Book Expo America - wow!

Click photo to enlarge for a better idea of the crowd. Book Expo America (BEA) is over. It was quite the whirlwind tour and experience. I got to sign and offer copies of my book to strangers from all over the place. The majority of the educators, librarians, booksellers, and fellow authors were from the USA. It was a grand opportunity to connect with potential readers and I very much enjoyed and appreciated the event. Thank you to NBN and Madeline Smoot (CBAY Press) for letting me be a part of it all.

Here I am, signing The Kulak's Daughter.

And here's Donna St. Cyr signing her mid grade humorous read, The Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate.

What a city! I was quite prepared to dislike the place. I expected it to be crowded, noisy, and chaotic. And it was. What I didn't expect was to feel comfortable in the crowd, to enjoy the noise, and to indulge in the pure mayhem of it all. How does it all work - this mass of humanity? Of course, Times Square is a touristy spot and there's much more to NYC than what I saw in my three days there. But now I understand why it attracts so many visitors.

One thing BEA and NYC does enforce is size. I am but a mere ant on this planet and there are millions of books, billions of people out there. We're all doing our own thing, and the world keeps moving. I'm just grateful I was a pedestrian and not a driver while there.


It's been such a hectic month - school visits, changes at the job, spring yard work, lots of soccer (my daughter- not me, I'm just a dedicated fan), a wedding (again, a co-worker - not me) - and now I have to hurry up and prepare for NYC. What do people wear in a place like that? I'm guessing it's not sandals and jeans. So do I dress to be comfortable, or to make others around me not embarrassed to be seen near me? Always a compromise, I suppose.

My school visit was posted in two rural newspapers. Very exciting for me. Check out the front page of the Carmen Leader, and then the bigger Morden Times. Thank you, reporter Gail Aubin. I'm so grateful. And thank you again to teacher Marg Head for making it all happen. Kids need to know that Stalin, gulags, kulaks, and a place called the Soviet Union existed. Stalin's name should be as synonymous with horror as Hitler's.

At BookExpo, I'll be signing at Booth 3777 (National Book Network) on Wednesday, May 26 from 11 til noon. Please visit if you're there! Please! (A little bit of begging.)

Oh, yes. Almost forgot. Today I'm having lunch with fellow Blooming Tree Author, Leslie Carmichael. She's in town from Calgary for a convention. Her newest book, The Amulet of Amon-Ra, is shortlisted for the Prix Aurora Awards (Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy) for best English novel. It's really a great story and I sure hope she wins!

Communism blurb

I must share an assignment my daughter did in her Creative Communications course at college. It's a 'blurb' on communism.

I also did another school visit this past week. This time, most of the kids hadn't read the book. I had a lot of backstory to explain. They hadn't heard of communism, or the Soviet Union, or Stalin.

I'm getting excited about going to NYC in ten days. It'll be like entering the centre of the solar system - and I'm sure I'll be happy later to go into outer orbit, back in little ole Winnipeg.

Thank you Carman grade six-ers!

Back in January I discovered that a teacher in Carman, Manitoba had ordered a class set of The Kulak's Daughter. Of course, I was delighted. As they studied the book, they kept online contact with me, asking questions and delving into issues relevant to the Soviet setting. They even set up a web page as they studied, with links to my blog and online resources.

This past week I got to visit the class. They are wonderful kids. Grade six-ers are my target audience and their teacher, Ms. Margaret Hand, did an amazing job in using my book to teach Soviet history, heroism, and character. The questions those kids asked were so good. I hope I didn't confuse them as I explained the real characters behind the imagined ones.

One wall in the class was lined with student drawings showing how hope was kept alive when things went bad for my protagonist, Olga. It was very touching and I wish I'd brought my camera along to remember those images.

I don't know if, as the years go by, those grade six Carman Elementary School kids will remember Olga and the kulak times. But I do know that I'll never forget my day with them. Sharing the research I did with such an interested audience is every writer's dream.

Thank you!

Not so bad

First the bad news. I didn't win the McNally Robinson's Book of the Year prize at the Manitoba Book Publishing Awards gala last Sunday. Of course I'm disappointed, but hey, Eva Wiseman is a superb writer and Puppet is a wonderful book. I'm honored just to share a shortlist with her.

But on the brighter side of life ... I got to have dinner with three very interesting people on Friday. Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch is on a cross-Canada tour to promote her most recent book, Stolen Child. Marsha is a powerhouse of inspiration. Orysia Tracz has translated several books on Ukrainian folkart and customs, writes a regular column for a Ukrainian weekly, and leads annual tours to Ukraine. Susan Zuk spearheads an organization supporting Ukrainian education for schoolchildren. It was an evening of warm and lively conversation.

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