Monday, May 20, 2013

Back From Hackmatack

I'm back from the Hackmatack Children's Choice Awards.  I didn't win but I certainly felt like one.  A huge shout out to the Hackmatack Board of Directors and all of the volunteers who made the participating authors feel special.  Writing can be a very solitary profession and the opportunity to speak with the "Hackmatack Kids", and socialize with my peers gave me a real mental boost.

Thursday evening (May 9th) we all met at The Economy Shoe Shop, a pub in Halifax near to where we were staying, to have a wee nip, share a little food and a whole lot of conversation.  I found this to be great since I have had few opportunities to meet other children's authors .  Between Thursday evening and Friday morning I had a chance to speak with Catherine Austen who won the category I was in - English fiction - for her book "How to Survive Grade 6".  This was her 5th book but her first Hackmatack nomination. I also had a great chat with scientist Don Downer, from Newfoundland, who is the author of "Selby the Lobster and Mike Dias, from Victoria, who wrote "Scandal in Port Angus".  On Friday morning, Cary Fagan shared a signing station with me. Cary is from Toronto and wrote "Banjo of Destiny".  These are people I would probably never get a chance to meet except at an event like this.

Friday morning was very special.  Somehow the volunteers managed to corral about 300 grade 3 to 6's into a big meeting room at Pier21 and the awards ceremony started.  Each author was lead in by a "standard bearer" who carried a small staff with a picture of the cover of their author's book on it.  My standard bearer was a grade 5 student named Katerina.  She did a very good job and later on she introduced me to the audience using a speech she had written herself.  A really awesome job.

After the awards were given out, all the authors were taken to tables set up to sign autographs.  I gave away a large number of my "Emily Finds a Dragon" bookmarks and met a lot of kids.  It was great and for an hour or so we all felt like celebrities.

I have to mention two other people who helped to make the experience special for me.  One was my "tour guide" for Wednesday and Thursday - Joanne Head who is Deputy Director of the Western Countries Regional Library.  She had arranged for me to speak at the library in Yarmouth and the library in Lockeport, guided me to the Waverley Inn in Halifax and generally kept me out of trouble during the event.   She also told me that these books were short listed from all of Canada, not just Atlantic Canada so that made me feel pretty good.

The second person is Marianne Ward, one of the Hackmatack Board of Directors and an independent editor.  She is interested in looking at "Jimmy and Cinder" and perhaps working with me on it.  I had a great chat with her and look forward to the possibilities that may arise.

All in all it was a wonderful experience and one I look forward to doing again.  Maybe "Jimmy and Cinder" will be good enough to get me there for another try.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hackmatack Children's Choice Award

Tomorrow I'm heading off to Yarmouth, NS to start my "Hackmatack Adventure". On Thursday I'm scheduled to speak to some of the Hackmatack kids in Yarmouth, then I go to Shelburne to chat with another group.  I finish up Thursday evening in Halifax for a get together with the other nominated writers for a bit of social time.  The award ceremony is Friday morning.

The Hackmatack Children's Choice Award is a literary program designed to promote reading and literacy in Atlantic Canadian children in grades 4 to 6.  Each year 10 english and 10 french books are chosen to be read by children registered in their school to participate in the program.  The children read all 10 and then vote for their favorite.

This is what makes the award special for authors since it's our readers that are voting.  That's the best feed back you could get.  My second book, "Emily Finds a Dragon" was nominated for the 2012-2013 school year.  This was a big boost for me as it is the first book I've written for this age group.

I'll continue to post and share my adventure this week as it is all very new for me.