Tag Archives: News

Book Launches

This is book launch week! Last Tuesday was the launch of “Writescape: Inspiration Station“, a book of writing exercises put together by my friends and writing group partners Ruth Walker and Gwynn Scheltema. The writing exercise book came about as a result of the successful Writescape Writing Retreats that Ruth and Gwynn run twice a year. Participants wanted more of the motivation and inspiration that Ruth and Gwynn provide; the book is their answer to that.

Ruth and Gwynn held their launch at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge and kept us all entertained with readings, live music performed by singer and songwriter Kathy Himbeault, and even on-the-spot writing exercises. They did a great job of tailoring their launch to fit with the message of their book.

Tonight’s book launch is for another friend, Cheryl Rainfield. Cheryl is celebrating the launch of her new YA novel, Scars, at the 519 Church Street Community Centre in Toronto. The launch is a fundraiser for the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multicultural Woman Against Rape. Details on the book and on the launch can be found here. Scars is an important book and well worth reading, even if you can’t make it to the launch. Cheryl is a survivor of incest and ritual abuse, who used self-harm to cope. She will talk about ways people who self-harm and stop and things you can do to help your loved ones who self harm. The launch will also feature live music and a Wen-do demonstration.

And finally, on the topic of book launches, Orca Books published an article that I wrote for them as a four-part series on their blog. It’s a follow-up to my book-free book launch.

Introductory Post: How to Plan a Successful Book Launch

Part One: Find the Right Place

Part Two: Get the Word Out

Part Three: Know your Venue, Know your Crowd

Part Four: Be Flexible

Book Launch, School Presentation, Deadline!

Lots of blog-worthy news lately. Not a lot of time for blog writing.

Book Launch

My book launch, held on May 15 at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, was a huge success. There were more than 50 people there–far more than the 30-40 that I had guessed might come. I feel hugely grateful to everyone who came: my wonderful family and friends and writing buddies, and even some people from Uxbridge who read about the event in the local paper and came by to see what was going on.

Uxbridge Cosmos, May 13, 2010, first page (links to a PDF file of the first page of the May 13 Uxbridge Cosmos, featuring an article on Boarder Patrol written by Neil Coxworth)

Thank you so much, everyone who was there!

Special thank you’s to my incredible mother, who made not only the cake but also many of the door prizes, to Judy Diltz (“Aunt Judy”) for baked goodies, to Peggy Pflanzer (“Aunt Peggy”) for putting together a yummy cheese tray, to Susan Blakeney for delicious rhubarb tarts and for offering to drive my Toronto-based writer friends, to Marty Bays of MORTIS Photography for being thoughtful enough to capture the moments with his camera and for granting me permission to use the photos, and to Orca Books for donating several door prizes and helping with the launch expenses. And especially thank you to Shelley Macbeth, who let me use her beautiful bookstore for the event, who was helping for months ahead of time with the organization and details, and who managed to make a success of a tricky situation.

Here are some photos from the event.

Friends, family and readers at the Boarder Patrol book launch. Photo by MORTIS Photography, www.mortisphotography.com
My mom talking to my grade five teacher, Mr. Blackstock. Photo by MORTIS Photography, www.mortisphotography.com
Snowboarding consultant Travis Tedford with my dad at the book launch. Photo by MORTIS Photography, www.mortisphotography.com
Signing a copy of Boarder Patrol. Photo by MORTIS Photography, www.mortisphotography.com
You knew there had to be a picture of the cake. Cake by Susan Thomas, photo by MORTIS Photography, www.mortisphotography.com.

Apparently it’s traditional to have books at a book launch. We didn’t quite manage that part. The night before the book launch, Shelley Macbeth of Blue Heron Books phoned me with the bad news: the books hadn’t arrived! Between us, we managed to scrounge together 16 copies. For the rest, we worked out an advance order system. Everyone was very gracious and understanding, so even without the piles of books that Shelley and I had hoped to have on display, the launch was a success. I received the books last week, and I’m working my way through the pre-orders, autographing and delivering the books. So far, so good!

For more about the book launch, stay tuned for my blog post on planning a book launch, coming soon to the Orca Books Web site.

School Presentation

Three days after the book launch, I headed to Greensville School for an author presentation to the fifth grade classes. My friend Jennifer Vince, a teacher at the school, arranged for me to be there–for which I am extremely grateful! It was a lovely experience. Great kids, a beautiful library, and lots of opportunity to visit with some of the younger classes for informal Q&A sessions on writing. Lots of fun!

Sadly, I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask anyone to get pictures. Oh, well. Next time.


I’m very, very close to being ready to send a new draft of Wolves at the Gate to Paul Krop, the publisher at H.I.P. Books. So close, in fact, that I have set June 2 as the delivery date. I’m excited, because I think this is a much stronger version than what I had previously. I’ve received some useful and encouraging feedback from my writing group and from a couple of critique-based night classes where I’ve shared chapters. I’ve struggled a lot with this project, so it’s nice to see things finally coming together.

Now… gotta go write.

