Read local-Writers in your Neighbourhood


Celebrating Burlington Authors display at Alton Library.

Five years ago I was editing an article on Hawaii for Today’s Parent Toronto while at a resort in the Dominican. Irritating. Both to be working during a holiday but also to have the locations so criss-crossed in my psyche. In discussion with another writer Gisela Sherman, she mentioned how it would be nice when you’re on holiday to be reading about the place you’re visiting. Yeah, why not.

Next holiday happened to be in Arizona and I visited the Phoenix Public Library website to “Ask a Librarian” what local authors I could read. I ended up with some Tony Hillerman detective novels set nearby. I loved that matching. Next in Sanibel, I read some of Randy Wayne’s Dog Ford series. Those were easy to pick up since Randy owns his own restaurant which sells all his paperbacks.

But then what about when I returned home? Or when someone visited Burlington?
Not every writer can own a restaurant.

Looks like Heather Reisman had the same idea as I did.

Enter the Local Author Display idea. First incarnation I was turned down by Burlington Tourist Bureau–they didn’t have the room to display anything. If they did it for writers, they’d have to do it for visual artists.

“Wow. I’d like that too!” I said.

Canada 150 seems to have changed everyone’s minds about local author displays.
The City of Burlington’s manger of Arts and Culture Angela Paparizo instantly liked and supported my idea. Ian Elliott of A Different Drummer Books cheerily researched and purchased all the titles and authors I supplied from Writers’ Union and CANSCAIP lists and Burlington librarians gave me names of even more literary artists. I thought I knew everyone who wrote in my home town.

Wouldn’t these make lovely posters for school and public libraries? Maybe next project.

With the success of this project, I wanted more. I wanted every school in Halton to be aware of the four children’s authors writing in their neighbourhood because I know first hand how excited kids can be when they read a book set in their own community. Or know that the writer of their novel or picture book lives near by. There’s an immediate connection to the work. Writing their own stories becomes more accessible. We drink the same water after all. They too could grow up to be a famous Canadian writer. Enter the postcard project.

Four writers kicked in funds and Jennifer Filipowicz designed these beautiful postcards.

We discussed the idea with a Burlington graphic designer Jennifer Filipowicz and all the writers kicked in money for design and postage. Jennifer inputted school addresses into a mail merge and her husband Adam Filipowicz printed the 170+ plus cards.

And today the postcards went into the mail. I love them.
Ideally the next step would be to speak at professional development days for local schools. Visit the schools to get the students writing and drawing. Another project to work on.

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Canadian Authors Celebrate 150 in South Korea

Best thing ever that’s happened in my career. The Canadian Embassy in Korea invited Kathy Stinson and me to be celebrated and showcased in the Canada150 spotlight at the Seoul International Book Fair.

Thirteen hour flight each way, five whirlwind days there. The first began at 7:15 AM for a radio interview.

Morning Special Live–EBS Radio Station

So much fun to talk to this lively hostess as she engages and sometimes repeats what Kathy and I say in Korean. You can listen in here

Next we met with the ambassador Walsh at the Canadian embassy. He talked about some  of the other endeavours the embassy has made to showcase Canadian talent. After that I visited the Seoul International Book Fair.  Back to back appointments with agents and publishers were lively as I spoke about my books and then was translated. Everyone enjoyed the concepts and premises–judging by their responses I sold foreign rights to about five books. This proved way easier than chatting up parents and kids and making a sale say at a Chapters signing. But I’m told initial response always seems that positive. We’ll really have to wait and see.

Then I gave a “Meet the Canadian Author” talk and a writing workshop. This was my first experience being translated by Minksook Kim and I stopped in awe to watch and listen. If I ever get back to Korea I hope to have mastered much more of this musical language.

Kathy Stinson and I enjoying traditional pork bbq Yoo-Kyung, our host extraordinaire, took us out to her favourite restaurant so we could try kimchi and pork, grilled right at the table. She also guided us through Namdaemun Market so I could pick up some souvenirs.



Meeting Mr. Lee Jae-jeong, education minister of South Korea

Next day Kathy and I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Jae-jeong Lee, the education minister who is very keen on the Ontario education system. He arranged for Kathy and me to visit Yomnu Elementary School, Kathy talked with grade three students, I  presented to grade six.

Yonmu Elementary School Meeting Grade 6

Then while Kathy visited the Seoul International Book Fair, I visited with students of Gyang Foreign Language High School.

Touring the Goyang Foreign Language High School Campus

I loved these students, they were so attentive. They also insisted on giving me a tour of the campus, practising their English on me.

Next morning I was slated to speak at Seoul Metropolitan Library.


The grounds in front of Seoul Metropolitan Library

Seoul Metropolitan Library

Adults keen on learning creative writing

We never know for sure who we are going to be speaking to when we do a public event. At Seoul Metropolitan Library, I spoke with 50 adults and one young person on creativity. I was also supposed to give out 150 writing tips but I perhaps only gave out five. Translating takes some of the time!

Songa English Library wins the prize for perhaps the most enthusiastic preparation and the liveliest presentation. Ever. Students here prepared detailed posters and flies were stuck on all the walls even in the elevator.

Songpa English Library Poster


After storytelling the book, and giving some of the inspiration, I watched as students created fly origami. I still don’t know how to do this. Finally I threw up some velcro fuzzball flies and the students swung at them with their flyswatters hoping to catch them for prizes. Does it get any better?Thank you Canada for taking me on so many amazing journeys.But of course it’s all the people that make the difference.Thanks to Ambassador Walsh, Jonathon Kupi,Yi Hyon Ju,Hye-Shin Kan, Yoo-Kyung Choy and Minsook Kim. Thanks Kathy Stinson. Wouldn’t have been half as much fun without you.

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