It Takes Two

For most of my books I’ve been the sole author. But I was also the ghost writer on one, and I’ve written two books (Everything But the Kitchen Sink and A History of Just About Everything) with Frieda Wishinsky — we’re now working on a third. (Perhaps we’ll have to make sure it has the word “Everything” in the middle of the title so we can create a trilogy!)

I’m not sure how other writing duos work, but Frieda and I often say that we work together by NOT working together. We create an outline for the book together, with lots of backing and forthing, but once the editor approves the outline, we split up the writing and work completely separately.

The Slush Pile

If you’re part of the publishing industry, then the title to this posting probably made you shudder. If you’re not in the business, then you need to know that the slush pile is the huge stack of unsolicited manuscripts — also known as “unsoliciteds” — that are sent to every publishing company in hopes the publisher will publish them

Brigitte and Book Trailers

It was Brigitte Waisberg, Marketing Manager at Annick Press, who got me involved with blogging at Open Book Toronto. Thanks to her and to Clelia Scala, Open Book’s Executive Director, I’ve made it through a week of blogging — thanks also to all the people who have sent me comments.

Usually when I get an e-mail from Brigitte, it’s to send me reviews of my books. However on Friday she sent me the link about some of Annick’s most recent non-fiction books, including one I wrote called Bones Never Lie.

A Sad Day

Perhaps many of us will always remember where we were yesterday when we heard that Nelson Mandela had “gone home.” As President Obama said, “We have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth.”

Sadly, today is the anniversary of two tragedies in Canadian history. In 1989, the Montreal Massacre horrified Canadians. And almost 100 years ago today, the world’s greatest man-made explosion to that time took place in Halifax harbour.

The Case for Procrastination

One of the projects I’m working on right now is a picture book that will be published in Fall 2014 by Kids Can Press. The subject is a Toronto Police Force horse named Bunny, who was one of 18 horses chosen from the Force to go to Europe and serve in World War I. Bunny and his rider faced many dangers — they were even on the battlefield the first time poison gas was used in the war. But of all of those 18 horses, Bunny was the only one still alive at the end of World War I.

Finding Your Community

I hope everyone has recovered from your Telescope Day (see my December 3 post) celebrations yesterday! I had to curtail mine this year because in addition to working on a number of manuscripts, yesterday was the deadline for me to submit copy for the section I edit of the CANSCAIP News.

CANSCAIP stands for Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers ( and pronounced CAN-scape). This organization supports and promotes children’s literature, but perhaps even more importantly, it supports and promotes children’s authors, illustrators and performers.

Creativity: Tribulations, Trilogies (and Telescopes)

Thanks to everyone who sent me comments about yesterday’s post. Who knew there are so many Ringo fans out there?!

The hurry and hustle of December can make it hard to be creative, and often writers have a lot of projects that have to be finished before year end. But I think many non-writers try to be more creative in both their personal lives and careers. It’s very satisfying to create something, or solve a problem in a new way. And as work and home budgets are reduced, creativity can be even more important.

Here are a few methods I use to increase my creativity and blast through writer’s block:

Look at the Problem Another Way

From the Other Side of the Desk

I don’t know too many authors who have had a straightforward path to becoming a writer, and mine certainly hasn’t been. I studied sciences at the University of Toronto — I focused on biology despite the fact that I was at Victoria College, home of Northrop Frye, Margaret Atwood, and many other famous writers.

In my four years at university, I wrote many tests, exams and lab reports, but only one essay! However a few years after graduating, I attended the Banff Publishing Workshop and that led to a job as an editor at OWL (a children’s magazine) and later at Kids Can Press, a children’s book publisher. Before I left OWL, I’d already begun writing books, and I kept right on while editing at Kids Can. That’s why I often say that I got into writing from the other side of the desk.

All Is Revealed

This is my last blog as Writer in Residence for Open Book Toronto. That's kind of sad. So as I exit the stage I thought I'd give all of you a chance to get to know me better. So I ask for questions and I got them, some more coherent than others. I will do my utmost to answer them all. So here we go with a peek into the mind of Kim Firmston (hold on tight, it's going to be a bumpy ride). Oh, and don't mind the Do Not Push buttons. If you leave them alone all will be well. If you touch them - well, let's just say, you've been warned. . .

Introducing a Young Writer - Jessie Tollestrup

I first met Jessie Tollestrup at WordsWorth. She had put on a red hat that lay on the table, scattered among the other costumes, and I must say she looked fabulous. She's a soft spoken nineteen year old who will blow your mind the minute she hits the stage. She writes her own music, composes lyrics, and is an awesome prose and poetry writer. She hails from the prairies and you can see that influence in her eyes which seem to see things far in the distance. You will see Jessie Tollestrup soon. You will hear her on the radio. You will watch as she becomes something so big that the prairies themselves will seem tiny by comparison. But right now, she plays gigs in Vancouver and busks to make ends meet.

I introduce young writer Jessie Tollestrup:

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