attention.  All authors are interested in perfecting their skill set and craft.  It’s an invaluable aid challenging authors to go back into one’s manuscript, ask the hard questions, and revise, revise, revise!

10 reasons KIDLIT  writers should read Mary Kole’s guide:

1.  Mary Kole is well educated, knowledgeable, experienced and a published author herself. She has credence as a Senior Literary Manager, someone who teaches webinars on all aspects of children’s book craft and she blogs at

2.  She reassures authors that there is an audience for MG readers and of course, for the extremely popular YA audience.

3.  She clarifies the appropriate length of MG and YA novels. Her justification for why MG novels should average 35,000 words made perfect sense to me as an educator. (Shorter books have the potential to capture a wider variety of readers.  Not all readers at this level are advanced in their reading skills and a shorter book encourages them to pick it up.)

4.  She backs up her advice with successful, well-written book excerpts that demonstrate these literary strengths in successful, exemplary books.

5.  The guide supplies advice and bonus tips throughout by editors, best-selling authors and agents specializing in KIDLIT. An example of this is Holly Black’s quote, “Write for your reader self and not your writer self.”

6.  Mary Kole addresses the characteristics of good writing (storytelling foundations, characterization, action, plot, tension, climax, etc.) and at the end of each chapter, she challenges the reader to return to their own manuscript to see the strengths of their writing…or the changes required to improve one’s story.

7.  Mary Kole understands the tween/teen.  She makes statements that resonate with those who are developing their writing skills as MG/YA authors.  For e.g., “Readers want to see themselves in stories- that’s how they care.” She “gets” what MG and YA readers are looking for in the books they read. Do you know what it is?  It’s connection. Mary describes the kids and characters of this age group in this way:

They are totally wrapped up their own experiences, blow things out of proportion, and see the world through a very self-centered lens. They have no brakes in certain situations and often blurt things out way before the notion of  “consequences” enters their brains. They’ll push boundaries, laugh at the worst possible time, and completely lose their cool.” (p. 106)

As a retired educator/elementary school principal and single mom of two sons, let me just say, she totally understands the readers for whom we write.

8. WRITING IRRISTIBLE KIDLIT has voice.  Mary Kole models this throughout the guide for us. The reader relates to her as:

  • a highly effective editor,
  • well-grounded (not necessarily seeking the next vampire or dystopian story),
  • professional with high standards and expectations,
  • human with a sense of humor and sarcasm,
  • and, above all, competent in what she does.

9. Mary Kole clearly explains what an agent and editor will be seeking in a manuscript. She inspires you go into your draft in depth and ask yourself the hard questions:

  • Have I hooked my readers from the start? Will readers be sympathetic and interested?  Will they relate to the character?
  • What’s the inciting incident that rocks my character’s world?
  • Am I showing, not telling?
  • What’s the Big Idea or Big Question being tackled in the theme of my novel?
  • Is there lingering tension at the end of a chapter? How has the plot become more complicated?
  • Has my character changed? Will my readers care? Are there signs of maturity and coming of age?
  • Is there emotional impact for the reader at the end of the novel?

10.  You will have a preparatory toolbox when seeking agents and publishers for your novels. She demystifies the query process and provides authors with a concise template when preparing submissions.

KIDLIT writers check out this resource and have your highlighter ready!  No matter how successful or experienced as authors, there is always something to be gleaned to further the depth of one’s craft.  Be inspired!

If this post was worthwhile to any of you, please leave a comment on my blog.  As well, if you know of another KIDLIT author who might be interested in this resource, please share my blog link:

Canadian Patriotism Event (Inheritance Reduction Plan)


Last spring, our friends, Alison Wright and Donald (Mucker) Munroe hatched a plan to celebrate Mucker’s sixtieth year as a Canadian citizen.  He immigrated from Scotland at the age of twenty-three and wanted to party with his community and family.

Our Mucker is a character who enjoys a big splash.  Three years ago, for his eightieth birthday party, he had a huge gathering representing a cross section of his life (former staff members from schools that he had led as principal, past students, sailing buddies, family, neighbors, and an eclectic array of friends) for a garden party.  But before the birthday festivities began, he led a parade through his neighborhood with pipers and, of course, fully decked out in his kilt (Mmmm, such gorgeous legs this man has.).  Two sea creatures crashed the parade as fishing pole bearing Parade Marshals, complete with gum boots, mermaid attire, fishnet stockings… (These sea creatures later revealed themselves as Mucker’s Doctor and his partner.)  Are you getting the picture of his fun, mischievous character?

And now another milestone presented itself as Mucker reached his 60th year of Canadian citizenship.  Of course there would be a major celebration! We nodded knowingly as they expounded on the grandiose plans for the event of the year.  (Secretly thinking to ourselves, “Yeah right, and just how are you two going to pull this one off?”)  Oh my, I hate eating my words!

So months later, we were notified that they had rented the Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver just prior to the Remembrance Day weekend. A world class String Quartet- BOREALIS would perform and tickets had been printed. The tickets read:

Invitees: Friends, relations and acquaintances of Donald and their friend’s relations and acquaintances and their friend’s relations and acquaintances and…

Are you visualizing this?  Through word of mouth anyone and everyone was invited to this superb concert, followed with a wine reception.