Book Launch Date Change! May 15, 2010

Due to a conflict with Book Expo Canada (which, oddly enough, appears to lack a proper web site), the book launch for Boarder Patrol is being changed. Same wonderful location, slightly earlier date.

New information:

Boarder Patrol Book Launch
Blue Heron Books
62 Brock Street West, Uxbridge, Ontario
Saturday, May 15, 2010, 2:00 p.m.

Stay tuned for a “beginners’ guide to Uxbridge”! I’m researching restaurants, parking, cool shops… all the best stuff to help you make a day of it. Because let’s face it, Uxbridge is a bit of a hike for most of us. But it’s worth the drive!

There will be lots of food and great door prizes. And one really cool guessing jar… but I’m saving the details on that one, because it’s a surprise.

Should be a fun time. Hope to see you there!

Of ARCs and Aliens

It’s been a busy writing week with lots to report. Hence the utter lack of blog updates. When things are happening, I find it hard to make time to write about it, thus my news here tends to be sadly outdated. Anyone else find that difficult when blogging?

Public Reading–yikes!

One not-yet-outdated announcement: I’ll be reading from my new book, Boarder Patrol, at the Whitby Health & Wellness Fair. The Writers’ Circle of Durham Region has a booth there. Sue Reynolds and Ruth Walker will be “enthusing about the health benefits of following your heart and your muse” (according to Ruth), and various WCDR members will be reading throughout the day.

Ruth promises a captive audience, as we will be in the room with the snacks. Isn’t that kind of like live-band-in-bar syndrome? The band is fun if that’s what you wanted to hear, but if you’re at the bar to talk to the person beside you, it makes life difficult. I hope it won’t feel that way to the people at the fair. I’ll keep my reading short, just in case.

Also because the longer I’m up there, the more likely my sweaty palms will stain my lovely new ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of Boarder Patrol.


Which brings me to my second topic. My ARC came in the mail last Friday. It is beautiful. It is glorious. Picture available here.

After I spent most of the day jumping around the house and dancing with the book, I could not bear to be parted with it. I carried it, wrapped in its envelope for safe keeping, to my daughter’s piano and swimming lessons (Friday is a busy night). I have no shame; I showed it to the parents of the little girl in my daughter’s class, simply because they were sitting beside me. They were kind. New writers, like new parents, must beg the indulgence of others.

(Incidentally, the book will be available from Orca Sports in early May, and the book launch will be sometime in late May or early June at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, which is a beautiful bookstore and well worth visiting. But I’m sure I’ll post about that as it gets closer.)

Wolves at the Gate

I finally finished and submitted the rough draft of my new novel for HIP Books. The working title is Wolves at the Gate. (Actually, the working title here at home is “Foxy’s Big Adventure”, since the book was thus christened by my daughter, but “Wolves at the Gate” seems to be going over better with the over-six demographic.)

I’m about two thousand words over the target word count but in a first draft, I can forgive myself that. It needs to be tightened, but I’ll worry about that after I know I’ve got the story right. This is an unusual way to work; normally a book would be thoroughly critiqued and polished before I ever submitted it to an editor. Come to think of it, that may be why I so seldom submit anything… nothing’s ever quite “done” enough.

In this case the publisher (HIP Books) initiated the project, so he’s been involved from the very beginning. He approved my story concept, then my outline, and I won’t touch my first draft again until I hear his feedback.

I’ve had fun with this story. It’s another mediaeval fantasy, like the Dragon Speaker series. I’m working with Cheryl Rainfield and Debbie Ouellet again, but this time, our books don’t have to be sequential. They just share a world. Not sure how much we’re allowed to reveal yet, so I’d better leave it at that. But yes, wolves are obviously involved, and foxes. And a “big adventure”.

And Aliens…

Also this week, I received feedback on my Muskoka Novel Marathon manuscript. My story about a little boy and an alien won in the Juvenile category for the 2009 marathon. Part of the prize is that an editor with a Canadian publishing house agrees to critique it. The novel marathon is a fundraiser for the Muskoka Literacy Council, so it strikes me as extremely generous of the editors and publishers associated with it to volunteer their time.

I was fortunate enough to receive feedback from Kathy Lowinger of Tundra Books, who has volunteered to help the novel marathon in this way for several years in a row. She gave my still-very-rough manuscript a thorough substantive edit and offered detailed (and encouraging!) feedback. She absolutely made my week.

(Well, okay, that and the ARC made my week. Can’t forget the ARC.)

Anyhow. Big week, filled with blog-worthy events. Things should be a little bit quieter now. My next planned blog entry will be about an amazing writing book that I came across recently.

Should you happen to read this before it happens, please wish me luck with the reading tomorrow morning!

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

Boarder Patrol Cover Image!

My editor, Sarah Harvey at Orca Books, says I’m allowed to share this. I think it’s gorgeous. (I’ve tried to convince friends that it’s really me on the cover, but I don’t think anyone believes me.)

Boarder Patrol Cover
Boarder Patrol Cover

Sarah and I just finished discussing the final changes to the novel. All that’s left now is the proofs–no big changes at that point. The book is scheduled for release in the spring. I’m excited!

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.