Monday, July 24, 2017

Smart Dummies Update

I thought I'd give a quick post about what I'm up to lately. I haven't been able to post much because I've been so busy with Smart Dummies, illustration commissions, appointments, kiddos and recovering from my car accident. It's time for a little update.

What I've been working on:

Smart Dummies of course. Today I received an email confirming that I have (at least) 30 people for September's Smart Dummies!

What's coming up: 

July 31st I plan to put up the "full" list of Smart Dummies posters and prize list. I say "full" because there may be a few people that come in late or more prizes that show up at a later date.

There will be another $25 USD gift card giveaway next month. It does not have to be Amazon, so feel free to give me suggestions for this.

Where I need help:

Smart Dummies is a free event, but it's not free for me to run and maintain. I don't have a lot of money or time. I hate asking for any money, but I don't want to see Smart Dummies end because of my lack of time or money. If you are able, please buy me a coffee (or three, because you can't drink just one)!

Edit: I'm also accepting commissions, so contact me on my webpage for more information:

Friday, July 7, 2017

Safety Star, Sue Irwin, Returns!

I had Sue Irwin first on my blog back in 2015. Sue is doing great things for children, safety and the world of hockey.  Sue's book "Safety Stars" talks about the journey that's happened just so that hockey can be a safe game for everyone. The book features hockey greats like Jacques Plante, Mario Lemieux, and Sidney Crosby and an 11 year old boy on a mission. This is the kind of book I personally want my son to read before he starts hockey, because safety is so important in sports.

Sue is so inspirational and I'm glad she could make it back to my blog. I love everything Sue is doing because she wrote this wonderful book. So now let's talk about all the wonderful things that have happened since 2015!

Here is the link to the last interview if you want to take a look, but first read this interview (so you don't forget)!


Dani: You were nominated for the Silver Birch Non-fiction award with the Forest of Reading. Why is this an important award? How has this changed how you view your own book? 

Sue: From the Blue Spruce (targeting children in Junior Kindergarten to Grade 2), right on up to the Evergreen (for adults of any age), the Forest of Reading is “Canada’s largest recreational reading program.” Unlike many other programs, this one gives readers the power to choose the winner. That’s what makes it so meaningful.

The Festival of Trees, the big award ceremonies in Toronto, is a three-day “celebration of reading.” I’d heard that writers and illustrators are treated like “rock stars” at the Festival. And it’s true! One boy told me that he read my book twice. “The first time,” he said, “I thought it was exciting.” I braced myself for what he was going to say next. “The second time, it was even
more exciting.” Whew, what a compliment!

Another nominated author told me about his relative, who as a teen was a “non-reader” – not a reluctant reader, but a non-reader. That was until the kid picked up a book about sports and read it from cover to cover. This individual is now grown up and... get this, he teaches English!

This experience showed me that when the right book (not just Safety Stars, but any book) makes it into the hands of a reader and connects with them, it can lead to great things. It can hook them on reading, and from there, anything is possible. It’s wonderful!

Dani: What's changed for you since I interviewed you back in 2015? 

Sue: Over the last few months, I’ve begun meeting and speaking with kids – along with their parents, teachers, and librarians – in schools and libraries. These visits have become a new favourite part of the job, and this nomination has given me that opportunity. Time spent with children is so much fun and so valuable. Author visits give kids the chance to see that authors and illustrators are real people. And I hope to inspire them to aim high and work hard as they follow their dream. They ask great questions.

Dani: Who do you think is the greatest Safety Star?
Sue: Most of the athletes featured in Safety Stars are famous hockey pros, and you might expect me to name one of them. But I would choose 11-year-old Chase McEachern. He proved that anyone can do something to make a difference in the lives of others. Now, because of his determination and courage, arenas and schools across Canada
are safer. His story is inspiring to people of all ages, and his dream lives on.

Dani: Can you give us a fact about Hockey or Ice Skating safety (or both) that you think is important for everyone to know? 

Sue: When we all respect ourselves and others on the ice, this can help to reduce injuries – and keep the sport fun – for everyone.

Dani: Are there other books you are planning? 

Sue: Yes! I’ve got three on-the-go, all at various stages. I’m just beginning to research one. My editor at Lorimer and I are talking about another. And I’ve just sent out a third. The manuscript received “Honourable Mention” in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ 2013 “Work in Progress” grant for its “creativity and promise,” as well as two 2015 grants from the Ontario Arts Council and another from the Canadian Council for the Arts. Having worked on this project for about ten years, I’m as passionate as ever about the subject, eager to share the story with readers, and hopeful that a publisher will scoop it up.

Dani: What's next for you? 

Sue: A BIG party – when that third book is published. You’ll be invited to the celebration. I promise!