Tag Archives: Events

Reading Video

My husband recorded me reading from Boarder Patrol this morning. It’s a bit quiet, but pretty good for an iPhone across a room. Especially given that I’m more than a little on the soft-spoken side. Thank goodness for microphones!

Erin Thomas Reading from “Boarder Patrol” from Erin Thomas on Vimeo.

The man who stands up at the end, when I’m walking back to my seat, is Mr. Blackstock. He was my teacher in fifth grade. My husband calls that sort of thing a “co-Whitby-dence”.

Chocolate Café and other news…

On Sunday, March 28, somewhere between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m., I’ll be reading a short selection from my new YA novel, Boarder Patrol, at Isabella’s Chocolate Café in Oshawa.

The reading is part of the second annual Coffee, Tea & Words 24-Hour Read-a-Thon, a fundraiser for the Literacy Council of Durham. I’m part of a group of readers from the Writers’ Circle of Durham Region; we’ll be reading for five minutes each. Other WCDR readers are Sue Reynolds, James Dewar, Carin Makuz, Dorothea Helms and Ruth Walker. I know these people and they’re all extremely talented writers–and good at reading in public, too! It promises to be a great show, with lots of interesting work shared.

Plus, it’s at a Chocolate Café. Yes, Chocolate. In case anyone is wondering about my willingness to read aloud. I will do many, many things for access to chocolate. I think the good cause is influencing people, too–Susanna Kearsley and Jill Edmondson will also be participating, at different points in the Read-a-Thon. This should be a great fundraiser for Durham Literacy.

(Incidentally, because the lovely Sue Reynolds fixed up my Boarder Patrol ARC picture, I’ll post it here rather than just linking to it. Just because I can. Thanks, Sue!)

Boarder Patrol ARC cover image
Boarder Patrol Advance Reading Copy

Book Launch Date Set

On the topic of Boarder Patrol, I’ve finally set the date for the book launch. It will be held on Saturday, May 29, 2010, at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge. I’m not sure of the exact time yet, but probably sometime during the early afternoon–starting at 1:00 or 2:00 or so. There will be cake. There will be door prizes. There will be nice people there, and an absolutely gorgeous bookshop to browse. It should be fun!

And look! Here’s the book on Orca’s web site. This makes it feel real!

Book Giveaway Contest!

Becky Levine (@Becky_Levine on Twitter) is hosting a book giveaway contest. All you have to do is leave a comment on her book review page, and you’ll be entered in a draw to win a copy of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book… enough so that I probably shouldn’t tell anyone about this contest, because I’m hoping to win the draw. However, I can’t quite bring myself to be that mean. Here it is: Becky Levine’s review of Shiver.

School Presentation at Sir Wm. Stephenson

Yesterday afternoon, Cheryl Rainfield and I presented to grade five and six classes at Sir William Stephenson public school in Whitby.

I didn’t attend Stephenson, but I did attend Kathleen Rowe, the much older, much smaller and much loved school that used to exist on the site where Stephenson now stands. The roof beams in Stephenson’s library are the same ones that held up the K. Rowe library, and the large mural of stones in the front hall is the one I used to look at and touch on the few occasions when I had a reason to be at K. Rowe’s front doors.

This was my first author presentation in a school. I can’t think of a better way to start than by going back to K. Rowe ground. But that’s not the real reason why it was a perfect first visit. Most of the credit for that goes to the amazing librarian, Andrea Laroque, and to the teachers who read the books with the students, and to the wonderful students who got involved with the presentation from the start and had such insightful ideas and comments and questions. They had created posters for the books, and written letters to the characters! Cheryl and I will treasure the posters, and we have promised that the characters will write back.

Cheryl and I did a writing workshop with the kids. We took them through the steps of planning a story, and looked at story structure with references to the Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, to the Dragon Speaker books, and to the first Spider Man movie. Guess which one resonated?

Actually, the kids shocked me. I knew they would relate  to Spider Man. What I wasn’t prepared for was how readily they connected the story structure ideas to Cheryl’s book and mine. They were brilliant. Really, truly brilliant.

We brainstormed to come up with a story idea and outline as a group. I had jotted down a back-up idea, just in case things didn’t go well. Turns out I didn’t need to do that! These students came up with story concepts that would look at home on any bookstore shelf. I’ve gone into them in more detail on my dragonspeakerbooks.com post about the school presentation, but to summarize–the sixth graders created a YA thriller about a viral outbreak in a small town, while the fifth graders took us on a prehistoric volcano fantasy/adventure with a little boy who ends up working with the same bullies from whom he was fleeing at the start of the story.

I hope they write the books, because I want to read them. And as if that weren’t enough creativity for a day, each student then came up with his or her own story idea and did some outlining, writing, and setting work on it. These kids worked hard, and they did it happily. They were a wonderful audience. I’m sure there are some future writers in that group, because their ideas were just too good to be wasted.

They make me proud to be counted among the K.Rowe/Stephenson alumni. 🙂

Attempting to convince the kids that I really do outline
Attempting to convince the kids that I really do outline
Student art for Draco's Fire
Student art for Draco's Fire

Book Launch was Brilliant

Two days ago, Cheryl Rainfield, Deb Ouellet, Charlie Hnatiuk and I launched our Dragon Speaker trilogy at Another Story bookstore in Toronto (if you haven’t been there, you need to go. Lovely bookstore, great staff. Cheryl and I are already planning to go back on a day when we can look around properly).

To be honest, I was dreading it. I was afraid no one would come and we’d feel silly. I was afraid too many people would come, and we’d run out of food and have no room in the bookstore. I was afraid of getting up and reading even the little 200-word chunk of text that I’d selected. We hadn’t ironed out quite all the details, and none of us really knew exactly what needed doing, and I was nervous.

