The best kind of fan mail is not mail at all…

Recently I was humbled by the talents of a young girl in Saskatchewan. Through my author facebook page, her friend’s mother was very kind to send me some writing this young girl had done. To my complete surprise, it was The Stowaways Part 2, something I’ve been trying to write for ages! (What a relief… I wondered what having a ghost writer might be like, and now I know — it’s fantastic! )

But seriously.  Bryn wrote this wonderful work in grade 3. Look at the thoughtful cover and dedication page; the way she drew those twigs and vines, with careful consideration about the Stowaways’ environment, in nature. And the dedication: “To the writer of the Stowaways, who I have admired for starting my writing career” (That’s me!)

Bryn Hengen 1Bryn 2

I won’t post her writing unless she tells me I can (we writers have to stick together on keeping our work secret sometimes), but I will say it’s the best writing by anyone her age I’ve ever read. She did exactly what I teach kids even older than her how to do–to capture the essence of the characters through actions and dialogue, without describing their personalities with boring old adjectives — to show, not tell! Bryn already knows how to do that. She wrote nine pages of fun, imaginative, and accurate writing. Nine more pages than I’ve written in a while!

I will think of Bryn’s Part 2 often as I continue work on my Book 2…. Maybe she was humming while she wrote it. Maybe she was lying on her belly on the floor, kicking her feet through the air. Maybe she was sitting calmly at her desk. I don’t know. All I know is how uplifting it feels that a person as talented and motivated as her spent time writing a sequel to a book she liked. I feel joy that it was my book.

I wrote Bryn a  postcard (I wonder if she got it yet?). I’m not sure if I remembered to say thank you for inspiring a writer like me to keep going. Sometimes it can be tough to write a whole book. I sure hope she keeps going, too.

P.S. I showed your work to my editor, Bryn! She was “really impressed” and said you are “definitely a writer in the making.” 🙂




The Birth of “The Stowaways” : complete. Motivation: multiplied.


I’ve finally launched my first book in my hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia, so I think this now makes it official – I’m an author. Ooh, I still get all bashful when I say that. I’m beginning to understand that it’s a slow process, mentally switching from unpublished to published author.

But if there is anything that can cement the concept of being ‘published’ in one’s head, it is 100 people showing up for the book launch, and lining up to have them signed. I was bowled over by the turnout – old friends I hadn’t seen for ages, new ones I’d just made, co-workers, friends of friends and children and husbands of friends. I was not expecting that! I can only liken it to a wedding, but instead of a marriage ceremony, there was a reading of fiction about a family of audacious mice (so different? Maybe not).

My mother likened my debut book launch to the birth of a grandchild for her, to which I quickly replied: “I hope this book lasts longer than a human being.” It may not have been the most sensitive response, comparing the joy of a grandchild to the legacy of a ‘classic’ children’s novel (as it is so categorized in the big box bookstores), but she nonetheless laughed, considered it graciously, and gave me a long, warm hug.

Now I don’t know if The Stowaways will last past 2014, but if it makes my mother feel like she has a grandchild who will spread our family spirit long past her time, then I will do everything in my power to make that happen. That is some serious motivation!