A toast to Eli Torensen and Anne Ramberg!


On September 30, 2015, I raise my glass to a publishing team I’ve never personally met, Eli Toresen and Anne Ramberg! On this day, after some thirty-two years of producing wonderful reads for girls in many countries, they retire.

To back track a little: In 2001 my agent at TLA  David Bennett sold my novel Bringing Up Beauty to Eli Toresen of Stabenfelt.  A real coup for which I am eternally grateful to him. This meant the novel was published in Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and German. The advance outstripped any I’ve ever earned since, anywhere else.  Bringing Up Beauty enjoyed great readership in Scandinavia and quickly went into our equivalent of a reprint. Eli also bought the Canadian illustrator Shariff Taribay’s cover art. The book grew into a series of three, but when the Canadian publisher Stoddart went under, Stabenfeldt published the titles first.  Imagine, I wrote the books in English, emailed them as an attachment and within a few weeks received a positive response.  Every writer’s dream!IMG_3139

And then years later, Canadian publishers would release the work.

Never meeting in person, none-the-less through email we pitched ideas back and forth. Eli and I created a series involving a wonderful wolf dog named Paris and an unhappy teen named Zanna who teamed up to rescue many a lost and injured wanderer in the Rockies. Bears, cougars, avalanches, bighorn sheep, rapids, eco terrorists, snow storms, plane crashes–what didn’t I write about. And…who knew Norwegian and Swedish girls would enjoy the icefields of Alberta as much as I did.



By the way, only one of these titles, the first, Last Chance for Paris ever published in Canada.

For Eli I also updated the first book I ever wrote.  Blueberries and Whipped Cream became this:IMG_3143


Most recently I pitched the idea of the one week do over series.  In each story, a different character under totally different circumstances would die from some random reckless act, go to a individualized in-between place and score a retry of their last seven days in an attempt to improve their life and perhaps escape fate. I wrote about a girl skateboarding attached to a car who ends up in a garden and another who drowns off a pier near Hamilton.IMG_3140  En Andra Chans became Dying to Go Viral in Canada only after a great success in Norway and Sweden. Fate is a Brown Dog has yet to find an English language publisher.


Here is my last work with these wonderful Norwegian editors who have published, including this one, 13 of my novels, six of which have never seen the Canadian light of day.SurvivalNO

Stabenfeld was bought out, is moving to Sweden and looking at publishing a different way, probably not including me. Certainly not including Eli and Anne.

What a wonderful journey it’s been.  I received much fan mail, one from girls who read the Et Vilt Liv series every summer as a ritual.

In a world that rapidly changes and sometimes does not acknowledge great achievement and hard work, I drink my glass of champagne in a salute to these publishing women. To Eli and Anne!

May the next chapter bring you even greater adventures!

And who knows, maybe we will all hike together somewhere different soon.


For Paul Kropp–The Last Project


Survival frontSurvivalNO  Paul Kropp and I go way back to 1988 when I took his writing course at Sheridan College and  through it wrote my first novel Blueberries and Whipped Cream, quickly followed by Jump Start for Paul’s famed Series Canada for reluctant readers. Over the years, he would call on me for various projects. There was always a lovely lunch or party involved, part of the wooing process. At Scholastic I wrote Smoky and the Gorilla and Double Dribble for an educational series of his. When he worked at Chapters, Paul convinced me and a lot of children’s authors to write “Coles Notes” on various subjects to rival the Dummy and Idiot’s Guides. At the party at his house, many writers expressed dismay and regret and worry over accepting something they had no experience in writing, myself included. But I worked hard on A Mom and Dad’s Guide to Martial Arts, couldn’t disappoint Paul, and through it learned how to write nonfiction. I ended up working at a magazine for eight years as a result of the experience.

He always had great vision for even the wildest projects and convinced others to see it his way too. I admired his dedication and passion but mostly I enjoyed his sense of humour. Over all these books, we shared so much laughter and  became good friends.

More recently, Paul started his own publishing firm HIP and I wrote, on his invitation, Dog on Trial, a kind of reluctant reader Marly story where the dog does not die. We enjoyed some laughs over a funny book that he made funnier with his editing.

Kropp asked me to sign the book at Reading for the Love of It, February 2014 and then took me to lunch. Over a delicious Italian pasta and a glass of wine, he convinced me to write a survival story, maybe something with a plane crash. I’ve crashed a small plane before for a publishing house in Norway called Stabenfeldt so even though I was working on a bigger project, I agreed, thinking it might be a quick easy book.

Somehow I ended up embroiled in research with pilots and a doctor and doing way too much work for such a short piece.  Because it was for an older audience, Paul wanted some edge: “a character should die in the story.”

I hate it when characters die.

Seemed a shame for so much work to hit such a small audience so I asked if I could send it to my Norwegian publisher. Paul agreed and separated the rights in the contract.  Eli Toresen, the wonderful Stabenfeldt publisher, liked it but found the injuries a bit too graphic for her Girl It Series. So with a few thousand more words, an added subplot, and some more medical research I was able to save my character.

I didn’t know it would be my last lunch with Paul or my last book. On August 22, he died after a short fierce battle with cancer. He’s one character that medical science could not save. I only wish I could re-write this ending.

Kraslanding, the Norwegian version of Survival printed the day after Paul’s funeral and will be in readers’ hands in November.  The dedication will read:

For Paul who launched a thousand reading and writing ships

and this one small airplane.

He did so many wonderful things for his students and worked so hard to make reading accessible to so many, I realize it’s selfish and trite to focus on how this loss affects me.

But now I will be forced to fly a little more solo and I will miss him.