Brazil! A Year in the Life… is in Brazil!

The little Arthur Bean that could! A Year in the Life of a Total and Complete Genius is available in Brazil! Now I need to learn Portuguese in order to do my next book tour. Not only do I get to see my book in a language I don’t understand, but I love love love seeing all the promotional stuff coming out of Brazil to sell Arthur Bean. Know people with kids in Brazil? Here’s the link to the wonderful Geracao Jovem.

Plus, check out the cover, and the swag! Mouse pads, lollipops, three different bookmarks, buttons… amazing! I wear the button on my coat every day, hoping someone asks me what it’s for, and why the guy’s head is upside down. No one has… yet…

Arthur Goes to the States!

Getting A Year in the Life of a Total and Complete Genius published with Scholastic Canada was my best and greatest dream come true. My name! On a book! In bookstores! And not just in bookstores, but in the Scholastic book fair?! And in the book orders?! Scholastic order days were the best school days of all time, and now my book was going to be part of that! And then there wasn’t just one Arthur Bean book, but two! And now there are three! Truly, I couldn’t be happier.

But then, Arthur Bean started to travel! The first two books have been picked up in the United States with the delightful and growing publisher Sourcebooks. I love seeing the different covers from the different publishers. Also, interestingly, the
title of the first book has changed slightly. See if you can spot the difference!


Korean Adventures

In July 2017, I had the opportunity to go to Korea for work! I work for a great creative writing program for kids in Vancouver, called the Creative Writing for Children Society. I am one of their writer mentors, teaching an after-school creative writing program for kids. It’s a wonderful program; kids who love to write come and hang out for a few hours a week. We read good books, write stories, hone writing skills and do fun crafts and games to be inspired for writing that week.  One of the perks of working with the CWC is that they have strong ties to Korea, and run a creative writing camp for Korean students, and invited me to join their team of three mentors. Not only that, but this year was extra special, because I was a judge for a children’s creative writing contest hosted by the Canadian Embassy in Seoul.

What an incredible place to visit! Our time at the embassy in Seoul was inspiring, getting the chance to speak with a group of talented young writers. From there, we were whisked away to the countryside, where we taught for a week in what felt a little like the Korean summer version of The Shining hotel (in a good way?). The kids were great, and I loved the opportunity to work with two different groups all week. It wasn’t even that hot, which was the thing that worried me the most going in mid-July! On my breaks, I made sure to explore the river walks and mountain views surrounding us. I didn’t get much writing done, but it was great fun to look around, and be inspired as a teacher to create new programs and classes to bring back to my classes in Vancouver.

The trip finished with three days in Seoul, where the other mentors and I explored all things Korean, including a palace, a theatre, so much shopping, the meerkat cafe, a spa, and my favourite part, the food!

Speaking at the Canadian Embassy in Seoul: a first for me!

My view at the hotel

Making friends

Octopus so fresh it was still moving!

Rainy days = trick eye museum

Meerkats, guys! Meerkats!

Not a meerkat.

Choose Your Own Adventure Writing

One of my favourite things to do is create dilemmas for my characters, and I’ve found that writing a book is a lot like working out a Choose Your Own Adventure Story. In this workshop, students will learn how to put characters into conundrums and dilemmas, and how to get those characters out of them. Using an interactive “pick and play” style, students will develop their story to be the most exciting version of itself. Discussion and time for questions will follow. This presentation can be tailored to be a hands-on workshop for smaller groups. (90 min)

A Bad Case of Writer’s Block

This is my standard school presentation. I talk about how I loved to write, but often came up against a serious case of writer’s block in school, and how I tried to solve the problem. I touch on how I use inspiration from my own life and the lives of others around me to craft my novels and find humour in tricky situations. Writing in a different format, using emails, texts and class assignments, is one of the unique aspects of my novels, and this presentation will cover how this style of writing can help develop unique character voices. At the end of the presentation, depending on the size of the audience, I’ll lead the students in a short activity that shows how one or two words can spark the beginning of a whole idea. Discussion and time for questions will follow. This presentation can be tailored for small or large groups. (60-75 minutes)

Different Formats, Different Worlds Workshop

The Arthur Bean series is told through class assignments, emails, texts, newspaper articles, and more. I’ve found that telling a story in a different format can make the story come alive. So let’s get into characters’ heads. What texts does a girl send to her secret crush? What kind of journal entries would an aspiring evil wizard write? How can email connect two characters on opposite sides of the world? We’re going to let the readers fill in the story!

In this workshop, I’ll describe how I used alternative narratives to find my characters’ voices, as well as discuss the pros and cons of setting limitations in how you tell a story. Following a presentation, students will create their own characters using emojis, and develop them from there. This workshop is hands-on, and works better with small groups or in classrooms. (60-90 minutes)

Dawson City, I Love You

From January 3rd until March 31st, I had the amazing opportunity to live in Pierre Berton’s house up in Dawson City, Yukon. It was the best three months of my life. Seriously, the best.

Not only was it a cozy home with a great space for getting writing done, the community up there is friendly, welcoming and vibrant, rife with stuff to do!

You might be thinking, “A small town in the middle of the Yukon in the dead of winter? What could there be to do?”
Well, I curled, I hiked, I snowshoed. I went dog mushing. I played a lot of ping pong. I went to trivia nights. I attended potlucks and worked with the kids at the school on writing for the newspaper, and on writing a survival guide for school. I went to concerts, movies, and plays. I also learned how to skijore, which is the best! It’s cross country skiing, but you also harness your body to a sled dog. They pull while you ski, and it’s so fast and sweaty and super fun! I saw the northern lights a lot, and I got to take a weekend trip up to Inuvik, which is in the Northwest Territories and even farther north than I was!

I would say that it was a once in a lifetime experience, but I don’t think it is. I’m already planning my return trip back next winter.

Berton House!

The beginning of 2017 has started with a great adventure: I am living in Dawson City, Yukon for three months as the Berton House resident!

If you’re wondering what the Berton House is, it’s a wonderful little home in Northern Canada (close to Alaska). My job while I’m here is to write, and discover Canada’s north. Dawson City was the heart of the gold rush in the 1890s, when the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nations site swelled to 40 000 people (today about 1,500 people live full-time in Dawson).

The Berton House itself was gifted to The Writers’ Trust of Canada by Pierre Berton, a prolific Canadian writer (as you can see from the photos here of his library). It’s a cozy retreat from the world, and I’m loving it so far.

I’ve only just arrived, but I hope to keep you updated with a few interesting stories and photos of my wintery time here. To keep you going, here’s a few photos so far.

September = New Book!

It’s out! Notes from the —- Life of a Total Genius is on the shelves! The end of the #TotalGenius trilogy… I’m so pleased with this one, so I hope that you like it. It was a bit of a strange feeling to receive my copies of this book; I thought I would be thrilled to get to see them, but actually, I was pretty sad. Why? Well, it’s hard to say good-bye to Arthur and his buddies (and his enemies too!). I realized that I wasn’t going to get to write more snarky Arthur responses, or try and have a battle of wits with myself while writing text banter between Arthur and Robbie. I’m excited about the next few projects I have waiting to write though, and who knows? Maybe Arthur Bean will make a cameo appearance along the way…

I am excited to share this book with kids and adults this year though! I’m participating in Wordfest in Calgary in a couple of weeks; I’ll be heading to the Yukon in January, and I was chosen to be part of the 2017 TD Canada Book Week tour, so there’s lots of chances to talk about my love of Arthur coming up!
Want me to come speak to your class? I’d love to! Send me a note through the contact page, and I’ll get right back to you!