Still, one of the perks of being part of a team of three writers is that you never have to go through any part of the process alone. We read and commented on one another’s work, and we planned the launch together. It was a lot easier to stand up to read our work knowing that there were three of us there.

It was a wonderful day. I’m so very, very grateful to all my friends and family who came, and to the people I just met that day who came out to support Cheryl and Deb and Charlie. One of Cheryl’s friends, I recognized from her Twitter picture! (Hello, @claudiaosmond, nice to meet you in person!)

Most of my writing group was there, and my wonderful family (from Whitby and Hamilton and points in between), and friends from university and from DapaSoft, where I used to work. Cheryl and I were both thrilled to see friends from Peter Carver’s writing course there–no one ever graduates, so the class builds a nice sense of community as people come back year after year.

The bookstore was crowded, but we didn’t run out of food. My mom made the cake, decorated with images of our book covers, and we had an entire back-up cake left over at the end. (Hiding under the table, in case it was needed. You never knew it was there, did you?)

People seemed to be having a good time. I think the door prizes were fun–we had book bags that my mom made, a lovely framed picture that our artist, Charlie, made up specially, and gift certificates for Another Story. My sister-in-law, artist Stephanie Vegh, won the jar of chocolates (sorry, “dragon coal”) by guessing closest to the number of chocolates in the jar (128, btw–her guess was 113). Who knew she was a math whiz?

A lot of the event was kind of ad-libbed. We never quite figured out how to handle book signings, or where to put a table, or even if it would be needed, so we ended up just signing books as asked, when we ran into people we knew. It led to messier handwriting, I suppose, but I liked it better than being stuck in one place. It gave me the chance to visit with more people. And for me, at least, that was the best part of the day.

Thank you, everyone who came out, and everyone who couldn’t be there but sent their best wishes anyhow! 🙂

Our publisher, Paul Kropp, shared some good news with us. The books are doing well, even better than expected, and he would like a second set to be published next year. Cheryl, Deb and I are already brainstorming, and Charlie has agreed to do the illustrations again. These books will be linked, but not a series–they’ll share a common world, but we’ll each write our own characters and story. Deb came up with a great concept, and I’m excited to get to work.

Pictures to follow! Check out Cheryl’s blog post on the book launch, as well.

Novel Marathon Wrap-Up

My friend Susan and I are heading up north this weekend for the Muskoka Novel Marathon wrap-up on Sunday. We’ll make a weekend of it, taking Brian Henry’s writing class in Gravenhurst on the way up on Saturday.

We’re spending the night at my parents’ cottage, which at this time of year is rather chilly and free of running water (unless you count the lake), but free and close to Huntsville. I expect we’ll do some writing Saturday night — a writing nerd’s idea of a good time, and Susan and I both qualify — but only if we can thaw out our fingers enough.

I’ve got these wonderful half-mittens… kind of like fingerless gloves, but much easier to type with. They might be making an appearance.  Actually, I wish I’d had them the summer before last, at the Nova Scotia writing retreat–early mornings in the fish house were lovely but chilly. 

Anyhow, links:

Karen Wehrstein, a novel marathoner, wrote this summary of the novel marathon, complete with pictures. 

Brian Henry’s course list is here; the class we’re taking is here

I’ll post the novel marathon results sometime next week!

We have the books!

Last weekend Paul Kropp, the publisher of the Dragon Speaker book series, had Cheryl, Deb and I over for lunch because the books were in!!!

I think we spent the first little while just looking at the books and holding them and flipping through them… there was something rather surreal about it.

I’m having trouble uploading pictures right now, but I have cover shots and some other photos that I’ll post later.

The books are available from the HIP-Books web site (it doesn’t look like you can order them yet–the teacher’s guide isn’t back from the printers yet, which may be why), and in about a month, will be on Amazon.

On Wednesday night, Cheryl, Deb and I introduced the books at the CANSCAIP meeting in Toronto… nerve-wracking, but everyone was friendly and supportive. We had a few questions about what it was like, working together on the series and how we managed the logistics of it (gotta love the web). The last question, I think, was whether we’d work together again–of course we would! 

Sylvia McNicoll, who has written about eight zillion excellent YA books, was there and gave us our first ever book sale. That might have been exciting regardless, but the fact that it was Sylvia made it special. I found a good home for the actual bill she gave me–and no, it’s not my bulletin board, although the cheque from my first-ever writing sale (Globe and Mail, 2002) is still there. Sorry about that, Accounting people.

There’s a web site for the series: www.dragonspeakerbooks.com. The Art section is worth checking out–Charlie Hnatiuk, the artist for the series, contributed some really interesting process sketches and a blurb on how he goes from sketch to book-ready art.

Muskoka Novel Marathon 2009

I joined in the Muskoka Novel Marathon again this year, one of my favourite writing events. It’s a fundraiser for the Muskoka Literacy Council, run by the wonderful Susan Lowe. 

I wrote a children’s novel this year; just under 25,000 words in 3 days. Crazy. Obviously it’s going to need a lot of work (when I finally get back to it… new marathon projects get back-burnered for a long time), but for a first draft written at great speed, I’m happy with it.

The marathon was great. Everyone was friendly and supportive as always. I even dragged a friend from my night class along… it was her first marathon, and she was happy with it, I think. She got a first draft finished… impressive, considering that she lost fifteen pages due to a technical glitch on the second day.

It’s always such a nice feeling to write “the end”, and know that your vague idea has turned into an actual manuscript that you can edit and shape and pick the best parts out of. I find editing easier than writing; that’s probably why I like marathons. It’s always easier to fix something that exists than something that doesn’t.

See article in The Muskokan.