A person like me probably shouldn't have coffee ever, but alas -- I had a cafe au lait downtown this morning with two friends from Toronto -- and now I'm even livelier than usual. My poor students!!! So I met up with Toronto children's writer and editor Gillian O'Reilly and Toronto elementary school teacher Nancy Rawlinson. Not surprisingly, we talked about kids books and I askedthem to pass on some writing advice to readers of my blog.
Nancy, who teaches grades one and two, reads aloud a lot to her students. Her advice to children's writers is: "Remember your audience" and "test your book out on kids since kids are very honest." She pointed out that kids sometimes give a thumb's down to books adults love.
Gillian talked more about the editing process. She told me how once she interviewed prize-winning Canadian children's author Tim Wynne-Jones about what it's like to have his books edited: "Whenever he received the editor's comments, he always felt for the first 24 hours that the comments were outrageous. Then after that, he was able to read them and deal with them." Gillian said she felt exactly the same way when she got editorial feedback on her first children's book, Slangalicious. By the way, Gillian's latest book is The Great Number Rumble: A Story of Math in Surprising Places. The book, which is non-fiction, is set in a school. You might be interested to know that Nancy was an advisor on the book.
Other news: my story about procrastination is in today's National Post. Here's the link in case you want to check it out (I remember some of you wrote to say you could relate to the procrastination thing!): http://www.nationalpost.com/life/story.html?id=365944
Also, good news: my editor at Orca says she LOVES (she used capitals, and she repeated the word three times!!!!) my revised book about the Holocaust. YIPPEE!!!! Looks like the main character's name will be changed. I had used Lotje, but people at Orca think it may be too difficult to pronounce (they're probably right). We're also talking about new book titles. The editor (Sarah Harvey) came up with two possibilities. I like them both, but I'll wait to tell you more... Talk to you a little later this week! Remind me to stay away from those cafe au laits, okay?!!
I am now convinced that a writer's mood affects their writing style -- your energy is apparent through your writing, and, while it's fun, I agree that you should stay away from cafÃ© au laits (cafÃ©s au lait?) from now on!!
Unfortunately, I don't have the time to read your article, so I'll read it tomorrow, after my math mid-term... that sounds a lot like procrastination, doesn't it...
I think I agree with the publishers on changing the main character's name -- would it be pronounced exactly as it's spelt, or with the "j" pronounced as a "y", or something else rather foreign to me? Maybe just inserting a foreword explaining how to prounounce it would solve the problem?