The Speaker's Book Award and Young Author Award

Monday, March 9th marks the third annual Speaker's Book Award as well as the inaugural Young Authors Award, two prizes that will be given by Ontario Speaker Dave Levac at a ceremony at the Ontario Legislative Building.

Launched by Speaker Levac in 2012, the Speaker’s Book Award aims to bring awareness to books written by Ontarians covering historical, regional, cultural, or parliamentary aspects of the province.

And, new this year, the Young Authors Award for writers aged 18 to 30 will bring attention to a young Ontario author whose early work has had an impact on the province’s writing scene.


Jo, the main character in Something Wiki, uses Wikipedia as her diary to cope with change during the worst year of her life. Each chapter of the book opens with a Wikipedia entry that Jo has made her mark on: everything from acne vulgaris to Ulen Township, Clay County, Minnesota. Jo gleefully ignores the editorial rules of Wikipedia and makes a space for her own stories (even if they are swiftly deleted), and it helps see her through her family’s sea change.

A lot can happen when you're scared

When the team at Dundurn was getting Something Wiki ready for its print run of advance review copies, my publicist (which will never stop being fun and weird to say) asked me to write an introductory letter to go along with it.

I'm guessing that no one expected me to extol the virtues of aspartame and fear, but that's just what happened.


I wrote Something Wiki while I was unemployed. And kind of scared.

I had just quit a steady retail gig so I could take on an internship with a publisher, but there was no guarantee that it would lead to something permanent.

And it didn’t. But I learned a lot.

So my internship ended and I had nothing to do. Taking on another internship didn’t appeal to me, so I set about working for myself. Kind of.

In Defense of Middle Grade

I used to want to be a teacher.

It made sense. I’d spent years working with kids, first at a summer camp outside of Orillia and later as volunteer mentor of a group program run by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto.

And the age I wanted to teach, I told anyone who came asking about my career aspirations, was middle school.

Those years, I would say, are amazing. Those kids are old enough to have some idea about who they ultimately want to be, but young enough that their shell of teenage cynicism hadsn’t hardened completely and they can still, on occasion, get very, very silly.

Ugh, the person I was talking to would invariably say with a shudder, I hated middle school. Those were the worst years of my life!

Right, there was also that.

Re: (Whether it is) Becoming (to Be) a lady and the use of the word in Jamaican Creole (JC)

News flash! Author copies of my novel, Red Jacket, arrived in the mail yesterday. About to post this exploration of the use of the word ‘lady’ in the land of my birth and here in North America, I put a question to myself about the many female persons, the heroine Grace included, in Red Jacket. Women? Ladies? Both? Neither? Hmmnnn... Five ladies maybe, and three women? Except who’s who would shift, depending on the ‘speaker’. But I get ahead of myself...

Favourite books of 2014

Every year I keep track of how many books I've read in the year. For the past two years I've made a Pinterest board, which I like because it's visual, but then I also tend to forget to add some books. What surprises me is actually how FEW books I read in a year. It's surprising because i read EVERY SINGLE DAY. How can it be that I only end up reading an average of 2 books a month? I used to read a book a day, when i was in the sixth grade. Anyway! Some of my favourites of the year --

The Dept of Speculation - which I mentioned yesterday I just read in the past couple of days after seeing it on the New York Times Best Books of 2014 list.

Favourite books of 2014

Well, I went MIA. First I got the flu. Then my baby got it. Then we proceeded to pass it on to everyone in our entire extended family by travelling to their home for the holiday, leaving them down for the count. Everyone except my husband, who is apparently, made of steel.

So anyway! Because I only have three days left of my WIR I'm going to focus on rounding out this blog series, and the year, with best of lists. I LOVE a best-of list and there's nothing that puts me in a better mood at the end of the year than hearing all the best of lists, especially books.

My favourite is the New York Times Top 10 - they split the list into 5 Fiction and 5 Non-Fiction. Here's the list of Fiction:

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
The Dept of Speculation - Jenny Offill

Saying yes or saying no

Today I'm starting to answer questions people have left in the comments and on Facebook. Have a question? Leave it in the comments!

What can an author can say no to during the editing process?

This is a great question. For this one, I'm not going to an editor, I'm going to give you my own experience. I do so because in this case, it's all about the context. What are you saying no to? Here's how I learned when I could say no. It happened with my debut novel, Stuck in Downward Dog.

How many pages do you give a book?

Tonight, my husband turned to me as we were reading and asked, "How many pages do you give a book before you give up?"

Good question. I wish I had a set number. Why DON'T I have a set number? I've read many books for far too many pages only to stop reading 3/4 of the way through, wishing i'd just stopped and moved on weeks earlier, when i was still in the opening pages.

My husband was at page 50 of the book he was reading. It was an award winner, and he'd been looking forward to reading it. But he was bored by it.

In the (Scholastic Book) club

When I want a good book recommendation in the world of YA and middle grade, I always ask one of my best friends, Sarah Hartley. As Senior Manager of Book Clubs at Scholastic Canada (she started as Editorial Assistant 13 years ago), she's chosen more than 15,000 books for the book club catalogues that go out to grade schools across the country every month. So she knows more than a thing or two about what makes a good book.

What makes a good book?

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