We realized at that point that they were actually following through with the Inheritance Reduction Plan (IRP)-of course they were!  We booked our hotel room and made plans to join the fun. Knowingly thinking, we absolutely MUST attend, our two bodies in those many (705 to be exact) seats would be significant. Imagine our shock when we drove into the Centennial Theater’s parking lot (or tried to)!  It was jammed, hardly a spot left.  We were sure there must have been another event just finishing….

Yeah, right! As we approached the lobby of the theater, there were line-ups trying to get in the door. Donald was posed near the theater doors resplendent in his tartan trousers and tux jacket. (A magnificent specimen of a man). He successfully attempted to greet each and every guest as they made their way to their seats.

We met up with Alison’s hairdresser and were fortunate to land seats in the back row of the theater.  There wasn’t a seat left vacant by the 7:30 start, I swear.  Seriously, we’re talking a full house! Friends and relatives had traveled from as far as Eastern Canada and California to attend.  That says everything!

Donald welcomed everyone and introduced his gift to his guests- the Borealis String Quartet in honor of his celebration.  It was an amazing treat for everyone!

Leaving the theater, we connected with acquaintances over a glass of wine.  Not surprising, we noticed Mike McCardell, the Global TV Human Interest Reporter, wandering through the throng.  I couldn’t help myself from approaching him and inquiring whether Mucker’s celebration might just end up in his next published book? I think we’ll be on the lookout for that, don’t you?

It’s been a week now and we still can’t stop reminiscing about how these two incredible people pulled this extraordinary event off. We tell everyone we know about it. What a powerful statement demonstrating an immigrant’s appreciation for the quality of life experienced as a Canadian citizen.  But most of all, we just shake our heads and say, “Yep, that one must have been totally successful as an Inheritance Reduction Plan.” (Donald’s “original” version of an IRP).

The Drama of Today’s Weddings!


Phew! I’m done, so done!  The last son/step-son is married.  How stressful can it be to just show up at one’s adult children’s weddings you ask?  Well, let me give you just a glint of insight into this wedding “gig”, contending with families consisting of step-moms, step-dads, ex-girlfriends, ex-boyfriends, step-brothers, step-sisters, half brothers and half sisters, OMG! What other family combinations can there possibly be?  Favorite aunts and uncles aren’t even a consideration after the extended families have been invited!

Consider the configurations of the guest lists and the insane task of trying to make each parent/step-parent comfortable with the wedding arrangements. Today when almost every parent of the bride and groom have new partners or are single and available; one has to be careful not to sound like a cynic about the sanctity of marriage. More often than not, the parents are remarried or in relationships with someone other than their original wife or husband. What a cesspool of intrigue and drama can be conjured up from a wedding occasion with all that history brewing. Just visualize the joys of arranging the wedding photos with the “Bride and Groom” without slighting anyone in one of the many parent configurations. Can you imagine?


Beware of the Convivial Ex-Couple

  • faking it for the sake of the kids. They’ll never be friends again, really!
  • seeking out their ex-spouses hoping they’ve aged better than the other and living a better lifestyle
  • entrapping  ex-spouses in reminiscing about the good old days together raising the bride or groom, secretly hoping to make their ex feel some guilt for screwing up their former marriage/family

Be Careful Around the Hostile Ex-Couple

  • making the entire wedding process as prickly and antagonistic as possible
  • thumbing their noses at each other with their middle fingers raised under the tablecloth whenever the other is speaking
  • competing for the prized attentiveness from the newlyweds over their ex-spouses
  • maintaining an adversarial stance; expecting seating placements on opposite sides of the ceremony and reception
  • slagging their ex-spouses for past shortcomings to innocent ex-relatives

 Be Wary of the Gracious New Spouse

  • demonstrating he/she has more class than their new husband’s/new wife’s ex-husband/ex-wife
  • seeking confirmation that he/she is a vast improvement over the former model
  • working diligently to make a great impression with all the relatives present to irk their new spouse’s ex-husband or ex-wife
  • purposely outshining their partner’s ex-husband or ex-wife in every way possible

 Be Cautious Around the Cranky New Spouse

  • looking completely disgruntled and refusing to put on a happy face and join in the celebration
  • complaining irrationally that the child from their “new love union” is being ignored and overlooked by the newlyweds and their wedding plans
  • refusing to enjoy the occasion and make it special for the sake of the bride and groom

 Be Considerate of the Ex-Spouse Who Has Never Moved On

  • noticing the true joy of the unattached ex-wife or ex-husband who hasn’t recommitted
  • enjoying the unattached ex-spouse’s sincere and heartfelt comfort in attending their son’s/ daughter’s wedding without any hidden agendas or resentments
  • celebrating their freedom to experience the “joy of the occasion” without the drama that consumes the others

Let me reiterate, I’m done, so done!  Two sons and two step-sons are married and I made it through all four ceremonies with only a few battle scars and stories.  But I’ll never tell, will I?

(If you enjoyed this post or could relate to it in some way, please leave a comment.  I’d love to hear from my readers! And don’t hesitate to re-post it to anyone else that might get a chuckle or two from it.)