I love getting mail.

I especially loving getting the author copies of literary journals that have published my stories.

Three copies of Grain arrived today. It looks great, and is full of writing that I cannot wait to read.

Thanks go out to editor Alice Kuipers for her deft touch and keen eye. Her edits helped make my story shimmer.

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Hello, USA!

I am absolutely thrilled to announced that my next YA novel will be born in the States!

My brilliant and savvy agent Emily Brown at Foundry Media in New York did an incredible job of brokering a home for Closer to Fine with Knopf, and more specifically with Kelly Delaney there. I can’t wait to get the edits going. So far Kelly is smart, firm, creative, and funny. All good things.  Emily, Kelly and I have been tossing around new title ideas, and once we land on the keeper, I’ll let you know. The book will be out Spring 2017, and it will be AWESOME.

The announcement in Publisher’s Weekly. 


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manuscript under construction

Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read.Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read.Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read.Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read.Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read.Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read. Write. Edit. Revise. Read.


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ps. The bird is Bob. He hangs out with us each year at Porteau Cove. This year he was my editing companion.


from “pfffft” to “fabulous” – my Filofax hack

I’ve been working on the massive renovation and reconstruction of a novel in progress, but sometimes a writer has to come up for air and do a little cutting and pasting of immediately prettier things instead. SO SATISFYING TO MAKE SOMETHING COME TOGETHER IN A MATTER OF HOURS INSTEAD OF YEARS. This is why I love visual art. I can SEE it happening, instead of the years it takes to bring a book into its final shape.

I love book-hacking (is that the badass cousin of scrapbooking?), and was just about to list my little, ancient Filofax on Craigslist due to dedicated neglect, but then I got excited about making it appealing to use again (or in the first place), because dates and months and little boxes per day and to-do lists with pre-printed lines and tick boxes just do not rock my every-lovin’ no-idea-what-day-of-the-week-it-is and gloriously flakey and unscheduled life.

As someone who has spent more days in pyjamas making stuff than working at a ‘real job’, let me tell you, I do not need an organizer. I need sections for ideas about what to write, what to draw, notes on family life (Who needs new rainboots? Which Value Villages have we checked so far?), and random pockets and tags and nooks and crannies for tiny word-ish treasures and soothing bits of text, or just a picture of my grandma, because she remains one of my dearest friends long after her death. And she is gorgeous. Isn’t she gorgeous? (She’s the one leaning against the car, not the illustrated bathing beauty.)

Behold, the Filofax hack, now a hub for creative jotting and think-y thoughts, and stashing all the sparkly things, which satisfies the magpie in me. Also, and enthusiastically noted, this was proudly done for zero dollars and zero cents, because after decades of cutting and pasting, I have amassed quite the supply of all manner of deliciously crafty goodness and all that it entails.

Some details for you artsy lookyloos:

  • I covered the Filofax standard issue dividers, using papers from an old calendar and a glue stick. All the way to the edges, kids. That’s how we roll.
  • I used some papers that I absolutely love, such as a vintage postcard of a bathing beauty, and another old postcard that I cut down for a more interesting shape. I’ll put my address on one (if found, please return … that sort of thing) and a favourite quote on the other (haven’t decided yet). Also, a little paper tag, and pieces cut from cards or harvested from the kids’ collage box. And a brown paper envelope that is just begging for a tiny precious something to be put inside.
  • Speaking of that little brown paper envelope, I decorated it with washi tape bunting, which makes complete sense if you know me and my current obsession with bunting. (For the camper van! For my friend’s camper van! For the new screen door! For my submissions binder! Bunting, bunting, bunting!)
  • Heck, I’ve even put a few of my own illustrations in there. And speaking of creaky ol’ camper vans (see above), I’ve put in the card that inspired the colour scheme of our gawdy early-90’s Dodge recently christened as “Harriet Van Chariot.” It’s the ruby/orange/lime green/turquoise pretty in front of the nifty Filofax-issue ruler.
  • I didn’t bother trying to make the holes smaller in papers that I cute from scratch. I did reinforce some with washi tape before I used a standard hole punch and a good ol’ pencil to line up the holes.
  • There’s even a little clipboard in there, people. With the cutest little bulldog clip! And behind that? A eensy weensy Moleskine notebook for the win! In lime green. Sigh. Swoon. Yes, it’s true, I have these sorts of things lying around just waiting to be put together.

So for all you stationery lovers and book-hack fans, this one is for you. Or, for me, because I’m not letting anyone near this thing. And did I mention that is also works as my wallet? Why yes, yes it does. Boom.

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Censorship is so last century.

I had a chat with an irate teacher at a high school the other day. She’s mad because one of my queer characters in The Way Back  “got his straight best friend pregnant.” She thinks this is wrong and messy for a couple of reasons, the first being that my teen characters are having sex, but also because I’m messing with her whole notion of who is supposed be having said not-okay sex with whom.


So, on the subject of censorship, let’s all move this party over to Write all the Words! where I did a guest post during Banned Books Month, and have another read. There will be fancy drinks with little paper umbrellas, and pigs in a blanket. Enjoy.

Read whatever you want. Write whatever you want. Have sex with whoever you want. It’s that simple.



story mapping

When we were in Sayulita recently, I did a workshop with the secundaria students at Costa Verde International School, and part of what talked about was story mapping. I never map a story. Whenever I’ve tried to outline a book or a story, the characters kick my ass and do what they want anyway, and then I get anxious that I’ve betrayed my outline. And while I know that outlines can be flexible, I still get anxious and weird when they don’t work out. And because they never (ever) have worked for me before, I’ve never use them as a tool.

I’ve always been curious about how it works though and–more importantly–if  it works. So I’m trying it with one of the projects that I’m working on. It’s a big story, with lots of moving parts, and characters that I love very much and who have been very patient over the last decade while I’ve worked on every other story except the one they’re in.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

a mulonkey for Susan Juby

The lovely and talented writer Susan Juby is looking for pictures of mules. So I drew her one, because who doesn’t want to draw a donkey? Or a mule. Wait, is a donkey a mule?

Just a sec.

Okay, I’m back. Thanks,  Googleoracle. A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Who knew? Susan Juby. That’s who. She knows these things. She knows.

If you’re so inclined to draw or paint one for her too, send it to her at her website (or to her via twitter: @thejuby) by November 15th, and you could win an ARC for her next book, Republic of Dirt, which is the sequel to The Woefield Poultry Collectivewhich I loved very, very much.

The Woefield Poulty Collective is called Home to Woefield in the US, so if you’re wondering why there are two books that sound so similar, it’s not a terrible case of plagiarism.

Call it what you want, I loved it. And I can’t wait to read Republic of Dirt, which comes out from HarperCollins in January.

There’s been some discussion on twitter about what to call this donkey mule. Charlotte Gray’s “Big Ears” was categorically turned down, what with recent events at the CBC (which I am not even going to link to … consult the Googleoracle if you must.) So Susan suggested “Majestic Ears.” But then Charotte redeemed herself entirely by coming up with “Madge Yesteryears,” which happens to be a spectacular name for this mulonkey.


rough sketch



But he needed more of a tilt to his head.



Then a quick crop and white background in Photoshop, and Madge is ready for her admirers.

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Edited to add:

Apparently I can’t leave well enough alone. I can’t unknow what I know now about the difference between mules and donkeys, so here’s proper mule for Susan: