Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Authors For Indies Day

I love bookstores and booksellers.

And this year, I got asked to do something pretty cool for Authors for Indies Day (April 29th).

This is the day when authors volunteer as booksellers to show their support for Indie Bookstores.

And this year, there will be some original artwork up for grabs.... hint hint.

I can only give you a sneak peek, but here ya go! (This is slightly different from the sneak peek I tweeted earlier).

Monday, January 23, 2017

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Why I signed

About 160 kids authors who have books with Simon and Schuster have signed a letter to the company protesting the recent contract for Milo Yiannopoulos.

The text of the letter spells out the argument very well, but I still struggled with this. Free speech needs to be protected, no doubt. This includes defending the right of people to make the most offensive comments imaginable. Yiannopoulos makes a lot of them.

But, for me, that's not the point of this protest.

My problem with this particular guy is his actions, not his thoughts or ideas.

Yiannopoulos doesn't just spread ideas I don't like, he leads and coordinates targeted attacks on people, using social media, because of their race and gender. Leslie Jones, Gamergate, 

He sets out to ruin lives. He brags about it.

A $250,000 advance for a book deal for this guy isn't just a validation of his views, but a reward for the way he has made a name for himself.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 draws to a close

Yes, 2016 has been rough. (Thanks for nothing Electoral College) but it's been an amazing year for Kids Lit, especially here in Canada.

I've been drawing personal inspiration from watching so many of my colleagues posting their artwork on social media.

If you don't follow Debbie Ohi, Qin Leng, Sydney Smith, Jon Klassen, Terry and Eric Fan on Tumblr, Instagram, twitter, Facebook... GO DO IT NOW! Not that they need my help to get followers, but just watching them draw makes me want to do it, and do it better. (and this is FAR from an exhaustive list of amazing artists who inspire me).

To close out 2016, I've been trying to draw more each day, drawing inspiration from them as well. Here are some holiday tidbits.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

2016 Lino-cut print!

Happy almost holidays everyone!

It's almost time for the annual CBC Radio Sounds of the Season show here in Toronto. Each year I make a limited number of linocut prints and send them out to donors who give more than $100 to the Daily Bread Food Bank (the money goes to food banks across the province).

I've done a new version of this year's print (there's a sloppy moon on the website which I have determined was not up to CBC standards)

The new idea? A star. A beacon of hope and light in a dark world... no matter which holiday you keep (or don't) this time of year.

You can donate here.

The show is this Friday! I'l also be there doing another live doodle (with audience participation) in the atrium outside the show.

Monday, October 17, 2016


I'm never sure if anyone ever reads the Acknowledgements section at the end of my books (or any books) but I always try to make mine serve some kind of purpose. In Neil Flambé #5 I wrote an essay about what it takes to write a book.

In MINRS I tried to lay out my love for space. And in MINRS2, as promised, I elaborated on that. So, in case you haven't flipped to that page in the book yet, here is the text (with links).

Before getting to the space-themed thanks (which I promised at the end of MINRs) I need to thank my fellow authors on #AdvenTOUR 2015 – Margaret Peterson Haddix, Kevin Sands and Lisa McMann. Launching MINRs with them was an absolute pleasure… and I’m going to steal stuff from all of them for my future books.

We still meet up, when possible, for proper meals and great conversation…. and someday we might get KS to eat vegetables.

Okay, onto some more spaced-out thanks!

It was an omission in the original book to not recognize my debt to the late Walter M. Miller Jr. – author of amazing novels such as A Canticle for Leibowitz, and numerous great short stories about the moral choices humans will have to make as we head out to space.

I can still smell the musty aroma of the copy of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles that I discovered in my parent’s bookcase when I was 10.

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye continue to inform and inspire me, just as Carl Sagan did when I was a kid.

To Christa Van Laerhoven of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Physics who kindly read my book and answered my (many) questions about exo-planets, goldilocks zones, and much more. The Dunlap Institute at UofT is an amazing group, and their Astronomy on Tap events are a blast!

Space: 1999 was another TV show that was hugely influential when I was a knee-high stargazer. I even made a model of the Eagle Transporter (which is sort of the idea for the transport ship in this book).  Then I melted holes in it with a hot pin to look like places where debris had pierced the hull. Good times.

Some more TV gold… Lost in Space, and The Jetsons. Hmmm.. I wonder if I’d spent less time watching TV and more time writing I might have actually been published before I was 30? Or, then again, maybe not. Inspiration comes from all over the place… so be open to it.

Silent Running was a movie I must have watched a thousand times as a kid… along with The Day the Earth Stood Still, Alien (which will get some cheeky nods in MINRs3), Blade Runner….

And can everyone please thank J.J. Abrams for cleansing the palate of the Star Wars prequels… The Force Awakens isn’t perfect, but it’s a great Star Wars flick.

To everyone who liked MINRs, and invited me to their schools or libraries (in person or over technology) to talk about it, a HUGE THANKS! The dedication at the front of this book is heartfelt.

And to the many booksellers who have welcomed me and hand-sold my books, I cannot say thanks enough. Special nod to Erin Grittani at Mabel’s Fables, an early champion on the book. I’ll buy you twenty $1 bottles of wine the next time we have a party. Also a nod to Evil Genius Lee Rosevere. His ethereal music was the soundtrack to writing this book.

Thanks to Ruta Rimas for edits that make the books better. Thanks again to Dominic Harmon who designed AN AWESOME cover and Sonia Chaghatzbanian who designed the whole package.

And copyeditor Kaitlin Severini, who picked over the book with a fine-toothed pencil.

And, of course, my books are always (I hope) about more than just adventure and space travel.

There are great organizations that are working today to make sure that mining practices in the future are better for everyone.

Kairos, for example. Check them out….

And, as always, it’s my family that’s the most important part of my life… and I kill off way fewer of them in this book than I did in the first one.

And that’s it for now. Look for more spaced-out thanks in MiNRs3.